'Goryeo Khitan War', belated explanation for controversy over historical distortion: "It is different from the original work"
'Goryeo Khitan War', belated explanation for controversy over historical distortion: "It is different from the original work"
Amid growing complaints from viewers regarding the development of KBS2's epic drama 'Goryeo Khitan War', a special project for the 50th anniversary of public broadcasting, the production team explained why the development of the drama is completely different from the original novel.

On the 23rd, the 'Goryeo Khitan War' side looked back on its origins ahead of entering the second half in earnest. 'Goryeo Khitan War' began with the planning of director Jeon Woo-sung, who was preparing a epic drama for the second half of 2020. Director Jeon was looking for a story that viewers could enjoy while also having valid implications for the time, and focused on the period of the war between Goryeo and the Khitan in the early 11th century. Goryeo defeated the Khitan, the largest hegemony at the time, and ushered in a period of 200 years of peace and prosperity throughout East Asia. Director Jeon began planning to dramatize the story of the 10 years of war with the Khitans, focusing on Goryeo Emperor Hyeonjong and the hero of the Battle of Guizhou, Gang Gam-chan.

Director Jeon recalled the planning time and said, “The 10 years since King Hyeonjong’s accession to the throne were a period of upheaval, with wars and coups taking place one after another. “It was a time of victory and achievement, but the lives of ordinary people who had to live during it must have been difficult,” he said. “The main character is the emperor and general, so it is not a story that fully captures him, but it does not omit what the war and coup were like from the people’s perspective. “I wanted to capture it,” he said.

Director Jeon wrote a brief plan to dramatize the 10-year war with the Khitans with Hyeonjong as the main character, and began development in earnest. Afterwards, while searching for materials, Director Jeon came across author Gil Seung-soo's novel 'Goryeo Khitan Biography'. After acquiring the copyright and signing a consulting contract in the first half of 2022, director Jeon referred to the details of the war scenes and battle scenes that appear in the drama from the novel 'Biography of the Goryeo Khitan' during the production process.

In the second half of the same year, writer Lee Jeong-woo joined 'Goryeo Khitan War' in earnest and began writing the script. After reviewing the novel 'Goryeo Khitan Biography', writer Lee decided that it did not fit the direction of the story he had in mind, and director Jeon also agreed with this writer's opinion. This is the reason why we have presented a new story that is completely different from the novel from the first episode until now. Director Jeon formed a new advisory team led by Dr. Cho Kyeong-ran, who has extensive experience consulting on dramas, and writer Lee, who has gained a reliable assistant, is writing the script by collecting the opinions of the advisory team from the first episode to the story line and details of each scene.

In order to make a drama about the Goryeo period, which has significantly fewer records remaining in history books than the Joseon period, a story was needed to bridge the gaps between major events. In particular, in the case of drama, as it is another creative work with its own unique territory, the production team is implementing a story unique to the 'Goryeo Khitan War' that maximizes the situation and elicits emotion without harming history.

The production team of ‘Goryeo Khitan War’ said, “Please look forward to the kind of leadership that Emperor Hyeonjong of Goryeo will display to unite Goryeo with his political teacher Gang Gam-chan. “We will also show you a variety of stories, including the foreign policy of Goryeo and Khitan up to the outbreak of the Battle of Guizhou, and the conflicts and confrontations between various characters surrounding it, so please look forward to it and support us.”

Meanwhile, on the 18th, a petition was posted on the viewer petition bulletin board of the KBS Viewer Center with the title, 'I petition to change the development of the Goryeo Khitan War drama to the original story.'

The petitioner pointed out, "The story has been a mess since the contract with the original writer. It's a traditional historical drama that has been out for a really long time, but the drama is going to the grave along with General Yang-gyu, the warrior."

He added, "These days, the quality is that of the early 2000s. For the sake of the reputation of Korean historical dramas, I hope that they will sign a contract with the original writer and see it through to the end."

'Goryeo Khitan War' received strong complaints from viewers after Hyeonjong (Kim Dong-jun) fell from a horse in the 18th episode aired on the 14th. The reason was that the portrayal of King Hyeonjong, who was called King Seong, was particularly frustrating.

Gil Seung-soo, the author of the original novel, also said on his blog that the scene of King Hyeonjong falling from a horse was not in the original story, adding, "Hyeonjong had both tolerance and determination," sparking further controversy.

Taeyuna, Ten Asia Reporter youyou@tenasia.co.kr translated by google