Tree with Deep Roots takes an already interesting subject (the creation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet) and adds an intense fictional story which makes it a suspenseful masterpiece.
Synopsis: Based on the novel “Tree with Deep Roots” by Lee Jeong-myeong. Ddolbok (played by Jang Hyuk) and Dam (played by Shin Se-Kyung) are childhood friends and slaves. An unfortunate and tragic event separates them for years to come. Lee Do (played by Han Suk-Kyu) may be King, but his father, former King Taejong (played by Baek Yoon-Sik) holds all the power. Lee Do and Taejong have very different ideas of ruling. Years pass, and a series of murders occur while King Lee Do is working on a top secret project. Who’s behind the murders and for what reason?
I’ve watched my fair share of Kdramas, and in a short period of time. Out of everything I’ve watched, Tree with Deep Roots was one of the most fascinating, intellectual, cunning, and captivating dramas of them all. Unlike some dramas, it didn’t drag in the middle. It kept its momentum. It was witty, clever, heart-shattering, suspenseful, meaningful, tragic and liberating. Here’s some more insight into why I loved this drama:
A gorgeously filmed Sageuk (Historical drama)
The first thing that caught my eye with this drama was how vibrant the colors were. From the costumes to the beautiful scenery, everything popped and came to life. In the first scene we see grown up Ddolbok (Jang Hyuk) and he’s filmed so beautifully with great camera close-ups showing off his intense face. The colors are rich and I couldn’t get over how impressive the filming looked.
CSI Joseon Style
It’s amazing today with technology what you can find out about a murder. Well, this drama was just as cool! It was so neat to watch bodies being analyzed and crime scenes investigated to find clues on cause of death and insight into murders.
What is a drama without outstanding character development and back story? Although some may argue the first few episodes were slow, I would state that they were essential in introducing us to the various key characters who played important parts in the story. A lot happens in the first few episodes before the adult characters are introduced. There’s also a lot of information about historical events (some based on history others I’m assuming fabricated).
Hangul -Creation of the Korean Alphabet
So, as a huge Kdrama fan, I’ve developed an interest in learning Hangul (the Korean alphabet) and wanting to learn to speak Korean. I was not familiar with the history of the written language, so it was really neat to see how Hangul started. After watching this drama, I want to learn even more. They made it sound like it’s pretty easy to learn. The idea was that the common people didn’t have the time or means to learn Chinese (which is complicated to learn with thousands of characters). It was the King’s desire for his people to be able to learn to write the language that they speak.
Both the younger ( Song Joong-Ki) and adult (Han Suk-Kyu) King Lee Do were ensnaring. I really felt for his character. Normally I don’t sympathize with the rich characters with power in dramas, but the King had the biggest burdens to carry. You could sense the love and compassion he felt for his people. Often he would be torn in two separate directions. He struggled so much and has a lot of constant opposition. The noblemen would be telling him one thing while his heart would be telling him another. Despite all the pain he had to endure, he had a bright, extremely focused, joyous personality which was contagious. He looked at life differently than what was the norm, and paved the way for change.
Ddolbock is a lot of things. He’s a very intelligent kid (Chae Sang-Woo) with a lot of fire and spunk. He’s far from being a pushover and he believes in justice. He has a big heart and cares deeply for Dam and his father. As an adult (Jang Hyuk), Ddolbock has the same characteristics but has learned to control his emotions a lot better. He’s a fantastic problem solver but has remaining hurt from his childhood that won’t seem to fade. He is an extremely well calculated individual who tries to outweigh the risk before acting (something he learned to do with time).
King Lee Do’s and Ddolbock’s banter
The King and Ddolbock have a very complicated, yet simple relationship. They certainly face some obstacles, but the way they challenge each other ends up benefiting them both in their personal development. I felt that they truly learned so much from each other, even though they both often had to listen to things they didn’t want to hear from each other.
I won’t elaborate too much, because I don’t want to spoil the drama. All that I’ll say is I was shocked. Sometimes you can see twists coming; I did not. This drama had an element of surprise, which kept it interesting throughout. There was an lot to “figure out” so as a spectator, my brain was constantly working and I had to really pay attention to what was going on so I wouldn’t miss anything.
This drama uses a fair amount of symbolism. There’s symbolism in the title “Tree with Deep Roots” which is explained in the drama. Another symbolism that is used is the flower. The King is referred to as a flower which is also explained. It’s really a very well written story full of depth, symbolism and foreshadowing.
Overall: If you enjoy historical dramas with well written stories, bloodshed,action and suspense and a lot of heart, this may be worth checking out. I loved it, and I hope you enjoy it too.
My rating: 4.9/5