The tumultuous life of Korea's most famous gisaeng comes to screen in the acclaimed KBS period epic Hwang Jin Yi
. Having already left a deep impression with the period drama Damo
, actress Ha Ji Won takes on the challenge of portraying the titular Hwang Jin Yi, a 16th-century gisaeng (Korean geisha) renowned for her beauty and her intelligence. Both revered and reviled in her lifetime and the next, Hwang Jin Yi left behind some poems, scant records of her life, and a myriad of rumors about her romantic encounters. In the hands of director Kim Chul Kyu (More Beautiful Than Flowers
) and writer Yoon Sun Joo (The Immortal Lee Soon Shin
), Hwang Jin Yi
paints a sensitive portrait of a strong, unyielding woman who saw life in beautiful colors, ahead of her time in a relentlessly class-based society. Ha Ji Won received the top Daesang award at the 2006 KBS Drama Awards for her performance.
Born to a blind gisaeng, Hwang Jin Yi (Ha Ji Won) was sent to a remote mountain temple at a young age, as her mother hoped that her daughter would be able to escape the life she led. Fate, however, works in strange ways. One day, seven-year-old Jin Yi comes across a gisaeng performance. Captured by their beautiful singing and dancing, young Jin Yi runs away the next day and enters a gisaeng training school. From that day on, she walks a lonely path, eventually becoming the Joseon era's top gisaeng. Hwang Jin Yi is forever linked with the names of those who loved her. Her tragic first love with a nobleman's son (Jang Geun Suk) sets the tone for much of her later relationships, including her troubled marriage with poet Kim Jung Han (Kim Jae Won, in his first costume role). Brazen royal Byuk Kye Soo (newcomer Yoo Tae Jun) and loyal bodyguard Lee Seng (Lee Shi Hwan) would also play great roles in Hwang Jin Yi's life. Her name belonged to the times, but her heart would spend a lifetime searching for its home.
Also taking front stage in the drama are the brilliant costumes and amazing set designs that bring the world of Hwang Jin Yi to life. KBS spared no efforts to recreate Joseon era Korea, and the results unfold magnificently on screen. The vivid array of hanbok (traditional Korean dress), designed by Kim Hye Sun, has attracted a lot of attention, as far as to influence Korean fashion trends, and the elaborate set has become a tourist spot.