Synopsis. The Tale of Nokdu is a 16-episode webtoon inspired 2019 kdrama about a man trying to find out why his family was attacked. Jeon Nok Du lives on an island with his father and older brother. He’s been forbidden to leave the island by his father. Nok Du studies martial arts. His family is attacked by assassins. Nok Du leaves the island to pursue them and ends up at the capital. There he crosses paths with Dong Dong Ju and thwarts her attempt to kill the King. He learns the assassins operate out of a village strictly populated by widows. Nok Du disguises himself as a widow and lives at the village where he crosses paths with Dong Ju again. Secretly they pursue their own agendas, but circumstances throw them together again and again. Begrudgingly, they fall for each other. Will they share their real agendas? Will their romance survive their individual pursuits? What surprises lay in store for them individually and as a couple?
What I liked.
Supportive couple. Writers Baek So Yeon and Im Ye Jin mined the popular webtoon to create a couple that supported each other even before they figured out they liked each other. Our couple initially didn’t like each other and would not share their underlying goals with each other. The series was far along before they learned the truth about each other. But that didn’t stop them falling for each other and helping each other. I loved that his goal and her goal were individually pursued. She didn’t facilitate his path and he didn’t facilitate hers, yet they supported each other. Most other dramas would have the woman fully supporting the man with her agenda marginalized. Granted, he had the bigger story but hers was there too.
Leading man Jeon Nok Du (Jang Dong Yoon). This was my first series watching this actor in a lead role. He did a fine job, imbuing Nok Du with an earnest desire to figure out the truth and stay true to himself. Nok Du was a good guy – kind, smart, caring, etc. – and he didn’t waiver no matter what unfolded during his pursuit of the truth. I liked him. His path was interesting and not cookie cutter.
Leading lady Dong Dong Ju (Kim So Hyun). This was my first series watching this actress in a lead role. She did a good job showing Dong Ju’s unwavering pursuit of her goals but allowing love along the way. Her path and its conclusion was not cookie cutter. These two characters were stronger together than they were individually.
More depth to the story than expected. Openly supportive of this series, webtoon writer Yang Hye Jin watched along with us the characters brought to life by writers Baek So Yeon and Im Ye Jin. They started with Nok Du in disguise, but once that was done, all the characters started revealing more facets bringing complexity to the story. Each character became more nuanced, deeper, and interesting. The villains were not one-note characters. The ending to the series wasn’t typical but satisfying. I enjoyed the “girl power” in this series. Women weren’t only supportive of the male characters. They engaged. All this was a pleasant surprise. This series delivered more than the light drama I’d assumed it would be. The Tale of Nokdu isn’t the best historical, but it was enjoyable.
What I didn’t like.
Fluffy first quarter of the series. Writers Baek So Yeon and Im Ye Jin had Nok Du masquerading as a widow initially. These episodes had less substance. I was glad when Nok Du started sporting male attire. I quibble, but I didn’t find Jang Dong Yoon that compelling as a woman.
Couple could use some kissing lessons. Granted this was a young couple. Their kissing was sweet with minimal lip movement.
Would I recommend The Tale of Nokdu? Yes, this series delivered an leading man you rooted for, a leading lady you wanted to find her own resolution, an enjoyable couple, a layered story that had comedy and heart, characters with individual motivations you understood, and female characters with more independence and strength than most historical dramas. Bottom line, The Tale of Nokdu was a good historical drama that I enjoyed watching.
Rating. 4 out of 5 stars = Good
OST. This drama’s OST had 10 vocal songs. My favorite song was The Most Perfect Days. This OST was well woven throughout the series by the production team.
1. Baby Only You sung by Do Young & Mark of NCT U
2. I’ll Be Your Light sung by Younha
3. Miracle sung by Woozi
4. The Most Perfect Days sung by Gummy
5. Lingering Inside Me sung by San Deul
6. Sick sung by Min Seo
7. Scar sung by Kim Yun Ji
8. Your Warmth sung by Huh Gak
9. Sunlight, Wind, Starlight, You sung by Park Jae Jung
10. Never Ending Melody sung by Kim Na Yun
To listen to the OST in full use this link or listen below.