Tuesday, October 25, 2011

thoughts: Warrior Baek Dong Soo (Korean) -- the end and an overall look

무사 백동수 -- Musa Baek Dong Su



Ji Chang Wook as Baek Dong Soo
Yoo Seung Ho as Yeo Woon
Yoon So Yi as Hwang Jin Ju
Shin Hyun Bin as Yoo Ji Seon

Choi Min Soo as Chun
Jun Kwang Ryul as Kim Gwang Taek
Park Joon Gyu as Heuk Sa Mo
Yoon Ji Min as Ga Ok
Lee Won Jong as Hong Dae Ju
Sung Ji Roo as Hwang Jin Gi
Choi Jae Hwan as Yang Cho Rip

***

This article contains the ultimate ending spoiler of the series. A warning has been issued to read at your own risk if you so choose to do so before having viewed the series first hand. Otherwise, enjoy this fairly heated rambling and have at your own rants as well.

For an overall short review of this series without spoilers, please refer to intro info: Warrior Baek Dong Soo


***



It was a rather fine end to the political conspiracy. Lord Hong and his minions got what was coming to them. The Prince Heir was saved; and even though the Queen is still running at large with her scary eyes, there's probably little she can do anymore without a strong supporter like Lord Hong. Things wrapped up pretty well with a nice little bow on top.

The last few episodes following episode twenty-five's prelude to a new conspiracy was kind of dragged out. Lord Hong tried to rebel and kill the Prince Heir. Baek Dong Soo and company spent their time investigating this secret rebellion with little progress. Yeo Woon with his Hoksa Chorong step into the righteous limelight by planning to thwart Lord Hong's activities while pretending to be on his side. Yeo Woon's leadership in planning this double cross was absolutely adoringly admirable.

HOWEVER...

Did anyone else finish watching the very last episode full of rage and injustice? Or did I really just take the ending a little too hard because I love Yeo Woon so much? Let me know if I'm being too crazed about the lame ending after reading my final review, because I'm sure I must have screamed bloody murder somewhere.

By this point, at the ending of episode 28, I think I received the biggest shock of my life. Yang Cho Rip, friend and comrade of Yeo Woon, actually suggested that the Prince Heir order the death of Yeo Woon at all costs. Apparently dissembling Hoksa Chorong wouldn't be enough. Yang Cho Rip actually wanted to see Yeo Woon dead. Even though he was wanting to see the ending of blood shed, for his own pitiful life, he wanted to make sure that more blood shed could be seen in the death of his own old friend.


As thundie's prattle had worded it, we have pretty much walked into WTF Cho Rip! territory.

I just dropped my jaw and let out a thousand "huh's". And my first thought:

"What the hell?!!" And then I found myself raging as I forced myself to finish watching the very last episode which was written around an entire basis to take Yeo Woon's life. And the entire time I found myself wondering: "Why?" Why on earth is it necessary for Yeo Woon to die? Why does Woon have to lose his life? Why couldn't he have just been given his chance to live a normal life? Why couldn't he even have his moment of peace and happiness? Why was Yang Cho Rip so adamant that Woon must die for there to be peace? What right did Yang Cho Rip have anyway? What the hell?

Why must Yeo Woon die?

For so long, he'd been bearing his pain and loneliness without anyone to support him. For so long, he was the one person who needed someone to trust in him and to care about him the most. I had given Dong Soo credit for the fact that he never gave up on Woon; that he was hopeful that someday Woon would return to his side as a fellow comrade and friend. Woon needed as much and because of Dong Soo's trust and faith, Woon
subconsciously held onto that hope as well that there was certainly a chance he could relieve himself from being an assassin and live an ordinary life.


And when the court conspiracy was finally settled, he had that look of cheer and peace about him. For the longest time, we finally got to see Yeo Woon smile and be relaxed about his future. He no longer had to worry about his next move, how his life would continue to be controlled by his fate. He was finally going to be able to be happy and be able to be with his friends.

I was happy for him. I was so relieved that Woon would finally get his day.

But then... the scriptwriters had to add their touch of angst. Yeo Woon had to be killed.

After some thought (and some calming down about a day after watching the last episode), I came to the conclusion that this was entirely the scriptwriters' and production team's fault. Admittedly, there is significance in staging a final battle between Yeo Woon and Baek Dong Soo; it would have been quite symbolic to mirror the first battle between Sword Saint and Sky Lord. And Yeo Woon was probably a character who had been created for the purpose of a tragic end anyway.

However... it shouldn't have happened like this. Yeo Woon's character progression and story build up does not prepare ANYONE for the suddenly unjustifiable, unnecessary death. While this is a epic production staff fail, it doesn't help me like Yang Cho Rip any better; although I DO sort of feel sorry that his character was the one chosen to condemn Yeo Woon to death. It was quite out of character for the Cho Rip we've all learned to adore and muse at.

The writers panicked and so they hastily created something that might have seemed grand so that they could stage the Yeo Woon and Baek Dong Soo battle as well as end the series with Woon's symbolic death.

Not good enough. Not even one bit.

But what really pissed me off, honestly, was that no one was outraged about Woon's death. The scene happened and then we flash forward to some happy event in the future where Sa Mo and Jang Mi get married and the rest of the main cast pair off, from Jin Ju and Kim Hong Do, to Cho Rip (who was furiously still alive) and Jang Mi So, and of course, Dong Soo and Ji Seon.

Yeo Woon, aside from a simple scene with his phantom having a drink with Dong Soo, was simply forgotten. There was nothing to indicate that his death had affected Dong Soo at all and nor did the little brat Yang Cho Rip show any sign of remorse for condemning one of his best friends. Sa Mo never questioned the ordeal either and he had helped to raise Woon from a young age. Even Ji Seon who had been quite the Woon sympathizer just cast the event aside and simply asked: "Do you miss him still?"

Yeo Woon's death happened in one instant and then it was over and then it was forgotten.

And that was it!

Yeo Woon's death, I think, is the most unjustified, piteous, and unnecessary death of a hero since the days of Hong Kong wuxia drama series Twin of Brothers when Raymond Lam's character, Kau Chong was chosen as a sacrificial lamb to appease the king and died a piteously unnecessary death. With royalty being all powerful and unquestionable... they couldn't even be bothered to stage a death and just send the guy off to another land to live the rest of his life peacefully. In Twin of Brothers, even the king knew that Kau Chong did not deserve death, but in order to sustain authority, he demanded bloodshed.

This example further illustrates the injustices of status pertaining to having a royal family who governs a land. Any possible threat to the king, his family, or his rule must indefinitely be taken out, even if it's the pettiest or stupidest reason. Yeo Woon was branded as a threat to the Prince Heir even before he had a chance to redeem himself, even despite the fact that he turned the tides at Lord Hong's military coup and saved the Prince Heir. And then the Prince Heir even agreed to give Woon the chance to make good on his promises of disbanding Hoksa Chorong and leaving Joseon forever.

But no one would have it that way. The kids of Hoksa Chorong ruin his plans and Yang Cho Rip continues to allege that Yeo Woon is a threat to all humanity and the nation.

Even while no one but the viewers knew it, Yeo Woon was the most valuable asset throughout each and every activity that took place, court conspiracy or not. Even though he was allieged to the Hoksa Chorong, time and time again he would secretly go against them and do things his own way in order to keep his friends alive. Time and time again, he did what he had to, secretly (probably not even realizing it himself) to help his friends in their cause. In a sense, he was the hero who kept saving the day whether it was out of compassion for his friends or because he was still continuously fighting against his fate as a killer. But no matter what, he was the life and soul of all the story line events.

But everyone continued to doubt him and suspect him. No one ever gave him a chance to live like the hero. Not even himself.




And it pained me so to realize that even Dong Soo continued to doubt him. Even after he apologized for doubting Woon, at the end he STILL doubted Woon, ultimately leading to our silent hero's death.

But none of that mattered...

Never once did I think to myself that Yeo Woon needed to prove anything to anyone in order to receive forgiveness for his sins. Not once did I think that he shouldn't be given a chance to live his life worthy of the hero he was never allowed to be. In fact, there was very little evil that Yeo Woon truly conspired to do. He didn't kill Prince Sado. He didn't kill Sword Saint. He never even attempted to murder any of his friends and did quite well keeping them alive. But in return, everyone wanted to see his blood stained on their hands.

Even Dong Soo, who continued to trust and believe in Woon, didn't really do a very good job of helping his best friend remain alive and safe. While Woon spent his entire existence trying to protect Dong Soo and company, when the poor guy needed it the most, everyone just gave up on him and left him for dead.

I was expecting Yeo Woon's death. I knew it was going to happen. And to be honest, if executed properly, I would have accepted it as a beautiful, honorable death. But Yeo Woon's death and all the events leading up to it was just so tragically wrong and poorly planned out that I just can't accept such a messed up ending. His death was not justified. His death was not necessary. In fact, his death just confirms all the injustices in this world and clearly presents the idea that you aren't ever allowed to fight for your own life anymore.


And what Yang Cho Rip said to Woon broke my heart even further. "While you continue to exist, people will continue to die," is pretty much the meaning behind his words. Woon had already condemned himself to a lifetime of loneliness and sadness and suffering. He knew he had strayed on his path and he was trying to return to his companions with a fresh new slate. But as soon as the little rat spoke those condemning words, Woon let himself be swallowed by destiny once again, fully believing that unless he died, then there would be no peace in the world.


My heart broke a thousand times for him, much more so than when he'd officially stepped into the assassin life.

And for that, I can never ever forgive Yang Cho Rip for being so cold-hearted. Because in order to stop blood shed, he called for more blood shed. How much different was he from the other twisted malicious evils of the court? And how is Woon the only one to blame for everything? What happened to that trust and that friendship? Yang Cho Rip's declaration that assassins only knew how to solve their problems using violence and death was no different than his own demand for Yeo Woon's blood. A double standard? Just because they are assassins and he works for the government?

I don't get it. And this is why the entire ordeal was unfair and unjustified.

Yeo Woon simply became the sacrificial lamb to appease the ruling class. And one of his best friends was the one to lead him to the chopping block.



Yeo Woon was the life and soul of Warrior Baek Dong Soo and pretty much propelled the entire story line with each and every one of his actions. His intelligence and his planning was what got the government through the military coup crisis and brought Hong Dae Ju to his knees.

Honestly, what did Baek Dong Soo do anyway? He wielded his sword and protected the Prince Heir by exterminating a bunch of assassins. Yeo Woon did the same thing and so, so much more. But while Yeo Woon ended up being branded as an evil threat, Baek Dong Soo was given the title of a celebrated hero.

Who will ever remember what Woon did to save a country?

It was an unjustified death (I will never be able to stop repeating this) and I am surprised that Dong Soo does not live regretting it for the rest of his life. And I'm even more infuriated that Yang Cho Rip was able to continue living as a healthy human being after what he did to Yeo Woon. I thought he'd died in that field. I was sorely disappointed that he didn't. On top of that, having caused the ultimate battle and death of Yeo Woon to begin with, how can Yang Cho Rip and Dong Soo continue to be friends without even an ounce of tension? Did Dong Soo also believe that Woon deserved to die?

If one of my friends was the catalyst for another of my friend's death, knowingly and with purpose, I don't know if I'd ever be able to face that friend ever again. It would be too depressing.

I just don't get it. It was too infuriating.


Under different circumstances, the battle scene would have been a very memorable one. It reminded me of the battle scene between Fung Hung Lit and Hon Pak at the end of Lethal Weapons of Love and Passion -- two brothers fighting each other as an ultimate conclusion to determine which country will live. Fung Hung Lit fought for his Mongol people and Hon Pak fought for his Ming emperor. The idea is also quite similar as well since Fung Hung Lit was a man who turned against a brother in order to fulfill his destiny of reviving his country.

The impending ultimate battle was a given because Fung Hung Lit couldn't be forgiven for his actions, much like Yeo Woon in this series. And like Yeo Woon, Fung Hung Lit walked into the battle knowing that he would lose. The only difference here is that Fung Hung Lit lives and Yeo Woon dies.

But even THAT battle didn't enrage me as much as the last fight between Dong Soo and Woon. Fung Hung Lit didn't have a choice but to fight for his own people. He was bound and could not forsake his cause and would never be able to live with himself if he didn't justify a means for the ending of an impending war. And so he chose to sacrifice himself in order to stop anymore battles in the future and let the Ming Dynasty continue to reign. But the fact is, he lived. He was already known throughout as a threat to the country and his sacrifice was rather symbolic anyway. that and his chemistry as brothers with Hon Pak was rather underdeveloped anyway, so it wasn't as emotional or intense.

And Fung Hung Lit's death had been staged.

But no one had to know that Yeo Woon was the leader of Hoksa Chorong and he could have quietly disbanded the society and left the country. And yet he was called out and by one of his best friends nonetheless. The Prince Heir could have carried on believing that Woon was simply a leader of an assassin group who suddenly chose to change his ways and redeem himself for his sins (not that Yeo Woon really had any sins to redeem anyway). All could have been well.



The battle was a beautiful scene and really DID mirror the opening scene between Sword Saint and Chun wherein they begin the entire series with a sword fight so invigorating and so mesmerizing that I was hooked to the series immediately. Once again, under different circumstances, a fight between Dong Soo and Woon would have been beautiful.


But all the rage in me couldn't even make me watch the scene properly. At least not until the final, deciding moment when Yeo Woon jumps at Dong Soo with his knives, Dong Soo is ready to pierce Yeo Woon with his sword, but at the last minute, Yeo Woon drops his weapons and lets himself fall into Dong Soo's blade without a care in the world. He had resigned himself to die by Dong Soo's sword -- it was a very valiant and a very beautiful death.


But it was unjustified and it was piteous. And I cried.

Because Yeo Woon shouldn't have had to die. I knew he was going to die. I knew he was going to purposefully lose to Dong Soo. But it shouldn't have happened that way.

I know that it was a script writing fail and poor planning that lead to this conclusion; but I cannot forgive Yang Cho Rip for condemning Yeo Woon to death. If it had been some other court official or even had it been the Prince Heir's own idea, I probably wouldn't have been as enraged. But Yang Cho Rip and Yeo Woon were friends who grew up together, trained together, and fought together. I don't care that Yeo Woon stepped into the dark side for a while, he never once threatened any of his friends' lives and he even continued to protect them.

Sure. He stabbed Yang Cho Rip as a diversion. But had he not done so, the idiot probably would have died indefinitely. But no. He lived just for the purpose of stabbing one of his best friends in the back with a rusty knife. And then twisting it into his heart.

Okay. Maybe I'm being a little too extreme. The rage is still there even if the tears are all gone.


I definitely cannot forgive Baek Dong Soo for not trying harder to save his brother. By drawing his sword and fighting, he too condemned Woon to his death. Did he not see how Woon was provoking him during the battle? Because Woon knew that Baek Dong Soo would never be able to willingly plunge his sword into Woon's heart, he continuously sliced at the so-called great hero, trying to force him to fight back. And then that final blow, of course, was Woon's last stance to end the battle with his own death. To make things even more depressing, Woon ends it all with a final, "If I were to die, I would want it to be by your hands. Thank you, Dong Soo."

No matter how much Dong Soo wanted to trust and believe that Woon would return to him and no matter how much he wanted to keep Woon alive, his own actions countered his desires. He was also resigned that Woon could not be saved from a death sentence. He didn't try hard enough to save Woon despite all those times that Woon fought to protect him. That reunion in the palace was for naught. Dong Soo's apology that he had doubted Woon became empty words.

By the time Dong Soo realized what had happened, it was already too late. Yeo Woon was dead. Baek Dong Soo had killed his best friend. And it was all over now.

I think what irked me the most, as something I had not been able to pinpoint for the longest time until I saw a comment by another viewer at a different blog site, was that Yeo Woon's death could have been grand. The fight was absolutely beautiful. But Woon died under the impression that he felt that everyone in the world believed he deserved death. He was still guilt-stricken by his sins and the fact that NO ONE knew about all the good he had done really killed me. As others have put it, Woon spent more time saving people than he actually did killing people. But no one knew that and so instead of allowing him a peaceful, grand death scene wherein he could put his worries about his fate to rest, he was simply told that he deserved to die because of all the wrongs he'd committed. End of story, nothing more, don't care that you did loads of good.

And so it was depressing and unfair.




The follow up after Woon's death was a curtain call for tying up all the loose ends of the characters and side plot devices. Sa Mo and Jang Mi got married, Ji Seon and Dong Soo lived happily ever after, and somehow Jin Ju was forced into a budding relationship with the creepy artist guy Kim Hong Do by the writers. Really now? Not only do they kill Yeo Woon off, but they somehow manage to justify Jin Ju's happiness by giving her a man she barely even looked at since the moment he appeared in the series?

The Prince Heir lived happily ever after and became the king after his grandfather dies and proudly proclaims that he is the son of Crown Prince Sado, deceased. Dong Soo joins the ranks of the army and starts training new soldiers and Yang Cho Rip continues to prosper in his deputy position running the royal library.

Oh, how the one thousand Yeo Woon's would never be able to keep me from cursing the ending to damnation.

Even with all the happiness and relaxation of the end curtain call, I continued to be outraged and couldn't even find it in me to be happy for any of these people. And any time that I heard anyone talk about friendship and protecting the people you loved and cherished and how Dong Soo ends the series with his quote about how marital arts is used in that way... I let out a huge breath of frustration. If martial arts was used to protect, then why the heck did you use it to kill your best friend without even finding another way out of it?

Finally, I was also further irked by Jin Ju's reciprocation of Kim Hong Do's love declaration. And I also didn't quite take to their whole "Girls shouldn't be wielding swords" BS either (excuse my language). Give me a sword and I'll tell you what I'm going to do with it...


The only point of the curtain call I think I can even be genuinely pleased with was how Hwang Jin Gi's crimes had been rid of by the Prince Heir and he could now be a man free of his thieving and traitorous past. Hwang Jin Gi, I truly DO respect, after all because he had been a loyal protector to Ga Ok, a wonderful father to Jin Ju, and he continued to do good with his life despite having a warrant for his head. He was never that close to Woon, so his indifference to the situation was completely fine with me. So after reviewing the curtain call events, I decided that there was at least ONE thing I could be satisfied with.

And yet, it still wasn't enough.

***



To backtrack (after venting my frustrations and calming down a little bit), the series in general was truly a captivating one from the get go. This is the beauty of historical drama and since episode one with the opening fight between Chun and Kim Gwang Taek, I felt as if I was revisiting the glory of Chinese wuxia stories all over again. There would be friendship and love, political intrigue and conspiracies, murder, battle, growth, development. There would be adventure and excitement and, of course, lots of action. And in the end, everything is justified and is supposed to come to a satisfying close with evil being put away and our heroes able to live a happy life until the next stage of the novel begins and new adventures start to run their course.

(Keywords: "supposed to".)

This is what I got out of Warrior Baek throughout the series. I had my hopes and my worries, I related with characters and I followed my favorite ones through all their emotional ups and downs. I just didn't get the ending I had been hoping to get.


Yeo Woon's turn to the dark side was amazingly unforgettable and his consistent conflict and inner battle, wavering back and forth from being an assassin to helping his friends was undeniably respectable. I loved him for the way that he couldn't a hundred percent foresake his old comrades and completely step into the assassin territory. I loved his conflict in not being able to even realize that he was still fighting his own fate despite his official joining of Hoksa Chorong. And no matter what, I believe that Yeo Woon was the true hero in this series and not Dong Soo. What he said to Dong Soo was very true: the boy needs to stop getting himself into trouble and he really needs to stop making empty promises about being able to protect everyone. Because Dong Soo hasn't really done that great of a job being a hero, to be totally honest.

I DID get a little happy for Dong Soo when he finally learned great martial arts and turned into a hero. And I worried for him whenever it seemed that he would get into more trouble by others. And I was proud to watch him achieve so much. But his accomplishments seemed rather poor. Yeo Woon had his back the entire time even if no one seemed to recognize it.


I was extremely ecstatic when Yeo Woon finally made his stance known and joined Dong Soo in fighting together against the enemy for the last time. It was a wonderful scene to see them help each other overcome one hundred assassins and be able to joke and laugh with each other again. The ending of that scene wherein Dong Soo states, "It looks like we'll really die now," and Yeo Woon responds with, "Then we'll die together" was so awe worthy that I wanted to hug little Woonie and bask in the pride of his re-established bromance with Dong Soo.


It was a sweet scene, to say the least and it was definitely the beloved Yeo Woon back to his old self.



Finally, Hwang Jin Ju DID turn out to be a major disappointment to me. As significant as the writers tried to churn her out to be through mid-series, her role pretty much simmered into a wisp. As one of the main characters of Warrior Baek Dong Soo, her role was no better than any other supporting friend in arms whether in the story itself or even to Baek Dong Soo's life. It was REALLY a disappointment to me that she never even gets a chance to reveal her feelings for Dong Soo and the entire twelve year old marriage proposal was pretty much forgotten with everything else that should have been significant. Instead, the writers force her together with another man and called it a happy ending.



I think I would have been a little more satisfied if Jin Ju had ended up with no one.



To conclude, I feel like this entire article was really just a "Tribute to Yeo Woon" article wherein I complain about the injustices of his death as well as dote on his entire existence as the silent hero. In every way, shape and form, I honestly do feel that, compared to Baek Dong Soo, Yeo Woon was the better man. He was a better fighter, a better tactician, a better leader, AND he was the one who managed to orchestrate Commander of State's downfall, saving the entirety of the court and its people. Yeo Woon was a better hero and he was a better friend.

I don't think I will ever be able to forgive the writers for giving us such a lame ending. I hope that Yang Cho Rip burns in his death and that Dong Soo will live in regret for having even drawn his sword against Woon. I understand that Cho Rip must have been fearful for his life after having been stabbed by his friend, but did that truly justify him calling for Yeo Woon's death? If they had truly been brothers, he should have been able to trust Woon until the end. Dong Soo did until Woon chose to lie that he tried to off Cho Rip and that the only way to stop him from being an assassin would be to kill him.

I don't think that Dong Soo had intended for Woon to die by his hands. But the idea that he couldn't see Woon's ultimate suicide was a fail on his part. Poor Woon had been living his life in pain and suffering, bottling up his loneliness without anyone to console him.


I was actually kind of happy to see that Gu Hyang seemed to be able to read him like a book and cared about him enough to want to protect him -- but a fail on her part was taking the situation into her own hands and screwing up the brothership before it even had a chance to be fixed. I liked her role up until then because she was a very intelligent and helpful assistant. And I think it would have been nice if she could have remained by Woon's side as his confidante even as the series ended.

But then she goes and screws it all up by making hasty decisions and further pushing Woon's fate into the abyss.

All that talk about fighting fate and destiny... Where did all of that go concerning Woon? He too tried to fight, and for a small moment in his life, he thought that he'd be able to win himself a new life. But then the writers completely flush it down the toilet for whatever reasons I don't think I'll ever be able to understand. It's just sad to realize that no matter how hard Woon tried to fight his own destiny, he never even got a chance to live his life the way he had always desired to live. And for his only chance to have been cut off by his two best friends...

I'm not sure how much more I can stress the injustices of Warrior Baek's ending episode.

As for the revenge against Sado's death. To be totally honest, I feel like the Crown Prince dug his own grave. Why a Northern Expedition? I don't know much about Korean history. I should probably go and read about it and find out the entire ordeal concerning the conspiracy around Prince Sado and his fight against the Norons. Yeo Woon didn't kill the prince since he died by Chun's hands. But we are already shown that Chun had warned the Crown Prince many times that he should give up the Northern Expedition. Chun seemed like he didn't want to kill Prince Sado, but in the end, in order to keep his end of the bargain and see to it that the Northern Expedition would not take place, Prince Sado had to die.

Ultimately, there was no need for Woon to admit that Prince Sado was his kill. He hadn't done it and he shouldn't have had to face the consequences for Prince Heir's need for vengeance.



As others had put it, Warrior Baek Dong Soo truly survived on the ideals of the friendship between Baek Dong Soo and Yeo Woon. These two were important to each other and I held out for the fact that Dong Soo truly wanted to be able to bring Woon home and call him a friend all over again. And Woon wanted to be able to return to his friends. The romance lines were severely underplayed and probably should have just been left out altogether because there was NO chemistry between the female leads and Dong Soo. There were hints that Ji Seon might be attracted to Yeo Woon, but that pretty much dashed to pieces pretty quickly and there was never any conflict between two men and the woman they both loved; while this is a good way of showing how much the two men cherished their friendship over the love of a woman, it was pretty much no longer important after Woon's death.

Because apparently their friendship wasn't strong enough to fight against fate or duty or a kindling of suspicion.


I think, in terms of friendship and love, the triangle between Sword Saint, Chun, and Ga Ok played a much bigger significance than the futile attempts at young love among the four main characters. While it was inevitable that one of the three had to die, I think it was a big mistake to kill off Ga Ok so early on and then to quickly follow up with the death of Sword Saint and then Chun. One of them, at least, should have stayed alive, because with those three deaths, the story's most significant lines pretty much just died and we are forced to sit through frustrating attempts to revive the story line with unnecesary political conspiracies and a rebellion.


With that turn of events, I think the only thing keeping me interested in the series was Yeo Woon's eventual return to the light side (not that he'd completely stepped into the dark side at all) and the possibility that there would be some romance in it for Jin Ju. I was waiting and waiting and waiting for the girl to do SOMETHING special enough to draw Dong Soo's attention so that he would realize her importance in his life. But no, as I feared, she disappointed me over and over again and just pretty much made a disastrous fool of herself when she DID try to help, granted she redeems herself by being a wonderful archer... however, how come these scenes aren't shown more often? Because Hwang Jin Ju had been given the premise of being a strong and wonderful ally.

She was built up to be a significant role in the series. The writers kind of just wrote her out of the story. I was disappointed. Both female leads were poorly developed and underused. I was even more disappointed when both kind of drifted into the shadows to be forgotten as the female leads. Because even if Jin Ju's importance wasn't going to be elaborated on, at least Ji Seon should have been given a more praise-worthy role. But that didn't happen either. More disappointment.


Anyway, I could probably keep going on about the injustices of Yeo Woon's death and the disappointment at the lame ending, and my dismay at Jin Ju's dwindled significance. Ji Seon was pretty much sent to the shadows after her tattoo was forcefully removed by Dong Soo and she could live without burden. I had at least expected SOMETHING to come out of the love line between Ji Seon and Dong Soo for it to have been so serious -- after all, Dong Soo's love for Ji Seon had started off as a mere attraction to her beauty. Ji Seon's acceptance of Dong Soo was due to him being able to relieve her of her destiny. There should have been something more significant to make their love so strong; but there was zero chemistry and the two pretty much treated each other courteously like strangers for the majority of the series.


Where was the excitement of drama romance? The youths paled in comparison to Chun's undying passion for Ga Ok, which truly showed upon her death. And then there was the intensity of the love between Ga Ok and Sword Saint; their yearning for one another, but being unable to be together and then the final regret of not having at least tried to spend more time with each other before Ga Ok died.

So to end this article off before I continue to rage and mutter about the series, I just need to come to a stopping point.


Warrior Baek was a rather amazing experience for the first Korean sageuk (I don't count SKK Scandal) I've seen. It does open up more doors for my entertainment viewing experiences and I wouldn't mind visiting some other similar series. Warrior Baek had great build up and wonderfully shot scenery and footage. There were so many potentially great side plot devices to develop, but each and every one of them eventually tapered off until they were left in the dust. There was a definite tone of loss to this series as the production team seemed to continuously try to revive some plot or excitement, failing miserably and then just moving along by trying again until the final conclusion. Too many things were left too undeveloped to be satisfying and this, I believe would be the ultimate downfall of the series which eventually lead up to the final attempt at an unforgettable ending involving the death of Warrior Baek's pinnacle of life, Yeo Woon.

Had the series ended with a false death for Woon or even another means of letting him live a new life somewhere away from Joseon, I think I would have been able to accept the ending a little bit better. It would have saved the series' dragging plot. Because no matter how I look at it, there is no justifying the death of Yeo Woon as the final encounter in this story line. Killing him off was the final doom to this series.


Casting-wise, the actors were all amazing and wonderful, although Ji Chang Wook's more mature version of Dong Soo was a little unnatural at times and made me fidget. Choi Min Soo was roguishly incredible as the Sky Lord and I think he has the makings of one of the most memorable character roles in the story; despite his stance as a cold-hearted assassin, he was actually one of my favorite characters. My over-imaginative hopes had even wanted Jin Ju to truly be Chun's daughter and then end up following him around and learning better martial arts with him, if only to protect herself with.


Lord Hong Dae Ju was delightfully evil and comes off as one of the most frustratingly persistent villains ever; but his presentation by Lee Won Jong was powerful, to say the least. Other supporting characters such as Hwang Jin Gi, Heuk Sa Mo, Jang Mi, Jang Mi So, and few others were also enjoyable. I still stand that Kim Hong Do was rather creepy and stalker-ish and Jin Ju should really just kick him and run. The Human Lord Dae Ung's final death was really not as bad as I had been expecting, nor as pitiful. He managed to at least scrounge up a last grain of respect before finally leaving the world.

The music was well-timed and lovely to listen to and the scenery was great. Overall, except for the final ending as well as the loss of steam from mid-series, Warrior Baek Dong Soo was a pretty good experience. I'm conflicted whether or not to recommend this series at all mostly because of the ending. But definitely, the first part of the series depicting the twelve year old children is a must watch. The story line just kept you wanting to continue watching just to see what happens next.

And so it's just unfortunate that the series had to end the way that it did.


Once again, here's to Yeo Woon, portrayed beautifully by Yoo Seung Ho. He is the true hero of Warrior Baek Dong Soo and I will always grieve his needless end.

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Related articles:
first impression: Warrior Baek Dong Soo
thoughts: Warrior Baek Dong Soo -- the childhood years
thoughts: Warrior Baek Dong Soo -- the hero and a twist of fate


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16 comments:

  1. Agreed 100%. Awesome post

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  2. You should really watch Iljimae. It has a similar plot line but it's so much better.

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  3. Thank you both for reading. My posts are usually kind of chaotic, but hopefully you enjoyed them. This one in particular was a bit overdramatic, only because I got a bit worked up about the Yeo Woon death scenario. My apologies for that if it got a little out of control.

    I do plan on watching Iljimae soon too, both versions, so I'll get to see and compare. Thanks again for reading!

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  4. Great analysis of the series! I do believe it to be a very good series as I've found many to still be posting/ talking about the characters, particularly, Yoo Seung Ho's portrayal of Yeo Woon. In spite of the writing, the actors made many memorable scenes that continue to play in our heads. ...& that is what I believe a really good drama w/ very good actors does...'traumatizes' us enough to ponder and rationalize the why's & how's of the storyline.

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  5. Thank you for commenting! I agree. Despite my ranting and raving (which was mostly catalyzed by the last episode alone) this series has its memorable value. In particular, whenever I think about this series, I will always remember the opening sword battle between the Sword Saint and the Sky Lord. Whenever I think of Yoo Seung Ho, I know I'll think of Yeo Woon as well.

    Even though the writing went wayward, there are still a lot of scenes I remember being wonderful. It made me stop to think that if this series had progressed a bit more smoothly, it could have been one of the best series I've seen this year.

    Thanks again for reading and I hope you had a great Christmas holiday!

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  6. You lovely person, let's me express my love for you. This is exactly my thoughts after the "grand" ending of WBDS. I was shocked and felt like I was cheated since I had my hope from the beginning that Yeo Woon's moral story would be about fighting fate with the help of friendship. Again, "defying destiny" was supposed to be the major theme of the drama. So bad, the producers didn't stick to it; the ending threw me off as it had subverted everything the series tried to build up from the beginning. While it might be realistic that the silent heroes don't always get the end they deserve, there was nothing grand or heroic about Yeo Woon's death, it was injustice as it was nonsensical due to the sloppy writing. Regardlessly, I enjoyed WBDS up to the point it screwed up. Thanks again for the lovely review.

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  7. I have to say that I felt exactly like how you feel and you did a great job at expressing how I truly felt for the injustice that being done to Yeo Woon's character.

    But then again, from the very beginning, I know the destiny that waits for Yeo Woon in the end. I know he will turn to bad side while conflicting with his own self and while he's secretly protecting his loved ones (and NO ONE actually realize all his sacrifices), he will die by Dong Su's hand in the drama climax in the end. Having watched many Korean dramas in the past (particularly historical ones), I know exactly where they story going to take us. But despite that, I was hoping that somehow the writer going to be creative for once and stop giving me crappy ending esp an injustice one like this. I mean, why they always punished the good guys? Why the bad guys never being truly punished for their sins? Why promises will always being broken? Why miserable characters will always have miserable endings? All these have been constantly in the themes in Kdramas. While Kdrama are known for its quality, they somehow never escape predictable & crappy endings. You will see the same pattern in all kdramas. And you will come to the stage when you can predict how its all going to end. But I just wish they will be more creative in this one...

    BTW, you should try to watch Yi San (I know you're going to enjoy this one). Yi San, the Prince's heir in WBDS is not portray as what he supposed to be since all the spotlight is on Dong Su in this drama. Although Yi San have 77 episodes, but the drama is so grand with lots of brilliant and clever scriptwriting. Although the good guys in WBDS are portray as stupid people who always being trump by the bad people, Yi San in the other hand show how good people clever in controlling bad people's treasonous act. And you will know how awesome he is as a King and the contribution that he done to his people and how he clears his father, Crown Prince Sado's name when he is just a little boy. :)

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  8. Wow! I should haev seen this brilliant post when it came out for I am SOOOOO agreeing with EVERYTHING you are saying :D !

    I am so pleased to see someone else who also thought Cho Rip was completely out of character...and why on Earth covered with little piglets, did Un-ah have to die?! The reasoning was completely awkward...I mean if Un-ah had lived thne the King would haev had his hand on an entire army of double agents !? Why would he throw that away???

    Super post! Thanks for letting me feel less alone !

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    1. I agree with you. After reading these posts I feel that at least there are others who shared my "last episode emotional experience". I feel like I walked out of a movie theater demanding "I want my money back" LOL.

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  9. Approaching to the final episode,
    I felt a time bomb racing to explode!

    It's true that YeoUn's death could have been grander.

    The live happily ever after scenes after his (as U said) unjustified death are needless to watch.

    It kinda reminds me of the final episode of 'BadGuy', where the main character is led to needless death by his own long lost envious sister.

    It's too naive to hope that YeoUn will manage to survive at the end but to witness such mistaken kind of death brings the entire brilliant episodes to the anti climax.

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  10. Thank you SOOO much for your post. It echoed so beautifully what I've been thinking these last few days. I finished watching the series two days ago and I was enjoying the series at a respectable level of intense following until the last episode at the exact moment when Yang Cho Rip opens up his mouth to Prince "heir to the throne". At that EXACT moment I had the biggest WTF moment I've ever had while watching a t.v. series, movie, etc. I stayed in stun mode hoping until the last second that somehow Woon would manage to escape the hurricane building up concerning people's need for his death. I even totally believed that Cho Rip was part of some ingenious plot to save Woon. Nothing else made any sense to me otherwise. I finally realized Cho Rip REALLY wanted Woon to die and that Woon even allowed Dong Soo to believe he was the one who sliced up Cho Rip. I saw no point in Woon taking the blame for what happened to Cho Rip and was amazed that Baek Dong Soo would accept that as fact so easily. But when Woon fell on Dong Soo's sword after realizing that Dong Soo would never kill him my heart broke for both Woon and Dong Soo. The look of shock and panic on Dong Soo's face when he realized Woon fell on his sword was heart wrenching. I agree that the "wrap it all up" mentality concerning the epilogue was disconnected from Woon's death. Where was the remorse? Where was Dong Soo's questions to Cho Rip? Why was Cho Rip all happy go lucky at the end? Since there was no funeral shown and no recap to what actually happened to Woon's body I'm still holding out that SOMEHOW Woon survived. He deserved his second chance. Maybe down the road the writers and producers may do a Baek Dong Soo 2 and show us that Woon survived and we see a reunion between Woon and Dong Soo. Considering the series was about Baek Dong Soo, his early life and his contribution to Korean martial arts the writers took the focus OFF of Baek Dong Soo and onto Woon the moment they turned Woon into the fatalistic hero of the revolution. As much as I loved Woon's story at the end (minus his death by suicide on his friend's blade) I felt shifting the focus on Woon really didn't make sense for the purpose of the series. Thanks again for this great post!!

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    1. Thank you so much for commenting. I've been inactive on this blog for quite some time and I figured that no one was actually reading it anyway. But seeing this comment just really makes my day! Aside from my constant, unedited ranting, I don't even remember much about this blog post. :P So I'm glad you enjoyed my thoughts!

      I DO agree though (and I don't remember if I mentioned it in my posts) that while this series was obviously supposed to be about Baek Dong Soo, the way the series executed itself didn't show Dong Soo in that favorable heroic light that most viewers could relate with. If so many people ended up sympathizing with Yeo Woon in the end and feeling the injustice of his death over the story of Baek Dong Soo's development and growth to become a hero, then the purpose of this series seems to have been lost.

      Of course, the focus of the series' story line, I felt, was lost the moment that Dong Soo's character did a one-eighty in his personality without any warning. Then we were just floundering for filler material until the series could polish off the ending the way we all expected. I mean, I didn't really watch the series NOT expecting a death scene or a grand fight scene for our two main heroes. But if the build-up could have been more justified, I'd be able to accept Yeo Woon's death a bit more. And the rest of the characters just floundered right along with the story.

      And here I am ranting again. My apologies.

      Anyway, thank you for reading and commenting!

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  11. I watched this in 4 days and spent the time from when Dongsoo and Woon had their last fight 'til PAST the end of the episode crying. Yes! All the frustration! I could rant about the injustice of the last episode for days on end. I wanted to reach my hands into my TV and strangle ChoRip at the end. I'm so frustrated I think he should've died in that field. Every time the series focused on another happy couple I cried more for what Woon should've had. I thought if he died, he'd die saving Dongsoo or something. And yes, the fact that no one knows about all the freaking times he saved their sorry butts...ugh. I need to stop before I rant more. Anyways, I think this was the first drama out of 150-ish where I liked the antagonists more than the protagonists...both Chun and Woon.

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  12. I agree 100%. I just finished this today, and was so upset at the ending.... {must calm down }. Ever time I saw a "happy couple" I got angry all over again. Why did they allow Cho Rip to live? Why didn't they send my sweet and misunderstood Woon to a different land, arc the storyline, and have them do an epic battle when they were older. This is the kind of stuff that....
    Ok. I have to watch a comedy or something now. Grieving over this injustice is getting to me!

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  13. Yes... All of that is true. When i read this. I cry very very much. When i Read about Yeo Woon's die. Why he? He never was bad, he always be the best!!!! I cry now! :'( <3

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  14. Ok now,it's 2017 and I just watched and I am new to all the Korean dramas. But as I just finished WBDS I couldn't find find a place to express my frustration over the end of this drama. I immediately searched thoughts on this ending episode and find myself reading this This and nodding to every word written here. I just need to express how they just killed the real Hero of this Drama. I mean we all saw it that Yeo Woon was an assassin with a HUGE HERO HEART. And And killing him off as a just a killer. Ok you screwed up with a killing only hero in drama but letting everybody else to live as if nothing happened caught me off guard. I mean like WTF your best friend just forced you to kill your Best of the Best friend. I was at least expecting that girl who was helping Yeo Woon with everything who screwed also to tell the truth to Baek Dong Soo so he could feel guilty and never talk to that Shit friend Cho Rip and clear Yeo Woon's name and something like that. Ookay it was very long time ago and nobody cares but I couldn't just keep silence over injustice.
    P.S. totally in love with Yoo Seung Ho looking forward his new drama this year. And I just freaked out when I found out that his 1993 like OMG! His performance was great and he was soo young! Loved him more. Ok done fangirling.
    And Thank you soo much that you shared your thoughts. I I was thinking the world became so injustice and cruel because of this but you proved me wrong and I wasn't the only one who went cursing at everyone at the end.

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