Korean history dramas\' audience growing - (OSO : 7878)
Korean history dramas\' audience growing

By Jeff Chung
The historical Korean drama \"Jumong\" is a production of one of the three largest networks in South Korea, where its ratings are soaring.

Contemporary Korean dramas have taken center stage in Hawai\'i, but historical dramas, too, have a huge following — particularly among local men.

Men have taken a big interest in dramas such as \"Emperor of the Sea\" and \"Immortal Yi Soon Shin.\" Now, at 9:30 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, \"Jumong\" has taken the limelight.

The story of \"Jumong\" dates to the foundations of Korea in the 2nd century B.C., when three kingdoms existed: Goguryeo, Silla and Baekje.

The English name for Korea was derived from the Goryeo dynasty, which had a large territory in what is now northeast China.

Jumong, or Chumong, was the name of the founding king of Goguryeo, played in the historical drama by Song Il Gook.

This series is a production of MBC, one of the three largest networks in South Korea, and a special program developed to celebrate its 45th anniversary.

In South Korea, the ratings of \"Jumong\" are soaring in prime time. The MBC network plans to turn its multi-acre set into a tourist attraction after the program is over.

There is some confusion as to how to spell the lead character\'s name; it\'s spelled \"Chumong\" in the subtitles. In the late 1990s, South Korea adopted a standard for English-language spellings that reflect the pronunciation of the place name. So Cheju Island is now Jeju Island and Pusan is now Busan. The old spelling of the founding king\'s name was \"Chumong,\" but it\'s pronounced with a \"J\" sound.

Whoever did the translation at the network did not follow the standardization, instead using the old way of spelling; the drama is subtitled using the spelling Chumong when it should have been Jumong.

Since the network chose to use this format, KBFD had to be consistent when providing schedule information and promotion.

Adding to the confusion, Jumong is also known as \"Jungmo\" and \"Chumo,\" depending on which Chinese character is used to spell the name.

Jumong has a mythical background, as he is said to have been the son of Hae Mosu, the son of the Sun God. Jumong\'s mother was the daughter of a river god, Habek, named Yuhwa. Yuhwa gave birth to an egg from which came Jumong.

The word jumong is supposed to have meant skilled in archery, as Hae Mosu was extremely talented with the bow.

Jumong is said to have had tremendous archery skills from birth and to be a natural leader, but in the TV program, Jumong is played as more of a quiet and subtle character.

In the opening action of series, Jumong\'s palace brothers are trying to get the title of crown prince, currying favor from the king. And Jumong marries a woman named Ye Bu-young, who bears him his son Yuri.

Jumong, in fear for his life from his palace brothers, leaves for Jolbon land, where he befriends leaders in Gaeru. After gaining the support of Gaeru provincial leaders, he joins with other neighboring tribes and establishes Goguryeo, changing his surname from Hae to Go.

\"Go,\" which means \"high\" in Chinese characters, is the \"Go\" in Goguryeo. Jumong was also known as King Dongmyeongseong.

Jumong then marries Soseuno, a princess of Gaeru who bears him two sons. His first wife and son Yuri escape to Goguryeo, and Jumong then gives the title of crown prince to Yuri.

Jeff Chung is general manager of KBFD, which televises Korean dramas. If you have a K-drama question or comment, call KBFD at 521-8066 or reach him at jeff chung@kbfd.com.
 Copyright © 2005 OSO All rights reserved.