SBS is bringing its new drama “Jejungwon” about the nation’s first modern hospital during the Joseon Kingdom. Starring Yeon Jung-hun, right, Park Yong-woo, left, and Han Hye-jin, the soap will start airing Jan. 4 at 10 p.m. / Courtesy of SBS
By Han Sang-hee
This year's lineup of dramas proved to be interesting. There were young, handsome characters attracting female fans (``Boys Over Flowers,'' KBS), smart housewives took over households and offices (``My Wife is a Superwoman,'' MBC) and ancient royalty (``The Great Queen Seondeok,'' MBC) and intelligence agents (``Iris,'' KBS) fought for their lives on the small screen.
For 2010, networks are preparing another year of compelling dramas based on history, catchy storylines and even war.
Back to the Past
Three networks are traveling back in time, mostly to the Joseon era (1392-1910) for their 2010 lineups.
SBS will air ``Jejungwon,'' a stylish drama about the nation's first "modern" hospital during the Joseon Kingdom period. It will star Yeon Jung-hun, husband of actress Han Ka-in, as the rich and smart doctor Baek Do-yang, and movie star Park Yong-woo will appear as Joseon's first surgeon, Hwang Jung. Actress Han Hye-jin will star as Joseon's first female doctor. Historic records show that doctors at Jejungwon looked after many sick people, regardless of their economic status in the hierarchical Joseon society. ``Jejungwon'' will begin airing Jan. 4 at 10 p.m. on SBS.
KBS will present three different dramas based on the theme of noblesse oblige and present famous historical figures that spent their lives performing various services. The first of the three is ``Myungga'' (working title), which presents the history of the Choi family, a famous household of 300 years ago based in Gyeongju, North Gyeongsang Province. ``Myungga'' literally means a noble household. Starring Cha In-pyo and Han Go-eun, it will show the rules and discipline the Choi family had to go through during the turbulent Joseon Kingdom. The series will start airing Jan. 2 at 9:40 p.m.
Following the 16-episode ``Myungga'' will be ``The Merchant, Kim Man-deok'' (working title), starring actress Lee Mi-yeon as a courageous merchant of the Joseon era. The drama will feature Lee as Kim Man-deok (1739-1812), who donated all her belonging to poor villagers living on Jeju Island. This is Lee's first drama in three years, and her first period drama in eight years since the hit series ``The Last Empress'' on KBS.
``The Merchant, Kim Man-deok'' will start airing on KBS in March.
The final series of KBS' ``noblesse oblige'' project will be about independence fighter Lee Hoe-young (1867-1932). When Japanese invaded Korea, Lee donated all of his savings and moved to China to build a school. He trained soldiers and scholars who later led the army to win numerous battles during the early 20th century. He died in prison after being captured and tortured by the Japanese army. Further details regarding the series are to be confirmed soon.
MBC will bring back producer Lee Byung-hun ― the maker of hit television series including ``Jewels in the Palace,'' ``Heo Jun,'' ``Prince of the Legend'' and ``Lee San, Wind of the Palace'' ― to offer ``Dongi' (working title) in March. The new drama will present the story of King Sukjong (1661-1720) of the Joseon Kingdom and Sukbin Choi, one of his consorts. Choi later gave birth to King Youngjo (1694-1776). Actor Ji Jin-hee, who also starred in ``Jewel in the Palace,'' will appear as King Sukjong. Han Hyo-joo, the young heroine of popular drama ``Brilliant Legacy'' (SBS), will play the part of Choi.
Meanwhile, KBS will follow "Iris" with ``Chuno," a show about house servants referred to as ``chuno." The drama will star Jang Hyuk as slave hunter Lee Dae-gil and Oh Ji-ho as the slave Song Tae-ha. ``Chuno'' begins airing Jan. 6 at 9:55 p.m. on KBS.
MBC is continuing with its successful streak of culinary dramas with "Pasta," following ``Jewel in the Palace'' (2003), ``My Lovely Sam-soon'' (2005) and ``Coffee Prince'' (2007). The story revolves around aspiring female chef Seo Yu-gyeong, played by model-turned actress Kong Hyo-jin. The series will follow the relationships between Seo, chef Choi Hyun-wook (Lee Sun-kyun) and sous chef Geum Suk-ho (Lee Hyung-chul), and also give an inside view of a kitchen and the making of Italian dishes. ``Pasta'' will start airing Jan. 4 at 10 p.m.
Actress Moon Geun-young returns to the small screen as an evil sibling in the upcoming drama ``Cinderella's Sister'' (working title). This will be the first evil role for the 22-year-old, who is famous for her innocent image. ``Cinderella's Sister'' is scheduled to air in March.
KBS will air a Japanese manga-based drama called ``Master of Study," which is based on ``Dragon Zakura'' by Norifusa Mita. It's the story of a young boy and his friends who learn the importance of studying and friendship as they prepare for the university entrance exam. Funny man Kim Su-ro will appear for the first time in a television series as a charismatic and headstrong teacher, while boy-next-door Yoo Seung-ho will star as the stubborn yet charming Hwang Bek-hyun. The soap will start airing Jan. 4 at 10 p.m.
The year 2010 marks the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War (1950-1953), so it's fitting that there will be a couple of dramas depicting the war.
Heartthrob So Ji-sub will star in MBC's ``Road No. 1,'' a drama about the survival of two young soldiers. Along with So, movie star Kim Ha-neul will return to the small screen as a military doctor. The title refers the main road that connected South and North Korea during the war. ``Road No. 1'' is scheduled to air in June.
KBS is working on ``Jeonwoo'' (working title), which means comrade. It's a remake of a popular television series in the 1970s, and the state-run network will upgrade the drama into a series depicting the war and its aftermath. Details on the project will be confirmed soon.