KPop Academy Week 5 Assignment: Shadows in the palace Review.

Friday, 28 March 2014

For this week's assignment, I chose the option which said to Watch Korean historical film or drama and summarize it in 1 minute. (make video, take photo, drawing, writing). 

I decided to watch the historical mystery thriller Shadows in the Palace or  궁녀~Gungnyeo which translates to maid of Honour. The movie depicts the lives of court maids who are referred to as gungnyeo during the Joseon dynasty. It is the first feature film by director Kim Mee-Jung.


The movie opens up with a narration during one of the sacrificial ritual of palace maids, It reminds about the ceremony were they are sworn to secrecy, celibacy and submission. The point where they enter the royal court and give up their lives to the well-being of the royal family, devoting to protect the crown and abide by its laws. 

Six years later, It was still the joseon era and the queen has not birth an heir, however the royal concubine, Hee-bin, has given birth to a boy. The Queen mother was furious about this and demanded that the baby be given to the Queen to adopt. Hee-Bin hesitates with the decision fearing for her life if she gives in. 

The story evolves into a complicated series of lies, conspiracy, murder and deceit. The court nurse Chun-ryung's adamant desire at bringing justice to the murdered victims.We watch as events unfold in the palace surrounding the birth of the prince and incidences occurring leading up to his coronation.

 My thoughts

The movie showed me the trials and tribulations of women during the Joseon era.  How hierarchy affected people's right to freedom of speech. It was a tale of lies, secrets and deception. How the weak were taking advantage of in the instance of the maid who was bullied because she couldn't speak. She was falsely accused of stealing which lead to her being tortured in order to tell the truth. Even though the other maids knew she wasn't at fault they kept mum for fear of suffering the same fate. 

The maids live exclusively to serve their masters even to the extent of bearing the punishment for their master's wrongdoings. This is shown in the scene were a maid sacrificed herself willingly to be punished for the wrong-doings of her mistress, and even though she was denied and her mistress started receiving the punishment, she couldn't bear to watch and intervened without a fear of the consequence. This made me wonder about what it was like to sacrifice yourself to a cause. I wonder if it was the same as the soldiers who went to war.

The fear that is being instilled in the subjects and the methods of punishment back then would have been said to be a violation of their rights in the modern era. It was sadistic to a certain extent in some cases and it makes you appreciate the advent of the modern world.

I also applaud the courage of the nurse for fighting her best to sticking to her ideals in the face of adversity. She decided to walk on the path of truth and justice at a time when it was unheard of for someone of her statue. Even though in the end she was compelled to keep the promises she maid to protect the royal family. Although it is saddening to see how hierarchy in the palace created injustice, It is comforting to see the actions of the few who fought for it.

Overall I appreciate the story being focused on the women of the era as opposed to most historical drama which focused on men. It gave me a window into how women handled power, also at the roles they had like nurses, detective and so on. This is far from the traditional role of a woman of that time that history usually depicts. Also a look at the intricate details revolving around running of a palace during the historical times.



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