Iljimae Korean Drama

Iljimae is a sageuk (historical) that tells the story of Yong (Lee Joon Gi) who appears to be a troublemaker to his family and the town, but he actually has a secret identity…he’s Iljimae, a masked man who robs from the rich and gives to the poor! Of course, things aren’t quite that simple.  He’s on a mission to uncover the reason behind his father’s death many years earlier and helping the townspeople is an added benefit.

Iljimae came out in 2008 and was a huge success.  I have seen older dramas, but it is the oldest saguek I have seen.  Saguek’s also aren’t my favorite genre.  There are several that I love, but a lot that are just okay.  Luckily, I loved Iljimae!  I found myself immediately interested in the characters and their story.


Yong’s real name as a child was Geum, played by an adorably young Yeo Jin Goo.  Yong/Geum’s father is murdered because of a government conspiracy that also causes Yong to be separated from his remaining family and forced into hiding with a new family.  Of course after a lot of trauma, he gets amnesia and forgets all about his past.

Iljimae Korean Drama - Lee Joon Gi

We eventually fast forward to the present where he is now a young man played by Lee Joon Gi.  He is a bit irresponsible and is always causing trouble.  His pretend father Sae Dol (Lee Moon Shik) is a long time thief, but he has a heart of gold.  He is constantly trying to keep Yong out of trouble and give him a better life.

Iljimae Korean Drama - Lee Moon ShikI absolutely love Sae Dol’s character.  He easily gets himself into trouble, but he is willing to give his all for Yong even though he is not his real son.  Although far from perfect, he also tries his best to be a good husband to the love of his life, Dan Yi, who is sadly very bitter and shows little affection towards him.

Romance certainly is not the focus of the drama, but Yong has two lovely women in his life.  The first is Lady Eun Chae (Han Hyo Joo) who he met as a child.  She sees Yong as irresponsible, but harbors feelings for his Iljimae persona.

Iljimae Korean Drama - Han Hyo Joo

Bong Soon (Lee Yeong Ah) is the second lady in Yong’s life.  They fight and get on each other’s nerves, but eventually they develop a strong bond.  Bong Soon was so vibrant and fun to watch, especially her comical interactions with her father Yong Jae (Ahn Kil Kang).  Ahn Kil Kang just happens to be my favorite ahjusshi.  He is wonderful in sageuks and does so well at being both serious and comical.

Iljimae Korean Drama - Lee Yeong Ah   Iljimae Korean Drama - Ahn Kil Kang

There were also birth secrets galore in this drama!  Because of a great deal of secrets kept by Yong’s pretend mother Dan Yi, Yong actually ends up directly pitted against his own brother Ja Dol (Park Shi Hoo) on many different levels throughout the entire drama.  It made for a very interesting dynamic.

Iljimae Korean Drama - Park Shi Hoo

Yong’s development into Iljimae was surprisingly slow.  He gradually gathered his skills as the show progressed, and it’s not until the latter third that he truly embodies the Iljimae character.  I loved watching Yong grow both in skills and as a person.

Iljimae Korean Drama - Lee Joon Gi

The drama definitely felt older, but I thought the pacing was great and I was never bored.  There was a lot of fun action and plenty of wonderful characters to go around.  If you haven’t seen it, you should give it a go.  If you have, what did you think of Iljimae?

My Rating: 9/10

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11 responses to “Iljimae Korean Drama Review”

  1. AidaZen Avatar

    I loved Iljimae when I got to see it a few months ago! I think Lee Joon Gi should do more sageuks no matter what.

    And thank you for checking and commenting on my blog!

    1. Kay Avatar

      I agree! Luckily, he tends to do one drama a year, but of course that’s never enough, lol

      1. AidaZen Avatar

        Not nearly enough! But it’s the same for most lead actors, I noticed 🙂

  2. […] This drama drew me into it’s world, and I found myself wishing it would never end.  I highly recommend this drama to everyone! (Iljimae Full Review) […]

  3. […] Ahn Kil Kang will play the role of Jang Geun Suk’s right hand man and will be teaching him martial arts on his quest to regain his throne.  Sounds like a perfect role for him.  These two could be quite humorous together, so I’m hoping they play that up a bit.  It really reminds of the pairing of Ahn Kil Kang as Lee Joon Gi’s mentor in the classic drama Iljimae. […]

  4. […] I found myself completely immersed in the characters and their story.  Watching Yong develop into Iljimae was an interesting journey. He goes on a moving journey both as a hero and as person. Iljimae really is a fantastic drama on many levels. (Iljimae Review) […]

  5. Marlene Avatar

    I finally find it at Drama Fever, I just finished 13th episode and I would say I really like this drama, a lot. You can’t be too sad because of the lively character. I fell in love with Sae Dol, I like how he love his 2 adopted sons and the way he call his my one and only is so endearing. He is so much fun to watch. Of course, I love Lee Joon Gi as Yong and Iljimae, he’s acting prowess is always on point. I kind like Ja Dol, his struggle to be recognize is so painful. I agree with you with Yang Jae, he is a lovable ahjusi, I don’t know how this drama going to end yet but I am hoping for a good ending where they all live happily ever after 🙂

    1. Kay Avatar

      Oh good, I’m glad to hear that you’re enjoying it 🙂 I loved Sae Dol too! He made me smile so much and it was wonderful how much he loved both of his sons. And yes, Lee Joon Gi is as amazing as always. This is one of his more fun characters and I love how lively he is. This drama really did have so many wonderful characters to enjoy. I loved it so much, and I hope you continue to enjoy it 🙂

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