Interview with Writer Kwon Eum Mi
‘Jeong Ga Won’, the Garden of Secrets…
… ‘Royal Family’, the salvation of humanity?
A translation of an interview by Yonhap News Reporter Yoon Go Eun~
She had used the English expression “dirty laundry”.
Dirty laundry is not meant to be shown to others. It should be placed in the washer as soon as you can. But even after countless spins, the laundry doesn’t necessarily become totally clean. A stain may still remain, a color may fade. To get your laundry ‘white and crisp’ – it’s not very easy actually.
It’s the same too, if you’re trying to wash away your shameful pasts, weaknesses, wrongdoings. Any living person would also attempt to hide the dirty laundry of their lives. But cleaning up your past – it’s really not easy at all.
With 12 out of 18 episodes already aired, MBC TV Wed-Thur drama ‘Royal Family’ is gradually revealing the hidden pasts of main character In Sook (Yeom Jung Ah), upping the anticipation of viewers.
With In Sook’s origins revealed, the truth behind the pasts of Ji Hoon (Ji Sung) and Housekeeper Uhm (Jeon No Min), as well as the secret behind Johnny’s death will be revealed as well.
The force behind all these, wrung from from the sweat of her palms, is ‘Royal Family’ writer Kwon Eum Mi (43). In a phone interview with her on April 6, I asked about the focus points in the upcoming episodes.
“Our drama is about the salvation of humanity. Rather than being part of the mystery genre, it intends to portray humanism, how In Sook doesn’t abandon her sense of humanity even in the face of extreme circumstances. While it’s also important to find out who murdered Johnny, I want to emphasize on the mutual salvation of In Sook and Ji Hoon, as well as the never-ending repentance and self-blame In Sook is going through.”
Plot-wise, currently the chaebol family JK Group’s successor struggles have made way for the search of Johnny’s murderer. Thus, from the earlier episodes of In Sook triumphantly overcoming the successor struggles, she has been suffering much self-blame, which has made viewers unhappy with the the latest plot developments.
With regards to this, “When I see the viewer response from the internet, I wondered whether I should have just allowed In Sook to continue fighting her way through the successor struggles, I felt a little conflicted,” she laughed, before continuing, “It’s possible for the plot to become a success story of how a woman overcomes oppression by a chaebol family and class differences to achieve resounding victory. But from the very beginning, our drama wasn’t meant to be like that,” she said assertively.
“The salvation of humanity itself is a difficult topic, so we used chaebols as a vehicle to carry that theme in our drama. This isn’t a drama about chaebols. Using ‘Royal Family’ as the title may have created this misunderstanding. Originally, based on ‘Jeong Ga Won’, name of the family residence of the JK Group, the drama had been initially named ‘비밀의 정원’ (‘Garden of Secrets’). But we were worried that it will be associated with SBS drama ‘Secret Garden’ so that name was dropped. (laughs) It was eventually named ‘Royal Family’ so as to remove the emphasis on the mystery characteristics of the original work.”
‘Royal Family’ is based on famous mystery author Morimura Seiichi’s bestseller ‘人間の証明 Ningen no Shômei’ (‘Proof of a Man’, 1976). While the novel is so popular in Japan that it has been remade into dramas four times, ‘Royal Family’ is quite different from the novel, so it is hard to predict how it will end.
FujiTV’s ‘Proof of A Man’ (2004), starring Takenouchi Yutaka, Matsuzaka Keiko, Natsukawa Yui
Writer Kwon says, “Many people said they thought the drama would be similar to the original work, but besides having similar incidences happening, the characters are very different. Especially the lead characters, In Sook is very different from the original lead Kyoko. Thus the drama can become quite a different story altogether from the original.”
“In the original work, Johnny was killed by Kyoko, but in our drama, it seems In Sook was the murderer too, but in fact she was quite distraught by his death. Just like In Sook’s faith in Ji Hoon’s innocence when he was prosecuted as a murder suspect, it will be good if the viewers will have the same faith in In Sook’s innocence too. (laughs)”
One of the major differences between ‘Royal Family’ and the original novel is President Gong Soon Ho, acted by Kim Yeong Ae.
Of this character which didn’t exist in the original work, Writer Kwon says, “Because Kim Yeong Ae agreed to take the role, the emphasis on President Gong increased. She really carried the role very well, the more we have of her charismatic presence, the more interesting the show gets. Even I’m frightened of her,” she laughed.
“The truth is, if none of the characters were manipulated by President Gong, the tension of the drama will drop,” she continued, “Eventually, when President Gong finds out In Sook’s past, wouldn’t you wonder what what she’ll do to everyone again?”
Lastly, writer Kwon said that she’s still thinking hard about how to end the drama.
“Of course, I won’t change the theme of this drama, but frankly, I’m thinking hard about the ending, as I can kind of feel what the viewers would like to see. Initially I had wanted to end it tragically, but now I have a few more ideas.”
Images above thanks to 조군님, 쟈스민님, Royal Family official blog, kbcampusstar5. Images below thanks to 아따님. You can click on the images to access their blogs~