Promotional poster for Iljimae
|Also known as||Iljimae: The Phantom Thief|
|Genre||Period drama, 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 channel||Seoul Broadcasting System|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV)|
|Original release||21 May 2008– 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 (Hangul: 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, Han Hyo-joo, Lee Young-ah and Park Si-hoo. 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.
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.
Lee Gyeom (Lee Joon-gi) was the son of a virtuous nobleman Lee Won-ho, who the king's trustworthy supporter and brother. He was also a central member of the secret organization Cheonwoohoe, composed of important nobles with the king as their leader. He lived peacefully in a house full of plum trees with his wife, daughter, and son. However, the king had a conversation with a blind fortune teller. Looking at Lee Won-ho's home, the blind man stated that he saw 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 witnessed the incident from the inside of a safe where his father hid him. Later, he is saved and adopted by a retired thief, Swe Dol, after he becomes stricken with amnesia due to the shock of losing his father and being forced to throw a rock at his mother's head to prove that he was not the son. 13 years later, Gyeom, now called Yong, starts to regain 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 left Gyeom seeking revenge. With the emblem on the killer's sword he remembered from 13 years ago as his only clue, he swore to find and seek vengeance on the one who murdered his father and older sister. To find the sword and its owner, he disguised himself as Iljimae, breaking into the nobles' estates. [Iljimae is a mysterious, black-swathed thief who robs corrupt government officials and gives to the poor. He not only stole material treasures but also brought people to justice, be it the wrongfully imprisoned or criminals hiding from judgment. At the scene of each robbery, he leaves a small painting of a branch of red plum blossoms called a "mae hwa". (His name reflects this act: il means "one", ji means "branch" and mae means "plum tree".) The citizens supported Iljimae while the king and the nobility tried to catch him and find his identity.] During the course of his actions, he winds up fighting not only for himself, but also for the common people, jumping into action whenever the people are oppressed and wrongly exploited for the sake of the nobles, thus becoming adored by the people and one villager goes far enough to state "He is our sun!". At the core of his motives though, he still desires to find the person who destroyed his family, and bring justice to them.
- Lee Joon-gi as Gyeom/Yong/Iljimae - A no-good, lazy gangster by day but a mysterious thief who protects the citizens when the night comes.
- Han Hyo-joo as Eun Chae - A lovely and kind girl of noble birth who seems to be fated both for and against Gyeom.
- Lee Young-ah as Bong Soon - A funny, silly swindler who was orphaned as a girl and also is connected to Gyeom's past.
- Park Si-hoo as Cha Dol/Shi Hoo - Once a poor boy, he was told at the age of nine that his father was actually his adopted father. He is sent to his "real father", Magistrate Byun Shik, and becomes Eun Chae's half-brother and an Imperial Guard. However, Magistrate Byun Shik is not his real father. He and Iljimae have the same real birth father, Lee Won Ho. His dream is to catch Iljimae so that he can finally become a nobleman.
- Noh Young-hak - Bong Soon's older brother
- Lee Moon-sik - Soe Dol
- Kim Sung-ryung - Dani
- Lee Il-hwa - Mrs Han Bu In
- Jo Min-ki - Lee Won-ho
- Ahn Gil-kang - Kongkal A Je
- Mun Ji-yun - Dae Sik
- Kim Hyun-sung - Hong Kyeonsik
- Jeong Jae-eun - Sim Deok
- Seo Dong-won - Eun Bok
- Do Ki-seok - Hee Bong
- Kim Kwan-sik - Keok Du
- Lee Won-jong - Byeon Sik
- Kim Mu-yeol - Si Wan, Eun-chae's older brother
- Kim Chang-wan - King Injo
- Kim Roi-ha - Sa Cheon
- Jo Sang-ki - Mu Lee
- Yang Jae-sung - Shim Ki Won
- Lee Won-jae - Jang Po Kyo
- Son Tae-young - Lee Yeon
- Yeo Jin-goo - Lee Gyeom (young)
- Kim Yoo-jung - Eun Chae (young)
- Jung Da-bin - Bong Soon (young)
- Lee David - Cha Dol (young)
|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
||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|
||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 2012-12-03.
- "Young Star Jung il-woo Returns With Iljimae". The Korea Times. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2013-11-22.
- Lee, In-kyung (2 February 2012). "SBS Is About to Bring Out the Aces, Jang Dong Gun and Zo In Sung". enewsWorld. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
- Oh, Jean (19 November 2012). "Historical fantasies a passing fancy?". The Korea Herald. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
- Garcia, Cathy Rose A. (11 July 2008). "Retrospective on Comic Artist Ko Woo-young". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2013-02-04.
- "TNMS Daily Ratings: this links to current day-select the date from drop down menu". TNMS Ratings (in Korean). Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- "AGB Daily Ratings: this links to current day-select the date from drop down menu". AGB Nielsen Media Research (in Korean). Retrieved 2012-10-31.
- "Iljimae to Air in Japan Starting November". KBS Global. 6 October 2008. Retrieved 2014-10-27.
- Min, Ines (13 July 2009). "Actor Lee Jun-ki in Japanese Spotlight". The Korea Times. Retrieved 2012-12-03.
- Iljimae official SBS website (Korean)
- Iljimae at Chorokbaem Media (Japanese)
- Iljimae at HanCinema
- Iljimae at the Internet Movie Database