Spotlight on: Joseon Gunman
Hangul: 조선 총잡이
Other names: Gunman in Joseon, Joseon Shooter
Star rating (out of 5):
Starring: Lee Joon Gi (Park Yoon Kang/Hanjo), Nam Sang Mi (Jung Soo In), Jeon Hye Bin (Choi Hye Won), Han Joo Wan (Kim Ho Kyung) and Yu Oh Seong (Choi Won Shin) .
Number of episodes: 22
Episode length: 60 mins
Recommended to: Those who love historical dramas, lovers of tragic revenge tales and people looking to ease into historical dramas.
NOT recommended to: People who like nicely wrapped up happy endings for everyone, haters of love stories and lovers of modern settings.
Set at a time when guns are a relatively new technology and viewed cautiously in Joseon, this drama explores not only a story of familial revenge but also the impact of diplomatic relations for Joseon.
The show begins in a carefree manner with a young and slightly immature swordsman (Park Yoon Kang) courting a young lady (Jung Soo In). All of this is torn short by the unjust killing of his father and selling of his sister into slavery.
Forced to flee to save his own life, Yoon Kang swears to avenge his father and save his sister. To do this, he picks up a gun and inadvertently becomes a hero to the people in his fights against corrupt and powerful merchants.
Along the way, Yoon Kang inadvertently spurns Choi Hye Won, a merchant’s daughter whose traumatic early life has caused her to be willing to abuse her position if she feels it protects her. He also manages to bring turmoil to the second male love interest, Kim Ho Kyung, as he blocks his attempts to court Jung Soo In many times – even in his absence.
Joseon Gunman is a bittersweet story. Whilst some characters get a happy ending, the journey to get there is fraught with sadness. Nam Sang Mi suffers some criticism on western sites for her portrayal of the female lead, however I found her character to be much more well balanced between fiesty-ness and vulnerability than most female leads in K-Dramas.
Choi Hye Won failed as a character to attract any of my sympathy, despite the plot sometimes pushing for that result, which in some ways is a disappointment but does at least make for an interesting character and a wonderful display of sociopathy.
As with most K-Dramas, a love story is prominent and if tragic love stories don’t push your buttons, this might not be one for you. There are no real surprises or twists that affect the major plot. Despite the plot itself being fairly straightforward to follow, the characters are complex and interesting and it’s ‘easy watching’ style would make it a great intro into this style of K-dramas.
It has however birthed the weirdest K-Drama kiss out of context (see above). When watching the show the kiss seemed kinda OK… but taken out of the story, definitely a what-the-heck moment!