The Director of “The Princess’s Man”, Kim Jung Min, has some interesting things to say in the Director’s Cut DVD.
On the origins of TPM
One night in the late autumn of 2009, the director Kim Jung Min was drinking with his good friend the scriptwriter Yoon Sun Joo (who wrote “Daewang Sejong”, “Hwang Jin Yi”, and “The Immortal Lee Soon Shin”). YSJ mentioned that political incident of 1455 (when Suyang usurped the throne from his nephew Danjong). KJM also knew about this but thought the details were fabricated.
YSJ said history also mentioned that Suyang had a daughter who vanished after that incident. KJM at first thought the story of Suyang’s daughter and Kim Jong Seo’s grandson* was a made-up story. But having heard what YSJ said, he then felt there was some leeway on which an interesting plot could be wrought.
KJM then started to do his homework and read the book “Record of Korean princesses” which mentioned Princess Kyung Hye. He also discovered Yejong had a sister about whom not much was known. KJM felt that combining the two stories would make a successful drama. He continued to research and found the character of Shin Myeong who died in an uprising. So in this way, Princess Kyung Hye, Jung Jong, Shin Myeong, Suyang’s daughter and Kim Jong Seo’s grandson* became the cornerstones of TPM.
[* In Korean history it’s Kim Jong Seo’s “grandson”, but TPM makes him “son”.]
About the shipwreck and escape at sea
That was the first scene that was shot. When the drama became almost live later on (broadcast as soon as shot), it would be impossible to shoot those scenes. Those scenes were shot in Wando Island – almost two full days, and later continued in a swimming pool, five days altogether. But in the end after editing, less than 13 minutes were left. And during those five days they also had overnight shooting. This scene is the most expensive in terms of money and time and energy in the first half of the drama.
About the most unfortunate action scene
Action scenes in Episode 9 (about Suyang’s coup d’etat – Seung Yoo fighting with assasins, with Shin Myeong, etc.) The script is very good, but because they were hard pressed for time, they could not do better which was a great pity.
Director also said around Episode 17 or 18, production team suggested adding episodes. He too felt episodes could be added. But during the last week when it was proposed lengthening drama by one week, Moon Chae Won said if they did that, she would commit suicide by biting off her tongue because it was just too hard. Park Si Hoo went three days and nights without sleep and was supposed to shoot the battle scenes right away. He had a quick nap and the other director (who was responsible for the battle scenes in the last two hours) was very impatient and kept asking why he wasn’t there yet. But it could not be helped; everything was so rushed. If Seung Yoo had been able to go over earlier, the battle scenes would have been better.
About whether there are too many kissing scenes
They were surprised that the day after the kissing scenes, ratings dropped slightly. They analyzed the situation and came to the conclusion that theirs was a family drama. Such scenes could cause embarrassment if the parents were watching with their young children. They concluded too many love scenes were no help to ratings. So the kiss that was shot for the conjugal scene in Episode 23 was later cut.
About which actor was not what he expected
Park Si Hoo’s acting is better than the Director expected. Before casting, the Director has seen the actors’ previous works, like PSH’s “Prosecutor Princess” and “Queen of Reversals” and Moon Chae Won’s “It’s OK, Daddy’s Girl”. They were chosen because they were good. PSH immediately grasped the character’s essence; MCW had a hard time at first and only managed to be in character later.
The following critique of actor PSH is from another director in another part of the DVD (guy in blue with glasses? – TPM like other K-dramas was presumably shot by Team A and Team B.)
Seung Yoo … Si Hoo. He’s a very easygoing and frank person, but his character is very deep and feels very strongly. He seemed to be wearing these two faces all through the shooting, getting in and out of the drama. When I saw the instant changes, I was shocked.
Before shooting he could be chatting and laughing, but two seconds after the camera started rolling, he immediately became immersed in the character’s feelings … strong emotions pouring out …. At times like this, ah, I was really awed! totally awed!
Abour the ending
Originally the Director felt it’s OK even if it’s a tragic ending. At first they conceived of an ending in which Seung Yoo died and Kyung Hye and Se Ryeong (and her unborn child) were talking about the future. But in Episode 22 too many people died — Jung Jong, Prince Geum Sung, Danjong … When the Director first received the script, he was very unhappy. He felt if they were really to go down the tragic road, he would be most unhappy because Episode 22 was too dark. So the Director asked the Scriptwriter to let the principals live. Director also said he received calls from home asking him to let the principals live, same with the Scriptwriter.
The Scriptwriter was going to let Suyang and Seung Yoo reconcile, but the Director felt Suyang was unforgivable, so he would not agree to the two of them reconciling.
Since the two principals were to be allowed to live, the Scriptwriter proposed making Seung Yoo blind. The Director felt this could be tried and later the Scriptwriter really wrote this in. The Director then thought: “Fans won’t like this. Might as well let Seung Yoo die.” The Director was convinced this was right, so he told the Scriptwriter what he wanted, but the Scriptwriter wrote the present ending instead. The Director asked PSH whether he liked the ending and PSH said YES. If he was not to die, how could he live happily with so many loved ones around him dead? So let it be, he liked this ending (of his being blind). The Director then said OK and the ending was shot like this.
The following is actually from another part of the DVD – when PSH is watching Episode 24 with the Directors and Scriptwriters. We’ve put it here because it relates to the above.
“Although I lost my sight, I rediscovered my heart. Although I let go of my revenge, I have gained you.”
Both the Scriptwriter and Park Si Hoo say they like these lines very much. The Scriptwriter was uncertain to the very last whether to include these lines, not sure whether they would sound corny. But PSH said he liked these lines best and they’re relevant to the theme at the conclusion of Episode 24. Seung Yoo’s blithe smile and Se Ryeong’s warm expression blend sorrow and tenderness in this ending and make it a classic.
(Credits: http://kbs.co.kr; www.parksihoobar.com. Thanks! English translation by H.A.T.)