There is finally a sageuk airing!!!! Okay, I may not really like them unless they are heavy on the mystical elements or they’re considered fusion, but I have heard several fans of this genre complaining about their absence. Truth is, I am suffering from a lack of super swoony dramas, so when Kmuse posted stills of Yoon Si Yoon I decided I HAD to check it out. Enrique, rugged and moody? Yes, please!
Drama Geek: Let us first discuss the main reason many of you might be running away from this drama like it’s a lit-on-fire pile of poo: Jin Se Yeon. Internationally, I think she is one of the most disliked Korean actresses. I can still remember the shipping wars that got out of control for Doctor Stranger. I’m not here to argue one way or the other about her talent, but I had to include it as a con. 🙂
Karie the Maknae: And this is the benefit of being the maknae. I have no particular feelings about Jin Se Yeon, having only seen her in Enemies-in-Law, and I liked her well enough there. I’m enjoying her fresh attitude in Grand Prince and I’ll be interested to see how she handles the heavier parts of the story.
Drama Geek: The set up is pretty cookie cutter for any sageuk. There are two princes, one wants to be king, and the other wants to draw and read poetry all day. Both of them fall in love with a girl from a prestigious family. Men fight over the throne. The girl gets thrown in the middle. The actor who was on the king’s side in the last drama is now a cackling baddy who aligns with the evil prince. Did I miss anything? So far there isn’t anything in the story to really set it apart from all the other historical dramas I’ve watched (or attempted to watch).
Karie the Maknae: The set-up was a bit overdone–our young hero was spouting lines that were FAR too old for him–but it resonated emotionally with me. I could feel exactly how angry the cast-off prince felt. I completely buy his motivations. That being said, I swear these are all the same little actors that they use in every sageuk.
Drama Geek: My first experience with Joo Sang Wook‘s acting was in Good Doctor. He played a straight character that was sometimes the antagonist and he didn’t leave a lasting impression on me at all. It could be that I was too distracted by Joo Won though. He finally caught my attention in Cunning Single Lady and then his follow up Birth of Beauty. He’s so much better at goofy characters with lots of physical comedy. So far his portrayal of Lee Kang is veering on the mustache twirling villain side. I hope he gives it more nuance as the show progresses.
Karie the Maknae: Yep, my newbie side is showing here again. I haven’t seen Joo Sang Wook in anything before. I have been impressed at the balance he’s showing between the greedy prince and the prince who just wanted to be with his family. So far. He’s also made it clear that greed is going to win out every time.
Drama Geek: Lee Whi aka Enrique aka Yoon Si Yoon. Si Yoon is so good in this. The show starts with his character very serious and looking every bit the exiled prince. Then, when we go to the flashbacks, we see his more romantic side. He loves poetry and painting. He’s cheeky and fun loving. The palace life did bring about many harsh realities, even when he was a small child, so he’s not a naïve character. You can see it in the depth of his eyes even before he leaves. It will be interesting to see the events that caused him to leave Joseon and how each thing changed his character into the man we see when he returns home.
Karie the Maknae: I absolutely adored Yoon Shi Yoon in Flower Boy Next Door. He has great depth and excellent comedic timing. Already in Grand Prince, he’s done an excellent job with the little flashes of emotion that cross his face, letting his audience know exactly what he’s thinking. Not exactly stoic, our prince, and it works.
Drama Geek: Ahjumma!!!! Kim Mi Kyung can make any drama better and this character is no different. She plays the mother of Se Yeon’s character and boy did she already leave an impression. She holds a card game in her daughter’s quarters so her husband doesn’t find out, but the kicker is they’re half disrobed when they’re found out. Yes, you heard that right. Strip Go-stop! (It’s actually this scene that gives me the most hope for the drama being entertaining despite the politics.)
Karie the Maknae: My adoration for Kim Mi Kyung knows no bounds. She adds sparkle and depth to every drama she’s in, even when she can’t speak (there’s an Heirs reference, just for Kdrama Jen. Heh heh heh). That go-stop game and the subsequent interactions made me start thinking of the historical fusion that is A Knight’s Tale. If that’s the direction Grand Prince goes, this could be a sageuk I actually enjoy.
Drama Geek: Jin Se Yeon’s character Sung Ja Hyun. Now, this may seem to contradict my first con, but if you are not a drama fan who hates her with a fiery passion then you can look to the character and forget about the actress. As I’ve stated before, the story and characters are not fresh. We’ve seen them all before. But Ja Hyun had a resolve and passion in the scenes during Lee Whi’s return that I admire. She was willing to cut off her hair and become a nun instead of getting married to anyone but him. She also stood up to Lee Kang and never seemed to give up hope that Whi was alive. I also enjoyed her passion for painting and her willingness to disobey her parents just to see moving horses in order to draw them. I think with Mi Kyung as her mom, I will probably enjoy watching her family the most.
Karie the Maknae: I agree with everything Drama Geek said. Also, her interactions with her servant/best friend absolutely cracked me up. There’s a spark of life in their friendship and in Jin Se Yeon’s character that I don’t often see in historicals. I haven’t gotten bored once.
Should you check it out?
Drama Geek: Looks like we’re about even with the pros and cons. So I’m not sure if I should recommend or not. I will also add that the music is a bit overly dramatic and some of the scenes are played that way as well. I guess my opinion is if you like historical dramas, Yoon Si Yoon, or just really need a good old romance this is one you should at least check out. If Se Yeon isn’t your bag or you’re burnt out on men fighting for the throne while women become chess pieces, then you might want to sit this one out.
Karie the Maknae: Like I said before, I was getting A Knight’s Tale feeling, especially during the polo match–especially with the background music sounding a LOT like Irish fiddling. All that was missing was the audience breaking into “We Will Rock You” when the blue team rode out. 😀 And when Yoon Shi Yoon and Jin Se Yeon first met, it felt a little like Pride and Prejudice. Basically, if this turns out to be a Joseon-era mashup of some of my favorite stories, I am completely along for the ride.
These have been our unfiltered thoughts, so now tell us yours, drama fans. Does Grand Prince sound like something you might be interested in?
Drama Geek & Karie the Maknae of Dramas With a Side of Kimchi