Will ‘Gogeojeon’, which even the original author is angry about, continue to be popular? [MK Issue]

‘Goryeo Khitan War’ still. Photo|KBS
‘Goryeo Khitan War’ still. Photo|KBS

While the original author and viewers expressed dissatisfaction with the drama’s development, attention is focused on whether ‘The Goryeo Khitan War’ will be able to continue its popularity with a convincing plot.

The 32-part KBS2 epic historical drama ‘Goryeo Khitan War’ (written by Lee Jeong-woo, directed by Jeon Woo-seong and Kim Han-sol), with a total production cost of 27 billion won, is about the Goryeo emperor Hyeonjong (Kim Dong-jun) who united Goryeo with tolerant leadership and led the war against the Khitans to victory. This work tells the story of Kang Gam-chan (Choi Soo-jong), his political mentor and commander-in-chief of the Goryeo army.

After its first broadcast in November last year, it gained popularity as the fast-paced plot, spectacular war scenes, and passionate performances of the actors created a synergistic effect. Episode 15, which aired on the 6th, recorded the highest viewer rating of 10.2% (Nielsen Korea nationwide standard), and was ranked 2nd in the Good Data Corporation TV-OTT integrated drama topicality survey for the second week of January, capturing both viewership and topicality.. ‘King of Historical Dramas’ Choi Soo-jong won the grand prize at the ‘2023 KBS Drama Awards’ for ‘Goryeo Khitan War’, and Ji Seung-hyeon, who played Yang Gyu, received the Excellence Award.

In particular, the first half of the film was successfully completed and received rave reviews, including the warrior scene of the hero General Yang-gyu, which was rediscovered in this work. However, as the second half began, voices of criticism emerged about the development of the play, and it became embroiled in controversy.

In episodes 17 and 18, which aired on the 13th and 14th, King Hyeonjong and Kang Gam-chan were shown in conflict over the military and county system. In this process, Hyeonjong was unable to control his anger and was depicted trying to strangle Gang Gam-chan, while a scene was broadcast where Hyeonjong was unable to control his anger and suffered a fall from his horse while driving his horse.

'Goryeo Khitan War' poster. Photo|KBS
‘Goryeo Khitan War’ poster. Photo|KBS

After the broadcast, writer Gil Seung-soo, the author of the original story, expressed his dissatisfaction by posting a post on his blog on the 15th titled ‘Episode 16: Original content after Yang-gyu’s death in battle.’

Writer Gil said, “The original contract with KBS was not only for the published ‘Goryeo Khitan War: Heroes of Goryeo,’ but also for ‘Goryeo Khitan War: Battle of Europe and China,’ which I am currently writing.” About a page was provided to KBS. “It contains the post-war recovery after Yang-gyu’s death,” he said.

Regarding the scene of Hyeonjong falling from a horse, he emphasized, “Of course, Hyeonjong’s falling from a horse in episode 18 is not in the original work,” and added, “I explained Hyeonjong’s character well to the production team, but in the end, the script writer used it however he wanted and this led to this failure. They are making a fool out of someone who can be considered the most famous soldier in Korean history. The script writer’s problem is bigger than you think. He pointed out, “I went through a lot of trouble because of my horse in ‘Taejong Yi Bangwon’, but I fell from my horse again.”

He said, “I should have been fully familiar with the historical facts and received sufficient advice before writing the script, but I don’t think I was sufficiently familiar with it.” He added, “It appears that the script writer is deliberately trying to avoid the original work and write his own work. As he tries to avoid the original work, he also avoids the history within it when writing. Until episode 16, it was still within the bounds of the original work, but from episode 17 onwards, it has completely written its own work. “It’s hard to believe that someone like this would write a historical drama for the public broadcaster KBS,” he criticized.

He also said, “I hope that the drama will soon escape from the third category,” and “It is not too late, so I hope that even now, I will come to my senses and the script will flow according to history.” My personal opinion is that you can ignore the original work, but since it is a saga, I hope you don’t ignore the history. “That is very unfortunate,” he pointed out.

Viewers who quenched their thirst for authentic historical dramas with ‘Goryeo Khitan War’ are also expressing disappointment, saying, “It’s a major development that deviates from actual history.”

Among these, director Jeon Woo-sung, who was in charge of directing, chose the changing history of ‘Hyeonjong’ as a point to watch in the second half, saying, “How Hyeonjong, who came back after realizing the problem of Goryeo in Mongjin, overcomes the wounds of war and brings Goryeo together, and how he led the war. “The monarch’s appearance is revealed in earnest,” he said.

“In the meantime, a military coup took place, and King Hyeonjong was once again reduced to a scarecrow. “Hyeonjong overcomes this, and the third war with the last Khitans begins,” he said. “The story is expected to become richer as it progresses toward the latter half.” “Please watch as Hyeonjong overcomes the crisis and transforms into a saint,” he said.

Attention is being paid to whether the ‘Khitan War of Goryeo’, which has been receiving harsh criticism after entering its second half, will be able to maintain its popularity with a convincing plot.

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