I’ve decided (for the time being), to continue writing some post-viewing thoughts and comments for Hwajeong, because Show has been good so far. However, no promises, because these days my attention span is rather short and real life continues to be a bitch.
Anyway, we open to the 5th year of Gwanghae’s reign in Episode 3, which made me went “Whoa, that’s rapid”. But by the end of the episode, I understand the time jump, because it’s the timeline where events happen left right and center.
Possibly frustrated with the endless disagreements he met with his ministers, Gwanghae desperately tries to remain sane, all the while losing his allies along the way. I was kind of disappointed in Prime Minister Lee Deok-hyung, for while he was supportive of Gwanghae in the premiering week, he is now more hesistant and suspicious of Gwanghae, in fact, willing to work with the Queen Dowager and the Westerners. Lee Deok-hyung reminds me of Jeong Do Jeon somewhat, where if I’m not mistaken, his central belief is that the country belongs to the people and not the King solely. The scene where he found out about Gwanghae’s secret laboratory to come up with Joseon’s own firearms, made me draw this parallel.
I do like that so far, Show has been making us sympathize with Gwanghae, for it DOES seem like he was no more than a victim of the circumstances, in this rendition of history. The order of capture of the Queen Dowager’s family, as well as exiling Grand Prince Yeong Chang, doesn’t seem to have come from Gwanghae but rather from Lee Yi-chum, though perhaps we can argue that Gwanghae isn’t all that innocent.
The suppressed affection Gwanghae has for Princess Jung-myeong is another indication that he has not (yet) descended down the path of a monster, as the Annals had made him to be, and Cha Seung Won has once again captured the moment of tortured emotions so well, that one just can’t help but feel sorry that he has to act in his own interest and let his sibling down.
It doesn’t help, however, that Gwanghae keeps the shit-stirrer(s) aka Lee Yi-chum and Court Lady Kim Kae-shi beside him, and I feel Show is going to make them into the axils of evil, as history has it (especially for Kim Kae-shi). I do like what she said in the beginning of Episode 4 though, that life is full of danger to anyone, but as long as one lives, one should burn as brightly as they can, even if one is eventually devoured by the flames. Depending on how one looks at it, I think it motivates a person to acheive what they want in life, but of course Kim Kae-shi is a bad example to look up to. But I digress.
What I don’t like about Show, is the troupe of prophecy and OTPs meeting in childhood, though thankfully both Jung-myeong and Hong Joo-won are totally aware of who each other are, and Jung-myeong even pleaded with Joo-won to marry her, for she’s told by her Queen Mother that it is the only way to keep both herself and Yeong Chang safe. It’s heartbreaking to see the forceful separation of Jung-myeong and Yeong Chang, especially when the latter is such a young boy and his sister is literally everything to him.
Anyway, the inclusion of a prophecy that Jung-myeong is an aura of ill-fortune had me rolling my eyes because now come on, MBC, why can’t we have a saguek that has nothing even remotely similar to Moon that Embraces the Sun? I’m not asking for a strict following of the history like KBS’s Jeong Do Jeon, but surely viewers’ interest can still be piqued without that goddamned prophecy? And it’s not just one, but there’s another one going around in Show, regarding the rightful heir of the throne. Argh.