Movies and TV Series : Tamra, the Island (2009 Korean Drama)

Chosŏn means “The Land of the Morning Calm.”

A brief article about the Joseon (or Chosŏn) Dynasty in Korea can be found at About.com. This dynasty lasted for a little over 5 centuries from 1392–1910. King Taejo, founder and first king of the Joseon Dynasty, established the capital at Hanyang. South Korea’s Jeju Island is famous for its female divers, the haenyeo, who really can dive without scuba gear. Jeju is an island and it has all the charm and magic of an island paradise. The background information just provided is enough for you to visualize the setting for a Korean drama TV series called “Tamra, the Island”. (NOTE: Watch episodes free, streaming in the USA, via viki.com. Also, if you are a subscriber, available via Netflix.)

This television series can be categorized under drama, romance, foreign films (if you’re not Korean), historical drama, dramedy (drama and comedy). No matter how you choose to categorize the series, the main character, a young female diver, Jang Beo-jin (or Virjeen), played by Seo Woo, will captivate you and win your heart. From the moment you are introduced to her you immediately become involved with her daily life, her family, her friends. Her sweetness and innocence endear you to her and you want no harm to ever come to her. You can easily understood that the two men who both fall in love her don’t want anything to happen to her either. One may first conclude that she is innocent, meek, mild and so very fragile. But “this little thing” is humble, hard-working, quick-witted, resourceful, fiercely loyal to her friends, and somewhat clueless about being smack dab in the middle of a lovers’ triangle. Well how could she know? She’s lived a sheltered life on a small island and she’s “useless”. Not only is she a terrible diver but she’s ugly! Who would love her?

Tamra, the Island

The setting is the 17th Century. A blond-haired, blue-eyed shipwrecked foreigner, William Spencer, from England, finds himself washed up on the shore of Tamra, the island. Fortunately for him, Virjeen finds him before anyone else does. She promises to protect him. It was a “pinky promise”. That’s binding! At the same time, a young handsome very smart Korean nobleman, Park Gue, has been sent from the capital city of Hanyang to the island as a punished exile (but he is really a secret inspector sent there by the king on a mission). He is required to live with the low-class villagers as his “punishment” and is placed in the home of the Jang family, and Virjeen is responsible for looking after him. As their daily lives intertwine and the story line develops, you grow along with these 3 main characters and with all the rest of the characters as well. Each time an episode ends, you’ve just got to know what’s going to happen next time!

This series gets a 5 out of 5 stars, for authentic costumes, believable characters, excellent acting, beautiful scenery, and historical value. The costumes, hair and make-up were very authentic; especially the traditional wear for the women. The music or soundtrack was delightful. There was no blurring of the lines or duplicity in these fictional personalities. The bad people were bad; the good people were good; and the crazy old man affectionately referred to by the islanders as “grandpa” was not only quite sane, but very observant and very wise. For those like me, who know next to nothing about Korean history, “Tamra, the Island” is not only entertaining but educational.


Like Korean Historical Period Dramas?

Here are some more suggestions.


Dong Yi (2010)


Chuno (2010)


Tree With Deep Roots (2011)


Gunman in Joseon (2014)


Maids (2015)


Six Flying Dragons (2015)


The Flower in Prison (2016)


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