Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Character Analysis of Chun Eum Ja (cont...)

by farstrep (far star)

@Hanjae: Your post has given me much food for thought and I read all of it.   Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question.
I just want to add some of my thoughts to your great post:

Eum Ja understands his role and place in the hierarchy ie. Gi Cheol is the strategist who makes the grand plans while Soo In and Eum Ja are the "subordinates" (for lack of a better word), who carry out the dirty deeds. Hence, he doesn't question or override Gi Cheol's orders much. It also helps that Gi Cheol has been an excellent strategist all this while, which makes Eum Ja's task easier. I suspect he's a tad lazy to express his opinions as well. If he doesn't see any overwhelming need to oppose a plan, he will not do it. His emotional detachment stems from his acceptance of killing people as part of his job, thus effectively writing off the moral issue on hand. He doesn't think much of what he does since it's all to better his pledged siblings' lives (as history has shown countless times) and hence, doesn't beat himself up over the countless innocent lives he's taken.

Eum Ja can compartmentalize his life very well and keeps his personal life (feelings?) separate from his job. That's why we don't feel the misapprehension when we see his more humane side peeping through his armor ie. his "cheekiness" towards Soo In - the scene where he places a handkerchief on her lips to keep her quiet when Gi Cheol does not berate her for failing in her mission in Episode 7(?); his sensitivity towards Eun Soo - the scene where he hands her a handkerchief when she witnesses Eum Ja and Soo In's ruthless murders, his brief hesitation when Gi Cheol signals him to play his flute in his fight against Choi Young in Episode 5, the brief hint of curiosity and amusement in his eyes at Eun Soo's unladylike behavior in Episode 6 when the suggestion of treating the former child King is made and his undying devotion to his pledged siblings - even when he realizes that Gi Cheol has finally become unhinged, he still takes his pledged siblings' sides and fights for them til the end. Because of this, I always think Eum Ja can work well anywhere ie. the good or bad side and at one point in the drama, I actually thought he would join forces with the good side but alas!!

However, like Choi Young, Eum Ja doesn't kill for fun. If memory serves me right, I haven't seen a scene where he kills people because he likes it. It's usually Gi Cheol who orders it. In Episode 5, when Eum Ja finally comes face to face with the great Choi Young whose reputation precedes everyone else's, he stops before him and looks at him instead of waking him up. Perhaps he's trying to reconcile Choi Young's pallor with the greatness that he's heard so much of. However, after battling head on with Choi Young, Eum Ja realizes how skilful and strong he actually is. Choi Young's also different from the other people who have succumbed so easily to Eum Ja in the past. Look at the speed with which the guards fall to the ground upon hearing the deadly music. Even though he's clearly affected by it as well, Choi Young does not back down and continues fighting and would have continued fighting to his death had Daeman not interrupted them. That's when Eum Ja starts to develop a grudging respect for his opponent and acknowledges him as a worthy adversary. Does he see a part of himself in Choi Young? After all, just as Eum Ja is fighting to "protect" his pledged siblings, Choi Young is also fighting to protect Eun Soo. Anyhow, when he fights Choi Young a second time, you can actually see him putting in more effort than before in an attempt to defeat Choi Young. It's no longer about Gi Cheol's orders anymore. I wonder if Choi Young is the role model Eum Ja secretly aspires to be, in terms of fighting skills and person but I may be getting ahead of myself here.

credits: che-cheh.com

About his ability to switch off his emotions when he comes into contact with everyone else, I wonder if it's because he doesn't believe in forming tangible lasting relationships with them. The Goryeo world and its politics and the environment in which he grew up in do not allow him to come into contact with others often, let alone place trust and faith in people without expecting some form of betrayal in return. Moreover, when he comes into contact with others, it's always because he has a task on hand to accomplish. Effectively, those people would have been categorized as part of his job ie. emotional detachment comes into play. Why bother getting emotionally attached to them when they're going to die or betray him in the end? Perhaps it's a self-defense mechanism for him. Perhaps it's nonchalance. Perhaps the thought has never crossed his mind.

The history he has experienced and length of time he has spent with his pledged siblings makes him trust them more than others. Gi Cheol might have been a villain in this drama but he's always been protective of his brood. It's a pity there aren't enough scenes of Eum Ja with either Choi Young or Eun Soo. I want to see him question himself like what Choi Young does in the last few episodes. That is, if he ever does.

1 comment:

  1. @farstrep - Yes, it's true that Ki Chul does look after his own, although in a possessive "they're my toys, you can't touch them!" sort of manner. I think that's also why he seems more "fond" of Hwa Soo In - she cites this herself early in the drama, when she introduces herself as a sister on whom Ki Chul dotes. In comparison, the interactions between Ki Chul and Eum Ja have been strictly leader-follower in tone. Granted, the drama showed us very little regarding Eum Ja, but nevertheless I suspect the reason lies in the similarities between the personalities of Hwa Soo In and Ki Chul. Aside from the natural viciousness within them, both Ki Chul and Hwa Soo In are interested in possessing people to satisfy their own quirks and desires. For Ki Chul it appears to be unusual talent that he is interested in (or general curiosities - one can imagine what a field day Ki Chul would have had if he made his way to the 21st Century and visited a pawn shop!), while for Hwa Soo In it is clearly attractive men. It is the challenge of wresting these people/objects that give them amusement, but they can just as easily toss it aside without a second thought. Ironically, they both seem to desire human contact and cannot resist it, despite a callous lack of value for human life. Eum Ja really stands apart with his general disinterest in either killing or forming human connections, and aside from his flute, he appears to have no real hobbies.

    @myphim - I agree that Eum Ja and Hwa Soo In are probably orphans, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Eum Ja's past turned out to be Chinese drama!tragic in nature. I wonder whether Ki Chul, Eum Ja and Hwa Soo In's master was some sort of expert user of ki or something - it can't be a pure coincidence that all three of them possess powers. Writer Song might have to come out with 3 different series just to cover the stories that she wanted to tell, I think - aside from the Imja couple's main story, she also has the Jeogwoldae and the Ki Chul siblings!