Well. Ahem* It was Park Shi Hoo. But also, I kept seeing comments about me recapping this series.
For one thing, I don’t think I can recap this series for several reasons. I particularly don’t like historical dramas in general, and have a hard time recapping them. For example – my failed recaps of Queen Seondeok that I haven’t even finished. Secondly, I don’t have time to write them up. I’ll be damned if I do start writing recaps for this one, on top of Heartstrings and I Need Romance.
But! I have to say – I liked the first episode.
It starts with Kim Seung Yoo (Park Shi Hoo) racing back home. He’s recently eluded his captors (which was Prince Suyang, played by Kim Young Chul) and is racing back home to his father, Councilor Kim Jong Seo (Lee Soon Jae). Unfortunately it was all a trap, and Seung Yoo accidentally led Suyang and his men to Jong Seo’s home. Seung Yoo puts up a fight, but he’s no match, and watches his father die before his very eyes.
Then we get a flashback to a year ago. Interesting that we know what Jong Seo’s fate will be. (Historically, Suyang also succeeds in his coup by overthrowing his nephew.) We learn that Se Ryung (Moon Chae Won) is Suyang’s eldest daughter, and a close friend to the Crown Princess Kyung Hye (Lie To Me‘s Hong Soo Hyun – finally being likable!). Kyung Hye uses her famed beauty to make every single one of her professors turn into a blubbering mess, and thus leave the Royal Academy. The Royal Academy resort to their last professor – Kim Seung Yoo – a newbie who prefers to consort with the gisaeng at night. (Hence all those photos of lipstick marks on his face.)
Se Ryung is more spunky – evidenced by her wish to ride horses – and so she suggests to Kyung Hye that they trade places for a day. She will take the class, while Kyung Hye goes out to the real world outside of the palace.
Se Ryung attends class, but her twisted ankle from falling off a horse bothers her, so she pulls down her sock. Behind a curtain, Seung Yoo thinks that she’s trying to seduce him – per her infamous reputation – and so he brashly raises the curtain and takes a good look at Se Ryung. They trade barbs about propriety and such. Meanwhile, for Kyung Hye, she’s having quite an adventure in her little sedan.
Seung Yoo’s friends include Shin Myun (Song Jong Ho), a police officer, and Jun Jeong (Lee Min Woo), a noble drunk. Jun Jeong is running away from some money lenders and dashes into Kyung Hye’s sedan, frightening her to bits. He’s momentarily stunned by her beauty, and even though he gets beaten up by the money lenders, he can’t stop thinking about her.
Back to the lessons – Se Ryung nearly gets caught when the Crown Prince Danjong comes to visit her quarters. Thankfully Kyung Hye returns just in time to switch places. The next day, Se Ryung is forced to keep up the ruse because Seung Yoo’s already seen her, and has to continue until she’s done with the Book of Filial Piety. She proves to be a stellar student…. until the King Munjong (Kyung Hye’s father) comes to visit! He wants to observe the classes, but Se Ryung can’t speak, as her voice would give her away. The curtain is also nearly raised so that Munjong could see his daughter, but the king stops the curtain being raised halfway. He doesn’t want to interrupt any longer. It’s such a relief – although I wish the curtain was raised. Munjong sees Se Ryung like his own daughter anyways, so I’m sure he would have made some excuse. He does seem to be like an indulgent father.
Anyways – later that day, Seung Yoo is still smarting from the embarrassment he’s had to face in front of the king. As he walks through town, he sees Se Ryung riding a horse (finally!). Intrigued, he watches her from afar as she brings the horse to some hay. She wants to leave though, as they have stayed in town for too long, when the horse is disturbed and starts running off uncontrollably. Seung Yoo mounts another horse and races after her.
They end up on a cliff, where the horse won’t stop running. Seung Yoo catches up to Se Ryung and grabs her over to his horse. His horse can’t stop running either, and he pulls her off to fall… leading to a stunning midair snapshot.
As for the political front, Kim Jong Seo is firmly on King Munjong’s side. However, he receives a marriage proposal from Suyang about a match between Se Ryung and Seung Yoo. Jong Seo doesn’t want to do it, as he knows that there’s more to that simple letter than meets the eye. And sure enough, it plants a seed of doubt in Munjong’s mind that Jong Seo may not be as loyal as he thinks.
On top of that Munjong is gravely ill. Even Suyang knows because the doctor is on his payroll. So Suyang thinks that he can easily usurp the throne from his nephew.
Unfortunately, there’s also the matter of Kyung Hye’s marriage. The government officials and the royals all argue in court over who should be in charge of finding the suitable husband. While the royals want to control the wedding, Jong Seo advocates for the government officials to do so. In a surprising move, Suyang supports Jong Seo from across the room, which shocks everyone.
But Munjong has also made a decision – he wants Kyung Hye to marry Seung Yoo.
That puts a wrench into Suyang’s plans. Plus the fact that Seung Yoo is falling in love with Se Ryung but thinks she’s Kyung Hye.
I can see why this drama cost so much in terms of costume alone. The clothing is so fine! It’s so beautiful it’s ridiculous. On top of that, I definitely liked the opening sequence. It was surprising but also cinematic. I was confused for a bit over who was who, and who was allied with whom, but it all made sense eventually. Shockingly enough, I’m really really interested in the political part.
Park Shi Hoo is such a cad, and Lee Min Woo is such a hoot. I’m personally just thankful that I don’t have to hate Hong Soo Hyun in this drama; even if she’s playing a privileged brat, she doesn’t seem hateful. I wouldn’t say she’s the prettiest in all the land, but she is prettier than Moon Chae Won. I actually don’t have much of an opinion on Moon Chae Won. Whenever she’s playing Se Ryung, there’s this feeling of fakeness, in the sense that I can totally see her acting. But when she has scenes with Park Shi Hoo, she seems to ease up, because then she gets to act a little more pretentious and confident. And that’s the Moon Chae Won I like to see – not the cutesy, curious, wide-eyed Se Ryung.
I am curious about the second episode, though I need to catch up on a lot of dramas before I get there. So fair warning, if you don’t hear about this drama for a long time.