The latest Sageuk option for our viewing pleasure dropped, and there are some mixed feelings about whether this is worth watching. So we decided it would be a good time to lay out all the pros and cons so people can make an informed decision on whether they want to give it a try. So join us while we chat King’s Affection.
Pro: Gender Bender Tropes
Kmuse: This is a pro for me but I suppose it could be a con for others depending on whether you enjoy this trope. I’m talking about the gender-bender trope. In The King’s Affection, our heroine is forced to take the place of her twin brother after his murder. The biggest twist is that she is the sister to the Crown Prince and must take on the task of pretending to be him or everyone involved in the situation will be killed by the evil king.
The director made a great decision by having the younger actress play both the part of the Prince and the (supposed dead) Princess, and by doing this, it made it very easy to understand how one could pass as the other. So when you age up to actress Park Eun Bin playing the role, you totally accept her as the Prince she is supposed to be. It also helps that Park Eun Bin is killing it as the Prince. To the point that I believe that persona much more than the short bit where she was running around as a female.
Kdrama Jen: I have to agree with Kmuse. I think the set-up for this gender bender is quite good. I think they eased us into the transition from the beginning, so it felt like a natural transition to the older actors.
Con: Luxurious Flowing Hair Fail
Kmuse: If your hiding-as-a-man scheme can be screwed by your luscious hair falling out of your hat… then you should maybe fix that problem. We have a scene where an arrow shoots our leading lady’s hair covering off and her hair comes tumbling down and gives a very obvious feminine silhouette. It just felt a little too easy and it is little things like this that keep popping up that take me out of the narrative.
Kdrama Jen: Yes! How did we go from mannerisms and movement that felt quite masculine to shampoo commercial? Long hair was the norm for men, so this did seem to be a little too convenient.
Pro: Pretty Pretty People
Kmuse: Can we just take a minute and chat about all the pretty eye candy on this drama? Not only is our OTP (Ro Woon and Park Eun Bin) very easy on the eyes, but our second lead Nam Yoon Soo has me enraptured with his gorgeous dimples. We have another bodyguard to add to our list of hot sageuk bodyguards. Newcomer Choi Byung-Chan is making the court ladies swoon as well as the viewers. I can’t wait to see what layers his character has in store for us.
Kdrama Jen: Maybe it has just been a while since I have watched a Sageuk, but the colors and robes and all the pretty are making me happy! It is a cast full of beautiful people.
Con: Clunky Action Scenes
Kmuse: I find some of the directing to be clunky and lackluster. I know that I am a bit of a cinematography snob so this might just be con only for me…. but I can’t help that I find it lacking. This is especially true when they film the water sequences as well as the action scenes.
Kdrama Jen: To be honest, I have not noticed the clunky part. I have enjoyed the action scenes and I think the colors and styling are really eye-catching. (Kmuse: When I started writing this I had only watched 4 episodes. But have since then not noticed the transitions as much. I think it was specifically in relation to the first few chase scenes. That said, it is still nothing unique so just a standard style of directing )
Pro: Sound Editing Win
Kmuse: The directing might be meh but the sound editing is brilliantly done and making me notice that more than the directing style. If you focus specifically on any of the chase/action sequences the audio increases the tension significantly and gets me invested. Also, the scenes between our leads that need to be swoony also have great swelling music that makes the moments emotionally impactful.
Kdrama Jen: I haven’t stopped to analyze the sound-editing, but I do agree that the music enhances the swoony scenes. Sadly, though, I have some major SLS (Second Lead Syndrome).
Pro or Con? The Slow Burn
Kmuse: The final point I would like to bring forward could be a pro or a con depending on your drama tastes. This drama is twenty episodes and the writer is very slowly moving the story forward when it comes to the OTP. With four episodes under our belt, we are firmly getting the political situation fleshed out and the majority of the show is not OTP-focused (YET). For those that are looking for swoony romance and romantic hijinks… we are not there and might never be. Our leads are already heavily involved with family/political situations that come above any romantic feelings they might have. Especially when their decisions could have deathly consequences if they gave in to their feelings.
It is all of these layers of relationship that really work for me. I love that we get trauma between parents and children that are interwoven with the loyalty various parents feel for the king/political faction/etc. It is really keeping my interest. I also find this slow-burn story a positive because we have twenty episodes that need to be filled with plot. We have all watched shows that petered out around ep 12 and had nothing left to tell us so we just ended up with pointless fluff. Give me plot over fluff any day.
Kdrama Jen: However, don’t be scared off by the political machinations. There is potential here for some powerful moments as the girl forced to take her brother’s place has to maneuver around a world they tried to deny her. This is not someone masquerading as a boy to get into a school or something like that. This fraud she was forced into can change the course of a nation. That is a heavy burden because something like romance could get her killed. It makes for some awesome story-telling potential!
What are you thinking? Is this hitting your sageuk sweet spot or do you wish it was something different? Let us know your pros and cons in the comments and be sure to check back as we review all the upcoming sagueks as well.
Til the next pretty historical,
Dramas With a Side of Kimchi