I enjoy a good amount of intrigue, action, and adventure in the forms of entertainment that I turn to, in addition to a bit of humor thrown in and the occasional bit of romance. So, when I heard about this new drama starring kick-butt Ha Ji Won from Secret Garden and Lee Seung Gi from My Girlfriend’s a Gumiho who play star-crossed lovers from North and South Korea, I was itching to watch. Sadly, I had to wait until it was finished before I could but after a week and a day of on-and-off watching around my schedule, I got to finishing it…
Title(s): The King 2 Hearts (더킹 투하츠), The King (더킹), King 2 Hearts (킹 투허츠)
Links: dramawiki, dramabeans (major spoilers here)
Episodes: 20, around 1hr3m each
Cast: Ha Ji Won, Lee Seung Gi, Jo Jung Suk, Lee Yoon Ji, Joon Je Moon, Lee Sung Min, Yoon Yeo Jung…
Growing up, Romance, slight Intrigue/Suspense
Synopsis: This drama is set in modern day where South Korea is governed by a constitutional monarchy. Lee Jae Ha is a handsome and materialistic crown prince that doesn’t care about politics. He falls for Kim Hang Ah, a North Korean special forces agent.
[MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD]
THE [MAIN] PEOPLE
Let’s start with the most obvious character here – the King. To be specific, there were two: the older brother, Jae-kang (played by Lee Sung-min), and the younger brother, Jae-ha (played by Lee Seung-ki), who is the main King the title refers to. That already gives you a hint to what happens soon, but I’ll focus on Jae-ha. He begins as one of the most obnoxious and weak people ever. Okay, he’s not all that ‘weak’, but he’s lazy, tactless, selfish, spoiled, materialistic, not as serious as he should be, and doesn’t like doing things as long as there’s someone else to do it for him and even then, not so much (Ahh~~ stress…), like how he hid his real IQ from everyone, haha. Let’s not forget his love for donuts, which thankfully goes away by the middle of the drama. In short, the Jae-ha at the beginning of the drama was a horrible prince, never mind a great king. Later, though, he did change (he grew up) but he still retained some characteristics that made him, him.
In short, I hated his character and I loved how his future-wife (Hang-ah) totally put him in his spot from the beginning – that’s also sort of to be expected, but I like it so no complaints at so-called overdone plotlines (not that I anticipated anything else with Ha Ji-won at the helm). Now, while we see Jae-ha steal a gas mask during mandatory exposure to tear gas ‘practice’ in the army and he scrambles out as fast as he can because he’s the ‘prince’, we see Hang-ah, a North Korean special forces member and his future-wife, take out a man without breaking a sweat. Her awesomeness pretty much continues and is upheld for the rest of the drama, but in the end, she’s not just one unit – she becomes more of another half to a partnership. We learn the most about these two characters and their development. I must say that the way they were portrayed brought them to life and the development of their relationship was slow but sweet – however, I wouldn’t say it was the main point of the drama though it did spur on many things.
Now we have the primary villain: John Mayer, aka Kim Bong-gu. He reminded me of a little kid – also spoiled and having a simple outlook on life as well as tantrums when things don’t go his way – as well as Lord Voldemort with how annoyed he gets when people call him by his birth name. He would do things just at a whim and as opposed to others, his ideas usually ended up harming others permanently. He even reminded me of someone who could have a role in the Vengeance Trilogy by Park Chan-wook, for his vaguely disturbing nature. Also, a word of warning: I hate it when he screams. It makes me cringe. Honestly, some aspects of him remind me of Jae-ha in the beginning – they’re both members of a prominent/wealthy family (one royalty and another the heir to a big corporation). The big difference here is that one changed for the better and the other stayed the same. I would even venture to say that he got worse – everything Bong-gu did, he did because it was like a game and it was amusing. As a villain, he was excellent, though a bit unrealistic at all his funny quirks, but he did a great job at making me hate him.
Here’s Jae-ha’s [future] right-hand man, Eun Shi-kyung. I didn’t know what to think of him at the beginning (what was the point of pointing a gun point-bland at the Crown Prince anyway?) but he soon grew on me, with his stick-up-his-butt ways and boring and safe personality – not one for risk-taking and always following the rules. It’s even more interesting (or perhaps it makes all the more sense) that his father is the right-hand man to the King for several decades. Thank goodness the Future Prince holds grudges. However, he does have qualities that I admire in him, like his intense feelings of loyalty to the royal family (a part of me also thinks him stupid for being so loyal to Jae-ha, but his reasonings do make sense later, when we find out he wasn’t merely just blindly following Jae-ha because he was royalty); he’s a Gryffindor! If his character was real, I imagine he’d be perfect husband material as well – you know, if he was blindly devoted to his wife instead of his boss – and might he be the perfect guy, all proper and gentleman-like with a penchant for singing while playing the guitar? Yes, swoon. I know.
And, oh my. The Crown Princess – Lee Jae Shin. She has the most spunk and I loved her character the most from the beginning. You know, until The Big Bad Episode came by and made her meek, fragile, and scared at almost every little thing. Okay, there was a good reason for the completely turnaround, but I still missed the Jae-shin from the beginning, though she was slowly making progress. See, we first see her performing at an underground club, completely with a blonde wig. She was all attitude and what I loved was how she pointed out that once she was in her Princess Attire (not street clothes), their attitude to her suddenly changed to all salutes and politeness galore. She was the most ‘Real’ and I hated how she disappeared for a while. Of course, there were moments where I disliked her – her intense pride (makes sense, though, I guess), for one – but she’s essentially a free spirit… and she even fell for the ‘Boring’ Shi-kyung! 😉 I found them an incredibly adorable
but tragic couple.
Oh! The awesome North-South Korean team! Their dynamics from reluctant members of the ‘same’ team-turned best friends was most endearing. PICTURE:
I’ve also decided to add in a section for The Foreigners who are all from different countries – usually not the US, even though they might have been cast as an American. That seriously bugged me and boggled my mind. I mean, I know it might be hard to find foreigners already in Korea who are also good actors, but at least get the accent right. Please. I just remember cringing. A lot.
What I loved was that this drama appealed to both my action-violence-adventure-need-blood side as well as my awww-that’s-so-cute side. There’s a little bit of everything: romance, politics, action, comedy… Then there were some added aspects like how Ha Ji-won learned and practiced the North Korean dialect, which I thought sounded really neat, as well as the cultural and political differences between the two divided countries. Of course, I don’t know if how everyone was portrayed was accurate, but it was still interesting.
So what David So said was true…
There appeared to be several parts that came together and you got to know most of the characters fairly well. Of course, I wouldn’t say it was perfect – what in the world was that, that happened in episode 18??? – but it kept me hooked and I loved it. I was going to go through a blow-by-blow recount of my favorite episodes, but I decided that I was already doing enough spoiling on my own, so just know that everything comes together in one way or another. Also, romance worked hand-in-hand with the plot; it wasn’t the main point of the story. Nope, the main point of the story was the development of Jae-ha into a King, and it was beautifully done. You could even say the end was realistic – they certainly didn’t shirk away from the whole life-and-death equation and even main characters can get hurt – or worse. Kudos for that.
Like I said, romance was present and it was blossoming everywhere, it helped along the plot but I wouldn’t say it was THE plot. I did enjoy it this way a lot, though a part of me hoped that a certain something in a particular episode didn’t occur.
Jae-ha and Hang-ah
It’s a Korean drama so of course, they can’t love each other from the beginning. At first, it just seemed like Hang-ah loved to express her feelings through force – and not like that. More like beating him into seeing her way.. or through threats. It’s all the same. I love it, because it’s probably the first time someone tried (and succeeded) in subduing Jae-ha and it’s probably (most likely) what drew him to her; she stood out. He, on the other hand, wasn’t the greatest of gentlemen. He would tease her and play with her feelings without knowing that he even had feelings for her to begin with. I’m just glad it all backfired on him and his idiotic plans and with time and sudden situations, they got to know each other more than just team members and they became together. Of course, with less distance apart and the more time spent together, you begin to develop more feelings and the rest is history… I just love the progress of their relationship. It was sweet, innocent, and yet not. They fit perfectly.
Shi-kyung and Jae-shin
This was the semi-surprise!couple, but a nice surprise it was. It seemed like the princess came out of nowhere – what, there’s a third one?? – but no complaints here. They were seemingly always at the innocent ‘I don’t know if s/he likes me’ moment – there was the shyness, the intentional hiding, the uncertainty.. and even so, I always remember the moment when Shi-kyung was mesmerised by her singing and fell in love right then and there. That was cute. I suppose there were a number of reasons why their romance started off sweet and slow: she was the Princess and he was just a part of the Royal Guard and crossing the line between Employer and Employee was a no-no to him, not to mention later developments in the plot that put a hold on it. I just wish it could have bloomed – it was so close!
THE GIST (aka MY GENERAL IMPRESSION OF IT)
It was multidimensional with a bit of everything. In short, I really liked it. However, though it is up there on my list, I wouldn’t say it’s my most favorite, so if I had a rating system, let’s say I’ll give it a 4.3/5?
ALSO: because I’m at the very end, just exactly WHY did he have to die??? But I guess it makes me feel a little better when I spot behind-the-scenes photos like this-