[[caption-width:320:It will be a long time before she gets to wear those clothes....]]
Choi Dong Yi, a commoner child, was living a peaceful life with her coroner father and palace musician brother when one day, she found a dying man lying by a riverbank and is unwittingly caught within a massive political conspiracy involving the murders of key government officials. Tragedy ensues when the conspirators framed the illegal but innocent commoners' secret society Geom Gye for the murders and proceeded to exterminate them. It turns out that Dong Yi's father is the leader of the society and he and Dong Yi's brother are killed in the process. She survived however and managed to enter the royal palace to work as a servant in the Bureau of Music[[note]]and later on as an inspector in the Surveillance Bureau[[/note]], so as to preserve her own life as well as to wait for an opportunity to redress the wrongful deaths of her father and brother. From then on, she has to contend with the rich but complex (and often difficult) life in the palace as well as the incessant palace intrigues that lurks in the background while still maintaining a positive outlook in life.
''Dong Yi'' is a 2010 South Korean historical drama that is [[VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory loosely based]] on the life of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consort_Suk_of_the_Choe_clan Consort Suk of the Choi clan]], a concubine of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukjong_of_Joseon King Sukjong]] of Joseon (r. 1675-1720) and mother of the future [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yeongjo_of_Joseon King Yeongjo]] (r. 1724-1776). It can be considered as a [[SpiritualSuccessor spiritual successor]] to the earlier historical drama ''DaeJangGeum'' in the sense that both series features a PluckyGirl protagonist who is subjected towards numerous trials and tribulations within the palace and ultimately overcoming them all through hard work, determination and sincerity. There are notable differences however. While ''Dae Jang Geum'' revolves around the culinary arts and medicine, ''Dong Yi'' focuses on music and investigation, the latter being the driving force for many of the [[StoryArc arcs]] in the series.
!! This series provides examples of:
* AnAesop: "It does not matter whether you are born a noble or a commoner; what matters is that you have a noble heart."
* AmbitionIsEvil: A rather tragic case for Lady Jang. [[spoiler: She was initially portrayed to be ambitious only, and refuse to resort to [[DirtyBusiness underhand methods]] to realise her dreams. Things began to change after [[PoisonousFriend her brother]] revealed that he has been supporting her from the sidelines using those methods she despised and urged her to accept the plot he was brewing. The last straw came about when she [[LoveMakesYouEvil realised]] that King Sukjong was beginning to favour Dong Yi, making her lose all her [[TheUnfettered fetters]] in achieving her ambition.]]
* BlueBlood: The ''yangban'' scholarly-elites are essentially the nobility during the Joseon dynasty, although their titles are technically only semi-hereditary. Nevertheless, class-based differences are very pronounced, even during the time period this series is set in, and can be observed by the regular depictions of the elites' contempt[[note]]or even maltreatment[[/note]] towards the commoners throughout the series.
* BrokenPedestal: Dong Yi used to look up upon Lady Jang as her role model. Indeed, it was Lady Jang herself who initially gave Dong Yi a boost in her career. Things changed after Lady Jang became involved in the[[spoiler: [[DirtyBusiness plot]] to poison the Dowager Queen]].
* ChekhovsGunman: Gaedura, Dong Yi's childhood friend who parted ways with her after the latter entered the palace, appeared again later in the series. [[spoiler: Turns out he was responsible for the revival of the Geom Gye.]]
* ChekhovsBoomerang: Some of the methods and findings in Dong Yi's early cases reappear again later in the series, such as the usage of the scytale, and the ginger-stain detection method.
* ChildProdigy: [[spoiler: Prince Yeoning]] shows signs of this, being able to memorise and understand classics that even adults tend to find them hard to comprehend at the age of seven.
* ContinuityNod: The pair of jade rings which King Sukjong bought for Dong Yi originally appeared in the historical drama ''YiSan'' where they were owned by King Yeonjo, who mentioned that they used to belong to his late mother.
* CrashIntoHello: How Dong Yi first met King Sukjong (who was in King Incognito mode then). Hilarity ensues.
* DoItYourselfThemeTune: Dong Yi played a slow, instrumental version of the theme tune a few times using a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haegum haegum]] in memory of her deceased brother who used to play the same instrument. This became a plot point when King Sukjong heard and was enchanted by it and spent a considerable amount of time trying to find the player, but [[JustAFewFeetAway failing all the time]] until the most dramatic moment.
* DeathFakedForYou: Chun Soo pulls this off to allow Dong Yi to escape arrest for a crime she [[FrameUp did not commit]] early in the series. It works only because the then Chief of the Police Bureau Seo Yong Gi acquiesced the faking out of his own [[ThatOneCase misgivings over the case]].
** While Dong Yi is definitely a PluckyGirl, there are times when this trope fits her better, especially in the scene when she survived a fatal wound in the chest so as to be able to pass on an important evidence for a case she was investigating.
** A more straight example would be Chun Soo, who survived a cliff fall and the subsequent plunge into icy-cold water, all of that ''after'' being stabbed multiple times, so as to uphold his [[ThePromise promise]] to return to Dong Yi.
* DyingClue: The hand signals the dying Inspector-General showed to Dong Yi, who will spend many years trying to figure out their meanings.
* EstablishingCharacterMoment: King Sukjong. In his first proper scene, he was shown personally investigating a crashed meteorite within the palace grounds, ignoring the superstition of it being a harbinger of misfortune. That and his subsequent altercation with his ministers in court over the meteorite established him as a ReasonableAuthorityFigure who values hard evidence and is not afraid to challenge his ministers if he feels they are wrong.
* EveryEpisodeEnding: Every episode will end with a close-up shot of Dong Yi before cutting into the credits.
* FrameUp: How the ''Geom Gye'', or Sword Fraternity[[note]]also translated as ''Swordsmen's Society''[[/note]], was exterminated. [[spoiler: Its revived incarnation also suffers the same fate.]]
* FriendOnTheForce: Yong Gi is one for Dong Yi; she often consult him regarding cases that are beyond her powers to investigate, such as cases outside the palace.
* GentlemanSnarker: Shim Woon Taek is a good example of one, himself being a ''yangban''[[note]]noble[[/note]]. When he first appeared in the series, he was an exiled scholar wandering from lodgings to lodgings in the distant district of Euiju, and generally annoying its government officials with his witticisms along the way. The [[TheHedonist hedonist]] aspect of this trope is completely averted however.
* [[GratuitousForeignLanguage Gratuitous Chinese]]: Qing officials speak in actual Mandarin Chinese in their private conversations, albeit with a noticeable accent.
* HistoricalFiction: While most of the main characters are based on actual historical figures, most of the events depicted in this series are fictional and exist only due to the RuleOfDrama.
* IJustWantMyBelovedToBeHappy: Chun Soo to Dong Yi. Also played with the Queen towards King Sukjong's harem, notably [[spoiler: nYi]].
* IDidWhatIHadToDo: Lady Jang's brother used this to defend himself after his plot to [[spoiler: poison the Dowager Queen]] became known to her.
* InterserviceRivalry: The Joseon court is often fractured due to bitter factional struggles between the Southern and Western factions, which inevitably allowed King Sukjong to reinforce his authority by playing them against each other.
* KingIncognito: King Sukjong is fond of inspecting his country incognito, and it was in one such tour when he met Dong Yi.
* LastSecondChance: Dong Yi tries to offer one to [[spoiler: Lady Jang]] near the end of the series. [[spoiler: She refused to take up.]]
* LoveMakesYouEvil: Lady Jang, after [[IgnoredEpiphany reflecting on her past deeds]], have only this to say: "My only regret is that I truly loved you."
* MissedHimByThatMuch: Used a few times to highlight the main characters futile searches for each other. Interestingly, this trope is still in force after the characters knew each other in person, as they didn't realise that the person(s) they are looking for are already known to them.
* MurderTheHypotenuse: Lady Jang began to attempt this against [[spoiler: Dong Yi]] when her other methods of removing her failed.
* NoOneCouldSurviveThat: Lady Jang's brother gave her this assurance after receiving reports that [[spoiler: Dong Yi was fatally wounded]]. Guess what happens afterwards....
* ObfuscatingStupidity: Lady Jang's brother Jang Hee Jae acts like this to ensure that people ignore or underestimate him.
* OutGambit: How plots against Dong Yi tend to fail later in the series.
* PluckyGirl: Dong Yi. This trait of hers is the defining premise of this series.
* ThePromise: Chun Soo promised to find Dong Yi no matter where she is, so long as she placed the symbol he entrusted her with. [[spoiler: He did.]]
* ProperlyParanoid: Dong Yi shows shades of this later in the series, which is how she is able to OutGambit a number of plots against her. An example would be she ordering her room to be applied with liberal amounts of [[ChekhovsBoomerang ginger-water]] to detect any intruders who might want to steal the [[MacGuffin Border Defence Logs]] she hid in her room while she was out attending a banquet. It also helps that she has [[TheStrategist Shim Woon Taek]] advising her.
* TheQuietOne: Chun Soo, and to a lesser extent, Yong Gi. You don't want to mess with [[BewareTheQuietOnes either of them]].
* ReasonableAuthorityFigure: King Sukjong, Queen Inhyeon, Seo Yong Gi and Matron Jeong; all of whom were impressed by Dong Yi's sincerity and determination and eventually became trusted allies of her.
* SceneryPorn: Used a few times in the series, including the opening scene which features a lone angler fishing in a calm river surrounded by lofty peaks. [[spoiler: Who was then murdered.]]
* SelfFulfillingProphecy: Before she became a Royal Consort, Lady Jang was told by a travelling Taoist that she, who has everything, is destined to be the shadow of the light of a girl, who has lost everything. The girl is none other than Dong Yi, and Lady Jang's eventual downfall is largely caused by her incessant plotting against Dong Yi.
* SilentScapegoat: Dong Yi's father willingly took the blame for the murder of Yong Gi's father so as to preserve his life by preventing him from inquiring into the murder further.
* SlidingScaleOfIdealismVersusCynicism: This series showcases both ends of the scale, with Dong Yi representing idealism and Lady Jang representing cynicism. The series ultimately settles on the idealistic end of the scale, although the path towards it is [[EarnYourHappyEnding definitely not easy]].
* SmugSnake: The entire Jang family sans [[TokenGoodTeammate the crown prince]]. Special mention goes to Jang Hee Jae.
* SpiritualSuccessor: To ''DaeJangGeum'', both of which are directed by the same director and feature similar themes, [[HeyItsThatGuy and actors including the male leads]].
* StalkerWithACrush: The son of the Director of Music is one towards Dong Yi. His obsession over her (who is completely unaware of his presence) does not cease even after she became the king's consort.
* ThatOneCase: Seo Yong Gi is haunted for many years over the pleas of a young Dong Yi towards him, who insist that her father was framed. The case was officially closed but her mysterious disappearance only served to compound his misgivings over the case. [[spoiler: And it was only years later when he met her again and discovered the truth.]]
* ThoseTwoGuys: There are two pairs of note: one is the music supervisor and palace musician, and the other is their superior, the Director of Music, and his son; both pairs are mainly present for comic relief only, though they did advance the plot in a few cases.
* TimeSkip: Used a few times throughout the series.
* TokenGoodTeammate: The crown prince is the only good person in the Jang family.
* TheUnfettered: Lady Jang shows shades of this, being willing to do anything to achieve her dreams.
* WoundedGazelleGambit: Lady Jang tries one by poisoning herself so that she can accuse the deposed queen from plotting against her.