The Longest Day in Chang An (长安十二时辰)

A 2019 hit show, this 48 episode drama depicts the events in the 24 hours of the Lantern Festival in 744AD under the reign of Emperor Tang Xuan Zong Li Long Ji. A terrorist plot was uncovered by Jing An Si (The Department of City Security). The Chief, a young Li Bi, orders the release of a local police captain Zhang Xiao Jing, who was on death row, accused of murdering the local magistrate. Li Bi needs a person such as Zhang Xiao Jing who operates in the gray zone between the local law enforcement and underground gangs to uncover the plot. The pair race against time to uncover the terrorist plot and the secret machinations at court before the plot can succeed on the night of the Lantern Festival.


This podcast is in English with proper nouns and certain Chinese phrases spoken in Mandarin Chinese

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Key Characters

Zhang Xiao Jing 张小敬

Ex-Sleuth Hound Captain and now prisoner headed for death row. He is granted freedom for 24 hours to help solve a plot to destroy the city of Chang An.

Li Bi 李必

Young deputy leader of Jing An Si (Department of City Security).  His worldview changes as he is influenced by the events of the day. 

Tan Qi 檀棋

Resourceful maid of Li Bi. She is crucial in helping Zhang Xiao Jing during the course of the day and reveals that she has more aspirations in life.

Drama Setting – Intro History and Cultural Details

Tang Dynasty

The drama takes place during the Tang Dynasty, specifically on the day of Lantern Festival in 744 during the reign of Emperor Tang Xuan Zong. The dynasty was founded Li Yuan in 618 and ruled until 907 with an interregnum between 690 and 705. Emperor Tang Xuan Zong ascends the throne in 712, heralding an era of splendor and military strength of the Tang Empire. However by 744, cracks have begun to show in the Empire, presaging the disastrous An Lu Shan rebellion in 755. 

The Capital City

Chang An (长安) served as the ancient capital of 13 kingdoms and dynasties throughout China’s history from the 11th century BCE to 10th century CE. The capital of the Sui Dynasty (581CE–618 CE) was established at the old site of Chang An called 大兴城 Da Xing Cheng. The name didn’t change to Chang An until the Tang Dynasty, where it served as the capital until the fall of the Tang Dynasty. The city was known for it’s 108 Fang 坊 and housed over 1 million people. This is the backdrop for the drama

Competing Factions

Even though the Emperor held absolute power, multiple factions were vying for power under his rule. The Right Chancellor Lin Jiu Lang holds the most formidable faction at court, dispatching opponents with relative ease, and is the one everyone at court strives to please. The Crown Prince, meanwhile, struggles to find his place within court but has his own loyal faction.