“We are sparks of fire…one day these sparks of fire will burn…”
The historical based television series in Korea is finally in the Philippines and just like in any other country where it was aired, it caught the hearts of its viewers.
Dae Jang Geum, also known as Jewel in the Palace got the attention of Filipino viewers not only because of its grand settings and costumes but also because of its storyline that Filipinos truly love.
The novel starts with a prophesy to a palace captain who led the prosecution of the queen and would eventually save and marry a palace girl that was a victim of an evil plot in the royal kitchen. Both of them lived as a refuge hiding from the claws of the current king that wanted all those involved in the queen’s trial to suffer from the penalty of death.
The couple gave birth to an intelligent little girl they named Jang Geum. Jang Geum is a girl who always wanted to study but cannot because during that time, only people from high society were allowed to learn. Without her mother knowing, Jang Geum’s father told her their real status in the society and so she had forced her mother to teach her how to read and write.
Because of some unexpected incident, Jang Geum had revealed their true identity that led to the capture and death of her father and made way for the soldiers to chase her mother to death. Before her mother died, she left Jang Geum a letter that tells her their story and asked her to enter the palace to become a lofty madam in the royal kitchen.
Jang Geum’s intelligence and diligence led her to become a palace girl and end up being handled by her mother’s best friend Lady Han. In the palace, Jang Geum showed exceptional skill and talent, which made her favored by the queen.
In a competition that will choose the next lofty madam in the royal kitchen where Lady Han is supposed to compete with Lady Cui (the person responsible for the plot against Jang Geum’s mother), Jang Geum would again show her skills in cooking and beat Lady Cui because Lady Han would not be able to compete due another evil plan by Lady Cui’s brother.
Jang Geum’s victory over lady Cui gave the title of being a lofty madam to Lady Han but the same victory was used by Lady Cui to question Lady Han’s legitimacy as the lofty madam. Because of the boycott led by Lady Cui, Lady Han asked the queen to make another competition to finally settle the legitimacy of being the lofty madam where she won with a very clear mandate.
After Lady Han became the lofty madam a letter made by Jang Geum’s mother led her to finally know that her long time apprentice was her bestfriend's daughter.
In another evil scheme by Lady Cui, she accused Lady Han and Jang Geum of poisoning the King, which gave them a penalty of being exiled and being a government slave. Before they reach their destination, Lady Han died because of the burden of torture given by the soldiers. In their place of exile, Jang Geum learned that the only way for a government slave to get back in the palace is to become a female doctor, and she eventually became one.
As a female doctor, Jang Geum made her way back to the palace and performed an excellent skill, the same way as she does in cooking. Jang Geum will find cures from different types of diseases including those that have no known treatment yet during that time. With her medical skills she investigates the scheme made by Lady Cui that led to her mother and Lady Han’s death and prove their innocence.
Because of her talent that led for Lady Han and her mother to gain back their status, she became the lofty madam of the royal kitchen. As a lofty madam, she made her mother’s request for her to write their story to the book that only the lofty madam is allowed to read. After fulfilling her mother’s request, she returned in being a female doctor and again finding cures to the unknown diseases that afflict the palace.
Jang Geum’s skill was known in the royal hospital and she gained the king’s trust and had been appointed as the king’s personal doctor, which at that time is extremely prohibited for any woman. Amid the objections of the palace ministers she improves her skills and even learn the mystery of surgery.
In Korea’s history, Jang Geum is the first woman to be appointed as their head physician, a position that is prohibited for any woman during the time of a male dominated society.
Thus she is given the title Dae Jang Geum.
(I never mentioned her love life here although it is one of the most important events in the story. Maybe that’s because I wanted the story to end up with Jang Geum being single XD)
The story is far from the ordinary television series people usually watch. Besides focusing to the love story only in the near end, it is something where the viewers can get much lessons, whether in politics, family, friendship, love and all the struggles in life. But these lessons can only be understood by looking deeper into the story.