There has been a lot of talk surrounding this one. It’s historically inaccurate, the wardrobe is all wrong, the hairstyles aren’t correct, it’s too many episodes (confirmed at 50), it’s insulting to Koreans… With everything going against it, why would anyone bother, right? The problem for me was that I love all three leads and I don’t base my drama watching on historical accuracy or wardrobe mishaps. I tend to choose dramas that either have actors that I find intriguing and fascinating (Secret) or I try the first few episodes (Heirs) and find something appealing that makes me want to watch.
I did want to be careful what I wrote – the thought of insulting Koreans scared me. I know absolutely zippo about this particular time in history and attempts to learn gave me a headache. I know it was bloody and I know Koreans were enslaved. And I know Empress Ki is hated: that’s the extent of my knowledge. Yuan Dynasty? Goryeo? That’s all Greek to me. I decided to watch episode one without understanding the story. All I can say is it had the perfect amount of battle-fighting action scenes mixed with humor and romance.
It opened on a wedding between Empress Ki (Ha Ji Won) and Emperor Huizong (Ji Chang Wook) Silly me thinking it a happy occasion only to see the looks passing between Empress Ki and Wang Yoo (Joo Jin Mo) – definitely some heartbreak going on there. And both of these actors do heartbroken so well! How could I be tearing up within the first 2 minutes of this?
Flashback scenes of Ki as a child, in prison but being released by a young royal (which turns out to be a young Wang Yoo) only to be hunted down like dogs in the next scene. Her Mom is shot with an arrow, protecting her and they fall down a ravine. She escapes, searches for food, gets caught stealing food and hides the fact that she’s a girl. It moves fairly quickly from there – showing her grown up and now hanging out with a band of “street thugs” of which she appears to be the lead. And she is a bad-ass. (Of course, this is Ha Ji Won we’re talking about)
For some reason, Wang Yoo (who is now 18 – LOL at Jin Mo trying to be 18) decides to challenge Ki’s group to a drinking/arrow-shooting contest. He and Ki both end up drunk, trying to shoot arrows at a target. They both do pretty good until Ki aims her arrow directly at him, falls on his shoulder, vomits all over him and passes out. Ahahaha. She’s taken to Yoo’s quarters to sleep it off.
When she wakes up, Yoo is playing a gayageum. He offers to teach her how to play and sits behind her – which seems to set off some strange feelings. Either because he’s holding her hands or because he’s so close, I’m not sure. They both feel something although I thought at this point, he still believes she’s a HE. When it gets so uncomfortable that Ki can’t handle it, she throws the gayageum and turns as if to stab him. Lowering her voice, she says she has to go. He admits he’s the Crown Prince.
They next meet because she agreed to teach him some arrow-shooting tips. She also meets with King Go who tells her to protect the Crown Prince. They go to a festival where a black-hooded assassin attempts to kill Yoo but Ki jumps in front of him and takes an arrow in the leg. When she refuses a piggy-back, Yoo princess carries her back to his quarters. Once the arrow is removed, Yoo rips open her pant leg to inspect the wound only to have Ki slap his face. She realizes she made a huge error and attempts to cover it by saying he ripped the only clothing she has.
There is a bath scene with Yoo trying to bring in a set of new, fresh clothes for her but she locked the door and won’t let him in. (LOL) Ki meets with King Go again who gives her an errand. Over a meal with Yoo, she brings up something in the market he’s investigating and you can tell he doesn’t trust her because of what she says. I’m not sure if what happens next is political plotting but it appears to be a set up – with Ki being caught and arrested by Yoo and his men and King Go being a part of it. Did he set Ki up to get to the Crown Prince? Is he trying to harm the Crown Prince?
Somehow Ki ends up in Emperor Huizong’s camp. He (from what I can tell so far) is a shrewd guy but pretending to be sickly, weak and an idiot. Their first meeting, he’s trying to sneak out of the camp but ends up having to hide in Ki’s tent and watches her bathe. (LMAO) He sneezes, she hears him and put a sword at his throat asking who he is. Even better, in the preview – it shows her kicking him face first into the mud. How they go from this to love and marriage, I can’t wait to find out.
All in all, a very enjoyable start. The visuals are stunning and I have no complaints with the directing or acting. Since I don’t know the history, I have no idea who is fighting who or why. (and part of me doesn’t care? LOL) I’m just extremely excited to see Joo Jin Mo back on my screen along with Ha Ji Won. And since the “Five Fingers” fiasco, I’m also very happy to see the adorable Ji Chang Wook. Once I learned he was playing Emperor Huizong and he takes Ki as his concubine? I was in. (LOL)
For those waiting for subs, it might be awhile. I know both ViKi and DramaFever are applying for the license but nothing has been settled yet. Or it might be that MBC won’t give out any license in which case (I’ve been told) they will release subs themselves but when or how remains a mystery. I will be watching this and will try to keep everyone informed as soon as I learn the details.