This year has seen me binge watching more television since I watched the first two seasons of Supernatural back in 2005 (or the mini series of Pride and Prejudice), and I don’t think there is any sign of me slowing down. That is because I have discovered K Drama (Korean Drama), and I am hooked (I’ve watched approximately 16 series since March).
Today I want to share a little bit with you the latest K Drama I have watched recently, and today it is: Rookie Historian Goo Hae Ryung.
This drama was fun, feel good and to put it simply made me smile from ear to ear. There were mysterious story arcs that pulled me in, even if they were a little predictable (in a satisfying way – sometimes I just love to sit back and just enjoy the ride).
I will put in a bit of a preface here. This isn’t a review, nor do I plan to go over a synopsis in great detail (if at all). There are lots of amazing blogs and podcasts that really deep dive into the stories and actors on the interwebs you can look up. I just felt called to share my experience and my takeaways.
Set in the early 19th century, this drama is about a young woman, Goo Hae Ryung, who (along with three other young noble women) become the first female historians (to record the daily lives of the women in the palace). A Historian’s role was to record everything they saw around them, and these records were kept with the intention of assisting future generations.
The leading man (I call him a boy – I feel old) is Prince Yi Rim who has been kept hidden from the world his entire life (due to family secrets and such that comes out towards the end of the drama). He is also secretly a romance novelist, despite no real life experience in romance (or socially at all).
There is also a bunch of other characters we get to know along the way, banned books, secret meetings, and secret plans that unfold.
But I want to talk about the relationships. Firstly, the relationship between Goo Hae Ryung and Yi Rim brings a breath of fresh air in terms of the typical male/female archetypes. What I mean by that is Yi Rim has a life/role not dissimilar to female roles (ie the whimsical princess waiting for her prince to save her), and Hae Ryung having the more worldly, realistic, forward and hands on role.
A little more about the lead characters…
Goo Hae Ryung is sensible, down to earth and has a realistic view on how the world works and the expectations the world around her has on women, lower classes, and on love. But she has a clear focus on making her own way in the world, and strong values on fairness and rightness. She is independent and wants to be able to make her own decisions about her future. And so she decides that instead of going through with an arranged marriage, she takes the exams to become an Historian. I feel she has clear idea on how things should be, and takes action and steps towards creating that for those around her.
Yi Rim, on the other hand, is protected, sheltered, naive and has a romantic ideal of the world out there. He lives in a bubble. I feel that he doesn’t even realise that the world isn’t actually as he imagines. I feel he doesn’t even know the world isn’t as it should be. But he does get to experience the world, and in one episode he and Hae Ryung visit a village experiencing a smallpox outbreak. In this episode Yi Rim sees the reality of the world around him. But instead of running and hiding and burying his head in the sand, he makes brave decisions to help the people around him.
As the drama unfolds Yi Rim begins to experience and see unfairness around him (and to him), and we see a passionate and determined young man wishing to right the wrongs. And all along, his only wish is to live a normal life, his own life, with his love Hae Ryung.
For me, these two characters were similiar in the values they held. Fairness, wanting to choose their own path in life, a willingness to go to great lengths to do the right thing for the people around them. I loved that even though they came from different worlds (I admit Hae Ryung was a noble lady so she didn’t have to exactly rough it in life), they never hesitated to step up and do what needed to be done.
I feel like I relate more to Yi Rim’s character, and a lot his feelings resonated with me. I am fairly sheltered and have a lot of ideals about the world, and love romantic stories, and not a whole lot of experience of any of it.
There were many funny moments, swoony moments and heartbreaking moments in this drama, and the “complication” I felt was addressed and wrapped up fairly swiftly. I liked this because the overall tone and message of the story was weighing more towards the feel good side of things, and to make the complication/climax too intense would have left too much negative energy around it (in my personal opinion).
There were so many other characters to love (and love to hate), but I won’t get into those (I’ll be here all day). But I must mention that the filming and feel of the drama appearance wise was warm, bright and felt inspiring. I really enjoyed the whole thing thoroughly.
So, there you have it. Let me know if you have watched this drama, and what you thought.