When Mathematics Meets Politics in a Lunchbox

Magic square lunchbox in 2011 Korean historical drama / sageuk Tree With Deep Roots

Every time a grisly murder ordered by his father, King Taejong, takes place, King Sejong despondently buries himself in magic squares—n x n matrices in which each number from 1 to n2 appears just once and the sum of numbers in each row, column and main diagonal (a value known as “magic constant“) is identical. But the troubling news would not leave him alone in this introductory portion of Tree With Deep Roots, a political thriller depicting the invention of the Korean alphabet, Hangul. Couriers, guards and his mournful queen storm his problem solving chamber, where a gigantic and incomplete 33 x 33 magic square reflects the scale of his woes.

Taejong, who has abdicated but continues to wield power, invites himself in as well, proposing an easy solution to the conundrum. He throws away  Continue reading

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