If you, like me, are obsessed with Crown Prince Sado and are looking for the truth behind all the theories about him. If you're into Sageuk dramas or if you can't help but falling head over heels in love with Lee Je Hoon, then you've come to the right place.
Well, take a breath and try to calm down. Don't shoot me or have a heart attack. But before this drama I had no idea who Lee Je Hoon was! I know!! So...
I started this drama because of so many reasons: most importantly for my favorite actor of all time, Kim Min Jong; also for Han Seok Kyu, who everyone fell for in A Tree With Deep Roots; and also for the fact that it's a sageuk (historical drama). Apart from Lee Je Hoon (whom I didn't know), the cast was insanely awesome and the plot caught my attention. So I started it, and was hooked.
To bring this thrilling and exciting atmosphere to a story that has been tackled so many times is no easy matter. If you're a drama addict, then you know how many works there are about Prince Sado. In 2014 there are already two works about him. Another one with an insane cast: the film Sado. So to put this overused historical period in such an awesome realization is in itself, an achievement.
I've just finished episode 18 and there are only 6 episodes left, but I'm still on my toes and I honestly don't want it to end.
Let's cut to the chase and start handling our crazy heroes. The cast is too awe-aspiring for this article to contain it so I'll discuss the main characters and the almost main supporting characters who have got a hold of me.
Forget about what you read or watched before and let's take a look at King Yeong Jo as played by the best actor to play a king, Han Seok Kyu. King Yeong Jo is a vulnerable, insecure, intimidated, manipulated and misled king. He ascended the throne after a coup by the Noron faction but got his hands tied accordingly - and for 30 years. To protect his life and the throne, he got by much suffering, he loses his way and original plans, and becomes confined in his battle with those who cornered him. In his heart, he wants the best for his people, but his principles sank without a trace as his insecurity rules.
His son, Prince Sado, surfaces and presents an equal rival to the chary father.
Prince Sado (Lee Je Hoon) is a Utopian and a Romanticist who believes the truth prevails. He calls for equality, peace and politics by saving people. Born in the wrong time and place, Prince Sado faces not only the traditions of hundreds of years, or the opposition of the political factions, but he also faces his father, the king, who has no mercy for the prince, even if he is his son. Holding his head up, the Crown Prince fights (getting us emotionally and mentally involved) hierarchy, inequality, gender and religious discrimination and oppression. While he calls for the freedom of speech, information and thought, knowing how dangerous and vain his efforts might be, he earns the hearts of his people and us. Not faltering, he places the truth always first, but not mercilessly. He embodies the conviction of politics that saves people, gives chances and more chances to those at fault and executes the right actions.
The father-son relationship - which the drama is all about - is too complicated to be completely tackled in one work. The tenseness of their encounters, the hatred that lies behind the overwhelming love and the unbelievable competency and rivalry will lead to a rather dark end.
Now let's move to the heart capturing supporting characters (whom I never considered supporting):
My one and only Kim Min Jong. He plays a swordsman who shares the same revolutionary ideas with the prince but differs in the method. He's upright, honest, and empathetic. To help people live better; he puts his life on the line.
(The two years I waited didn't end in disappointment. Yes, I would love more screen time for him, but I'm happy as it is... *sparkling eyes*)
We always need someone to hate in the dramas we watch. Kim Taek (Kim Chang Wan) gives us the perfect dose. He's utterly hateful: selfish, greedy, heartless, inhumane, conniving and obnoxious. Kim Taek wraps Joseon round his little finger. He's too shrewd and powerful to be defeated. But will he always be invincible?!
Here comes the sweetest character in the drama. Though I've watched him in so many dramas and films, Lee Won Jong never disappoints. Playing Park Moon Soo (who's considered one of the most influential people in Korean history), he captures the heart with his outright, honest, sympathetic, competent, clever and considerate personality. Despite the differences in views and beliefs, he still cares. As the king's only friend, he differs but embraces the differences in such a humane way that I've never seen before. He's too heartbreakingly honest.
Choi Won Young as Chae Je Gong; a royal adviser who'd go to the end of the world for Prince Sado. He's not only loyal but he's brilliantly loyal. His brilliance, calmness, quick-mindedness and management gains him the recognition of the king as well. To protect the prince and at the same time protects the prince's and his ideals, gives Cha Je Gong's his life's worth and pain.
Seo Ji Dam (Kim Yoo Jung): I know this is the young her, but she's the one who lays the foundation of the story and impresses by living it. The older version, Yoon So Hee, is too depressed to impress - yet. Seo Ji Dam is the living embodiment of all that is beautiful, pure and right. That's why when the truth gets attacked, Ji Dam bleeds. She bleeds writing another tale of searching for the truth.
Lady Hye Gyeong (Park Eun Bin) is your typical crown princess. She's too political for her own good - though she shows some human actions sometimes. She dreams of being the mother of the nation and acts accordingly. Shrewd, well-informed, powerful and ambitious, she tries to support her husband the crown prince; only driving a wedge between them. Between her honest and good intentions and her greed and pride, there's a thin line. You can't figure her out.
The actress is doing a great job, and that's why I'm hating the character more.
Well, this guy doesn't stay for long, but I can't help mentioning him. His appearance is rather powerful. Actor Kim Tae Hoon, acting as Kang Pil Jae, an ambitious leader of a swordsmen gang. He's the one who's surprised and impressed me the most so far. Won't tell more. Can't ruin it for you.
Secret Door presents all kinds of struggles people can go through. It shows the two paths that can be trodden and it shows the consequences of walking both. It touches upon our fears and our hopes, our better selves and our ugly sides.
It paves the way for us to find the key to our own "Secret Door".