‘The King’s Affection’
2021 20 episodes Romance/Action
Starring Rowoon, Park Eun Bin
At one holiday lunch, Philippine Star Lifestyle editor Millet Mananquil talked about how she and her friends were bingeing on The King’s Affection; turned out so many did, and still do.
The King’s Affection, starring idol (SF9) Rowoon and Park Eun Bin, is described as a romance drama, but it is more than that. It is a thriller packed with action—and eye candy, thanks to idols Rowoon and Choi Byung Chan (Victon, who debuted in 2016).
Think Love in the Moonlight (one of Park BoGum’s highest-rating dramas, which merited him and the cast a vacation in Cebu), but with more sword fights and betrayals.
Twins are born to the crown princess—a boy and a girl—a taboo in the Joseon era, so the newborn girl is ordered killed by the grandfather. But the crown princess and her loyal servants conspire to save the infant and send her away, beyond the reach of the twins’ grandfather, the grand schemer whose lust for full control and power would define the many twists in this complicated plot, such a hateful character with no redeeming quality, unlike most villains in K-drama.
As children, the twins lead separate lives—the boy as an adventurous prince and the girl as a precocious commoner living as court maid in and outside the palace walls, until one day when the two kids come face to face and the boy realizes that she could dress up and pretend to be the prince as he gallivants outside the palace. Just when you think this would be a rip-off of The Prince and The Pauper, the boy prince is killed as he ventures out to witness the execution of his beloved tutor. He is mistaken for his twin sister by the hatchet man of his grandfather who, upon learning that the girl is alive, has ordered her killed. This ruthless military commander (played by veteran actor Bae Soo Bin), in later episodes, will embody the conflict between the lust for and blind loyalty to power, and a man’s sense of righteousness—mainly because his son Ji Woon (Rowoon) grows up to be a scholar/doctor who falls in love with the twin girl.
Ji Woon and the twin girl meet in childhood and develop a strong bond—until she disappears mysteriously. Ji Woon never forgets that first love. Unknown to Ji Woon, the girl, upon her twin brother’s murder, is forced to become the prince—an accidental role she turns clumsily, and later courageously, into a life duty. The adult prince played by actress Park Eun Bin settles into the royal palace life of scheming, cunning, and crown preservation, until she meets and falls in love with Ji Woon who’s been assigned to be her royal tutor.
How Park Eun Bin uses that pretty face to play a man who would be king is the challenge to her acting skills—and to your credulity
Park Eun Bin (Do You Like Brahms?, Dream High) has a pretty face, with fine features. Now how she uses that pretty face to play a man who would be king is the challenge to her acting skills—and to your credulity. It becomes a bigger challenge that Rowoon (Extraordinary You, Where Stars Land) falls in love with this “prince.”
How the two discover their true identities (and her gender), while keeping them hidden from those who would want them dead, how they navigate the insidious palace court, and how their love survives the threats to their lives comprise the plot that keeps you watching episode after episode.
You hang on to see how Rowoon will react to the discovery that the prince he’s been in love with is, in fact, a woman, the love of his childhood. Look out for this scene in the forest—and, some twist, how she decides to continue playing a man if only to protect the people she loves.
Somewhere in the middle, the story unravels secrets, such as the real identity of the prince’s bodyguard, played by 24-year-old idol Byung Chan.
You enjoy the “kilig” moments, even as you keep one eye shut through all that violence. Feast on your eye candy while—whack!—the sword falls on one head after another!
‘One Ordinary Day’
2021 8 episodes Thriller
Starring Kim Soo Hyun, Cha Seung Woo
(Based on BBC series Criminal Justice, it is about a regular university student who is wrongly accused of murder. His life goes on a downward spiral. He is helped only by a lawyer who barely managed to pass the bar.)
By Agnes Dominique
I just finished One Ordinary Day, binged in two days. Kim Soo Hyun (It’s Okay Not to be Okay; My Love from the Star) is phenomenal. (He deserves his KRW 500 million per episode talent fee here and more.)
The series is outstanding—dark, daring, violent, but oh so good. I ran out of superlatives for the cinematography and overall production.
I really applaud KSH for his daring artistic choices. I cannot imagine any other actor his age and stature taking on a project like this. Nor can I imagine any hallyu star being able to pull this off spectacularly (maybe Yoo Ah In, that other artistic genius, but I’ll put my money on KSH more).
This is the nth remake of a BBC original, but it doesn’t matter; the Korean version is excellent.
If you want festive and light, save this for another time. The show keeps you in a persistent state of anxiety and unease
Again, if you want festive and light, save this for another time, but it is so good that if one is a K-dramaphile, it’s a pity not to see this series. The show keeps you on edge, and you are in a persistent state of anxiety and unease—because the PD/writer/cinematography/OST/and especially KSH’s acting put you in that state.
This one is of a crime-legal drama genre and is much, much darker. Plus KSH is still KSH and just keeps outdoing himself. Again, I really laud his choices.
I have always wondered how he shakes off his characters after he plays them. I also watched his controversial film Real, that gamble of his that flopped bigtime—but I understand why he chose to do that project, and his dual/triple characters there were out of this world and depraved. His It’s Okay Not to be Okay character was also so emotionally weighed down, but at least it had a romance angle, and Gangtae found love and redemption in the end. Here in One Ordinary Day, kalunos-lunos ang character nya, sobrang bigat (so heavy). I almost got PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a viewer who empathized with him and his (horrific) journey, paano pa kaya sya, as The Actor who immersed himself and breathed life into the character?
No wonder too that he does only one project a year. Perhaps not only so that he can be picky with roles, and he can afford not to work as often, but also maybe because he needs to rest mentally and emotionally after each role.