For reasons unfathomable even to myself, I'm not excited enough to follow the two arguably most popular kdramas right now. I'm still downloading every episode faithfully, so hopefully when the mood comes, I shall marathon them in one sitting. Right now, my roving eyes are checking out other dramas left and right to find something that does appeal to me. I do like the other TvN offering - Marriage/Wedding Scheme/Plot which I find hilarious thanks to a fondness for Lee Kyu-han and Lee Min-woo.
The latest TvN offering - Queen In-hyun's Man is another of a long line of time travelling dramas slated for 2012 starring Yoo In-na and Ji Hyun-woo. YIN is very pretty and her roles in SeGa and BL have been pleasant enough that I don't mind watching her again but I have to be honest and admit I've never seen any JHW's projects. Well, it's never too late to get acquainted.
The story begins with an assassination attempt on Queen In-hyun (Kim Hae-in). It is 1694. Joseon. In the 20th year of Sukjong's reign. Five years earlier, Queen In-hyun was deposed and many of those who opposed were killed. Jang hui-bin was named the new Queen. In less than 5 years, the Jang clan and their allies, the Southern faction gain immeasurable power. King Suk-jong (Seo Woo-jin) began to regret deposing Queen In-hyun and her supporters conspire to reinstate her. Also aware of the King's intention is Right Minister, Min-am (Eom Hyeo-seop) who secretly plots for her demise.
Back to the assassination attempt, masked silhouettes silently kill the guards at Queen In-hyun's abode while she composes a reply to his majesty's letter expressing his regrets. The noise finally alerts her to the danger, but she remains calm and completes her letter while awaiting for her fate. Just as the assassin is about to strike, a young nobleman turns up and saves her. He would be our male lead, Kim Boong-do (Ji-Hyun Woo). He easily fends off the assassins who are caught in surprise by his unexpected presence. The fighting scenes are pretty cool, since they utilize some slow-mo effect which made it seem pretty intense.
Anyway, both Minister Min and Queen Jang receive news of the failed assassination attempt. Apparently Kim Boong-do had intercepted a letter detailing orders for the assassination which incriminates them both.
|Jang hui bin|
Boong-do stops at a Gisaeng House and entrusts the letter to a gisaeng girl, explaining that he is being hunted and will retrieve the letter later. He seems to trust her a great deal and speaks to her affectionately. The gisaeng girl, on the other hand, obviously cares a lot for him. She practically glows at the sight of him. Before he leaves, she gives him a protective amulet of some sort, aware that his life might be in danger.
And he is hunted by the assassins as he makes his way to the palace. He just about make it in time. The assassins back off at the sight of the palace guards and observe him from afar. In the palace, he seeks audience with the King but is told to wait in the library because of the late hours by the King's eunuch.
He is ambushed by the same assassin (the leader) again, but he is quick and alert to the danger. He suspected that there are other killer/spy in the palace and his intention was to draw them out anyway. However, after exchanging a few blows... Boong-do finds himself at sword-point, with only a thick book as his shield. As the sword starts to pierce through the book....
Fastforward to 318 years later. Present day Seoul. 2012. A brightly dressed girl, Choi Hee-jin (Yoo In-na) rushes through the streets into a building, late for an audition. She deflates when she finds all the doors closed, convinced she did not make it on time. A helpful employee points out that the audition is in the NEXT building. She thanks the employee and runs down a flight of stairs only to break her heels. Again she despairs, especially since she's already almost an hour late. A call from a friend reveals that she is NOT late, since the watch she wore was wound an hour faster. Encouraged, she manages to reach the audition hall, after borrowing a pair of shoes, with 30 minutes to spare till her turn.
Unable to find a changing room, Hee-jin makes a makeshift changing room from an enclosed glass-walled space and a bunting. Oh dear....somebody please tell her that's a really bad idea. She removes her outer clothes while speaking to her friend on the phone, but suddenly one of the curtains of the glass-walled is being raised slowly, revealing a set of male shoes. OMG. A good-looking man is behind the glass-wall, his expressions ranging from shock to appreciation to a teasing grin. OK, I feel like smacking him already. They seem to know each other and Hee-jin gestures frantically for him to lower the curtains. He enjoys her discomfiture and teases her by raising other curtains as well, where two other male workers are sitting, back towards them. Hee-jin finally decides to dress up in lightning speed, but the man drags the curtains down at the last minute. Phew. Jerk.
Said jerk is Han Dong-min (Kim Jin-woo), a hallyu star cum Hee-jin's ex. They broke up when his career starts to take off, she being seen as a burden. From their conversation, she's still kind of bitter over their break-up while he obviously still feels something for her. He teases her endlessly, baiting her temper and getting on her nerves while she's kind of confused he wants anything to do with her since he's all famous now.
It's finally Hee-jin's turn for the audition, but they are interrupted when (why am I not surprise?) Han shows up with his entourage. Hee-jin is further shocked when she learns that he is to play King Sukjong. Err...awkward.
Moments later, Hee-jin is eating ramyun alone, despondent. Her friend cum manager calls and she explains her current situation and how Han distracted her so much during the audition that she fears it's all for naught. Friend consoles that it's all for the best - it'd be terrible if she is going to play lovers with him anyway.
Hee-jin takes a cab home when Han calls her again. Being the jerk that he is, Han offers her the role if she promises to meet him privately. Hee-jin hangs up on him and winds down the window to get some air. She fiddles with her phone outside the window (err...not a good idea) and her eyes widen when her phone rings again and she notices the caller ID. But, the cab goes over a bump and down goes her phone, and into the drain no less.
Hee-jin screams for the driver to stop and races to the drain. Miraculously the phone is in-call and the director from the audition asks for her. She assures him she can hear him well while pressing her ears to the steel cover of the drain. Heh. Hee-jin is beside herself with happiness to learn that she's been given the role of Queen In-hyun.
Back to Kim Boong-do, whose life is but inches away. The candle-holder falls during their struggle and the room descends into darkness. The noise alerts the guards who are sent away by the bad eunuch. The eunuch makes his way towards the room to check on the assassin and Kim but in a blink of an eye, Kim vanishes. Just like that, no special effects, no nothing.
Boong-do opens his eyes and finds himself alone, in the same room but now it's empty. He hears voices and hides himself behind the pillars. Nothing happens. Slowly, he walks out of the room and into the yard...and the sight that greets him shocks him beyond words. A filming crew - with cameras and spotlights. He stands rooted in confusion and incomprehension until he feels someone tapping his shoulder.
He turns around to see Hee-jin, who's bursting with excitement with her role and trying to get acquainted with him, thinking he's one of the actors in the set. He stares at her, without saying a word. Hee-jin finally notices his abnormally passive behaviour and excuses herself, thinking that he finds her presence unwelcome.
Boong-do finally finds his voice and asks...
BD: Do you know if I am dead or is this a dream?
HJ: Are you sincerely asking me that?
BD: Yes...I'm sincerely curious.
Hee jin in a voiceover, narrates that this is her memory of their first meeting. Not 3 years or 30 years. How she learns of his circumstances over 300 years ago.
HJ: I'll answer you, but you can't be mad since you asked me to. In my opinion, you're neither dead nor dreaming....just maybe a little muddle-headed.
She smiles at her own joke while he continues to look bewildered...
I don't think this episode was particularly stellar, both in plot or in acting. But I don't find it particularly off-putting as well. I might stick to watching it, but I'm not sure of the recaps. There's still lots of unexplained stuffs, especially regarding Kim's time travelling experience. And since we've just arrived at present day, I'm sure the fish out of the water funnies will come later. Well, I hope it does.
I was also rather surprised that the real Queen In-hyun is played by another actress. I had thought Ji Hyun-woo's character will be harbouring a crush on his Queen which will transcends time and lead to him falling in love with YIN's Hee-jin. But this works as well, in fact better, because otherwise the story will be too similar to RP.
Yoo In-na is okay in her role, which thankfully doesn't depict her as a bumbling bimbo. So far, she's merely unlucky so I hope she doesn't turn into an idiot later. Ji Hyun-woo hasn't had much to do thus far, except looking serious and lost...so I can't really comment. But I can't help feeling he looks a little like Daniel Choi. LOL. Kim Jin-woo is great as the jerk ex, in that I really really wanted to smack him. From the preview, it seems he might be the other end of the love triangle so I'm glad there's not gonna be any second lead shipping for me here.