I had high hopes that this show will finally cure my K-Drama rut, and honestly, it did not disappoint. I love how the backstory unfolded on its own without much effort. Some points are still vague, but it’s forgivable because it’s just the first two episodes. And for a pilot episode, I can say that The King Loves is starting its game strong.
The King Loves is a 100% pre-produced drama airing on MBC. This is also Im Si-wan’s last drama before entering the military, so I hope it will leave a lasting impression so we will not miss oppa that much!
Time to dissect my favorite moments of the pilot episode!
- FANCY GORYEO-ERA CLOTHING
I love how The King Loves is very elaborate in its clothing. Everyone in this drama seemed to be so well dressed, even the commoners! My favorite costume so far is Won’s mother Yuan Princess Wonseong (Jang Young-nam), daughter of Kublai Khan and also known as Queen Jangmok. What a very intricate garment for a royalty. Jang Young-nam unnie is almost unrecognizable compared to her most recent project Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok-joo.
- COMPELLING BACKSTORY
We have yet to delve into the main plot of the drama, but we got a pretty good glimpse of the childhood of our three main characters. Summing up the back story, we see Won’s father Goryeo King Chungnyeol (Jeong Bo-seok) calling him a “mix breed” or “someone whose blood is mixed with that of the barbarians.” Not a very good introduction of the father-son relationship, eh? No wonder Won is described in the premise as someone who tosses himself between good and bad. The evil runs in the blood.
Going back to the story, new found friends Won and Rin escape the palace for some fun. They witnessed a group of thieves attacking the delegation of Master Eun (Goryeo’s richest man) for some goodies. Little did they know, they were sent as a cover-up for a covert plan of the Minister of Justice’s son. The group staged a robbery in order to pride themselves of saving the household’s daughter Eun San. But things did not go as planned because San was mistaken by the robbers as family’s maid. All of this commotion was witnessed by Won and Rin. They were able to talk to San’s mother in her death bed, and asked Won to relay her dying wish to her daughter. Won, bound by guilt for not being able to do anything, swore that he find San. Meanwhile, San was instructed by her father to continue hiding her identity for safety.
- THE LOVE STORY OF THE ANTIHERO
I have not read the novel from where the drama was based, so I am watching it with fresh eyes. What I love from the premise despite having the same Goryeo-era love triangle trope like other sageuks, it is told based from the point of view of the antihero. Crown Prince Wang Won (Im Si-wan) is the son of the Goryeo king and a Yuan princess (from Mongolia). He is a half-blood prince with a hostile and ambitious nature.
Won’s father marries Princess Jeguk to restore the stability of Goryeo, but he still fails to stop the impending decline of his reign. He is now well-known as a king of misfortune who uses hunting to prove his power.
- RIN, DON’T BREAK MY HEART JUST YET
I can feel that this drama will bring me into despair yet again with an emerging second lead in the form of Wang Rin (Hong Jong-hyun). I am a fan of Jong-hyun more than Si-wan, so naturally I am on his side on this one. But don’t leave me just yet, I can tell that Rin is another perfect male second lead. He is a true friend and loyal bodyguard of Won, and watches over him at the sidelines. He liked the girl first, but stayed quiet all this time.
- FROM K2 TO GORYEO: YOONA, THE ACTION STAR
Another notable star of the drama is heroine Eun San (Yoona), daughter of Goryeo’s wealthiest merchant. I say Yoona has improved a lot in this drama compared to her previous works. Props to this girl for studying her character and learning combat arts. She has turned into an action star overnight with all the fight scenes in the pilot, and her chemistry with both our heroes are working.
Aside from the stunning visuals, the show also hinted elements of romantic comedy despite the melodramatic set-up. I can smell a good bromance brewing in the upcoming episodes, and another trio to cementing its presence in the history of sageuk dramas. It’s too early to compliment it just yet, so I hope this grumpy ahjumma‘s real self won’t be triggered, so that no harsh words will be blurted out.