Writer: Valerie Kaye Taozen from TEF
Original post : Epiphany blog
Original post : Epiphany blog
Proofreading : Fenny Setiawan from TEF
Daebak drama will be airing on the 28th March 2016. This post is part of TEF Blog activity to promote the drama. We would like eels and viewers to understand each of the drama character. Today, let's start with DaeGil :).
As everyone prepares to watch Daebak, separating fact from fiction helps in understanding the story and the political history of the times in which Dae-gil lived.
So, let’s start at the beginning of Dae-Gil’s life.
By 1693, King Sukjong of Joseon was becoming tired of the machination of the Soron faction and his current Queen, Jang Ok Jung (Hui-Bin). Since Queen In Hyeon had not produced any children that Sukjong desperately wanted, Hui-Bin was raised from concubine to Queen after the birth of her son, Yi Yun (later known as King Gyeongjong). His previous Queen, In Hyeon, a member of the Noron Faction, was exiled and many among her family and faction were either exiled or killed as a result of the Yi Yun’s birth and the raising of Hui-Bin to queen.
Think of it this way: a guy desperately wants a son. His wife can’t give him any children and he begins a legal affair. The woman with whom he has an affair gives birth to a son so he decides to dump his legal wife in favor of his mistress…and not only that he decides to dump her relatives in the most harsh way possible.
But the affection between the new Royal Queen Consort and King Sukjong failed to last. Some say it was the political intrigues of the time that caused her downfall.
Regardless, enter stage right, Choi Suk-Bin.
It’s said that while King Sukjong was passing Choi Dong Yi’s room, he saw kneeling before a small alter, praying for the health and safety of former Queen In Hyeon. He was so moved by her kindness and modesty that he took her for his next concubine.
That maiden has been given various names in dramas and history, but the most commonly known are Dong-Yi, made famous from the drama of the same name, and Choi Suk-Bin, the name by which she is most commonly referred. Little is known about her as she came from the lowest class of Joseon society. It’s stated that she entered the palace as a musuri or water maid, i.e. a palace slave, as the age of seven. Essentially, that means her primary job was to wash clothes.
Regardless, she caught King Sukjong’s eye and was elevated to the status of concubine. In 1693, she gave birth to her first son, Prince Yeongsu, by Sukjong. The records say Yeongsu died young. However, the records do not provide a reason for his death or a date. Furthermore, the historical record says there was some speculation, undoubtedly on the part of the Soron Faction seeking to protect Hui-Bin and her young prince, that Yongsu was not the son of Sukjong but the child of a previous lover. Now, remember too that Lady Choi was a member of the Noron Faction, which was out of power, so it behooved the dominant Soron Faction to claim Yongsu’s illegitimacy.
Nevertheless, the next year, in 1694, two things occurred that affected the political history of the Joseon Dynasty. The first was that King Sukjong demoted his current queen, Hui-Bin as she’s most commonly known, while returning his former queen, In Hyeon, to the throne. The second is that Lady Choi gave birth to another son, Prince Yeonying (Yi-Geum) who later became King Yeongjo.
Separating fact from fiction…
What if, however, the infant Prince Yeongsu did not die? Let’s speculate for a moment that Sukjong believed the rumors that Yongsu was the son of a former Lady Choi lover and not his son? He certainly wouldn’t want this infant to someday to inherit the throne. Obviously, the infant must die!
Now, let’s pretend for a moment that instead of dying, the infant Prince Yongsu was spirited out of the palace, by Norons loyal to Lady Choi and Queen In Hyeon, to live as a commoner…and that the infant Yongsu grows up under the assumed name of Dae-Gil.
Unaware that he is the half brother of Gyeongjong and the full brother of Yeonying, Dae-Gil, nevertheless, possesses all the cunning and intelligence of his father, Sukjong. Using his inherited abilities, he grows up to become a magnificent swindler and gambler (tajja).
Prince Gyeonjong becomes King in 1720, after the death of Sukjong. The Soron faction reigns supreme, and Prince Yeongyin’s life is under constant threat because he is supported by the Noron faction. Nevertheless, he is made Crown Prince Successor Brother (wangseje) four months after Gyeongjong assumes the throne.
Four years pass. Yeongyin has assumed most of the duties of his sickly brother. Then, King Gyeongjong dies. Yeongjong is accused by the Soron faction of killing the King, but he overcomes the accusations to become King Yeongju.
So…what of Dae-Gil, the supposedly dead infant Prince Yeongsu? Only the writer, cast and crew know.