So Prince Won, Prince Lin, and San are all hanging out at Seong-hyeo's place, biding time for their next move. As usual, when the focus is on characterization, "The King Loves" actually manages to be pretty decent. San's cooking is simultaneously basic comic relief, but also holds philosophical relevance in the context of Seong-hyeo's philosophy about emotional attachments. It's a nice expansion to San's character that explains, among other things, why she has been so demure about romance.
Unfortunately this characterization completely flies in the face of San's obsession with revenge, which has only ever seemed to make life for San and her family more difficult. So far San still hasn't even managed to figure out who, specifically, she needs to take revenge against. Most of San's efforts to try and figure that much out have nearly resulted in her arrest, and only the timely arrival of someone from the royal family has prevented this from happening.
It's also unclear to me why it's necessary for San to skulk about in the shadows to try and accomplish revenge anyway, considering she's the only daughter of a rich, powerful family. My guess is it's a matter of genre conventions. San has to have a high social rank in order to be a plausible marriage partner for one of the princes. But they have to fall in love in a salt of the earth type situation to contrast with Prince Won's parents, who were brought together in an arranged marriage and hate each other for that.
Ironically King Chungnyeol and Chzhuan Muvan Khou have the more authentic chemistry, precisely because their relationship is nowhere near as badly contrived as the main love triangle. They have a really great scene here where Chzhuan Muvan Khou is obviously trying make their official relationship less toxic for Prince Won's sake, and King Chungnyeol appears to believe that she is being sincere. But spiteful jerk that he is, King Chungnyeol insists on acting malicious just in case.
Considering how central parental issues are to character motivation in "The King Loves", it's unfortunate that Prince Won's mom and dad are the only ones with any kind of screen presence. Prince Lin's father and San's father are so thinly drawn they just come off as pushovers at best and toadies at worst. Meanwhile, the death of San's mother hasn't even left so much as an obvious hole in San's life, so it's really difficult to get engaged with how San is obsessed with finding her.
Review by William Schwartz
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Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The King Loves" Episodes 25-26"
by HanCinema is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
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