On the day before the debut of The Return of Iljimae on MBC, actor Jung Il Woo had mentioned that he was already mentally prepared for any criticisms, low ratings and comparisons with SBS Iljimae starring Lee Jun Ki last year.
Jung Il Woo had taken on the role of Iljimae because he had total trust in director Hwang In Roe. He has been trying really hard to understand and immerse himself in the role for the past 6 months for a solid potrayal of the character. But he admitted that he is feeling a lot of stress trying to live up to expectations and also being the main man helming the drama.
Jung Il Woo first and foremost wish was that many viewers would tune in to watch the opener and is ready to receive any advice and criticisms from viewers. He is also open to the fact that there will be comparisons between his drama and SBS Iljimae plus the fact that Jung Il Woo was actually the 2nd choice (Lee Seung Gi opted out for 1 Night 2 Days) but he is mentally prepared.
Unlike SBS Iljimae, MBC The Return of Iljimae is based on the original comic by Ko Young Woo. While the earlier focused heavily on revenge, MBC’s version is about a man who was left under a plum blossom tree as a baby and grew up to fight against the selfish and corrupt government to save ordinary peasants.
But Jung Il Woo must have been a relieved man as The Return of Iljimae not only posted an impressive rating of 18.5% for its opening episode, it also became the new leader for the Wed-Thus drama timeslot. Even better news for Jung Il Woo and MBC was that its opening episode rating trumphed the rating for the debut episode of SBS Iljimae (14.8%) by 3.7 percentage points.
KBS Kyung Sook’s Father also making its debut after Kingdom of the Winds, posted a rating of 11.1% while SBS Star’s Lover remained bottom with only 7.6%. SBS is really taking a beating in the ratings department with Terroir and Star’s Lover faltering badly in the Mon-Tue and Wed-Thus timeslots.