Set during the Joseon Dynasty, Ryung acted as a hooligan in the marketplace by day but at night he was a thief who robbed corrupted government officials to give to the poor.







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Series cast summary:
Joon-Gi Lee ...  Iljimae / ... 20 episodes, 2008
Sung-ryung Kim ...  Dan-Yi 20 episodes, 2008
Kil-kang Ahn ...  Kongkal Ah Je 20 episodes, 2008
Won-jong Lee ...  Byun-Shik 20 episodes, 2008
Young-Ah Lee ...  Bong Soon 19 episodes, 2008
Ji-yoon Moon ...  Dae-Sik 19 episodes, 2008
Hyo-Joo Han ...  Eun Chae 18 episodes, 2008
Shi-hoo Park ...  Ja Dol / ... 18 episodes, 2008
Chang-wan Kim ...  Do Po Hui / ... 18 episodes, 2008
Mun-shik Lee ...  Seo Dol 18 episodes, 2008
Mu-Yeol Kim ...  Si Wan 18 episodes, 2008
Gi-seok Do Gi-seok Do ...  Hee Bong / ... 17 episodes, 2008
Hyun-sung Kim Hyun-sung Kim ...  Heung Kyeon 17 episodes, 2008
Kwang-sik Kim Kwang-sik Kim ...  Kuk-Doo 16 episodes, 2008
Jeong Jae Eun ...  Sim-Duk 15 episodes, 2008
Roe-ha Kim ...  Sa Cheon 14 episodes, 2008
Won-jae Lee Won-jae Lee ...  Hunter Jang 11 episodes, 2008
Sang-ki Jo Sang-ki Jo ...  Mu Lee 10 episodes, 2008
Eun-Poong Jang Eun-Poong Jang ...  Mak-Shwe 9 episodes, 2008


Geom is the son of a virtuous nobleman, Lee Won Ho, who is a trustworthy supporter and brother to the king and a central member of the secret organization, Cheonwoohoe, comprised of important nobles and with the king as their leader. He lives peacefully in a house with many plum trees with his wife, daughter, and son. However, a mysterious rumor is spread that he is plotting to overthrow the king. Knowing about this, the king kills Lee Won Ho as he believes that 'two suns cannot exist on the same sky'. Geom witnesses the incident from the inside of a safe where his father hid him. Later, he is saved and adopted by a retired thief, Seo Dol, after he becomes stricken with amnesia due to the shock of losing his father and being forced to throw a rock at his mother's head to prove that he was not the son. 13 years later, Geom, who was renamed Ryung by Seo Dol, starts to regain his memories and begins to search for his older sister, Yeon, only to see her being sentenced and hanged. The ... Written by Colleen16

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Peasant by day, Hero by night, Iljimae.




South Korea



Release Date:

21 May 2008 (South Korea) See more »

Also Known As:

Hoţul fantomă See more »

Filming Locations:

South Korea

Company Credits

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Technical Specs



Color (HD)
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Did You Know?


Lee is the second Korean actor to play the hero following Dong-Gun Jang in 1993 and followed by Il-Woo Jung for MBC's The Return of Iljimae in 2009. See more »


Remake of Iljimae (1993) See more »

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User Reviews

Immaculate! A must watch for those foreign to the genre.
14 November 2018 | by jerrellimSee all my reviews

8/10: Overall, Iljimae is the pinnacle of Korean historical drama. Everything from the sound track, the acting and even the nuanced plot would, in my honest opinion, be unchallenged for a very long time for the title of most well-made drama! It also has a lot of "rewatch potential".

Plot: The plot is clear, with a steady pace of plot progression. The clear backstory of the protagonist, Yong, provided unwavering motivation for him to drive the story forward, hence there was a distinct end goal, drive and a compelling process in between audience could be entertained, moved by and feel sympathy for the main character in the process.

The story also brings in the theme of class and tackles it brilliantly through the use of imagery and juxtaposition to emphasise horrid conditions of living, and allows the audience to side more with the anti-establishment robber by painting a good villain. That said, this portrayal sometimes goes too far, making villains, most nobles that is, seem like one-dimensional, greedy creatures with no sense of shame or any other emotions for that matter.

The relationships in the film, be it parental or romantic, around Yong, were well explored and extremely moving. Yong's relationship with his foster father was touching and felt genuine, in part due to the script and the actor playing the father's brilliant constant look of concern, in part also due to the comedic relief he provided do separate him from the other characters with devious intentions. His death was a truly memorable and tear-inducing moment in the film, which is a testament to how great the film was at portraying their relationship. As for Yong's relationship with Eun Chi and Bong Soon, it was less powerful but not underwhelming. It would have been better if the love triangle between the 3 could be resolved by the last episode.

It would also have been an improvement if the last episode provided more of a closure. The show has built on a kind of dramatic irony of Eun Chi not knowing Il Ji Mae's actual identity which creates tension that begs for release the audience never got. It would also have been better if the final episode showed Yong, as a civilian, alive and well, rather than a pseudo-ambiguous ending whereby audiences need to get confirmation from directors. That said, it is rare and bold for directors to choose to have a bitter-sweet ending (bitter since Yong is unable to live with his friends and family for fear of hurting them, a sacrifice of a hero; sweet because he is still alive and actively seeking revenge) which is definitely commendable. <8/10>

Background Music: Songs and background music were very well scored and timed. The main theme was inserted during critical junctures of the plot which certainly made those moments more impactful. Certain elements of the music also fit the period the film was set in, the most memorable of which was "Gingko Hillside". Not only has the songs helped advance the plot and shaped the audience to feel a certain way, they are also great additions to any music playlist to listen to every now and again. <10/10>

Lines and Line Delivery: Actors were perfect for the role and delivered lines in a compelling fashion. There is so much nuance in the dialogue and the script that makes every time rewatching the show feel like a different experience. Many instances of dramatic irony, foreshadowing, symbolism and general imagery made it feel like a literary haven with techniques seldom used in modern filmmaking. In addition, subtle cues and the discrete dialogue are refreshing as opposed to having every detailed spelled out to the audience in the script. Perfect!<10/10>

Special Effects and Choreography: To be honest, the film is visibly lacking in this aspect. Some scenes were extremely poorly shot with green screen it was almost laughable. One notable example would the scene in episode 2 with the ice hole. The fight choreography was victim to the common one-on-one fighting motif which is unrealistic and impractical. (This refers to the instances whereby the protagonist is heavily outnumbered but somehow is able to survive because enemies choose to fight him one by one rather than taking him on all at once.) That said, one redeems aspect about the fight choreography was that it was clear and easy to determine what was going on. <4/10>

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