Friday, June 29, 2012

The King 2 Hearts Review

  This drama is packed with great stuff—romance, political intrigue, comedy, action, and frankly some of the best non-asian actors I've seen in a kdrama. (Most of them aren't actually good actors, but most "foreign" actors I've seen in kdramas have been terrible, and these actors are somewhat decent. . . mostly.)
  One of my favorite aspects of this drama is Ha Ji Won's character Kim Hang Ah. She's a tough-as-nails North Korean drill sergeant who has to deal with South Korea's crown prince/Peter Pan/playboy Lee Jae Ha (in a world where South Korea has a nominal monarchy). Are we surprised that Ha Ji Won is playing a tough chick? Not in the least, because she's awesome at it, but this girl has a squishy center.

  Hang Ah just wants to be loved. She's a hard-core patriot, but wants a man who can deal with her tough side and still find the more feminine aspects of her nature. Those men who are brave enough to come near her soon find out that she has a hard time letting go of her military training, and so has a hard time expressing her romantic side or allowing any kind of skinship. At first, her changes between uber-military chick and fuzzy bunny were a little off-putting for me, but I soon came to love the complexities of her character that were represented by both sides, as well as Ha Ji Won's ability to consolidate them into facets of her being instead of the bipolar mess it could have been. She's not a wilting violet—she goes so far as to inform the prince that for years she's been training soldiers to assassinate him on sight—but she's still a woman, and one capable of feeling and expressing great love if given the right opportunity.

  Enter Lee Jae Ha, a man who has carefully avoided every responsibility that has come his way and delights in the fact that his older brother is the king. I'm going to admit here that I was never convinced that Jae Ha was over 30. Lee Seung Ki did an excellent job, but he's too young and has too much of a baby face (complete with adorable dimples!) to effectively play someone six years older than he is. But I just tried to ignore that aspect as much as I could. Anyway, he gets tricked by his brother into training for an international military competition to which North and South Korea are sending a combined team, with the northern half being led by Hang Ah, natch. It is suddenly her task to make him a viable opponent in this competition with top officers from all over the world, and this is a man who used his title to get out of every difficult training exercise during his military stint. Did anyone else have the song "I'll Make a Man out of You" running through their head during the first half of this series?
  I was a little surprised when their relationship started to take on a softer aspect after Hang Ah confides to Jae Ha her difficulties in finding a husband. It seemed way too sudden and easy for him to be all caring and affectionate. No way, he can't have just softened so much towards her in five minutes, right? Right. In typical kdrama man-boy fashion, it was all an act to get back at her, but it does get things started. I also love the way their relationship does progress once it gets going. Each one plays a game of cat-and-mouse, but neither one is truly the cat or the mouse throughout, and I like the political tensions between North and South that are rampant in their courtship. I love how Jae Ha is forced to transform from a boy who shies away from any serious commitment and responsiblity to a man who will go to any lengths (even crossing forcefully into North Korea) for the woman he loves and will do his utmost to protect his country. And I love how fiercely Hang Ah comes to love Jae Ah in return, without giving up who she is.
  The  second leads—adorable! Stuffy captain of the guards Eun Shi Kuyng vs. free spirit young Princess Lee Jae Shin, a woman itching at the role and restrictions placed on her by her social position. At times their story even overshadows the OTP, and their chemistry is sizzling! I love how the growth of the princess and Shi Kyung is built through all the hardships they face.

  Of course, there are the requisite kidnapping, unplanned pregnancy, imminent warfare, and creepy villains (BonBon, with her drug-laced chocolates and menacing craziness, for one), but most of these tropes are played to good effect in the series. (I said most.) The last two episodes made me laugh for all the wrong reasons. I know they wanted to stir everyone up into a frenzy, but it was unneccessary in my opinion.
  Overall Rating: 9 out of 10
  Other things I love about this drama:
  The fact that they use the Black Keys song "Lonely Boy". And the fact that they use it appropriately, when Jae Ah returns home to the south alone, but not yet realizing that he is a lonely boy.
 These shoes

  This Hanbok
and basically all of Hang Ah's trousseau.
  The fact that I just used the word trousseau unironically.

The OST, especially this song


  1. This K-drama left such a huge impact on me since "My Name is Kim Sam Soon." Just like Kim Sam Soon in its' time, this series has its' own original flavor for the audience to enjoy. For once, I'm relieved that there's no "love-triangle" crap in here.

    Ha Ji Won is my definite favourite here. I remembered seeing her in "100 days with Mr. Arrogant" and "Ba Bo". She did an excellent job here, playing as Kim Hang Ah.

    I actually like the secondary love story A LOT more than the Jae Ha - Hang Ah story. Their relationship is a complete scene stealer!

    Speaking of secondary story, this show is one of the few drama series that ACTUALLY resolved their sub-plot (with Shi Kyung's death).

    My only complaint about the show are the foreign actors. Some of them aren't convincing at all, specifically those playing American roles. The only exception would be "Daniel Craig", the fat guy with the moustache.

    Overall, I'd give this a 4.752/5 for original approach to story-telling, great acting, awesome soundtrack (Saranghae, Taeyeon) and last, but not least, Comrade Ri Kang Seuk's secret fascination with Girls' Generation.

    P/S: Sorry for the badly written opinion. I'm not that good with words.

    1. I really love this drama. I just watched an MV for it, and I fell in love all over again. I think I need to rewatch it again. (Not that I've ever rewatched this one. *cough cough*) Hahaha! Ri Kang Seuk and Girls' Generation! I love that part so much!

  2. Hey there! I just wanted to say that I was always sceptical about watching this drama despite watching its trailer so many times. Nevertheless, I put on my watch list. Then I came across your review and it made want to watch the drama and I did. I loved it! Thank you for such a good review. I must say it's hard to find such strong chemistry between the leads but Ha JI Won and Lee Seung Gi make it look so easy. Overall, I just love this drama! it's my second favourite after Lie To Me. Even after I finished watching it, I kept on reading the recaps and rewatched a lot of the interesting scenes. I just wanted to thank you for making me watch this AWESOME drama!.

    1. I'm so glad you watched it! And that I could be a part of your experience. Thank you so much for your kind comment. It's fascinating for me to see how some dramas just shouldn't work when you look at all the components, but somehow they end up being incredibly good anyway. I never thought Lee Seung Ki would be so convincing and sincere in this role, and he DOES have amazing chemistry with Ha Ji Won. It's just one of those great dramas.

  3. I love Ms. Ha Ji Won, that's the main reason I cringed through the entire serie. I hated the way her character, are you freaking serious?! At first, I was fine with it since I took it as shyness when she spoke to men, but then even to her own father...and other women......It's too freaking annoying. Made me questioned: are you retarded? I don't like using that word and to be honest, this is a good serie...but I cannot tolerate this kind of character. I hope she will be given more roles but not with this kind of characteristics.
    This is my own opinion.
    You can reply with hate but seriously, if you're gonna say that you don't care what I have to say...well, why are you bothering to reply? lol
    Again, this is my own opinion. I have a freedom to speak as you all do.