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