Facts About Yi-San and Deok-Im from the Korean Drama “The Red Sleeve”

Shelly Lee
4 min readJan 8, 2022
Facts About Yi-San and Deok-Im from the Korean Drama "The Red Sleeve"

If you’re like me, by the end of episode 17 of the Red Sleeve, you’d get a box of tissues ready. The love story of Yi-San and Deok-Im was based on a true story between Korea’s King Jeongjo, the 22nd ruler of the Joseon Dynasty, between 1776–1800. Just as the history tells us, King Jeongjo succeeded his grandfather, King Yeongjo, to lead the kingdom. History buffs would be delighted to see that there were a lot of things in the drama that stayed true to Joseon’s history, and there are many interesting things too. Please read on, if you’re interested.

- Yi-San was born on 28 October 1752 and Deok-Im was born on 6 August 1753, so they were barely one year difference in age. In the drama, they were depicted as around the same age, similar to the real story. Deok-Im became the King’s concubine in 1782 until her death in 1786. King Jeongjo ruled the kingdom until his death in 1800.

King Jeongjo and his beloved concubine, Deok-Im.

- Yi-San had other concubines: Royal Noble Consort Wonbin Hong in 1778, Royal Noble Consort Hwabin Yun in 1780, and Royal Noble Consort Subin Park, in 1787.
- The son born to latest concubine, Royal Noble Consort Subin Park, succeeded his father as the next ruler of Joseon. Yi-Gong became King Sunjo of Joseon, the 23rd ruler of the kingdom. Lady Subin Park was the only concubine in Joseon’s history who lived long enough to see her son ascend the throne.
- King Sunjo had a son, Yi-Yeong, Crown Prince Hyomyeong, from his marriage with Queen Sunwon. Yi-Yeong was portrayed by Park Bo-gum in the Korean drama series Love in the Moonlight/Moonlight Drawn by Clouds. So, essentially, Yi-San was the grandfather of Yi-Yeong.
- Yi-San was actually married to Queen Hyoui in 1762, when Yi-San was 10 years old and his queen was 9 years old.
- Yi-San’s father, Crown Prince Sado, was executed by his own father by being starved and put in a rice chest. The miniseries portrayed this as well. True to history, Yi-San showed loyalty and filial piety to his father. True to history as well, King Yeongjo loved and protected his grandson Yi-San. History showed that King Yeongjo made Yi-San a part of Crown Prince Sado’s stepbrother’s family so Yi-San’s legitimacy wouldn’t be opposed.

King Yeongjo and his grandson Crown Prince Yi-San, from Lee Jun-ho’s Instagram account.

- Many famous actors portrayed King Jeongjo in various dramas and films, such as Lee Seo-jin in Lee San, Wind of the Palace (2007), Hong Jong-hyun in Warrior Baek Dong-soo (2011), Hyun Bin in The Fatal Encounter (2014), Lee Je-hoon in Secret Door (2014), So Ji-sub in The Throne (2015) and finally Lee Jun-ho in The Red Sleeve (2021).
- The Red Sleeve was based on a novel by the same title written by Kang Mi-gang and co-written by director Jung Ji-in.
- Lee Se-young said that the Lee Jun-ho was supposed to kiss the tattoo on her back in the bedroom scene script, but the director cut it to keep the drama viewable to wider audience.

Source: IG dahna.ra

- The Red Sleeve won eight awards at MBC Drama Awards 2021: Best Couple (Lee Jun-ho and Lee Se-young), Best New Actor (Kang Hoon), Best Supporting Actress (Jang Hye-jin), Best Writer Award (Jung Hae-ri), Drama of the Year, Lifetime Achievement Award (Lee Deok-hwa), Top Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries (Lee Jun-ho) and Top Excellence Award, Actress in a Miniseries (Lee Se-young).
- Lee Se-young and Lee Jun-ho, were not the first choices to star in this sageuk miniseries. The historical drama production first cast Park Hye-soo for the role of Sung Deok-im and Kim Kyung-nam as Yi-San. However, Park Hye-soo dropped out due to her school bullying scandal. Later on, Kim Kyung-nam also dropped out of the drama production. It all turned out the best because we couldn’t see any other actors playing the roles of Yi-San and Deok-Im so perfectly!

Lee Jun-ho jokingly held Yoo-na’s red sleeve at the MBC Drama Awards 2021, referring to his sageuk drama The Red Sleeve. They performed a dance choreography to Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello’s song Señorita. From Lee Jun-ho’s Instagram account.

This soundtrack is one of the best things that came out of this drama: