Haechi – First Impression

Story in a Nutshell

Despite naming Show after the mystical animal that represents justice, Show is not a fusion sageuk (hopefully) and relates a story of the underdog ascending the royal throne. Jung Il-woo returns to the small screen after his mandatory military service as Prince Yeo-ning or Lee Geum, the future King Yeongjo. Because his mother was a lowly court maid, he lives a life of semi self-imposed (?) exile and it seems that not many people know he is a Prince.

Prince Yeo-ning, along with several other characters from the Saheonbu (kind of like the Crime Investigation Bureau) are suspicious of Prince Mil-poong (Jung Moon Sung) of being a serial murderer. Yep, Show is introducing us to serial murders in Joseon. Go Ara takes on the role of a spunky damo (policewoman) Yeo-ji and while she’s quick-witted I can only pray she wouldn’t end up as yet another damsel in distress as with all other dramas.

The other main character in Show is Park Moon-soo (Kwon Yul), a scholar who had failed the imperial exam ten times but historically he’ll become King Yeongjo’s trusted advisor. It’s refreshing to see Kwon Yul in a comical role after portraying a whole string of psycho killers. Moon-soo has been bickering non-stop (and one-sidedly) with Geum, and it is pure delight to watch this bromance blossom (hopefully).

To Watch or Not

Unless you’re allergic to sageuk, or in sab’s words, she’s easily annoyed by the men in red (the court ministers), I do think Show IS the sageuk we are all waiting for. It is not textbook dry like how some of KBS’ previous sageuk dramas may be, and there is a good balance of political intrigue as well as characters’ personal goals. The supporting cast are all veterans in sageuks, so I believe we are in for a good ride.

The only drawback is Show did not fully explain why King Sukjong took Prince Mil-poong into consideration to succeed the throne, and that might make viewers not too familiar with Joseon history a little confused. King Sukjong’s three queens did not give birth to any child, while the current Crown Prince was born to desposed Queen Jang Heebin. Prince Yeo-ning and Prince Yeon-ryeong were born to concubines (or even lower rank) and thus they’re not considered among the first line in succession. That leaves only Mil-poong, who is a direct descendant of King Injo. Historically the Crown Prince did ascend the throne but died after a few years, so I’d like to see how the issue with Mil-poong is resolved.

I’d say Show seems like a good all-in-one story so far, as we have an underdog, a funny sidekick, a smart heroine, among all the nefarious men in red. There are funny moments admist the serious power struggle between the different factions. I like the setup of Prince Mil-poong as a violent serial murderer because we hardly see such characters in sageuks despite ample evidence that they existed in history. Also, given Show is supposed to be 24 episodes (1 hour each), I doubt there’ll be any mention of Crown Prince Sado, since this is a story about how Lee Geum becomes the King.



  1. I watched this in October 2020. A year too late, but I love this drama so much I am doing my own Haechi episode overviews. Thank you for your nice intro to his amazing drama. I wish more people would watch this. It’s inspirational. The greatest part is that it’s based on a true story….

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