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My Country: The New Age [2019]

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 My Country: The New Age



Hangul Title: 나의 나라

Director: Kim Jin Won

Writer: Chae Seung Dae

Broadcast: October 4 - November 23, 2019

Episodes: 16



Yang Se Jong as Seo Hwi

Woo Do Hwan as Nam Seon Ho

Seol Hyun as Han Hui Jae

Jang Hyuk as Yi Bang Won

Ahn Nae Sang as Nam Jeon

Kim Young Chul as Yi Seong Gye




Plot Summary



My Country: The New Age tells the story of two young men Seo Hwi and Nam Seon Ho during the transitional period of the end of Goryeo dynasty and the beginning of Joseon era. Rather than telling the story from the eyes of the Yi clan, the story takes on the perspective of these two civilians in this warring period—detailing their cursed entanglement, how/what the country to them should be and how they protect their loved ones. Episode 1 begins with the night of the Strife of the Princes where Seo Hwi and Nam Seon Ho face off with each other in a battle at night and then the scene cuts to the past where we see them fighting with wooden swords near a cliff.


e5cnPGZ.jpgSeo Hwi, the son of Seo Geom (nicknamed Goryeo's Unbreakable Sword) who, as its title, was skilled with sword-fighting. Taking after his deceased father, Hwi is a skilled archer and are intelligent during battles. When Hwi was young, Seo Geom died as a sinner therefore Hwi's whole life revolves around working hard and taking care of his little sister. To Hwi, his sister is his "country" and without her, there is no home or country. Hwi has no ambition or desire to be successful; however, when he's face with financial crisis and needed continuous supply of medicines for his sister and put food on the table, he decided to enter into the military exam.


aIZfOPf.jpgNam Seon Ho is the bastard son of Nam Jeon, who only became "important" when the rightful heir drown. Seon Ho grows up without love. His relationship with Nam Jeon is strained. He has respect for Nam Jeon and constantly needing to please him, but also fears him. Even though living a rich and prestige life, Seon Ho is not treated as such due to his low ranking birth.


Due to this, Seon Ho wishes to succeed so that he could change the world. When the "world" began to change, he seizes the chance to serve King Taejo, Yi Seong Gye. Meanwhile Seo Hwi chose Yi Bang Won, the 5th son of Yi Seung Gye who will later be the 3rd king of Joseon. The irony of it all is that Seo Hwi and Seon Ho are best friends since young. Their bonding formed when they helped each other when they were at the bottom of the pit. Though they were forced to be rivals, in the bottom of their hearts, they never stopped to care for each other. After Hwi helped Yi Bang Won overthrows Yi Seong Gye, with his last attempt Yi Seong Gye reveals a secret to Hwi. In learning the truth, Hwi chooses peace. However, fearing Hwi's ability and Seo Geom's old supporters, Bang Won seeks Hwi and his loved ones out for a blood bath. Rather than running, Hwi and Seon Ho confront Bang Won.


Review / Thoughts


The cinematography and direction are pretty good amongst the sageuk I've seen. Yang Se Jong's character was one of the saddest I know in kdrama land. He's never had any break, always on the go, getting beaten up, trampled on and even poisoned. Hwi's characterisation felt less explored, and personality was more straight forward, it was not as interesting. While Woo Do Hwan's was much more compelling because of the emotional turmoil and inner conflicts he has with his ambition, Hwi and his father. All the while I thought Seon Ho would turn evil and betray Hwi (which he sort of did but with good reasons) like how other sageuk dramas would, but Seon Ho is not cold-hearted like his father. Due to his soft heart towards the Seo siblings, Seon Ho always found himself at the cross road.


-- Spoiler --


Now, what I dislike, is the execution for the ending for Hwi and Seon Ho.


Personally I did not like the idea of Hwi and Seon Ho running towards the palace and seek death. Run and hide. Have a peaceful and quiet life elsewhere on an island or something! The world is so big, I doubt Bang Won can find them if they don't want to be found. Plus, why make Hwi promise to Hui Jae he will return when we fully know that he won't once he goes to Bang Won?


My major issue here is actually "trust". Yi Bang Won (as history portrayed) after becoming king kills the people that once supported him in fear they might turn against him. What he did to Hwi therefore tied in well with history, but what I find unconvincing was him promising Hwi he will not harm Hwi's people if Hwi is willing to die. A king who had seeked him out to kill him and eradicate all the supporters, how can he be trusted? I understand the fundamental of this action, but it still feels foolish. I guess after the process of seeing them suffer so much, I really wish for Hwi and Seon Ho's happiness rather than death. On the flip side, I suppose death relief them from the pain and suffering.





What I do like is in the final scene for Yi Bang Won. He sits at the throne giving out a dry laugh, tears flowing out of his eye as he comforts himself he did well. The "he/you did well" had a deeper meaning to it in the story too. The scene rightfully conveyed the resignation of a king who sacrifices everything for power. From then onwards, Yi Bang Won became the loneliest person in the world—however this is his "Dae Yi". He therefore had to endure. It's what he owes to Hwi.


It was a joy watching the sparks between the young rising actors Se Jong, Do Hwan acting against veterans Jang Hyuk and Ahn Nae Sang. Although I wasn't satisfied with some of the story-telling and sad ending, I really do enjoy the acting performances. There were some very memorable scenes that showcase their stellar performances. I particularly love the tension between Se Jong and Ahn Nae Sang's scenes. There was one scene that even Ahn Nae Sang later revealed he got a little scared because Se Jong was so immersed in his emotion that he told Nae Sang he really wanted to cut his neck, LOL! Another scene I really liked was when Jang Hyuk tells Nae Sang, Se Jong is under his protection. I find that scene very powerful.


Overall I find the story insufficient in the depiction of Hwi and Seon Ho's characterisation, especially Hwi. And I was also disappointed that Hwi, being the mastermind, was not utilised well into the story-telling for the Strife of the Princes. My fave of this story though had to be Hwi and Seon Ho's friendship/bromance. There is also a little bit of romance between Yang Se Jong and Seol Hyun but it is not the main focus of the story and because of that it is not developed well. Jang Hyuk's portrayal of Yi Bang Won is awesome, and very different to the Yi Bang Won in Six Flying Dragons. While Six Flying Dragons glorified the Yi clan, this show portrayed them to be blood thirsty, ambitious political and conniving.



Plot/Story: 8.5
Cast/Acting: 9
Production values: 8
Re-Watch value: 7 (I would re-watch certain scenes but to watch it all in full is hard due to the heavy content)
Overall value: 8

Edited by mademoiselle
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Thanks for the review, @mademoisellesia! I watched the drama when it was airing and your review captured my same thoughts. It was political heavy, but the bromance between Hwi and Seon-ho is what made me continue to watch it. I'm also glad that it was less focus on the romance between Hwi and Seol Hyun's character. 


On 10/9/2020 at 8:39 PM, mademoisellesia said:

What I do like is in the final scene for Yi Bang Won. He sits at the throne giving out a dry laugh, tears flowing out of his eye as he comforts himself he did well. The "he/you did well" had a deeper meaning to it in the story too. The scene rightfully conveyed the resignation of a king who sacrifices everything for power. From then onwards, Yi Bang Won became the loneliest person in the world—however this is his "Dae Yi". He therefore had to endure. It's what he owes to Hwi.

:1000: I wholeheartedly agreed with this! That was probably one of the loneliest scene in the drama. 


This is a fan video of their bromance that captured their love for each other and their ill fate. 


Funny Thought: In parts of the drama, Yang Se Jong's lips were so chapped (playing to his character's struggles) I kept thinking, "Can someone just give him a chapstick already?!". :laugh:

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