Methinketh show’s ratings maketh no senseI’ve been taking Seoul’s subways for more than a decade, and I don’t find the ride a huge nuisance.
It’s my two cents that subways, as well as taxis, are perfect for obtaining a realistic view of society. Listening to average folks’ everyday conversation, you get an unfiltered view of today’s Koreans and their ideas.
In Seoul’s subways, middle-aged men practice politics, young men whisper sweet nothings into their cell phones and college students enjoy slash metal, its sound traveling through their headphones to nearby passengers. While viewing this slice of life on my way home Monday night, however, I observed something that does not belong in today’s Seoul. The words “Thou shalt repent it if thou wouldst forget my birthday,” came from a teenage girl on her cell phone.
Curious, I looked at her. She kept on with her archaic language for a good two minutes, as if it was the most natural thing. Shortly, I learned it was hip among teens these days to use classical language. For this, we can thank the TV drama “Cheonnyeonjiae” (Love of a Millennium).
Airing Saturdays and Sundays at 9:40 p.m. on SBS-TV, “Love of a Millennium” deals with a hackneyed love triangle, spiced with a time travel arrangement.
Launched in late March, the drama is set around the period of the Baekje Dynasty (16 B.C. to A.D. 660). Buyeoju, the last princess of the dynasty, falls in love with Ari, the country’s young general. His friend, Yuseok, however, already is keen on the princess. A former prince of a doomed kingdom, he dresses in camouflage to plot his revenge and kill Ari.
Ari flees to a cliff, princess by his side, only to be shot to death by an arrow as the princess falls over the cliff.
Zipping ahead several hundred years, the princess lands in modern Seoul, only to be saved by fashion designer In-cheol, the reincarnation of Ari.
Yuseok is revived as a member of the Japanese royal family, representing their interests in Korea. Without any knowledge of the past, the two men fall into yet another love triangle with the princess.
Unaware of modern times, the princess maintains her high-handed way of talking, sheds tears at history books describing the fall of her dynasty and insists on proper treatment for a princess. She is thus named Gong-ju in modern Seoul, which means, well, a princess. Seeing Ms. Princess chatting on the cell phone in her archaic language is too comic, even pathetic, but that’s the rage among teenagers today. It may be fun to mimic Ms. Princess, but it’s not at all educational.
Lee Gwan-hee, the show’s producer, admits that the drama is far from being a serious period piece. “Seventy percent of the drama is dedicated to romance, while 20 percent is about having fun and only the other 10 percent is history,” he says. Perhaps the only history one can pick up from this drama is the dead language.
The cast’s crummy acting, something Mr. Lee calls “an adventure,” is also hard to miss. Seong Yu-ri, starring as Ms. Princess, also belongs to dance troupe Fin.K.L (which stands for Fine Killing Liberty). O.K., she’s great eye candy, but her acting leaves much to be desired. Ms. Seong admitted as much, saying “I don’t expect my acting to improve all of a sudden.”
The two male protagonists, former athlete So Ji-seop, and Kim Nam-jin, a model, are not much different. While Mr. So is good at staring angrily at others, Mr. Kim’s words are hardly decipherable. When he mumbles a line, which sometimes is in Japanese, it’s hard to tell what language he’s speaking. Despite the poor quality, “Love of a Millennium” is a big hit, and I guess I’ll be hearing plenty of archaic words for the time being on my subway ride home.
by Chun Su-jin
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