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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The King Loves" Episodes 23-24


The opening scene here is fairly funny. At first I was going to criticize Prince Won and Prince Lin for being dopey enough to run right past Song-in's obvious escape vehicle. Then Prince Won notices the vehicle, and then we discover that Song-in didn't even need it at all, since apparently he was acting with royal sanction. Cue yet another scene where Prince Won confronts his father, mostly wanting an explanation for why no one ever just tells him anything instead of forcing him to run around accidentally confronting official royal authorities.

This entire construction calls attention to a facet of "The King Loves" that I often lose sight of. Which is, nothing the royal family does in this drama really makes very much sense. This isn't a continuity error or anything, considering that aside from Song-in no one in "The King Loves" has demonstrated any particular political acumen. But it leaves the royal conspiracy side of the plot as being a rather uninteresting battle between generally incompetent forces.

That's not as horrible as it sounds when we consider that "The King Loves" is principally supposed to be a romance. The twenty-fourth episode in particular strongly reminded me of this, because for the first time in a long time we see the three main characters in relative exile separated from their political responsibilities. Now that the threat to them is less direct and personal, and we get more exploration of the character relationships, the drama is more in its element.

But the inability of the production team to synchronize multiple plots into a coherent overall story remains a paralyzing concern, one that I doubt will ever be convincngly resolved. Song-in's motive remains unclear, which is a pretty big deal considering he's the villain. I keep referring back to how fighting for the proletariat has been Song-in only articulated motive. And even assuming that was a lie, Prince Won looks to be about as easy to manipulate as his father considering his only stated goal has been to get together romantically with San.

While Prince Lin does hold some hope as a potential ruler, he too is ultimately an entirely reactive character. I do like how slowly yet surely Prince Lin has become the more appealing love interest for San, just by virtue of his being a more well-rounded character in general. Prince Won's main interesting conflict is his similarity to and inability to get along with his father, and unfortunately there's never as much interplay between those two as I would like.

Review by William Schwartz

"The King Loves" is directed by Kim Sang-hyeob, written by Airborne, Song Ji-na and features Im Si-wan, Yoona, Hong Jong-hyun, Kim Jung-wook, Jae Ho and Ki Do-hoon.

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