Soong Joong-ki, Jang Dong-gun, Kim Ji-won, Kim Ok-vin talk about their 'Arthdal Chronicles' characters
SEOUL, South Korea – From a “fleeting stranger” to a “villain who blurs the line between good and evil,” Netflix’s Arthdal Chronicles has four strong characters that make Korea’s first drama set in prehistoric times unique and memorable.
Arthdal Chronicles premiered on Netflix in the Philippines on June 1, 10:30pm. The series will air Saturdays and Sundays.
Here is how the all-star cast describe their characters and their relationships with one another:
SONG JOONG-KI ("Eunseom")
If I had to describe Eunseom in one word, I would say a wanderer or stranger. I think those would best fit him best since he doesn’t quite belong anywhere.
Eunseom lives among the Wahan with Tanya, who is played by Kim Ji-won, but he isn’t a Wahan. Eunseom has no idea about his roots — where he was born or who the father is — his mother passed away when he was young, and he has never known what his identity is. That’s why think "fleeting stranger" would best describe him, which I find quite sad.
Tanya, played by Ji-won, and the Wahan Tribe welcomed him into their home, and Eunseom sees them as his family. The story of the series begins as something terrible happens to Wahan people, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that the story is about how Eunseom, who was robbed of everything that meant the world to him, taking back everything that was taken from him.
Eunseom, in that sense, has so many sorrows in his life. But he’s not always depressed or sad. He’s very positive, pure-hearted, and very endearing.
What’s the relationship like between Eunseom and Tagon?
Eunseom resents, detests, and at the same time, fears Tagon. Tagon took away the Wahan and Tanya, who meant everything to Eunseom — I think mortal enemies would be the right expression to describe their relationship. Either one of Tagon or Eunseom has to die in order for one to survive. Compared to Tagon, Eunseom lacks resources and is weak. But he still must take down Tagon to get back everything that is precious to him.
JANG DONG-GUN ("Tagon")
When I first read the script, the initial impression was that Tagon may be the villain, but sometimes he isn’t. But I learned that Tagon’s relationship with his father left him quite traumatized from a young age, and he perceives his father to be someone he needs to defeat.
His father is the leader of the Arthdal Tribal Alliance, and as his son, Tagon accomplishes many things for the sake of Arthdal. He often blurs the line between good and evil, and even though he seems to have everything he wants, he also struggles with his own torments, and the question of how long he can exert patience and when he is going to unleash all his emotions will help the audience to enjoy the show better.
What’s the relationship between Tagon and Eunseom?
Tagon, at first, seemed like a person who would have no obstacles in life. But after Eunseom discovers Tagon’s greatest weakness, he becomes Tagon’s biggest enemy. The tensions between the two characters and their conflict will be a major driver for the story.
What’s the relationship between Tagon and Taealha?
They are lovers, so they seem to be in love with each other, but at the same time, they’re also strategic allies, so their relationship constantly swings between these two different sides. So, it will be quite interesting for the audience to think about this question: "These two are lovers, but if they had to choose between their own desire and love, what decision will each of these people make?" I think that will be the central question for their relationship.
KIM JI-WON ("Tanya")
Tanya is a member of the Wahan Tribe and successor to the clan mother. So, she was born with the destiny to lead the tribe. That’s why she has lived with a sense of calling and duty from a very young age. I think that’s also why she has such a big heart to love her family and neighbors.
What’s the relationship between Tanya and Eunseom?
Tanya and Eunseom are friends who grew up together in the same tribe after Eunseom, a stranger, ended up with the Wahan Tribe. You’ll see what I mean when you watch the show, but I think their relationship cannot be simply defined as friends or lovers because each person’s existence helps the other persevere through very difficult situations. When you watch the show, you’ll also see the extent to which Tanya can persevere hardships and why refuses to give up and be worn out.
Tanya undergoes a lot of change in her situation, but rather than trying to portray the character in a different way for every situation, I tried to focus on what she worked so hard to protect in Arthdal and what drives her to persevere. In terms of her tone of voice or manner of speaking, there isn’t a lot of change, but as she grows from a girl from the Wahan Tribe to someone with greater power, you’ll see some external changes in line with that.
Change doesn’t mean that she experiences a dramatic transformation, but rather, because she undergoes a process of growth from a being girl to becoming an adult, I tried to portray how she becomes calmer and more resilient.
What’s the relationship between Tanya and Taealha?
Tanya and Taealha create tensions every single time they’re in the same place. While Taealha is like a very sharp sword, Tanya is like a very strong shield. Both characters have their own desires, but while one pursues a personal desire, the other pursues to serve a larger cause, and they’re fated to confront each other due to their conflicting goals. You’ll see serious tensions being created between them once you start watching the series.
KIM OK-VIN ("Taealha")
Taealha constantly pushes Tagon because she knows that he’s the only person who can save her from her situation—because she is the daughter of the Hae Tribe’s leader, she has to succeed his leadership. I wonder if she could live like Eunseom and Tanya of the Wahan Tribe in a barren land where nothing exists. She has people of the Hae Tribe to look after, so she can’t. Because of the situation that she is in, she has to pursue power until the very end.
Which do you think Taealha would choose between power and love in the context of her relationship with Tagon? But before answering the question, please share with us what the relationship is like between Taealha and Tagon.
Tagon is someone that Taealha needs. I think Tagon is the perfect person for Taealha in the sense that he can be both her political partner and lover, which serves her goal perfectly. In order for Taealha to fulfill what she lacks in power, she needs Tagon. But her feelings towards him are not mature enough yet, so things are a bit uncertain between them.
As per the first question about what Taealha would choose between power and love, I think she would choose power. As I mentioned, the feelings between Tagon and Taealha are not mature enough, so she doesn’t commit fully to the relationship. But seeing Tagon testing to see if he can have both power and love drives Taealha to aim straight for power.
What would you as the actor, Kim Ok-vin, choose between power and love if you were Taealha?
I think I would also choose power. Feelings may change anytime, but power lasts forever.
Wait, but power can get taken away from you as well. (laughs)
Nikko Dizon is a journalist specializing in security and political issues. She spent most of her two-decade career with the Philippine Daily Inquirer before she became a freelance reporter. Her fascination with the Korean Wave in general, and Korean dramas in particular, began after she watched Descendants of the Sun and Healer last year. She is an avowed fan of Korean actor Ji Chang Wook.