Once a long time ago there were two women battling to be Queen. Korea of the 7th Century A.D. was comprised of three smaller countries. Women of that era had more power and influence then they did later in the history of Korea.
Korean TV has managed to produce a historical drama with two very powerful women who battle to be Queen of Sillia, one of the three Kingdoms of Korea. The Great Queen SeonDeok can be seen on Hulu.com.
This TV series is such a wonderful treat because it is so rarely that women get to see strong and intelligent women’s lives dramatized in such a magnificent production.
Their story is told in 62 episodes. This is such a well done historical drama, the camera work, lighting, set design, panoramic vistas, battle scenes, acting, and story telling — that all combine to create an understanding of the personalities involved in the political dynamics of Sillia.
The story is about two very strong and brilliant women and their struggle to survive and rule the Kingdom.
King Jinpyeong was selected by Mishil the concubine of his grandfather. Mishil was not of Royal blood and according to the caste rules of the Kingdom she could never be Queen.
The first few episodes give us the back story and introduce us to the characters who will influence future events. We learn about Mishil’s character and that she is willing to do anything and kill anyone to reach her goal of being Queen of Sillia. Skipping ahead we see that she has managed to place a puppet King on the throne. The Council almost votes for the marriage between Mishil and King Jinpyeong. Mishil’s carefully crafted plan is destroyed when the King’s very pregnant consort Maya arrives after escaping an assassination attempt.
Queen Maya gives birth to twins and the second twin is smuggled out of the palace, to protect the family and the life of the twin. A prophecy loomed over any birth of twins to the King — that with the birth of the twins the male line of Kings would die. It is interesting how often the birth of twins occurs in historical narratives of founding royal lines. Both the New World oral histories of how their people came to be and Old World histories.
Seon Deok was the second child and by rights a Princess. But she grew up in a trading village in the Desert and was exposed to ideas and languages and harsh war Lords. The evil Mishil’s assassin remained on his quest to eliminate this girl. We are treated to wonderful story about how Seon Deok and her “mom” survived and thrived in their desert home and how Seon Deok, after the death of her “mom” decides to return to Sillia to find out who her father is. Seon Deok has no idea that she is a Royal Princess. The story builds and characters are added along the way as we see how Seon Deok manages to survive in a man’s world. She survives by dressing as a boy. She is advised by a trader from Rome to dress and act like a boy as she journeys to Sillia.
Official MBC Synopsis
Deokman (Queen Seondeok’s childhood name) was born a twin but a prophecy led to her abandonment as a baby. She was later brought back to the Silla palace, where she joined forces with her twin sister Princess Cheonmyeong to oppose Mishil a royal concubine, who wanted to seize power. Mishil devised sinister plans to have the two Silla princesses exiled from the kingdom, and in a secretive battle, Princess Cheonmyeong was assassinated by Mishil. However Princess Deokman shrewdly enlisted the help of General Kim Yushin and eliminated her archenemy Mishil. She became the first female ruler of the Silla kingdom.