My favourite Korean drama genre is the historical genre. I will watch a historical drama before any modern drama and I have watched about forty historical dramas. While watching these dramas, I have noticed two names that pop up repeatedly. Those two names are King In Jo and Crown Prince Sado (no relation). I wondered what kind of person King In Jo was. So like anyone with access to the internet I googled him.
Summarising the life of King In Jo, he was placed on the throne by wicked politicians who took advantage of his ignorance and weakness for governing a nation. Unlike most leaders, during wartime, he was unsupportive and fled twice during the two Manchu wars. He was the prime suspect in his son Crown Prince Sohyeon's death. During his last years of life, he believed that Mother Queen Inmok and her daughter Princess Jeongmyeong poisoned him. King In Jo was regarded as a weak and unstable leader. He was ill-prepared to be the King of Joseon. In Korea, if politicians want to learn what not to do in politics, they study King In Jo.
I've watched six dramas that depicted the life of King In Jo. These dramas are: Slave Hunters, Hwajeong, Three Musketeers, Strongest Chil Woo, Iljimae, and Cruel Palace - War of Flowers. In this article, I've ranked the portrayals of King In Jo from least to most memorable.
*Warning: minor spoilers ahead*
Sixth - Kim Gab Soo
Kim Gab Soo played King In Jo in the drama Chuno (aka The Slave Hunters). Honestly, I do not remember King In Jo in this drama. He must have been a minor character or someone else captured my attention.
Fifth - Choi Jung Woo
Choi Jung Woo played King In Jo in the drama Strongest Chil-woo. King In Jo was hiding his secret: the murder of his own son, Crown Prince Sohyeon. Unlike other dramas, the Crown Prince’s son went into hiding. Those who knew about his secret were sworn to secrecy or risked being killed. Most of them were murdered. In this drama, King In Jo is suspicious of everyone. His suspicions make him look frightened most of the time. Then in other moments, he has a take-charge attitude but those moments are brief.
Fourth - Kim Myung Soo
Kim Myung Soo played King In Jo in the drama The Three Musketeers. In this drama, King In Jo depended on his son Crown Prince Sohyeon for moral support. There were too many moments (for me) when the Crown Prince had to calm his own father down because the slightest thing would frighten him. I would say to myself, “Gee, why is he still King? Don’t they know how scared and ignorant that man is? The Crown Prince should be king.” Then I remembered, oh yeah. That’s King In Jo.
Third - Kim Jae Won
Kim Jae Won played King In Jo in the drama Hwajeong. The only reason why I started watching this drama was for King In Jo. In other dramas, I saw King In Jo in the middle of his reign, not at the beginning. The drama Hwajeong did not disappoint me. King In Jo entered into his position of royalty with a naive spirit and delusional ideas about running a nation. He soon comes to realise that he has no power and he is a mere puppet for the noblemen.
Second - Kim Chang Wan
Kim Chang Wan played King In Jo in the drama Iljimae. He appeared to be a kindhearted and thoughtful king. His “kind” heart resonated in his body language, especially in the sound of his voice. I love the sound of the King’s voice in Iljimae. He is strong and in control. His people saw him as a father figure. He was so convincing he had me fooled. However, we soon find out that the king is crooked and evil.
First - Lee Duk Hwa
Lee Duk Hwa played King In Jo in the drama Cruel Place: War of the Flowers. His acting is the reason why I noticed the name King In Jo. He played with motivation and conviction. There were moments when I just wanted to time travel and tell him. “Wake up. Those people are using you, especially that girlfriend of yours. You need to kick her out the palace and get with the queen, your wife.” It is a good thing I cannot time travel, I would have been hung for treason. I felt sorry for King In Jo. How can a man with so much power be so weak? Everyone was taking advantage of his ignorance and weakness. I wanted him to be stronger and wiser. Of all the King In Jo portrayals I have seen, Lee Duk Hwa played him the best.
Each actor brought their own talents and skills to the set to play King In Jo. Do you agree with my ranking of actors who played King In Jo?