Mr. Sunshine: Revenge of Hell Chosun


There is another Korean drama series making waves this month. Entitled, "Mr. Sunshine," the Korean drama has captured the attention and imagination of fans and critics alike. Personally, I am very thankful for this disturbance in social and traditional media, otherwise I might not have ever tuned in on Netflix for this delicious historical piece.

The drama takes place in the chaotic, tumultuous, and dangerous twilight of the Chosun era just prior to the Japanese occupation of the Korean peninsula. As an avid lover of history and drama, this is a match made in heaven. Before I go any further I highly recommend all readers to binge-watch every episode of Mr. Sunshine and then report back to finish this commentary. 

Good, now that you are back I will give you a very obvious commentary that has yet to be fully articulated online. Yes, the verdict is in. Despite its tremendous popularity, due to the lack of rigid adherence to historical accuracy, the promotion of entertainment and storytelling, and the negative representation of the future Japanese colonizers, the critics have found the drama lacking. But this commentary will look to slay the real dragon gnawing at the indignant experts, authors, and academics. The real dragon breathing down their necks is the dragon of the very historically real feudalist system, feudalist mindset, and the master-slave mentality that lingers today.  After watching just a few episodes, at least one message the creators wanted to push was loud and clear. Chosun was hell for most and great for a few.

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Eugene Choi

Our main character, the handsome Korean American Captain Eugene Choi, is clearly not a fan of Chosun Korea. Born into the slave class, after witnessing the brutal murder of his parents, at the hands of a local noble, he escapes Chosun Korea with the help of an American. At the age of nine he flees to the United States, enlists in the military, earns his way up the ranks through merit, to then be sent back to Korea as the 2nd highest-ranking US representative at the American Legation. His hatred for Chosun and its feudalistic system of strict class hierarchy is omnipresent. He never fails to make the most of any opportunity to challenge and confront, what he believes to be an incredibly unjust society that is destined for collapse and deservedly so.

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In the screen capture sequence above the Captain finds himself opposite, from a local noble being carried by his peasants. The Captain, refusing to follow social norms by yielding to the noble, rides his horse at full gallop and jumps the terrified and bewildered noble. Throughout the series he spends most of his time tracking down his list of noble perpetrators, waiting to exact his revenge. 

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Goo Dong-mae

Moving on to our second male lead, Goo Dong-mae, also comes from the slave class, but worse than possibly a slave he was from the "butchers" (백정) within the slave class. To learn more about the "butchers"please utilize the link to an informative documentary in Korean on the butchers. His family also suffered greatly due to their status as slaves.  Forced to flee Chosun Korea as well, he returns as the leader of a Japanese gang, providing his brutal services to the highest bidder. He feels no allegiance to Chosun Korea and works with the Japanese government to control and dominate Chosun through the destruction of the "Korean Independence Movement" or "Righteous Army." He and Captain Choi both share in their desire to exact revenge on those responsible for their Hell Chosun experience. 

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Go Ae-shin

Finally, the main female lead, Go Ae-shin is a noble in Chosun Korea, and as the prize for all three male leads, she too challenges the Chosun Korea directly by being a leader in the Korean Independence movement and a member in the "Righteous Army." She is promised by tradition and custom to the third male lead, "Kim Hee-sung," a noble, who is called back to Korea for their marriage and spends his time drinking and playing at the local hotel owned and operated by our 2nd female lead, Kudo Hin. Go Ae-shin is not keen on the engagement with Hee-sung or the future life of a traditional Chosun noblewoman the engagement promises.

Disappointed in the lack of commentary on the obvious critique of the Chosun era, we will look to the final scene of the most recent episode. In the scene, Captain Choi reveals his origins, his past class status as a "nobi" (slave) and the explanation for his departure from Korea at the age of nine.

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Captain Eugene: "Kill him...It may be a waste of my property, but this will teach the other slaves a lesson. So I guess it is not a loss at all. That was my last memory of Chosun."
Noblewoman Ms. Go: "Who would say this?"
Captain Eugene: "A nobleman. What are you shocked about? About what the nobleman said or my origin? That's right. I was a slave. The country you are trying to protect, who is it for? Can butchers live here? Can slaves live here?"

The scene, among many others, communicates the pain of the main character and his resentment for his homeland. Like the former butcher and now Japanese gang leader, Goo Dong-mae, Captain Choi found his path to success outside of Chosun Korea and its strict adherence to hereditary class and hierarchy.  Goo Dong-mae achieved his status and success in the dark underworld of Japanese gangs, although impressive in his return, he is still not a respected status in society. It is Captain Choi's achievement of returning to Chosun Korea as an official US government representative that is shocking for the times. The notion that a member from the slave class would be able to become a government official in Chosun Korea was completely inconceivable and even illegal. Perhaps the drama should have been entitled, "Revenge of Hell Chosun," with its obvious critique of "gapjil" culture that still lingers around the world and in Korea today. Perhaps this courageous artistic critique of the stagnate, unjust, and feudalistic Chosun era is a signal of Seoul's cultural direction and leadership on a global stage.  

"북한"을 언급한 대중매체기사 토픽모델분석

한반도를 둘러싼 대중 매체에 계속 초점을 맞추면서  토픽모델분석과 감정적인 분석 합쳐서 검토한다. 아래의 결과는 2018 년 2 월 1 일부터 2018 년 6 월 25 일 까지의 뉴스주기를 지배 한 주제, 정서 및 뉴스 아울렛에 대한 통찰력을 세계에서 가장 높은 47 개 영어 뉴스 아울렛의 +28,000 개 영문 뉴스 기사 데이터베이스로 분석 한 것입니다.

 In the continuation of our focus on mass media coverage surrounding the Korean peninsula, we look to the combination of topic model and sentiment analysis for insight. Analyzing a database of 28,000 + published English news articles of the top 47 English news outlets in the world the results below provide unique insight into the themes, sentiment and news outlets that dominated the news cycle from February 1st, 2018 to June 25th, 2018. 

Afinn Sentiment & Topic Model Results

Figure 1. Avg. Sentiment Score by Topic

Figure 1. Avg. Sentiment Score by Topic

Figure 2. Topic Model Results

Figure 2. Topic Model Results

위의 그림 1과 2의 토픽모델 결과는 수집 된 데이터 세트에서 발견 된 5 가지 주제를 보여준다. 먼저 그림 1을 보면 다음과 같이 알고리즘으로 분류 된 기사의 비율을 볼 수 있는데 오렌지색은 "Summits"이란 주제 41.73 %, 청록색은 "Pompeo Efforts" 18.65 %, 파란색은 "US Domestic Negative" 15.20 %, 빨간색은 "Olympics"는 13.21 %, 마지막으로 출판 된 녹색은 "China Trade & Tariffs" 이란 주제 11.21 %로 나타났다. y-axis에서 평균 afinn 감정 점수는 "Olympics" 주제가 "Summits", "Pompeo Efforts", "China Trade & Tariffs"이어 순서대로 긍정적인 감정점수로 나타났다. 그리고 마지막으로 "US Domestic Negative" 주제 가장 부정적 감정 점수는 -5.99로 기로했다.

The topic model results above in figures 1 and 2, depicts the 5 discovered themes from the collected dataset.  Looking first at figure 1, we can see the percentage of articles categorized by the algorithm as follows: "Summits" topic in orange with 41.73%, "Pompeo Efforts" in teal with 18.65%, "US Domestic Negative" in blue with 15.20%, "Olympics" in red with 13.21% and finally the "China Trade & Tariffs" topic in green came in last totaling 11.21% percent of all published articles. On the y-axis the average afinn sentiment score shows the "Olympics" topic as the most positive, followed by "Summits", "Pompeo Efforts", "China Trade & Tariffs", and finally "US Domestic Negative" which recorded the only average negative sentiment score at -5.99. 

그림 2에 있는 토픽모델 결과를 더 잘 이해하기 위해 아래 발췌를 통해 식별 된 실제 기사를 더 깊이 볼 수 있다.

To better understand the topic model results in figure 2, let's dig a bit deeper to understand the actual articles identified, through the excerpts below. 

Olympics (Feb. 9th, 2018)  N. Korea's high-level Olympic delegation arrives in PyeongChang

"A North Korean delegation, including the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, arrived in PyeongChang on Friday for the opening of the Winter Olympic Games, while the head of the high-profile delegation was also scheduled to attend a reception dinner hosted by South Korean President Moon Jae-in." 

Summits (May 13, 2018) Trump welcomes N. Korea plan to blow up nuke-site tunnels

"North Korea said Saturday that it will dismantle its nuclear test site in less than two weeks, in a dramatic event that would set up leader Kim Jong Un's summit with President Donald Trump next month."

Pompeo Efforts (April 17, 2018) Keeping Trump's trust is key to reviving diplomacy

"If it's true that proximity to President Donald Trump is the key to effective policy-making in his administration, then Secretary of State nominee Mike Pompeo stands a good chance to succeed whatever the merit of his policies."

China Trade & Domestics (May 11th, 2018) Lotte's China dream shattered

"Seoul and Washington said the anti-missile system is only meant to counter North Korea's evolving nuclear and missile threats. But China has repeatedly pressed South Korea to withdraw the missile system out of concern that the deployment could hurt Beijing's security interests."

NK Negative (February 26th, 2018) China launches propaganda push for Xi Jinping

"China's plan for President Xi Jinping to remain in office indefinitely has sparked social media opposition, drawing comparisons to North Korea's ruling dynasty and charges of creating a dictator by a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist."

Time Series: Topics and Afinn Sentiment

Figure 3. Time Series Analysis: Topic Model Results and Afinn Sentiment Score

Figure 3. Time Series Analysis: Topic Model Results and Afinn Sentiment Score


"Summits"주제는 평균적으로 긍정적 인 감정 기사를 기록했지만 4.27 남북정상회담과 6.12 US미북정상회담에서 모두 긍정적인 감정 점수를 차지했다. 위의 그림 3에서 그래픽은 전체 Afinn 감정 점수를 나타내지만 그림 1에 표시된 평균은 아닌다. 이를 통해 Afinn 감정 점수의 원시 총합을 주제별로 볼 수 있다. 그림 3의 왼쪽부터 한국의 올림픽 게임에서 빨간색은 "Olympics" 주제가 가장 높은 것으로 나타났다. 2 월 28 일에 오렌지색은 "Summits" 주제는 "Olympics"주제를 다루며 2018 년 6 월 28 일까지 가장 긍정적인 주제로 다뤄진다. 파란색은 "NK Negative" 주제는 전체 데이터 세트의 거의 매일 가장 부정적 주제이다. 더 자세히 분석한 결과, "NK Negative" 주제를 구성하는 기사는 평균적으로 매우 부정적이었고 적어도 한번 이상 "북한"이라고 언급했다는 점을 제외하면 단한 가지 주제가 없었다.


The "Summits" topic not only on average recorded positive sentiment articles, but it also dominates during both the SK-NK Summit on April 27th and the US-NK Summit on June 12th in overall positive sentiments scores. Above, in figure 3, the graphic represents the total Afinn sentiment score and not the average as represented in figure 1. This allows us to see the raw summation of the Afinn sentiment scores by topic across time. Starting on the left side of figure 3, we can see the red colored "Olympics" topic dominate, as the highest in positive sentiment, during the olympic games in South Korea. On February 28th, the orange colored "Summits" topic over takes the "Olympics" topic and dominates as the most positive topic until June 28th, 2018, the end of the dataset.  The blue colored "NK Negative" topic dominates as the most negative topic for almost everyday of the entire dataset. After closer analysis the articles composing the "NK Negative" topic had no single theme, except that they were on average highly negative and mentioned "North Korea" at least once. 

Time Series: Afinn Sentiment

Figure 4. Time Series Analysis: Afinn Sentiment Score (Sum)

Figure 4. Time Series Analysis: Afinn Sentiment Score (Sum)

위의 그림 2의 두 번째 시간 시리즈 그래픽에서 시간에 매핑 된 전체 datatset에 대한 원시 총 감정 점수 (sum)를 볼 수 있다. 흥미롭게도 2018 년 4 월 27 일 (5,771점수) 남북정상회담은 2018 년 6 월 12 일 (4,291점수) 미북정상회담보다 영국 언론 매체로부터 더 긍정적인 반응을 보였다.

In the second times series graphic, figure 4 above, we can see the raw total afinn sentiment score (sum) for the entire datatset mapped across time. Interestingly, the SK-NK Summit, on April 27, 2018 (5,771) recorded a significantly greater positive reaction from English news media outlets than the US-NK Summit on June 12th, 2018 (4,291).


그 결과는 예상대로 한국 올림픽, 남북정상회담 및 미북정상회담에 긍정적이었다. 다음 및 마지막 섹션에서 저자는 아래의 시각화를 통해 상위 5 개 소스 (뉴스 아울렛) 순위를 5 가지 주제 중 가장 높은 비율로 정렬하여 심층적인 분석을 제공한다. 빨간색에서 파란색까지의 색상은 출처 및 주제에 대한 평균 감정 평가 점수를 나타낸다.

The results were, as expected, positive toward the Olympics in South Korea, SK-NK Summit, and the US-NK Summit. In the next and final section the authors, through the visualizations below, provide an in-depth analysis of the top ten sources (news outlets) rank ordered by the highest percentage of each of the 5 topics. The color, from red to blue, represents the average afinn sentiment score for the source and topic.  

Figure 5. Most positive days rank ordered. 

Figure 5. Most positive days rank ordered. 

Topics & Afinn Sentiment by Source

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China Trade Topic

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Summits Topic

위의 "China Trade Topic"시각화 "", ""및 ""은 "China Trade & Tariffs"로 분류 된 기사 중 가장 높은 비율을 기록했으며 세 가지 "ft. com "의 기사는 정서적으로 평균 부정적이다. "Summits Topic" 시각화는 "Summits"으로 분류 된 10 개 출처의 상위 7 개를 한국에 표시하고 평균적으로 모두 정서에 긍정적인 것으로 나타낸다.

In the above "China Trade Topic" visualization "", "", and "" recorded the highest percentage of articles categorized as "China Trade & Tariffs", and of the three only ""'s articles are on average negative in sentiment. The "Summits Topic" visualization clearly shows the top seven of the ten sources, categorized as "Summits", to be located in South Korea and all, on average, positive in sentiment. 

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Pompeo Efforts Topic

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NK Negative Topic


"", "" 및 ""을 제외한 평균 긍정적인 감정 점수에 기록 된 "Pompeo Efforts"로 분류 된 상위 10 개 출처는 평균 감정 점수에서 음수로 나타났다. 다섯 가지 주제 중 전반적인 평균 부정적 감정 점수가 유일한 항목인데, "NK Negative" 주제의 상위 10개 카테고리 소스는 모두 한국 이외의 지역에있는 모든 뉴스 아울렛이다. 흥미롭게도 위의 "NK Negative Topic" 시각화의 상위 10개 안에 있는 유일한 출처는 뉴스 출처 ""이다.

The top ten sources categorized as "Pompeo Efforts" all recorded on average positive sentiment scores, except for "", "", and the "", which were found to be negative in average sentiment scores.  With the only overall average negative sentiment score amongst the five topics, the "NK Negative" topic's top ten categorized sources are all news outlets headquartered outside of South Korea. Interestingly, the only source within the top ten of the "NK Negative Topic" visualization above, is the news source "". 

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Olympics Topic

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위의 최종 시각화는 분석으로 분류 된 "Olympics"기사의 비율이 가장 높은 상위 10 개 뉴스 콘센트를 보여준다. 모든 뉴스 아울렛 또한 높은 평균 긍정적인 감정 점수를 보여준다.

The final visualization above, depicts the top ten news outlets with the highest percentage of "Olympic" articles categorized by the analysis. All of the news outlets also show a high average positive sentiment score. 


마이클 람브라우 (Michael Lammbrau) 박사와 옌 블리 콕스 (Ms. Jenbli Cox)는 자동화 된 텍스트 분석 기술을 사용하여 "대 북한 토론 : 당신은 제국주의 자라고 주장 하는가?"라는 제목의 현행 원고에서이 발췌문을 제공 할만큼 충분히 친절했다. 이 연구는 2018 년 2 월 1 일부터 2018 년 6 월 25 일까지 47 개 언론 매체를 대상으로 한 북미 관계를 분석하다.
-Using automated text analysis techniques, Dr. Michael Lammbrau and Ms. Jenbli Cox, were kind enough to provide this excerpt from their current manuscript entitled, "The Great North Korea Debate: Do you argue like an imperialist?" The work analyzes coverage of North Korea-US relations from 47 media outlets during from February 1st, 2018 to June 25th, 2018.