The series dabbles a little here and there – romance, identity crisis, palace drama & intrigue, politics, fighting, cooking. The super-hilarious series turns out to be fast-paced & interesting. The series starts off in the modern era, focusing on Jang Bong-Hwan a chief chef at the President’s residence. He passes out in a coma, and time-travelled to the Joseon era living in the body of Kim So-Yong, Queen Cheorin to reigning puppet King Cheoljong. Thus begins Bong-Hwan/ So-Yong’s misadventures.
When Bong-Hwan realises he is now in the body of Kim So-Yong (after she was saved from almost drowning at the lake), he/she takes a bit of time to adjust to the situation. Nevertheless, So-Yong proceeds to marry King Cheoljong, while she tiptoes around the women’s quarter to stay alive, often conflicted between the 2 powerful families of Andong Kim (Grand Queen Dowager Sun Won & his brother’s family) and Poyang Jo (Queen Dowager Jo & her family). Although she is officially from the Kim family, she has to try hard to get into the good books of Grand Queen Dowager Sun Won.
As she investigates her “accident” at the lake, she finds more dangerous plots either to dethrone her or kill her. As the investigations lead her to the favoured royal concubine Jo Hwa-Jin (from the Jo’s family), So-Yong finally discovers that it is her own depression leading to her attempt to commit suicide, and the unhappiness arises from her own disillusion with her family and King Cheoljong’s rejection of her due to her association with her family.
As So-Yong interacts more with King Cheoljong, she also slowly realises that he is feigning his foolishness & disinterest, hiding a deeply ambitious puppet king. So-Yong joins hand with King Cheoljong in his attempt to rid the court of corrupted officials & build a better Joseon for the future.
The Many Faces & Emotions of Shin Hye-Sun as Kim So-Yong/ Jang Bong-Hwan
One reason for the series to be so enjoyable is because of the lead Kim So-Yong. Actress Shin Hye-Sun is extremely good. She is the heart & soul of the series, bringing out the best of the show. She is serious & disheartened as the real So-Yong and quirky & lively as the Bong-Hwan living in So-Yong. Her reactions when realising Bong-Hwan is in a girl’s body are classic & really funny. It is even funnier when she fights so hard against her identity crisis (is she still Bong-Hwan, or is she So-Yong?) of seemingly falling in love with King Cheoljong. Her escapade by immersing herself in other activities are so endearing.
So-Yong/ Bong-Hwan’s character explores various emotions & relationship
- So Yong’s own feelings of being a puppet queen at her family’s disposal. Her desire to be loved. Her guilt of betraying her future husband. Her confusion of her cousin’s (Kim Byeong-in) love for her.
- Bong-Hwan’s feelings. This guy is a really positive person, who is adaptable to changes. It is nice not to see any resentment but more of how he adapts to the situation. And his reactions are very realistic – he does think it through as his motto is to live another day.
- Bong-Hwan’s love for food & its use to win/ influence people – the way that he uses cooking to win the people’s heart is so cute.
- Identity crisis –So-Yong’s memories & emotions often mingled & impose over Bong-Hwan’s own emotions. Bong-Hwan fights so hard over the identity-crisis. It is hilarious and at certain point, I am also not so sure whether King Cheoljong actually falls in love with So-Yong or Bong-Hwan.
There are some super hilarious scenes whereby Bong-Hwan in So-Yong’s body fights so hard not to be seduced by King Cheoljong (and obviously did not succeed as she is pregnant after all! :D). And her reactions when she finds out she is pregnant – classic funny!
Actor Kim Jung-Hyun portrays King Cheoljong very well as a really dull & stupefied-looking king. But he also has this sweet-side to him and tries his very best to understand his queen. The way he calls So-Yong “My Queen” is so sweet. The pair looks very nice together, the lively So-Yong and the calmer but passionate King Cheoljong. And the way he calls her – she can be a tiger. The chemistry between the two of them is great.
Kim Byeong-in as the cousin brother in love with Kim So-Yong can be described as bewitched. He has no guts to try to win So-Yong’s love before she goes into the palace. When she is already the Queen, he is determined to protect her but never takes into account of her feelings or needs. Didn’t think too highly of the way he professes his love. Then he went berserk. To be fair, he is the only one who notices the differences in So-Yong, and calls her bluff. Too bad he dies saving her. Sigh…
Jo Hwa-Jin – looks can be deceiving. She looks sweet and innocent, but harbours many secrets in her attempt to be the love of King Cheoljong. In a way, I am glad that she finally realises her mistakes and withdraws from a route which will just lead to her destruction.
The chief chef and Court Lady Choi are so suitable for each other! Kim Hwan (the social butterfly but lazy bum of the Andong Kim family) and Byeolgam Hong (the seemingly free-spirited guard) are quite a funny pair too.
I really like the mix of soundtrack through the series. The tracks are not conventional, with modern twist (just like the series). Favourite track now will be Here I Am. What a lovely tune, especially on piano!
There is also the familiar gayageum plucking sound which precedes mischievous and playful scenes. Totally loving those.
The series is based on an original Chinese novel and then drama Go Princess Go 太子妃升职记 which was aired in 2015. Judging from a short diversion to watch the original Chinese series (spent some time in a few episodes here and there), highly likely I would prefer the Korean version better. Tastefully done and the actress is superb in bringing out the mix bag of emotions.
I first watched a series by actress Shin Hye-Sun in Angel’s Last Mission, and hated her in that series. She was so nasty in that series, but precisely also because she is a great actress. New perspective and she definitely deserves a great round of applause.
Actor Kim Jung-Hyun is the 2nd lead in Crash Landing On You, and frankly I could not recognise him at all! He has such droopy eyes.
When I first saw the poster of the series, it actually turns me off. However, upon a specific recommendation to watch this show for a good laugh, I am hooked. For good reasons. The show is fast-paced and I like the fact that the focus is not just on romance or the palace drama. Actress Shin Hye-Sun did a great job to seamlessly connect all the dots for the series – comical at the right time, delightful chemistry with the king, charming her way into people’s heart through her cooking and actions. Watch it, just don’t think too much and roll down laughing.