tvN’s Mr. Queen is off to a hilarious start! The historical fusion drama starring Shin Hye-sun and Kim Jung-hyun in lead roles recorded 8 percent TV ratings as soon as it premiered. And upon watching the show, one could easily figure out why. The first episode takes us on a wild ride in the life of a playboy chef who finds himself transported to Joseon Korea in another body.
A brief introduction to Jang Bong-hwan, the celebrated Blue House chef
Jang Bong-hwan (Choi Jin-hyuk, Rugal) is great at his job, ambitious, and hilarious, but also arrogant and a playboy. An internal conspiracy within the Blue House lands him fired and chased by the police. During the chase, he falls into a swimming pool and gets kissed by a woman dressed in hanbok.
Jang Bong-hwan ends up trapped in the body of Kim So-yong, the soon-to-be Queen of Joseon
Queen Consort Kim So-yong’s (Shin Hye-sun, Angel’s Last Mission: Love) entry is all kinds of funny and stays that way throughout the show. As Jang Bong-hwan in the Queen Consort Kim So-yong’s body, Shin Hye-sun’s scenes feature voice-overs by Choi Jin-hyuk, while she acts out the body language of a modern-day man in a royal woman’s body in Joseon. Her confusion begins with her missing her original body, figuring out where she is and how she got there, and finding ways to escape—all the while being followed by a party of the Queen Consort’s chambermaids. Shin Hye-sun acts out each scene with impeccable comic timing.
Cheoljong, the lecherous king pretending to be dumb
Speaking of impeccable comic timing, King Cheoljong (Kim Jung-hyun, Crash Landing On You) wasn’t far behind. Known through history as one of the dumbest and most debauched kings of Joseon, Kim paints a simultaneously amusing and complex picture. This show is apparently also one of the first times King Cheoljong is being portrayed in media, and artistic licenses are being taken. While there were genuine moments of the king being slow and consuming erotica, this episode also alluded that the King’s dumb persona is a farce.
Queen Sunwon fans the flames of a royal conspiracy
Later in the episode, we learn that despite the existence of a King, Queen Sunwon is the one who holds all power in the country, to the extent that even the King can’t go against her. It was her and her brother’s scheme to get Kim So-yong married to King Cheoljong.
It can’t be a historical drama without a scheme being hatched among the royals, can it? How the Queen consort ended up in the lake, on the verge of death, is a mystery currently taking the royal court by storm. While we are not sure about the details yet, the conspiracy seems to involve a bunch of different characters apart from the main bunch—Jo Hwa-jin (Seol In-ah, Beautiful Love, Wonderful Life), the King’s concubine and first love, Queen Dowager Jo, and some spies.
The strangest royal wedding ever
There are some hilarious moments of Shin Hye-sun as the Queen Consort Kim So-yong clashing with Kim Jung-hyun as King Cheoljong, who is at a loss for how to process this rowdy young woman he is soon going to marry. They clash hilariously a couple of times—most notably when So-yong grabs his book of erotica thinking he’s studying great literature, and a tug-of-war ensues. Completely devoid of any mannerisms befitting a royal, Shin Hye-sun does everything from call the King dumb to his face to literally slapping him. Finally, she is unable to get out of the royal wedding, but it’s still worth it because we get iconic one-liners like “I am Joseon’s first no-bra!” Seriously, watch the show for this bit alone.
Going ahead, I’m curious to see Shin Hye-sun make more attempts to escape while trying to get out of the obligations of her new obligations as the Queen, and the many ways in which she’s sure to clash with the King. This show promises extremely funny, thrilling, and unique moments!