The Legend (TV series)

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This article is about the Korean TV series. For the 1995 American science fiction drama, see Legend (TV series).
The Legend
The Legend-poster.jpg
Promotional poster for The Legend
Also known as Taewangsashingi (Story of the First King's Four Gods)
Genre Fantasy
Period drama
Romance
Format Television drama
Written by Song Ji-na
Directed by Kim Jong-hak
Yoon Sang-ho
Starring Bae Yong-joon
Lee Ji-ah
Moon So-ri
Choi Min-soo
Ending theme "Love Song for a Thousand Years" by TVXQ
Composer(s) Joe Hisaishi
Country of origin South Korea
Original language(s) Korean
No. of episodes 24
Production
Location(s) Korea
Running time 60 minutes
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:55 (KST)
Production company(s) Kim Jong-hak Productions
Broadcast
Original channel Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
720p (HDTV)
Audio format Surround sound
Original run 11 September – 5 December 2007 (2007-12-05)
Chronology
Preceded by Time Between Dog and Wolf
Followed by New Heart
External links
Website
Korean name
Hangul
Hanja
Revised Romanization Taewangsasingi
McCune–Reischauer T'aewangsasin'gi

The Legend (Hangul: 태왕사신기; hanja: 太王四神記; RR: Taewangsasingi; lit. "Story of the First King's Four Gods") is a 2007 South Korean historical fantasy television series, starring Bae Yong-joon, Lee Ji-ah, Moon So-ri and Choi Min-soo. Directed by Kim Jong-hak and written by Song Ji-na, it aired on MBC from September 11 to December 5, 2007 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:55 for 24 episodes.[1][2]

Loosely based on the legend of Dangun and Gwanggaeto the Great of Goguryeo, the story also adds mythical elements of the Four Symbols depicted in fantasy form as the four guardians who serve the king of Jyushin. Bae was paid ₩250 million per episode, the highest salary to date for a Korean drama actor.[3][4]

Synopsis[edit]

A long time ago, a tribe that respected the tiger and controlled fire called the Ho-jok (Tiger Tribe), ruled the world. They eliminated and assimilated all tribes except the tribe that respected the bear, called the Ung-jok (Bear Tribe). The Tiger Tribe and the Bear Tribe fought, and Hwan-woong could not bear to see so many people getting killed. He brought the three gods of nature; Poong-Baek (백호, the White Tiger), Woonsa (청룡, the Azure Dragon), and Woosa (현무, the Turtle Snake).

He removed the power of fire from the leader of the Tiger Tribe, Kajin, sealed the power into an artifact called the Heart of Jujak (주작, the Vermilion Bird/Phoenix), and gave it to the woman he loved; Sae-oh. However, Kajin was mortally wounded while attacking another tribe, and she seemed to die until Hwan-woong healed her. This event makes Kajin develop love for Hwan-woong. When her tribe declared in a war council they would Hwan-woong take back the power of fire, Kajin then slew her tribe's elders with her own blade. She then escapes from her own tribe in search of Hwan-woong, deciding to become Hwan-woong's woman.

However, Hwan-woong likes Sae-oh and declared his love for her, not knowing that Kajin was watching them secretly when this took place. Kajin was infuriated by this and began reforming the Tiger Tribe and attacked the Bear Tribe. Unfortunately, this was the time when Sae-oh was pregnant, and when she had given birth, the baby was kidnapped by Kajin who offered Sae-oh a deal to trade her baby for the power of fire. When Sae-oh refuses Kajin, Kajin responds by dropping Sae-oh's baby from a cliff, leading to Sae-oh going out of control and releasing the Heuk-Jujak (Black Phoenix), even though Hwan-woong had saved the baby. (Note: Jujak is roughly the equivalent of Phoenix.) Hwan-woong's subordinates, the White Tiger, the Azure Dragon and the Turtle Snake fought the Black Phoenix, but they were no match for it.

Left with no choice, Hwan-woong used his Heavenly Bow to kill Sae-oh, the source of the power of the Black Phoenix, and managed to seal it once again in the heart of the Phoenix. Kajin committed suicide by jumping from the cliff because she now "had no reason to live in this world any more." Hwan-woong sealed the powers of the 'Four Gods' (The Phoenix, White Tiger, Azure Dragon, and the Turtle Snake) in certain artifacts and left them in the care of certain people, telling them that they will wake when the King of Jyushin is born.

Many centuries later, Damdeok, the reincarnation of Hwan-woong, was born. Along with him, the artifacts of the guardians of the King were born. Damdeok met difficulties in becoming the king of Goguryeo, mainly because of Yeon Hogae who mistook Damdeok for the murderer of his mother, and his father who turned the king's parliament against him.

Characters[edit]

The filming location of the series on Jeju Island
Damdeok (담덕)
The prince of Goguryeo, and also the reincarnation of Hwang-woong. (It should be noted that the same actor plays both Hwanwung and Damdeok.) He came across a girl named Kiha while he was reading a book at night, and later came to her again to ask her to heal his father who was poisoned by Hogae's mother. He had grown to a pleasant young man, but in his heart he always suffered because of Hogae's mother who had committed suicide, causing Hogae to believe that Damdeok killed her. He was later found to be the destined King of Jyushin. In order to protect him before he becomes the king, he asked him to not show his true self to anyone, where in he pretended that he has no skills, especially in fighting. The image he showed to everyone was not hidden just by him and his father but he also trusted Kiha about him being a good fighter. It also prevented him from being harmed by people who wanted the throne, who didn't see him as a threat.
However, he proves himself to be an excellent fighter and a schemer who can win entire castles without a s:He was enraged at the idea of the tribal leaders that the King of Jyushin must be a powerful warrior who can command his army to dominate the world easily. His intention was to unite the world as a brother, not as a coingle casualty on both sides. This was done by avoiding killing, and instead providing love for his future people. Despite being betrayed by his officials, he still saw them as his people.
At the end of the series, he realizes that the task of the King of Jyushin was to answer the gods whether humans needed their help to continue surviving. He answers by unsummoning (through breaking the Cheongung/천궁: literally Heavenly Bow) the heavenly artifacts of heaven to avoid killing more people, especially Kiha who was then about to release her power which would consume the world again and of the Four Gods. The answer he told the gods was that he should return the powers and that humans could carry on by themselves. Having said that, he returned to the heavens, leaving behind his lover Sujini and son (who was bore by Kiha) on earth.
Sujini (수지니)
The mistress of the Phoenix, the reincarnation of Sae-oh. When she was just a little baby, she was hidden in a pot of beans by her sister, Kiha to protect her from danger. Then a village called Hyeon mu, adorning white cloaks found her. It was after they heard a cry from Sujini as a baby, there they found her and saw a phoenix sign embossed on her forehead that only the black Phoenix can have they knew she is the dreaded Black Phoenix. Due to that they always look after her carefully and never allow her to play with fire. The leader was about to kill her, however, one person, Hyeon Go, denied having seen the black phoenix sign but a red phoenix instead. He promised if she became one, he will kill her with his own hands.
Sujini was pick up as an orphan by Hyeon Go and considered him as her teacher. Growing up in the tribe where men are her companions she developed a boyish traits, but still she was kept by the tribe tenderly. Sujini’s life was hard so she really "loved" money especially used it for buying wine. The way she earned money was quite interesting and funny. She met Damdeok by chance one day while she was getting in somewhat little trouble and Damdeok helped her. Naturally, they had become friends since then. When she got into trouble again, they were watching a polo games. Therefore one more time Damdeok helped her. At that time she discovered that he is actually a prince.
Damdeok frequently sneaked out of his palace into the streets. Sujini and Damdeok often wandered together and she commonly helped him when he got into trouble. Their relationship was strengthened over time. Sujini also gave a big contribution helping Damdeok to recognize himself as the king of Jyushin (because of the conflict with Hogae). She always tagged along with him, even onto the battlefield. Sujini was very good at archery (It should be noticed that the artifact that protected Jyushin King's life is also a bow). When she discovered that she was the one that would release the black phoenix she chose to live alone. She thus moved away without Damdeok's knowledge and brought up the son of Damdeok and her sister. After nine years, they met again but Damdeok had by then realized she was the one he truly loved.
Kiha (기하)
The reincarnation of Kajin, the Mistress of the Earth. She was born as a noble in Sabi Castle just like her sister, Sujini. On the day of the arrival of the night of the Jyushin star, the forces of Hwacheon struck the province and killed everyone in sight. Before being killed by the warriors, Kiha's mother instructed her to protect her sister, Sujini, no matter what. Kiha obeyed by hiding Sujini in a pot of beans before fainting in the smoke caused by the fire that the Hwacheon forces started. While unconscious, the heart of the Phoenix exploded in a form of watery energy, extinguishing the fire to save her and her sister. She was discovered shortly afterwards by someone from Hwacheon, the master-of-fights of Hwacheon, and taken to the base of Hwacheon clan. The Daejangro branded her to control her, while using her power of the Phoenix to regain his youth. She was trained in martial arts by Saryang, who developed an elder-brotherly feeling for her and even save her child and went against Hwacheon to help her(although he treated her with high respect to his death & she as a close friend and elder brother since he has always look after her since young).
She met Damdeok by chance one night in the royal library and began to fall for him. Their relationship was going well, until the day that Damdeok's father staged his death that made it seemed that Kiha assassinated him to protect Damdeok. She became a cold person since, especially after seeing Damdeok having a good time with Sujini. She came to think herself to have been 'used'. Later finding that she was pregnant, she decided to reform the whole of Goguryeo for her child. She went as far as deciding Hogae to be suitable for the father for her child even though her love for Damdeok never disappeared. At the end of the series, she unwillingly and accidentally cut her and Damdeok's child on the finger and had the power of heaven. Sujini realized that Kiha has the power of the black phoenix, releasing fire but not releasing the black phoenix instead.
Hogae (호개)
The rival of Damdeok. At first he was very open and pleasant towards Damdeok, but after his mother's death he resolved to take revenge. This was combined with his character changing devastatingly to a cold, cool type from a warm, pleasant person. He had been winning many battles as early as his teens, and grew to a powerful warrior. He joined Hwacheon to kill Damdeok. He was killed by Damdeok in the last battle after killing Damdeok's right-hand general, Gouchung. Damdeok impaled him with the very spear that Hogae used to kill Gouchung. However, Damdeok's look showed great remorse even as he threw the spear, and possibly Hogae came to understand him in his final moments. (His face at death was not enraged. Instead, his eyes were tearful and pure, perhaps implying that he finally understood Damdeok.)
Hyeongo (현고)
The leader of the Geomul village and the master of Hyeonmu. He carries a stick given to him when he was appointed as the leader of Geomul. This stick is the Heavenly Artifact of the Turtle-Snake. He is slightly irresponsible and does not act his age enough. Sure enough, he cheated customers by claiming to be an astrologer. He was the leader of the masters of the Four Gods, and was therefore to identify the King of Jyushin and serve him. Damdeok called him his 'Teacher' and asked him to teach him the basics of a king. (Note: His final fate in the drama was never shown.)
Cheoro (처로)
The master of Cheongryong who fights with a spear. He became the lord of the Gwanmi fortress of Baekjae at a mere ten years of age when his father infused Cheoro with the symbol of the blue dragon. Though this made him much more powerful, Cheoro's skin became covered in a blue bark-like substance (because the dragon's element is wood), and always wear a mask. Damdeok was able to remove the artifact, and Cheoro began to serve under him. He is very silent, loves being with trees and forests and it is implied that he loves Sujini, as his previous incarnation as the Blue Dragon loved Sae-oh.
Jumuchi (주무치)
The master of Baekho who fights with an axe. The leader of the Talgal Mercenaries, he served under Damdeok under the promise that Jumuchi's people will have their land returned to them. His three rules to be hired are 1. not to attack anyone from the rear 2. not harm women, children, or the elderly 3. If he dislikes the client's face, he will not accept. Despite this he did not betray Damdeok even risking his life for him.
Saryang (사량)
The right hand man of Daejangro of the Hwacheon. He has long gray hair and a mask that obscures 1/3 of his face. He has ninja like attributes such as great speed and proficiency with shurikens and blades. He is a caretaker for Kiha when she was younger, and appears to be one of the few people who truly care for her. He ultimately betrays the Hwacheon clan at Kiha's request to be on her side, and is used as a shield by Daejangro when Kiha attempted to kill him, dying before Kiha's eyes.

Korean mythology[edit]

Further information: Korean mythology
  • Hwan-woong (환웅): A son of the god in the heavenly world. He had longed to live in the surface world for long until he was finally given permission to do so. He was said to have brought three Guardians of the world: the Blue Dragon, the White Tiger and the Black Turtle-snake. After marrying a woman who was born as a bear, he had a son and returned to the Heaven.

His heavenly artifact is the Cheongung (천궁) which normally takes the form of a fancy cylinder and enlarges to form a glowing white bow. It is said to be able to either kill or give life to anyone it shoots. And its destruction means the death of the King of Jyushin and the unsummoning of the Heavenly power. Before the coming of the King of Jyushin, it was sealed inside a royal sword named Chumoshin(추모신검), which should release the seal when the heart of the King of Jyushin was introduced to it: that is, when it were to impale his heart. When this was done, it exploded in bright light and disintegrated to fine ash-like mystic powder, revealing the Cheongung in it.

  • Black Turtle-Snake (현무/Hyeon-Mu): The ruler of the North and the guardian of the rain, hence the alternative name Usa (우사/雨師: Rainmaster).

Its heavenly artifact is a black cylinder that is usually shaped as a long twisted walking stick. It awakens when "The King of Jyushin feels 'dark rage' in his heart." When it awakens, the time stops along with everything other than its master and the King of Jyushin, enabling the leader of the Four Guardians to identify the King.

  • White Tiger (백호/Baek-Ho): The ruler of the West and the guardian of the winds, hence the alternative name Pungbaek (풍백/風伯: Windleader).

Its heavenly artifact is a white twisted piece of metal, awakens when "The King of Jyushin feels 'innocent courage' in his heart."

  • Blue Dragon (청룡/Cheong-Ryong): The ruler of the East and the guardian of the clouds, hence the alternative name Unsa (운사/雲師: Cloudmaster).Its heavenly artifact is a bluish stone that looks slightly like a shellfish.

It is said to activate when "The King of Jyushin feels 'cold purpose' in his heart." When activated, it can weaken the power of the wielder of fire. It was also shown to speed the healing of its master when in physical contact with him.

  • Red Phoenix (주작/Jujak): The ruler of the South and the guardian of the fire. It is not a subordinate of Hwan-woong, and was portrayed as becoming evil when its 'host' is engulfed with anger. Unlike its actual incarnation, it controls fire, resembling Bonghwang (봉황) more than Jujak.

Its heavenly artifact is a large red gem orb. It awakens when "The King of Jyushin feels 'burning passion' in his heart." It glows in red when activated.

For the first time in Korea, a king has been associated with the Four Gods. King Gwanggaeto is generally considered as one of the greatest rulers in the history of Korea. The Four Guardians were found engraved in his tomb (as in any other king's), inspiring the drama.

Cast[edit]

Main cast[edit]

Supporting cast[edit]

  • Yoo Seung-ho as young Damdeok
  • Park Eun-bin as teenage Kiha
  • Kim Eun-seo as 5-year-old Kiha
  • Oh Seung-yoon as young Hyeon-go
  • Shim Eun-kyung as young Sujini
  • Kim Ho-young as young Hogae
  • Lee Hyun-woo as young Cheoro
  • Park Jung-hak as General Go Woo-cheung
  • Jang Hang-sun as Heukgae
  • Kim Hyuk as Dalgu
  • Kim Suk as Dalgu's friend
  • Shin Eun-jung as Dalbi
  • Kim Mi-kyung as Bason
  • Min Ji-oh as Soidooroo
  • Baek Jae-jin as Buldeul
  • Hong Kyung-yeon as Dae Shin-kwan
  • Jung Yoon-seok as Ahjik
  • Lee Da-hee as Gakdan
  • Song Kwi-hyun as Jo Joo-do
  • Woo Hyun as wheat seller
  • Kim Sun-kyung as Hogae's mother
  • Dokgo Young-jae as King Yang

Ratings[edit]

Date Episode Nationwide Seoul
2007-09-10 1st Special 14.1% (6th) 14.5% (6th)
2007-09-11 1 20.4% (3rd) 21.6% (3rd)
2007-09-12 2 26.9% (1st) 27.7% (1st)
2007-09-13 3 26.9% (1st) 28.3% (1st)
2007-09-19 4 31.7% (1st) 33.3% (1st)
2007-09-20 5 31.5% (1st) 33.1% (1st)
2007-09-26 6 23.4% (2nd) 25.3% (1st)
2007-09-27 7 30.9% (1st) 33.0% (1st)
2007-10-10 8 25.9% (2nd) 26.4% (2nd)
2007-10-11 9 28.2% (2nd) 29.3% (1st)
2007-10-17 10 27.5% (2nd) 28.6% (1st)
2007-10-18 11 28.3% (2nd) 29.7% (1st)
2007-10-24 12 29.6% (2nd) 30.2% (1st)
2007-10-25 13 29.1% (2nd) 30.4% (1st)
2007-10-31 14 27.9% (2nd) 29.0% (1st)
2007-11-01 15 31.9% (1st) 33.2% (1st)
2007-11-07 16 30.0% (2nd) 31.0% (1st)
2007-11-08 17 30.4% (2nd) 31.9% (1st)
2007-11-14 18 30.4% (2nd) 31.5% (1st)
2007-11-15 19 31.6% (2nd) 32.8% (1st)
2007-11-21 20 30.4% (2nd) 32.1% (1st)
2007-11-22 21 32.3% (2nd) 33.4% (1st)
2007-11-28 22 31.6% (2nd) 32.9% (1st)
2007-11-29 23 33.0% (2nd) 34.6% (1st)
2007-12-05 24 35.7% (1st) 37.0% (1st)
2007-12-06 2nd Special 16.9% (2nd) 16.0% (2nd)
Average 29.4% 30.7%

Source: TNS Media Korea

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2007
MBC Drama Awards
Grand Prize (Daesang) Bae Yong-joon Won
Best Drama The Legend Won
Top Excellence Award, Actor Choi Min-soo Nominated
Best New Actor Lee Phillip Nominated
Best New Actress Lee Ji-ah Won
Popularity Award, Actor Bae Yong-joon Won
Choi Min-soo Nominated
Popularity Award, Actress Lee Ji-ah Won
Best Couple Award Bae Yong-joon and Lee Ji-ah Won
2008
44th Baeksang Arts Awards
Best Drama The Legend Nominated
Best Actor (TV) Bae Yong-joon Nominated
Best New Actor (TV) Lee Phillip Nominated
Best New Actress (TV) Lee Ji-ah Won

International broadcast[edit]

In Japan, the series (titled Taioshijinki (太王四神記?)) aired on NHK beginning April 5, 2008.[5] Two 60-minute episodes were also screened over 12 showings at 10 Japanese movie theaters, over a period of six months.[6] However, it drew disappointing ratings given Bae Yong-joon's enormous popularity in Japan. Japanese viewers were reportedly confused by the drama's several flashbacks, and its references to Korean history. They were also disappointed by the dubbing of Bae's voice, while others had trouble relating to his character because of his established screen image from Winter Sonata. The early sales of the drama's DVD set may have likewise hurt the ratings. It received ratings of 7%, which though far from Winter Sonata's 20%, is still a respectable result given its late night time-slot.[7]

In the Philippines, it aired on the GMA Network on weekdays starting March 10, 2008.[8] The Legend was one of the highest rated shows in its timeslot, with average ratings of over 30%.[9]

Adaptations[edit]

A novelization written by Kim Chang-gyu became a bestseller, and a graphic novel version by manga artist Riyoko Ikeda was also released.[6]

The series was adapted into a musical by the Japanese Takarazuka Revue. It was staged in early 2009 by the Flower Troupe, and starred Sei Matobu and Ayane Sakurano. Following the success of the first run, Version II of the musical was staged in late June 2009 by the Star Troupe, starring Reon Yuzuki and Nene Yumesaki.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Soap star king". Korea JoongAng Daily. 6 June 2007. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  2. ^ Park, Si-soo (9 December 2007). "Epic Drama Taewangsasingi Most Searched on Internet". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  3. ^ "Lee Byung-hun's Acting Fee Dwarfs Industry Guideline". The Chosun Ilbo. 12 November 2009. Retrieved 2012-06-16. 
  4. ^ Park, Si-soo (26 June 2013). "Who is the highest paid actor?". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  5. ^ "Cast of The Legend to Appear on Japan's NHK TV". KBS World. 23 May 2008. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  6. ^ a b Lee, Hyo-won (4 December 2007). "TV Drama Taewangsasingi Goes to Japan". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  7. ^ "Why Yonsama Didn't Wow the Japanese This Time". The Chosun Ilbo. 5 September 2008. Retrieved 2013-08-18. 
  8. ^ Dimaculangan, Jocelyn (7 March 2008). "The Legend premieres on GMA-7, March 10". Philippine Entertainment Portal. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  9. ^ Godinez, Bong (14 March 2008). "TV Ratings (March 11-13): The Legend breaks into the Top 10 primetime shows". Philippine Entertainment Portal. Retrieved 2014-01-31. 
  10. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]