Currently Watching: Six Flying Dragons

I’ve just finished episode 26 and now I’m ready to write.

I know it’s not necessarily the case, but when the writers of a series are those who came up with A Tree with Deep Roots and Queen Seon Duk! And one of them wroteJewel in the Palace, it must tell something! My three top Korean sageuks were written by these writers. Do you expect Six Flying Dragons to be any less? Believe me it’s more than a reflection of the writers and the director. Whether you watched any of the above or didn’t, you’re gonna love this to death. 50 episodes or not.

I completely understand why the writer is pretty taken by the foundation of Korea. It’s just so intriguing! Someone came up with the idea of building a new country because his country is rotten to the roots. Don’t we have similar thoughts sometimes? Don’t we feel that no change is possible with the living generations? Why do people dream of living on other planets if ours is fit for living? We all feel the same. But not all of us are crazy enough to undertake such a project. I utterly comprehend my friend @irilight’s declaration that she cannot fall for the drama as we all did because she watchedJung Do Jeon first. I unfortunately or fortunately –who knows- didn’t. And I’m head over heels in love with Jung Do Jeon in Six Flying Dragons and he’s one more Korean historical figure I’ll research, one day.

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So we’re half way through the drama and believe you me there has been no 10 boring minutes so far. None! And every three episodes or so we have an explosion. No time to breathe or get used to the awesomely-written script or the out-of-earth acting. There’s that heart throbbing feel about the whole drama it’s insane. When you watch an ongoing drama and you dread the end of the episode although you’re so excited to know what happens. Then you count the days till the following week and you keep thinking of what happened, and what will happen, even though you read the history of the period and at least watched three related dramas, the drama you’re watching must be really good.

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In Korean culture, dragons are connected with rain, clouds and agriculture. In short, rebirth. Our six dragons rebuild a country starting with nothing but a small cave and their anger against the world. Brilliant how it starts and unbelievable how it proceeds. Just like I wished I was one of those who helped bringing Hangeul to life in A Tree with Deep Roots, I wish I was one of Jung Do Jeon’s followers. I’m not a dreamer and I don’t really believe that a just world might ever exist. But there’s the emotional roller coaster the writers and actors throw us in with that breathtaking perfect harmony of whatever elements they include. It’s just hard to explain. There are so many things and I cannot transcribe them in words. The drama is just perfect.

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So we’re right before the foundation of Joseon. Turmoil in Goryeo. Political corruption. Lands taken away and taxes skyrocketing. Common people dying of poverty. Free-thinkers killed or exiled. Weak kings. The clumsy scholar Jung Do Jeon cannot stand the situation. His country is beyond reformation and he realizes that. He needs a new country.

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I don’t know what will happen to me when I watch Jo Jae Hyeon playing Jung Do Jeon but I know that Kim Myung Min will not be any less. Since the first time I lay eyes on this man I knew I encountered a genius. Not easily loved- genius for I needed time to fall into his trap, but a deeply talented one who knows what he’s doing and is extremely good at making people notice that. What did the drama team think when they cast him? Simple. We need someone who can make people, actors and audience alike, believe in what Jung Do Jeon has to give; unconditionally and deeply. I do! Really! When JDJ is talking I cannot set my critical mind to work –I do later though ha-ha-. He’s just so believable, so trust-worthy, so persuasive and so dangerous. It’s not only because JDJ is that kind of man. It’s because Kim Myung Min embodies him. I won’t be able to imagine Jung Do Jeon without Kim Myung Min now. Just like King Sejong is forever Han Seok Kyu for me. You can’t look into his eyes without feeling sincerity shining out. Acting? What does that word mean anyway? I know no more. I don’t see KMM acting JDJ. I see both in one person.

Gender quality, emancipation, abolition of classes, new opportunities, political reform, and moral country. Why! Jung Do Jeon came up with all the cultural and social theories hundreds of years before they came to light. Marxism, feminism, gender studies, to mention a few. The man was not building a country, he created a world.

And he needed people. People were his only weapons. He injected his ideas into those people. You see it in their eyes; even with they deny believing in his schemes. That Jung Do Jeon! Changing a whole lot of people.

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JDJ needed power and authority. He needed valid authority. Someone who was respected by people and who could gain their trust. It was not an easy task getting Lee Seong Gye involved. Not out of their difference in thoughts but more in the clash of their stands. Lee Seong Gye was all that was needed for the new country; courage, wisdom, power, money, acceptance and a code of beliefs. But Lee Seong Gye didn’t think that highly of himself. He needed more to get him moving and he got that motivation through Jung Do Jeon himself and through his conflicted son, Lee Bang Won. Past traumas and present fears stood between Lee Seong Gye and the new world. His ideals won over eventually.

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Chun Ho Jin is Lee Seong Gye. Can’t get better. This man was born for the role. How on earth did I watch him in family dramas, I have not the slightest clue! He was made for armor, arrows, bow and blood. That defiance in his eyes and voice when he addresses his enemies belongs to kings. He was born a king! I wonder if he wasn’t in his past life. His charisma overflows and I can’t even.

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The most influential person around JDJ and LSG is Lee Bang Won. Lee Bang Won is an independent spirit who thinks highly of his father and inherits his ideals. One day his world shatters because of that very father. Lee Bang Won is not the same anymore. He goes through a tough childhood in Sungkyunkwan and walks out of it with bloody hands; not figurative. The child Lee Bang Won –acted by the absolute giving-me-goose bumps-in-each-scene talent Nam Da Reum- receives too many shocks to handle. He internalizes them. He is not conscious of how scarred and dark he becomes because of that childhood. We still are not so clear about it either. We got straight implications in his child scenes but after he denied these experiences and ‘’apparently’’ went back to the original he, we only got hints. But if you read or watched anything about King Taejong you’d know we’ll be seeing more.

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If I were to summarize Lee Bang Won in one word, complicated. He’s caring. He wants the best for people. That’s a given. But he wants these people for himself. He cannot stand any opposition in his way, whether it’s intellectual and physical. He doesn’t hesitate in getting rid of his enemies. He works for the new country with all his might but not until Ha Ryun faces him directly with his truth that he admits he’s not just ‘’one of them’’. The layers and layers of darkness inside haven’t unraveled yet. I’m not alluding to them negatively. I’m so curious to see what we –all of us- have inside, to different degrees of course. Lee Bang Won, so far, represents the balance between the good and evil. He’s living in the gray area and doing just fine. But what will happen?

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How can I not like Lee Bang Won when it’s Yoo Ah In acting him? The ultimate Yoo Ah In! Still waiting for the mustache though –Sungkyunkwan Scandal reminiscences-. His somber eyes hide myriads of emotions. Are we able or even allowed to decipher them? Not in a million years. And that what makes Yoo Ah In who he is. You swim in those eyes but you lose yourself instead of finding answers. Well, I do.

Is this his best work? Not for me. I think he was much better in Sungkyunkwan Scandal and infinitely and flawlessly perfect in Secret Love Affair. Is he doing badly here? Of course not! He’s doing great! Am I making sense? I don’t think so!

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Now my favourite character and actor in this series. Mind, before I started he was number 5 on the list of Six Flying actors. Byun Yo Han as Lee Bang Ji (Ddang Se). Interestingly and painfully, Lee Bang Ji is a fictional character. He didn’t exist. Well, history books don’t mention him I mean. There must have been such a guy. A hurt guy who transforms his wrath against the world into energy and knows where to direct that energy. A young man who cannot escape the past full of guilt and misery. The abandoned child who has hated himself everyday while growing up but survived because of the aim for revenge. Lee Bang Ji is the most humane of all. He accepts how miserable humans are. He doesn’t have his head in the clouds. He knows his facts; as negative and disappointing as they may be. But he goes on; because he has people he cares about. And because those people have dreams he needs to protect.

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Watching Byun Yo Han as Lee Bang Ji is torturous for me. He brings the tears to my eyes while doing nothing. He’s just there and I’m crying. That gloomy and agonizing expression he constantly wears gives me a sharp stabbing pain. His eyes are dolorous; always. Even when he’s angry, it’s sad. When he smiles, it’s also sad. He keeps watching the back of people leaving and it’s so heartbreaking. The loneliness he’s evolved in even in the middle of people is unreal and poignant. I started crying now believe it or not. Byun Yo Han is living Lee Bang Ji’s character to the last detail it’s scary. I’m worried for the guy. Did you see him on SBS awards? That was not Byun Yo Han on stage. It was Lee Bang Ji in a suit. I swear it was creepy. Lee Bang Ji is not real! He’s the most real character, for me. He’s unforgettable.

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His sword fights and action stunts are works of arts. I have this feeling that he does his own stunts because they just look so real. And on SBS awards he thanked the action team so I wonder!

Ah! His anchor facial hair is driving me crazy!

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To our 5th dragon. Hell’s bells and damnation Yoon Gyun Sang. What art thou?? What is the guy doing? When he screams 무사 무휼 (warrior Mu Hyul) I die! The crazy part is not in him being the most adorable creature on this planet but in him being Mu Hyul. Mu Hyul! Yes! Mu Hyul who was acted by Jo Jin Woong in A Tree with Deep Roots. Now you won’t understand the fire boiling inside of me if you hadn’t watched Tree. Mu Hyul there was the best thing about the drama and he became one of my top actors because of that role. He was the one to make laugh and cry the most. He’s supposed to be a fictional character but now I know nothing and you know what, I don’t care. Who said history is 100% true? History is also relevant and subjective. So who cares if Mu Hyul is historical or fictional? It’s us who determine that.

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Yoon Gyun Sang is doing wonderful portraying the innocent Mu Hyul. And he’s so beautiful and addicting and edible –that sounded weird- especially when he fights. I never thought I’d love bloody scenes until this drama. Not a good sign.

The 6th dragon was the one I dreaded the most. I admit liking Shin Se Kyung well enough inGirl Who Sees Scents but still. I honestly believed that drama was an exception.

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But once she was confirmed for Six Flying I wished her luck. She didn’t disappoint. She might not be the best actress to portray independent, strong and inspiring Boon Yi but she’s not doing badly. She does make me cry at moments and I can feel her enthusiasm for what she does. Watching this I’m convinced she fits better in sageuks. Of course Boon Yi is fictional. If such a woman existed at such times. But would history mention her? Ha! Wild dreams.

We have so many interesting characters I can’t mention all but I’ll try to cover as many as possible. I’ll start from who I find most enticing.

Park Hyeok Kwon as Gil Tae Mi

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Bless the soul of the actor who starts shining in his forties. It wasn’t before Punch that this awesome phenomenon had got acclaimed. Then he got the role of the most interesting Gil Tae Mi and yes he won an award so far. The drama is barely half way through. What’s interesting about Gil Tae Mi? Everything. Shocking first impression with that beautiful makeup and fascinating outfits. Puzzling tone and gestures. Surprising and extraordinary way of thinking and approach towards life. You can’t hate him even when you judge him. He makes sense. What he says is complete nonsense that makes lots of sense. Am I making sense? I’m serious. He talks. You gape at the screen wide mouthed knowing this man is mental but being persuaded despite yourself. Hilarious even at his most serious moment. His sarcasm is so laden it stings. He’s supposed to be a villain. But you end up crying because of him.

The writer is brilliant!!!

Jun No Min as Hong In Bang

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If all men age like this man the world would be a better place.

Sorry, totally off-point.

Hong In Bang! You know what; this drama is so full of psychoanalysis study materials. I would write a research on each character. Two on Hong In Bang.

Who used to believe in justice, humanity, equality and all those high ideals so firmly they could have died for them?

I did.

Who reached a point in their lives when something happens and it clicks! All the scepticism and questions they’ve suppressed come to the surface and at one moment epiphany strikes and they no longer believe in anything?

I did.

Without torture. At least Hong In Bang was tortured.

He had dreams, ideals, beliefs and thoughts. A beautiful world to lose one in. But you can’t help waking up. And it hurts. Waking up to the dim reality hurts. Waking up to find none of what you believed in worked hurts so damn much. What Hong In Bang did after his epiphany was not a result of greed and obsession of power only. He was hurt, and scared. His world shattered to pieces and there was no one to guide him to another safe haven. He needed to protect himself. If ideals didn’t protect his fragile heart, power and money would. Did I relate to Hong In Bang? Definitely. He’s just one us. One more crazy thing about this drama, every character presents at least one side of us.

A humanistic study on this show will be great too.

Park Hae Soo as Lee Ji Ran

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Who in heavens is this guy I wondered and wondered again? Where was he? Why did he come into my life so late??

You know that masculine attractive tall guy speaking in dialect and sticking to Lee Seong Gye all the time?? Yes, exactly. His brother. Isn’t he the surprise of the show? Where did they discover such an actor with such little experience but great talent?? I love it when they unleash the power of such people.

I lost my mind and broke my heart over him in 25. Nothing bad happens but when you watch it –if you watched it- you’d understand.

Han Sang Jin as the monk

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Seems like the writer believes in this adorable oppa just like I do. This guy is a talent. Am I the only one who thinks that? He’s just usually unlucky with his roles.

Anyway. Here we have one more made-up handsome guy participating actively in a political conspiracy he’s unaware of its details. Brilliant! It’s hard to understand why he follows rules he doesn’t apprehend but I doubt the writer will leave us with no answers. He’s so interesting and amusing. I enjoy it whenever he’s on screen.

Jung Yoo Mi as Yeon Hee

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Interesting double-agent. Deeply wounded as a child and living to be strong. Very interesting indeed. I’m still waiting for Jung Yoo Mi to bring the best out of Yeon Hee.

Lee Seung Hyo as Lee Bang Woo

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How excited I was when I saw him in the cast. Alcheon Rang! And I danced and waited. Waited till Alcheon Rang really gets something to do. It’s episode 27 already and I haven’t seen anything of what he did in Queen Seon Duk. A little bit in 25 yes. But that’s it. Don’t waste the talent of the guy please!!!

Enjoying the other supporting characters. Can’t write more details. I’ve already exceeded the word limit. There’s nothing like that here but if I were writing a research for my masters the professor would have given it back.

I believe I said enough. Why do you need to watch this drama? Because it’s worth every single second of your precious time. Make sure you got your ideals locked up safe –yes being sarcastic-. This drama might as well change your life.

Comments (40)

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  • Reply
    Cyrine May 3, 2017

    I started watching this drama long time ago but i couldn't finish, i stopped at the 20th episode. I fell in love with all the characters especially lee bang won but since i know what happened in history and how these characters became after the foundation of juseon, i just couldn't finish it and dropped it halfway. But this drama is really one of the best korean dramas, the actors, the scenario, the filming , the songs everything was perfect.
    ps: i still cry whenever i hear the OSTs

  • Reply
    Mari Ela Apr 13, 2016

    i am not korean but i love historical dramas,, save the sad endings, and i don't only watch them, while watching them, online wiki and google is always up to check on the characters on their true history. and even after watching that, i read from one link to another about the history during that era . and i'm confident to say that my current knowledge now of korean ancient history is above than an average korean history class student, hahahahaha

  • Reply
    Mari Ela Apr 13, 2016

    omg there are really characters and actors from QSD

  • Reply
    my3views Mar 3, 2016 - edited

    Again your articular is such a smooth and engaging read. SixFD has a plethora of characters that run the gamut of villainous vibrant, to agonizingly altered, to magnificently noble & every variation in b/t. My 2 fav. characters are B.Yo-Han (Ddang sae) and Y.Kyoon-Sang (Moo Hyul). Holy-academy-contender, didn't think Yo-Han could ever equal the Nobel quality of "Misaeng" but his performance here has just surpassed my, the producer's & the writer's expectations. The other standout is Kyoon-Sang, boy his acting pedigree is grown by the episodes. YKS is so adorable I just want to put him in my pocket, to have & to hold a figure of human purity.

  • Reply
    sunah Jan 28, 2016

    I've been putting off starting this because I can't handle emotional rollercoasters right now. Empress Ki was the last historical I saw and the emotional scar from that is still fresh lol. I can't watch historicals like I watch modern dramas. There's a period of recovery needed before jumping into the next one.

    I already know almost every actor in this drama and it's driving me crazy. My sister is currently watching it and doesn't fail to fangirl constantly. My phone won't stop vibrating. xD

    After reading this article, I'm trying to decide if I should start or not. I tried being a good student this semester, but my willpower is waning. XD

  • Reply
    DirtyTeddy Jan 23, 2016

    I was waiting for a currently watching Six Flying Dragons, one of the best sageuk ever with Empress Ki, thanks Yoo Ah In for making me love early Joseon era (I totally rule my ancient korea history class now <3)

  • Reply
    PatyRedf Jan 20, 2016 - edited

    Amazing article! I felt exactly the same about Kim Myung Min. This is the first drama that I'm seeing him and I barely can describe how brilliant he is as Jeong Do Jeon.
    The others are great too, but I need to mention Yoo Ah In and Byun Yo Han, at least.
    I started watching this because of Yoo Ah In and I'm so glad that he never disappoints me! xD
    Byun Yo Han was another "found" in this show. Amazing acting!
    Ah, thanks for mention those related dramas, I'll watch them for sure. ^^

  • Reply
    JustJackieB Jan 17, 2016 - edited

    I love this article, ParkChowa.

  • Reply
    blerf Jan 16, 2016 - edited

    I am in love with this article and how you describe the #feelz

  • Reply
    KalkaBike Jan 16, 2016 - edited

    Maybe I should try this drama.

  • Reply
    BrightestStar Jan 15, 2016 - edited

    Great review!! IT certainly is a great drama. It's my 2nd sageuk I don't usually go for them for 2 things 1-their length 2-they get sidetracked by romance when their world is falling apart.

    Now I don't know what made me start this drama. Probably curious about Kim Myung Min. I thought I'd probably drop it at one point, and oh boy was I wrong! This drama knows how to get you to the heart! Setting and story are intriguing, the characters are all nuanced and complicated, be it "good" or "evil". This drama teaches you not everything can be classified as such. Some characters became enemies, and that wasn't because they were evil. Probably just blinded from reality.

    The acting though, from the whole cast is exceptional! The actors all working well together, making me fall in their with their characters. First time seeing Yoo Ah In and I'm totally in love. Byun Yo Han makes my heart hurt. Yoon Gyun Sang makes me smile. First time watching Shin Se Kyung as well and I think she's doing great with her characters. Chun Ho Jin he just makes this face where I want to tell him "it's going to be alright". Kim Myung Min though, he's a legend. It's as you say, he has a way of making you believe in him. I'm as pessimistic about the world as you are, but he makes me believe.

    I agree with all the other actors you mentioned and their notable characters, and I'd like to add the actress who plays LBW's wife and the ajuma Mu hyol's grand mother.

    Anyways great article you really nailed what makes it great! The writing, acting, pacing of the story, action. It breaks your heart in so many different ways, then revives it with touching moments. The chemistry between the cast is awesome as well :D

    • Reply
      ParkChohwa Jan 16, 2016

      I would have loved to talk about all the supporting characters because each one of them is awesome

  • Reply
    honesu Jan 15, 2016 - edited

    This drama literally has everything it needs but I'll wait until it ends before I continue watching it ... I just can't stand waiting every week for these types of dramas.

  • Reply
    Reya Jan 15, 2016 - edited

    Wow, i've only started watching this drama ...and gave up quickly when i realized how many ep it has.
    But you definitely convinced me to give it another try.
    One of the best articles i read on mydramalist

    • Reply
      ParkChohwa Jan 16, 2016

      I'm totally flattered. Thanks a lot. I hope you like the drama like I do.

  • Reply
    MissPhantasme Jan 15, 2016 - edited

    Thanks for the awesome article! You probably listed out all my favourite charcaters and described them so well .Although I haven't seen Tree with Deep Roots I'm familiar with other Saeguks and its been a while that I've immersed myself in a Saeguk which feels so out of this world and has me thinking about it all the time ! Pretty much all the characters in SFD capture my interest and even the villains have me understanding them esp Gil Tae Mi..How I loved this guy despite all the bad things he did. I never watch historical dramas as they're airing but I was forced to make an exception with this gem <3

  • Reply
    alienshore7 Jan 15, 2016 - edited

    Really great review for a great series! Unfortunately while maybe this fictional founding of Joseon was more about equality, in reality women were much better off under Goryeo and every previous Korean dynasty. They could own land and generally had more rights, freedoms, and better treatment. Under the misogynist Confucian doctrines of Joseon, they lost all their freedoms and legal rights and were subordinated to their male relatives in everything. So even in a very fictional sageuk like this, I always have this voice in the back of my mind that wants to yell at the women fighting for a new country to just stop! Women were better off in Goryeo!

    • Reply
      ParkChohwa Jan 15, 2016

      That's a great point.. and it's so sad.. but maybe the writer had current and future Korea in mind when she created the female characters.. that no matter how long it takes women will have their rights..

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