The Impulsivity of Ddol Bok

Ddol Bok, a character in the television series, Tree with Deep Roots, can be described as an impulsive and undisciplined child.  This is seen through his interactions with the adults and other children in his life.  However, when we meet the grown up Ddol Bok, who now goes by Chae-Yoon, we see that he has since learned to control those impulses and think rationally.

The first time we meet Ddol Bok, in episode one, he is beating a child much bigger than himself (Yoo).  Immediately, as viewers, we wonder what happened to spur this attack.  While we do not receive the answer to our question, we are able to assume that despite Ddol Bok’s size, the other children are afraid of him mostly due to their unwillingness to intervene and the larger boy’s inability to fight back.  We then find out that the reason Ddol Bok is attacking the larger boy is to learn who made fun of his father (Yoo).  While we are thrown into the middle of the scene rather than starting as the beginning, based on Ddol Bok’s aggressiveness, we can assume that he did not ask the other kids respectfully first and instead immediately resorted to aggressive means, showing his impulsivity.  Ddol Bok’s “act first, think later” attitude can even been seen in his interactions with the adults in his life.

In a later scene in episode one, we meet Ddol Bok’s father who is being picked on by the other slaves.  Ddol Bok rushes in and immediately begins beating the man who was putting makeup on his father, tackling him to the ground and punching him repeatedly, even though the man is clearly many years Ddol Bok’s senior (Yoo).  Though the man was wrong to make fun of Ddol Bok’s father, Ddol Bok shows his impulsivity by storming into the scene and attacking the man without asking any questions.  When the fight is broken up by a master, who demands an explanation, Ddol Bok shows restraint for the first time and is able to properly explain why he was beating the other man (Yoo).  However, that restraint does not last, for one wrong comment from the man who put makeup on his father and Ddol Bok is once again attacking him, showing his impulsivity.  Despite Ddol Bok’s clear lack of restraint as a child, as viewers, we witness an apparent change in him as an adult.

In the first episode we see Ddol Bok’s change from impulsive child to calculating adult.  We quickly learn that Ddol Bok, or Chae-Yoon, has a desire to kill the king and is attempting to find the best way to do so (Yoo).  In one scene, we witness Chae-Yoon come across the king in what appears to be a stroke of luck.  Based on what we know of the young Ddol Bok, it would not have been surprising to see Chae-Yoon attack the king and strike him down.  However, Chae-Yoon stops and thinks about the probability of his success, commenting how he’d have an 80 percent chance of success, or 70, and so on, ultimately concluding that he would be unable to kill the king in that instant due to the arrival of his guard (Yoo).  This moment of reflection contrasts what we have seen of Ddol Bok as a child.

Overall, the difference in regards to impulsivity between Ddol Bok as a child and him as an adult stands out.


Tree with Deep Roots. Dir. Jang Tae Yoo. 2011.

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