Promotional poster for Iljimae
|Also known as||Iljimae: The Phantom Thief|
|Genre||Historical, Action, Romance|
by Ko Woo-young
|Written by||Choi Ran|
|Directed by||Lee Yong-suk|
|Country of origin||South Korea|
|No. of episodes||20|
|Running time||Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:55 (KST)|
|Production company(s)||Chorokbaem Media|
|Original network||Seoul Broadcasting System|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||21 May –|
24 July 2008
|Preceded by||On Air|
|Followed by||Working Mom|
|Related shows||The Return of Iljimae|
The Vigilantes in Masks
|Revised Romanization||Il Ji-mae|
Iljimae (Korean: 일지매; Hanja: 一枝梅; RR: Iljimae; literally "One blossom branch") is a 2008 South Korean period-action television series, starring Lee Joon-gi in the title role of Iljimae. It is loosely based on the comic strip Iljimae, published between 1975 and 1977, written by Ko Woo-young based on Chinese folklore from the Ming dynasty about a masked Robin Hood-esque character during the Joseon era.
Joseon, around 1633. Lee Gyeom (Lee Joon-gi) is the son of the virtuous nobleman Lee Won-ho, who is the king's trustworthy supporter and brother, and a central member of the secret organization Cheonwoohoe, composed of other five important nobles with the king as their leader. When a blind fortune teller, looking at Lee Won-ho's home, refers to the king that he sees a person as bright as the sun who would be adored by the people, the king killed Lee Won-ho as he believed that 'two suns cannot exist on the same sky'. Gyeom, from the inside of a safe, manages to survive and witnesses the murder; later, when he is forced to throw a rock at his mother's head to prove that he isn't her son, he loses his memory for the shock and is adopted by a retired thief, Soe-dol, who renames him "Yong-i". Thirteen years later, Yong-i regains his memories and begins to search for his older sister Yeon, only to see her being sentenced and hanged.
The murder of his older sister leaves Gyeom seeking revenge and, with the emblem on the killer's sword he remembers from thirteen years ago as his only clue, he swears to avenge his family. To find the sword and its owner, he disguises himself as the mysterious, black-swathed thief Iljimae, who breaks into the nobles' estates the members of the secret organization, Cheonwoohoe. Meanwhile, he also helps the people with injustices, becoming a hero. At the scene of each robbery, he leaves a handkerchief portraying a branch of red plum blossoms, symbol of the house where he lived and of his childhood memories: the very name of Iljimae reflects this, as "il" means "one", "ji" means "branch" and "mae" means "plum tree". The king and the nobility try to catch Iljimae and find his identity, especially the guard Byeon Si-hoo, who sees this as an opportunity to redeem himself from his life of misery and become a noble. In the meantime, Yong-i falls in love with Eun-chae, daughter of nobleman Byeon Shik and Si-hoo's stepsister, who can't forget her first love Lee Gyeom.
- A no-good, lazy gangster by day, and a mysterious thief who protects the citizens in the dark.
- A lovely and kind girl of noble birth who seems to be fated both for and against Gyeom.
- A funny, silly swindler who was orphaned as a girl and is connected to Gyeom's past.
- Once a poor boy, he was told at the age of nine that his real father was magistrate Byeon Shik and was sent to live with him, becoming a royal guard. However, his real father is actually Lee Won-ho. His dream is to catch Iljimae so that he can finally become a nobleman.
- Lee Moon-sik as Soe-dol, Yong-i's and Cha-dol's foster father
- Kim Sung-ryung as Dan-i, Cha-dol's mother, Yong-i's foster mother
- Lee Il-hwa as Mrs Han, Gyeom's mother
- Son Tae-young as Lee Yeon, Gyeom's sister
- Jo Min-ki as Lee Won-ho, Gyeom's and Cha-dol's father
- Ahn Gil-kang as Gong-gal, Bong-soon's foster father, ex-assassin
- Mun Ji-yun as Dae-shik, Yong-i's friend
- Kim Hyun-sung as Heung-gyeon, Yong-i's friend, shoemaker
- Jeong Jae-eun as Sim-deok, inn keeper
- Lee Won-jae as Jang Po-gyo, hunter
- Lee Won-jong as Byeon Shik, Eun-chae's and Si-wan's father, Si-hoo's foster (supposed real) father
- Kim Mu-yeol as Byeon Si-wan, Eun-chae's older brother
- Yang Jae-sung as Shim Gi-won, Lee Won-ho's friend
- Kim Roi-ha as Sa-cheon, king's assassin
- Jo Sang-ki as Mu-i, king's assassin
- Seo Dong-won as Eun-bok, hunter's son
- Do Ki-seok as Hee-bong, gang leader
- Kim Kwan-sik as Geok-doo, Heung-gyeon's father
- Jang Eun-pung as Mak-soe
- Lee Seol-goo as Kang-woo
- Kim Chang-wan as King Injo
- Noh Young-hak as Bong-soon's older brother
There have been several versions of this story, which first appeared in two Ming dynasty novels, including a 1994 Hong Kong film, a 2005 TVB series and a 2011 Chinese television series, called The Vigilantes in Masks.
MBC bought the rights to the comic strip for their adaptation, hence the SBS version features an original storyline. Lee is the second Korean actor to play the hero following Jang Dong-gun in 1993 and followed by Jung Il-woo for MBC's The Return of Iljimae in 2009.
|Original broadcast date||Episode #||Average audience share|
|TNmS Ratings||AGB Nielsen|
|Nationwide||Seoul National Capital Area||Nationwide||Seoul National Capital Area|
|21 May 2008||1||14.8%||15.4%||15.5%||17.0%|
|22 May 2008||2||17.6%||17.8%||17.7%||18.4%|
|28 May 2008||3||19.0%||19.1%||17.1%||18.0%|
|29 May 2008||4||18.9%||18.9%||19.9%||20.3%|
|4 June 2008||5||19.3%||20.5%||18.6%||17.9%|
|5 June 2008||6||18.6%||18.4%||19.6%||18.6%|
|11 June 2008||7||20.5%||20.7%||20.0%||19.5%|
|12 June 2008||8||23.0%||23.3%||20.9%||21.0%|
|18 June 2008||9||24.6%||25.0%||22.4%||22.8%|
|19 June 2008||10||23.1%||22.4%||21.7%||21.6%|
|25 June 2008||11||22.6%||22.6%||20.7%||20.3%|
|26 June 2008||12||24.6%||24.0%||24.1%||23.9%|
|2 July 2008||13||25.3%||25.0%||22.0%||21.5%|
|3 July 2008||14||25.4%||24.6%||22.2%||21.4%|
|9 July 2008||15||26.0%||26.1%||23.0%||23.4%|
|10 July 2008||16||27.6%||28.2%||24.4%||24.3%|
|16 July 2008||17||28.0%||29.3%||24.0%||23.6%|
|17 July 2008||18||27.8%||28.1%||24.2%||24.0%|
|23 July 2008||19||27.1%||26.8%||25.0%||25.1%|
|24 July 2008||20||31.0%||31.4%||27.9%||28.4%|
Awards and nominations
|2008||Top Excellence Award, actor||Lee Joon-gi||Won|
|Excellence Award, Actress in a Drama Special||Lee Young-ah||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Special||Ahn Gil-kang||Nominated|
|Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Special||Kim Sung-ryung||Nominated|
|New Star Award||Han Hyo-joo||Won|
|Best Young Actor||Yeo Jin-goo||Won|
|Top 10 Stars||Lee Joon-gi||Won|
|Netizen Popularity Award||Lee Joon-gi||Won|
|Friendship Award||Do Ki-seok||Won|
|2009||Best Actor (TV)||Lee Joon-gi||Nominated|
- "From Pretty Boy to Action Star: Lee Jun-ki Changes Shape". The Chosun Ilbo. 4 July 2008. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- "Young Star Jung il-woo Returns With Iljimae". The Korea Times. 13 January 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
- Lee, In-kyung (2 February 2012). "SBS Is About to Bring Out the Aces, Jang Dong Gun and Zo in Sung". enewsWorld. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- Oh, Jean (19 November 2012). "Historical fantasies a passing fancy?". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- "Drama `Iljimae` has tough act to follow". The Korea Herald. 4 April 2010.
- Garcia, Cathy Rose A. (11 July 2008). "Retrospective on Comic Artist Ko Woo-young". The Korea Times. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
- "TNMS Daily Ratings: this links to current day-select the date from drop down menu". TNMS Ratings (in Korean). Archived from the original on 28 November 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- "AGB Daily Ratings: this links to current day-select the date from drop down menu". AGB Nielsen Media Research (in Korean). Archived from the original on 26 December 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
- "Iljimae to Air in Japan Starting November". KBS Global. 6 October 2008. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
- Min, Ines (13 July 2009). "Actor Lee Jun-ki in Japanese Spotlight". The Korea Times. Retrieved 3 December 2012.
- "ซีรีส์ช่อง3เก่า อิลจิแม วีรบุรุษจอมโจร". Channel 3. 5 September 2015.