The Emperor: Owner of the Mask

The Emperor: Owner of the Mask (2017)

Your Rating:
Ratings: 8.1/10 from 1,771 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;

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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?]
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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.
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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)

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  • Reply
    TeleriFerchNyfain May 27, 2017 - edited

    Loving this so far (cause we are OUT of the palace for most of it LOL)
    It always makes me laugh when these sageuks have the Crown Prince/soon to be king 'torn between 2 women' LOL LOL LOL cause guess what? These Goryeo/Joseon monarchs had numerous wives LOL There'd be a coronated Queen, of course, but then there'd be other queens, plus official/royal concubines. Just look up any of them to see how many consorts they'd have (at the same time....)
    In other words our masked Prince could have both girls once he gets his throne back :D

    • Reply
      Maria May 27, 2017

      Yes. But it's a drama and it's unreal! XD

    • Reply
      TeleriFerchNyfain May 27, 2017

      Here's the point about writing fiction - unless it's outright fantasy, an author DOES need to pay attention to reality in order to help the reader's suspension of disbelief. Dismissing all fiction as if it never has any connection to reality is rather, well, ignorant. Now, with the specific point I mentioned, it's a stock sageuk deviation from reality that all of us are familiar with (ie, somehow ignoring the fact the King could have multiple wives) but the more a drama tries to incorporate the REALITY into the DRAMA, the more invested the viewer can get. Those sageuks that don't deny the reality but show that our hero/prince only wants the one girl, for instance (thinking Shine or Go Crazy although the ending really should have followed the BOOK...) have more punch (because we can think, oh maybe the real king felt like that) whereas with shows such as this, there's no connection with real history at all so it loses some verisimilitude.
      That being said, yes I DO enjoy these historical fantasies a lot, especially when they don't try to pretend it's real history. Real history = dramas like 6 Flying Dragons, for instance (serious attempt to analyze how that family & that young man became the rulers of Joseon).

    • Reply
      Maria May 30, 2017

      Thank you for explanation ^_^

    • Reply
      TeleriFerchNyfain May 30, 2017

      It' the English teacher in me LOL

  • Reply
    Exol_army May 27, 2017

    Can someone tell me in what episode will jin Ki joo will appear

  • Reply
    Rigby May 26, 2017 - edited

    I absolutely love all the characters here! L is giving me goosebumps for his acting! Well done! I am a fan already!

    • Reply
      TeleriFerchNyfain May 27, 2017

      He's a very good young actor - any hate directed at him is just prejudice cause he's an idol boy.

    • Reply
      PKsuperfan May 27, 2017

      I agreed, people just want to say he is a bad actor but they have no proof to back it up.

  • Reply
    Nina May 26, 2017 - edited

    I want the old title back.

    • Reply
      Janey Jun 4, 2017

      She messaged me nicely about what I said and so I deleted my original comment about a stick being up her butt and her attitude across this site but when I read this above comment, nah man.
      I don't need to apologize for calling you out. There is a forum thread out there about you specifically Hessa and how you act. "Butt" is not a vulgar word, I could have said much worse.

    • Reply
      Hessa Jun 4, 2017 - edited

      But my message was there before you deleted your comment. You even brought race into this, that is why, after arranged my thoughts, I wrote that. Hours before you came to delete your comment (I checked). Also, Vulgar means lacking sophistication or good taste. Not really a pleasent way to talk and advise people when you think they are wrong.

      Also, based on the admin I don't deserve to be ganged up on.
      Where is that thread? Cause threads like that are not appropriate at MDL.
      Edit: I searched but there were non.
      Seriously, I don't know why you hate me so much, Janey. I really want to know why you think I "have a stick up your butt"? Since I don't even remember interacting with you ever, for you to judge me like that.

      Ala, why so angry?

      Finally, no need for us to continue this. If you are still angry just send a PM and I'll apologize if I was wrong.

    • Reply
      Janey Jun 4, 2017

      You need to build a bridge and get over it. No one is angry, we've all moved on so I don't know why you're still so into this.
      And no, the thread isn't on MDL, it's on another site but all I'm going to say is that some people feel that you're too authoritarian and rubbed some people up the wrong way (again, that's not my issue with you). Your comments to people on this page asking about the name change were sarcastic and short-sighted at best, whether you mean it or not. Not just to this OP, but to the others too.
      Finally, I'm from the same country as you, I didn't bring race or nationality into it as an insult. You, as a site staff, represent MDL and being so open about your location means some people take it as "everyone from UAE is like that". I've seen what people say about you on the thread and I don't like that you're somehow representative of our amazing country.
      I don't have an issue with you, no ones ganging up on you. If people see something and they don't like it, they are allowed to voice their opinions. Perhaps you should stop playing the victim and see that if multiple people (and likers) are on the same page about something, maybe it really is true.
      Anyways, I'm over it, hope you are too.

    • Reply
      Hessa Jun 4, 2017

      I'll send you a PM and discuss it there.

      This conversation is done.

  • Reply
    cynthia May 26, 2017 - edited
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      insoles May 26, 2017
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      cynthia May 26, 2017

      Yeah you're right.

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    Firebird May 26, 2017 - edited
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      mickey May 26, 2017 - edited
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    inspirit91 May 26, 2017 - edited
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    angelpuppo May 26, 2017 - edited
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      inspirit91 May 26, 2017
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    ZaneAraki May 25, 2017 - edited

    I will keep watching this show for the sake of curiosity but I haven't really find anything that clicked with me. I wish the director would let Ga Eun be more involved with the Prince. It's odd that Hwa Geun gets more screen time and fun arc with the Prince.

  • Reply
    94loveKdrama May 25, 2017

    Still craving for my ship like uggggggh!!!~ ><

  • Reply
    94loveKdrama May 25, 2017
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    insoles May 25, 2017 - edited
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      angelpuppo May 25, 2017 - edited
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    Moza May 25, 2017

    I'm on ep 10, so far i like it..

  • Reply
    angelpuppo May 25, 2017
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    Nancy May 25, 2017 - edited

    I like this drama
    I like chung woon and gon character most.......
    5 years leap...In drama ...I don't like long leap

    • Reply
      EmpyreanConqueror May 25, 2017

      It doesn't really make a difference, nothing has really changed, they look the same. The only big change I would say is that the fake Crown Prince now Emperor is doing better xd. Also love your profile picture Luo Luo from fighter of the destiny. She's amazing.


  • 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 1,771 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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