I decided to watch this drama firstly because it's a sageuk, and secondly because of Rowoon and Park Eun Bin, and the story at its opening did not fail me. I don't think I felt this much admiration for a character in a historical drama, as I did for Yeon Seon/Lee Hwi/Dam Yi, and all the credit goes to Park Eun Bin. She was brilliant in this role and worthy of an award. The King's Affection wasn't only a good script, but also riddled with many brilliant talents. And whoever said women can't rule the world, let alone a kingdom, didn't meet our fierce Lady King, the Queen and Shin So Eun.
If there were ever a woman meant to rule, it's our Lady King. I always believed being a woman in a world of men was the power she held over her demon grandfather, and in the end it proved true in how wisely she used her power against him. Throughout this drama, Dam Yi (our Lady King) was the unsung hero, not only because she always put the needs of her kingdom before her, but also because of her courage. I knew there would come a time when Ji-un's father would be a liability to the demon grandfather. I was sure he was as good as dead, and probably still is, but I'm glad he had the opportunity to redeem himself in front of his son. I believe whatever actions he's taken isn't against the King, but for her.
But the one that hurt the most was a brother's betrayal, and worse, Lord Wonson letting himself be fooled by the words of the very man who ruined their lives was sad to watch. I knew the grandfather wouldn't take his punishment lying down, not after everything he had done to get what he wanted. But there is always a price to pay, because no evil deed goes unpunished. Sometimes life brings one full circle to a place they have been before, just to show them how much they've grown, and that is definitely what life has done with Ji-un and our Lady King. They both lived impossible lives. Anyone else would've crumbled to pieces, but not them. They came out even better people than before, including Lee Hyun.
At the core of it, this drama is a story of courage in face of adversity, but also about immense cruelty, betrayal, treason, and unconditional love. The most impressive parts of this drama have been in its loyalties. From misplaced loyalty, to firmly edged subject to royal loyalty, to loyal love and brotherhood. Even the unrequited loves in this story are engulfed in loyalty. At the same time, the story is also about greed, fear, and the injustices committed in the name of loyalty. But most of all, it's about courage and how an unsung hero born out of circumstances rose to the occasion when she could no longer coexist with the hypocrisy that was the royal palace, and gained the respect and loyalty of many, even her enemies, but also the love of her life, hence the title: The King's Affection.
They say an actor is only as strong as the script he or she is given, but good storytelling doesn't only make the actor shine, but also the whole production team, and the proof is in The King's Affection. Everyone from the Crown Princess/Queen Jang Sun, played by Han Chae Ah, who was beyond impressive in her limited but impactful cameo appearance as mother to Prince Lee Hwi and Princess Dam Yi, to Bae Soo Bin as Jung Seok Jo and Jung Ji Woon's (Rowoon) father in how brutally and precisely he fulfills his duties to the royal palace, and the same goes to Yoon Je Moon, who is phenomenal as the demon grandfather. So is Choi Myung Bin in the dual role of young prince Lee Hwi and princess Dam Yi, but the actor who stole the show for me was Nam Yoon Su in his unshaken stance to protect those that mean the most to him, regardless of who he had to go against to do it. He deserved to be King.
The King's Affection is a drama that stayed solid to the end, which was fitting to the story it told, from suppression to betrayal, love, and the fight to be acknowledged, as a human being worthy of the life she was born into, a twin and a princess, who through her trails and tribulations came to understand her worth, which made her powerful. Her world gravely needed a hero, so she became that, a strong woman disguised as a man who took no nonsense from anyone. A thousand and one kudos to the writer, director, and all the cast, production team for a job beyond well done. A drama worthy of your watch!