Yi San continues in the great tradition of Korean sageuk (or period drama) highbrow historical costume drama spanning years of Korean history.
Filmed in HD, the TV series is an incredible 77 episodes and was produced by the MBC Korean TV network.
When it was aired in 2008, over a nine month period, the whole country was spellbound with the dynamic and sympathetic acting, magnificent sets, elaborate costumes, beautiful cinematography and stirring music, as they followed the day to day life of King Jeongio, the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty and one of Koreas greatest Kings.
The series takes the name Yi San from King Jeongios pre-imperial name and was deservedly showered with many MBC Awards especially, in the acting category where the actors are veterans from previous sageuks, as well as for best writing, drama and popularity.
Because of its success in its home country Yi San has reached an international audience and has done much to kindle an interest in Korean sageuk.
The story starts when the king is a child and his friendship with two other children whose parents are working in the grand palace.
Jeongios grandfather who is King Yeongjo is a quick-tempered King who trusts no one.
Believing his son, Crown Prince Sado, is planning a palace coup against him he has the Crown Prince put into a huge rice storage barrel and left without any food or water.
The young Jeongio with his two friends Song Yeon and Dae Su, begs his grandfather the King to release his father.
Years later when Jeongio is an adult he is reunited with his childhood friends and begins to fall in love with Song Yeon whose father worked as an artist in the palace.
Court life portrays Yi Sans rise to power amid many palace intrigues and despite the threats to his position he nevertheless continued to champion the rights of commoners and to push through a programme of reform.
The story is really a classic boy meets girl where the King Jeongio falls in love with a commoner and does much to improve the plight of ordinary people.
It is this lifelong relationship with the beautiful Song Yeon, who becomes the Kings concubine that is central to the many plots turns in this story.