Confessions and realizations of love seemed to have been blossoming all week over K-Dramas. At least for the dramas that I’ve been watching. Before the premiere, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to commit to Hwajung as it is 50 episodes long. Sure, there are a lot of great actors in the drama but it was Dating Alone episode featuring Seo Kang Jun that did it for me. I swooned and suddenly sleep became a lower priority.
We’re 16 episodes in, so it’s more than a quarter of the way into the story, but I’m hesitant to say that the drama is good because we still have so far to go. However, I’ve enjoying the complicated relationships between all the factions that makes the drama compelling.
The story is based on Gwanghaegun (Cha Seung Won) who took the throne after the sudden death of his father, King Seonjo. Cha Seung Won’s Gwanghae is not The King’s Face’s Gwanghae played by Seo In Guk. Seo In Guk’s version was a different twist to this historical character. I think it’s pretty telling early on when Cha Seung Won sees that his father is sick. Instead of calling for the doctor immediately, he takes a moment to just look on and ultimately, King Seonjo does die.
However, the main plot is about the discord between Princess Jungmyung (Lee Yeon Hee) and Gwanghae. King Seonjo wanted to install Yeong Chang as the legitimate heir since Gwanghae was the 2nd son of his concubine but his untimely death prevented him from doing so. Gwanghae becomes king and it divides the royal court. Princess Jungmyung loved her half-brother but the fear of each other’s power grew between them, spurred on by the various factions. Yeong Chang is eliminated, Jungmyung’s mother ends up under house arrest and agents are sent to kill Jungmyung. She narrowly escapes to Japan and where she serves as a slave in a gunpowder factory and takes on the name, Hwayi, but returns to Joseon with the help of Hong Joo Won (Seo Kang Jun).
As children, Hong Joo Won met the princess and even tried to help her escape the assassins. The turn of events that night lead him to believe that she perished and yet he still hopes that she is alive somewhere. He has no idea that she is in fact the slave he’s been helping. In addition, he originally assumed that she was a man because she was dressed in men’s clothing. Their comfort level changes the dynamic in their relationship once he finds out, often hilariously due to Joo Won’s reactions.
This week, Hwayi decides to take her leave at gunpowder factory. They’ve succeeded in making gunpowder but her staying with Joo Won has caused him and the people around him a lot of trouble. Joo Won comes to the realization that he’s been denying his feelings for her and tries to run after but to no avail. She wants to try and meet her mother but is unable to do so as she is watched by guards 24/7.
Park Jung Hyun – 가슴에 사는 사람 (The Person Living in My Heart)
She goes find Heo Gyun (Ahn Nae Sang) who had kidnapped her and suspected her connection to the princess. He’s not one to be trusted as he has his own agenda. Heo Gyun is also a historical figure and writer, most famously of the story, The Tale of Hong Gil Dong. During his lifetime, Heo Gyun was exiled several times for his involvement in political feuds and here in this drama, he is rescued and brought back to Joseon by Gwanghae. However, he’s definitely got something up his sleeve for his own personal gain.
After Hwayi asks for help to meet with the Queen, her mother, Heo Gyun gets a message to the Queen saying that a person wants to meet her about her missing daughter. Immediately, the Queen is eager to meet the person so Hwayi heads to the Queen’s residence only to find out that the Queen has secretly left to meet her outside. The Queen and her supporters rally nearby only to be caught by the Gwanghae’s guards.
Kang In Woo (Han Joo Wan), Joo Won’s best friend, sees that Heo Gyun is up to something with his father, which strikes him as suspicious. He knows that Heo Gyun is up to no good and is shocked to learn about Hwayi’s “connection” to the princess.
He confronts Hwayi about being the princess just as Joo Won walks up. I expect that Hwayi will deny it and shush In Woo so that Joo Won doesn’t hear. In Woo will continue to suspect her silently but Joo Won will see them and get the wrong impression, igniting his jealousy. Oh, I can’t wait to see what happens next.