The King’s Affection – First Impression

Story in a Nutshell

Based on the superstition that twins signify bad luck (which was last used as a central plot in Queen Seondeok), The King’s Affection tells a tale of a pair of boy and girl twin born to the Crown Princess of a fictitious Crown Prince in the Joseon Dynasty. The King is livid that a pair of twins are born, especially when one half is a girl (how dare a lowly female fetus share a womb with the future king! *cues roll eyes*) and orders for the baby girl to be killed (as well as all court servants who know about this *facepalm*). The Crown Princess protects her daughter at all costs and by using acupuncture (?) the baby girl was made to appear to have died. The Left Minister, who is the Crown Princess’ father and also our main villain, came to check on the baby girl’s death, but his aide Jung Seok-jo (Bae Soo-bin) noticed the supposedly dead infant’s arm falling out of the blanket and doubted the death.

The Crown Princess orders her trusted servants to send the baby girl far away once she’s revived and Show fast forwards to the twins now as pre-teens. The infant girl is given the name Dam-yi and she’s in the palace working as a laundry maid. The young eunuch serving Dam-yi’s twin brother, Prince Lee Hwi, ran into Dam-yi by accident and was shocked at how similar this young girl looks like Hwi. Dam-yi was brought to meet Hwi and the young Prince thought of exchanging identities so that he can slip outside the palace and look for his previous teacher, who was maligned by the Left Minister and minions. It was this innocent change of identities and cross-dressing that led to Hwi being mistaken by Jung Seok-jo, who got wind that there is a young palace maid who looks like Hwi, and he was hellbent in killing her (that’s how blindly loyal he is to the Left Minister, and also to protect his own power and wealth). Seok-jo hunted down Hwi, who was dressed like Dam-yi because he wanted to meet his teacher one last time before the poor man gets executed. Despite the Crown Princess’ personal guard’s effort to shield Hwi, Seok-jo still managed to kill Hwi eventually. And thus, Dam-yi had no choice but to continue her masquerade as Hwi, in order to cover up Hwi’s death.

To Watch or Not

The premiering week is alright, with a pretty tight pacing and we’re introduced to the adult characters by the second half (or so) of episode 2. However, I do have issues with the editing, which felt way too abrupt not only in the changing of scenes but also the time jump. It was especially evident with the twins’ mother telling Dam-yi how glad she was to have her forcefully abandoned daughter back at her side again, and the next scene shows Mom dying. When our protagonists are all grown up, during the scene where Dam-yi (now disguised as Crown Prince Lee Hwi, adult role played by Park Eun-bin) somehow ran to somewhere secluded but by a lake, to touch up and straighten her attire as a male because a very disgruntled royal cousin almost knocked Dam-yi out with an arrow, I was perplexed how did Dam-yi manage to shake off the usual horde of attendants and why is there a lake out of nowhere in the middle of a forest?

Admittedly these are small issues since Show is one which requires a lot of suspension of disbelief to continue viewing. I am anticipating all the potential hijinks and life-threatening scenarios, which if done well, should add enough tension to Show. With two sageuks airing on the same days and time slots, it is difficult not to do a comparison. Lovers of the Red Sky is currently at somewhat a lull and the love triangle is not the most interesting. The characters are also a lot less complex compared to this drama, and a happily ever after is almost expected. While we already have a pair of tragic star-crossed lovers here (“Your Dad killed my brother!”) and also how Seok-jo managed to traumatise both Dam-yi and his son Ji-woon (Rowoon) as teens, I’m just unsure how would Show keep up with all the death threats without tiring the audience out, for another 18 episodes.

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