The Tale of Nokdu ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Updated: Jan 10, 2020
Jeon Nokdu (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 Nokdu chases after one of the assassins to the capital. During that time, Jeon Nokdu meets Dong Dong Joo (Kim So-Hyun). She wants to shoot the King with her arrow, but Jeon Nokdu saves her from trouble. Meanwhile, the assassin that Jeon Nokdu chases goes into a widow village. To find out who and why his family was attacked, Jeon Nokdu disguises himself as a woman and enters the widow village. There, he meets Dong Dong Joo again. She is an apprentice to become a gisaeng.
Feelings: First Episode
There was so much going on! I had to really pay attention because if I missed a minute I would be very confused by the quick details that are important to who Nok-du is and why it's his tale i.e. the assassin was actually a women, he and his family are on an island not the mainland, etc. Clearly something important happened in the past and I was trying to link it all right then and there. Is he a runaway prince? Maybe a stolen prince? Must be the illegitimate son of the king or something? But before I can settle on a theory we are thwarted into the next part of the story where we meet Dong Joo trying to assassinate the king, whom is not well liked by his peeps, and she is disguised as a boy. Nokdu stops her, they both get arrested, have good chemistry already (even though she's a boy to his knowledge) and with that I'm hooked. I had to see where this was going with Nokdu going into the widow village. HAD TO!
Jang Dong Yoon as Jun Nokdu
Let me tell you something Nokdu. LET ME TELL YOU SOME👏 THING.....that boy can get it with his beautiful long hair. He was sort of TBD at first just because of his unknown past BUT believe me when I say he is foooiinne. Now I personally did not feel attracted to him right off the bat (even though when he was fishing on the island with no shirt I was like oh ok yup hey hello), it was his personality, tender heart, innocent smile, and his fighting skill that made him an easy 10. He is totally NOT a believable woman, his shoulders were broad as fuck, and that jawline cannot be hidden no matter how pretty his face is. But I can get down with the cross dressing fetish. 😉 But all in all Nokdu was very strong willed yet sensitive and honest with himself. He took unexpected truths very very well and still could act humanly. The thing about the character was that he didn't really change. Like he just learned new things about his life and clues of his past but never evolved. It was like Nokdu was only on this journey to help evolve those he came across along the way. Like he was meant to fall in love with Dong Joo so she can evolve and he was meant to befriend the King so that he can reflect and ultimately come to some sort of revelation.
Kim So Hyun as Dong Dong Joo / Yoo Eun Seo
Shorty had an unfortunate life but she really let that darkness fuel her will to live, even if it was misconstrued into taking revenge in the name of her family, it was still pretty badass. Dong Joo was a classic hardass but even hardasses have flaws. Like her PTSD sleeping issue (super cute when Nokdu noticed that back in episode 1 and comforted her). She made herself a little hideaway in the woods where she crafted her own arrows and straight up made a whole new weapon. *cue Eminem's Lose Yourself* If you had - One shot - Or one opportunity - To seize everything you ever wanted - In one moment - Would you capture it - Or just let it slip?" *cue Dong Joo getting dressed in drag, grabbing her fancy bow and arrow, and heading to kill the king*. Then Nokdu came through with his drag and ninja vogued his way into her heart. Jk jk but not too far off honestly. She struggled with truths throughout the show I felt like, very much the opposite of Nokdu. Dong Joo tried so hard to build walls around every aspect of herself and her heart and then Nokdu melted it all down with his endearing sincerity and big heart. She never let her looks guide her femininity, it was always her strength and will.💪
Kang Tae Oh as Cha Yul Moo / Prince Neungyang
Yuck what a bothersome guy. He was yuck from the start with his narcissistic vibes and fake nice guy persona. Like bro get the heck out of here with your snacks and desserts. This fool should have become a famous cook cuz he's whack at everything else! I found him to be very similar to the King were very similar in their flaws and ultimate downfall. Sometimes I just want to shake the shit out of a character and be like yooo chill out BOY cuz I want to like them, especially if their not direct decedents of the throne and still make it there. Not only was he on the wrong side, he was also on the wrong side of the wrong side like you is a CLOWN my dawg. Please sit down. He never felt anything real for Dong Joo, he was just butt hurt she never showed interest and I know it is a necessary evil to be apart of the narrative but I hate it. No depth having ass. It took him 9 years to organize another revolution but in the end he got what he wanted I guess. And he will live a life of insecurity and loneliness I'm sure.
Now he was fantastic. Everything was on point for this guy. His internal struggle, his rage, his doubt, his reflection, his regret, his desire, his greed, and his madness. I feel like I was able to see him when he was younger, innocent, ambitious and how that gets stained and altered with time and power. The crown is truly too heavy for some, even just in meaning it's a lot. But when you had the job part of being a monarch and having literally an entire nation's peoples lives in your hands. I feel like you can't expect to achieve unrealistic dreams in a position like that, you have incrementally achieve smaller dreams. I could understand his spiral into madness even though it does not excuse his prompting action that started his downwards spiral. I felt bad for him even though he committed atrocious acts. If I saw him try to smother a baby I would be like oh nah we gotta assassinate this ticking time bomb. I really enjoyed his moments with Nokdu and Dong Joo, they totally humanized him. I really hoped he would turn it around for the sake of those key relationships keeping him grounded. But I guess that wouldn't have made sense for the story.
Park Da Yun as Aeng Doo
I wonder what it was like to be her on set. Did her parents make sure she didn't eat before going to set? Because she was really eating out here (and enjoying it) in pretty much every shot. She was funny, believable, and adorable all at once. Great job!
Go Gun Han as Yun Geun
This guy mad me LOL like laugh out loud...alone in the dark...on my couch. He clearly was having internal conflict over being infatuated with a man who was really a woman... so much so that he was close to accepting that he may love dudes. Yo that's an hilarious conundrum. Turns out he was just an effeminate man who needed a big woman to dominate him. Sometimes it be like that. 🤷♀️
P.S. Also all his robes were gorgeous! 😍
Post Feelings: Finishing the Series
Loved it!! Can we say hottest drag couple?! This isn't necessarily new in Asian dramas but I don't think I've seen it in a historical setting yet so I really enjoyed that (it's alot easier to get away with simple drag back then). I imagine it would be a super fun role to play and hilarious. I thought the development of their relationship was very natural with all things considered. Slow to start, awkward and doubtful in the middle, but unwavering and solid in the end. It was a very sweet kind of love. A love that starts with two strong independent individuals that grow together through life's unpredictable curve balls and end up in a dependent but forever strong type of love. The hottest parts weren't even them kissing, it was those moments where they looked at each other, the way the actors showed true love (and woe) when they looked upon the other's sleeping face. I will definitely re-watch again soon!
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