A closer look on Yoo Yeon Seok’s role in tvN’s upcoming drama ‘Mr. Sunshine’ – Goo Dong Mae

/dust off the blog/

Well hi there YeoNiverse wordpress, long time no update! Haha. Well in recent time we’re mostly focused on our SNS platforms for Yoo Yeon Seok’s updates – Twitter; Facebook; Instagram; Tumblr… so we hardly post things here, sorry.

Anyway. A few days ago, tvN has released the first trailer of their upcoming drama, Mr. Sunshine. Written by Kim Eun Sook, here is one of the descriptions of the drama available:

“Writer Kim is drawing young romance and love on a sheet of confusing and scathing background of modern history. Men and women born in slave, butcher and noblemen families overcome their social statuses and fall in love.” [S]

YeoNiverse has subbed the trailer for your viewing –

Now we have a fierce looking Yoo Yeon Seok in the trailer – he’s sporting an unkempt hair, sending some deadly stares as he lead a pack of swordsmen in Japanese traditional clothing . He is Goo Dong Mae.

[gif] 1

Goo Dong Mae is the Branch Manager of the Kokuryukai, or Amur River Society in Kyungsung (one of Seoul’s old names). Kokuryukai was a  prominent paramilitary, ultranationalist right-wing group in Japan. [S]

[Trailer] First -20180215 1778

Now come the questions about Goo Dong Mae – is he a villain? Is he a bad guy? Is his role a tragic one? Will we hate him? Will we understand from where he came from?

If anyone is interested, you can read below on (the possibility of) Goo Dong Mae’s background:

Firstly, Mr. Sunshine is set in the early 1900s, an era before the Japanese occupation in Korea, but the Japanese influence over the country was growing. During those time, and before that, ie the time when this drama characters were born and growing up, the Korean traditional social hierarchy still exist. They were living in a society where people were divided into classes such as –

  1. Wangjok (Royalty);
  2. Yangban (Nobility – mainly composed of civil servants and military officers [s]);
  3. Chungin (upper middle class [s]);
  4. Sangmin (the working class, or the peasants. Common people of Joseon Korea – consisted of peasants, laborers, fishermen, some craftsmen and merchants. [s]);
  5. Cheonmin (“vulgar commoners,” the lowest caste of commoners in dynastical Korea. Divided into 2 broad categories – 1) the slaves and 2) occupational Cheonmin[s] )
  6. Baekjeong (said to be of Cheonmin class, but their status is lower. They’re an “untouchable” outcast group of Korea, often compared with the burakumin of Japan and the dalits of India and Nepal. [s])

Goo Dong Mae is said to be a ‘Baekjeong’s son’.

Baekjeong (백정) means 1) “butcher: (archaic) A person who slaughters animals such as cows, pigs, etc., for market.” [S]; and 2) Baekjeong also denotes an “untouchable” outcast group of Korea [S] Butchery is the main occupation of the outcast group Baekjeongs, and it is noted that butchery was more a public obligation than a source of income for them. [S]

“The baekjeong did jobs that no self-respecting Buddhist Korean would touch, including anything working with animals. Slaughtering animals; leather making; these kinds of dirty duties were avoided by Koreans, and so were filled de facto by baekjeong.” [S]

So based on the above info, we can safely assume that Goo Dong Mae belongs to Baekjeong, the outcast group of people back in the days.

Baekjeong people faced contempt and discriminations from all frontsseparate communities (they were forced to live in segregated quarters isolated from the common people), restriction on dress (they were forbidden to wear the ordinary headgear of black varnished lacquer which was worn by all married people as it was considered too good for them, among others), restriction on marriage customs and funerals  (They were not allowed to use the community funeral cart which were usually found in each village to transport the corpse. Their dead had to be buried in segregated plots so as not to pollute the sacred burial grounds of the common people, among others), restriction on names, they did not have the civil rights held by the ordinary people since they were not considered worthy of citizenship, forbidden from buying fresh fish in the market, punished differently from other people, and a lot more discriminations. (Click on here [S] to read more on the discriminations faced by the Baekjeong people)

…Paekchong suffered from the contempt and discrimination in ordinary society, it is interesting to notice that the status of the Paekchong was far below that of the slaves in the traditional Korean social system.”,there was no way for the Paekchong or their descendants to break out of the outcast status and to become· yangmin.” [S]

A few more descriptions of Goo Dong Mae in the drama:

  • “…Koo Dong-mae, who loves Ko Ae-sin. He was born to a butcher’s family and abandoned the Josun on his own but he risks everything on Ko Ae-sin who took to him as a human being unlike others who saw him as no better than a pig or cow.” [S]
  • “…the son of a lowly butcher who flees his homeland and goes to Japan in search of a new life. He’s described as a tragic character who falls in love with Kim Tae-ri’s aristocratic young lady, and will risk everything for his love.” [S]
  • “To help her country during the time of crisis, Ae Shin is leaving to join the righteous army. Dong Mae is worried about her and wanted to help her, but he is conflicted between the resentment he harboured towards Joseon and worrying over his own current condition.” [S]

So his background as a Baekjeong who faced the contempt and discrimination in Joseon explains why Dong Mae hates Joseon and flee to Japan on his own to seek a new life.

This is probably how he became the branch manager of the Kokuryukai in Kyungsung, and became on the Japanese side.

But then again, there is also a possibility of him crossing over once Ae Shin whom he loves, decides to join the righteous army. Will Dong Mae also join her and became the righteous army to fight off the growing influence of the Japanese in Joseon – which would mean he has to risk everything and betraying the Kokuryukai?

This whole thing about the drama and characters sounds so meaty (no pun intended) so it also made us wonder if the actual drama would be as meaty as the concept suggest or would it be just an empty love story with the turbulant times of Joseon being only their background? Also, the chances of his role being hated is very high, on top of his screentime might not be that much. So be prepared and best not to expect much, folks. lol.

The drama is planned to be aired starting from July 7, 2018.

(Note: The post was edited and updated with a few more info)

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