At first I thought it’s just a simple romantic comedy, like the kind of “Spy Myung-wol”, that portrays the twists and turns of love of South Korea’s man and North Korea’s woman under the background North-South divide. Although affirming the dream combination of “Beethoven Virus”‘s Hong Jin Ah and Lee Jae Kyun, but the viewers are now getting bored of this North-South background. The love story of South Korea’s man and North Korea’s woman is nothing new, coupled with the setting of fictional scenario such as South Korea’s royal family, will this drama become that kind of romantic fantasy drama that is popular recently?

But after uncovered the real veil of “The King 2 Hearts“, only discovered that this is such a special drama. Unlike imagination, under the appearance and background of grand yet heavy narration, the drama shows to viewers trivial details and reality that are like political writings. The lead male and female roles fall into role after see-sawing in hostile relationship, and gives the drama the rich genre of romantic comedy.

Blending multiple types of elements into a drama is the recent development trend of the drama. But no matter how much other varieties been integrated, it won’t shake the core genre. Let’s say “Rooftop Prince“, no matter how fantasy it’s, no matter how much element of criminal reasoning that is been added, the drama is still a romantic comedy. Just like “Wild Romance“, it’s still a romantic comedy even though it emphasizes on criminal thriller. But if you want to define “The King 2 Hearts’, it’s difficult.

The King 2Hearts

It’s difficult to predict what style is the drama, which direction will it progresses to, and what’s the final outcome. And the vagueness of the genre making it diffictult for the audience who watched the drama in selection a position for watching, expectation to hold, and what to enjoy. Popular arts make people accustomed to engaging in various predictions, and enjoy the kind of accomplishment of expectation becomes true. As such, the uncertainty of this drama is not only a new attempt, but is also a difficult adventure.

An important proof that proves that this adventure is not futile is that this drama shows a completely different image from the genre that describes the North and South in the past. Normally in the context of North-South confrontation, the past genre is basically portrayed individual as a victim of the system, in favor of emphasizing on human nature. Regardless it is movie or TV series, regardless it is a war drama or spy drama, no romance, most of them is letting the hero to become a victim of the system or philosophy, during the process demonstrates the brotherhood of the north and south heroes. Just like in the “The Secret Reunion” or “The Front Line”, usually ends up toward the humanitarian path under the context of North-South separation.

But “The King 2 Hearts” has chosen a path which completely different from the usual suspicion of the system. Firstly, the characters in the drama are all high ranking. South Korean royal family’s Prince Lee Jae Ha and North Korea’s highest ranking instructor officer Kim Hang Ah, both is not slightest doubt or resist their countries, because they’re the beneficiaries and protected persons under the respective systems.

Only by allowing systems from both sides to combine into one, then only could the romantic love between foes could be realized. Because of this, the fundamental of North-South conflict is staged nakedly. That is the issue of philosophy under the different thinking method and values, and also caused by cultural differences due to the state of confrontation and division for a long time.

This drama portrays the original reality of North and South relationship like this. The constant conflict between Jae Ha and Hang Ah, is not simply to pave the way for the love between man and woman, the conflict itself is a constant reminder of the reality of the North-South confrontation.

Perhaps the drama is using the genre of romantic comedy to show the reality of the North-South divide. Of course, in order to offset the pain and discomfort brought by facing the reality of the North-South confrontation, so the form of romantic comedy is also necessary. And in order to avoid emergence leading to dangerous extreme situations, and sensitive issues, the setting of a hypothetical constitutional monarchy is also part of this consideration. The image of the character of Kim Hang Ah has dual nature. On the one hand she is an instructor who received highly skilled training such as in assassination, but she is also a simple girl who dreams of ordinary love and marriage. As though the thing she hidden inside the box which you think is lethal stuff, it is the same principle.

However, the focus here is not on the issues that face the North Korean society, or the understanding of the culture of North Korea. The core is actually to borrow the term “North Korea” to reflect the society of South Korea. Arrogant, shameless view of the economic and cultural values, socialism with the narrow sense of superiority, and diminishing of sense of community. The reason for Jae Ha to have conflict with Hang Ah, is precisely because the long standing prejudice of collision and hostility of South Korean society for the existence of North Korea. Although discovering that it’s just a simulated training in the end, but Jae Ha couldn’t believe her fully ultimately, just like that bullet he shot at Hang Ah.

From this point of view, setting South Korean society as an “empire” of constitutional monarchy has deep meaning. The empire suggests the symbol of characteristics of capitalist society in South Korea, ruthless and violent. And the evil force which obstruct the integration of North and South is neither the hardliners in North Korea nor the U.S. imperialism, but an entrepreneur in South Korea, which is very interesting. The symbolic meaningful of character of multinational arms dealer Club M president Kim Bong Goo is shown from the magic he performed which looks very dangerous and very lethal.

It is not difficult to see that this drama which lets everyone to reflect on South Korean society is the growth drama of South Korean’s Prince Lee Jae Ha. This evil child who loves to hold a grudge, naive, bright and cute shows the sense of superiority, fear and prejudice over North Korea which we all have, and he will put it into action. He is actually the naive prince who breaks the principle to caught in a fatal love. The moment he met the innocent and mature North Korean woman, Kim Hang Ah, he has already begun the journey to discover the limit of himself and ability. Now the peaceful characters of the North and South are presented before his eyes. What would eventually happen in the duel between the Hang Ah and Bong Goo? Can the new attempt by “The King 2 Hearts” achieved success? Let’s wait and see!

Translated review by a famous South Korean drama critic

 

  • Jen

    I really love TK2H drama as it breaks away from the predictable Kdrama style. TK2H drama takes its audience through emotional and mental roller coaster with it’s exciting and thought-provoking plots. It is so deep and intellectual – beyond many people’s comprehension. I feel sorry for people who missed the plot completely and ignorantly branded it as confusing. Oh well, some day people wil realise the significance of TK2H drama for it take the lead in defining a new path in kdrama development. I applaud the entire cast & staff of TK2H drama. It is a superb production – like a rare gem which will shine for a long time. This drama is extremely well liked by international fans of kdrama, it is a solid testimonial to the success of TK2H production. It is afterall Korean’s aspiration to export it’s production to the rest of the world. Here is a good example of an excellent production!

  • justME

    Such a well-written article.
    It’s a drama that makes us smart viewers. We think about the meaning of every detail and symbol. It’s not like any other kdramas. It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s so brave and witty at the same time in delivering the story. If you haven’t watched it, you’re really in a loss. I love this drama so much. And I know many international fans love it, too.Thank you.

  • dkrvia

    Thank you for this article. 

    To sum it up: TK2H is a masterpiece. 
    It stepped out of the comfort zone of a K-dramaland, and it takes the viewers to an emotional roller coaster journey unlike any other K–drama. 

    It triggers us to think and analyze the plots. 

    At the same time, it also makes us falling in love with the characters – beautiful loving Royal Family relationship, sweet father who protects his only daughter & only wants the best for her, badass Hang Ah who’s so fragile inside as her only desire is to be loved by one man, brain Jae Ha who didn’t care about his position in the Royal Family but has stepped up to be a witty & clever King as well as a great man for his woman, the Princess who prefer to kill herself rather than being killed, loyal Personal guard who believes in his King, beautiful loving mother-in-law & sister-in-law. 

  • Queen

    Truly, takes smart audience to understand smart drama. A thought provoking drama, even foreign viewers appreciated, but not their locals, sad. And it has to be prompted by intellectual critic to jerk them to watch. Hopefully, Koreans, please watch n don’t regret for choice of no-brainer ones and go blindly just because they are pop-idols. Otherwise, Lee Seung gi would not have sacrificed his popular variety shows for this drama.

  • mitch

    … i love this kdrama since it started.. i have watched a lot of kmovies and kdrama since 2004 but this is the first time that i have watch a story regarding north & south korean couple, but not an ordinary couple, a royal family-“prince” and a girl from a respected military official who fell in love bcoz of circumstances, mnnn maybe fate.. to sum up, there’s too much twist and turn in this story and it’s a must see kdrama.. hopefully it will maintain the expectations of the audience coz the plot, the story, the writer, the directors and the artists are superb! please keep it up. you add spices to the limelight of kdrama coz it’s not an ordinary story, we cannot guess what will happen next and that’s really interesting! bravo! love it! keep it up!

  • leeseungiAmerican fan

    I too have watched almost all the “best Korean Dramas and movies” I thought for over 2 years now.  Sorry I discovered Korean dramas this late coz I live in America and I have totally stopped watching TV –   I watch kdramas exclusively now  on the internet.
    But this King2Hearts drama , to me, is the BEST one I have watched.  It has disrupted my mental and emotional state for the last few weeks – do you call this K2H addiction???  I am constantly thinking and reading other’s comments about it and I feel in a strange way connected with these k2h fans. 
    I went back and reviewed Lee Seung gi’s previous dramas and I can tell LSG has gone so far in K2H.  I cannot remember any other actor that moved me in their portrayal in previous dramas as Lee seung gi’s ‘ Lee Jae Ha’.  LSG has personified Lee Jae Ha  100%.  That’s great acting!!!!
    I have completely fallen for LSG as an actor.  I started liking Lee seung gi while watching 1N2D and Strong Hearts.  Now I want to know everything about him, his songs, dramas, etc etc.  I think he is a really great person.  I have become a fan!!!! oh no! not at my age, married with children.  LOL.
    The reason I like watching Korean Dramas is because of the innocence and purity in the love stories that I do not find in Hollywood movies and tv stories.  For me korean dramas are my secret vice, a way to deal with daily stress, me escape valve.
     After watching a few korean dramas – I got the pattern and its getting repetitive and  just when I am starting to get tired of it, come this brilliant King2Hearts drama.
    What can I say about K2H that is not already said?  It gives me hope that there are still writers out there who care about writing good stories that appeals to the mind not just to the eyes.  K2H is brilliantly written and produced.  It is respectful of the lead actors and supporting actors equally by letting each character shine.  It is respectful of the audience as well by giving us something to think about and engaging us viewers not only emotionally but intellectually as well.

    Ha Ji Won and Lee Seung Gi – I love both these actors. LSG is brilliant in this drama.  I hope this drama K2H and LSG will get Best Drama and Best Actor award this year. His portrayal of Lee Jae Ha is Oscar Award worthy!