The Korean drama Tree with Deep Roots is wrought with complicated relationships that drive the show’s plot. The fundamental relationships in the show are the father and son relationships; they are formative in the lives of the characters. This is seen in the relationships between King Taejong and King Sejong and between King Sejong and So Yi.
King Taejong and King Sejong
The relationship between Sejong and his father, Taejong, has a profound influence on the person Sejong becomes. Their interactions are the catalyst for the events that build the foundation of the show. Taejong is a violent king, repressing the common people and killing before discussing anything. Because Sejong resents the way his father treats the people of Joseon, he decides to become as different from his father as he possibly can and turns to seeking knowledge and building his intellect. This leads him to build his library, which is the very beginning of the alphabet that he will make one day. He also forms a passion for saving people after he saves Ddol Bok from the harm brought to his home by Taejong. He is thrilled by how different this action is from those of his father. As king, Sejong rarely uses violence, preferring to talk issues through and to face his enemies and attack them with words. He constantly mentions that his methods are different from those of his father and that he is trying to build a different kind of Joseon. While trying to be different from his father, Sejong purposefully becomes a king obsessed with literacy and the struggle of the common people. If he had not grown up with such a poor father-son relationship and such disdain toward his father’s actions, he may have become a violent king, because that is the easier method.
King Sejong and So Yi
Although So Yi is not related to King Sejong by blood, his fatherly influence affects her growth throughout the show. In stark contrast to the way King Taejong treated his son, King Sejong showers So Yi with affection, constantly reminding her how important she is to his letter-making project. Because he shows her so much love, So Yi grows very loyal to the king and his cause, even putting them before her own life. Sejong’s passion for his project begins to influence So Yi and she soon develops a very similar passion that drives all of the decisions she makes. She cites the influence of King Sejong herself, commenting to Chae Yun that if the queen had not saved her and brought her to the palace, she would be a very different person, perhaps part of Hidden Root. But because she has spent so much time with the king and he acts as a surrogate father figure to her, she becomes obsessed with his vision for Joseon and commits her life to it. In this way, Sejong’s influence is a positive one, encouraging So Yi to become passionate and to work toward the greater good.
Father-son relationships have an extreme impact on the characters in Tree with Deep Roots. Because he had a father figure that he rejected, Sejong blazed his own trail and became a very different sort of king. Because So Yi had a figure that showed her love, she became passionate and worked toward his goals. In both cases, the relationship is formative for the growth of the characters throughout the show.
The Talking Cupboard. “[RECAP] TREE WITH DEEP ROOTS – EPISODE 3”.The Talking Cupboard. WordPress. Web. 14 April 2014.
Tree with Deep Roots. SBS. South Korea. 5 Oct. 2011. Television.
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