So this really is happening. Kim Tae Hee is indeed starring in her first sageuk, as the titular Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love, with her love interest the historical figure King Sukjong played by Yoo Ah In. The cast held the script reading session this week and the first peek at the two leads sitting side-by-side have been released. Of course they look good together, that I never doubted. Yoo Ah In especially has this ability to convincingly play older than his age when in sageuk garb. I think what has me, and most everyone else, worried is how the drama will pull off the revisionist tale of historical villainous Jang Heebin (Consort Jang), who managed to have her rival Queen In Hyun cast aside but then winning that battle ended up costing her the war and she met an inglorious end with death by poison. I’ve read that producers are comparing this to Bu Bu Jing Xin, which leads to me think time-travel might play a part. Or else they are saying that this drama’s attempt to whitewash Jang Heebin is similar to how BBJX turned Emperor Yongzheng (4th Prince) from ruthless cold-hearted ruler to supremely romantic loverboy in that drama. Yes, somewhere Chinese historians were turning over in their collective graves. I dunno but I’m game to check this out. Jae Hee plays Jang Ok Jung’s first love and later her daddy long legs figure from outside the Palace walls after she marries Sukjong. Hong Soo Hyun has a chance to corner the market on playing Joseon Queens/Princesses as she’s following up her career-making turn as Princess Kyung Hee in The Princess’s Man by playing the famous Queen In Hyun. Lee Sang Yeob continues his mainstream ascent by playing Jang Ok Jung’s brother. Despite all my reservations, I have to admit that I’m fascinated by what this drama can pull off if all the pieces come together. A great cast with chemistry (and Kim Tae Hee steps up on the acting), and perhaps the first time the world can imagine what made King Sukjung love Jang Heebin so much he cast his wife aside for her and pretty much went down in history as a douchebag. I’m excited for either the success or the train wreck failure. Either way this can’t be boring.
KARA‘s Seung Yeon will be making her acting debut as Choi Heebin, another royal consort to King Sukjung and a rival to Jang Heebin for his affections. Ji Yoo, who co-starred with Jae Hee in Color of Woman, will be playing the head of a fashion house in Joseon and workplace rival to Jang Ok Jung, and doubling down on their rivalry, she’ll of course be in love with Jae Hee’s character. Heh, K-dramas, you are ever so predictable. Every character of marriageable age in a drama must of course be in love with another character. Jang Ok Jung follows Yawang on SBS Mon-Tues and is scheduled to premiere March 18, 2013. That’s in 7 weeks, which means this drama better get a move on. Chop chop, it doesn’t want to fall into the Time Slip Dr. Jin trap of literally starting to film 3 weeks before its premiere date.