The Distractors’ Cut: The Joseon Gunman Warning Shot

What is the biggest drawback of live viewing? Waiting, of course! Especially, when the drama has the potential of being the most thrilling drama of the summer season. The Joseon Gunman is objectively the most anticipated drama of the year and with its introductory episodes coming out of the gate this strong, the excitement was well deserved.

This drama also rejoins Lee Jun-ki and Nam Sang-mi from 2007 thriller Time Between Dog and Wolf, making them one of the top 5 OTP reunions of this year. Can’t say I was all in with them as a couple in that drama, but their rapport as actors is undeniable and palpable, which is rekindled here immediately.

Brief Synopsis: TJG takes place on the cusp of Joseon’s 17th century enlightenment period and tells the story of a young swordsmen who trades the blade for bullets.

Unnichan: Alright so let’s jump right in… what were your favorite things about these first two episodes?

Ekun: Lee Jun-ki and Yoo Oh-seung! I would be crazy not to mention how much I love them in these first 2 episodes. But on a serious tip, I really loved both episodes. I get a The Princess’ Man vibe (which we all know I was laid up after that ended), the acting is solid, the story is intriguing… What more can you ask for?

Unnichan: It does have a TPM vibe doesn’t it? And, you’re right. It goes without saying that those two are big draws to the drama but I have to say that I love Choi Jae-sung just as much (if not more ;)). The way he embodies the determined King’s Guard Commanding Officer is perfect. He’s stern and humble, dogged and rugged. It all works for me. However, I’m pretty certain he’s going to die. I just hope they don’t draw it out. At first, I was convinced it would be Park Jin-han’s death that would pull Yoon-kang into the game but seeing that the trajectory is that they’re two parallel lines, makes the entire plot much more worth my investment as a viewer.

Ekun: I adore Yoon-kang! The first moment I saw him (and it really has nothing to do with Jun-ki)— I fell head over heels for him.

[Unnichan: *snickers* Pfft. I highly doubt that.]

Ekun: All the more reason I was annoyed with Jung Soo-in when she came on the scene. I think Park Jin-han is wonderful, we all know he is going to die and that is sad, but the sooner that gets done the better for me. I hate long scenes with daddy’s dying tragically.

Unnichan: Dying daddies, breaks me. Therefore, I like it when it’s done in the first two episodes ’cause I can be sad, perhaps shed a tear and get over it. When it’s prolonged it creates foreboding and false hope… two things that make drama watching quite torturous at times. But as for Yoon-kang… I can’t say I liked him immediately. I actually liked Jung-hoon a lot more. He’s cheeky and laissez-faire for an officer. Which of course makes him a great friend for Yoon-kang. And since you mentioned Soo-in, I have no real issues with her. She’s typical, at least at first. But I like that she has things going on in her own life.Things that are important to her and drives her. She may be spoiled, sheltered and wealthy but she tries to think and act on her own. Not necessarily a tomboy, an independent woman or a “feminist” but a real person, making mistakes with a thirst for learning. I like that.

Ekun: I can’t stand when people are supposed to be incognito and act like they are not. Why wouldn’t Yoon-kang talk to you or handle you like a man when you are dressed like one? For her to be an educated person, it was quite stupid. So I can’t. I know I sound petty and a mess but common sense needs to be a staple no matter what. People think that mess is cute, I think it’s stupid, degrading, and unnecessary.

Unnichan: Ok. You’re point that— when we see women who go into situations as one thing and are treated as that “thing” and get their knickers in a bunch over it— is uncalled for and rather stupid, I understand and wholeheartedly agree. And perhaps, if this was Sungkyungkwan Scandal or she was on this mission full time or for a longer period of time (before they met), I’d be as irritated as you, but since that isn’t and wasn’t the case, I wasn’t fazed. She didn’t even make THAT BIG of a deal about it.

Ekun: She slapped him, Unni!!! That was uncalled for– I can’t.

Unnichan: I know, but there was more to that slap than her being a girl— Not that I agree. She should’ve punched him. Even still, her overall behavior is one thing I appreciated about the development of her character. She’s a woman in the middle of this changing world and she is changing too. It’s this conflict between what she should think, feel and do, [based on her world and upbringing] and what is actually rational, given the moment and situation. It’s an evolution of the times that we see written directly into the personality of a character. Don’t love her, but I like that.

Ekun: I hope that I will grow to like her but she has some major minus points. Especially since I love Yoon-kang so much.

Unnichan: I can’t say I love anyone but Jin-han. And I’m certainly not there with Yoon-kang, but since you mentioned, common sense, what do you think about Yoon-kang getting Oh-kyung (Kim Jung-hak)killed? How do you think that will play in the overarching romance and his character development?

Ekun: He didn’t mean to get the professor killed. He was just being a good friend; he just wanted to help. And to me, it doesn’t really have to be an issue and I don’t think it will be. But, if it were to come up, I think he would feel like he did something wrong, when in actuality, he really didn’t. I hope by the time it comes out (if it comes out) Soo-in will have grown up enough to make him realize that; rather than throwing the blame on him.

Unnichan: I’m not sure about all that, because again, we’re talking about “common sense,” which leads to the accountability factor. If Yoon-kang was completely ignorant to the severity of the situation, I’d wholeheartedly agree, but that isn’t the case is it? Therefore, he should’ve  kept his mouth closed. So, if either of them find out and he feels a sense of guilt or she’s salty, I won’t be upset. There were many more factors as work but his initiation is a fact. I can’t say I’m angry with him (we knew it was going to happen), but it was disappointing and pretty thoughtless on his part.

Ekun: How was he supposed to know there was a corrupt guard giving information to the enemy? I mean, if we were to blame everyone in a situation of happenstance— we can blame Soo-in for not keeping the letter to herself, we can blame BFF Jung-hoon for not being discrete in his reporting to Jin-han… It’s a mess.

Unnichan: Several hands and minds are responsible for Oh-kyung’s death, directly and indirectly. But Yoon-kang tipped that first domino due to his lapse in judgement and common sense. For “common sense” would have steered Yoon-kang to give anything that was delivered to someone else’s house to an actual resident, instead of being nosy and opening it himself. Futhermore, the letter was sent to a “cross-dressing female,” therefore, “common sense” would tell him a)since he’s not a girl and doesn’t live there, there’s no way the letter was for him and b) being he knows for a fact Soo-in has been running around town as a boy, she’s most likely the intended recipient. And Jung-hoon did exactly what common sense suggests he’d to do to get his reward. He didn’t yell or make a spectacle, and he even closed the door behind him, what else was the man supposed to do? Whisper? From what we know currently, no one has assumed there are spies in their direct camp. I’m not invoking or playing the “blame game,” just pointing out a basic fact that, I hope was inserted into the narrative for a purpose.

Ekun: Perhaps it was. But, I really did not see it that way. And I truly don’t want any more reasons to dislike Soo-in, though, I really did like Hye-won… she seems like she knows what is up and I can get down with that and daddy Won Shin aka leader of the gunmen killing the scholars of the enlightenment. Every time I see the word “Enlightenment” I am back in 10th grade world history!  

Unnichan: Jun Hye-bin is always spot on for me. And I’m not sure how much she knows and doesn’t know. That’s something else that makes me like her. There’s a mysterious nature to her character and her purpose. I look forward to knowing whether she will be an adversary or an ally.

Ekun: I think I would like her more if she is a foe. She and Daddy working together doing shady deeds makes my heart flutter. Let’s discuss the politics of what is really going on, shall we?

Unnichan: Knowledge. I kind of love that this drama is about the fear of change. Mostly because it’s not a petty, minuscule thing that we usually see. It’s not just about power or the pompous political factions [read:Joseon Korean Coalition of Corrupt Ahjussies] trying to suppress this infamous book pinned by Soo-in’s teacher Hyun Aem (Nam Myung-ryul). It’s more about the people and what the people may think and do once these ideas are out there. It’s the age old tale of one man desiring more knowledge, due to the misconception that knowledge gives them leverage, respect and subsequent trust. And though it doesn’t really work that way, it creates a false sense of security and superiority.

Ekun: Couldn’t have said it better myself. I love it all. I think that it is a turbulent time for everyone involved in the change. Did you see how Yoon-kang responded after he read it? Of course it is unlawful to write or think such things, but some people will love it and welcome it with open arms.

Unnichan: Of course! That’s what makes a drama like this one so exciting to watch. Our “hero” is pliable. He’s not stubborn in his views, he just lives this way because it’s all he knows. So what I look forward to the most is watching that inspiration within him spark. Reminds me of an episode of Jerry Seinfield’s show Comedians Riding in Cars Getting Coffee, where he and Chris Rock  were discussing how knowledge would have changed the timeline of our entire existence; like a caveman with a lighter or one gunman in the Civil War with an AK-47. Those are both extreme examples but as soon as a bullet whipped through the air in episode one, I thought of  how something drastic and frightening occurs and rocks a world.

Ekun: I totally agree. Is there anything else we need to mention before we wrap it up?

Unnichan: Two major things actually– 1) This drama is a prime example of how disappointing and irritating it is to know that in the drama loving community there are so many that refuse to watch sageuk. ‘Cause frankly, they are some of the best and most riveting dramas I’ve ever seen. And, 2) I wasn’t on-board with the relational development between Yoon-kang and Soo-in until the last ¼ of episode two. Where we are now, I can see them becoming friends and that pleases me. There’s no, “love at first sight” insanity or even hatred. There was a little bitter bickering but it ended quickly. Now, they’ve set the groundwork for the development of a solid connection (even before the life or death hangups), so going forward, I have hope that I can buy into a romance (if we have to go there).

Ekun: Those who refuse to watch a drama because of the time period are, how can I put this delicately… idiots. Give the story a chance before throwing it out, you really might enjoy it. And I totally think Yoon-kang was lovestruck when he saw Soo-in (as a girl) for the first time. The only reason these two will end up together is because Yoon-kang will make it so. I do love that the bickering and foolishness has come to an end. I was annoyed because she had no basis to ever be a mess with him. Anyway, them working together is a plus… maybe I can end up liking her a bit within the next 18 episodes.

Unnichan: I wouldn’t use the word “lovestruck,” he thought she was cute… No doubt about that.

Ekun: Perhaps it is more like—  ♫Starstruck! Baby could you blow my heart up!♫

Unnichan: Heh… And I don’t think you have to like her. Just see her for her narrative purpose. That’s one of the best things about sageuk. Any hopes, dreams, or aspirations for The Joseon Gunman‘s future?

Ekun: Honestly, the show has already lived up to my expectations, so as long as it continues down this same vein, I will be a happy viewer. The more Jun-ki the better… and show? I don’t want to wait a full 10 minutes to see him. Enlightenment! Enlightenment! Rar! Rar! Rar!

Unnichan: Heh. Show, I had no other expectations, than to like you and I do, so I’m happy. I hope we never breakup and when we’ve run our course, I hope to get over you quickly…. And, you know (just as an aside)—- there’s something about Lee Jun-ki in sageuk that makes you want to makeout with him…

Ekun: Who are you making out with?! *Gumiho EYES*

Unnichan: Kekekekekee.  And I don’t even love him like that.

Ekun: I am not laughing! *Gumiho EYES*

Unnichan: But I am. 😉

Ekun: How could you do this to me!? Your precious Dong-kun! *Gumiho EYES*

Unnichan: Joop (kiss). Joop(kiss).

 

 

 

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