A Tree With Deep Roots

A Tree With Deep Roots (2011)

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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 1,191 users
Reviews: 11 users

Early in his reign, King Se Jong accidentally causes the death of his in-laws and their slaves in an attempt to save them from his brutal father, King Tae Jong. Two young slaves, Ddol Bok and his friend Dam, survive but neither knows the other has. Ddol Bok blames the king and vows to kill him to avenge the deaths of everyone he loved. He spends several years becoming a great warrior. read moreDam, who has a photographic memory, becomes a court lady called So Yi, but she feels so guilty about her role in the other slaves' deaths that she is mute.
Ddol Bok returns to the palace under the name of Kang Chae Yoon in order to kill the king. However, he becomes embroiled in the mystery surrounding the deaths of several Hall of Worthies scholars. The deaths were caused by a secret society called "Hidden Root," which was created long ago by followers of Jeong Do Jeon, with the goal of giving more power to ministers and less to the king. King Tae Jong killed Jeong Do Jeon and all of his family except his nephew, Jeong Gi Joon, who is now the leader of Hidden Root and lives in disguise not far from King Se Jong.

  • Native title:

    뿌리깊은 나무
  • Also Known as:

    Deep-rooted Tree; Bbu-ri-gip-eun Na-mu

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11 of 11 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Feb 7, 2015
  • Overall 10
  • Story 10
  • Acting/Cast 10
  • Music 7.0
  • Rewatch Value 7.0
There are a few topics one doesn't talk about at social gatherings. One of them is language. I myself have tried a few times but, in front of a pizza and coke, people are ready to talk about almost everything except their means of expression. Language is used, not pondered upon, unless one wants to be labelled the smart aleck of the party and be thrown out with the half-eaten pizza. Why? read more Because our mother tongue is perceived as a given, a common possession whose technicalities are learnt and then put into practice by everyone, well or not so well. We live in a society where illiteracy is almost unheard-of and have therefore forgotten how huge a power is held by simple education. This is exactly what Tree With Deep Roots is about: the power of knowledge.

So this drama is, first and foremost, very brave: it takes a topic generally considered yawn inducing - and conceited - and builds upon it one of the cleverest, suspenseful plot I've had the fortune to watch. Because the topic intrigued me, I approached this drama expecting to be intellectually swept away. What I wasn't prepared for, was to have my feelings deeply involved too. This drama is clever, yes, but it's emotionally intense and moving too.
Truth be told, in the beginning I was so confused by the trillion characters, names all sounding the same and genealogy tree that for a moment I thought I had suddenly become an idiot. Should you happen to experience the same, please don't despair: this is like a pile of jigsaw puzzle tiles thrown at you all at once that you start putting together. Once you have glimpsed the main picture, the rest follows on its own. I haven't found a single dull moment in the 24 episodes. I enjoyed the sometimes long political dialogues and didn't want to miss a word. I enjoyed the steadfast growth of each character and the relationship between them all, the marvelous setting, the wuxia-like sword fights.

Mostly, I enjoyed the portrayal of a great King, which naturally leads me to the acting. Among the brilliant performances of all, Han Seok Kyu shines his own light. I was sad to see Song Jong Ki go, as he delivers a great act of a young and fearful king who grows a backbone, but it's his older version I came to love, admire and enjoy the most. Second in my personal enjoyment chart is, hear hear, So Yi/Dam. By general consensus, a female character is considered strong when she opposes the rules, or when she can kick and fight. So Yi's strength, however, is in the brain, which she uses to comply with the rules, instead of opposing them. Shin Se Kyung embodies intelligence and courage in a very calm and effective way. Loved her to bits. Our third lead is the bridge between the passionate vision of a King and the idealism of the woman he loves. His common sense and simple views on life are a paramount addition to the dynamic and while he undergoes a major change throughout the drama, he stays consistent to his nature till the very end.

A character/actors review would be incomplete without the villains. There are moments when you may question who the villains really are. Their motives aren't wrong in the grand scheme of things, but idealism alone won't win a war and their methods go from arguable to unacceptable, mixed as they are with political greed, blind loyalty or personal grudge. Kudos to all the actors, though, for making me love to hate them.

I don't think the music is the strong trait of this drama. It has a few instrumental pieces and a couple of songs which are neither a disturbance nor a feeling magnifier. I must admit, however, that a couple of pieces are quite haunting, as I found myself humming a tone or two while doing totally unrelated things. Whether this is because they were used too often or because they were good, I don't know.

I've long debated about the re-watch value. I don't see myself sitting through the whole drama again in the near future, mostly because a well crafted thriller lingers in the memory much longer than a simpler plot. Ironically, its high quality makes this into a one-time experience. Which doesn't mean I won't go back to it when a considerable time has lapsed. It's an intense journey I recommend to everyone who's ready to invest a good dose of concentration in a drama.
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19 of 20 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
May 11, 2014
  • Overall 9.0
  • Story 9.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 7.0
  • Rewatch Value 7.0
I doubt many writers wake up and say “Hey, let’s do a show about creating an alphabet! That will be exciting!” I suspect even fewer producers would greenlight such a project. Presumably, in the case of Tree with Deep Roots, the authors sold it as a conspiracy thriller, emphasizing the murders, mysteries and epic fight scenes. There is plenty of stylishly choreographed action and several hot guys with swords. However, as befits read more the show’s subject, the real battles are fought with words. And those battles are some of the most extraordinary I’ve ever seen on film.

“Tree” took a while to pull me in, but once the writers found their groove and the verbal fireworks began, it was riveting. Against the backdrop of a violent era, it asks if the brush can ever be mightier than the sword. If there is power in writing, and if so, who deserves to use it. If literacy is liberation or a different kind of slavery. Characters wield speech like blades in philosophical duels where systems of government and social orders hang in the balance. This is argument as blood sport – spectacular, visceral and deadly.

The cast tackles their paragraphs of text with gusto, and the director keeps the camera moving and the tension high. The final episodes falter a bit, veering away from ideas and more towards traditional action, with an ending that felt yanked from a summer blockbuster instead of developing organically from the drama's themes. Perhaps this was designed to appease nervous studio execs desperate to get to away from all the talking. It’s a small price to pay though for a show that is otherwise so smart, unconventional, and emotionally engaged as it teases out the limits and possibilities of language.
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Make a Recommendation More recs (5)Recommendations

It deals with the same subject matter, namely King Sejong and the creation of Hangul.
Recommended by lunatepe
One of the standing blocks of QSD is the script, the deep conversations between "good" and "evil" characters, and how much the drama made you think of politics, justice and morality. Tree with Deep Roots also has the same ingredient.
Recommended by Nelly

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Comments (12)

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  • Reply
    catch_me Dec 9, 2014

    the Best king I have ever seen in a historical drama
    his acting is awesome!
    I liked his personality ,  he Incarnation the king as a human , not like a mountain steadfast wise against storms etc
    an amazing drama , I enjoyed every minute , every one in the cast done a great job and they deserve every award they have ..

    • Reply
      xxATxx May 10, 2015

      does this have a funny moments and happy ending?

    • Reply
      akisame May 23, 2015

      If you're looking for something light-hearted then you shouldn't watch Deep Roots.

  • Reply
    mahae Sep 25, 2014

    from the first ep, it started out really angsty and the motive for ddol bok's revenge or rather the king he targeted was the wrong person ... not to mention the manipulations resulting in innocents' death ...it's too much for me to handle

  • Reply
    rainruma Sep 25, 2014

    Very Very Very interesting drama .... ... not just b/c it provides lots of food-for-thought about society and history etc... But also .... b/c the elements of History , Mystery , Politics and Romance are all intricately woven together so very well !!!...

  • Reply
    HAVA-RAVA May 23, 2014

    Just started and watched first 3 episodes. Would watch more but have to sleep as I've been awake soon 24 hours...

  • Reply
    ChoiSima Apr 28, 2014

    I just started watching this drama .. and i didn't know Song joongki was part of it xD !! omg i spazzed hard when i saw him !! missed his baby face ? !!
    anw the drama sounds so epic :D i'm sure i'm gonna enjoy it

  • Reply
    WEPserioja Feb 13, 2014

    good one

  • Reply
    PickyMcpickleton Nov 20, 2013
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    DiaNine Oct 15, 2013

    For those who watched this and are wondering... Yes, the Korean alphabet (Hangul) is as easy to learn as they make it sound.

    • Reply
      MaRinaLuli Jun 1, 2014

      Arabic is only 28 letters and is really easy to write :)

    • Reply
      Ginger Jul 30, 2014

      yeah but in Arabic each letter has 3 forms and different sounds...the pronunciation is really hard...some sounds are just "impossible" to learn if it's not your mother language!

    • Reply
      ArabianBeauty Aug 6, 2014

      I learned the arabic, greek & Korean alphabet and tried to learn the Japanese, but was to lazy. But I think Korean is indeed the easiest out of them. And I'm not born with Arabic as my mother language. As ginger said pronunciation is really hard.

    • Reply
      rainruma Sep 25, 2014

      After watching this show ... I taught myself the Hangul alphabet .... It was Easy !!! ... I can easily read it ... but writing is a bit more challenging , especially if I try writing what I hear only ...
      I would love to learn Japanese or Chinese ... but it seems like a daunting task , especially Chinese ... the Japanese sounds seem simpler for a tone-deaf person like myself .....
      Arabic alphabet is not too difficult , even w/ the 3 forms of each , b/c same rule applies to all.... although the grammar can be daunting ... but structure is still close enough to Latin or Germanic languages , that it is still easier for a westerner than East Asian languages .....
      especially Chinese , which I find very confusing , not only due to structure , but also the noun/verb/adjective confusion ... Japanese is a bit more specific , so not as confusing.

  • Reply
    Starae Oct 4, 2013

    This drama had so much potential....Really not thrilled with how it ended. The first like 10 episodes were really good then it took a plunge, I feel like I wasted hours of my life finishing this.

  • Reply
    Mssankacoffee Aug 11, 2013
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    Emily May 28, 2013

    Double Post >.<

  • Reply
    Emily May 28, 2013

    I really want to watch this, and I am normally a fan of things for reasons other than aesthetics and romance, but is there any in this drama? I've seen the first two episodes, and so far I haven't seen anything too promising, so I was just wondering if I should expect romance from this drama. Thanks c:

    • Reply
      babis3 Jun 7, 2013
      Reveal Spoiler »
    • Reply
      Emily Jun 7, 2013

      Okay. Thanks for the advice. I plan on watching this drama anyway, I just didn't know whether I should expect too much romance from it. Thanks! <3

  • Reply
    educto1 Apr 28, 2013
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    ManaSura Apr 17, 2013

    I didn't hate this drama at all....Very interesting story (I actually started it coz I wanted to know about King Sejong and Hangeul making) though I hated the two young leads' acting (the male being over-dramatic and the female lead being mediocre with minimum expression-changing) and thought that if it wasn't for the king's acting (both young and old) it would have been a disaster, but anyway acting was never my only point in viewing a drama.<br />despite all that, I have a question that I wish someone can answer for me...why can't I manage to finish it,,,I'm stuck with the final episode for like over a month now!!!

    • Reply
      babis3 Apr 17, 2013

      As someone who liked almost everything about this drama, I'm surprised when ever I see that other people don't share my point of veiw about it (I know it sounds kind of childish, but I'm childish like that when it come to the things I love). So I wouldn't know how to even start and guess what is stoping you in this case, but I know from my past experience in other shows that I can lost interest before the end, if the character I cared about are already out of the series, or if I've heard spoilers about the end and I'm afraid that watching it would made me feel bad, or if I've got sucked into something else that I found more interesting and then somehow it's hard for me to find the right time to return altough I always tell myself I'm going to do it one day.

    • Reply
      ManaSura Apr 17, 2013

      In my case it might have been the "got sucked into something else" one...might be so, but still when I remember how I never managed to finish this one, I'm like "half surprised/half not surprised" (weird and doesn't make sense right?) surprised coz I normally NEVER give up a show after watching more than it's half, and not surprised coz I somehow remember how near the end (the last episodes i watched I mean) I was starting to lose most of the interest in the plot. <br />Btw, now that I've read your comment i'm thinking about giving it another try after all, but I'm afraid I don't remember most of the plot @_@

    • Reply
      babis3 Apr 18, 2013

      In your case (not liking the show very much so no point of re-watching it all for remembering sake, but still want to finish the show and not really sure what happened in the plot) I would have recommend you to try and rewatch episode 23, since you've already watched it, I think it will help you remember where you stopped watching, and give you a better idea of whether you really want to finish this show or drop it.

  • Reply
    sunflower63 Apr 8, 2013

    I thought this drama was absolutely WONDERFUL!! I loved the story which was very complicated but very well laid out so that the viewer could follow and understand every single step. I agree with Sarah87 here below that the King was the best charachter as he was incredibly clever and sensitive at the same time. I recommend this to all who want to see a great historical drama which allows us to understand a lot more about Korean history (and most of all Korean writing). I rated it a 10 as it was a real masterpiece for me.


  • Country:

    South Korea
  • Type:

  • Episodes:

  • Aired:

    Oct 5, 2011 to Dec 22, 2011
  • Aired On:

    Wednesday, Thursday
  • Network:

  • Duration:

    1 hr. 9 min.


  • Score:

    8.4 (scored by 1,191 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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