The Nokdu Flower

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  • Score: 8.3 (scored by 217 users)
  • Ranked: #99999
  • Popularity: #1936
  • Watchers: 1,623

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Completed
NotMuch
5 people found this review helpful
13 days ago
48 of 48 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 10
Edited: 14/7/19
[This is my first 10/10 rating; though I tried to find reasons to rate it half a point less, there were none whatsoever.]

A saeguk outside the confines of the castle and a fairytale-like setting and focuses on the common-person's fight for rights and equality? I did not realize I needed that until I watched this. A drama that does not beat around the bush and jumps straight into action? I did not realize I needed that either.

The plot is well-executed; it moves forward without losing steam and stays true to its story line and characters. Since it was based on true historical events, heartbreak and tragedies were inevitable. I appreciate, however, that it was not entirely based on real people - that is, the three main leads we have, including their families and friends, are fictional in an otherwise non-fictional historical setting. (I cannot comment on the accuracy of the historical events as I am not well-versed in Korean history, yet this compelled me to search about the Donghak movement and Japanese takeover of Joseon. I can say I am more enlightened than before, however.) The lighter, funny scenes were never out-of-place as they always centered around the heartwarming friendships between the characters. Side characters had their own story which prevented their screen-time from feeling unnecessary; even those you might be least invested in underwent growth that justified the writer's choice to include them apart from the otherwise obvious reasons. It should be noted, there were some shifts in plot that made me dread that this drama would go south, that it was headed beyond what was meant to be the conclusion, but that never happened; the plot proved itself to be excellent, and the characters served to ground and consolidate the narrative.

Now, it is time to expand more on the characters: their growth and changes were interwoven with the struggle they, willingly or unwillingly, became a part of. To be able to see many characters of varying backgrounds coming to terms with their identities, or altering them at whim, was extremely gratifying. Their decisions simply made sense, in light of their circumstances and personal convictions. The writer also drew many parallels while crafting characters - the parallels between the brothers, with the titles assigned to them that they wanted to break free from; the parallel between a teacher and a student, with their attempt to rise from their ugly decisions; the parallel between two parties who wanted to save their country, with one man joining hands with the enemy and the other party firmly resisting. And then these parallels evolved beautifully into a juxtaposition. Overall, it was a thought-provoking angle the writer took.

You might think I am being too generous, but I do have a tiny complaint about flashbacks in one or two episodes, since they felt needless, but what's a k-drama without those, eh? I have learned to take them as a necessary part of a k-drama recipe, so I am not counting it in this time around. (I guess I AM being a little generous.)

And need I mention how amazing the actors were, from the support to the main? Moo Seoung Choi was an excellent casting choice for Jeon Bong Jeon; the poise and leadership that oozed out of him stunned me, not to mention the sense of humour he possessed. Han Ye Ri is a subtle actress, perfect to portray Lady Song - calm, collected, sharp. Yoon Shi Yoon has a way with expressions, and they were more than suitable for a character like Yi Hyun. Finally, Jo Jung Sok made Yi Kang a lovable character who you wanted to root for till the end.

Loved the OSTs; the one by FORESTELLA often plays in my head. The BGM was not outstanding, but it complemented a good deal of the show. I especially enjoyed the rock music whenever action scenes came in. Adds to the excitement and just how cool the characters look!

I think this has great re-watch value. For one, it never drags, and the characters are so multi-layered, you want to come back and appreciate them. Despite knowing the plot, you might want to catch up on a few details that you may have missed, and certain impressive progressions.

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Completed
manicmuse
2 people found this review helpful
8 days ago
48 of 48 episodes seen
Completed 4
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 9.0
Rewatch Value 9.5
I started watching this drama knowing barely anything about Korean history, which usually makes me reluctant to watch any sageuk that isn't romance, fantasy, or is just too focused on fighting and politics. I was always afraid that too much of a story like this would go over my head. The only reason I decided to watch this drama is because of Jo Jung Suk. He's one of my favorites and hasn't disappointed me yet, but this was a tough guy type of role so I still had my reservations. The first episode was good, and introduced characters well, but I still wasn't convinced I could get into a story like this. If anyone else feels this way or similar trust me and give this drama a chance. What this drama does exceptionally well is make historical events feel personal and relatable, through unforgettable characters and an equally heartbreaking and inspiring story. This drama isn't just about recreating events, it's about how these events shape every single character and telling an epic story through their eyes.

The story centers around three main characters, brothers Baek Yi Kang and Baek Yi Hyun, and merchant Lady Song, and how their lives are all changed by the Donghak Peasant Revolution. Their relationship with each other isn't a traditional love triangle, but instead, it's more about how their roles directly or indirectly affect each other, rather than a traditional rivalry, which was a much more interesting dynamic to watch. I don't want to give anything away by saying too much, but they are each so good in their roles and how they relate to and interact with each other, that they didn't need a cliché romance plot to keep me engaged. Han Ye Ri as composed and calculating Song Ja In is formidable in her role, and I loved watching her hold her own in a mainly male dominant cast. I already mentioned that Jo Jung Suk is a favorite K-actor of mine, and he does display some of his usual charms as Baek Yi Kang, but it's nice to know that even with romance playing such a minor part in the story, he is still so good! However, surprisingly my favorite of the three characters is Yoon Shi Yoon as Baek Yi Hyun. His range in this drama is amazing and award-worthy (he's really come a long way from the king of baking lol), and his relationship with his brother is the true heart of this story. I can't imagine a better possible pairing, Junk Suk and Ye Ri had great chemistry, but it's Junk Suk and Shi Yoon that got me right in the feels.

I mentioned the three leads as the main branches of this plot but the reality is that every single character in this drama is important and well played. Choi Moo Sung may have the biggest shoes to fill as Jeon Bong Jun, but even the most minor characters end up being major parts of the story, and I loved watching how all the characters and their allegiances and relationships changed with each episode. The real history makes a lot of this story predetermined but it's the individual characters that keep the story unpredictable and exciting. I wish I could name every character I loved but there are just way too many. This really is a perfect cast all around, and I love that there's not always clear villains or heroes, which keeps things from getting too predictable.

That leads me to the writing, which is truly amazing. Yes, the beginning episodes take their time setting up who everyone is, the unfairness of ancient Joseon, and what's about to happen, but before I knew it I was totally addicted and wrapped up in the revolution. I also liked how historical moments were noted to make them clear but without distracting from the story. I appreciated the details in even the side plots that made me care more and made this turn of the century Joseon world feel more real. This is the kind of story that you can definitely watch again, and maybe catch things that you missed the first time. I can see myself watching this again, now knowing more about what really happened, although knowing how it ends may make some scenes a little less exciting.

It's hard to hate a soundtrack that takes a traditional song and plays off of it beautifully. I liked the rest of the soundtrack as well and thought the music was always well placed, but some of the songs were too forgettable for me to warrant a perfect score for music. The music definitely enhanced the mood, especially during battle scenes.

Overall, this drama is a practically perfect sageuk. It's much deeper than the usual fighting over status, family betrayals, corrupt politics, and ill-fated love story tropes that make up most dramas in this genre (although sometimes I love those too). In Nokdu Flower I loved the themes of fighting for equality, tradition vs change, struggling with identity/self-determination, figuring out what is really important in life and what it truly means to win or lose, loyalty and betrayal, and all the conflicting faces of "patriotism"... I have no idea how accurate it was overall but I did actually learn a lot while watching without it feeling too preachy or feeling like the history channel. It's also not so heavy that the story becomes too depressing, even if you already know the history. There's a little bit of romance, great action/war scenes, even many funny moments... and the characters may be mostly fictional, but the way they brought life to the story felt hauntingly real. I loved how many of my favorite characters got the spotlight they deserved in the story too, and that the ending didn't feel rushed and really honored the history it was celebrating. Sure, the bluebird song will probably get stuck in your head for a while from watching, but it's definitely worth it.

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Completed
Sarah Garcia
0 people found this review helpful
8 days ago
48 of 48 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 10
Story 9.5
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 6.5
Rewatch Value 9.5
I've got to say, that going in this my expectations weren't high because of the main make lead Jo Jung suk....but right from the beginning he blew me away! This show is a standout performance for him and he'll hopefully be this smart about his acting career.

The story is basically about 2 brothers, and illegitimate and legitimate. They are very close dispute there differences. But, when a war breaks out they wind up on opposite sides. Will their brotherly bond survive?
A great historical drama!
8.0 rating does not do it justice.
If you are not a fan of Jo Jung suk..watch it, your mind will absolutely change!

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Ongoing 20/48
haadinet
2 people found this review helpful
May 28, 2019
20 of 48 episodes seen
Ongoing 0
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
I love this drama ... great acting, directing, script, but I find myself wishing Baek Yi Hyun would die, I don't understand how he could do a 360 like that on a brother he loved so much... Episode 20 I found myself thinking oh no Song Ja In you're not really doing that, are you... Yi Kang will hate you forever but moreover what gives you the right to try and save him by getting thousands of others killed, cannot wait for next weeks' episode. Enjoy this a great deal after Haechi and that was I must say the best drama of 2019.
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