The Emperor: Owner of the Mask

The Emperor: Owner of the Mask (2017)

Your Rating:
Ratings: 8.1/10 from 1,775 users
Reviews: 13 users

In the 1700's, Crown Prince Lee Sun fights against Pyunsoo hwe, an organization that has accumulated power and wealth through privatizing water all over Joseon. He becomes a hope for the people who suffer. Ga-Eun is the woman Crown Prince Lee Sun loves and she helps him grow as a ruler.

  • Native title:

    군주 - 가면의 주인
  • Also Known as:

    Ruler – Master of the Mask; Monarch; Goonjoo-Gamyunui Jooin; Ruler - Master of the Mask;

Add Cast Show More Cast (24)Cast

View allNews & Articles

5 Sageuk Dramas of 2017: Fiction Vs. Fact
Love period dramas, but don't know how far they are true? This article explores 5 historical Korean dramas of 2017 and the extent of historicity in the storylines.
Judging a Drama by Its Cover
Have you ever judged a drama by its cover? Check out Ceki's thoughts on the importance of covers and which ones are her favorites!

Write a Review More Reviews (11) Reviews

26 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Jul 13, 2017
  • Overall 6.5
  • Story 5.5
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 8.5
  • Rewatch Value 3.5
If you have to prioritize, watch the first episode and judge for yourself, because some tricks and stretches are telling for the overall quality and worldbuilding. Are you OK with random commoners using Lee last name (and it somehow being an important factor for maliciously choosing a crown prince's substitute)? How about a poison that has to be re-taken every 15 days otherwise the read more afflicted person will die? Or a poison that makes the survivor immune to all the other poisons in the world? Do you buy the reasoning for hiding crown prince's face behind a mask? Unless you really can't stand prolonged misunderstandings and great love built on lack of communication (or even shared screentime), you'll be OK with the rest.
(And speaking of the setup, I have no idea what were they thinking using prince Sado's name, since it can't even be considered an alternative, rice box-free version of that story. Maybe the writer had something planned but she forgot about it in a meantime? Or wanted to troll us with a prospect of a tragic ending?)

Despite all the plotting, accumulating power and changing teams going on, there's not enough plot to last for 20 hours (and a 5 years long time skip during which 1st female lead regressed and everything interesting apparently just happened to the other three). Some matters, like finding a poppy field, could have been resolved around 1/3 of the show and don't even start me on that jar that no-one bothered to come and get until the very end. Really. There were two quests in total and they were both lying sidelined waiting for a person in charge to get to his or hers grand moment, because everyone else was too busy creating misunderstandings, being a noble idiot or passively looking from behind. Right, they needed to make an antitode too, but that just happened last minute.
To make matters worse, due to the episode getting split in half it wasn't 20 eps but 40 shorter ones. So double the cliffhanger / wet blanket combo and add general lack of fluidity here and there.
With that being said, it's not a show to watch for the plot and the overall pacing fits what little character development we see. Except most of it is thrust upon the second leads.
Storytelling is mediocre at best and very predictable in a short term (still engaging on a longer run). You can have a drinking game for everything that happens on cue and every seam that shows through. Expect lots of convenient timing used for the sake of the dramatic effect and main characters doing nothing and getting away with it, because events resolve themselves without them. I'm not even talking about overused hijinks like the main girl coming back from her task all down and changing her mood midsentence, saying to the crowd's relief she suceeded, or that scene when the crown prince was being mourned only to show above someone's shoulder and ask who's dead. And let's ignore that General who fought Jurchens, because he's such a stock character I physically cringed every time he spoke. His lines were like something a kindergartner with a wooden sword would improvise, that kid that gets some episodic part because someone has to do it, and maybe doubles as a tree. Someone on kissasian commented it's like the writer was using a textbook on how to write a segeuk and I fully agree. It's a second rate fanfic writing in a high budget decorations. Easy on eyes and ears, engaging, but only until you take your eyes of it and start looking at the whole picture. With a different cast and lower production value, it'd be unwatchable.

The romance is bland and angsty. They meet, they instantly fall in love, some misunderstandings happen to them [enters 'came from the dead, pretends to be his own lookalike' trope sprawling over the better part of the middle], they separate, they're back and everything is all dandy. The end. The second leads meddle into it, but they never had a chance and weren't even looking for a different options, so there's no thrill. Fill the empty spaces with speeches on the common people suffering under Evil Corp, the legitimacy of power, qualities of a good leader and apologies towards villain who was clearly forced by a circumstances and badly run country to turn evil, poor thing. The show takes itself very seriously, but comes off silly and pompous despite some original concepts thrown at the beginning.
I wish writers had a better idea of showing Ga Eun's independence than making her going blindly her way, without consulting people around her and making informative choices. I'm not saying asking for permission, but communicating with a person she supposedly loves that much. I suspect reasons for that are not exposing her trait as much as having her in one place with the second male lead and under his power, and giving the first male lead an opportunity for a dramatic run through a city stopped on crossed halberds. She could be much more than that -- and she was, but it derailed.

Let me think.
YSH was born to play royals. He's charismatic, commanding and has them dramatic gazes covered. And not forget his deep voice. But we didn't need a 20 episode drama to confirm that. Both he and KSH are wasted in their roles of a sheltered prince taking a responsibility and a trophy girl. A kind, caring, underinformed trophy girl fighting for a justice. With 15 minutes of a heavily reused footage her character had more impact on the story in Goblin than here.
Wait, I meant to stay positive.
Both leading actors managed to carry their characters thanks to their charisma and breathed some air into subpar writing. Both second leads showed improvement compared to some of their former works. Second female lead comes quite a way from a creep playing with her knife (or was a needle?) and inflicting on herself a wound to match with the one the crown prince got to an independent, succesful woman standing against her family and making great sacrifices. Second male lead shares 1st lead burden and tries to navigate in an unfamiliar environment until he can't take it anymore and breaks apart. Villain is entertaining to watch and not omnipotent (close, but not), but towards the end he's getting out of character (or was he always delusional?). The other villain has a motivation so murky and changable I won't risk a guess what was she actually plotting, but I doubt it was intentional anyway. At some point it looked like we've got a few more secret organisations to stir things up, but keep your hopes low. As soon as they were introduced, they got tossed away. [Looks like that's as far as my positive attitude can get me.]
Rating it anything below 7 is mean towards production team and actors, but the writing really brings it down. You can safely skip that one, but if you feel like watching something light, why not give it a shot and see for yourself.
[But don't even a light show need a more convincing romance, if nothing else?]
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No
14 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Jul 13, 2017
  • Overall 7.5
  • Story 7.5
  • Acting/Cast 6.5
  • Music 9.0
  • Rewatch Value 3.0
I don't quite know where to begin with my review. Should I list all the good things or should I list all the bad things first? This is also the reason why my rating is probably not yet final. It might change one or two times, though it will definitely not go up any further.

So, to summon it up, this drama is flashy, cheesy, overly dramatic and sometimes seriously ridiculous. The read more synopsis for this show is quite scarce, so I'll try to describe some additional facts first.

The king rules over his country. That's how it should be. But in fact, he is only a puppet who is led by Pyunsoo Group, a large hidden organization that has its own trick to control the royal family quite well. The Crown Prince meanwhile has to wear a mask in order to hide his face because of an illness he got when he was born - at least that's what the people and the ministers believe. And because of Pyunsoo Group he is also forced to live outside the palace someday. There he meets Ga Eun who he will fall in love with.

The basic plot is actually quite interesting. That's why it's so sad that it doesn't live up to its potential in the end. It had a steady atmosphere what I liked about this drama, but every now and then it managed to drop one or two ridiculous bombs that were either created by some nonsensical decisions or resulted in some foolish actions.

There were alot of characters who had the potential to something big, but they never rose from their grounds. Same applies for the acting. Though I can't blame half of them because they got some crappy scripts for their roles, the other half of the cast was only average or worse.

As interesting as the beginning was, I never saw an actual improvement of the Crown Prince. He might have become a little smarter, that's all. Same goes for the female lead. At a certain point in the drama, she started to annoy me because so many bad things happened only because of her. It irritated me so much, that almost every decision centered around her. She was either bait or needed protection or whatever. I don't know where it went wrong but her role felt more like a burden than a blessing/support. I admit that I enjoyed some of her scenes with the Crown Prince though. But that's as far as it goes.

At some point I started to favor the second female lead more than the actual one. There was definitely growth in her character while she was one of the most conflicted persons in the story. And although I was skeptical regarding the actress at first, I'm glad that she pulled off her character so well that I even felt sad about her efforts being in vain - though on the other hand she did accomplish some of her wishes in the end.

There are only a few performances I truly enjoyed. The Queen Dowager, the second female lead's father, the female lead's father, Woo Bo (Lee Sun's teacher) and Dae Mok, the head of Pyunsoo Group. Their acting was shining compared to the rest. Yoo Seung Ho had his moments, too, and I enjoyed most of his scenes, but damn, he's one teary guy. His hair is beautiful though...

There is indeed an unhealthy amount of crying. Alot of it. And everyone seems to be a real crybaby, it spreads like a disease. Shedding tears during almost every serious moment.

Did I like something? The clothes, the cinematography, the MUSIC (that score was good~), impressive entrances (esp from Yoo Seung Ho, his royal demeanor was intriguing) and some really good fighting scenes.

Recommendation is debatable and this is definitely not a sageuk for everyone. It's quite predictable, with alot of stereotype characters and some questionable turn of events. Despite that I still felt entertained to a certain degree. There were many moments that kept my interest throughout the whole drama and I wanted to see the finale, even though I already knew how it would probably end~

And Yoo Seung Ho's hair was so beautiful... Did I already mentioned that? Damn, that dude is gorgeous.
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Make a Recommendation More recs (1)Recommendations

Similarities that you can see in both of them:

-There is a problem in the country's ruling and at least the citizens are unhappy with it.
-There is an evil organization that is connected to the counrty's ruling.
-There is a love connected to a little duration of being together, and a parting apart with a "Remember me with this when we become together in the future again!" object.
-There is a main character who has to hide his identity with a mask.
-Full of action.
-The heroine and the main character are both brave.
-Both are historical.
-Both are very great!
Recommended by Vologirlchan
Scholar Who Walks The Night and The Emperor: Owner of the mask have similarities. Both story is developing the crown prince to become a great King.

It's because there is a cruel person/vampire that stand behind the Kings order and the Prince were forced to serve that person/vampire in order to keep his people save.

In The Emperor: Owner of The Mask there is Daemok. In Scholar Who Walks The Night there is a vampire called Gwi.
Recommended by Nurul Hana

Comments (879)

  • Login or Register to post comments
  • Reply
    Whiskas8 2 days ago


  • Reply
    AJhennieArol 5 days ago

    I watch this drama from the beginning and suddenly loss interest reaching 28 ep with so many flaws that the energy in my body went down and never came up... sad to say dont like the plot sorry

  • Reply
    Abby 9 days ago

    Didn't like this drama very much. Had too many eye roll moments and ridiculous amounts of crying in this drama. I'm pretty sure 90%, if not more, of this drama was was just the actor/actress crying. They cried over EVERYTHING. Literally. Everything. The only thing that kept me going through out this show was Hwa Gun. LOVED her character!

  • Reply
    jiajia 18 days ago

    Omg I can't believe that so many people are hating this drama grrr. As for me I enjoyed the drama so much. I guess this drama makes you either loving or hating it. But I loved it! Prince Lee Sun & Han Ga Eun mansae! ♥

  • Reply
    Angelina 28 days ago

    Just finished the drama, it was meh. I don't hate it, nor like it very much, it was okay.

  • Reply
    Kie 29 days ago

    OMG! This drama is superb! I really like the story. I salute all the characters and the people involved in creating this drama. Congratulation!

  • Reply
    Fear Evil Genius 29 days ago - edited

    May i know the pairing/couple for this drama?

  • Reply
    Kei Jul 20, 2017 - edited

    It's ok. But I can't say I loved it. I guess I expected too much because it had so much potential with such a great plot and stellar leads. Unfortunately the writers were not able to utilize the gold in their hands well.

  • Reply
    fanitha Jul 20, 2017

    This was an entertaining drama it was not the best drama ever, but it did accomplish to entertain it's a good drama just don't watch it with great expectations and you'll be fine.

  • Reply
    lhisa Jul 19, 2017

    I really like this drama. From beginning to end, I find all episodes worth watching. For me all the artists, staffs & crews did a great job. CONGRATULATIONS!

  • Reply
    AmberSteininger Jul 18, 2017 - edited

    For people who haven't finished this, don't scroll down as some absolute melon didn't spoiler tag and reveals a big spoiler.

  • Reply
    LPA Jul 18, 2017 - edited

    First of all, I liked this drama. Sure, it wasn't totally perfect and a bit unrealistic--but that is part of its appeal. The actors were good, some stood out more than others of course, partly because of their character. The settings were beautiful and the story kept me wanting more. It had the perfect villan (not too overdone and with a personal story)--and the overall theme was good. I thought it had the perfect ending with intrigue to the very end and acknowledgement of the characters. I would definitely recommend watching this. And remember that the episodes are only 30 minutes each so it's like 20 Ep overall. You should watch it--I don't think you'll stop in the middle. I rated it 8.5.

  • Reply
    Yajuns Jul 18, 2017

    The drama was very serious but I kept laughing because of L... he reminds me of a rabid dog LMAO.

  • Reply
    radhz_dramalover Jul 17, 2017

    i think is drama is really average. there are some really good stuff and equally bad stuff. Interesting plot but not really engaging. some character are really fresh and super, while some are bland. it has its own high and low. Its good for time pass when you are out of other options. but its not really worth it.

  • Reply
    Natsume21 Jul 17, 2017

    Hwa Gun and the crown prince seemed like they had something, and Ga Eun was just the rebound girl. :(( Hwa Gun was like the main role in this drama. She's badass, strong, and she'd do anything for the crown prince :( I'm hating the writer of this drama


  • Country:

    South Korea
  • Type:

  • Episodes:

  • Aired:

    May 10, 2017 to Jul 13, 2017
  • Aired On:

    Wednesday, Thursday
  • Network:

  • Duration:

    30 min.


  • Score:

    8.1 (scored by 1,775 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


Recently Watched By