MBC drama Dae Jang Geum, a.k.a. Jewel in the Palace, rewrote Korean television history when it aired in 2003. During its original run, it achieved ratings of 54 Percent ratings, the highest viewer rating in Korean television history. Starring Lee Young Ae (Joint Security Area and One Fine Spring Day) and Ji Jin Hee (Love Letter), Dae Jang Geum is an epic television event full of stunning plot twists and clever political intrigue.
A historical drama based on a true story, Dae Jang Geum tells the tale of Jang Geum, the first woman to become the King's personal physician. In a time when women held little influence in society, young apprentice cook Jang Geum strives to learn the secrets of Korean cooking and medicine in order to cure the King of his various ailments. Palace politics and rivalries impede Jang Geum, as her fellow ladies compete to earn the King's favor and secure the top female positions in the Royal Kitchen. But Jang Geum is far from ordinary. With her remarkable determination and wisdom, she takes on even greater odds, challenging numerous foes and society itself to achieve a position never before held by a woman in Korean history!
About 500 years ago during the time of Chosun Dynasty, Korea boasted a rigidly hierarchical and male dominated social structure.
Set in this period, "Jewel in the Palace" is based on a true story about a legendary girl(Jang-Geum) who became the first woman to be the supreme royal physician of her times.
Despite her poor condition as a low class girl in the male dominated society, Jang-Geum overcame a series of social discrimination and landed herself as a royal cook, later becoming the royal physician, then ultimately the physician in charge of the king.
She was even given by the king the title"The Great Jang-Geum". The story of her checkered life on her success and breakdown as well as her love story beautifully unfold. "Jewel in the Palace" is sure to touch your heart.
Jang-geum (played by Lee Young-ae) is the daughter of Seo Cheon-su (played by ParkChan-hwan), a former judicial officer-turned butcher (the lowest social class) who lives in hiding after being expelled from the royal palace, and Madame Park (played by Kim Hye-seon), a former court lady working in the royal kitchen who narrowly escaped death following a murderous conspiracy planned by Court Lady Choi.
As a young child, Jang-geum loses both parents and enters the royal palace in the kitchen. In the royal kitchen, she spends a harsh childhood in continuous competition with Choi Geum-yeong (played by Hong Li-na). Under the protection and tutelage of Court Lady Han, Jang-geum makes every effort to become the best cook in the palace. Her endeavors enable her to become a recognized cook; but Lady Choi and her faction, jealous of the success of Lady Han and Jang-geum, plot a conspiracy, which leads to the death of Lady Han and Jang-geum's expulsion from the royal palace. Jang-geum is relegated to the position of maidservant for the local government office on Jeju-do Island.
While in exile, Jang-geum learns medicine. Through native intelligence and patient efforts, she earns her reputation as a woman doctor on the island. After a time, she returns to the palace, where she is recognized by the king and becomes the royal physician and also the first female physician in history to serve the king. The king falls in love with her, but she cannot return his love, as she is already in love with Min Jung-Ho, who has stood by her side during the most difficult times. * The concluding part omitted.