Chuno aka Slave Hunter – Korean Drama

I totally got into a Korean drama called, Chuno or Slave Hunter. It stars Lee Da Hae, Jang Huyk, and Oh Ji Ho.

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“Chuno follows the story of Lee Dae Gil, a man of high birth whose family was ruined when Won Ki Yoon, a slave, burnt down his house and escaped with his sister, Un Nyun, who was in love with Dae Gil. Driven by his desire for revenge, he survived his harsh years on the street and made his name as a slave hunter, dedicated in his pursuit to find Un Nyun, his first and only love. Song Tae Ha is a General of the Army who became a slave after being falsely accused of a crime he did not commit, and finds himself on the run from Dae Gil’s relentless pursuit. Both men become entangled in a love triangle with Un Nyun, who is no longer a runaway slave, but Kim Hye Won, a nobleman’s daughter.”

Credits: Dramawiki

There will be spoilers in my review below.

I totally fell in love with Chuno, because of the character of Lee Dae Gil. When you first meet this man, he is coarse, vulgar, and a slave hunter. By today’s standards, how could anyone defend a man who hunts poor slaves, men and women who suffer horribly just because they are labeled property? But as the story unfolds, we come to see a man who is forged into steel by his painful past, his loss, and his desire to survive and find the only woman he has ever loved.

The tension in the drama carries the viewer along and the music, especially the songs “Change” by the Gloomy 30’s and Stigma by Im Jae Beom, set the tone of the drama. On one hand we have the chase, where Lee Dae Gil is chasing Song Tae Ha, an escaped slave. During the course of the chase, Lee Dae Gil’s motives go from chasing this man for money, to a matter of personal pride, and in the end because he is the man that married his beloved Un Nyun.

On the other hand, we have that same Lee Dae Gil, the man who grew up as a Yangban (a member of the upper class, a man who was to be a scholar) fighting the brand/stigma of slavery. He cared for and then loved his slave, Un Nyun. He promised her they would live together in a world that would have no slaves or Yangban. He dreams about that world. And then he loses everything when a slave, who turns out to be his half-brother, kills their father and his mother. Lee Dae Gil loses his life, his parents, and Un Nyun all in one night. He almost loses his own life. That is when he starts his search. He becomes strong, and you can see that because in the flashbacks we get of the old Lee Dae Gil, he was a coward. He was soft. But now … he is hard. He is a fighter. And he continuously searches for his love. And when he finds her, it is too late. She is already another’s in his mind. Both Stigma and Change really fit the two sides of our character, Lee Dae Gil.

Chuno is mainly the story of Lee Dae Gil, the slave hunter. We get to see the layers upon layers that this man has donned over the years in order to survive. And the closer he gets to Un Nyun, we see these layers peeled away, until we are left with a heartbroken man, crying in the street because he has lost the only woman he could ever love. After he finds her, Lee Dae Gil says, “When I couldn’t see her [Un Nyun], it was driving me crazy. Now I see her everyday, and it is killing me.” Well, something like that. And in the last few episodes, you can see the pain tearing away at him.

There are other stories. Stories of corrupt politicians and one who justifiably dies at the end. Stories of a slave uprising that is quashed before anything could happen, although the slave Eopbok does get his revenge by killing the corrupt politician. He sacrifices himself to kill those corrupt men. Chuno is a story of small people who just want to survive in a harsh world.

In the end Lee Dae Gil dies, because, and I have to say this, his love was greater. Un Nyun’s and Lee Dae Gil’s pairing was the one true pairing, in my mind. But that Un Nyun, the one who had merely existed for 10 years, thinking that her master was dead, transformed into Hye Won when she escaped her arranged marriage. Hye Won met Song Tae Ha. She decided to make a life with Song Tae Ha. She moved on and let go of the past. She became his wife. She made that commitment, and could not honorably break it. Hye Won might have felt sorry to Dae Gil, and might have owed him something, but I don’t think she even felt love for Dae Gil anymore. And Lee Dae Gil sacrificed himself so that the two could live happily ever after.

In the end, we are left with a peaceful Lee Dae Gil, living in the afterlife. Surrounded by quiet, and sunshine. There is a smile on his face. The moment that Hye Won married Song Tae Ha, I knew that Lee Dae Gil would die. Being the man he is, when his only reason for living has been taken away, by a man he believes worthy of his Un Nyun, that is when he can leave peacefully. He sacrifices himself because he cannot let go of Un Nyun, and cannot live without her. I hated the fact that he had to die, but liked how the writer created moments for Song Tae Ha and Lee Dae Gil to develop an understanding. Both got to know the kind of man the other was, and I felt this allowed Lee Dae Gil to leave Un Nyun behind peacefully, because he knew that he was leaving her with a good man.

Jang Hyuk was absolutely perfect in this role. He made this drama worth watching. He was able to emote beautifully, to act perfectly, and he became Lee Dae Gil.

You know? Not being able to see her was driving me crazy,
but now that I can see her everyday, it’s just killing me.

He was the Lee Dae Gil that was so completely in love with Un Nyun that  he spent a decade looking for her. Despite everything that happened to him, he held onto his morality and was still a good man. Many times, as I was watching the drama, I could see how aptly Jang Hyuk was able to portray Lee Dae Gil as an animal, a tiger, on the hunt. He had that ability to be silent and deadly. And when, in one scene he glimpses Un Nyun, after he has put a knife in her back, the emotions in his face were spellbinding. He portrayed the emotions that Lee Dae Gil felt beautifully, and I fell in love with that character.

I have always liked Lee Da Hae. I watched her in My Girl, and really enjoyed her, even if she was a bit cutesy. The drama worked because of her charm. Here, she does well with a character that was almost flat throughout the series. But LDH was able to portray the quiet strength of Hye Won, the wife and the mother, and the hope and love of Un Nyun, the slave.

I like Oh Ji Ho. I have to admit, that I really liked him in his drama, Get Karl! Oh Soo Jung. Here, he was the perfect Song Tae Ha. His acting wasn’t as strong as Jang Hyuk’s, but he did a wonderful job with the stoic general. He was able to act out the hidden desires of Song Tae Ha, a man committed to his cause, but who also wants to love his family. He was strong until the end, and was noble. Although I wanted Un Nyun to get with Lee Dae Gil, I wasn’t too unhappy that Hye Won ended up with Song Tae Ha instead. He was also a good man; he was a man that wanted to change the world.

I would highly suggest that you watch this drama. It’s a work of art. The writing and directing went hand in hand in keeping me on the edge of my chair, wondering what would happen next. The music, utilized correctly, also really helped set the tone of the series and the tension high in specific scenes. The scene where Dae Gil is running up that hill to save his comrades or when he throws the knife into Un Nyun’s back and then seemingly sees her face or when Dae Gil and Tae Ha are fighting their enemies or when Dae Gil and Tae Ha have it out and Un Nyun/Hye Won gets in the way…those scenes remain in my mind because of the magic created by that perfect combination of writing/directing/music. The drama was fun to watch, with just the right amount of depth to tug at my heartstrings.

Give it a chance.

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9 thoughts on “Chuno aka Slave Hunter – Korean Drama

  1. Hello!!!! I am totally hooked on this drama and like you, I have totally fallen for Jang Hyuk. Jang Hyuk was definitely Lee Dae Gil and Lee Dae Gil was Jang Hyuk. I totally agree with your sentiments too…..Lee Dae Gil and Un Nyun was the OTP. Dae Gil love was greater than Tae Ha’s love was for Hye Won but since he knows that Hye Won was better off with Tae Ha, he learned to finally let her go. With Hye Won, I know that she loves Tae Ha but her love for Tae Ha would always be in the shadow for Un Nyun’s love for Dae Gil. When she found out that Dae Gil was alive, if she was still unmarried I know that she would have run away with Dae Gil despite the fact that he was a slave hunter, or she would have gladly died in his hands if the only motive of him looking for her was revenge because that was how much she loved Dae Gil. I have 2 scenes that is just my favorite of all time in this series and it showed Lee Dae Gil and Kim Hye Won both letting go of their love despite the bitterness and pain that they may have felt. The first scene in episode 12, at he latter part when Dae Gil and General Choi was beside the river and Dae Gil told Choi of his desire to just quit the slave hunting business. He said that he wants to be able to live somewhere quiet with his 2 buddies in their own land and be able to enjoy what was left of their time on earth with those he cares for and love. He screamed how great that would be to live together for once like human beings in their own house, in their own land and with Un Nyun. General Choi finally confirmed that Dae Gil did see Un Nyun and he asked if she was doing well, and with tears in his eyes Dae Gil slightly nodded yes. And General Choi finally understood of his desire to retire. Dae Gil finally saw for himself that Un Nyun was happy and alive and doing well, better than what he could provide her now. He was letting her go. He was saying goodbye to his ultimate love and so it was time to leave his life of slave hunting, it was time to stop his search. For Hye Won, the most memorable scene for me was when she came home from the market after seeing Dae Gil was alive and with someone who he was laughing with in the market. She was thankful that he was alive for she had thought all these years that her beloved young master died in her brothers hands. When she was crying in the kitchen by the fire, you can just feel her heartbreaking from the moment she saw him it was so raw,the emotion that she was showing you can just feel her pain.

    To those who have not seen this series please do so. You will not regret it. Best Sageuk out there. My first historical and it was just mind blowing.

    • Thanks for taking the time to reply. I totally agree with you on how great this drama was, and it was made so great because Jang Hyuk was brilliant in his performance of Lee Dae Gil.

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  3. what will be the end of chono/the slave hunters because to me I have not see for a long time but I end where dae Gil and song tae ha was fight for security I want to know the end of this Korean drama because it was so good to me and every body in our home my mother,father and my sister like it that all thanks but don’t forget that I want to know the end of it can you give us a short story of it? thanks, my name is Mr. Macfarlane Kattikiro.

    • Hi,

      Lee Dae Gil and Song Tae Ha bond, and the two begin to work together and rely on each other reluctantly. In the end, Lee Dae Gil dies, sacrificing his life to protect Song Tae Ha and Un Nyun, so that the two can flee to safety. In the end there is only Sul Hwa sitting at Dae Gil’s grave, crying tears over her lost love. Dae Gil’s friends will live on the land that he has bought for them, but they do not yet know that he has died. Hye Won/Un Nyun lives on as Song Tae Ha’s wife, and the two will take care of the little prince as their own. The slave uprising was quelled and most of the slaves were unfortunately killed.

      For more details, you can always watch it on Dramafever for free. The link is: http://www.dramafever.com/drama/134/1/Chuno/

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