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Queen Seondeok of Silla
TV Series Queen Seondeok of Silla
Queen Seondeok of Silla is the first Korean drama to depict the Silla kingdom (BC 57-935). Along with Goguryeo and Baekje, Silla was one of the Three Kingdoms of Korea and the longest sustained dynasty in the history of Korea. The TV series chronicles the dramatic life of Queen Seondeok, who was the first female to rise to become ruler, a position that had been dominated by males. Queen Seondeok was the 27th monarch of the Silla Dynasty and reigned from 632 to 647.

The greatness of Queen Seondeok lies not so much in her overcoming gender bias to become ruler of Silla but in her enlisting Kim Yushin and Kim Chunchu to unify the Three Kingdoms for the first time in history. The process by which Deokman becomes Queen Seondeok is depicted as a process of winning hearts rather than a mere power struggle. By winning over not only those who share her agenda but also her opponents and even archenemies, Queen Seondeok shows unique leadership in making Silla, the weakest of the Three Kingdoms, realize unification. The TV series does a great job at showing Silla’s rituals, festivities, cultural assets, and legendary figures with a modern touch, taking viewers into the highly dramatic and extraordinary society of Silla. Based on an imaginative interpretation of historical records, the series’ success stems from the humanistic elements of destiny, unrequited love, friendship, and integrity that colorfully narrate the period’s political struggles.

TV Series Information
Directed by Park Hong-gyoon and Kim Geun-hong
Screenplay by Kim Yeong-hyeon and Park Sang-yeon
Starring Lee Yo-won, Ko Hyeon-jeong, Eom Tae-woong, Park Ye-jin, Yoo Seung-ho, Kim Nam-gil Broadcast by MBC
Broadcast from May 25, 2009 to December 22, 2009 (62 episodes)
Official site: http://www.imbc.com/broad/tv/drama/seonduk/ (Korean)
Synopsis
Deokman was born a twin but taken away from the palace because of a prophecy saying that twins would end the male line of the royal family. After having spent her childhood in China, she returns to Silla to learn the identity of her birthfather. Using her wisdom and cunning, she survives a series of life-and-death events. Disguised as a man, she joins Hwarangdo, an elite youth order of the Silla kingdom. She soon learns that a friend whom she had met by accident was actually Princess Cheonmyeong, her twin sister. She joins forces with the princess to oppose Mishil, who wants to seize power. Mishil spares no means to try to have Deokman and Princess Cheonmyeong exiled from the kingdom. In a secretive battle, Princess Cheonmyeong is assassinated by Mishil. Using her sense of justice and intuition, Deokman reclaims her royal status and enlists the help of Kim Yushin to eliminate Mishil. Deokman is the first female to become a monarch of the Silla kingdom.
Cast
★ Actress Lee Yo-won as Princess Deokman and Queen Seondeok

At a time when political power is dominated by Mishil, King Jinpyeong and Queen Maya give birth to twin baby girls. The royal family receives the prophecy that twins will end the male line of the royal family, ending the family’s reign (only persons of pure Seonggol rank could become king). According to Silla’s class system, which was based on lineage, a Seonggol was a descendant of two parents of royal blood and, as such, was of the highest rank. Because of the prophecy, the birth of twin baby girls was an unacceptable omen, and King Jinpyeong unwillingly decides to have Deokman, the second of the twins, taken away from the palace. Deokman’s life is jeopardized by Mishil, who sends a warrior to kill her. But Deokman is dramatically saved by Lord Munno, the powerful Hwarang of Gukseon status. A loyal servant named Sohwa rescues Deokman out of the kingdom and raises her as her child in the Takla Makan Desert in China. Returning to Silla to find out who her father was, Deokman learns the secret of her birth and starts to challenge the power of Mishil. Through the loyalty and trust of Kim Yushin, Princess Deokman successfully gains the support of former archenemies and becomes Silla’s first female ruler and the kingdom’s 27th monarch.

★ Actress Ko Hyeon-jeong as Mishil

Using her beauty and charm, Mishil holds sway over kings and the elite Hwarang corps. She possesses outstanding political ability and charisma. When King Jinpyeong gives birth to twin girls, she tries to seize the opportunity to gain total power but fails. Using her powerful political platform, she dreams of making her husband king and herself queen. As Queen Seondeok’s principle archenemy, Mishil adds great suspense and entertainment to the TV series.
★ Actor Uhm Tae-woong as Kim Yusin

Kim Yusin has outstanding swordsmanship and charisma as a leader. He is a man of incredible integrity who is greatly relied upon by his followers. While training with nangdo members deep in the forest, he saves the life of Princess Cheonmyeong while under attack by Mishil’s clan. Following this encounter, Kim Yusin enters Seorabeol (now Gyeongju), the capital of Silla, and makes a name for himself. He is ordered by Princess Cheonmyeong to train Deokman as a nangdo. After learning that Deokman is a princess, he dedicates himself to her and her dream of unifying the Three Kingdoms. Princess Deokman puts her complete faith in Yusin.
★ Actress Park Ye-jin as Princess Cheonmyeong

Princess Cheonmyeong is Deokman’s twin sister. She survived the ominous prophecy and was chosen to stay in the palace. She grows to be a beautiful and graceful princess. Under the influence of Mishil, she develops a quiet character but possesses great intelligence. She reads the changes in political power structure and reveals her charisma as a princess whenever the opportunity arises. After sending her son Kim Chunchu to the Tang Dynasty for study and losing her husband in battle, she comes to rely more and more on Kim Yusin who had once saved her life. She has feelings for Kim Yusin, but is conflicted knowing that Deokman also has affections for him.
★ Actor Yoo Seung-ho as Kim Chunchu

Kim Chunchu is the son of Princess Cheonmyeong and the nephew of Princess Deokman. Following the death of his mother, which was plotted by Mishil, he is summoned back to Silla. Wrongly made to believe that Princess Deokman was behind his mother’s death, Kim Chunchu gives her the cold shoulder. Though free-spirited and witty, he has keen understanding of the kingdom’s power structure and other human relations. He plays the most critical role in Deokman’s rise to the throne, and is designated as the successor to the throne to unify the Three Kingdoms. Kim Chunchu actually became the 29th king of Silla (reigning 654-661) and unified the Three Kingdoms.
★ Actor Kim Nam-gil as Bidam

Bidam is the abandoned child of Mishil from her union with King Jinji. He grew up without knowing who he was and was raised by Lord Munno, the powerful Hwarang of Gukseon status. He helps Princess Deokman rise to power. He is a tragic figure who has both virtue and vice. He loves Queen Seondeok but ultimately dies in an uprising of his own planning.
* Photo courtesy: MBC
Filming Locations
Shilla Millennium Park  



Shilla Millennium is a theme park in Gyeongju showing the history and culture of the Silla Dynasty. A film set was built with a budget of 2 billion won for the TV series Queen Seondeok of Silla. The filming took place at the set as well as other locations inside the park. The location is now open for public viewing. Traditional Korean roof tiles, timber and stone materials were used in the construction of the buildings. The set offers various things to see such as the Silla’s noblemen village, royal palace, and Hwarang training site.

** INFO
● Address: Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju-si, Sinpyeong-dong 719-70
● How to get there:
Seoul à Gyeongju
* Seoul Gangnam Express Bus Terminal (Subway lines 3 or 7, Seoul Gangnam Express Bus Terminal Station, Exit 2) → Gyeongju (It takes 4 hours, first bus at 06:05, last bus at 23:55, departs every 30 to 40 minutes, fare 18,600 won - 30,400 won)
* Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (Subway line 2, Gangbyeon Station) → Gyeongju (It takes 4 hours, first bus at 07:00, last bus at 24:00, departs every 30 to 40 minutes, fare 19,500 won - 23,200 won)

Gyeongju à Silla Millennium Park
Gyeongju Express Bus Terminal, take Bus No. 10 (a 20-minute ride) à Get off at Gyeongju World Culture Expo and walk for 5 minutes
● Tel: + 82-54-778-2000 (Korean ARS)
● Official site: http://www.smpark.co.kr/ (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese)
Royal Tomb of Queen Seondeok 



This is the tomb of Queen Seondeok, who was the first female ruler and the 27th monarch of the Silla Dynasty (BC 57 - 935 AD). She reigned from 632 to 647. She was committed to improving the welfare of her people and built ‘Cheomseongdae’ (an observatory) to forecast the weather as a way to minimize agricultural damage. The scene in the last episode where General Kim Yusin and Alcheon reminisce about the queen was filmed here. The tomb is a mound of earth built in a round shape and measures 6.8 meters high and 23.6 meters wide. The bottom circumference is piled with two to three layers of stones. It is smaller than other royal tombs and is very simple with no decorations.

** INFO
● Address: Gyeongsangbuk-do, Gyeongju-si, Bomun-dong san 79-2
● How to get there:
Seoul à Gyeongju
* Seoul Gangnam Express Bus Terminal (Subway lines 3 or 7, Seoul Gangnam Express Bus Terminal Station, Exit 2) → Gyeongju (It takes 4 hours, first bus at 06:05, last bus at 23:55, departs every 30 to 40 minutes, fare 18,600 won - 30,400 won)
* Dong Seoul Bus Terminal (Subway line 2, Gangbyeon Station) → Gyeongju (It takes 4 hours, first bus at 07:00, last bus at 24:00, departs every 30 to 40 minutes, fare 19,500 won - 23,200 won)

Gyeongju à Royal Tomb of Queen Seondeok
● At the bus terminal, take a taxi. It takes 5 to 10 minutes
● Tel: + 82-54-772-3632
 



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