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The King in Love korean drama review
The King in Love
2 people found this review helpful
by xXabsintheXx
Nov 4, 2017
40 of 40 episodes seen
Overall 9.0
Story 8.0
Acting/Cast 9.5
Music 9.5
Rewatch Value 7.5
"I wish I had never known this flower. I wish I had never seen how beautiful it was, so I would not fall in love with it."

I was very hesitant about this drama in the beginning. The colors were so bright, the title cheesy. I was afraid I would suffer through a soupy and exaggerated melodrama with lots of shortsighted intrigues and superficial characters (what I experienced with My Sassy Girl). The only thing that pushed me into this was Im Shi Wan's dashing historical look in the promotionals. And even though I was still unsure while watching the first episode... when a young man's voice began to tell the story of a frightened little boy, born into a world where he had to face fears and prejudices, hopeful expectations flared up.

It is hard to put my feelings for this show into words. If I were to describe what kind of drama this is, I would say that it depicts the story of the Crown Prince and his struggle to become a man worthy to reign over his country. Im Shi Wan is an incredible actor. I have seen many historical dramas, but his interpretation of a Crown Prince and his performance were a pleasure to watch and a gem among so many others. I was absorbed in his acting, his happiness, fears and his inner and outer battles. Constantly between trying to protect the ones close to him whilst falling short on accomplishing his own desires and dreams over and over again... To see him never giving up and always trying to get the best out of every situation, he became the only character I deeply cared about. And I had the urge to give him a hug more than once. Behind that imposing royal demeanor he upheld at all times, only tiny facial expressions revealed the stinging pain he was feeling inside during constant encounters that tried to marginalize him and drive him to his knees. I was overwhelmed by his endurance and felt his hurt every time he did.
The rest of the cast did a relatively good job as well, even though most of them never reached Im Shi Wan's level. But every single one had at least one thread I could connect to. The script gave them more than just one layer and when it mattered I was able to either hate or like the king, the queen, the second male and female leads or the side characters. Maybe the only one I was never too fond of till the end was the big bad wolf. But half the fault lies within the writers who tried to give him more depth during the last episodes but instead went a little over the top.

I enjoyed the love triangle, which I usually don't do in dramas. I think what I liked the most about it was that the female lead was never solely responsible for the two male leads' actions. It just either pushed or slowed down the inevitable development all of them had to confront at some point anyway. And even though bromance was endearing, it was always meant to meet a poignant fate, with or without the additional love interest.

While the first half of the drama started slow, lighthearted and sometimes even funny, it built up its climax with subtle steps, and it  never failed  to gradually increase the ultimate danger. It led its characters to life-changing decisions while it forced them to grow up too fast while facing the consequences of their actions. Somewhere during the second half I was worried the writers might chicken out of the path they created for their characters. But they did not - for the most part. The final aftermath might have felt a little less sever than what it could have  been, but it was still satisfying. I have no idea how others felt about the ending, but I really liked it. Somewhere along the way I realized that it would be one of the most reasonable finishes and my hunch eventually proved to be true.

The King Loves is definitely one of the better sageuks out there, so don't hesitate to start this. It is a pleasant, moving but also tear-jerking drama that will stay in your memory for a very long time.
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