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H-ASIA August 23, 1995 Chang Nok Soo and Abarendo Shogun ************************************************************************** From: campbell@i-2000.COM TO: H-ASIA@msu.edu Historians I hope that the following inquiries fall under the topics to be covered here under the guise that we can discuss articles and books, although what I wish to discuss first are television serials. I have been watching "Chang Nok Soo" broken down into 12 minute segments airing on WNYE, a NYC PBS station for about 3 weeks. I missed a couple of episodes and while channel surfing discovered that a cable station that airs Korean programming each evening is airing the same program on Tuesday nights only they are a couple of episodes ahead in the story and they air about 50 minutes worth each week. I have also been watching Toshiba Theater for about 7 years. At first they were airing on the now sold WNYC "The Elder Lord of Mito" but when that ended it was replaced by "Abarenbo Shogun III". "Abarenbo Shogun" premiered about 4 weeks ago. In it Tokugawa Yoshimune (ruled 1716- 1745) has a series of adventures disguised as a hatamoto named Shinnosuke Tokuda with his friends from the Megumi Fire Squad. My questions to you all is: Is there anyone else on this list who is watching "Chang Nok Soo" and if so, at what point in the story did it begin? Does anyone watch "Abarenbo Shogun"? Does anyone know the story of King Yeon San? I gather he was a despot who reigned sometime around the 1700s because I think I saw a musket in one episode. Last night Concubine Chang was stoned to death and King Yeon San has been sent into exile by Bak Won Joong. Apparently, Yeon San had taken revenge for the way his mother had been dethroned and had ordered hundreds killed in the Moo Oh and Ja Gap incidents. Okay, so now for the historical queries: How accurate are the depictions of historical events and persons in Korean epic like dramas? There's seems to be a lot of care taken to portray all the characters in just the right period costumes but I don't know enough Korean history to know one way or another. How much was known about Chang Nok Soo? Was she really as conniving as shown? How much is known about "harem" life in the Korean courts? Were the Yi Dynasty kings really just puppets of large landowners who served as officials? There were a few scenes on the training of martial artists. The _Journal of Asian Martial Arts_ ISSN: 1057-8358 has published several articles on the history of various martial arts and the one in the 1993 Vol. 2, No. 2 issue by Robert W. Young cites the Chosun Wang Jo Shil Lok, "a historical book detailing the lives of the Yi Dynasty kings" as often mentioning tae kyon. I was wondering whether the actors portrayed practicing under Bak Won Joong's direction to overthrow King Yeon San were doing modern day tae kwon do or the forms that would have been known and used at the time. There were quite a few sword scenes and archers - anyone know if the weapons are accurately depicted? The narrator sometimes at the beginning and always at the end tells of some ruling or historical event in Yoshimune's life. Does anyone know if these events actually occured? The few Japanese I have met who had admitted to having watched the show (apparently it's considered a kid's show - highly stylized endings, the theme song starts and Yoshimune and his two ninja invariably slice their way through a horde of hired swordsmen to execute the sadistic greedy corrupt officials) have all said they never bothered to take note of whether or not any of the clothing or events were accurate nor did they pay any attention to the subtle differences in sword styles which Yoshimune is often heard to comment on. Yes, the ninja jumping 2 stories up into the air is a bit much but some of the other "skills" seem to fit what I'm gradually corroborating by finding references in scholarly texts. Besides, after having given up entirely on American sitcom and crime of the week based on a true story programming, I really enjoy watching a predictable cathartic execution! But how much of the culture in these kinds of programs are based on historical research and how much of it is like our "Gunsmoke" and "Little House on the Prairie" stuff? I'd really like to find someone else who watches these programs to fill me in on some of the plots and just who each character is. I also watched "Dream of Red Mansions" but that was easy because I had the book and program synopsis (translation but still) and "Journey to the West" which came with a program synopsis and matches scenes from Beijing Opera so it's a fair guess that some of the costumes are accurate as they are stylized in paintings, dolls from opera scenes, etc.. WNYC also has aired from time to time Asian film festivals. One month was devoted to Korean film makers and another to Chinese - even watched a couple of Tibetan films. Very film noire tragic kinds of stuff that makes you wish you had watched Nick at Night instead! The Tibetan one was so intense you could almost smell the yak butter tea. Incredible photographic skill. Most of the Chinese were pretty old and had used cheap film so you didn't get the same effect of feeling like you were inside the characters' lives. So, is there anyone out there willing to admit they watch these shows? If so, please write - maybe we can get a discussion going on H-Asia itself about the historical accuracy of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese films and T.V., yes? On "Asia Now" (by the way I just accessed their Web Site - http://www2.hawaii.edu/hptv/ (don't leave off the last / or it won't work) they have covered a few stories about Cambodian programming as well as Thai - both countries where the people have grown tired of Japanese T.V. dubbed into their native languages. Mostly soap opera like stories but stories from their own past. Has anyone seen one? My next post will be about a book - it might seem like I watch a lot of T.V. but I read more than enough to make up for it! [Ed. note, that post appeared already on Aug. 22] Thank you, Barbara ****************************************************** Barbara Ruth Campbell, Ph.D. firstname.lastname@example.org Westfield, New Jersey 07090 ================================================================= To post to H-ASIA send your message to H-ASIA@msu.edu To temporarily interrupt your H-ASIA service for holidays send a posting to <email@example.com> with the message: SET H-ASIA NOMAIL When you return and wish to resume H-ASIA service send a similar posting with message: SET H-ASIA MAIL Private questions should go to: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com