Based on the tragic Joseon legend, this drama is about the love story between King Jung Jong and his Queen Dan Kyung, who was crowned and deposed within the span of a week due to rival political factions that controlled the king’s rule. According to historical legend, after the queen was dethroned and removed from the palace, the king would walk to the outside royal pavilion every day and sigh as he gazed at a mountain in her direction. After hearing this, she placed a red skirt, her favorite to wear in the palace, on a rock on the mountain face so he would know that she was well and that she still yearned for him.
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First, It's not a spoiler to say that this is indeed a Romance-Tragedy. It is inspired by the true story of Queen Dangyeong, who we know from the title, was only Queen for a week. If the title isn't enough to clue you in on what's in store, the show starts by glimpsing into the future, and we see a not so happily ever after moment where she tries to kill her love, the king, but can't. This was the same flash forward method that grabbed my attention in Empress Ki, and I knew that I would need to know exactly what road led them there. That road is not just filled with tragic moments. We actually go all the way back to childhood with the characters, and the journey to the end is more than just tears. There's humor, great friendships, some action, and of course romance, and what I thought was an interesting story of 3 people who's lives are controlled by their fate, in spite of their feelings.
I think Yeon Woo Jin was amazing as future king Yi Yeok. I've liked him in other dramas, but this one is a perfect vehicle for his range. He's matched with Park Min Young as Shin Chae Kyung, who I can say the same about. I think, because their child versions were so good, it gave them a lot to work with as far as backstory, and I truly believed all of their moments together. They may not have the most exciting chemistry, but that didn't stop me from liking them as a couple. The triangle is then made complete by Lee Dong Gun as Yi Yoong. I think his character, and acting, drives this whole drama. He also reminded me A LOT of a young Christopher Walken, and not just because of his big eyes. He has a charm and creepiness about him that made him the kind of villain I not only sympathized with, but sometimes rooted for in spite of myself. Even in his most over the top moments I totally felt for him. I really am a sucker for an actor who's really good at playing evil or crazy or both.
Most of the story revolves around the rivalry between these two brother for the crown, and their love of the same girl, but it still didn't feel too cliché to me. I think it's because every single character in this story, meaning every single supporting character, are so developed and well played, that it gave extra depth to the story and made me care about everyone... EVERYONE... even the Nanny. I would usually give a shout out to awesome supporting characters but there are just too many to name! I also loved that most characters, even if they were minor, had some kind of attention given to their specific part in the story, and some very emotional endings for their characters.
Ok, I will mention just one... Hwang Chan Sung as Seo Noh. *insert my standing ovation here*
As for the story, for me it just kept getting more exciting and addictive as the show progressed. The moments that may have felt slower were more of a build up to more exciting parts. Waiting for new episodes started to feel a little like torture, but sometimes I needed that week to breathe between episodes because the story got so intense. Sometimes characters were frustrating, but I think that's what added to them feeling human. Sometimes the political storyline was upsetting, but because it tied directly to these amazing characters, it kept my interest till the very end. The ending had a lot to live up to, and I think it was well done. I suffered from severe eye rain during the second half of the last episode, but the ending avoided just being completely depressing, which I think is impressive.
The music is beautiful and compliments this drama very well, and Junggigo's song will be on mental loop for a while.
Would I watch it again? Absolutely. I would probably need to watch a few light hearted shows in a row first, but sometimes you need a story that gets you in the feels too. I would just stock pile some tissues.
Overall I would definitely recommend this, BUT if you are not a fan of extreme drama then this may be too much. If you have never liked a sageuk ever, know this is more of the same, so don't expect this one to convert you. If you don't like stubborn characters who make you want to throw things at your screen, you definitely picked the wrong drama. Personally, I think it was beautifully bittersweet, and I I already added it to my favorites list before I even finished it.
I should say I absolutely hate draggy dramas and out of the 5 dramas that I was watching at the sametime, this drama was the only one I didn't drop.
TBH, aside from the actors, I was kinda excited for the story because I found out King Jungjong (yeo woojin) was the same king in Jewel in the palace portrayed by Im Ho. The story is basically explaining the background of what happened in the first jewel in the palace episodes, minus the parts about the queen.
You'll find yourself getting excited every couple minutes and feeling the pain and happiness (even though it never lasts for long) with the characters. The plot is wrapped around the reality and the main couple's love story VERY WELL. They're so cute yet stubborn and immature at times. I absolutely loved the main 3 leads' characters and how they develop.
Even though supposedly the king's character is one of the "villains" of the story, along with many other viewers i found myself in love with him. His character is shown in great depth and that's probably thanks to the superb acting of Lee Dong Gun. But I found the king's character becoming quite dramatic and slightly dislikable towards the end, which probably makes sense because the real King Yeonsangun was far worse. But even that didn't stop me from rooting for him.
The politics are really interesting as well and will keep you hooked along with the revenge and the cute love story.
The cast were perfect. The adult and the child actors are absolutely gorgeous and their resemblance is crazy. Even their facial expressions are similar.
OH MY GOD. one word. Lee Donggun. He was soooo amazing. You could probably understand his whole life story and how hurt he is by his eyes and the way he talks. I absolutely loved every single moment he came on the screen.
Park minyoung was pretty amazing too and I should say her acting was way better than in sungkyunkwan scandal. somehow I noticed her facial expressions and reactions improving throughout the story as well!! I loved how playful and sensitive she could be at the same time even though that's very typical of all kdrama heroines.
I should say my favourite person was Yeon Woo Jin and he NEEDS to do more sageuk dramas. His charisma and the sadness and anger in his eyes kept me hooked and I'm pretty sure I never skipped a single scene he was in. He looked absolutely hot! Even better than in arang and the magistrate!!
Music: OST overall is quite emotional and cute but my favourite is the one sang by junggio and I still listen to it all the time. I really liked the song chaekyung always whistled to when she was younger, still can't find the song on the web though...
I should say the hanboks were slightly disappointing. For my the outfits are the best parts of period dramas but I just felt like the scenes would be more pleasant if Chaekyung's outfits were more colourful.
But overall, this drama is my favourite sageuk drama of the year. I feel like lately all dramas are more westernised and i still kinds prefer those 2005-2012 melodrama shows with great plots and unexpected twists. This drama took me back to those days and it was a good mix of a melodrama and a cute story. I definitely suggest everyone to watch it and I have no idea why it didn't have high ratings... :(
If given the chance I'd probably watch it maybe in a few months or even a year because I'll need some time to recover from it, but I'll miss yeo woojin and lee donggun in hanbok too much to not rewatch the show
|"I will go down with this Ship" _ Second Male Lead Syndrom (with the King) club by Juniko||14||697|