Title: 돌아온 일지매 / The Return of Iljimae
Chinese Title : 一枝梅归来
Also known as: Iljimae Returns / Moon River
Previously known as 일지매 / Iljimae
Genre: Historical, romance
Episodes: 24
Broadcast network: MBC
Broadcast period: 2009-Jan-21 to 2009-April-09
Air time: Wednesday & Thursday 21:55


The story is about a man fighting against the selfish and corrupt government to save the ordinary peasants. Iljimae was abandoned by his birth father and adopted by a Chinese couple. He returns to Korea to find his birth family and realizes how unjust the world really is. He watched as his first love, Dal Yi, was wrongfully put to death. Iljimae then vows to help the commoners from the corrupt government officials.


Jung Il Woo as Il Ji Mae
Yoon Jin Seo as Dal Yi / Wal Hee
Kim Min Jong as Goo Ja Myeong
Jung Hye Young as Baek Mae

Extended Cast

Lee Kye In as Jeol Chi
Park Geun Hyung as Kim Ja Jeom
Park Chul Min as Wang Hyeong Bo
Oh Young Soo as Monk Yeol Gong
Kang Nam Gil as Bae Seon Dal
Kim Yoo Hyun as Princess Mo Ran
Lee Hyun Woo as Cha Dol Yi
Sandara Park as Rie
Jun Soo Yeon as Soo Ryun
Lee Ho Jae as Kim Joong Hwan (Iljimae’s biological father)
Jung Joon as Kim Joon Seo (Iljimae’s half brother)
Seo Hye Won as Choon Wol
Hwang Jung Ri as Miyamoto Masai
Harisu as Ki Seon Nyeo
Kwak Min Suk as Cham Mo
Yoon Yoo Sun
Park Chan Hwan
Jung Yoo Chan
Lee Ga Hyun
Jung Min Sung
Kim Yoo Hyun as Princess Moran
Noh Tae Yub
Jung Hee Tae as Woo Dol

Production Credits

Original work: Comic by Ko Young Woo
Production Company: Group Eight
Director: Hwang In Roe & Kim Soo Young
Screenwriter: Kim Kwang Sik & Do Young Myung

Episode Ratings

Date Episode Nationwide Seoul
2009-01-21 1 18.5 (4th) 20.1 (3rd)
2009-01-22 2 17.1 (4th) 18.4 (3rd)
2009-01-28 3 16.6 (5th) 17.1 (4th)
2009-01-29 4 15.1 (5th) 15.6 (6th)
2009-02-04 5 13.7 (9th) 13.7 (11th)
2009-02-05 6 15.3 (10th) 15.2 (9th)
2009-02-11 7 10.7 (11th) 11.5 (9th)
2009-02-12 8 13.1 (10th) 14.1 (10th)
2009-02-18 9 10.0 (13th) 10.6 (12th)
2009-02-19 10 11.0 (11th) 12.1 (11th)
2009-02-25 11 10.8 (11th) 11.6 (11th)
2009-02-26 12 10.5 (12th) 10.5 (13th)
2009-03-04 13 8.9 9.4 (16th)
2009-03-05 14 9.1 (16th) 9.7 (14th)
2009-03-11 15 8.1 (20th) 8.2 (18th)
2009-03-12 16 7.6 (<8.4)
2009-03-18 17 8.7 (19th) 8.8 (17th)
2009-03-19 18 8.5 8.7 (19th)
2009-03-25 19 6.9 (<8.0)
2009-03-26 20 8.5 8.7 (19th)
2009-04-01 21 7.8 8.5 (16th)
2009-04-02 22 8.2 8.8 (17th)
2009-04-08 23 7.5 (<7.8)
2009-04-09 24 8.2 (18th) 8.9 (16th)

Source: TNS Media Korea


– Both MBC & SBS will air their own version of Iljimae in 2008 & 2009.
– MBC has the copyrights to the original comic book.
– The director of this drama is Hwang In Roe, who directed both Goong and Goong S.
– The title was changed from “Iljimae” to “The Return of Iljimae” to avoid confusion with the SBS version.
– Drama will be filmed in Japan.


Related Photo

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Official Site



Watch Online in Dramafever.com

144 Responses to “The Return of Iljimae”

Pages: « 12 3 4 5 [6]

  1. 126
    agave Says:

    @KDaddict (#123)

    What should we discuss next? Well, on this thread, I plan to go back and read your impressions of the earlier ROI episodes and comment on them because their are a lot storyline issues that I haven’t touched on yet. So, brace yourself for more long-winded ROI posts from me. LOL!

    I keep hearing great things about The Princess’ Man, so I’m really looking forward to it. Like you mentioned, I’ve heard that this drama pays careful attention to details and I love that.

    About City Hunter, I almost didn’t remember the ending until you mentioned it because I watched that drama in bits and pieces. Also, the main site I watch it on didn’t have the last episode, so for episode 19 was the last episode to me for several months. When I finally watched the last that last episode, it felt like a different show to me. Especially, since I didn’t believe that the prosecutor had actually died.

    As a result, when I finally got the chance to watch Ep 20, I was stunned to find that he had died and disappointed that City Hunter went in the direction it did in the end. Perhaps, if I re-watched it from beginning to end I would feel differently.

    Now, for 49 Days – I just finished Ep 19 and I can see where this is going. Although I didn’t have the details, I knew coming in that this would be a heartbreaking drama, so I’ve been preparing myself for any possibility. However, if I had been watching this during its airing, I probably would have been screaming at my screen in disappointment at the direction the storylines were heading for several of the characters. I’ll post my thoughts in the 49 Days thread after I watch the last episode.

    I agree that to grab attention in this business, good-looking actors need to have more than good looks. If those good-looking actors don’t also have star quality, then they will quickly fade into the background as soon as the newest crop of good-looking actors arrive. As you mentioned, to make an impression on viewers, actors need to have screen presence, charisma, and it also doesn’t hurt to have acting ability, or at least show the promise of acting ability.

    Going back to 49 Days, in the hands of a lesser actor, Jung Il Woo’s role as the Scheduler, would not have been nearly as impressive. I noticed that his character was prominently described as a pretty boy-type, but thanks to his great work in ROI, the commentators also recognized JIW’s ability to bring that character to life on screen.

    I think, in terms of his future projects, that JIW’s work in ROI was the best role to show future casting directors his range as an actor. I remember reading some of the early comments when he replaced the other actor, where some posters didn’t believe that he could handle this role well. So pleased to see that he proved them wrong.

  2. 127
    agave Says:

    @KDaddict (#124)

    Re: Flower Boy Ramyun Shop

    If you don’t like the rest of the show or the lead actress, then I don’t think this will ever be a show you could like. There are a lot of dramas where I struggled, and sometimes failed, to give them my usual 5 episode chance before giving up. If there is something that I really dislike, I may stop watching before I even complete the first episode.

    There are two things that a drama needs for me to remain interested, characters that I find engaging and a storyline that I find interesting. Also, if the leads are to be romantically involved, then I have to find them appealing as a couple.

    If I felt the way you feel about FBRS, I wouldn’t have made it to the 2nd episode because the way you describe your reaction to FBRS is the way I feel about The Coffee Prince. Yes, I know it’s one of the most loved dramas around and because of this I keep trying to watch it because I want to understand its appeal. Unfortunately, the problem for me is that I don’t find the lead actor appealing as the romantic lead. Sure, he’s good-looking and has a great body, but he just didn’t work as the romantic lead for me.

    @KDaddict (#125)

    Thanks for the Padam Padam recommendation. I’ve seen the title, but don’t know anything about the storyline. Isn’t Kim Bum also in this?

  3. 128
    KDaddict Says:

    I’m still mad at 49Ds. I already posted my comments there while I was watching. I liked Nam Gyu Ri in Beautiful Days, but her excessive plastic surgery changed her looks by the time she appeared in 49Ds, a short few months later. I like many K actors, Jo Hyun Jae is not one of them. Lee Yo Won looked sleepy thru the whole show. It made me sleepy just to watch her. Maybe she was supposed to be sleepy, but still! It was punishing for the audience. I never saw Queen Seon Duk, so I didn’t have a chance to fall in love w her b4 hand.
    What is funny abt a toilet plunger held up high as if it was a weapon is beyond me! I know it is toilet humor. I just find it crass.
    Or a lead female char who is likened to Chicken feet when the male lead is to caviar? Grates on my nerves. I loved Cha CS too much to quit watching; hated Yang EB too much to enjoy it, was my dilemma on that one.
    Padam Padam:
    Yes, Kim Bum is in it too. He plays a human in the process of morphing into an angel. He sheds 20 lbs, loses his star looks, n we find an actor underneath! I posted a few comments on that thread.
    Coffee Prince:
    was way overrated, becos of Yoon Eun Hye. She has a huge fan following. I found it forgettable at best. Gong Yoo was far far far better in Hello my Teacher aka Biscuit Teacher Candy Star. He played a 19 year old so well. I love that one.
    K Actors:
    Screen presence and bringing a char to life depend on acting ability. But few actors can act like Jung Woo Sung is acting in Padam Padam. You must see it soon! Then we can talk abt it. ;)

  4. 129
    joo raim Says:

    @KD & @agape :
    Thank you for the link. Now I have some links to watch KDrama. I also thank for your brilliant review of KDrama. I enjoyed to read both review and I understand how both of you love the same dramas or have different feeling about the others. I think both of you can consider to make a blog about KDrama like dramabeans or soompi do and if you really do it please make me the first visitor of your blog. I hope to read again your, both of you, reviews.
    By the way……………Happy New Year…………..(it’s still first month of 2012,right? ^________________^)

  5. 130
    agave Says:

    Happy New Year!

    So far, I have been so busy that I haven’t had much time to post, but I plan to begin again soon. I still want to comment on each ROI episode before the end of this year.


    I finished 49Days and will comment more in that thread. Surprisingly, the ending didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would, but that is probably because I knew it was coming.

    Regarding FBRS, I finished it and it will now be added to my favorites list, even though the ending seemed kind of rushed to me.

    Although I love FBRS I agree with you that the toilet humor was a bit too much. As much as I loved seeing Yang EB take control of the situation and go to retreive her man, I kept going “EWWWW”! everytime I saw her with that nasty used plunger. *shudders in disgust*

    Thankfully, the good in FBRS vastly outweighed the bad for me. :)

    @joo raim

    Thanks for the kind words about starting a KDrama blog. Ever since ROI kicked my love for KDramas into high gear, I understand why sites like Dramabeans and soompi got started. When you really love something, it is great to have a place where you can share your thoughts.

  6. 131
    joo raim Says:


    I also finished 49 days……I hope you will write soon on 49 days side cause I want to read your review. I hope you will also finish your review of ROI cause I still on episode 19 (I can’t finish it early cause I also watch MTF and now I am watching OB)

  7. 132
    ELIZA Says:


  8. 133
    Charlie Says:

    Gee, you gals had a party here. Where was I?!
    Some comment mentioned the unexpected bed scene that happened too soon.
    But there is a scene I don’t know if you noticed. When Iljimae went into her room, Wol asked him to sit at the spot where it was warmer, and when he lifted the blanket, there was a covered bowl.
    In Korean culture, if the hostess is wishing for someone’s unexpected visit, usual it is her loved one, she’d leave a bowl of rice at a warm place so if that someone comes to visit, she’d have the food table ready for her loved one, because other vegetable dishes are usually premade.
    In this case, Wol was living alone and she has a bowl of rice waiting for someone, and from her acts toward him, Iljimae knew he was that someone special. So they went straight to bed shortly after.
    Fast, I hope the answer is hum, it is understandable.

  9. 134
    Daphine Says:

    ohhh.. its very nice drama..
    congrats.. dara…!

  10. 135
    agave Says:


    It’s never too late the join the party. :-)

    I love the detail you provided about Korean culture and the symbolism of having a warm container of rice available for welcomed guests. I didn’t have a problem with the speed of Iljimae and Wol Hee’s skinship because it was 3 years in the making as far as I was concerned.

    I believe their skinship was long overdue because before Iljimae went to look for his adopted father, he stopped by Wol Hee’s house and noted to himself that he will return when the time is right. It was much too soon after Dal Yi’s death for him to see Wol Hee then because not only was it hard on him because she looked like Dal Yi, but, after I watched the entire series, there seemed to be something more going on between Iljimae and Wol Hee from the beginning.

    I used to think that his immediate attachment to Wol Hee was because she looked like Dal Yi, but now I wonder if they had a deeper connection that had nothing to do with her appearance.

    I love the way both Wol Hee and Dal Yi were written regarding skinship because although Dal Yi was a bit bolder than Wol Hee in the beginning of her relationship with Iljimae, both women were not shy about letting Iljimae know that they wanted him.

    I thought it was refreshing to see sexuality handled in such an open and direct way in a Korean drama. I especially loved seeing the leading female characters written as being openly interested in skinship because this is so rare in a Korean drama.

  11. 136
    agave Says:

    @joo raim #131

    I hope you were able to finish watching RoI. I still haven’t found the time to write the recaps I said I would do, even though I have re-watched several RoI episodes since the beginning of the year.

    I don’t want to do my episode recaps until I have time to re-watch the entire series from the beginning to the end and take notes while I am watching them.

    As a test, I took notes while watching one episode and was amazed at the level of detail I picked up when I did that.



    Yes, RoI is a very nice drama. I wish more dramas had the time to complete, or almost complete, filming before they air. I think the lack of outside interference is why I found RoI so satisfying. The PD had a vision for RoI and was able to follow through to the end without input from the network.

    By the way, who’s dara?

  12. 137
    agave Says:

    I love Yoon Jin Seo in RoI, but I had never seen her in anything else until now. I just found out that she finished a romantic comedy called Twelve Men in a Year. This show aired on cable in March and finished its last episode last week.

    I just finished the first episode of Twelve Men in a Year and loved it. Yoon Jin Seo’s character, Na Mi Roo, is a mess. She’s quick-tempered and impulsive, so her actions will definitely drive the storylines in this drama. Yoon Jin Seo is such a good actress and her role in Twelve Men is a big change from her role in RoI, so it’s fun to see her let loose in a modern adult romantic comedy.

    I love that this show aired on cable because the first episode reminds me of Sex and the City, so there is a better chance that a cable channel will not shy away from adult sexual themes.

  13. 138
    ayu edogawa Says:

    come on…just watch n see..
    jung ill woo has give best acting here
    at least we have to appreciate his hard work

  14. 139
    HELLO Says:

    I think my favorite part of this drama was that everyone was in love with Iljimae. <3

  15. 140
    witlily Says:

    this drama very good comparing with other iljimae version (very unique interactive narrator (^o^)b ).

  16. 141
    shiro Says:

    I think Lee Joon Ki’s iljimae is better than Jung Il wo’s.
    that’s why rating of Iljimae is better than the return of iljimae :D

  17. 142
    zarima Says:

    i agree with you shiro.. iljimae of LJK IS MUCH MUCH more better than the return of iljimae…. the first two ep is too boring

  18. 143
    Maggi Says:

    I like this drama. It’s very touching.

  19. 144
    cyberspace092886 Says:

    one of the best korean ever…i feel the love,anger,and sorrow of this drama.also,the best drama project of Il Jung Woo i see maturity side of him and i hope he will have another project.

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