Emperor of the Sea (Hangul: 해신; RR: Hae-sin; literally "Sea God") is a South Korean television drama series starring Choi Soo-jong, Chae Shi-ra, Song Il-gook and Soo Ae. It aired on KBS2 from November 24, 2004 to May 25, 2005 on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 21:50 for 51 episodes. The period drama is based on Choi In-ho's 2003 novel Hae-sin, which depicts the life of Jang Bogo, who rises from a lowly slave to a powerful maritime figure who dominated the East Asia seas and international trade during the Unified Silla Dynasty.
The series was received extremely well, holding the number one spot in the ratings for majority of the weeks it aired. It was also exported to eight countries earning approximately US$1.8 million in profits.
The filming set in Wando County, South Jeolla Province also became a tourist attraction.
Jang Bogo (Choi Soo-jong) rises from a lowly slave to the military commander of the sea during the Unified Silla Dynasty. Along the way, he battles pirates, and engages in a heated rivalry with Madam Jami (Chae Shi-ra), a Silla noble who squares off against Jang Bogo for trade rights in the South Sea. Yeom Jang (Song Il-gook), Jang Bogo's charismatic comrade, supports Jang in his ascension to become the "Emperor of the Sea." But Yeom Jang competes with Jang Bogo for the love of Lady Jung-hwa (Soo Ae).
Cast and characters
Choi Soo-jong as Jang Bogo/Gungbok (Baek Sung-hyun as young Gungbok)
Jang Bogo is an historical figure who virtually dominated the seas of the East Asia (hence name "Sea God" or "Emperor of the Sea") and international trade from Tang China and Japan to the North China sea during the time of Unified Silla Dynasty.Gungbok starts from lowest social class as a slave on the docks of Cheonghae. Gungbok lost his mother to pirates when he was young. His father was a slave carpenter in Police Office of Cheonghae. Working hard in the rough dock, Gungbok soon masters the sea and has the knack of building ships. Faced with challenges, he becomes calmer and bolder. Both Gungbok and his mate Nyeon learn martial arts from certain Choi Moo-chang. Such abilities helped him to rise from a gladiator to a security guard, military head of Muryongun and then ambassador of Cheonghae. As a part of this, he eliminated the pirates by installing Cheonghaejin on Wando, which is a geographically important sea route. With his clever battle strategies, he is able to defeat the army led by Madam Jami and install the true ruler of Korea. However, even after repeated requests by the king, he refuses the high positions. After the king is assassinated by the cunning Kim Yang, he prepares the army to lead a final assault and remove the corrupt ministers appointed by Kim Yang.At the end, Consul Jang Bogo is fatally stabbed in his office with a concealed knife by Yeom Jang. Jang Bogo accepts his death without any resistance, and his body is found at midnight by Nyeon, Choi Moo-chang and Jung-hwa. Even after his death, his army fights to the last man as a mark of respect.
Chae Shi-ra as Madam Jami
A Silla noble and businesswoman. She first plays a role in Lady Jung-hwa's destiny. But as the story progresses, her grudges towards Jang Bogo leads to her downfall, and her life ends in tragedy.
Song Il-gook as Yeom Jang/Yeom Moon (Hong Hyun-ki as young Yeom Moon)
Raised by pirates, young Yeom Moon brandished short knives with remarkable skill and accuracy. Later in the story, he is captured by Jang Bogo, and receives the harshest punishment of branding as a pirate, and his forehead bears the burn mark. He is eventually released from prison by Kim Yang. For this, he trains Kim Yang's men in martial arts and leads the assault against Madam Jami's men, when they temporarily reconcile with Jang Bogo. He is later appointed the head of the king's bodyguards. With war looming against Jang Bogo, he visits Cheonghae to defuse the situation. He promises Kim Yang that if the need arises, he will assassinate him, provided Kim spares Jang Bogo's wife (daughter of Jang Bogo's trade master) and their new born child, Jung-hwa and the people of Silla. During their meeting, he tries his best to deviate Jang from his attack, but Jang has made up his mind to put an end to the ineffective and corrupt ministers in the king's council. In the end, he betrays Jang Bogo and kills him. He receives a jolt after the assassination, when Kim Yang launches an attack on Silla. Imprisoned by Kim Yang, he escapes from custody and helps Jung-hwa escape the massacre with Jang Bogo's child. He is killed by a shower of arrows fired by Kim Yang's army.
Soo Ae as Jung-hwa (Lee Yeon-hee as young Jung-hwa)
Song Il Guk as Yum Moon
Kim Heung-soo as Jung Nyeon
Ahn Jae-hong as young Jung Nyeon
Park Yeong-gyu as Seol-pyeong
Chae Jung-an as Lady Chae-ryeong
Kim Ah-joong as Baek Ha-jin
Lee Won-jong as Choi Moo-chang
Kim Kap-soo as Lee Do-hyeong
Jo Dal-hwan as Lee Soon-jong
Heo In-beom as young Soon-jong
Jung Sung-hwan as Chang-kyeom (Jung-hwa's brother)
Lee Hee-do as Mak Bong (Soon-jong's father)
Kang Sung-pil as Jong Dal
Jung Ho-keun as Dae Chi
Park Jung-hak as Neung Chang
Go Do-young as Da Bok
Lee Eun-hye as young Da Bok
Kil Yong-woo as King Shinmu
Seo Do-young as Moo Jin (Jung-hwa's bodyguard)
Choi Sang-gil as Cheon Tae
Kim Hyo-won as Yoo Ja-seong
Lee Jae-yong as Master Jo Sang-gil
Kim Hyung-bum as Tae-bong (Jami's security officer)
Do Ki-suk as Jang Seong-pil
Bae Soo-bin as Kim Yang
Go Myung-hwan as Pan Sool (one of Master Yi's men)
Yeo Ho-min as Baek Kyung (Yeom Jang's subordinate)
Park In-hwan as Bogo's father
Awards and nominations
2005 International Emmy Awards
Drama series in the Asia, Africa and Middle East region - Final Round Nomination