[Review] Rooftop Prince – 옥탑방 왕세자

Geez, I’m really crawling through these reviews and I apologize.  The weather is getting warmer and I just want to be outside.  Why were there so many dramas I wanted to watch this Spring?  Hoping listening to the RTP OST will help me speed this review along.


A Joseon era prince, Lee Gak (Park Yoo Chun) is catapulted 300 years into his future to Seoul 2012 with his entourage when he tries to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of his princess.  In the present, he tries to adjust to life in the modern world and finds that there are many people who look eerily similar to the people from his timeline.

This is the 2nd Park Yoo Chun drama for me.  I really, really like watching him in comedies since I think he has knack for comedic timing.  I was just not in the mood to watch him in Miss Ripley.

For an idol singer, I think he’s excellent at balancing the funny with the emotional moments.

I was especially impressed that he could switch easily from sageuk speak to modern usage when he was pretending to be Yong Tae Yong.

That scene in Episode 16 when Park Ha (Han Ji Min) sees what she thinks is Tae Yong by the elevators.  It even had me looking for his signature posture with his hands behind the back to hint it was Lee Gak faking the whole thing.  The couple ring just clinched it.

I think those are the little nuances that Park Yoo Chun picks up on to create a visual cues for the viewers.  Sure, it’s probably written in the script but only Chunnie can exaggerate it the way he does for Lee Gak.

It’d be a crime to write this review without mentioning our Joseon entourage.

Scholar Song Man Bo (Lee Min Ho), Eunuch Do Chi San (Choi Woo Shik), Warrior Woo Yong Sool (Jung Suk Won).

I have to say that my favorite thing about this drama is seeing these 3 together.  They always manage to make me smile and you love that each person is a help to Lee Gak in their own way.  Man Bo with his smarts, Chi San with his wiles and Yong Sool with his brute strength.

The drama itself started off strongly.  Funny, mysterious, emotional.  The characters and the situations they got themselves in drew me in.

It wasn’t until Episode 11 that I started to notice cracks.  Where the drama consistently does well is with the humor and cuteness.  To the very end, it uplifted my spirits to see the characters being their silly selves.  However, the comedy does need to take a backseat 2nd half in order to give the dramatic elements the proper climax it needs.  The drama sorely missed the boat on that front.

Episode 11 introduced some makjang plot points that I wasn’t too fond of.  I thought it was overkill to show Park Ha in the warehouse fire only to have Lee Gak save her.

We already got that feeling that he couldn’t be without her when she was about to head off to America and he flagged down a bus to stop her.

By Episode 11, Lee Gak is starting to realize that he thinks of Park Ha more than a friend to the point where he’d jeopardize his success at the company.  Episode 12 did make up for it but a warehouse fire was a bit excessive.

Episode 17 & 18 continued in that makjang direction.  By this point, the drama is getting extremely repetitive with Tae Moo (Lee Tae Sung) trying to outdo Lee Gak and Lee Gak putting the ball back in his court.  It just left me waiting for things to happen and I got bored.

What resulted was the editors feeling it necessary to heighten the dramatic effect by cueing up the tense music.  “Heeeeere comes that dun, dun, dun moment.  What?  You saw that coming?”  I’m all for great OSTs, especially the instrumental tracks, but first rule of editing is don’t let the music dictate the drama.  The script and the actors have to do it.

I can’t even talk about how ridiculous that scene was when Lee Gak and his cohorts get the car’s blackbox and sit Tae Moo and Sena (Jung Yoo Mi) down to show them proof that Sena was present when Grandma Yeo dies.  What with the lighting, the writing and the music, I felt the drama was deliberately patronizing the viewers.

Speaking of music, I still in love with the OST.  From the lyrical tracks to the instrumentals, I love listening to all of it.  (And just going back over the scenes that I love in my head.)  Below are some of my favorites.

Park Jae Bum – 해피엔딩 (Happy Ending)

박재범 – 해피엔딩

Baek Ji Young – 한참 지나서 (After a Long Time)

백지영 – 한참 지나서

Ali – 상처 (Hurt) (Jive Monkey Playlist: 4/27/12)

알리(Ali) – 상처

Instrumental Track – 수수께끼 (Riddle)

Various Artists – 수수께끼

Reading the forums, I did see one poster make a comment on how people are complaining about the drama because we aren’t seeing the drama the way we’d write it.  True, as a fan of television shows, there’s some sort of promise there.  They promise to entertain us.  If it’s a romantic comedy, we expect to see the OTPs to get together in the end or acknowledge their affection for one another.  I don’t think viewers always need to see the OTPs physically end with one another.  Case in point, 49 Days.

However, this drama had numerous directions it COULD have gone in and a lot of fans discussing many different endings.  A lot of them were very good and there was a specific reason beyond personal feelings for what they thought would happen.

I’ve done scriptwriting and I understand the process enough to say that sometimes I throw twist in to trip up the reader, even though it doesn’t make any sense.  In this day in age, viewers are incredibly savvy that you get a little envious of hearing all these theories and want to throw a monkey wrench into the plotline to trip viewers up.  Without thinking about the drama as a whole.  It’s an egotistical, emotional process that writers go through,  “Ha, you didn’t see that one coming, eh?”  In a professional setting though, it’s a bit irresponsible.  But alas, that’s the creative process.  Being creative doesn’t always mean you’re the most mature person.

In order to resist writing at great length about everything I’m unsatisfied with, I decided it might be better to do a quick rundown of other things I’d like to mention.  WARNING!  No holds barred, there are some MAJOR SPOILERS below.

Gripe #1: The handkerchief falling on Park Ha’s face isn’t enough of a clue to connect her with Bu Yong for Lee Gak.  He has to see it again during the laundry scene.  I just found that to be repetitive.

Gripe #2: I’m really frustrated to have gone through this whole company takeover thing to have it not be a factor in the final episode.  Like, AT ALL.  We spent episodes and episodes on this and it was just so that it would give Lee Gak the mental ability to solve his own mystery in the past.

Gripe #3: Park Ha reading the history book in the library.  I’m not sure what I’m supposed to take away from that scene.  I wish they revisited that scene.  For a show that beats you to death with the reincarnation and doppelganger plot points, they couldn’t find some time to clue viewers in on what she read that made her so sad?

Gripe #4: Why does Lee Gak have to be the one to tell Park Ha that since the doppelgangers in the Joseon era were sister, Park Ha and Sena could be blood relatives in the present, too.  Park Ha couldn’t figure that out for herself?  There was ample time for her to explore her own history rather than have us return to the same trite company takeover plot points over and over again.  It’s lazy and I don’t appreciate that.

Gripe #5: Mimi and Becky disappear.  I really liked their camaraderie with the group and the fact they were all displaced souls living in this one complex.  The writers made them seem like frivolous characters that were discarded because they didn’t fit in the 2nd half of the drama.

Gripe #6: I’m sorry to have to bring this up but I still think it was dumb to have the woman in the water be Bu Yong.  Granted, forensic science wasn’t advanced but no one who was grief stricken over the loss of his love isn’t going to at least check out the body.  Especially if he’s going to start an investiage.  Or at least have one of his Joseon 3 take a look.  If you’re going to say that water could bloat the body so that the scar wouldn’t be as visible, then I’d say the body wasn’t in the water that long between when she fell in and when the eunuch woke the prince up in the wee hours of the morning.

Logic and time-traveling timelines wasn’t really a factor the writer practiced.  You gotta know from fans like Lost that people are going to be bothered by stuff like this.  Writing about different timelines should not be taken lightly.  But put that aside, there was no reason for not applying logic to the emotional impression it tried to leave us with.  I wished that when both Lee Gak and Park Ha realized their feelings for one another, he’d disappear off to Joseon.

If the point of the drama was for the reincarnated version of Lee Gak (aka Yong Tae Yong) to end up with Park Ha, then I would have preferred to have spent some quality time getting to know Tae Yong.  I’m sorry for this childish reference but that’s all I can think of at the moment.  The ending reminds me of that scene in Beauty in the Beast when the Beast changes into the prince and Belle isn’t completely sure this is the person she fell in love.  She looks into his eyes and yaaay all is right with the world again.  But when I look at this drama I don’t see that familiar flicker in Tae Yong’s eyes.  Perhaps the problem was that Park Yoo Chun had played Lee Gak and Yong Tae Yong very differently.  But all the drama left me was this disconnect…  Across space and time.  Calling Doctor Who!  Can you come back and fix this drama?



4 thoughts on “[Review] Rooftop Prince – 옥탑방 왕세자

    • You know, I really couldn’t give it a 5. I thought about though. But it had such a great premise and such an intriguing start. I was really hooked on it until Ep. 11 which is more than halfway. Even if it just had a boring ending, I’d probably rank it higher but the emotional disconnect at the end is why I just couldn’t do it. Oh well… on to the next drama!


  1. I’m late to the party, but this review is so dead on that I had to comment. The second half and especially the ending made me tear my hair out.


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