Tree with Deep Roots is a Korean drama series that brings social challenges and changes faced by their early rulers. While watching the Korean drama it was beneficial to already have an understanding of their culture through the book Taiko that our class is currently reading as well. Tree with Deep Roots encompasses the views of many different figures throughout the drama series. These figures include the highest level of samurai along with their Kings, middle class workers aspiring to be samurai, and the lower class that work as laborers for these upper classes. The series depicts the relationships of these classes and shows the similarities between each class. Although the men in Tree with Deep Roots may all be separated into classes by their names, clothing, and social rank, they all have similar overlapping concerns to which are brought to the table throughout. They may not recognize themselves as similar, but the audience can relate multiple characters to one another through their successes, struggles, and concerns during this difficult time period for the ruling and outlook of their country.
The series open with Ddol-Bok seeking revenge on Lee Do, South Korea’s ruler, as his father was killed under Lee Do’s ruling. The series then rewinds to tell the story of how Ddol-Bok and Lee Do came into the series and their relationship at that point. Lee Do is the King of Joseon although during this rein his father Taejong holds complete power, which he more often than not uses over Lee Do’s opinion. Both men have very different views on the way in which to rule Joseon. Lee Do believes in bettering the society as a whole by helping those to learn to read and write all while Taejong is a strict, harsher ruler who depends on his aggressive ruling tactics to shape the society of Joseon. Under Taejong’s ruling and aggressive hundreds and thousands of men have died fighting for their country and falling victim to Taejong’s expectations. Ddol-Bok’s father, among his friends, was one of those killed as a result of Taejong’s harsh rulings. This murder of Ddol-Bok’s father and friends is the reason for Ddol-Bok’s anger towards the king.
The film’s main character’s, Lee Do and Queen Sohun, relationship is shown through each challenge and task being faced as two new rulers to the country under the strict hand of Taejong. Lee Do’s hands are tied in many situations as his father and his father’s group of authoritative figures still control the country and enforce their beliefs. For example, Queen Sohun’s father is put to his death under these aggressive rulings as he committed a type of fraud to the country. Although Lee Do doesn’t necessarily believe his punishment should be death, Taejong and his group order death upon the Queen’s father. The Queen has no say in the matter, however, she still begs and cries to her husband to do something about this decision. Unfortunately his hands are tied in the matter and her father is killed in the courtyard type scene among an audience of witnesses.
Overall, these harsh rulings show the difference between the Lee-Do and his father, Taejong and their outlook on the country. Lee-Do would rather use his efforts to better the country while Taejong uses his strict, swift hand to rule over everyone. Lee-Do’s rulings are based off literacy and an overall wanting to educated his country. In my opinion, Lee-Do’s rulings would bridge the gap between the classes and better illustrate their similarities creating a mutual respect between the two. Each class pats each other on the back, so-to-speak, in order to survive and succeed in Joseon.
Tree With Deep Roots. Dir. Lee Jeong Myeong. Perf. Jang Hyuk and Shin Se Kyung. Drama Fever, 2011.