SBS TV series "Jejungwon" is set during the latter era of the Joseon Dynasty -- a time period never before handled in a Korean drama. It also revolves around Jejungwon which is the first hospital in South Korea's history to use Western medicine. These elements topped with the collaboration of its scenarist Lee Ki-won, writer of MBC's hit medical series "White Tower," and producer Hong Chang-wook, who garnered a strong fanbase through his SBS drama "Scales of Justice," leaves little space for hasty presumptions. 10Asia visited the set of "Jejungwon" a week ahead of its premiere to get a closer look and a better understanding of the medical-historical drama.
|Actors Sean Richard and Park Yong-woo act out a scene for SBS TV series "Jejungwon" on set at the broadcaster's studio in Ilsan, Gyeonggi Province of South Korea on December 30, 2009. [Chae Ki-won/10Asia]
A blond man sits at the door of a woman's room. He has an unidentifiable hose-like object stuck in one of his ears. A man sitting next to him says, "A tenth of 30 centimeters down from the neck, then another tenth of 30 centimeters to the left." That is when the woman sitting on the other side of the door starts moving. She places her hand, holding a stethoscope, to the chest of another woman whose jacket is undone. When the woman places the stethoscope to the other woman in accordance with the Korean man's directions, the blond man from the United States gives his diagnose of the patient's presumed illness.
This sight where three people -- American and Korean, male and female -- cling to this single lady brought up in a good family, helps us predict what "Jejungwon" will show its viewers. Such a scene is from times when a married woman from a good family would get beaten up by her husband for reading a book. Yoo Suk-ran (played by Han Hye-jin), who learns English and medicine, plays the friend of such a woman in the drama and will remark, "The King himself said discrimination no longer exists regarding status," although the world has yet to accept freedom of status. The same situation will apply to foreigner Allen (Sean Richard) who has come from the U.S. to spread Western medicine and Hwang Jung (Park Yong-woo) who learns medicine from Allen whilst concealing the he is actually of low status with his occupation as a butcher. That is how "Jejungwon," through a single scene, portrayed the medicine, the time period and the way people live during such times.
If the force driving "Jejungwon" lies in its story about people attempting to overcome limitations which arise from their status or gender, details shown throughout the drama which the production crew has paid particular attention to in verifying thoroughly are most important element in keeping the series in touch with modern day Korea. Every medical instrument and medical practice is based on thorough research of South Korea's history.
The atmosphere on set of "Jejungwon" was also similar. As Park and Han acted out the scene of opening a door to enter a room, producer Hong asked the two to open the door together in consideration of the editing. He then suggested that Han, whom he cast for the drama because "she seemed the perfect fit for the role of Seok-ran who is pretty, sturdy and smart," lightly embrace a childhood friend she is reunited with as a patient. There are no spectacular scenes to "Jejungwon" being the medical drama it is but every scene is created through meticulous producing. Hong, who calls the small room that appears in the drama "the hospital", hushes the set to make the atmosphere quiet and calm as if they are in shoot in an actual hospital. Not even the common sound of a 'Cut!' can be heard on this set.
Meanwhile, the dialogue a member of the production crew and staff exchange in between the shoots helps the onlooker assume the actual atmosphere of "Jejungwon". When Park appears on set, a crew member will jokingly ask him "What are you doing here?" to which Park will respond, "I heard there's some kind of attraction." Another member of the crew makes a bet on how well Han's film "No Mercy" will do. The shooting for each scene of "Jejungwon" maintained a constant pace which failed to slow and every member on set were doing their jobs without losing their smile.
Senior Reporter : Kang Myoung-Seok firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographer : Chae ki-won email@example.com
Editor : Jessica Kim firstname.lastname@example.org
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