The Great Merchant: A Korean Drama That Shows the Life and Struggles of Kim Man Deok, a Successful Female Merchant in Jeju Island
The Great Merchant: A Historical Drama About a Remarkable Woman
If you are a fan of historical dramas, you might have heard of The Great Merchant, a 2010 Korean drama that tells the story of Kim Man-deok, a woman who rose from being a gisaeng to becoming one of the most successful and generous merchants in Joseon era. In this article, we will give you an overview of the drama, its main characters and cast, its ratings and reviews, and where you can watch and download it.
Who is Kim Man-deok?
Kim Man-deok (1739-1812) was a real historical figure who was born on Jeju Island, a place that was considered a remote place of exile at the time. She was adopted by the head of a gisaeng house at the age of 12, and became a government gisaeng, a type of Korean traditional entertainer who was reserved for government officials. However, she discovered her talent in business and commerce, and later became one of the most wealthy and influential female merchants on the island. She was also known for her philanthropy, as she donated most of her fortune to help the people of Jeju during a famine in 1795, saving millions of lives. She was praised by many scholars and philosophers, and her deeds were recorded in the official annals of King Jeongjo. She also became a folk hero, as her story was told in a folktale called Mandeok-jeon (The Story of Man-deok). In 1978, a memorial was built for her on Jeju Island, and every year, the island presents the Man-deok Award to two outstanding women in philanthropy.
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What is the plot of the drama?
The drama depicts the life and achievements of Kim Man-deok, along with her ongoing rivalry with fellow merchants during the Joseon Dynasty. It also shows her relationships with different men who loved her, such as Jung Hong-soo, a nobleman who was exiled to Jeju Island; Oh Moon-seon, a pirate leader who became her business partner; and Kang Yoo-ji, a young scholar who admired her. The drama also portrays the historical events and social issues that affected Kim Man-deok's life, such as the political intrigues, the class conflicts, the foreign invasions, and the natural disasters.
Why should you watch it?
The Great Merchant is a drama that offers more than just entertainment. It is also an educational and inspirational show that teaches us about Korean history and culture, as well as the values of hard work, perseverance, integrity, and compassion. The drama also features stunning cinematography, beautiful costumes, and authentic sets that recreate the atmosphere of the Joseon era. Moreover, the drama boasts an excellent cast of actors who deliver impressive performances that bring their characters to life.
Main Characters and Cast
Kim Man-deok (Lee Mi-yeon)
Kim Man-deok is the protagonist of the drama. She is a smart, strong-willed, and kind-hearted woman who overcomes many hardships and challenges to become a successful merchant. She is also loyal to her friends and generous to those in need. She has a complicated love life, as she is torn between three men who have different personalities and backgrounds.
Lee Mi-yeon is an award-winning actress who has been active since 1987. She has starred in many films and dramas, such as No Mercy, Typhoon, Addicted, and A Company Man. She is also known for her roles in dramas such as Crazy Love, Empress Myeongseong, and Reply 1988. She won the Grand Prize at the 2010 MBC Drama Awards for her role as Kim Man-deok.
Jung Hong-soo (Han Jae-suk)
Jung Hong-soo is a nobleman who falls in love with Kim Man-deok when he meets her on Jeju Island. He is exiled there for being involved in a political conspiracy against the king. He is a brave, righteous, and loyal man who supports Kim Man-deok in her endeavors. He also tries to protect her from the enemies who want to harm her.
Han Jae-suk is an actor who debuted in 1994. He has appeared in many films and dramas, such as The Young Man, The Legend of Gingko, Glass Slippers, All About Eve, and Four Sisters. He is also known for his roles in historical dramas such as The Great King Sejong, The King and I, and Dong Yi. He won the Excellence Award at the 2010 MBC Drama Awards for his role as Jung Hong-soo.
Oh Moon-seon (Park Sol-mi)
Oh Moon-seon is a pirate leader who becomes Kim Man-deok's business partner and friend. She is a fierce, ambitious, and charismatic woman who commands a fleet of ships that trade and plunder across the seas. She has a crush on Kim Man-deok, but respects her decision to love Jung Hong-soo. She also helps Kim Man-deok fight against the corrupt officials and merchants who try to sabotage her.
Park Sol-mi is an actress who debuted in 1996. She has starred in many films and dramas, such as Truth Game, All In, Winter Sonata, Bad Housewife, and Golden Bride. She is also known for her roles in historical dramas such as Jang Gil-san, Dae Jo Yeong, and The King's Dream. She won the Best Supporting Actress Award at the 2010 MBC Drama Awards for her role as Oh Moon-seon.
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Kang Yoo-ji (Ha Seok-jin)
Kang Yoo-ji is a young scholar who admires Kim Man-deok for her intelligence and achievements. He is a kind, gentle, and optimistic man who dreams of becoming a government official. He meets Kim Man-deok when he visits Jeju Island to study under a famous teacher. He develops feelings for her, but realizes that she loves Jung Hong-soo. He decides to stay by her side as a friend and supporter.
Ha Seok-jin is an actor who debuted in 2005. He has appeared in many films and dramas, such as Sad Movie, See You After School, Hello! Miss, Standby, Drinking Solo, and Radiant Office. He is also known for his roles in historical dramas such as Hwang Jin Yi, The Great Merchant Kim Man Deok, Jang Ok-jung: Living by Love, and The Legendary Witch. He won the New Star Award at the 2010 MBC Drama Awards for his role as Kang Yoo-ji.
Ratings and Reviews
How popular was the drama?
The Great Merchant was one of the most popular dramas of 2010. It aired on MBC from March 6 to June 13, 2010, with a total of 30 episodes. It had an average viewership rating of 17.9%, peaking at 22.7%. It also ranked first in its time slot for most of its run. It was also well-received overseas, especially in China, Japan, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia.
What did the critics and viewers say?
The Great Merchant received positive reviews from both critics and viewers. It was praised for its engaging storyline, its historical accuracy, its production quality, and its cast's performances. It was also commended for its portrayal of a strong female character who defied the norms of her time and achieved success through her own efforts. Some of the viewers' comments are as follows:
"This drama is amazing! It has everything: romance, action, comedy, drama, history... I learned so much about Korean culture and history from watching it."
"Lee Mi-yeon is perfect as Kim Man-deok. She is so beautiful and talented. She made me cry and laugh with her acting."
"I love the chemistry between Lee Mi-yeon and Han Jae-suk. They are so sweet and romantic together . They are my favorite couple in the drama."