Korean Drama Review: Grand Prince/The King

It has been a while since I watched a nice period drama and the hit period drama on TV Chosun Grand Prince, also known as The King, is a decent watch with a generally fast-paced delivery and an intriguing premise.

Grand_Prince poster
Grand Prince acted by Joo Sang Wook, Jin Se Yeon and Yoon Shi Yoon.

About Sibling Rivalry, Epic Love, The Fight For Throne

Broadcasted on TV Chosun, this drama starring Yoon Shi-yoonJin Se-yeon and Joo Sang-wook is about two princes – one unambitious and artistic, another more conniving and eager to become king – who fell in love with the same woman, and ended up in a bloody battle over her. Just from the synopsis, it is easy to imagine the themes of brotherhood, rivalry, palace politics and love.

I’ve always loved such themes, the more dramatic the better, hence such a drama is totally right up my alley.

I have never watched any of these 3 main casts in any show before so they are foreign faces to me. Initially I felt that Yoon Shi Yoon, who was casted as the Lee Hwi, the nice prince, is not very good looking. (Lol, shallow I know) However after a while I sort of got used to his look and even find him quite cute looking.

OK, I digress. Anyway, just in the first 2 episodes, there was enough backstory to allow the viewers to understand why the brothers turn out the way they are today.

Grand Prince is essentially about the rivalry between the two brothers Jin Yang and Lee Hwi.

Jin Yang (acted by Joo Sang Wook) was sent out of palace at a young age because apparently his presence will threaten the health of the crown prince who will become the eventual king, thus he was sidelined since he was young. It is no wonder then that he grew up bitter about the unfair treatment. Add that to the malicious tongue of his uncle who is eager to take him under his wings to groom him into the next king, and you have a scheming and ambitious grand prince with a thirst for power.

In contrast, Lee Hwi, the younger brother grew up in the sheltered palace doted by the queen, with a love for the arts. However in the first episode, we know that Lee Hwi was ultimately sent to the battle field, and it was his brother Lee Kang who plotted for him to be sent there with the aim of letting him die there.

What caused the crack in their relationship?  The questions got answered as the show progresses.

The Love between Lee Hwi and Ja Yeon

Grand Prince Lee Shi Yoon
The love between Grand Prince Lee Hwi and the nobleman’s daughter Ja Hyeon is a main plotline.

The love between Grand Prince Lee Hwi and one of the minister’s daughter Ja Hyeong is one of the main plotlines in the drama and one key reason for the crack in the brothers’ relationship, as both guys fell for the same girl.

Unsurprisingly, the woman they both fell for is portrayed as feisty, proud, righteous, and unconventional in the sense that she is not afraid to stand up for herself or even willing to dress up as a man just so that she can visit a brothel. The type of typical heroine who is supposed to be very different but frankly speaking can get quite tiring after a while.

It was cute when Lee Hwi and Ja Hyeon first met and their courtship was pretty sweet. However caught up in the schemes of others, their love met with a lot of ups and downs and basically these 2 lovebirds just kept getting separated.

Lost steam in middle with stupid leads who kept getting manipulated

Grand Prince started out really promisingly with a fast pace, but it sort of lost steam in the middle and got kind of exasperating with goody-two-shoes leads who do not seem to learn from their mistakes of being manipulated and end up letting the villains get their way repeatedly due to their sheer naivety.

I’m now 13 episodes in, and suddenly, I found myself getting more sympathetic towards the villain. Maybe it is just that the two leads are too much of goody two shoes and their characters are depicted as less complex. Basically just nice people.

Joo Sang Wook – A Convincing Villain Who Stole The Show

Credit has to be given to Joo Sang Wook who acted as the scheming brother Jin Yang who longs to be King and tries his best to win the heart of the girl who unfortunately only has eyes for his brother.

Joo-Sang-Wook Grand Prince
Joo Sang Wook as the Grand Prince Jin Yang who is hungry for the throne.

Unlike Lee Hwi, who is a more bland character, Jin Yang has more shades of grey in his personality and while he is an antagonist, he is not exactly hateable. Even though he was really hungry for the throne, at least he does seem to have to smarts to scheme and gain support, and as such kind of deserves the throne.

I feel that he was quite subtle in his acting and could convey the small nuances of emotions better.

Decent watch: 7/10

I have yet to finish the drama, but so far I think it is fairly decent. It is entertaining enough with moments of intensity albeit some slow and cliche parts. All in all, about 7/10. It is not spectacular, but it is not bad if you like sageuks and palace politics.