Seonduk yeowan (The Great Queen Seondeok ) (2009 -  )

 

 

 

 

Director:

Starring:

Korea's first reigning queen (632-674); Kingdom of Silla

 

 

Spoiler Warning: 

Episodes 1 and 2 take place between 572-602. 

 

Episode 1.

"Heaven and earth were one."  Jinheung made the small nation of Silla a kingdom of heaven on earth.  Jinheung is riding alone.  He is confronted with assassins from the Kingdom of Baekje.  The assassins say they are here to avenge the betrayal of King Sung.  The five assassins surround Jingeung.  A little after the fighting starts, an arrow takes out one of the assassins.  Jinheung looks and sees three of his men coming on horseback to defeat the assassins.  The lead man, however, turns out to be a woman.  She and two men kill all five of the assassins.  The woman asks Jinheung to please not ride alone near the border.  The king rejects the thought saying he's going to show young Baekjung the land he'll inherit. 

Mt. Bukhan Encampment.  On top of the mountain, says everything those around him see is his Silla.  The woman warrior says and much more too:  as far north as Maun and Hwangjo Passes and west to the Danghang Fortress.  The king now thanks those who helped him gain this land.  Eulje maintained order inside Silla.  Nolibu, Sejong provided counsel, military leadership and loyalty.  Misil, the young woman, provided the leadership of the Hwarang warriors.  Sulwon and Munno he also thanks.  He then has his grandson Baekjung swear to him that he will do eve greater things when he takes the throne.  The boy swears.  Jinheung's second son, Prince Geumnyun, looks jealous of and mad at the future king. 

The king travels in a big palanquin.  One of the carriers falls down and for that his head is cut off and he is replaced by another fresh carrier.  He tells Misil that the secret to his success is surrounding himself with people who shared his vision.  The king coughs up blood.

Seolabeol (modern Gyeongju).  The king is going to have Misil write out his last wishes.  He bequeaths his throne to Baekjung.  Eulje will be prime minister, the highest rank in the Council of Nobles.  Prince Geumnyun and Royal Consort Misil shall abandon court life and devote their lives to Buddha.  This deeply upsets Misil and the king asks her why she is upset.   She says:  "What happiness could I possibly find once you have gone?"  Her eyes become very watery. 

Hwarang Warrior Sulwon begs an audience with the king.  The king called for him and now he tells Sulwon that Sulwon and Mun-no has been his Hwarang Guard for years.  He hands a document to Sulwon and says he entrusts this secret edict to him.   Then the king tells him to read the edict.  He tells Sulwon that after his death, Misil's poison will destroy all of you.  The king now commands Sulwon to kill Misil.  Sulwon replies that he will obey. 

It turns out that Misil and Sulwon are working together, and he tells her about the king's command.  Sulwon pledged his life to Misil four years ago.  Misil comments that Eulja still hasn't returned and Monk Munno is still at the grotto. 

Hwarang Field Marshal Munno participates in a ritual.  The king tells Baekjung the he will be king and will have to save Silla from itself. 

Sulwon has come with his troops to overthrow the king.  They fight their way to the king.

The king is dying.  He says to himself:  "My impossible dream is to unite this land under Silla.  The only way Sila can survive."  The king dies. 

After the palace guard has been killed Misil comes in.  Baekjung sees all this and runs to hide.  Misil goes over and around dead bodies to go to the king.  She is not aware that he's dead already.  When she discovers he's dead, she checks his pulse to make sure.  Misil says:  "I'll never forget your kindness toward me."  Tears drop run on her face.  She adds:  "Nor your kindness in taking your last breath before I was forced to kill you."  Baekjung is hiding behind the king's throne and hears all this. 

Now the others pour into the room to find the king dead.  Misil says now the people belong to her.  And now this is her reign.

Munno hears the king's words brought with the wind:  "No one shall end Misil's reign untie an eighth star appears in Ursa Major.  Watch for the eighth star."

Misil now comes to the second son to make a deal.  She will change the king's final wishes so Prince Geumnyun can be named the king, if the prince will make her his queen.  Misaeng, the 10th Garrison Commander, and Misil's younger brother, sees his sister and the prince start to make love.  He is shocked, but he also smiles and then laughs about it. 

The prince becomes king and Misil queen.   It is celebrated with an elaborate ceremony.  The king's mother says the six colors in the ceremony represent the founding clans of Silla. Baekjung sits at the right hand of the king.  The king's mother then introduces the Najung Well, from which sprang the egg that bore Pak Hyukkose, first king of Silla!  She tells her son to step forth and receive the light of the Hyukkose Egg. 

Munno reaches the ceremony at the time that the new king picks up the egg.  Standing next to him is Misil.  Munno wonders:  "Does Misil now have the mandate of heaven?  Is this to be her reign?"  As he walks out of the palace, he hears Baekjung crying that his father take him with him, but father says he has been ordered to Danghang Fortress.  The boy says Misil scares him and he hates his uncle.  Father says he has to stay at court, but he will return one day.  Munno looks up to the sky to see an eighth star plant itself in the Ursa Major.  But the next morning there are still only seven stars in Ursa Major. 

Four years later.  Munno tells Sulwon that he won't interfere with Misil's plans, but he won't join them either.

King Jinji, 25th ruler of Silla.  Misil has a baby in her arms.  Before the king, she asks:  "You'd abandon me?  Force our child to live the life of a consort's son?"  The king asks he why is she doing this on the day of the Hwarang Ceremony?  She says that the king swore to make her his queen.  The king explains that his mother and the nobles were against it.  Misil says he could insist she be queen.  After all, she hid the Final Bequest and gave the prince the throne!  She is interrupted by a messenger saying the ceremonies are about to begin.  The king gets off the throne.  As he passes Misil and the baby, he tells her never mention the bequest again.  Misil is not happy.  Alone, she lays the baby on the royal carpet and tells the baby:  "I'm sorry.  But now I no longer need you."  She walks away from the baby.  The baby starts to cry.

Prince Baekjung, later King Jinpyung, Seondeok's father, is with Maya, Lady Kim, Baekjung's consort.  He says he can't believe they are going to have a baby.  He is very happy.  He gives her a small bejeweled dagger that his grandfather had given him   Baekjung says that grandfather told him that the dagger necklace kept him safe, and he wants the necklace to do the same for their child.  Just then Baekjung's servant from childhood, Sohwa, comes rushing into the room and is in such a hurry that she falls down.  She reminds the pair about going to the Hwarang Ceremony, because Sohwa wants to get a good seat.  She is very disappointed when Maya says first they will make a trip to the shrine.  Sohwa leaves. 

Maya tells the prince that he should go to the ceremony, but he says he would rather be with Maya.  She replies that she will join him after she gives thanks at the shrine. 

Maya finds that the shrine is closed.   Through Sohwa, Maya learns that the Hwarang Warriors paint their faces.  She is amazed at this.

In the shrine the Hwarang Warriors are painting there faces under the watchful eye of Sulwon.  Sohwa and Maya peek in on the face painting.  Sulwon sees them, but doesn't let on that he knows.  Maya tells Sohwa that when the Hwarang paint their faces it's called a nanjang.  It means they are preparing to die.  They paint their faces on the eve of a battle or an important mission.  Now the pair race to the ceremony.  Sulwon and the king's mother watch them as they go.  The mother wants to know what Sulwon is going to do with the two women.  He says they will sneak them out of the palace and no one will ever find their bodies. 

Munno watches the festivities from a distane on high.  He also sees Sohwa and Maya racing to the ceremonies. 

Maya is stopped by a guard and told that her mother is very ill.  The guard hands her a note given to him by the servant named Cheondeok.  Maya asks where is Cheondeol now?  At the north gate.  Now Maya tells Sohwa to go inform Prince Baekjung.  Munno continues watching at after the two women leave, he sees Sulwon and four soldiers come from behind them and stop at the guard station.  Munno follows Maya's movements.

The festivities continue.  Prince Baekjung sees Sohwa trying to reach him and he get us to greet her.  The king is now set to touch the egg of Hyukkose, when the stand, on which the egg sits, is lowered so that the king can't pick up the egg.   The king demands to know the meaning of this.  The door to the ceremonies is thrown open and their stands Misil with her soldiers with their painted faces.  They march up to confront the king.  Misil says she's speaking for the Hwarang:  "My Lord, please abdicate the throne."

Meanwhile, soldiers grab Maya and a soldier forces Maya to go into a small palanquin where he holds a knife to her throat. Munno sees that the soldiers quickly close the palanquin door, pick up the palanquin and runs away with it as fast as they can.  Munno saw this scene in one of his visions and he knows there's trouble. 

The king shouts for his guard to protect him and they charge up to Misil and stop.  The the two front rows of the Hwarang commit seppuku (ritual suicide).  Misil says:  "Who can resist the resolve of the nanjang?"  The Council now joins the rebellion saying they they too have issued an edict. 

Sejong, 6th Garrison Commander, and Misil's husband, reads the edict.  Number One: For dishonoring the crown and ignoring the mandate of heaven.  Number Two:  For lecherous conduct and failing as custodian of the kingdom.   Number Three:  For violating the late king's consort.  Number Four:  Failing to honor the king's Final Bequest.  And now Misil brings forth with the original Final Bequest.  She reads that the late king selected his grandson Baekjung to become king.  The people bow now to the new king. 

 

Episode 2. 

Sohwa asks another servant why would Lady Misil hurt Lady Maya to marry Your Highness?  You're 15 years younger than her.  The servant says Misil is capable of anything. 

Misil tells her husband Sejong that now she will be Baekjung's queen.  She asks Sejong if it will bother him if she is again with another man?  He responds that King Jinheung told him that Misil was too much for any one man.  He's just sorry he was not born of royal blood or noble birth. 

Sulwon comes into the house saying that they have lost track of Prince Baekjung.  Misil asks what about Maya?  Sulwon says she's been taken care of. 

Prince Baekjung is riding his horse at night trying to find Maya.  The soldiers are still carrying Maya in the palanquin.  All of a sudden, the soldiers are stopped with the appearance of Munno on the path.  They attack Munno but he soon has them all on the ground. Then the soldier with the knife next to Maya's throat comes forward.  He tells Munno to throw down the sword.  Munno complies.

Now Sulwon and his men stop the king.

Munno and Maya are tied to a heavy rock.  They are to be pushed off a cliff to die from the fall and/or from drowning.  The rock is thrown over the cliff and then Munno is pushed off the cliff.  They go to the bottom of the sea.  Maya gets her hands free of the ropes. 

Sulow now catches up with Maya's kidnappers.  He slits their throats.  A pretty woman with two swordsmen shows her face to Sulow.

Seolabeol  -- modern Gyeongju.  A man says that they urgently request that the king appoint a Head of Military Affairs.  Misil chooses the man, Kim Hujik, to get the post.  The king can only say that's fine.  The king ahead of time approves the next nominee without knowing the man's name.  He says the same thing ahead of time for the next two nominees.  Misil now says there's a question about the king's marriage.  Maya has disappeared for 6 months now, but the country needs a queen right now.   The Council of Nobles wants to arrange a suitable marriage by the end of the month.  Again the king says that's fine.  He adds:  "Everything's fine"  He leaves the throne room. 

Eulje comes back  and greets the king, who is so happy to get at least one ally in his court.  The inner circle of power led by Misil meets in secrecy.  Misil's husband is worried about Eulje's return thinking the man may just upset their plans. At this time Misil's brother, Misaeng, comes to the meeting saying that Eulje won't be a problem for he had a talk with the old man and he knows how to get along.  He offered Eulje a chance to come back and serve the king.  Moreover, they need Eulje's support for the royal marriage. Misil tells the group that a lot has changed in four years:  "What can he do to us now?"  The group now agrees that the deliberations of the Council of Nobles will be open and public. 

The open meeting of the Council of Nobles.  The men says that the king is late for the meeting.  And here comes the king.  The meeting can begin. 

Eulje says that Misil should retire to a life of contemplation about Buddha and his teachings.  The other nobles all seem to be backing Misil as the next queen.  And now they are going to take the vote and it must be unanimous.  Anyone against this union should place his seal inside the circle.  A couple on nobles are tempted to put their seal inside the circle, but they a cowed by the dirty looks being shot at them.  So it looks like the marriage will be approved.  Just then, Munno comes running up to the council and yells:  "Stop this!"  The nobles try to shut down Munno, but he turns his back to them and yells:  "On your feet!  And greet Her Highness the Queen!" 

A palanquin is brought forward and out steps Maya.  She approaches the council.  The king gets up to hug and greet Maya.  One of the nobles tells Maya to explain her long absence.  Maya says her the carriage was attacked en route to her family home. She doesn't know who the perpetrators were.  Now she adds that they tied Munno and her to a rock and threw them over a cliff into the sea.  The king wants to congratulate Munno for saving Maya, but Munno says he can't take the credit.  Maya save her and him by using the lucky dagger that the king had given her for her safety.  She used the small dagger to cut her ropes.  Maya adds that the dagger also saved their child of royal lineage.  And now everyone knows that the king is about to have a child.  The conspirators against the king are stunned by this turn of events. 

Now a shout goes out:  "Hail to the Queen!  The Queen of Silla!" 

The king is so happy and he is determined to gain his rightful powers.  He asks Eulje and Munno for their continued help for her will take back the power from Misil.  Both men agree. 

The two loyal servants to the king run in Misil.  She asks Munno if he has a vision of Misil not being the queen.  Munno says no.  Rather he received a vision that none may challenge Lady Misil until an eighth star appears in Ursa Major.  His other vision was that Misil has the mandate of heaven.  The second vision gives some hope to Misil. 

Silla Royal Shrine.  Misil stayed all night in the shrine.  She says:  "Rule or not, I won't be satisfied until I'm queen."  Misil is told by the high priestess that there's something not right about the queen's pregnancy. The midwife detects a problem but doesn't tell the king or queen, but does tell the high priestess, and she, in turn goes straight to Misil. 

In private, the high priestess tells Misil that Maya is going to have twins.  Misil is happy because there is a prophecy that says if there are twins born to the king, the male line of the royal family will end.  She wonders if this is the mandate from heaven. 

Misil orders her brother to get the conspirators together and mobilize their troops.  The queen goes through her labor. 

The midwife delivers a girl baby.  Maya wanted a boy, but the king is happy about having a girl.  The second baby, presumably, is still in the womb.  Now the queenstarts to go into labor agaion.  Sohwa checks and sees a baby's head emerging.  She says that the queen in having twins.  The midwife listening at the door hears this and rushes to tell the high priestess, who sends the midwife back to the door to listen in and then report to her with more information.

Sohwa says she has to get a doctor and runs toward the door.  The king, however, stops her and tells her to lock the door.

The conspirators are told by the high priestess of the twin sisters.  So now the conspirators say then they win. 

The king now orders Sohwa to deliver the second baby.   And now Sohwa has to admit that she know nothing about birthing babies. 

Misil says they have to move soon and quickly.  They will announce the birth of the twin sisters.  She is smart enough to know that the king might try to hide the second child, so their soldiers will guard all the entrances and exits to the palace.  The king might also try to hand off the second baby to someone he trusts, so:  "Keep an eye on all those loyal to the king, especially Munno."  She says to Sulwon that she will leave Munno to him to take care of. 

Munno looks up at Ursa Major and there he sees and eighth star.  The second baby is born.  Munno now sees Misil's troops gathering. 

The husband will take the Hwarang to the hall, while Sulwon goes to chase down Munno.  And now Misil and Misaeng come out with servants behind them. 

The king gives the second baby the small dagger to protect her.  The queen begs him not to take away the second baby, but the king says they must.  He gives the baby to Sohwa and tells her to leave the palace. 

Sulwon is told that someone saw Field Marshal Munno heading toward the shrine.

Showa says that she is stupid and not capable of taking the second baby.  The king grabs her shoulders and tells her she is the only one that can help them.  He also says he will hate to lose her, because above even his mother Showa was always there to care for him.  He asks her please to take the child. 

On horseback Sulwon and his men are chasing Munno on his horse.  Munno runs right through the gates headed for the shrine.  Misil and Misaeng watch as Munno blazes right by them.  Now Sulwon and his men arrive and Misil says Munno is headed to the shrine and the birthing chamber.  Sulwon and his men take off after Munno. 

It's a race for the king to give Showa the second daughter and get her out of the palace before Misil's troops stop them. The king hurries as fast as he can, but now he hears a strong knock on the door.  It must be Misil's men!

 

 

Episode 3. 

Sulwon and his men are chasing after Munno.  Munno busts into the palace and through the guards trying to stop him.  He bangs on the door and says he is Field Marshal Munno.  The king opens the door for Munno.

Munno has the baby with him, but now he has to get through Sulwon and his men.  Munno takes on the challenge and starts mowing down Sulwon's men.  And now Misil arrives.  She tells the midwife to announce her, but now the king is announced.  He comes out holding his baby girl.  He holds the baby over his head, and while the people are shouting for the king, he shouts:  "Hail Chunmyung, Princess of Silla!" 

Meanwhile, with the other baby with him, Munno is stopped by more than a hundred soldiers.  He starts fighting them off, but Sulwon shoots and arrow at Munno and the field marshal drops the baby.  Except it's not the baby.  It's just a bolt of cloth wrapped around itself to look like it contains a baby. 

Sohwa is got trying to sneak out the baby.  She gives the guard the baby and tells him to raise it, because she's afraid to do it.  And she says the baby is not even hers.  The guard doesn't believe and he forces Sohwa to take the baby back and accept her responsibility to raise the child.  Sohwa has to take the baby now. 

Misil's brother tells Misil and the high priestess that Munno did not have the child. Misil wonders who was the baby that the king was holding up.  The high priestess speculates that maybe it's that idiot maid of the king.  Misil tells Sulwon to find the maid. 

Sohwa makes a last attempt to get the guard to take the child, but he still gives it back to her.  He tells her to go home.  He says he knows that by going home, she will be yelled at by her parents but she's a woman now and has to start taking responsibility for the child.  Sohwa realizes that the guard is right. 

Looking for the maid, the group finds the guard that just let Sohwa go.  The guard says that the maid got pregnant and had a baby but was refusing to take responsibility for it.  Misaeng asks the guard where is the baby? 

Sohwa has run up a hill that overlooks the city. 

Misil looks up at Ursa Major.  The brother asks her what is she looking at?  She asks him what's going on with Ursa Major?   At first, Misaeng says that's just the big dipper.  Misil's husband says there's an eighth star in Ursa Major.  Misil is stunned.  A messenger comes up to her to te her that Munno got away from the guards and has escaped.   The messenger says that Munno left a message.  In the message Munno says in his second vision he learned that when the 7 stars become 8, the child to halt Misil will be born.  Now Misil takes the sword from the guard that let Sohwa go.  She slits the guard's throat and then slits the throats of the two men on either side of the guard. 

Now Milsi tells her army commander Jilsuk to find that tramp and the twin baby.  Jilsuk takes some men and goes after Sohwa.  He rides through the forest and suddenly hears a baby crying.  He and his men ride in the direction from which came the crying. 

There's a no trespassing sign and Misil just violates the sign and head onto the property and into a cage. 

Julsuk and his men cut down the no trespassing sign and go onto the property.  Now with their lit torches they are searching the cave in which Sohwa and the baby are hiding.  The cave now opens into many caves, so Jilsuk has fires started at each of the cave entrances.

The smoke forces Sohwa from her cave.  The soldiers tie Showa up with ropes and they start walking to their horses.  Munno show up and kills one of the soldiers with an arrow.  Three others attack Munno, but he quickly dispatches the three.  Now only Jilsuk and the baby are left.  Munno puts an arrow into the side of Jilsuk and the baby goes flying up in the air.  Munno catches the baby before she hits the ground.  Jilsuk is now going to sword fight with Munno.  Munno slashes Jilsuk across the face, but he's far from being dead.  Munno rides off with Sohwa and the baby.  Jilsuk pursues them on horseback. 

15 years later.  Takla Makan Desert, China. Jilsuk tells a young girl around a campfire that he almost caught them once,  but they left on a boat for Hangzhou.  After two years of searching, he found it impossible to return home.  Since then, he has been wandering, taking small jobs when they are available.  He asks the girl isn't this the Silk Road?  Yes, it is.  Jilsuk says he has heard that the Romans are offering a lot of money for bodyguards.  The girl jumps up and says that this is the man's luck day.  (The girl is Deokman, future Queen Seondeok, 27th ruler of Silla.)

Deokman leads Jilsuk across the desert.  She brings him to a town in the desert.  She takes him to see her mother, who is Sohwa now running an inn and restaurant.  Sohwa shows Jilsuk to his room in the inn.  Along the way, she realizes he's Jilsuk. 

Deokman talks with Katan, who sees to like her a lot.  New comes that the trade in tea has been forbidden.  Katan asks Deokman what does she know about this?  She says they go a new warlord and he will chop the head off anyone trading in tea. 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Historical Background:

According to Wikipedia:  "The Hwarang, or "Flowering Knights" were an elite group of male youth in Silla, an ancient Korean kingdom that lasted until the 10th century. There were educational institutions as well as social clubs where members gathered for all aspects of study, originally for arts and culture, and stemming mainly from Buddhism. Chinese sources referred only to the physical beauty of the "Flower Boys"  Originally, the hwarang were known for their use of make-up and cosmetic decorations and accessories."