Secret Garden: Likes and Dislikes

I started to watch Secret Garden when it was airing in 2010, saw 2 episodes, and although there were bits and pieces that I liked, overall, I was unimpressed. So, I put off following the show indefinitely. But then, as new episodes came out, the blogosphere was either abuzz with heaps of praises or heaps of criticism for Secret Garden, which certainly piqued my curiosity. Coupled that with news of Hyun Bin’s upcoming military service date and Son Ye Jin’s cameo in Episode 20, I decided to bump it up on my to-watch list.

Anyway, I finished Secret Garden a few weeks ago, and was disappointed with the way the show turned out, to say the least. While there were things that I did like about the show, it isn’t one of my favorite dramas ever. And while there were aspects that annoyed and frustrated me, I don’t hate it with a fiery passion. So, I think I’d fall somewhere in the middle of the SG’s love/hate spectrum. Thus, I’m going to sum up my overall opinion of SG in a like/dislike list.

Disclaimer: I am aware that there are quite a few ardent fans of SG and although I’m not about to go on a full-on tirade of SG, I know how it feels to read unfavorable opinions of shows that you love. So this is just a heads up, in case you happen to stumble upon this post. To give you a brief taste of the general tone of the coming list, SG will be better known to me as Oska’s Garden, Maintained by Secretary Kim.

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Ha Ji-won Speaks Up for Chosun-Era Gisaeng

It isn’t until the setting sun makes the shadows grow long on the set of Hwang Jin-I, the KBS 2 historical drama that took a staggering 20 percent of the viewing rate at its debut, that Ha Ji-won can settle down for a moment’s rest. “This is the first time that I have felt jealous during acting,” she says. “The charisma of a world-class beauty, the intellect to keep her on a par with the scholars in a poetry contest: there was nowhere she was lacking. More than anything else, she didn’t give in to the pressure of her class or of the era in which she was born. She took the life she was given and lived it in an admirable way.”

To the brassy question, “Aren’t gisaeng just the girls who pour the liquor?” the actress kept her cool: “You can look at it that way, but they were at once entertainers and artists.” “Nowadays you can see celebrities on TV and on stage, but in the Chosun period it was the gisaeng that filled that role,” she said. “But they did have to pour the drinks, and sometimes they had to give their bodies, and since they could never love easily, their lives were often filled with pain.”

Through the role, the actress is living the arduous life of a Chosun-era entertainer for herself. “There was one extra who cried real tears during the shooting of a scene where their feet were bound and strung upside to perform a dance,” she recalls. “Physically and mentally, the life of the gisaeng is hard.”

And she added, “For a female entertainer, the closest companion is pain.” Asked if there is a line like that in the drama, Ha smiles. “Yes, it’s a line from the fourth episode. Since I’m going through the joys and sorrows felt by the gisaeng throughout the drama, certain lines speak to my heart word for word.” Ha is an actress who has a wide range of room to be analyzed. In an industry full of stars who have finely chiseled noses and wide eyes, Ha looks like the girl next door. Ironically it was that ordinariness that helped her to grow into a top class actor on the big and small screen. Most of the characters she played in some way broke the mold, and it was possible because of an appearance that can become any character as well as her fine dramatic craft.

For Ha, a drama requiring her to embody traditional feminine beauty is both an opportunity and a risk. “As you know, I don’t have a pretty doll-like face, nor do I have a lot of charisma. But because of that, I can fit better into various types of characters. I often wish I were prettier, though.” In the drama she refused to use a double for the tightrope walk scene. She set up a rope in the yard of her house and learned herself over the course of two weeks. “I felt like I lack something, and that’s why I always want to learn. Interestingly, whenever I want to learn something, there comes the chance to shoot a movie or drama related to it. When I started to get interested in dance, I ended up starring in Duelist, which allowed me to learn both ballet and tango. Do you think I have some sort of psychic power? It’s scary.”

doozy: Ha Ji Won sounds very modest and down-to-earth. “… nor do I have a lot of charisma.” What is she talking about? She does charisma because although she doesn’t have the most gorgeous face, she has that special appeal that makes her interesting to watch onscreen.

Hwang Jin-Yi

Ha Ji Won (What Happened in Bali, Damo, The Duelist)
Kim Jae Won (Great Inheritance, Romance)
Lee Si Hwan (Snow World)
Ryu Tae Jun (Really Really Like You)
Jeon Mi Seon (Steam Flower)
Jang Geun Seok (Nonstop 4, Lovers in Prague)
Lee In Hye (Sassy Girl Choon Hyang, Golden Apple)

October 11, 2006 (every Wednesdays-Thursdays)


Broadcasting station

Kim Cheol-Gyu

Yoo Seon-Joo

Produced by

Source: WITH S2

doozy: The first episode aired with relatively good ratings (around 20%). I have yet to see it but will post my comments on it once I do.

Ha Ji-won’s Beauty to Brighten Walls in Cannes

The giant, strikingly beautiful face of Ha Ji-won will adorn walls all over Cannes during the international audiovisual content market show MIPCOM 2006 running there from Oct 9-13, the posters advertising the historical TV drama Hwang Jin-I.

KBS Media, which is involved in bringing Korean pop culture to foreign audiences, says at the main entrance to the largest venue, the Palais des Festivals, will be a large visual from the early days of shooting the story of the famous Chosun-era gisaeng (female entertainer).

But those involved are trying to persuade MIPCOM to switch those images of the actress for a newer one, which they think is even more stunning: it depicts her lying down and looking over her shoulder with a decorative wig on her head and clad in a jeogori (short jacket).

Those in charge of the PR for Hwang Jin-I say they plan to unveil a total of five posters, and they have already heard from people who want to buy the series.

doozy: Wow, the poster is so colorful and beautiful! The red really stands out. Upon first glance, I couldn’t even tell that it is Ha Ji Won. She looks really different in the poster.

Ha Ji-won’s Agonizing Road to Period Drama

The actress Ha Ji-won came close to despair while practicing the wide range of skills needed for her role as “Hwang Jin-I,” a famous Chosun-era gisaeng or female entertainer, in a new KBS mini-series. Her head endured the leaden weight of a big decorative wig or gachae. Ha confessed to the suffering, saying, “The gachae is too heavy. My neck is already stiff, although I’ve only filmed three episodes. It’s too painful to sleep.” Her fingers are blistered and bruised due to hours of practicing the gayageum, a 12-stringed Korean harp, and geomungo, the six-stringed zither at which the Chosun-era entertainers excelled. Ha is even practicing even tightrope-walking.

To keep up her strength, she is eating eels, which are believed to be good for stamina. And her pains are rewarded with a sense achievement: after all, she now has several skills she never dreamed of. “I want to break away from the typical image of gisaeng and create a new one to win approval from women,” she says.
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doozy: Wow… Now, that is suffering for your art! And man, this is an episode-drama so Ha Ji Won is going to be in pain for a while. Be strong, Ha Ji Won sshi! For what it’s worth, you look gorgeous in the traditional costume. Those pictures above are breathtakingly beautiful! I love the colors and the extravagance of the hanboks. I like her poses as well. She looks very regal and sophisticated.