All About “Jeong Nyeon”—The Feminist Webtoon Set For A K-Drama Adaptation
Jeong Nyeon, a webtoon co-authored by Seo Ireh and Namon, is currently being hailed as a revolutionary feminist literature that has significantly revived public interest in the art form of yeoseong gukgeuk (여성국극). The story is getting a K-Drama adaption soon, drawing even more attention to its subject matter.
A little background of yeonsong gukgeuk would be significant to understand why there is so much anticipation around this drama. It is a type of traditional Korean musical theatre that uses pansori as a primary mode of storytelling. The key point of yeonsong gukgeuk is that it is always performed by an all-female ensemble who take on the roles of both men and women to portray passionate stories of love and war.
This art form was very popular in South Korea around the 1950s, but with the onset of digital media-based entertainment, it lost its charm eventually. The public revered the actresses who performed yeonsong gukgeuk, their fame at par with that of K-Pop idols today. Seo Ireh and Namon wanted to preserve this almost-lost art form in their work and did it so beautifully with Jeong Nyeon that it won them the 2019 Manhwa of the Year award.
The two protagonists of Jeong Nyeon are Yoon Jeong Nyeon and Heo Yeong Seo. The two characters are foils of each other, representing contrasting qualities. Jeong Nyeon, a young woman from Mokpo, dreamed of becoming a famous gukgeuk artist and finding her way out of poverty. Heo Yeongseo comes from a privileged family and also happens to be pursuing the same career. From their outer appearance to the inner workings of their minds, the two characters reflect their different realities and backgrounds. Jeong Nyeon is unkempt but lively and full of dynamic energy. Yeong Seo is prim and proper, with a cold exterior, but on the inside, she craves her family’s validation and chases perfection. Jeong Nyeon is a natural genius, but her circumstances have planted an inferiority complex in her mind. On the other hand, Yeong Seo is a hard worker with a superiority complex, the signature of someone with an affluent background like hers.
Just like their other works, with Jeong Nyeong, the authors once again aimed at creating a female-oriented narrative. The story is built on the two main characters’ rivalry and personal growth. But it also gives a panoramic view of the history of the era. It delves into complex themes of female autonomy, gender expressions, class inequity, gender bias, and queer identities, to name a few.
The Drama Adaptation
According to reports, actress Kim Tae Ri is in the talks for playing the character of Jeong Nyeon in the K-Drama adaptation of the webtoon. One of the authors, Namon, had previously revealed in an interview that the original character of Jeong Nyeon was modeled after Kim Tae Ri’s appearance in the movie The Handmaiden.
For the role of Yeong Seo, Shin Ye Eun‘s name is on the top of the prospectives’ list. Her recent performance in The Glory has already cemented her reputation as a versatile actor in the industry. So, fans are eager to see what new surprises she can bring to the table with this character.
The drama’s filming is supposedly slated to begin in the second half of 2023 under the production of Studio N.