K-Drama Review: “The Great Seer” Mixes Geomancy To Its King-Maker Narrative Of Joseon Founding

the great seer kdramadiary

Fusing geomancy into a historical series, The Great Seer is not for the impatient watchers.

Running 35 episodes, The Great Seer is staged in the crumbling part of Goryeo where practitioners of divination propelled to usher a new era.

  • Main Cast: Ji Sung | Ji Jin Hee | Song Chang Eui | Kim So Yeon | Lee Yoon Ji
  • Network & Episode Count: SBS | 35 Episodes
  • Official Website:  The Great Seer SBS
  • Streaming Site: tubi | Viki

*Originally published on my blog in May 2013

the great seer


Quick Review

  • Plot Trajectory:  Slow Start – safe ending
  • Plot Pace: Understandably slow
  • Character Portrayal: Main Character Anchored The Story
  • Writing: Untidily penned in languid movements
  • Watch on a binge or intervals?: Interval
  • Addictive Meter:
  • Overall Rating: 
  • K-Dramas of Similar Vibe: King Maker: The Change of Destiny |


Quick Plot Summary

In the collapsing years of Goryeo Kingdom, the country was burdened by political instability and power struggles that are being maneuvered by the divination people who aided the monarchy and military in their decision making.

King Gongmin is obsessed in finding Ja Mi Won, a legendary grave site that would bring power to his reign. He ordered Mok Dong Ryun, a forecaster, to search for the powerful place, but the prophet received a revelation that it is not the right time yet to reveal its location.

Failing to do his task, he became a fugitive, but was soon found by Moo Ryu, a princess and a healer from the palace who harbored mutual feelings with him. To save him from harm, she convinced General Lee In Im (Jo Min Ki) to conspire that the sacred place was really found and feigned ignorance to the King that the Ja Mi Won location he will be getting was fake.

Lee In Im who slept with the high priestess was encouraged by the latter to harness his ambitions so they ploy on obliterating the barriers along the way. Princess Moo Ryu later on conceived a child but has to marry Lee In Im to save her and Dong Ryun.

The priestess also conceived a child of Lee In Im, but was raised by the princess after the former abandoned her baby through the pouring rain, as her role of high priestess will be stripped off if her pregnancy will be discovered.

The princess who knew the danger awaiting for her child forcedly sent him to his father’s care away from the danger he might get from the palace villains.

the great seer kdramadiary

Mok Ji Sang

At a young age, Mok Ji Sang is showing fortune telling abilities. He grew up in a gisaeng‘s house while his father made a living as an herbalist. Determined to position themselves to the hierarchy, the priestess and Lee In Im reveal to the king that the Ja Mi Won information he has is a fluke. So, the princess was imprisoned and Ji Sang’s father opted to have his bestfriend kill him to avoid torture if the palace will catch him.

The second part of the story parades grown up con-man Ji Sang (Ji Sung) who has used his gift of prophecy to make a living for him and his foster parents. He is also bent upon knowing the identity of his biological mother.

Also, he knows that the clue is in the palace where he saw the tortoise symbol that was on the ring given by her mother to him when he was a baby. Soon, he was able to enter the palace by posing as a revelator but his identity was revealed by Hae-in (Kim So Yeon), the daughter of his father’s bestfriend.

But he was given a chance to stay in the school after he displayed his geomancer skills and found the long lost tomb of a Mongolian official’s mother. To fully realized his potentials he traveled and was mentored by a great monk who knew his destiny of finding Ja Mi Won that will establish a new era of the nation.

the great seer kdramadiary

The Kingmaker

Resolutely blinded to seize Goryeo’s authority, Lee In Im and Head Priestess use the king’s concubine’s son to place their grip on the kingdom’s power at the expense of killing the King and the Mother Queen.

Lee In Im serves as the Prime Minister and made the country’s situation worst by promulgating unreasonable taxation laws and allowing land grabbing practices.

Factions in the great army arose after General Choi Young remained firm with old fashioned beliefs as General Lee Sung Gye (Ji Jin Hee) feels so pained with the strenuous governance conflicts.

Ji Sang became an efficient strategist for the fight to weed out the poisonous people responsible for the decline of a once powerful kingdom and bring to end the uncovering of Ja Mi Won. where the mighty kingdom of Joseon was established by Lee Sung Gye.


The Great Seer Peak Points + Hitches

Set in the waning part of the Goryeo period, this snail-paced sageuk tested my patience to a hilt. The long background just span unnecessary side stories that didn’t solidify the intention and the richness of the tale from where it was derived.

I almost dropped it, but they threw Ji Sung’s handsome face at the right moment. My easy-to-please heart inevitably overlooked the dry beginning and settled to focus on the essentials.

The Great Seer really started slow but moved decently. It was not a flashy and a gripping sageuk, but it has a very easy to understand and follow depiction. It was done fairly in story and directing, but I was expecting more considering the talented roster of the cast.

Nevertheless it was consistent in its filial love, brotherhood, and patriotism life lessons. The resident sageuk elements of swaying loyalties, indecisive protagonist, misplaced love were all in full swing and though minimal humor was evident, it didn’t go dry as it switches in each arc of the story.

Strong male lead portrayals

Ji Jin Hee has always won me over in almost all his historical portrayals and Ji Sung just has to smile and show his charming ways and I would willingly comply to his bidding. *chuckles This drama I thought would be focusing on Ji Sang’s oracle abilities that was passed on from his father, but he equally shared the limelight with Lee Sung Gye.

Towards the end of the series, they work together to complete the founding of Joseon after a long and exhausting road battle. It was a passing closure, but I wished Ji Sang’s soothsayer abilities have been more pronounced when he was acting on it in the narrative.

the great seer kdramadiary

Barely felt romance theme

The romance sadly though was also most of the time gasping and flat. I got that period dramas were more on wars, politics, throne grabbing and all. But if the love stories would just appear weak, then either don’t include it or insert memorable love moments.

The redemption for the villains was present so even if it was abrupt, I bought it. At least they have made the balance footing in this drama equally challenging for both the protagonists and antagonists.

the great seer kdramadiary

 


The Great Seer Series Afterthoughts

The Great Seer moved in a flowing pace evading vague plot inclusions and explaining instigations. There was a lull on the onset to establish the eventual strife on the “who wants to be the crown-holder” contest, but all throughout I was not lost in the progress of the story.

That was probably the most positive thing about this drama. I didn’t have a head-scratching moments and I didn’t question why the character had to do this and that. Hence, although not that much vibrancy and even if the screenplay was not refined at least the writers didn’t write nonsensically.

It even made me ponder on that realization of how the monarchy’s belief in superstition has caused serious repercussions to their judgment in running the country.

The Great Seer slowly stimulated me until I finished it. I learned a few things about geomancy as well. It won’t definitely have a second serving for me, but if you are trying to educate yourself with Korean history, this would be a great help as the founding of Joseon era was the culmination of the storyline of this period TV story.

the great seer kdramadiary


Photos: SBS

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