The Worth of Revenge In Tree With Deep Roots


Chae-yoon’s face when he cannot bring himself to kill King Sejong.

A Tree With Deep Roots is a Korean drama television series about Ddol Bok, later known as Chae-yoon, and his quest to avenge the death of his father and members of his community when he was a young boy. The target of Ddol Bok’s revenge happens to be no other than King Sejong, the current ruler of Joseon. Chae-yoon is forced to make a decision that could in turn hurt the people of his country: he must choose to carry out his plan for revenge or let it go so that education and in turn power can be given to the common people.

Not knowing that King Sejong actually saved the lives of Ddol Bok and his childhood friend Dam, Chae-yoon swears he will take the kings life to pay for the loss of his father’s. However, after becoming a member of the King’s guard Chae-yoon soon discovers that King Sejong with the help of  So-yi and the Hall of Worthies Scholars, a group in which several members have been mysteriously killed, are working on a secret project which happens to be a Korean Alphabet. So-yi, who also happens to be Dam, Chae-yoon’s childhood friend, realizes who Chae-yoon is and although having previously been a mute begins to speak because of this newfound realization. She shows Chae-yoon the alphabet and explains that it would give more power to the commoners.

After a short-lived and heartfelt reunion with Dam, Chae-yoon still refuses to put his plans for revenge behind him. Despite Dam’s continual notions to persuade him to let it go and understand that the Hangul project is for the good of the people and that the King means well, Chae-yoon cannot accept that everything he has done lacks purpose. Dam leaves Chae-yoon to take her place alongside King Sejong and continue with the Hangul project. However, when she comes back to the king she tells him that his final judge is coming and it is his job as king to persuade him to the cause of the people.

Now is the time for Chae-yoon’s long awaited confrontation with King Sejong. But, when given the opportunity Chae-yoon cannot kill him; King Sejong even steps into his sword giving him the chance to take his life and still Chae-yoon cannot do it. In a sudden revelation, both men realize who each other are. Chae-yoon realizes that King Sejong saved Chae-yoon’s life so many years ago. Sejong realizes that the words that came from Chae-yoon’s wailing mouth that night stayed with him and that Chae-yoon is the reason for all that he is doing now. Sejong attempts to persuade Chae-yoon to understand that the alphabet is for the good of the people and tells him that he wants Chae-yoon to come to his side. Chae-yoon however still argues with King Sejong and says that writing will do no good for the common people, it cannot make them nobles and it cannot make rice. Sejong fights back and says that it may not make rice, but it will teach the people more ways to make it and that it may not make them nobles but it will help them to fight back.

When King Sejong asks why Chae-yoon is so negative about it, Chae-yoon breaks down and tells him that it’s because of his father’s will. It is his father’s words that brought him to tears since his last wish was that Chae-yoon learn to read and write. His father felt that because he did not learn to read and write he was a halfwit, so it is Chae-yoon’s duty to become literate and live well. Thus presenting Chae-yoon with the realization that perhaps killing King Sejong is not the way to avenge his father’s death, but instead for him to join the king’s cause and educate himself and his people.

Works Cited:

Tree with Deep Roots. Writ. Lee Jung Myung. Dir. Jang Tao Yoo and Shin Kyung Soo. SBS, 2011. DramaFever.

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The Worth Of Revenge In Tree With Deep Roots byAutumn Vaughn is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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