If you're still experiencing technical difficulties, please report it here.


  • Drama: The Return of Iljimae
  • Country: South Korea
  • Episodes: 24
  • Aired On: Wednesday, Thursday
  • Network: MBC
  • Duration: 1 hr. 10 min.
  • Genres: Historical, Romance
  • Tags: Joseon
  • Rating: 15+ Restricted (violence & profanity)


  • Score: 7.4 (scored by 1,120 users)
  • Ranked: #1725
  • Popularity: #668
  • Members: 3,497
Write a Review
16 people found this review helpful
Mar 27, 2014
Overall 8.5
Story 8.5
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 7.0
Discussing tone in the context of a review is tricky. A show’s atmosphere is something so ephemeral it’s hard to even define, much less evaluate. That being said, The Return of Iljimae is most remarkable for its evocation of mood. A fantasia in a minor key, it weaves a bittersweet, melancholy spell, accented not so much by its characters’ tragedies as by their loneliness.

Intentionally structured like a storybook (complete with an initially over-intrusive narrator), the show jettisons many of k-drama’s structural clichés as it follows the growth of its protagonist from innocent young man to wiser hero. Jung Il Woo gives a lovely (in more ways than one) restrained performance full of moments of quiet sweetness and pathos. Jung Hye Young, as his mother, is also exceptional, radiating warmth and longing. There are plenty of fight scenes and large helpings of occasionally distracting slapstick comedy, but the show never loses its contemplative feel. The characters find fleeting moments of connection in sex, friendship, compassion, and sacrifice but the world’s injustices are always there, calling them away from comfort. The show suggests that heroism is not a natural gift, but something learned and struggled for and easily lost if the passion for justice tips over into hatred. There are occasional missteps, including a bizarre first episode, but once the show finds its rhythm, it becomes a hero’s journey very much worth the taking.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
21 people found this review helpful
Apr 27, 2012
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
'The Return of Iljimae' has many strong points, and in many ways is more complete story-wise than the other drama 'Iljimae', but I wasn't entirely happy with it.

Having watched 'Iljimae',I must say, there is very little in common between these two dramas, other than the 'Robin Hood' nature of Iljimae and his rather misfortunate connection to his parents.

The return of Iljimae has a broader framework,is more well written, and explores the identity of Iljimae as a hero of the times, working against injustice than for any personal quest. I felt that the story and the characters were more complete in this.

The action sequences are good. There must have been plenty of rope and pulleys used in the making, as Iljimae and numerous others are always flying and leaping about in these scenes.
The episodes are all interesting, and keep you moving forward without boredom.

Regarding the cast: I had wanted to watch this initially for Jung Il Woo, and he didn't disappoint. He is good as Iljimae, truly the 'pretty girl-like-boy' as often referred to in the drama (I loved his ponytail hair).
The supporting cast is good,with many strong performances except that some secondary characters were made annoying by over-acting.

Despite all this, I didn't feel really satisfied with this drama. There wasn't so much plain fun or happy-energy associated with it.

Iljimae's character is mostly solemn/sad/serious/angry. Very rarely do we get to see his smile, let alone hear a laugh. There are so many things happening, we can near feel him carrying the burden of the world on his shoulders.
The romantic relationship is developed on realistic terms, along the sidelines of the plot.
The ending too, although happy, has a solemn, contemplative feel to it.

To sum up, although lacking in story and character development, character Iljimae in the drama 'Iljimae' evoked more happiness than the one we find in 'The Return of Iljimae'.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
6 people found this review helpful
Jan 27, 2012
Overall 8.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 8.0
This sageuk has amazing cinematography and a lovely soundtrack. This was also a drama that has solid acting all across the cast.

In particular, Jung Il Woo proved that he does have acting chops and this is his best work so far, in my opinion.

The plot is a seamless blend of action, melodrama and comedy. The story examines the life and history of this "hero" in such a convincing way.

The plot doesn't move that quickly and that may come off as jarring to some viewers. However, this drama is meant to be watched slowly and savored.
The characters are portrayed so realistically and they really remain in your heart even after the drama is over.

A highly recommended drama.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
16 people found this review helpful
Jun 25, 2011
Overall 5.0
Story 4.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 1.0
If you watched "Iljimae" with Jun Ki and liked it you probably wont like this one. This is not a sequel to Jun Ki's Iljimae, this is a different version of the same story. Return to Iljimae seems to stick really close to history and drifts far from the fantasy that I loved in Iljimae.

This version also tells its story by frequent flash backs and moments in the past, which until you get the hang of it makes it difficult to follow. The story divulges into to the past of all its characters, thus dragging out the series and can sometimes seem to beat a already dead horse.

The quick action is left to a minimum in this version, and Il Woo just wasnt as charismatic as Jun Ki was.

-Bottom line "Return to Iljimae" seems to be a true history piece, slowly dragging you behind the main character. Can easily be fast forwarded . On the upside Il woo is cute when he smiles and this one seemed to have a larger production budget.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
4 people found this review helpful
Jan 5, 2012
Overall 10
Story 10
Acting/Cast 10
Music 10
Rewatch Value 10
I luved this drama. That said, I found myself getting slightly board with the series sometimes and turning to other more fast paced shows. But every time I came back to Iljimae it was like drinking a tall glass of ice water on a hot day. Simple, refreshing and so needed. This series has an amazing musical score, great cinematography and the entire cast really delivers solid performances. Iljimae and Wal Hee’s relationship was so different from any other drama romance I have seen b/c Return of Iljimae breaks away from conventional dramas and cliche themes and gives emotions to its audiences. Though I found Wal Hee a little annoying towards the end, I really loved her throughout most of the show. Return of Iljimae did not need to rely on flashy action scenes to stay afloat. It stood on a solid foundation of great acting, an interesting story and intricate character development. I watched Iljimae with Lee Junki first and loved it. I was actually really hesitant about watching MBC's version of Iljimae cause I actually heard that it's not as good as SBS's. Well, I'm so glad I gave it a chance cause I actually think it's better then Iljimae. The emotional development on each character was realistic. And the ending left me satisfied, which is a first in Korean drama for me. It was a beautiful drama, not just visually, but also with how the story progresses for each character. It really saddens me that the rest of Korea couldn't appreciate how great the writing of Return of Iljimae is compared to other shows. Fantastic series. It's my favorite Korean drama...

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?
2 people found this review helpful
Aug 14, 2012
Overall 7.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 7.0
Music 6.0
Rewatch Value 6.0
I’m not a fan of historical dramas. I watched Iljimae and thought it was good so I decided to watch this one. It isn’t that this drama is bad, but I was just so tired of it by the end. It was just so serious and sad with very little happy moments or smiles. Plus I hated that they have a narrator. BTW…this is not a sequel to Iljimae.

The story is well thought out, there aren’t any holes or anything that doesn’t make since. Iljimae goes through so much that by the time I watched the 24th episode, I was just glad that it was over. It was hard to watch Iljimae face one tragedy after another. Then he has Wol Hee who lives her life solely for him and totally drives me crazy with her constant whining and crying. I only started to like her character at the end when she finally realizes that he has a greater purpose than to just sit around with her. She even starts giving herself another purpose to live FINALLY. The side stories are cute and give more to the story as well. At least the ending wrapped everything up.

The acting ofJung Il Woo as Iljimae is what makes this drama worth watching. If it weren’t for him, then I probably would have dropped this drama. The other actors are ok, but some of the actors for the side stories just got on my nerves. Kim Min Jong is also awesome as Lieutenant Ja Myeong. He is a really good actor.

The music is nothing special.

If you like historical dramas, then this is definitely on that you should watch.

Read More

Was this review helpful to you?