One of the benefits that I have gained from watching “Time Slip Dr. Jin” is a lesson in the politics and history of the Chosun Dynasty. This has been an enlightening drama for me and my family simply because it has inspired us to read and learn so much more about the history of Korea than we knew before. Why is this important? It is important because ignorance about people and their ways is the reason why there is strife and war. To learn about a people’s history is a key to understanding them in the present. Korean people are strong nationalists. They cling to their heritage with an unsurpassed tenacity of spirit. Even living in foreign countries they distinctly remain Korean. This is a tribute to their sense of self as a nation and as a people undaunted by the many attempts to subjugate them.
As a nation that did not desire ties with western nations or their ways, Korea had chosen to keep its borders closed. This stand changed as other cultures and ideologies intervened, and grass roots rebellions within Korea produced an impetus to a new way of thinking that eventually changed the ruling class. The Andong Kim Clan controlled Korea for most of the 19th century along with the P’ungyang Cho Clan. This made the Kings and Queens primarily puppets and as the century neared it’s close there was a breakdown of the class system. Today, remnants of the class system still remain, but there is more equality and opportunity for those who exert themselves to rise above the societal layers.
Korea during the Chosun Dynasty was going through a transitional stage just before the dawning of the new century. In “Korea, Its History and Culture” published by the Korean Overseas Information Service, we read, …”There were also responses to economic growth, social change and the introduction of Western ideas. The new developments led scholars to break away from the abstractions and rigidity of Neo-Confucian doctrine and search for practical solutions and responses to the new social and technological situation. The result was an incredible surge of interest in all forms of practical scholarship”. [Sirhak]
This interest in new ways of thinking and doing led to drastic changes in Korean society and life, and other nations seized opportunity to control and use a courageous people for their own ends. Thankfully, that era has passed, but there is still unrest in a divided Korea. It will take courage and humility to reunite Korea, but sadly, it may also take many lives.
Episode 22 of this dramatic adaptation gives us a an 1860’s glimpse into the courage and desire of the Korean nation to remain solidified. This drama is based on historical fact woven into a thread of fantasy. I salute the writer(s) of Time Slip Dr. Jin for insight and courage to portray a time in Korea’s history that was not the most flattering, but which was a transition stage into the modern era. Societies tend to change through civil war and uprisings, and in this instance, also subjugation and manipulation. I have seen that in our own American history–so I understand a nation that has seen pain, sorrow, and politics shape her history and her people again and again.
Koreans are stalwart survivors, and Time Slip Dr. Jin has given us a glimpse into the hearts, minds, and spirits of a special people. The portrayal of all of the essential characters including Dr. Jin, Kyung Tak, Young Rae, Young Hwi, and many more was performed and acted impeccably and convincingly. I will enjoy this drama again and again.
credit: Momma Cha @jyjfantalk
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