[A-Z April Blogging] [L] The Legendary Police Woman

The Legendary Police Woman (茶母) is a 2003 Korean drama (TV series) set in Joseon Korea. The series follows the investigations and the adventures of Jang Chaeok (張彩玉), a young Damo, who tries to unravel the mysteries of a counterfeit money ring and of an outlaw-led rebellion. Her investigations are hindered by her being a member of the Nobi class, whereas the counterfeiters are from the nobility. In Neo-Confucian, patriarchal Korea, this leads to all sorts of complications.

In parallel, Chaeok falls in love with her superior, a member of the lower nobility, at a time when such a romantic relationship is simply unthinkable.

The TV series also features a host of well-developed and interesting supporting characters, and vivid detail about the operations of the police force in Joseon Korea, incl. forensics, undercover operations, combat training, etc.

Later on in the story, one of the supporting characters (a rebel leader) acquires some importance, and the TV series focuses on the story of his life as an orphan adopted by a village of lepers. This leads the viewer to a fascinating side story of people living in complete autarchy and isolation simply because of their disease.

This drama was one of the most expensive ever to be shot in Korea, and I recommend watching it, if only for the beautiful period scenes, and for the strong representation of the Joseon caste system, police methods, and overall urban and country life.

If you're interested in Joseon Korea, I also recommend the film Untold Scandal, which tells the same story as The Dangerous Liaisons, but set in Korea at the turn of the 19th century, and the period thriller Blood Rain, also set at the turn of the 19th century. Exotically enough (for East Asia!), both films feature Catholic characters.

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