I don’t think I’m the only one who’s been waiting for this drama on fire! I mean it’s been a year since You’re All Surrounded and I missed Cha Seung Won like hell. I missed him so bad and went and watched every single work he’d been in. I sound like a stalker, don’t I?! And for the last week I’ve been telling everyone around me; my students and co-workers included. And they’d shake their heads and give me the look which says; you’re hopeless girl.
So the moment subbing was done -I wouldn’t lose one word for the world- I watched the first episode. I didn’t have time to finish the second before work so I carried my laptop with me. I watched 15 minutes in my break then finished it at home. I don’t sound like a stalker; do I?! *puppy eyes*
Let’s dive in now.
The first two episodes give us the background necessary to understand the dramatic change in Gwanghae’s character as he becomes a king.
So the story starts with Gwanghae (The Invincible Cha Seung Won) checking the construction of the main palace which was destroyed in the Seven Years War against Japan. He looks concerned and at the same time passionate about it because his father; King Seonjo (Park Young Kyu), likes it a lot. Prince Gwanghae is called by the very father and is accused of being over-interested in the palace because it would be his soon. He yells at Gwanghae telling asking him what kind of Crown Prince was he when Ming wouldn’t acknowledge him. Gwanghae grits his teeth and holds his pain in. He’s been treated like that for 16
that being a crown prince was not a privilege; but a shield to his incompetent father.
Kid princess Cheongmyung rushes in to whine about the New Moon asking her father to buy her ”summer heat” as is the custom. The king laughs heartily accusing Gwanghae again of not being able to bring the smile to his face. The princess gets scolded by her mother for rushing in like that and for calling Gwanghae uraboni (older brother)
instead of Crown Prince. Gwanghae tries to defend Cheonmyung but the queen is stubborn about customs. So Gwanghae; most tenderly, tells his baby sister that she can call him uraboni when they’re alone.
During the New Moon celebration, the political parties are seen paying their respects to the queen and baby prince Yeongchang which means siding with the true blood. Prince Imhae and Gwanghae’s followers are so careworn. Though seriously concerned; especially when the political parties decided to meet separately with the king excluding him, Gwanghae tries not to show his feelings. The king and the politicians meet, recite poetry and ”celebrate” the new moon. When the king criticize their poetry and accuses them of wishing ill to the country; one of the ”true blood” supporters asks the king to give them a topic for their poetry. The king talks of a true and fake blood. The follower claims the true blood.
The king decides to depose Gwanghae. Gwanghae’s followers meet up to think of solutions. They suggest a coup but Gwanghae refuses. Instead he pleads to his father with another retainer. When the the retainer mentions reasons why Gwanghae should become a king; stating how sage and loved by people he is and recalling his achievements; the king hears that as an accusation of his own perspicacity. He thinks Gwanghae spreads those words and rushes out angrily.
While on his knees pleading outside the king’s quarters, Gwanghae goes back in time and recollects his first encounter with the king as a teen and his father’s ignorance of the way he looked. He remembers when his dad fled the palace abandoning his people while he stood his place and fought the Japanese out of the country.
Gwanghae’s followers Lee Yi Chum and court lady Gae Shim conspire to give the last shot of poison to the king. Seems like Gae Shim has been feeding him poison by small quantities to weaken him so that he’d die without causing suspicions, getting affected herself. Gwanghae, who gets impatient, rushes into his father’s room and finds him struggling for breath. He demands explanations of his father’s hatred and refuses him water. The king breathes his last under Gwanghae’s blaming eyes.
After King Seonjo dies, Gwanghae’s enemies immediately have Queen Inmok write a royal command to depose Gwanghae; driven by an attempt at her son’s life; Prince Yeongchang, and believing Gwanghae behind it. When she is about to issue the order, a court lady runs in claiming princess Jeongmyung to be lost. The queen believes Gwanghae behind it and delays her orders. She hurries outside giving search orders to find the princess when Gwanghae walks with Jeongmyung in hand in hand. He saw her alone and scared. And he gave her a promise that he’d always protect her and her brother. When he spots his enemies behind the queen he demands an explanation.
He then meets the queen. He shows her the king’s will stating him as the next in line. He got his loyal retainer; Lee Deok Hyeong (Lee Sung Min), to snatch it from the Royal Secretariat. When she asks him why he’s come to her since he’s got what he needs to ascend the throne, he tells her that he doesn’t want to turn her into and and assures her of her children’s safety.
The next day, Gwanghae is called by the queen to choose the next king. Custom has it that they need to wait 5 days so Gwanghe and his retainers believe it to be deposition. But the queen then shocks everyone by handing Gwanghae the throne.
Princess Jeongmyung of true blood has been dreaming of blood and death since the night her father died. Her dreams as well as the letter found by the un-decaying corpse -which Lee Deok Hyeong refuses to make known because he believes that humans are stronger than destiny and he believes in Prince Gwanghae- tell a prophecy which concludes that Gwanghae would rule with an iron fist and the dark era would not finish before true blood rules -Prince Yeonchang-.
Lee Deok Hyeong; full of loyalty and care for the people of his country, asks Gwanghae for reassurance on his visit to a place with many homeless people. Gwanghae shows his concern for his people and reassures Deok Hyeong; appointing him as Prime Minsiter.
In court, Prince Imhae’s treachery is brought up. Lee Deok Hyeong defends Imhae while Lee Yi Chum tries to get rid of him. Gwanghae, who loves and respects his brother, stops the discussion. After the meeting; Deok Hyeong declares to Yi Chum that he would be watching him and his so-called loyalty.
Gwanghae calls back his ally and friend court lady Gae Shi. He announces the Ming envoys visit and his fears. He confesses that they could shut the Ming up all that time because they claimed that Imhae was not in his right mind and the Ming believed that. So the Ming are coming to check on that and if it doesn’t turn out to be true his position would be in danger. Gae Shi warns him of people’s desires and greed, but he assures her of Imhae’s innocence and loyalty. She, then, tells him to present Imhae to the Ming if he believes in him. Imhae, who believes his younger brother would kill him, is shocked that he’s instead brought him to the palace. Guilt eats away at him and he acts crazy in front of the envoys. Gwanghae visits him that night and asks him to wait until he gets him a nice place to settle in. He assures Imhae that he never doubted him. Guilt-stricken, Imhae falls into tears and confesses that he did covet the throne and that it was his to begin with but he yielded it to Gwanghae. He then asks for the crown prince title. Gwanghae feels his world collapses with the shock and rushes out like a man possessed. At the door Yi Chum meets him and asks to be let to take care of the matter.
Hong Joo Won and In Woo are the sons of two influential people. They’re presented as clever and bright. They’re curious about the world and they mingle with commoners. One day they run into princess Cheongmyung and In Woo falls for her at first sight. They become disciples of Lee Deok Hyeong. While Joo Won is so into studying; In Woo only tries to humour him and is bored.
I can’t wait till next week. What will happen?!
I’ll be discussing the characters in a different article after few more episodes ^^