A power struggle between three people in one chaebol empire for 20 years from the turbulent era of Korean finance in the early 1990s to 2010s. Jang Tae Joo is a young man who fights to build up his so-called empire of gold from nothing after his father dies. In order to achieve his dream he marries Choi Seo Yoon, the chaebol heiress of Sung Jin Group. Sung Jin Group battle overensures between Jang Tae Joo, Choi Seo Yoon and her older cousin Choi Min Jae.
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Golden Empire is simply gold but that gold isn’t for everyone to watch and I can fully understand why the audience would avoid a business/romance-free drama. Has it been a time when you were watching an excellent drama but you find out that most people are ignoring it and the internet buzz is almost inexistent? That’s my case with Empire of Gold.
If you want to watch this, forget about the synopsis; it’s misleading and makes you expect things you shouldn’t. This is a story about power struggle for 20 years in order to rule the golden empire which is Sung Jin Group that’s owned by the Choi family. The three main warriors are: Choi Seo Yeon; the daughter of Choi Dung Sung who’s the owner of the group, her cousin Choi Min Jae; the son of Choi Dung Jin who’s the co-founder of the group and Jang Tae Joo who built himself from scratch and came to win the Empire of gold.
Out of all currently airing Korean dramas I was watching synchronously with Golden Empire; this one managed to to snatch the top spot and remain as my top obsession all the way through; this drama excels in screenwriting and witty dialogues, this is a drama where billions were flying on the dining table and a cup of tea can decide someone’s destiny: Yes, I had to mention that because once the table is set for a cup of tea, you should know that you will be blown away by the characters’ dialogue. What I like the most about their dialogues are the metaphors, the quotes and the historical events that they use to deliver their ideas whether directly or indirectly that’s why I always thought that this drama’s writers are geniuses; not only they wrote amusing discussions but they also provided us intense thrilling events and intriguing twists without any drop of slow moments that can reduce our intention: loud claps for the most brilliant writers in Kdrama's history.
The acting department was simultaneously stunning; Go Soo, Lee Yo Won and Son Hyun Joo are astonishing actors that I can’t imagine this drama without them. Jang Tae Joo, Choi Seo Yeon and Choi Min Jae are equally alluring, smart and impressive; just get ready to cheer for them, hate them, love them, distrust them, pity them, curse them but the most important thing is that you will feel them. They led this drama and made the excitement within its storyline through the alliances, the schemes and the conspiracies that were masterminded by those three or the rest of the cast who were equally convincing as actors and highly appreciated as characters.
In a line, I want to give credit for the music that suited this drama’s business theme in a magnificent way.
The rewatch value is low because such an intense drama will lose its twists and the factor of surprise if it's rewatched.
To make the long story short; this drama isn’t directed for everyone but one thing’s for sure, it’s unlike other same-plot dramas since there are no cheesy moments, weak characters or shallow acting. This is a high class screenwriting that’s very rare to find in Korean or Asian dramas in general.
Early on, there are two scenes that portend what’s to come. One is when Sungjin’s chairman apologizes for involving his daughter in the family business and its innate “dirtiness,” which he had hoped to shield her from; and the other is a noodle peddler’s son, now a high-stakes broker, proclaiming that business is “war.” From then on, moral scruples are subordinated to vindictiveness and revenge, putting everything, including blackmail and the covering up of a murder, on the table, as viable options.
With no heroes per se, I found myself pulling for the three characters who want nothing more to do with power and prestige (to the extent they try to sabotage their nearest and dearest who are busy selling their souls for the sake of the “Golden Empire”) to be the ones who resolve the drama’s ending. It was wishful thinking, as there has to be a winner and a loser(s), and as it would’ve been implausible for a truce to be called and the winner declared in the spirit of fair play after all the no-holds-barred beat-down of one another. And the writers don’t disappoint. To quote Adam von Librikov “Death is a matter of style.” And death, stylish death, is the note which the drama’s most heroic character goes out on while its most attractive is left to ponder the unbearable cost of winning.