Deep and long sigh. Talk about watching a drama plateau and never wanting it to end? Yes, I’ve finally witnessed that drama and the name was The King’s Daughter, Soo Baek Hyang. I really had no expectations on whether or not I was going to like it. I went in thinking it would be just your “typical” saguek drama filled with the usual machinations of the nobles and royals. Little did I know that this drama would become my most love drama ever; a drama to go beyond what I thought about both Queen Inhyun’s Man and the most recent love of mine, Ugly Alert.
Yes, the drama pretty much went under the radar. The MBC network and their programmers thought nothing about pre-empting this drama left and right. They whittled down the episodes from 120 to 108. Sure, it didn’t get the fanfare, promotion or budget that Empress Ki received. But one thing this drama did get: rabid and faithful watchers!
Where to begin with a review of a drama that you just can’t forget? How about I talk about what worked well.
What a great cast ensemble for this drama! I don’t even know where to start. I originally went into this drama for two reasons: Seo Woo and Seo Hyun Jin.
I was already a BIG fan of Seo Woo, definitely in the minority here, but I have watched all of her dramas and several movies since Cinderella’s Sister and enjoyed her and her characters in every one of them. With the character of Solhi being her first “baddie” role ever, I was really looking forward to it. Seo Hyun Jin first peeked my interest when I watched (and hated her character) in Feast of the Gods. My interest continued and blossomed for her acting in The Goddess of Fire, Jeongi. I believe her acting exceeded Moon Geun Young in that drama; and this is coming from a FAN!! Hyun Jin as Solnan, the character had many facades: cute, funny, dangerous, and in love. She played all of that very, very well! The scenes between these two women were amazing! As the conflicts continued to grow; so did the acting. One of my favorite scenes:
If you haven’t seen this drama, this scene is just one of MANY great scenes between these two! I was duly impressed and am now a life long fan of Seo Hyun Jin! Welcome to the short list!!
Lee Jae Ryong as King Muryeong and Jun Tae Soo as Jinmu
Watching these two actors for the first time (I swear I couldn’t remember Tae Soo from SKKS) was an ultimate treat! It is rare that you can watch a character who is evil but you, the viewer would be totally sympathetic to him and quite honestly understand him and his actions. Jinmu was a product of his environment. Ignored and unloved while being brought up by a man bent on revenge, his subsequent actions made sense even though they aren’t condoned, you understand. This was my first Jae Ryong experience and I must say it was a very pleasant and a powerful one! The scenes between these two; father and son brought me to tears every time. Here is one of my favorites:
What can you say after that scene? Talk about being stunned into silence and into tears?
Jo Hyun Jae was a late addition to casting. Having vowed to never to do a saguek drama again, it was a very nice surprise for me when he was added to the cast. Hyun Jae was already one of my favorites (only reason why I watched Advertising Genius) and will remain so for a long time. His portrayal of Crown Prince Myongnong/King Seong was awesome as expected and definitely no surprise. Hyun Jae is one of those expressive actors that is very good at projecting his feelings with just a look; through his eyes and most importantly through his demeanor. I don’t think anyone else could have played our Crown Prince any better.
Yoon Tae Young as Ku-Cheon. How in the world can an actor who barely speaks a word throughout the entire drama become one of the most powerful and beloved characters by all? As Ku-cheon, the deaf mute father of Solnan and Solhi, he will be remembered by all. His action scenes were incredible! Tae Young was impressive and totally memorably! He will definitely be one of the most loved characters from this drama, just read soompi. His funeral scene remains one of the best ever!
Kim Roe Ha as Ddol-Dae and Kim Min Kyo as Mang-Gu. What’s a little conspiracy and murder without a little comic relief? A rarity in saguek but these two characters were such a relief to have! Even during the dark periods, some of their scenes as Smarty and Farty, were welcomed. I was surprised how well the writer would infuse these comedic moments following some seriously sad and teary scenes. We, the viewers welcomed them; believe me!
Kim Young Jae as King Sunimun. For an actor to be able to take a character from being the most hated to most loved in the same drama is a fete in itself. Young Jae’s portrayal of the neurotic and sometimes crazy Sunimun was simply genius! I think the last time I saw him was in A Love To Kill and The Devil (more like cameo performances in these dramas) but both times I remember his characters fondly. But playing Sunimun should definitely give him recognition, not only by us viewers but also by future casting directors. His portrayal was sheer genius!
What’s loving a drama without falling completely in love with a new actor? Yes, My little dimpled love Choi Ro-Woon as the little orphan boy (later named Kko-Mak) won my heart and soul in this drama! As a matter of fact, I believe he won the heart and soul of the writer and director too! There was a point in the drama that it was obvious that his character portrayal was over but a surprise to me, he kept getting more and more scenes! He reminded me so much of Lee Seung Gi, its no wonder they cast them together in a CF! If you have never seen it, here it is Pizza Hut CF. It is so freaking cute!! Yes, I’ve deemed him the future Lee Seung Gi, hands-down! He was just so adorable in this drama! When he smiled, I smiled; when he laughed, I laughed. Yes, I’m a goner! I’m SO in LOVE!!
I could go on and on featuring the rest of the supporting cast but again, this is a testament to the wonderful casting done. I tip my hat to the casting director! A job well done!!
The Infusion of Comedy
Every scene with Ddol-dae and Mang-Gu are hilarious! Amazingly, this was the first time seeing Kim Roe Ha in a comedic role after so many dramas/movies as a seriously bad guy. His role was a pleasant and welcome surprise. Yeo Ui-Joo as Kang-Bok, the Crown Prince’s bodyguard, was constantly making faces behind his Prince’s back but there is no question that he loved him dearly. Solnan’s early eating scenes are legendary! Thank goodness for Do-Rim’s lady training! If you compare the early Solnan with the later Solnan, it is a wonder the Prince fell in love with her (talk about opposites attract).
From royal brotherhood (at times) to a brotherhood of thieves, this was one drama that had not one, not two but three bromances going! Even though Jinmu’s friendship was fake, at times, I believe there was a modicum of respect that he had for the Crown Prince. Whereby, the affection between the Crown Prince and Kang-Bok transcended their station. Who else could follow around the super picky and neat freak Prince and never complain? The funny thing about Ddol-Dae and Mang-Gu’s relationship was it made you wonder whether or not Ddol-Dae was Mang-Gu’s first love. His jealousy towards Yeo-Ok was palpable at times. If it wasn’t for Mang-Gu falling for Solnan, who knows!!
The Dysfunctional Family
The relationship between Solnan and her half brother, Jinmu started out so well. Their interactions were cute and memorable; however, with the death of Ku-cheon, that relationship disintegrated so fast, it made your head spin.
The painful to watch, non-relationship between father (King Muryeong) and son (Prince Jinmu) was all because of a lie. This was the cause of so many viewers having such sympathy for Jinmu and his antics. We knew that had the King not totally alienated Jinmu from the royal family, there might have been some inkling of humanity within his makeup.
The dysfunctional relationship between Solnan and Solhi could be summed up by one word: Solhi. It was because of her greed, selfishness, uncaring attitude, and overall jealousy of her sister, Solnan, made this relationship dissolve into a puddle of piss! Even after all of the attempted murders of Solnan by Solhi, Solnan would not nor could not abandon her sister. As much as we (the viewers) wanted it to happen, it wasn’t. Solnan was definitely the sister that none of us would ever be.
Well Orchestrated Scenes and Wonderful Backdrops
All of the scenes above represent some of the many scenes that were masterfully put together. The use of background and colors were always taken into consideration when a scene was planned and photographed. I believe this was done because of a lower budget compared to other saguek dramas I’ve seen.
The following scene had to be the best ever put together for a battle scene. The film director managed to feature all of the cast within just minutes of this battle scene without skipping a beat. Very cleverly done! Click the link below (sorry, because of copyright reasons, I couldn’t upload to Youtube).
Best Orchestrated Battle Scene
It is not that often that you are able to see a “complete” romance in a saguek drama. Most of the historical dramas that I’ve completed just never showed a great romance. There are some that come close but none to the level of this drama.
We got to see how they met and how they didn’t like each other. In this case, we had two totally opposite people that meet under dire circumstances (for Solnan). The things that the Crown Prince does to her in the beginning will not leave you with any hope of a relationship! But one thing is for sure; you can definitely see the growth of that relationship as it blossoms!
I never thought for the life of me that a scene like the tattooing of the tapir on Solnan could be so romantic. As the Crown Prince leans in to touch Solnan’s bare shoulder, the electricity nearly jumps out of the screen! Who knew that such a simply act could be so sensual?!
First “almost” kiss!
Declaration of “wanting more” in their relationship!
First kiss after the most heartfelt declaration of love I’ve seen in a long time!
Solidifying the love and expectations for a future together!
Playful kiss! One of the cutest scenes ever!
Touching scene in answer to the age old question: “What do you like about me?”
Once the romance begins in full swing, it is like nothing you have seen before. The absolute chemistry between Jo Hyun Jae and Seo Hyun Jin is simply stunning! Watching these two as they explored their new found love was damn near realistic! I also loved how every lovely scene was always filmed from every angle, giving you, the viewer, a complete picture!
Even during the periods where they were avoiding each other, there was no question in your mind that they still loved each other.
I cannot begin to do this drama justice. From beginning to the end, I was totally immersed into the story; wrote several blog posts (Drama Thoughts, Polite Rant on Lying, Kuchon’s Funeral, Last 25 Episodes, never missed a minute to watch the drama raw, live, as well as subbed. All of the above made the drama so worthwhile to watch.
My Only Complaint
The ending is probably not what any of us wanted. With a total of 2 1/2 minutes given to our OTP in the last episode, we, the viewers, felt kind of cheated. I would have preferred at least one episode showing us Crown Prince/King Seong and Solnan as King and Queen; the birth of their first son would have been a nice touch too; however, we can blame that on the fact that the drama was unfairly cut in the last weeks. I think we can all agree that 5 more episodes would have made this drama perfect in its execution. But overlooking that, I found this drama addicting and oh so satisfying. I never thought I’d watch a drama so soon after Ugly Alert that once again, exceeded my expectations ten-fold!