The King Loves is finally here, over six months after the production team started shooting the drama. That’s quite a long period of preparation but it’s understandable given that it’s completely pre-produced. Ratings-wise it did not premiere with a bang but it delivered what I expected to see—a story about how one starts to love a woman more than he loves himself. That really sounds a melodrama.
Wang Won (cast: Im Si-wan). He is the son of Goryeo’s King and becomes a crown prince at the age of three. He thinks the world is just as big as the royal palace but learns to dismiss this belief when he meets his best friend who informs him that many people live beyond the palace walls. Most Kdrama crown princes I know love to roam around unnoticed, and he is no exception. He sneaks off to play with his best friend whenever he has the chance. I learn in this episode that he is well-suited to rule his nation, considering how he cares for his people and wants them protected.
Han Eun-san (cast: Im Yoon-ah). The daughter of the wealthiest man in Goryeo has a bright personality and strong will. Even after her mother died, she remains the joyful woman that she used to be. She went through a horrible experience in the past but did not let this destroys her life. Instead, she becomes an independent, strong person, living as someone else on the order of his father to save her from danger.
Wang Rin (cast: Hong Jong-hyun). This guy is Wang Won’s personal bodyguard and best friend who offered him taffy the first time they met—a taffy which according to him could stop the crown prince from crying and feeling angry. So basically their relationship started because of the taffy and he becomes Wang Won’s loyal and very close friend. He accompanies the prince most of the time, especially outside the palace where Wang Won could roam around and have fun. He sincerely cares for the crown prince and even suppresses his feeling towards Eun-san for the prince.
When Wang Won is 12 years old, he learns through Wang Rin that the world is bigger than he thought it was. Since then they sneak outside the palace to have fun. One day, they happen to learn about a planned robbery victimizing Eun-san and her mother who are returning home from visiting their relatives. They follow the robbers all the way to the mountain and witness the death of Eun-san’s mother. However, the robbery is actually an orchestrated move with a political objective. Eun San is saved by her maid and safely returns home where she is told by his father to hide her identity. Wang Won then meets her to deliver the message left by her mother but without knowing that she is the real daughter. Several years later, they meet again and travel together to complete a mission.
This show is being upfront about the central theme of the story—Wang Won falling in love and doing whatever he can to win and protect that love. It seems like the show is going to rely heavily on that premise to drive the future conflicts between the crown prince and his best friend, Wang Rin. I have had a couple of drama synopsis that turns out wrong when I actually watch the episodes, so I honestly wish for The King Loves to follow suit, that Wang Rin is not really going to be his very enemy who will betray him over one woman.
The pace of this episode is fast enough to introduce many of the characters—foe and friends alike—and bring us a sense of direction to the possible events in the future. That masked man is sure to come back for Eun-san and kill her, so I wonder how she can be saved the second time around. Will Wang Won steps in to save her life? If so, I could see that as a possible event that could fuel Eun-san’s affection towards him. Or maybe Wang Rin could become the hero this time (actually, there was no hero last time) and that could solidify his feelings for her that started back when he was 12 years old.
Eun-san is living somewhere away from home and serving a master being seek out by Wang Won. Is that master a renowned scholar? Why is he so obsessed with asking that old man some questions and getting answers? And what could those questions possibly be? I want to know how this particular part of the story could be connected to the big picture because so far, the events in this episode center on the assassination which has more to with Eun-san than Wang-won. I could understand why the story has started like this. Eun-san has a very important role in the developments of the episodes to come, so I guess it would make sense to know more about her side of the narrative first during the premiere.
Story-wise the drama’s premiere is not impressive but I hope to see it improve in the next episodes. Meanwhile, I admire the directing and the beautiful scenery that has been shown so far, including the ones in the fight scenes. The acting is also good and I couldn’t forget to praise that actor playing the 12-year old Wang Won. I first saw him in Six Flying Dragons and as usual, his talent in acting never ceases to amaze me.