A Tree With Deep Roots

A Tree With Deep Roots (2011)

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Ratings: 8.4/10 from 1,250 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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12 of 12 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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20 of 21 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

Comments (24)

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  • Reply
    DragonAlien Aug 24, 2015

    This drama is pure love. ♥
    I still haven't found any historical drama better and more intelligent than this and I've seen so many of them.

    • Reply
      ArvisJaggamar Aug 26, 2015

      Guess I'll stay away from historical dramas, then? I have nowhere to go but down now... :(

    • Reply
      DragonAlien Aug 26, 2015

      Oh well maybe you'll like some other drama more cause there are a lot of people who didn't like this one. We all have different tastes, for me personally this one is the best. ;)

  • Reply
    ArvisJaggamar Aug 17, 2015

    This was a 9/10 right up until the end. Now it's an 8/10. Still definitely worth watching, but there are more satisfying dramas out there.

  • Reply
    gumix Jul 12, 2015

    I'm not a big fan of shin se kyung... But because of her face I always wanted to see her in a historical drama. Is her acting good in this drama or better said the role suits her?

    • Reply
      babis3 Jul 15, 2015

      This has been the first drama I've seen shin se kyung playing in, and although she looked younger the the other actor that was supposed to be her age, I remember I felt that I'm glad they've cast her anyway because I really liked her acting. So I guess my answer is yes she's playing very well here. On the other hand I never watched fashion king which I think gave her her bad reputation. And I quit "When a man loves" after a few episodes although I just didn't like the story, I was fine with her acting. So the thing is I never disliked her, so I can't tell you that her acting here is really good in comparison, but I think this drama is worth watching for so many other reasons so I would have recommend you to give it a try even if you wouldn't like her acting at all.

    • Reply
      gumix Jul 20, 2015

      Thank you very much! I'm not sure if i like her acting or not..i just think that when i saw her the roles she played weren't made for her... whenever i see her even if it's just a picture i imagine her in a role as an intelligent woman, that kind of character that doesn't says much but thinks a lot not in a role as a shy teenager in a romantic comedy. So basically because i assume she is made for historical drama i'll watch this drama haha

    • Reply
      babis3 Jul 21, 2015

      An intelligent woman that doesn't say much kind of describes her character in this lol. So you'll be able to check your theory after a few episodes. If it's ok with you, I would like to hear what you'll think after you'll see her in this :)

    • Reply
      ArvisJaggamar Aug 13, 2015

      She's pretty much everything you're describing, man. I can't imagine anyone not liking her in this. She's fantastic.

  • Reply
    Katsura-AA Jul 10, 2015

    One of the best dramas ,I enjoyed every minute of it

  • 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
      ArvisJaggamar Aug 13, 2015

      It DOES have funny moments, but they are few.

  • 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
      ArvisJaggamar Aug 13, 2015

      It gets WAY better. Those first few episodes were really rough and my wife almost quit the show. But the bloodshed and torture almost completely disappear as you go (and then come back briefly in smaller amounts toward the end). It's kind of an important part of the storytelling, though.

  • 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 >.<


  • 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 1,250 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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