Secret Royal Inspector & Joy (2021) poster
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Ratings: 7.8/10 from 6,221 users
# of Watchers: 18,652
Reviews: 31 users
Ranked #3370
Popularity #851
Watchers 6,221

A secret royal inspector uncovers corruption and then ensures its perpetrators face justice. He cannot reveal himself or his intentions. Ra Yi Eon wanted to open up a dumpling stall outside the capital. What he had not planned on was taking and passing the state examination! Now an official in the Office of Special Advisors, the requests to carry out covert missions are aplenty. Kim Jo Yi is a woman well ahead of her time due to her unorthodox views on divorce. In the Joseon era, she finds the notion of any woman suffering in silence during her marriage intolerable. She wholeheartedly and passionately is in support of divorce. And small wonder! She is awaiting the envisioned happiness that cutting ties with her spouse will bring. Up for an adventure, Jo Yi convinces Yi Eon to let her tag along on his first official investigation in the provinces. Together they can expose wrongdoing and wipe out corruption. Which one will recognize the guilty parties hiding in plain sight? (Source: CJ ENM) Edit Translation

  • English
  • 한국어
  • 中文(简体)
  • Arabic
  • Country: South Korea
  • Type: Drama
  • Episodes: 16
  • Aired: Nov 8, 2021 - Dec 28, 2021
  • Aired On: Monday, Tuesday
  • Original Network: tvN
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Score: 7.8 (scored by 6,221 users)
  • Ranked: #3370
  • Popularity: #851
  • Content Rating: 15+ - Teens 15 or older

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Cast & Credits


42 people found this review helpful
Dec 28, 2021
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 5
Overall 7.0
Story 7.0
Acting/Cast 8.0
Music 8.0
Rewatch Value 5.0

Simple light comedy sageuk.

Remember seeing the poster and telling my friend that this drama will be a no-brainer and it turned out to be exactly like that. Although I thought there will be certain amount of seriousness, which is indeed there, but even they carry the comic elements to some extent.

It has a simple story. There is a secret royal inspector who sets out on a journey to discover corruptions by the Govt. appointed officials. On his mission he encounters a lady, who due to her situations, joins along the journey. They are accompanied with 2 servants of the inspector and 2 friends of the lady. As these six people move ahead to solve different cases, they unveil tragic truths behind the crimes and corruptions made by local authorities as well as seemingly big figures behind them. As everything becomes clear, rest 40% of the drama is how they bring forward the truth and establish justice.

Ra Yi Eon (Ok Taec Yeon) is the secret royal inspector, who initially had a simple dream of making a dumpling shop and living a simple life. But due to family pressure he appears the state civil service exam to become a inspector. Kim Jo Yi (Kim Hye Yeon) is a free-spirited, quick-witted and brave lady who believes in woman independence. Oweing to her will to beat the societal norms, she strongly supports women opting for divorce, as well. Park Tae Seo (Lee Jae Kyoon) is the son of left state councilor Park Seung (Jung Bo Suk), both of them are corrupt. Duk Bong (Bo Jong Ok) is the head of Tail Island shelter.

Some popular faces in minor roles are Yook Chil (Min Jin Woong) & Goo Pal (Park Kang Sub) as Yi Eon's servants, Ra Kwang Soon (Lee Sang Hee) & Bi Ryung (Chae Won Bin) are Joyi's close friends. Cha Mal Jong (Jung Soon Won) is a trader and Park Do Su (Choi Tae Hwan) is Park Seung's son. Lee Joon Hyuk as the crown prince and VIXX N as Choi Seung Yul are guest, yet key characters.

Acting in overall from the entire cast was okay-okay. Taecyeon has come way long and his skills can be used in better way. I'm not a fan of Kim Hye Yeon, she always has the same annoying character, who only knows to cry well. Lee Jae Kyon did unexpectedly well as an antagonist, loved his acting and expressions.

I didn't really mind the plot development bcs I watched purely for the light comedy but technically it's not a steady and proper one and I think their intention was that. Introductory episodes were slow but decent. As the show progresses, the gradual improvement in premises setup and script quality, constantly grow up. It wasn't exactly good but not unlikable either. However, that lasts till 8th episode, i. e. The 1st half of the show and as soon as the 2nd half starts. Everything comes to surface by the 10th episode and the last 6 are dragged to a great extent just to fill the quota. So, things become exaggerated and repetitive in the processs. The ending was smooth and I am happy the comedy elements were retained till the end.

In another opinon, the drama should have been a 10th episode mini series and made into a good story with flawless technical aspects, even with the light comedy. There were few things of no essence, unnecessarily added to the script, regarding the individual lives of the leads, I didn't like them. Those elements made the mood of the story inconsistent and unsteady.

Director Yoo Jung Soon might not be a rookie but he's not very experienced though I liked 2/4 of his dramas. Morever, it's his first historical but given the premise of the drama and the genre, the overall execution was up to par. It could have been better in terms of representation of elements, organization and connecting of events, etc. but I don't mind since it isn't a typical sageuk.

Writer Lee Jae Yoon is in the industry for a quite a while though the only memorable drama they've written is "The Undatables" The script written by them for this drama isn't something really good but if they had intended to keep it simple and light, I think their purpose has been served. However, the potential conspiracy plotline, which is mandatory in any sageuk, didn't feel steady and engaging. The entire effort to reveal the truth has been fragmented and dispersed throughout. The drama doesn't create great impressions at any point of the story, except for the chemistry betweens the leads.

I watched till 7th episode with normal speed and was quite enjoying the light comedy but when I realized it had started becoming slower and uninteresting, I had to fast-forward the rest at 1.5×. I had intended to increase it to 2.0× later but somehow I couldn't, because it actually not that shabby and boring.

The OST composition by Dalpalan is so good I swear and there are 3 OSTs, which are very likable. He's definitely one of the accomplished composers of Korea and he knew his homework for the drama well.
"Let's Get It" by sEODo is trot track, giving a perfect mood according to the comical mood of the drama. "Need Your Heart" by ONF Hyojin is a cheerful romantic track. Kim Sawol's soulful vocals in "At the End of My Day" is very heartfelt.

Things to like in the show:

#1 Comedy elements are the best thing about the drama. The entire show is full of comedy; in fact the king and ministers were parts of it, as well. I had a good time laughing out loud. Taec was obviously the funniest, it felt like watching the real Taec through this character. All of the characters were able to deliver the comedy through their acting.

#2 This is probably one of the sageuk with least involvement of the Royal affairs. Even though all the activities are indirectly related to the Palace and there are lots of political personnel associated, I was happy that most of the runtime was shot outside the premise.

#3 This drama aslo emphasizes on Women empowerment. The FL in here is not a typical Joseon lady who's either a assassin or only the ML's love interest. She's free-spirited, educated and promotes women rights. She even supports divorce and believes in overcoming taboos set for medieval women.

Overally, "Secret Royal Inspector & Joyi" is a drama average watch: average plot, average story and average execution. It could have better in some aspects but I don't wanna complain a lot because this drama, in no way, demanded to be judged wrt the technicality though I will be fair with the ratings. It's a simple and light watch which you can binge during leisure.

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18 people found this review helpful
Nov 27, 2021
16 of 16 episodes seen
Completed 0
Overall 5.0
Story 5.0
Acting/Cast 6.0
Music 7.0
Rewatch Value 1.0

Applaud the intention, not the execution.

On the day the release date of this drama was announced, I marked it in my calendar and remained giddy until the first episode aired. I’ve watched many dramas of both the leads before and absolutely adored them in their roles, so I was incredibly excited that for their combined project, Royal Secret Inspector and Joy. Perhaps it’s because of the massive hype I had built up in my head, but so far, this drama has been a considerable let down for me.

There are a lot of role-reversals in this drama, gender-wise, and I appreciate the intention of bringing to light the way women are treated after they receive a divorce (even now, unfortunately) and other issues. I also really liked a lot of the FL’s dialogues during such parts , as well as the relationship between the main lead and the crown prince and the dynamics of the apparent antagonist with his father and brother. However, everything else…not so much.

The plot is simple enough, but there are a few random elements mixed in which throws me off-guard. The visual cinematography didn’t impress me and neither did the pacing. I found myself skipping parts way too frequently. Majority of the time, the humour here felt immensely forced and the banter did not feel as natural as it should. A lot of the side-characters’ “quirkiness” felt more annoying than charming.

The ML is supposed to love cooking but honestly, it isn’t exhibited in as exceptional of a manner as say, in Mr Queen, where one can tell that they love the art of cooking and everything that accompanies it.

I know that Ok Taec Yeon is a brilliant actor. I’m still in awe of his performance in Vincenzo and I also know he has great comedic timing and chemistry, like in Let’s Fight Ghost. Similarly, I was blown away by the spectacular acting of Kim Hye Yoon in both Sky Castle and Extra-Ordinary You. But as I watched this, I was mildly disappointed. It’s definitely not their best performances, in my opinion, but it’s not entirely bad; just disappointing, especially since I know they can do much, much better.

I’ll probably give this drama a few more episodes to see if it gets better. If not, I’ll most likely drop it.

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  • Drama: Secret Royal Inspector & Joy
  • Country: South Korea
  • Episodes: 16
  • Aired: Nov 8, 2021 - Dec 28, 2021
  • Aired On: Monday, Tuesday
  • Original Network: tvN
  • Duration: 60 min.
  • Content Rating: 15+ - Teens 15 or older


  • Score: 7.8 (scored by 6,221 users)
  • Ranked: #3370
  • Popularity: #851
  • Watchers: 18,652

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