Review: The Princess’ Man (By Canto)

The Princess’ Man <공주의 남자>
South Korean KBS Drama 2011
Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance


Cast List

Moon Chae Won as Lee Se Ryung
Park Shi Hoo as Kim Seung Yoo
Lee Soon Jae as Kim Jong Seo (Prime Minister)
Kim Young Chul as Prince Suyang (later King Sejo)

Brief Synopsis

Se Ryung, the daughter of the ambitious Prince Suyang, later crowned King Sejo, and Seung Yoo, the grandson of the respected Prime Minister of the old dynasty fell for each other.  Due to the political machinations of circumstances in the palace, her father did an unforgivable act towards his family members. Surviving the tragedy, he seeks to take revenge on the girl he once loved and her father.  


Many dramas come and go. Once in a while, a drama comes along like The Princess’ Man which colors the way you see your world. Perhaps the drama was dreadful but it occurred during a significant time in your life, e.g. youth, high school, first crush, first date, university days, and you look back and think of those times with rose-tinted glasses. These were the best times of your life.

The Princess’ Man is much better than its weepy sounding blurb soundtrack, the saddest love story in Joseon. For one, it isn’t that sad after all. To me, it was a story of hope, courage and love.

Unlike many Korean dramas, it was set in the Joseon era, but it wasn’t draggy or overly melodramatic. The directing and pacing were superb. The stars seemed aligned for Park Shi Hoo and Moon Chae Won for some reason; they played their roles of the main protagonist and heroine with conviction and passion.

The drama opened with Lee Se Ryung (Moon Chae Won), who is the precious daughter of PrinceSuyang, the future King Sejo. She is intelligent and cheerful, sprightly and upright, unlike the weepy heroines of many dramas. She met and fell in love with the old Prime Minister’s grandson, Kim Seung Yoo (Park Shi Hoo). When we first saw Seung Yoo, he is a handsome, clean cut, cheerful and a sunshine gentleman. He is learned and noble, being born into a privileged family. Over the course of the drama, where her ambitious and cunning father murdered his grandfather, one of the righteous “old guards” of the previous dynasty, we see Seung Yoo grow from a carefree, charming young man to a wounded rebel warrior.

Significant mention need to be said for the villain, Prince Suyang. He was both terrible and loving as a father to Se Ryung, cruel, effective and heartless in his pursuit of the crown, but one could still feel his ability as a ruler, and love for his children, despite the horrific murders he committed.  If you had a father such as him, who loved you so much, and whom many held in fear or esteem, whom was so powerful in court, would you respect or hate him? Se Ryung, played by Moon Chae Won, portrayed the dichotomy of her feelings very well. It was not just Juliet’s love for Romeo which made her blindly abandon her family. She is not a puppet Juliet. She is both balanced in her love for her family and for Seung Yoo.

And of course, any review of this series would not be complete without the love scenes. And when I say love scenes, they were very chaste, as this is in the Joseon era. In one of their early meetings, Se Ryung–wasn’t a typical needlework lady– wanted to learn to ride a horse although she was afraid of horses. She got on a horse by herself and it ran away. Seung Yoo, who happened to be passing by, helped her. After he chastised her for attempting a foolhardy act, she told him that it was only when she was riding that she felt truly free and away from the stress and decorum of the palace. Despite his rational thoughts, he taught her how to ride a horse. He tried not to be too physically close to her because of his gentlemanly upbringing, but the scene was filmed very well and touching in the small gestures.

Then you remember Seung Yoo’s cheerfulness when he was falling in love with her, he mischievously played with her with his fan, landing a kiss on her forehead. He was a sunshine boy.

Seung Yoo’s cheerfulness contrasted with his shock after the destruction of his family by her father’s hands, because her father was ambitious enough to set his eyes on the throne and wanted to destroy the old Prime Minister and his supporters who were for the previous dynasty. He escaped from death through the sacrifice of his beloved grandfather, father and elder brother.  When he met Se Ryung again, who was about to be crowned princess and her father king, there were mixed feelings in him. He wore mostly dark gray and black after his transformation. He put on a callous and icy cold exterior, disguising his hurt and loss. Se Ryung felt guilty towards him for what her father had done, and tried to help him, but he refused her help or worse, her pity.

In one scene, when her father’s soldiers pursued him to kill him, in a desperate moment, Se Ryung urged him to take her as a hostage so that he can escape alive. When they were alone in the woods, he tried to treat her roughly but he could not bring himself to take his revenge on her for what her father had done.

The reasons why I like The Princess’ Man are the excellent acting, the directing and production. It has a good balance of every aspect and was executed in a well controlled manner.  I like the story because it was about love, hope, freedom, honor and forgiveness. It was a story that gave hope when there was none left. The courage of the protagonists transcends their circumstances.


The Princess’ Man won numerous awards in the 2011 KBS Drama Awards:

  • Top Excellence Award, Actor (Park Shi Hoo)
  • Top Excellence Award, Actress (Moon Chae Won)
  • Excellence Award for Mid-length Drama, Actress (Hong Soo Hyun)
  • Best Couple (Park Shi Hoo and Moon Chae Won)
  • Best Couple (Lee Min Woo and Hong Soo Hyun)
  • Popularity Award (Park Shi Hoo)
  • Popularity Award (Moon Chae Won)

This review was written by Canto, a Contributing Writer at

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  1. Thanks Jayne for allowing me to post on your website. As I mentioned to Jayne, I hesitated before asking Jayne for permission because though I am TVB fan for everyday viewing, I would like to write about other asian dramas.

    I know this is primarily a site for TVB stars and dramas, so kudos to Jayne for her generousity in allowing this review.

    I hope to share with fans good dramas, TVB or other asian dramas that I like.

    1. Great review Canto! I don’t think Jayne wants to restrict this site to only Hk TVB series and celebs only. I am sure it would be better to talk about other dramas and series from other countries. It would open up our minds and interests more.

    2. Canto,
      Your review is highly welcome and appreciated!

      Hong Kong entertainment has always been my strength since I have been following it for XX years, thus the concentration of Hong Kong centered news and topics here.

      If anyone wishes to submit reviews from other Asian countries, you are more than welcome to do so, as HeTieShou pointed out, it would make our discussions more interesting.

      Pretty soon, we can chat about CTI too! 🙂

      1. Thanks for being so open Jayne! I feel that it would be a lot more interesting if we can talk about celebs and series from other countries. It would make us more open and aware of all of the great works and talents from other countries. I feel that it would make this site a lot more exciting and interesting…

      2. HeTieShou,
        In a few months, everyone will be able to free post and start their own discussions. No need to restrict to the news items posted here. Everyone will be able to talk freely about the actors/dramas of their choice, regardless of country of origin.

        We are working on our technical advancements right now.

      3. Jayne,
        Thanks for the info and all of your hardwork on this site! Keep up the good work!!

  2. Thank you for the review Canto. Also to Jaynestars for allowing this review to be posted here.

  3. OMG I was JUST about to watch this drama actually, thanks so much for this review and thanks Jayne for putting this on here! I’ve grown up watching tvb and nowadays I’ve been kinda looking towards the kdrama side more and its nice to see those reviews on here.

    lol btw i’m gonna wait till finals are over until I watch this. i’ve already heard amazing amazing things about this drama, this review pretty much is the go for me to watch!

    1. Hi Emma

      I am glad that the review was useful to you.

      It’s a manageable 24 episodes so hope that helps a little…

  4. I haven’t seen this series but I do wonder, don’t you think all k-dramas eventually lead to love, because of love, all due to love and love alone?

    1. Yeah, Funn, there are lots of idol love types in K land.

      Yeah, maybe you can say they are overly preoccupied with love.

      Which is why TVB is staple, like rice. You can’t do without and you have got to have it everyday.

      K dramas are like the occasional sweet radish you find hidden in a bowl of rice.

      1. I do agree. I read the plot of Iris and in the end it is all about love. No matter what sort of ridiculous or over the top situation the couple is in, it always goes back to love. But what I do like about K-drama is no matter what explosion, what killer, what car wreck, what disease, in the end it is a journey of 2 people and it becomes very personal and in some ways touching, if done right. The passion is high unlike TVB which leaves you cold. But not all K-drama is good. Some are just .. I look at the actors and I feel like switching off the TV. The acting for most are horrendous.

      2. Agreed. A lot of k dramas are very similar, very love oriented. So even following a really good one, I would want to find another equally as good but be disappointed or .. too ‘sugary’ like I just cannot watch too many kdramas in a row without feeling like some prepubescent teen, totally naive from all this lovey dovey stuff. After Personal Taste (which was really enjoyable) I wanted to find another kdrama to watch, started some, got turned off, started The Hippocratic Crush… then Bottled Passion…tried watching Spy Myung Wol… but still too much fluff so had to watch HIMYM. Probably watch Spy Myung Wol in a week or two.

    2. I don’t think all K dramas are due to love. It depends on the series….

  5. Don’t know why I just can’t get into k-dramas.

    1. Because you need to watch the right one for your first k-drama and from there you will be hooked. I wouldn’t recommend Winter Sonata as your first. Not even Jewel In The Palace.

      1. Haha..I started with Jewel in the Palace, got slightly hooked. Then watched winter sonata and stairways to heaven….> completely hooked.

      2. Funn,

        I can’t but Lolz when I read your comment : )…I guess it’s like anything else, the first experience is very important.

      3. It is true that you do need to watch the right one to get yourself involved in watching K drama. However, that does not mean that they are all going to be good. My first one was Endless Love and I thought it was ok…

  6. Those who haven’t watched this drama should give it a try. It’s one of the best K-dramas in 2011.For me, it was the best one 🙂

    1. I’m glad there are like minded fans of the k drama too on this site 🙂

  7. Not relevant to this post but will post anyway. See if you agree or can expand a bit.


    K-Dramas : Be very selective and suspend disbelief and not be allergic to what is in the end that four letter word which is all encompassing of whatever they show you from ep 1 to 100 : L-O-V-E

    TVB Dramas : No need to be selective but just be brain dead for some episodes and wake up for some others and not pay too much attention to details because it is the details that they lack. Watch for a specific favourite actor and expect certain theme for certain producers but overall it is nowadays either family struggles or a broad issue that is actually very narrow. The day Jin Yong banned TVB is the day the 3rd category disappeared; wuxia and brotherhood.

    Mainland China drama – purely by recommendation because not each and everyone is good. And most are dubbed and if you’re allergic to dubbing, avoid at all cost.

    Singapore dramas – always, ALWAYS family drama and some crazy family struggle plot that will make K-drama like some very reasonable story.

    Malaysia dramas – never watch

    Taiwanese dramas – ignore the accent, ignore the superficial acting, ignore the idol this and idol that, ignore everything and just accept that when it comes to love, taiwanese dramas will show you that sort of youthful love that you never ever will ever have. And expect a lot of people talking in their own minds, almost schizophrenic but of course they’re normal young people. My handsome Wallace (Huo) said it best when he explained why he left Taiwan; he got pretty sick of “saying I love you, you love me, it is always the same dialogue”. Not quite but sort of.


    1. BUT K-drama can also be very romantic. They sure know how to show romance, or rather chivalry. You know like that dragging the girl away by the hand… is that still in k-drama?

      1. haha… Funn, yes, it still is. The chivalrous, macho man.

        Now always the chaebol i.e. rich 2nd or 3rd generation son.

        Also the piggyback when girl is drunk.

        And when the girl calls “oppa” which apparently melts guys’ hearts because oppa is used as a term of endearment for both brother and boyfriend

        It’s quite funny…

      2. Actually korean girls don’t simply call anyone oppa. But in series everyone is oppa!

        Oh piggyback girl who is drunk?! Nice. Nice. Yes the rich son or rich man’s son or some rich inheriting more richness. One time rich girl poor boy, now rich guy poor girl or older girl much hotter younger man. K-drama, our ultimate fantasy except I am glad no more of those dying.

      3. No more dying of illness. That is too sob-fest makjang (melodramatic). No no

      4. Taiwanese dramas are fun, guilty pleasure : ). Who doesn’t like F4, Meteor Garden and the recent Autumn Concerto?

      5. @Lol: Autumn Concerto was what Meteor Garden II should have been. And Ady An is fantastic.

        LOL I wrote a review on some of the best/worst Taiwanese dramas of the decade, since I considered Meteor Garden as the ‘pioneer’ of the drama.

      6. Hahaha Meteor Garden was probably what got me into Taiwan and Korean dramas.. opened me up to other dramas but TVB. Probably because I watched it during early teens and was just starting on all that love dramas hehe.

        Oh gosh, and my lovely Vic was so young back then hehehe.

      7. @ Bridget

        Is Autumn Concerto good?

        May be worth checking out…

      8. @Canto,
        I personally highly recommend Autumn Concerto since I really enjoyed it. It is really touching. But the ending was a bit strange and rushed. However, I liked the series overall and think you should see it.

    2. On Malaysia dramas.

      After a long spell of sad sad dramas, NTV7 finally air a happy drama. I watch episode 1 yesterday. Pretty good. I’m going to continue watching it. There are several actors I like in it. I hope no one dies in this series.

      The name is ‘Laws of Attraction’ (寂寞同盟)

      1. Who is in it? Anyone I know from those old days?

      2. Recognised none of them. Are most of them DJs?

      3. lol Funn,

        I doubt NTV7 will use djs as actor in the local series.. its always ASTRO who likes using djs as actor, can’t stand

      4. I don’t know many DJs. Most of the actors have acted in other NTV7 series before. So, I guess their main profession is actor?

    3. Agree with your assessment of Taiwanese idol dramas. Characters that are supposed to be in their mid-late 20s behaving like teenagers in love, which can be fluffy fun or irritating depending on your POV. The acting is for the most part terrible; with the exception of a few I don’t fancy the actors’ chances of moving on to more mature roles later in their careers.

      There’s another category of Taiwanese dramas that are, for some reason, very popular here on Singapore TV. It’s the dunno-how-many-hundred-episodes-long super-low-budget soap operas like The Unforgettable Memory , Love and Night Market Life . (They’re originally in Hokkien/Taiwanese, but are dubbed over in Mandarin when they air on Singapore TV.) They’re not my taste, but they get really high ratings here.

    4. On Singapore dramas — they used to be more varied genre-wise in the 1980s and 1990s (a lot of my personal favourites come from the 90s), but then sometime around year 2000 something changed and nearly everything became a family drama.

      There’s the occasional exception, though, like the 9pm drama that just ended recently, Unriddle 2 (最火搭档2). Cop drama, heavy on the action, nearly zero romance and hardly any family drama. It has quite a number of plot holes and logical leaps, though, which is a pity.

      I think the dramas that MediaCorp “outsourced” to Wawa Pictures are amongst the better local dramas that were produced in recent years, like Perfect Cut (一切完美) (drama about plastic surgery) and the recent Show Hand (注定) (about gambling addiction). Last year’s Secrets for Sale (拍·卖) got pretty good reviews, but I missed it while it was on air. The Oath (行医) was not bad also, a bit too romance-centric for my taste (I would have liked more plot about the medical stuff) but IMHO it was one of the better local dramas of 2011.

    5. I have a major soft spot for Taiwanese dramas.

      K-dramas are for die-hard romantics and yes, they can turn the most unbelievable plot into something entertaining and watchable (Secret Garden).

    6. All I can say is, there are good and bad dramas from every country and production so we should not stereotype. We should give them all a try to see… I have seen some decent K dramas, but cannot bring myself to like them like some TVB, Taiwan or China series.

    7. i wonder what’s with malaysian dramas… hmm… I’m now curious.. Funn you’re from Malaysia, right?

  8. There are errors in the review.
    He kissed her on the lips not forehead. And not grandfather but father.
    This drama is very very good. I watched 3 times despite the male protagonist is not my fav Korean actor. The OSTs are mesmerizing…

    1. Thanks Carole for pointing out the details.

      My memory must have failed me 🙂

      But it’s a great show.

      You should watch it in Korean, with English subtitles. I remember when it was telecast, the women in the audience were exclaiming how deep and sexy his real voice was.

      1. Yes I watched it in live streaming, then later with English subtitles. I have seen his other show Princess Prosecutor because I love the female lead who acted very well in Iris. But somehow I don’t find myself gushing over him.
        The actor with the best sexy and deep voice is Lee Sun Gyun aka The Voice but he is not good looking. He acted in Pasta.
        Canton you write very well. How about writing RoofTop Prince currently showing on Wed and Thurs. I’m loving the show. Micky Yoochun is acting great. You can really laugh and laugh till you get tears in your eyes. Highly recommended. : )

      2. I wrote a review on Micky Yoochun’s other drama, Carole.

        Maybe you may like it.

  9. Have any of you seen Tai Wang Si Shen Ji starring Bae Yong Jun?? I saw some of it and it is pretty good and should be finishing it sometime but haven’t gotten the chance yet.

    1. I watched it some time ago. Bae was still quite hunky in it. It was more historical warfare and not much romance.

      A pity the original Hallyu star Bae looks frozen now.

      1. Yea, it was more historical which is a good change from the typical romance. From what I heard, Bae is not frozen at all. He is actually working the behind the scenes in a sense. He is now recruiting new talent and has his own company/agency(something like that) and is making a lot of dough. It’s just that he doesn’t act as much so many think that is frozen or gone now since they don’t see him onscreen very much.

      2. Hi HTS

        Thanks for your reply. No, I don’t mean that Bae is “frozen” in his work, as yes, he is doing lots of behind the scenes work.

        I am talking about his appearance which sadly looks “frozen” now. Too much bot-x

        A pity

      3. Hi Canto,
        Oh, that’s what you meant. Yea, it is sad when someone uses too much botox that it literally freezes up your face…It is a pity and why can’t people just age naturally.

  10. BTW for all those who are new to the kdrama scene, I have a few to reccommend. Not all kdramas follow the same cliches I can tell u that (I’ve included different genres, so maybe start with the one that appeals to u most?)

    City Hunter – for a balanced mix of action/comedy/romance/suspense/revenge/drama, go with . The cinematography is really good, the acting is GREAT, and you can really tell how well produced this is. And omg the OST, fits the moods so well. I remember almost every ep would eng with cliffhangers (sometimes, literally), seriously for action lovers you will love this. I found the story to be pretty well written too.

    Vampire Prosecutor – crime/suspense/mystery genre. I know the title sounds corny but, really I like that they added the vampire/fantasy twist to this ~modern crime~. i also love that they throw in some comedic moments sometimes to balance it out. and omg, the cases, some will make ur heart wrench. some will make u think and rethink how it could happen. some are predictable, but lol compared to some tvb “crime” shows, u can tell writers put 42343x the effort into thinking out a logical and well written case for each ep. its only 12 eps too and each ep = new case

    49 DAYS – in the mood for something emotionally compelling, thought provoking, gut wrenching? i cant even with how many times i wanted to cry. there are themes of friendship, life and death, betrayal, fate, family, etc; the acting is great and i felt like it touched on things that kdramas usually don’t. like it wasnt just about love. there were heavy themes about death and stuff, which is sad but rly thought provoking

    i didnt say much about the plots but google em if ur interested. others that i rec also but are more cliched~ DREAM HIGH (teens/those looking for a really feel good drama with lovable characters will love this) and SECRET GARDAN ( ok this one is rlyy cliched with poor girl vs cocky rich man but the romance was so well done omg i had to review some scenes for the chemistry)

    sry for the long ass comment lol just my recs for kdramas!

    1. Tagging onto this (but too lazy to elaborate), I would suggest:

      – History of the Salaryman (If you’re one for dark humour, this is a must see!)
      – My Name is Kim Sam Soon
      – Coffee Prince
      – My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
      – City Hall (The writing is sh** but the chemistry between the two leads is the best I’ve seen. Not that I can turn down the chance to see Kim Sun Ah and Cha Seung Won anyway.)

      “Mawang/The Devil” would also be a good watch if it’s as good as it’s Japanese adaptation, Maou (I’ve yet to see the Korean original…). It follows a two-faced lawyer – angelic on the outside, but is secretly plotting to revenge the death of his brother. How? By using his masterful mind to kill off the friends/relatives of his brother’s ‘murderer’. What better payback than to see your loved ones die before you, one by one? The main character is based on Lucifer – the fallen angel – and it’s interesting to see how such a conflicted “villain” begins to doubt his plan of vengeance and has second thoughts on manipulating other people to do the killing. Gripping stuff.

  11. Man, I like KDramas, it’s just it’s so draggy. Towards the end I’m just like … BLOODY GET TO THE ENDING ALREADY. *Fast forward/skips* … They should learn to end it BEFORE the viewers get sick of all the unnecessary drama. I mean, we all know it’s either gonna be the mains end up together or they don’t…Make it quick!

  12. Hi Canto yoz rock for intro another top k drama. I love k drama. Any lovers of k drama there should watch this

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