Totally OT: "Jejoongwon"

“Jejoongwon” is a TV series from Korea with 35 episodes. “Jejoongwon” means “House of Universal Help.” It was the first public hospital of Western medicine established in Korea.

I want to share “Jejoongwon” with METARs because it is one of the very best TV series I have ever seen. It’s similar to a historical novel in the sense that it is based on actual events with real characters, fictionalized real characters and completely fictional characters. While the real people were fascinating in their own right, the fictionalization allows the show writers to develop a deep, poignant romance between characters who didn’t meet in actual life.

The story wraps up in the end. It’s not an open-ended series. Without spoilers, the last 30 seconds of the show refer to events that actually did occur.

The acting is absolutely superb. The show writers create characters of all classes and castes. Like Shakespeare, the show writers include comic interludes with the “lesser folk” to break up the serious and even tragic events.

The characters evolve through the story, which covers about 20 years of critical Korean history. The plot is exciting with many twists, turns and cliff hangers. I ended up binge-watching because I couldn’t wait to see what happened. Even though it’s a long series, I watched it twice because I felt that I missed details the first time around and because I enjoyed it so much.

Here are reviews of the historical background.

Korea is a small country with the unfortunate location between two Great Powers, China and Japan. Korea was ruled by the Joseon Dynasty for hundreds of years. The series shows the stable social structure in 1885. There was resistance to modernization but also political factions that supported modernization. In the early part of the series, the caste system was rigidly enforced. Impersonating a higher-caste person was a crime punishable by death.

Japan annexed Korea as a “protectorate” in 1910, as shown in the later part of the series. We know (as the characters in the series do not) that Japan held Korea until 1945.

Korea’s history is tragic but also hopeful. In my experience, Koreans are some of the hardest-working people on Earth. Given half a chance, South Korea became an “Asian Tiger” with an advanced economy. Samsung, LG and Hyundai are some of the international corporations founded in Korea.

North Korea remains a threat to global stability as it develops nuclear weapons with the capability of threatening its region and even the U.S.

I highly recommend the TV series, “Jejoonwon,” as enjoyable entertainment and also to help understand the relatively recent transition of this country from its ancient traditional structure to the modern world.



30 years ago I worked in a restaurant for a good period of time with a Chinese family that owned the business. The customers all thought the Chinese are hard working people. I saw how many Chinese workers were fired for not wanting to work at all. If Americans only knew. It was work or get on a bus back to China Town NYC. It was immediate. The majority of guys went back to NYC unemployed.

The Chinese enjoy a stereo type in this country.

The Asians in general get the same stereo type. Since people are immediately fired if not working it only seems like everyone is working.

In China Town NYC there are building lobbies full of goods. People sit for a few hours on their phones doing nothing watching to take some money if someone wants a cheap whatever. There is no dusting since the lobby is not their responsibility. There is a lock up at night of the building so the inventory wont walk. There is just time being twiddled away doing little to nothing.

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