Complete Main Character Descriptions for Jang Ok Jung, Live In Love

So my growing obsession with Jang Ok Jung, Live in Love is starting to gain steam and this might hit runaway train status faster than any drama in my watching-blogging history. I need to slow myself down before I get my heart broken in the off chance the show starts sucking. I do have a tiny bit of comfort knowing its adapted from the same-name novel, though I’ve heard on DC that the drama is veering materially from the novel because the screenwriter wants to take liberties with the individual details while keeping the construct intact. So far its working for me since I haven’t read the novel. I’m playing catch up these days with the drama since I was barely interested in it prior to watching so I didn’t pay much attention to the promotional material. Normally I translate character descriptions, plot synopsis, etc. to add more color to a drama but I went into JOJ as clueless as everyone else. Now that all the characters have won my heart (seriously, the way Prince Dongpyung calls her “Ok Jung-ah” makes my heart feel squishy, the way Lee Soon holds his daddy King’s hand sends me sobbing in the corner of my consciousness), I need a bit of knowledge of what to expect so that I’m prepared for it. I was only able to come out of Bu Bu Jing Xin alive (and barely that) because I read the novel and knew what type of rocks-fall-down ending was in store. And still nothing prepared me for watching it onscreen. I needed an IV drop by the end of that show I was so dehydrated. Will JOJ have the same effect on me? I’ve translated the complete main character descriptions below and my answer is yes. This drama looks like the second coming of BBJX in terms of feels (plot is totally different). The character descriptions give a lot of plot away so don’t read if you want to be spoiled. Some stuff I expected, others really threw me for a loop, but the most intriguing bit that was revealed is how similar in political love and power trajectory Lee Soon will take as King Sukjong compared to how 4th Prince evolved into Emperor Yongzheng in BBJX. Same ruthlessness, same all-encompassing love for one woman. This is so not going to end well, is it?

Jang Ok Jung (Jang Heebin)

Born from the lowest class in the rigid hierarchal society of Joseon, yet she became the one and only true love of Lee Soon, the highest ranking man in Josen. She became the King’s political partner and Joseon’s top fashion designer. She endured the powerful attacks from the Soron faction but remained proud and true, a woman with great charisma.

Her touching story is not because she is Jang Heebin, but because it is the story of Jang Ok Jung the woman. Her father was a merchant class and her mother the slave of the Jo household, a distant relative. She was born a lowest class citizen. Despite her low birth, her natural talent in fashion design and an extraordinary victor’s aura, on top of all of that her fated love with the highest man in Joseon Lee Soon, all of that led to her transforming her lowly birth and going from a seamstress in the Palace to the root of the greatest turmoil to sweep through Joseon politics.

From the lowest birth to the highest woman in all of Joseon, she sat in the position of the mother of the country. With her man, the King of Joseon, they had a love story that was unforgettable and intense. But her impressive and eventful life will lead her towards the cruel fate that awaits her…..

Lee Soon (King Sukjong)

The ruler who holds the Kingly power with strength, Joseon’s most absolute and powerful ruler. For his Joseon kingdom to have peace and stability, he is the cruel man who will kill with his own hands the only woman he ever loved in his life! He will sit alone on the King’s throne, a lifetime of sorrow and loneliness, that is his fate.

“The age of absolute royal power! The King is the nation!” He has the same ruling philosophy as Lois XIV, he is the 19th King of Joseon Lee Soon. He ascended the throne at the age of fourteen and immediately could match wits with the ministers. Enduring countless political attacks made him into a seasoned, intelligent, and ruthless warrior. “No minister can challenge the King’s authority.” Lee Soon’s life seemed to be fated to kill. Because his ministers time and again challenged his position and plotted against him, Lee Soon had no choice but to face this bloody reality.

But Lee Soon’s heart is filled with the infinite loneliness of a man facing the fate of a King. In this icy cold heart, there was one woman who walked in. She crossed the sharp ragged barriers of their class difference, using her own talent to illuminate the world, she was a woman named Jang Ok Jung. But…a King’s love will severely shake up the power play in government. Ok Jung’s background is from Noron faction, the party that opposes the currently in power Soron faction. Lee Soon realizes that he must proactively protect his love……….

Hyun Chi Soo

To bring back Ok Jung, he has come back to Joseon from the depths of hell and become the richest merchant in the nation. His entire life is devoted to shedding blood to bring back the Ok Jung that was before. He bleeds until the very end, when he loudly and proudly proclaims to the King “For your insignificant power, you threw her away. But I can throw everything away just for her!”

In Jang Ok Jung’s theatrical life, this man existed and was her first love. He was almost drowned by Jang Hyun who said “You bastard, if you cannot have more wealth than the top merchant of Joseon that is me, and more power than the King of Joseon, then don’t even dream about having Ok Jung.” After he survived and settled in the Qing dynasty, to Chi Soo who got a second chance at life, Jang Hyun’s mockery was like the nails of death, it was his motivation to succeed.

So Chi Soo’s dream was to take everything away from Lee Soon! But the depths of the Palace is like an ocean, and Ok Jung is so far from his reach. He cannot hope to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Lee Soon, the King of Joseon. He cannot tightly hold on to his most precious Ok Jung. Lee Soon uses his power to push Chi Soo to the end of the road. For his own revenge, to save his Ok Jung, in the end he pays the price with everything. Because to keep in his heart the King’s woman was the original sin.

Min In Hyun (Queen In Hyun)

The second Queen of King Sukjong, the choice of a political marriage, born in the most illustrious noble family in Joseon, Her incredible pride makes her the fated rival to Jang Ok Jung. Though she is jealous of Ok Jung, her ultimate motivation is preserving her family honor and esteem. A woman born and raised to be Queen: money, prestige, power, she has it all and eventually she sits in the position of the Queen of the entire nation. The only thing she cannot have is the love of a man to a woman. Because of this, she cannot give up the image in the hearts of the nation’s citizens of her as the “kind mother of the nation”. This is only thing she clings onto to support her to keep walking forward.

In the deep recesses of her heart, she had the same hope for life as Ok Jung. To be like an ordinary woman, to be loved and cherished by her husband, the life that Ok Jung has. But compared to the temporary light of a firework, she would rather have the steady illumination of the moonlight. This is how she chooses to leave her mark, and this is the goal of her life. For this, no matter using what tactics, what methods, she will never show her hand. For her final wish, she would endure in the background so thoroughly that even her toenails are hidden away. Only then can she achieve her wish, to become the final victor who remains in the history books.

Prince Dongpyung

Born in the royal family, but he has never once coveted what belonged to others. A beautiful and pure soul. He keeps deep inside his heart a love that is more precious to him than his life. He can only watch from the sidelines as his dearest friend pushes his most beloved woman to the end of her road.

As a member of the royal family, his existence is to balance out Lee Soon. Diametrically opposite of Lee Soon, he is an upstanding and righteous young man. He is the only confidant of Lee Soon in a political whirlpool. He is always joking and appears not to care about the desires of the world. But that is his fate being born into the royal family, and his only way to survive.

Even his love for Ok Jung is the same – he helps Ok Jung secretly and protects her. Once he knows that she is Lee Soon’s woman, he hides his feelings for her. But he patiently and enduringly watches over this woman that he loves beyond all else. He thinks it is happiness just to be able to see Ok Jung. A simple but beautiful man.

But in the end, he cannot escape the cruel fate that puts the poison in his hand. He cannot endure having someone else do it, but he cannot bring himself to end her life……..

Dong Yi (Choi Sukbin)

She is as beautiful as Ok Jung, and just as bright and smart. But she is not as innocent as she seems, in truth she is a very calculating and impressive personage. She reads men’s likes and needs very astutely. She was a maid and the right hand woman to Queen In Hyun. She is the origin of all the danger that comes towards Ok Jung.


Complete Main Character Descriptions for Jang Ok Jung, Live In Love — 37 Comments

  1. I’m not sure I’d go quite so far as to compare this to Bu Bu Jing Xin personally – that was a once-in-a-lifetime drama for me in terms of feels.

    But I agree that this drama is very, very accomplished in its own right. It would have been even more amazing with better casting.

    • Agreed. I am merely using BBJX as a reference for some comparative benchmarks buts not intending to stack them up against each other. Only in terms of how its making me feel some real pathos brewing.

      Also agree on the accomplishment of JOJ being even better with a stronger cast. KTH is good (enough, for me) but Ha Ji Won would do more with showing her rage at life or Son Ye Jin bringing out more delicate sense of hope. Lee Sang Yeob, bless his sweet heart, acts like he’s still in I Live in Cheongdamdong, and when he talks with his Ok Jung-ah I half expect Oh Ji Eun’s face on the other side of him. I am also very very worried about Han Seung Yeon as Choi Sukbin.

    • From what I read through the character descriptions on Naver, the Dowager Queen is King Injo’s last queen, known posthumously as Queen Jangryeol. Historically, King Injo is Sukjong (Lee Soon)’s great-grandfather, BUT Sukjong and the Queen Dowager are not blood-related, since Sukjong’s maternal lineage comes from King Injo’s first wife/queen, Queen Inryeol. Queen Dowager also mentions having no blood relations to Sukjong during the preliminary crown princess selections in episode 3.

  2. I read a version of the descriptions awhile ago but these are better translated.

    I am definitely going to be a complete mess at the end of the drama. Oh boy… Lots of tragedy and not very much happiness headed this way. There is no way out for anyone. Isn’t there some rule that all the women in the palace are the king’s women? So once she enters the palace, she’s his technically anyways. Between CS and DP… I am going to be crying buckets because they can’t even compete fairly. There is no fair here. Her fate is the king and she loved him. I think my prediction that only the king and dong yi will make it through alive at the end is on target. Can we get a dream sequence where both are not royalty and can live happily as simple commoners? I would though like to see what this intense love looks like. King sukjong is a ruthless man – is he really going to crush CS? This is not for the faint hearted. How there can even be any love or happiness in this kind of environment would be a miracle. Everyone has an “evil” side – maybe except In Hyun and DP.

  3. Ms K, like you i didnt read through the character synopsis in detail at the beginning so i really appreciate this. From the looks of this, i have to ready myself with boxes of tissue. I just hope the journey will be worth it, and so far it has proven so (crosses fingers).

  4. My new addiction:D I dunno but everything in this drama look freaking beautiful especially KTH. She has that pure beauty.

  5. Thanks for this write up, specifically we’re truly engrossed and fascinated to this drama. Main actors were able to deliver significantly. Super special, we do love it!

  6. Three girls falling for the same guy. Three guys falling for the same girl.. Sounds like it could get complicated.. And yet it works. Every character definitely has their own moment to shine, and i’m curious as to how each of these characters and their relationships will play out.

  7. Ms Koala, I wasn’t planning to watch this. But have enjoyed your recaps. It does sound so good.

    But ma’am you do know how to strike fear into my heart. That is one scary, tears galore inducing story you’ve just given us today. Who the heck is going to watch something that will just tear their heart into tiny, tiny pieces and then jump on the pieces.

    Even I know the fate of the real characters in history. But now it’s even colouring my views of the so called good characters in history.

  8. poor women! it’s all because of King Sukjong for have too many wives with no equal care and love for them. Lol I watch all other drama about Sukjong period and I still trying to tell myself JOJ is “nice” and Queen Inhyun and Dong Yi are “evil”.

    • i watched Dong Yi, Ok jung not that bad actually, but when Sukjong heart betrayed hers, she became the way she is remembered in history. and i hate the idea that dong yi is evil.

  9. thank you for translating this, Ms K. I used to faithfully watched but never finish BBJX for fear that my heart couldn’t take the tear galore. now i have the same feeling that maybe i couldn’t finish JOJ. ah the fate of drama watcher, wait for great drama that offer trifecta but also happy ending (read: no one died).

  10. Thanks Koala!

    Having the character descriptions really helps me keep the “intrigue” straight. IMO, it makes the drama more meaningful when you “get” why a character makes a certain expression or takes a particular action.

    Besides, it’s another way to feed my (suprise) addiction to JOJ. Until next week!

  11. Wow! You’re right! The whole characters description really threw me for a loop! Now I can’t wait to see Chi Soo (Jae Hee) in actions. Oh, Dongpyung-gun. My heart and eyes are gonna bleed and tear so hard for you! Yoo Ah In is seriously rocking his Seja role so perfectly. His expressions, his movements, his looks; so good that it’s driving me so insane! Yes, when a drama comes with no expectations, everything seems out of this world perfect. And now I am praying hard for FOJ to have the same effect on me, tho it’s rather unlikely since I have pretty high expectations on that drama now. But thank you, Ms. Koala for sharing. This show is gonna be one heck of a ride. And I can foresee myself slipping back into the Moon/Sun hype again. 😛

  12. Wonder if they creating all JOJ characters based on history.. coz it has different interpretation from Dong Yi. In Dong yi’s version.. the king is not skillful in Martial art. In dong yi’s JOJ evil’s side is elicited by the fact that she was being under pressure from political side and her own ambition.. and dong yi…her evil side is because she wants to survive in the palace since she didn’t represent any politics party. So i wonder which one is true or its all a mere fantasy.

  13. Oooh goosh…
    I think I need to prepare myself.. Reading your descriptions alone could bring mix feeling to me..
    This drama is suprisingly making me addicted..
    Anyway thank you for posting this..

  14. the thing i don’t like about this drama is how far it deviates in portraying jang heebin from what is written in history book.

    she was not a good person and full of ambition. she was the cause why queen in hyun was exiled n in the end she was trying to kill inhyun but it fired back cos the king found out n killed her at the end.

    • Are you sure you know what you are talking about?

      Jang Heebin has only in modern days (since 1930s onward) been in scrubs of Korean history books been written as a sexpot power hungry bitch. Remember that history is written by the victor. Who is the victor in that battle? Dong Yi (Choi Sukbin). Her son was the one who became the next long-serving King. Do you think he would have written down that his mom was involved? No, he wrote that his mom Dong Yi was perfect and angelic and saintly. For Queen In Hyun, who his mom served and they were all on the same side, then she was the victim as well. Jang Heebin’s side was the opponent, the enemy, of the eventual victors. I’m not surprised history paints her as black. More modern scholars have acknowledged that Jang Heebin was as much a victim as In Hyun in all the in-fighting. It was a battle where all the women were sacrificed in the end.

      There is no such thing as “history book” that is gospel. If you go to North Korea, try reading their history books. Look no further than Japan, which national curriculum teaches “history” once it gets to WWII that significantly deviates from what other countries said happened. Japan refuses to acknowledge the used Korean and Chinese comfort women. Tens of thousands of them. I’m sure the US history book and the British history books discuss the Revolutionary War differently. Facts about events don’t change, but motivations can certainly be colored.

      • Just like how Shakespeare wrote Richard III as a hunchback monster!!! Epiphany…. 😀

      • Could you show us the source that more modern scholars have acknowledged that Jang Heebin was as much a victim as In Hyun in all the in-fighting? Are you sure you know what you are talking about?

      • I read about this before~ and I agree with you that history book is not a gospel. It depends on who wrote it and his political tendencies. History has two faces in one coin.

  15. Thank you for this stellar recommendation. I wouldn’t have given it a go, if you hadn’t mentioned it. I’m only halfway through the first episode and already I love the set, the costumes, the premise and the subversion of recorded history. The fact that it presents a stylised anachronistic (?) fashion facet is just icing on the cake. The acting could be better but I’ll take that and hope for improvement. 😉

    PS: I just kept rewinding to catch the details!

  16. At first I thought it’s going to be the writer imaginative of romance fiction inJoseon time, but after read this Character Description. Then comes the 2nd thought, yes, it’s true that “there’re always 2 sides of everything” but which side depend on their circumstance.
    Surely! many histories will be on the turn, in the future.
    Most of us already known one side story of 4 main characters (King Sukjong, Queen Inhyun, Jang Hee Bin and Dong Yi) from Dong Yi, and now JOJ, for the other side of their character,
    I really love and enjoy this drama and your recap, it’s getting more exciting and will be a lot of heartbreaking scenes T,.T can’t wait!
    I wonder! There were fashion show, Tea Palace Party and the character of Hyun Chi-soo n Prince Dongpyung at that time!!!!

    Thanks a lot for the translation ♡koala♡

  17. As always Auntie K, only you can turn me into a True addict ( just like you did for LTM).
    I started to watch Jang Ok Jung, LIL because of you and then because it’s such good crack.

    This show is so freaking good, I was like Gu Family Book who?
    Im in love with this show and can’t understand why ain’t there more addicts.

    Thank you again for ALWAYS giving us the goods!!!

    • nah the writer changed their ages and other details, as like OJ is only 2yrs than LS here. He’s probably 19 now, she’s 21.

  18. Thank you! this’s a must read in order to get a better view and understand this drama, I must stop mixing them up between the 2 versions… So I need to erase “Dong Yi” of my mind at the time be… then enjoy “JOJ” version more, and I hope that Mr scriptwriter will has a well balance of sorrow & happiness, otherwise my poor eyes because I’m a real crybaby.

  19. Thanks Ms Koala. I am obsessed with JOJ.

    I will believe that Ok Jung is the one and only true love for Lee Soon for the sake of this drama and forget about Dong Yi….hehehe

    I hope this drama gives us a satisfying happy ending…instead of going ahead showing the fall of JOJ….

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