The Tale of Nokdu is a 2019 South Korean television series starring Jang Dong-yoon, Kim So-hyun, Kang Tae-oh and Jung Joon-ho. It is based on the webtoon by Hye Jin-yang which was published in 2014 on Naver Webtoon. It premiered on KBS2 on September 30, 2019.
Jeon Nok-Du (Jang Dong-Yoon) lives on an island with his father and older brother. He is smart and a good swordsman. Since he was little, his father did not let him study or go to the mainland. One day, his father and older brother are attacked by a group of female assassins. Jeon Nok-Du chases after one of the assassins to the capital. During that time, Jeon Nok-Du meets Dong Dong-Ju (Kim So-Hyun). She wants to shoot the King with her arrow, but Jeon Nok-Du saves her from trouble. Meanwhile, the assassin that Jeon Nok-Du chases goes into a widow village. To find out who and why his family was attacked, Jeon Nok-Du disguises himself as a woman and enters the widow village. There, he meets Dong Dong-Ju again. She is an apprentice to become a gisaeng.
Review : by Fatooz (link)
I finished watching The Tale of Nokdu yesterday and I’m still processing how good the drama was. I’ve never written a review post for a saeguk because I mostly end up feeling that they’re all pretty much the same at the end of the day – palace politics where some oldies are power hungry, a King / Crown Prince fighting against palace corruption and the FL who is an outsider helps him.
But this drama took me by a surprise. There’s so much more to the drama than the palace politics, yes, there IS palace politics but along with that you get women empowerment, romance, found family, mystery, lots and lots of wholesome content!
Here’s listing what all I loved and what could’ve been done better:
Things I loved:
- Story & Pacing: It’s a well written and well paced drama where in plot points are introduced or dealt with with a flow and every episode will have something or the other to offer you which will be interesting to watch in it’s own ways. The first half was all fun but the second half gets a little intense. But the shift in tone might be a bit surprising but it was done very nicely.
- Direction: I loved how the scenes were shot. There certain angles and colors when it was a happy scene and there were certain angles and vibes that an intense or sad scene will give. The direction was on point and pretty much a very rare occurrence where I’m praising direction of a drama.
- Chemistry: The chemistry between the main leads and actually the entire cast was great. There was not a single time where I felt the romance being forced or it being cringe. In fact the scenes where Nokdu was with his loved ones were the most heartwarming scenes.
- Found Family: People can use this drama for this challenge. The drama starts with Nokdu and his family but as the drama progresses you’ll see Nokdu’s family only getting bigger and bigger and by the end of the drama Nokdu has a huge family. I think by far one of the most wholesome Saeguks I’ve watched.
- Soundtrack: Not many Saeguks have a great and mixed soundtrack. Just like the vibe of the drama where it’s sometimes all fun and play and sometimes it’s an intense watch, the soundtrack has a range of songs. I’ve downloaded all of them because literally all of them caught my attention.
- Acting: All actors convinced me of their roles especially Kang Tae-Oh. He made me feel emotions that his character was supposed to make me feel. The casting was done right with how all actors are so convincing and apt for their roles.
- Women Empowerment and Gender Equality: I just loved how the gender bender was done in such a unique way in this drama where the ML had to dress like a woman in order to reach his goal and complete his mission. Also the assassins being women, the widow village and some strong characters being women was just mind blowing. There’s so much girl power and the best part is that there’s barely any “damsel in distress” which is quite common in most Saeguks.
- The Ending: Yes, that was one satisfying ending. There was nothing rushed, nothing that made me feel incomplete. A perfect ending that made my heart full.
Things That Could’ve Been Done Better:
- I think the only thing that could’ve been done better was a few unexplained things that happened towards the very end, the main one being the unexplained incident that happened with the King. As in how he was saved by someone, because even Nokdu seemed to be surprised at it.
- I was also annoyed at the King’s character towards the end, not for being very careful but for constantly doubting his own blood even towards the end after he spent such lovely time with him when his identity wasn’t known to the King.
Overall my rating was 9/10 for this drama. It’s pretty much the best Saeguk I’ve watched. It had everything, be it romance, comedy, mystery, literally everything. Normally I don’t get too invested in the palace politics but this was the only drama so far that had me hooked for the palace drama as well! It starts off as Nokdu, a common man looking on a quest for something he wants to know badly and ends up being a proper palace related drama but it still only keeps you excited for what’s going to happen next.
Would highly recommend this to everyone, even to those who don’t usually enjoy this genre.