Outlander as a Korean Drama
Back in May, as I was watching the new season of Outlander, I started thinking about how this show could be pretty popular as a Korean drama. For those of you who have never seen an episode of Outlander or read the books but still decided to click on this article, let me summarize the plot:
Outlander follows an English woman named Claire who was a combat nurse in WWII. The story takes place after the end of the war when she and her husband Frank take a sort of “second honeymoon” to Scotland in order to reconnect while her historian husband is researching his family tree. While exploring, Claire comes across this mystical circle of stones, touches one, and gets thrust back to Scotland 1743; a high-tension period in which the British army occupies Scotland, the Scottish and the English are at odds (as always) about who should be sitting on the British throne, and the brutal end of Jacobitism draws ever closer. Claire finds herself in the company of some Scottish highlanders (including the sexy Jamie, of course, because this is a romance novel) and does her best to find her place, using her 200-year-advanced medical knowledge, and survive until she can get back to her time. She is also burdened by the knowledge that she and her new friends are quickly approaching the Battle of Culloden, the final battle of the Jacobites, a slaughter that essentially marks the end of highland culture.
Outlander has the potential to be done well as a Korean drama. Korea has a long history of Japanese invasions and occupations (for example the Japanese invasions of 1592-1598) that could be substituted in for the English redcoats who act as one (or many) of the primary conflicts in the story. Especially since Claire is from the end of WWII when Korea finally gains Independence from Japan after decades of occupation. At first, I thought that, since Claire was a combat nurse for the Allies, and Japan conscripted Koreans into their army towards the end of the war, it would make sense for Claire’s character to have her Korean counterpart live abroad (maybe her professor husband teaches abroad) so she joins the war effort that way. That also makes it possible for her and her husband’s research “honeymoon” to be to Korea. However, I think it would add so much more to the story if she was a nurse aiding the Korean Independence Movement. It would give her even stronger ties to the freedom cause in the past. Her living in Korea during occupation would also give the people in the past reason to be suspicious of her. In the STARZ show, the Scottish highlanders are suspicious of this random English woman and think she is a spy. As the Korean version would have an all Korean cast, believing she is a spy because of her accent could not apply. Instead, the writers could give Claire a proficiency in Japanese after living under occupation for decades, have one of the “highlanders” catch her speaking Japanese to a soldier, mistake her for a sympathizer, and then give everyone reason to think she may be a spy. The difference in modern Korean and historical Korean could also be a reason to give her a nickname like Sassenach/Outlander.
I picked the Japanese invasions of 1592-1598 because I remember reading something (probably on Wikipedia if we’re honest) that said while Korea’s navy won almost every battle against the Japanese, their land forces lost almost every battle. The writers could take one of those battles and adapt the Culloden plot for the drama, also, if they set the show in 1592-1598 that creates the potential to have general Yi Sun Shin be a character (like how season 2 had Prince Charles except he would be better than Charles) which is cool.
(***I apologize if I have gotten any of the historical facts wrong, I am not a historian. This is just information I have gathered out of interest for Korean culture over the years of watching dramas.***)
Since Korean dramas have 16-20 episode runs on average, I think it would be perfect for adapting the first two seasons. Make the first 10 or so episodes of the drama the plot of the first season up until the witch trial or maybe the trip to Lallybroch to build up the character development and really immerse viewers in the history, then make the latter half of the show the Jacobite uprising, maybe the third to last episode Culloden. That would leave the last two episodes for the fallout - I’m trying to keep spoilers out of this but if you have watched the show you know exactly what I’m talking about and why it would need two episodes *at least* dedicated to it. - The last episode would be that moment in season 3 episode 5. I feel like they could condense what’s necessary from the first half of season three and exclude the rest because the show would be wrapping up loose ends and not be continuing the storyline to America.
Is it sad that I thought so much about this?
I feel like Outlander would be really successful since Korea has had a slew of successful time travel dramas like Signal, Faith, Moon Lovers, Queen In Hyun’s Man, Tunnel, Rooftop Prince and especially a slew of successful Japanese occupation-set dramas/movies like Bridal Mask, Assassination, The Handmaiden, The Age of Shadows, Chicago Typewriter, Mr. Sunshine, Battleship Island, and The Battle: Roar to Victory. Not to mention adapting shows like Doctor Foster/The World of the Married, Undercover, 18 Again, etc. seems to be the trend right now. If for some reason any Korean writer is reading this, please for the love of GOD adapt Outlander!
Anyway, let’s get onto the reason I’m sure most of you are here for The Fancast
Park Hee Soon as Dr. Wakefield
There is no reasoning behind this other than I was scrolling through a list of Korean actors, saw the specs and the hair part, and went “Yes.”
Jin Kyung as Mrs. Graham
I love Jin Kyung, I tend to see her in a lot of roles, and I think she could do a solid Mrs. Graham, even if it’s only for a short time.
|Chun Ho Jin as Colum MacKenzie|
Chun Ho Jin is another one of those actors who I see in a lot, and I think he just gives off big Colum vibes. He’s got a kind face but can act those really quiet but also stern, position-of-power roles.
|Jo Sung Ha as Dougal MacKenzie|
This entirely stems from the fact that I just saw him in Memorist and he made me want to punch him in the face, just like Dougal did. A sign that an actor is good at his job.
|Lee Hee Joon as Rupert MacKenzie||Kim Ki Bang as Angus Mhor|
|Again, I went with actors that I’ve seen in a few dramas before. They’re likely younger than the characters in the STARZ show, but I’m not too familiar with older actors.|
|Ahn Nae Sang as Edward “Ned” Gowan|
Good Ol’ Ned. Idk Ahn Nae Sang’s face just radiates “Ned” energy.
|Kim Young Ok as Mrs. Fitz|
Yes, I did pick KYO because I was so charmed by her in The King: Eternal Monarch.
|Kim Hyun Joo as Jenny Fraser|
I just saw her play a strong-willed daughter in What Happens to My Family? and I am confident she would do right by Jenny.
|Jung So Min as Laoghaire MacKenzie|
I am a huge fan of JSM, and I think it would be really fun to see her in a sort of nagging, antagonistic role.
|Sung Dong Il as Murtagh Fitzgibbons|
As Jamie’s godfather and father figure, I think Sung Dong Il would be great for the role. He’s such a versatile actor and incredibly skilled, and he does the mentor role well.
|Shin Min Ah as Geillis Duncan|
Okay, hear me out. We all know Shin Min Ah is a talented queen, but I also think she gives off such shrouded-in-mystery vibes that are
And now onto the big fish:
Frank Randall/Black Jack Randall played by Joo Ji Hoon.
These are two different characters in two different time periods played by the same actor. Frank is Claire’s husband in the present, and Black Jack Randall is the primary antagonist of the show. I give high praise to Tobias Menzies for not just being able to portray a character of many layers, but also being able to pull off playing two separate characters while showing similarities between the two without crossing the line into the other character. I think Joo Ji Hoon is someone who would not just play an antagonist role well, but he would be able to portray the complexity required in both the roles of Frank Randall/Black Jack Randall.
(my second choice was Jo Han Sun because he played the a**hole so well in Stove League earlier this year it physically hurt me, but Joo Ji Hoon gives me stronger BlackJack vibes)
This was the hardest character to cast, I sat on this list for a month before I made a decision because nobody felt right. I had a list of actors like Park Seo Joon, Jung Il Woo, Lee Min Ho, Ji Chang Wook, Kim Soo Hyun, Song Joong Ki, Kim Woo Bin but nobody screams “I’m Jamie”. He has to match Jamie’s vibes, he has to (obviously) be talented enough to pull off the intense complexity of Jamie’s character, he can’t be too pretty-boy, he can’t look older than Claire because while the actors may only be one year apart in the STARZ show, Jamie and Claire are around five years apart in the story, but he also can’t be too young. Age knocked out talented actors like Lee Dong Wook, Jo In Sung, Gong Yoo, Hyun Bin, Yoo Seung Ho, etc. Eventually, randomly at two in the morning, I remembered.
Yoo Ah In as Jamie Fraser
So like, this is embarrassing to admit, but I’ve never actually watched a Yoo Ah In’s drama which is why he wasn’t on my radar when initially making this fancasting. I know, come at me, I deserve it, Six Flying Dragons has literally been sitting on my to-watch list since it first aired. But I do know that he is always getting praised for his performances and that he is amazingly talented, and he has also won many awards for said amazing performances. I have friends that don’t shut up about Chicago Typewriter. I watched some clips of his acting before I officially made the decision and although I don’t think he matches Jamie 100%,
nobody does, I believe he has the versatility to be able to do Jamie justice.
(if y’all are curious, Park Seo Joon was my second choice)
While Jamie was the hardest to cast, Claire was the easiest. Seeing her profile picture on MDL (the top middle photo at the time) was the inspiration for making this fancast.
Song Hye Kyo as Claire Fraser
Listen, like everything about Song Hye Kyo screams Claire. Her visuals, her energy, her maturity. I just think there’s something about Song Hye Kyo that matches Outlander really well. She played a strong-willed doctor in Descendants of the Sun, and while the characters aren’t very similar, I think it shows that Song Hye Kyo has the potential to do Claire and put her own spin on the character. It’s also been a hot minute since she last did a historical drama
(which is why I made a collage instead of just using two photos because her hanbok photo is over ten years old) and it’d be cool to see her do one again.
(A very close second choice would be Son Ye Jin because that scene at the DMZ in Crash Landing On You blew me away.)
While looking up photos of Song Hye Kyo, I have coincidentally discovered that she and Yoo Ah In are actually really good friends oops hope this isn’t too weird.
~Bonus~ *minor spoilers*
|Kim So Hyun as Brianna Randall||Yang Se Jong as Roger Wakefield|
So at the start of the show/the first book, Jamie is around the age 22 and Claire is around 27. If you’ve never watched Outlander, you may be wondering, “So why did you cast people in their 30s?” Well, a) because this is a mature story (and I don’t just mean the sexy times), and b) because there is a massive time jump to 1968 in which Claire and Jamie have a kid who ends up in college. In the STARZ show, they use makeup to make Sam and Caitriona appear older than they are, which is what the Kdrama would have to do. However, I still wanted to be able to cast the role of their daughter without it being too ridiculous and having people think “____ playing Song Hye Kyo and Yoo Ah In’s daughter?! HAH!”
Which is why I have gone back and forth on who to cast for this role. Originally I had Shin Se Kyung because she gave me Brianna vibes, but then I decided on Yoo Ah In as Jamie, and I was worried they looked too close in age. I also liked Nam Ji Hyun, Shin Ye Eun, and Chae Soo Bin for the role because I know they could pull it off, but I eventually settled on Kim So Hyun who is actually college age in real life. (I don’t remember how much time passes between the end of season 2 and beginning of season 3, but I know that when Brianna is introduced it is 1968 and she was born in 1948, so that was how I chose to do the fancasting)
I have a little more leeway with casting Roger because we saw him as a child back in the 1945 scenes and know he is about 7 years older than Brianna. I originally cast
Goo Seung Jun Kim Jung Hyun because even though he’s 30, they had him playing a high-schooler just three years ago and they could make him look younger, so I wasn’t too worried about the age difference between him and Claire. But then I changed Brianna so I felt like I should change Roger as well. Yang Se Jong could be very believable as a young handsome literature professor. I know realistically there would be at least one idol somewhere in here, but I just wasn’t feeling it for these characters. Is there a company out there that would let their idols risk their carefully crafted innocent images doing a show like this? Would they risk the fan rage?
Oh, drama gods, please give us Kdrama Jamie and Claire!