[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 24 (final) 2014/12/14, "Secret Door" gave me the ending I want although that can't be said for everyone. I was looking for how Seon's life, and subsequent death, had meaning in the grand scheme of things. That is exactly what I was given. While the politics of the drama had a cyclical quality, the relationship between father and son drove the show to its bitter, and then hopeful, end. The ending made something good out of Seon's tragic death,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 23 2014/12/11,
This episode marks the beginning of the end. Seon has been trapped between his powerful convictions and the complexity of Joseon politics. Those who wish to retain power will do anything to keep it, which puts Seon at a severe disadvantage when he refuses to do wrong by his people. Throughout the drama, his father, King Yeongjo, has tried to teach him that to live and maintain power is to compromise. Compromise is not what Seon does. In comparison to the cruel, insane lecher that Crown Prince Sado is historically known to be, this fictionalized Sado is an idealistic hero who eventually will uphold his convictions at the cost of his life,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 22 2014/12/10,
We're down to the wire. The last two episodes are ahead of us and the crown prince's fate is known. How it will be sealed is what "Secret Door" has to deliver. Seon is a hero in this rendition of Crown Prince Sado; a hero who is fighting forces greater than himself. Seon has been determined to maintain an academy of brilliant minds comprised of people deemed by the ruling class as traitors, criminals, and too low born to be allowed to study and become government officials,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 21 2014/12/09,
Five years have passed since the start of "Secret Door's" timeline. King Yeongjo is older, frailer and more concerned with passing on his crown than protecting it. Seon is older, but still hoping and pushing for change. The ministers are fighting to keep the ways of old, which means finding ways to get rid of Seon. The ending of this story is known,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 20 2014/12/03,
This episode dispelled the sense of fatigue I felt while watchin the past few episodes. It focused on the real love story of the drama, that between father and son, and helped to strengthen the pulse of "Secret Door". The central conflict came back to the one established early on: differing ideas on how Joseon should be ruled,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 19 2014/12/02,
There are some hard lessons to learn in "Secret Door" for our young prince. His ideals have carried him this far, but the opposition has become near insurmountable unless he gives it. It is this point that steer all politicians onto gray moral ground. Without compromise, Seon will get no where. But that compromise comes at the expense of his people's rights. It's a hard lesson to learn. Watching Seon learn to navigate the political minefield is the strongest point of the show save for his loaded interactions with his father,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 18 2014/11/27,
This episode was a little awkward, but it was full of wonderful stuff all the same. The episodic format of the plot is working for now. It gives episode long examples of how hard Seon tries to do right by his people and change the system, and how mightily the system fights back. Yoon So-hee continues to be as effective as a piece of corrugated cardboard while Kim Min-jong finally gets to step up and really add to the plot texture. The greatest thing about Seon is that he has the innate ability to sweep others up in his passion, including those who are against him, like his father,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 17 2014/11/25, "Secret Door" is both keeping its streak of excellence and taking a few jaunts into the unnecessary. The prince is very deeply involving himself in politics and making very dangerous, but clever, moves to reform the government towards equality of classes. His father and the reigning nobility are firmly against this, but that's what puts the meat and potatoes on "Secret Door"'s proverbial plate. Politics can quickly spiral into very boring stuffs in a drama,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 16 2014/11/17,
This is the episode where Seon shines. It is the result of well-laid plans on the writer's part and immense acting on Lee Je-hoon's part. The potential for Seon as a monarch is sky high, and he has proven that to his father, the Joseon officials and China. He has even proven it to the vengeful Ji-dam. What makes the episode so powerful is that Seon did not do anything impulsively like he led everyone around him to believe,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 15 2014/11/14,
Seon is back in the political arena with plans to change Joseon for the better. But those he faces are ready for him and they are much more experienced. Another formerly friendly face has now turned into that of an enemy and now the prince has fewer true allies than ever before. It's an engaging episode that mimics the fast-paced rhythm of the very first episode. It shoves us into the scary world of politics along with Seon who really doesn't know what hit him. While Seon is very clever and he is well-prepared, Minister Kim has the advantage of experience and no moral shackles,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 14 2014/11/14,
The inevitable time jump has happened and it has brought about some interesting changes for our Prince, his goals, and the king's desperate desire to keep his crown. Since the political slaughter and the revocation of the prince's governing powers, Seon has become more keen, more determined, and more wily. This change is mirrored in everyone, the sad effect of tragedy. The most interest change is in Seon,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 13 2014/11/11,
This episode is particularly brutal, both emotionally and physically. After twelve episodes of Seon hoping that his father will do the right thing by his people, he is crushed by the reality of his father's ambitions. King Yeongjo himself is again confronted by how far he will go when motivated by fear and ambition. Ambition and power make a deadly combination as those beneath Yeongjo discover. That combination is enough to snuff out the lives of many and make Seon, the light and stalwart soldier of his people, waver,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 12 2014/11/03,
The relationship between Seon and is father is both simple and twisted. It guides this episode through the political game played. As it journeys through the obstacles of palace life, politics, and years of fearful living, it has difficulty remaining pure and true as this episode proves. As a result, Seon's heart is broken yet again.
There is a certain point when all of the heartbreak that Seon suffers is going to break down his spirit,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 11 2014/11/02,
Seon has picked up some political savvy and realizes that in order to beat the powers that be, he has to play their game. He has not hurt an innocent to achieve his goal as his enemies would, but he does manipulate the system in a very satisfying retribution against the vile Minister Kim. It is now only a matter of time before this fight for the truth gets ugly, or rather, much uglier. It's already smeared with the blood of the innocent. The document that incriminates King Yeongjo and a group of highly ranked Norons has come to Seon's attention as the possible motivator behind all the deviancy that has happened thus far,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 10 2014/10/28,
Manipulation of the most relationships allows for the politics of "Secret Door" to move forward. This kind of manipulation messes with commonly accepted morality and makes for intense, fascinating television. How can Seon win against those who are willing to forsake the lives of their loved one's for power? It is Minister Kim who shows a calculating thirst for power that dwarfs the kings ambitions to retain his throne,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 9 2014/10/24,
Thirst for power has consumed King Yeongjo's heart. He is such a fascinating and rich character. Despite the fact that he knows what he does is wrong and it goes against his conscience and his feelings for Seon, he does it anyway. He is willing to sacrifice even his own flesh and blood for the throne he gained through similar sacrifice. It seems like "Secret Door" is trying to make a martyr of Seon when history paints a darker picture,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 8 2014/10/19,
When the players in "Secret Door" are pushed to their limit, they turn into those they fear. It's a terrifying reality of the pressures of politics. Father turns against son. Mentor against student. Friend against friend. This is when Seon discovers the truths about those he trusts most and has to face reality: trust is something no one in his life is worthy of. Seon has relentlessly pursued the mystery of his friend Heung-bok's death despite the warnings of many,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 7 2014/10/14,
This episode of "Secret Door" was slower in pace than previous episodes, mostly because it focused on the sneaky ministers and greedy guards trying to manipulate the prince and the king. It is Seon's passionate drive to uncover the truth and the king's insane need to retain his crown that provides so much of the tension in the show. Those were not as prominent in this episode. When the king did make an appearance, however, it was completely charged by his obsession with the document that could dethrone him, and his terror at its potential discovery,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 6 2014/10/10, "Secret Door" is such a well-rounded show. It incorporates historical elements, moving character beats, intense character development, intricate background music, and beautiful cinematography to create a thickly textured plot fabric. We gain insight into the complex character that is King Yeongjo and into the very strictly structured palace life and politics that prevent royalty from having any kind of normal relationship. The precarious position of "king" is what keeps Yeongjo in a state of constant fear,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 5 2014/10/07,
What makes "Secret Door" such a rich drama is how is plays up both sides of every situation and every relationship. A murder mystery that could've been solved in two episodes span five as people insert themselves into the investigation, using it to achieve their own ends. It is not only an investigation, but a political vehicle. Or the relationship between father and son. King Yeongjo loves his son as a father, but as a king he sees Seon as a threat. It's a rich dichotomy that keeps the world of "Secret Door" full of intrigue. The twisted relationship between father and son is a favorite part of the show,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 4 2014/10/03,
A prince who felt all alone in life gains a few comrades he can trust in a world saturated with power-hungry people who would do anything to retain that power. He learns that greed can trump the pride of the most upstanding people and that to beat people who work behind the scenes, he has to work in secret himself. Lee Je-hoon is doing a magnificent job as Crown Prince Lee Seon,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 3 2014/09/30,
The murder mystery is heavily under way as it creates layers of depth in the characters and in the plot that is fraught with tension. Father is pitted against son; Noron against Soron; truth against lies. Power warps even the most upright of men. Seon and Ji-dam fight it, but those with power will do anything to keep it, which allows manipulation and treachery to run rampant and foster deceit in nearly everyone. For now, Seon remains relatively unswayed by the temptation of power,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 2 2014/09/27,
The battle between the clever King Yeong-jo and his idealist son has begun in earnest after only one episode of intense setup. Yeong-jo is a wily, crafty old man who years on the throne and innate intelligence have kept him alive against nearly insurmountable odds. Against such a far-sighted man, Lee Seon has a very long a difficult battle ahead of him. The strange beauty in the on screen relationship between Yeong-jo and Seon is that there is affection between them, and Yeong-jo empathizes with his son,...More
[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 1 2014/09/26, "Secret Door" is based on one of the most famous stories in Korean history: the story of Crown Prince Sado and his father, King Yeongjo. It is a tragic tale that has been re-created many times. The circumstances surrounding the lives and deaths of the father and son pair are shrouded in mystery despite multiple (differing) accounts of Sado's contemporaries. "Secret Door" is putting its own spin on the story, which thus far is exciting and fast-paced. All the well-known figures in history have made their appearance, played by a remarkably strong cast,...More
Broadcaster reach deep into history this year. From left, portrait of Tangun, Korea's mythical founding father, portrait of King Chongjo (1777-1800) and portrait of King Sejong (1418-1450), who will be depicted in epic dramas at three major networks.
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