At the outset, King Seongjong has ordered the execution by poisoning of his deposed wife Deposed Queen Lady Yun, the mother of the first-born son, the young crown prince (the future Prince Yeonsan). After carrying out the execution, one of the royal guards, Seo Cheon-soo, is haunted by the execution. On his way home, he suffers an accident and is rescued by a mysterious hermit with a cryptic message—that his life will revolve around three women: the first he will be forced to kill; another he will save, but will die because of him; and the third will kill him, but will go on to save many lives. It doesn't become clear until later in the story that the three women are the poisoned Deposed Queen Lady Yun, Park Myeong-yi (Seo's eventual wife and the mother of Jang-geum) and Jang-geum (the main character and Seo's only daughter). Haunted by the curse of the executed deposed Queen Consort, and his prophesied fate at the hands of the third woman, he abandons his post and also becomes a hermit, refusing to take a wife.
After many years, the former king dies and the Crown Prince ascends the throne as the 10th King of Joseon. Park Myeong-yi is a palace girl (or gungnyeo) and apprentice cook of the royal kitchen (sooratgan). She witnesses a fellow apprentice, a girl from the powerful Choi clan named Choi Seong-geum, slip poison into the Great Royal Dowager Queen's food. Unaware that the senior kitchen officers are part of a conspiracy against the said Queen, Myeong-yi informs the head kitchen officer (choigo sanggung). The officers, fearful that Myeong-yi might reveal their conspiracy, attempt to murder her. Myeong-yi's best friend, Han Baek-yeong, witnesses the crime and manages to secretly save her (by hurriedly diluting the poison with an antidote). She leaves the unconscious Myeong-yi a letter explaining what had happened. As Seo Cheon-soo wanders through the forest in his self-imposed hermitage, he stumbles upon the half-conscious Myeong-yi. He rescues her and the two fall in love and marry. They end up living peacefully in a remote village as lower caste commoners (Seo Cheon-soo posing as a butcher and village weapon smith) and raise a clever daughter named Seo Jang-geum.
In 1504, Prince Yeonsan orders the execution of people responsible for his mother (Queen Consort Jeheon)'s death, thereby launching the notorious Literati Purges of 1504. Jang-geum is warned by her parents to never reveal their true identities to anyone or they will all die. One day Jang-geum and her father go to a village fair. In a wrestling match she blurts out to the jeering crowd that her father is not a low-born butcher but a former guard of the royal palace. Words spread, and the king's guards arrest Seo Cheon-soo and execute him. Mother and daughter flee but are captured by the guards. As they are taken away, the group is ambushed by mercenaries hired by the Choi clan patriarch, who is determined to kill Myeong-yi and her daughter. Myeong-yi is injured and before she dies she tells Jang-geum her last wish: that she become the choigo sanggung of the royal kitchen and record the crime in a journal that is passed down through every generation of the choigo sanggungs.
Through a series of lucky coincidences (one involving Prince Yeonsan's half-brother Grand Prince Jinseong), Jang-geum manages to enter the palace. She is unknowingly apprenticed to Han Baek-young, her mother's best friend now raised to the rank of sanggung. Jang-geum endures many ordeals and is bullied because she is more skilled and works harder than the other girls. During her time as a palace girl, Jang-geum befriends a young seonbi named Min Jeong-ho, who falls in love with her. Her rival is Choi Geum-yeong, another gungnyeo and Choi Seong-geum (also raised to the rank ofsanggung due to her association with her aunt the former choigo sanggung)'s niece. While not a cruel person, Geum-yeong's conscience is slowly eroded by Lady Choi's ruthless behavior. Min Jeong-ho urges Geum-yeong to maintain her integrity and stand up to her evil relatives, but an angry Geum-yeong accuses Jeong-ho of not loving her and being by her side.
Many years pass and Lady Choi schemes to win the position of choigo sanggung of royal kitchen. The Choi women have successively occupied the choigo sanggung position for five successive generations, allowing the clan to become exclusive suppliers of goods and produce to the royal kitchen, making the clan immensely wealthy and powerful. Eventually a cooking competition is declared and Lady Choi and Lady Han vie to become the choigo sanggung. When Lady Han wins (and becomes choigo sanggung), and the King suddenly falls ill during one of his trips to a hot spring, Choi Pan-sool (Lady Choi's elder brother, and main supplier of the royal kitchen) and the Right Minister Oh Gyeom-ho (the Choi clan's ally within the Royal Cabinet) frame Lady Han and Jang-geum as traitors in league with Jo Gwang-jo, famous Joseon reformer. In an effort to save Jang-geum, Lady Han declares that she alone is guilty of treason. Nonetheless, both are judged guilty and sent to Jeju Island to work as government slaves. On the way there Lady Han dies from her injuries. Lady Choi replaces her as the choigo sanggung, while Jang-geum vows revenge.
In exile at Jeju
Min Jeong-ho follows Jang-geum to Jeju Island. He offers to help Jang-geum escape, but she refuses since doing so would mean never returning to the palace to clear Lady Han's name, as well as never obtaining justice for her mother's death. Min Jeong-ho declares he will wait for her at the palace, confident that Jang-geum will find a way to re-enter the palace.
On Jeju Island, Jang-geum meets a woman named Jang-deok, whom she first mistakes for a fellow slave. She soon discovers that Jang-deok is a famous female doctor. Jang-deok's blunt and forthright nature initially offends her, but she learns in time that the female doctor is dedicated and caring. As the days go by, Jang-geum realizes that her only way back to the palace is to become a female physician (uinyeo). She begs Jang-deok to teach her medicine. Jang-geum's friend, Jeong Woon-baek, an eccentric royal physician, disapproves of her decision to pursue medicine in order to take revenge on the Choi clan. In spite of this, Jang-geum perseveres and earns herself a spot as a female doctor-in-training at the palace.
Upon returning to the palace, Jang-geum encounters Choi Geum-yeong, who has been promoted to choigo sanggung. The ruthlessly ambitious Lady Choi has ousted the former female head officer of the palace (jaejo sanggung; one of their former allies), and now occupies that position herself. Min Jeong-ho is a lieutenant and a member of the King's Royal Cabinet. Jang-geum's childhood best friend, Lee Yeon-saeng, also a gungnyeo, had caught the king's eye, and is now his concubine (sook-ui). Jang-geum endures many trials at the palace, from being forced to wash the feet of Geum-yeong, to a backstabbing uinyeo named Park Yeol-yi. In spite of this, Jang-geum manages to accomplish great things, such as curing an epidemic and saving the king's life when the king's own physicians had failed.
With Jang-geum's status rising, several events ensue that lead to an investigation of the Choi clan, resulting in the prosecution of Lady Choi, her elder brother and several high-ranking officials, including the chief state councillor. Everyone scrambles to escape, and only Lady Choi manages to evade the guards. Jang-geum finds her and asks if she is willing to sacrifice her niece, Geum-yeong, to the authorities while she herself escapes. Lady Choi, who had abandoned her ethics and conscience for the sake of the Choi clan, is unable to respond. Torn between self-preservation and guilt, Lady Choi wanders the countryside hallucinating. She ends up falling off a cliff off Mount Dongin and dies (but not before speaking and paying respects in front of the memorial grave of her former friend Park Myeong-yi, Jang-geum's mother). Choi Geum-yeong loses her position as choigo sanggung and is exiled along with the other officials.
Through her dedication, perseverance and skill Jang-geum saves the royal family from one disaster after another. After giving birth to a stillborn child, Queen Consort Munjeong remained ill. Jang-geum correctly identifies a second stillborn fetus in the Queen Consort's womb and saves her life. She convinces the Dowager Queen mother to undergo medical treatment at the risk of being beheaded. She also cures Grand Prince Gyeongwon, Queen Consort Munjeong's only son, of smallpox, which earns the permanent gratitude of the Queen Consort.
For her achievements King Jungjong makes Jang-geum a 6th rank official and appoints her to be his personal physician, the first woman to hold such a position. The court is in uproar and the state councillors unanimously oppose the appointment on the grounds that it violates the country's constitution. When the Dowager Queen mother humiliates herself to express her disapproval, the king revokes his decision. She urges the king to take Jang-geum as one of his concubines. Although the king is in love with Jang-geum, he refrains from making her one of his concubines against her will. Jang-geum cures a second bout of Behçet's disease, and the king finally decrees her his personal physician. She is granted the honorific "Dae" (meaning "The Great"), as well as the position of a 3rd rank official.
Jang-geum fears that accepting this position will endanger her friends and family. However, with Min Jeong-ho's support, she accepts. The ministers and scholars of the court bitterly accept the decree, but demand that the king punish Min Jeong-ho for supporting Jang-geum's appointment. Seeing an opportunity to separate the lovers the king agrees and Jeong-ho is sentenced to exile.
Escape, and fugitives from the law
Eventually, the king's old illness returns. Jang-geum attempts to heal him using all the medical technologies known at the time. The other doctors offer advice but nothing works; the king is dying. Jang-geum resorts to her last option—an experimental technique using newly 'discovered' anesthesia and surgery. However, the king's body is considered sacred and he refuses. Knowing Jang-geum's life will be in danger after his death, the repentant king sends her to escape with Min Jeong-ho. Jang-geum and Jeong-ho live as fugitives.
8 years later, Jang-geum is spotted by her adoptive father, who alerts Jang-geum's friends in the palace. By this time Jungjong had long passed away, along with his appointed Crown Prince (who became Injong, who ruled for less than a year due to a life of illness. The second-in-line to succeed the throne is the child Grand Prince Gyeongwon, only son of Queen Munjeong, who is now both the Great Royal Dowager Queen and the Regent, wielding enormous power. She hears that Jang-geum is still in the country and invites her and Jeong-ho to return to the palace and be reinstated to their previous positions. Jang-geum and Jeong-ho joyfully return, but they decide for the sake of their family to live away from the palace.
As they return to their normal lives, Jang-geum comes across a pregnant woman, and successfully uses her surgical skills to deliver the woman's baby via Caesarean section, thus becoming the first physician in Korea to do a surgical procedure. While Jang-geum celebrates her success, Jeong-ho laments the repressive social climate of Korea, and its inability to accommodate a woman with ambitions.
hahahahah.. credit to WIKIPEDIA. i know you won't read this lengthy synopsis. however, i won't decline you. ok.
the story is about a child that want to be a kitchen lady in Royal Kitchen to avenged her mother. as the enemies realized that the their victim has sent to the palace her only heir, they tried their best to get rid of this girl, JANG GEUM. they made it as Jang Geum had falsely charged of a treason towards the Royal Family. She had been exiled to Jeju Island. throughout her difficulties, there is a leftenan guard of the Royal Guard, Min Jung Ho who accompanied and comforted her with helps and hope. few years later, she made to come back to the palace as a physician. discrimination of gender at the time makes it hard for a woman to succeed. however, Jang Geum had proven to all that woman also can succeed in their life as she won the favor of royal family.
no matter how long i wrote here, you won't read this (normal for human being... LOL) right?? so, if you wanna know the story yourself, you may click this link
i myself had watched this 3 times within a month.. haha.. i can guarantee you the story is the best.. thumbs up for this drama...