Growing up an ordinary country blacksmith, Lee Soo (Seo Ji Hoon) had no idea he would ever rule all of Joseon; but, at the age of twenty-three, that’s exactly what happened. Now as king, Lee Soo is finding it hard to adapt to the restrictions of palace life, especially where matters of the heart are concerned.
Having loved Gae Ddong (Gong Seung Yeon) for as long as he can remember, he always thought she would be the one he would someday marry; but now, as king, that dream has become nothing short of impossible. As a commoner, Lee Soo has no chance of making Gae Ddong his bride but that doesn’t stop him from trying.
Hiring the best matchmaking agency in Joseon, Lee Soo asks the talented Flower Crew to transform his first love into a noblewoman. Accepting the king’s request, Ma Hoon (Kim Min Jae), Do Joon (Byun Woo Suk), and Go Young Soo (Park Ji Hoon) take Gae Ddong into their care. There’s just one problem, transformations like this aren’t easy and there’s a lot of work to do!
Risking their lives to help the king, can the Flower Crew help Gae Ddong blossom into a beautiful noble flower or will this job prove to be impossible?
So first of all, this show is considered a Romantic Comedy.
The first few episodes might fit that category, and then there are scenes sprinkled throughout the rest that fit that, but this show got WAY darker than I was expecting, and was mostly serious after the main conflict was introduced around episode 4 or so? I’m not saying that it’s not funny at times, or that it’s really mature or anything like that, but I would definitely classify this as more of a melodrama or straight up a drama.
Anyway, lets get to The Good, The Bad, and the What Could Have Been Better.
This cast is full of beautiful men who say even more beautiful things (it’s a Kdrama, and an Idol drama at that. What else are you expecting? 🙂 ). They all have interesting storylines, and you’re really rooting for each one individually, even though you sense some of them may not have happy endings.
Kim Min Jae particularly plays the male lead with a calm steadiness that grows and learns more about himself and others as the show progresses. It was fun to watch his character fall in love with Gae Ddong, as well as work to outsmart his vile Prime Minister father and the other ministers.
There are lots of fun episodes early on showing the matchmakers working to make good marriage matches, and seeing how committed the three were to each case was lovely. They had fun chemistry throughout, and you really felt that they were a family. This was especially nice when other people outside the marriage agency looked down on one of them, and Ma Hoon (Kim Min Jae) was there to remind them who they were and that they were worthy (like I said, he’s delightful).
I thought Yeong Soo (played by Wanna One’s Park Ji Hoon) was going to just annoy me the entire show, but he ended up being one of my favorite characters.
When we finally got his backstory, it was like a punch to the gut. Tragic. Horrifying. Dark. Really tough to watch, actually. It made his relationship with Ma Hoon far more meaningful though, and made me love his character. This is one of the main reasons I would not classify this show as a rom-com.
And then this guy was just flirting with everyone all the time.
He has a fairly tragic backstory too, but not as bad as Yeong Soo’s. He also has a romance with one of the minister’s daughters, but we’ll get to that in a minute.
Can we stop for a moment and talk about our blacksmith turned King?
Kim Soo (played by Seo Ji Hoon, whom I will be looking out for from now on because LOOK AT THAT FACE) is a wonderful, noble character who takes on the impossible task of going from a blacksmith to a king. I thought his arc was great and pretty believable. He’s miserable most of the time, but we’ll get to that in the “Could Have Been Better” section later. He goes from a powerless king, to learning how to survive in the minefield that is the palace. While his story was tough to watch, it was very satisfying seeing him able to take some of the ministers down a notch.
As with most Period Dramas, the costumes, sets, and props are all lovely here. No complaints on that end. This is definitely more of a fusion drama, so there are some modern type items (Yeong Soo’s sunglasses, I assume were not really a thing at this time), and modern music in the soundtrack, as well as modern ideas/resolutions to certain stories. But nothing to really detract from the overall feel of the show.
Unfortunately, I just didn’t really like our leading lady here. Maybe I’m not a huge fan of the actress, Gong Seung Yeon, because I don’t tend to like her characters. I liked her ok by the end, after she was transformed into a noblewoman, but I didn’t think her growth was written very well. She was just super annoying, kinda dumb, and really bad at everything.
There just…wasn’t a really good reason for her to be caught in a love triangle. I didn’t even really understand why Soo (the blacksmith turned King) loved her, let alone why Ma Hoon (matchmaker) would fall in love with her. I felt like it would have been much more interesting if there was no romance with Ma Hoon, and the matchmakers were in on this heist like storyline to make Gae Ddong the Queen, and then they would actually succeed, much to the ministers chagrin.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed Ma Hoon and Gae Ddong’s romance, I just felt like the storyline with the king was too tragic to be enjoyable. It’s like we were watching two shows smashed together, and I wish she could have ended with each of them, in separate situations.
What Could Have Been Better
A lot, to be honest, but the one that stuck out to me was this relationship right here:
She was just too horrible all the time. I wanted him to find a woman that was actually…nice to him? Yikes. I mean, they were an interesting couple, for sure, but he deserved better. She made up for it a little in the end, but he was so swoonworthy all the time and while she was swooning, she was just horrible to him. And to everyone else, for that matter. Maybe this author just doesn’t like women? They were all kind of terrible.
The King. The Poor King. Like, this guy could not catch a break. I got tired of him getting kicked repeatedly while he was down. It just felt like his story was miserable just to be miserable. Like I said earlier, if the misery ended in this triumphant moment where we made Gae Ddong the Queen, then awesome, I would have totally been all for that. BUT NOOOOOOO.
All in all, this show wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t amazing. I liked a lot of the different pieces, but they just didn’t fit super well for me. If you’re looking for a period melodrama with some romance and court intrigue, you’ll definitely enjoy this one. Just don’t be fooled by the silly trailers and lighthearted synopsis. This show is pretty serious.