"The King's Face" is a rather disjointed drama. It takes the central idea that face reading is powerful enough to determine a man's destiny and tries to piece the different parts of the drama to that. The most important pieces that are tied together by face reading is that King Seonjo was not meant to be king and that Gwanghae is destined to be a great king. It puts father and son directly at odds, which is the main story played out by "The King's Face".
The problems is that this main story doesn't quite have the support from the rest of the drama to make it feasible. It doesn't show why Seonjo isn't fit to be king aside from his face shape or why Gwanghae would be a better king aside from his. Sure, Gwanghae is just and good, but we haven't seen him make a critical decision that would prove his worthiness to become king. The show is centered around face reading, how it works, and the prince as a reactionary character.
One of the biggest failings of the episode was the obvious attempts to pass time with the six minute recap at the beginning of the episode and the lengthy, unnecessary flashbacks scattered throughout. A well-planned recap and flashback can refresh the mind of the previous week's events and launch the episode into its newest material. It also loves to throw Prince Gwanghae on the ground to cry out his sorrows. A single instance of this can be effective. Three times is overwrought.
The stronger aspects of the show are the rivarly between brothers for the throne and the relationship between Ga-hee and Do-chi. Gwanghae has three brothers who all wish to become crown prince and eventually ascend the throne. The antagonism between them is shown clearly; and antagonism so strong it creates bloodlust. It's wonderful plot fodder that mingles with another storyline, that of Ga-hee and Do-chi.
In the time she has been apart from Gwanghae, Ga-hee has joined Do-chi's rebel cause all while fostering hatred for Gwanghae in her heart. She believes he is the cause of her parents' deaths. The warring of the love and hate she feels for him make her a scintillating character as well as Jo Yoon-hee's spot-on portrayal of the strong heroine who is fraught with emotional strife. She has turned herself into Gwanghae's direct enemy, but is unable to remove the hesitation from any actions taken against him. It is her struggle against herself that is so fascinating.
Her friendship/brotherhood with Do-chi is quite lovely as well. They are siblings, comrades, and friends. He already has feelings for her, but the strong bond goes both ways. It will make the love triangle (or quadrangle, whatever it may be) much more interesting. Do-chi is also evening out as a character. His public actions show his intelligence and bravery while his private time with Ga-hee fills out his character nicely as he shows his thoughtfulness and caring for his people and his cause. This is so much better than the rash, rather one-dimensional man of the earliest episodes.
There is one more bond in this show that is touching: that between the queen and Gwanghae. The queen is childless and disparaged by the consorts for being so. Gwanghae wishes not to hurt his brothers for the throne and hopes to be a family with his warring family. He and the queen find a familial relationship with each other that is quite lovely. They are family by love, not by blood, which is more than what can be said for the prince's blood family.
"The King's Face" has a lot going for it that can help, and hurt. As I write about it I find more things than I thought to admire and critique. Let's hope it remains that way.
Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
"The King's Face" (2014)
Directed by Cha Yeong-hoon, Yoon Seong-sik
Written by Lee Hyang-hee, Yoon Soo-jeong
Network : KBS
With Seo In-guk, Jo Yoon-hee, Lee Sung-jae, Shin Sung-rok, Kim Gyu-ri, Im Ji-eun,...
Wed, Thu 22:00
Gwang Hae, a crowned prince born as the child of a concubine who struggled from dethronement and death threats for 16 years, overcomes his destiny by physiognomy and becomes king.
Broadcast starting date in Korea : 2014/11/19
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The King's Face" Episode 5"
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