I started this series never having made it through a Historical Drama/Sageuk before. I watched 18 episodes of Iljimae, then he had a personality transplant, and I couldn’t take it anymore. I tried 1 episode of The Princess’ Man after hearing how great it was, only to find myself completely confounded by the plot. This time I stuck it out, lured in by the promise of a JTBC production (since SLA, I tend to perk up if I hear this group is involved) and teasers filled with Pretty Things. Shamrockmom loves to look at Pretty, and this show had it by the truckload. The sets–unbelievable. They looked so real, nothing out of place, perfect incredible details. The costumes–from the royals to the slaves, it was all fantastic. Somebody better get an award for the costumes and another for the set design. The hanboks of the upper class were especially lovely; the ones worn by the Gisaeng and by Eun Ki were my favorites. The cinematography–interesting without being overly artsy and fussy. The music fit perfectly, never feeling manipulative or distracting. Too bad the story lagged at the end. Somewhere along the line, I missed the message that the show was cut from 24 to 20 episodes, so maybe it felt choppy toward the end due to the cut.
I loved and cared about the characters, but none more so than the real OTP of this drama, In Yub and her servant Sa Wol. I’ve never seen two women who had such a strong and loyal friendship, and who looked out for each other constantly. I was extremely sad when SW was killed off–I had visions of the two of them going to the other’s wedding, raising children while remaining friends, and living happily ever after.
I never felt one grain of chemistry between Moo Myung and In Yub. Maybe it was the script, maybe his wooden acting…I don’t know. Eun Ki went through a personality transplant but reversed it at the end, thankfully. I always thought IY still cared for him, even as she repeatedly sent him away. That’s probably why the end didn’t bother me…she needed time to sort out her feelings. I did feel sorry for MM–his one-sided love for her seemed tragic and ill fated, especially after EK’s death.
The scenes of beatings/torture/near rape were grueling to watch, and I wish that there had been some sort of warning beforehand. I’ll be honest–I had a really hard time watching some scenes. They ranged from borderline disturbing to “I can’t watch this or I will never sleep tonight–where’s the FF button?”. This show is not for the younger or tender-hearted types. The scene where EK is killed was difficult to watch as well. I loved all the actors in this drama, and I want to heap praise on Jung Yu Mi and Kim Dong Wook (I should have recognized him from Coffee Prince, but the hanbok threw me) for really carrying this show. Oh Ji Ho–ehhh, not so much. Was his character supposed to be expressionless or is that the actor? He had lots of things that Shamrockmom digs–a little older, that strong masculine look, great facial hair–but he just seemed lost most of the time.
I’m not sure if I will attempt a historical drama anytime soon (although I am tempted to check out Cha Seung Won in Hwajung for at least 1 episode) but I liked this show overall. Not high on my list of favorites, but I’m glad I watched it.