Empress Ki (Korean Drama 2013)

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Drama Rating: 8/10

This drama is adapted from the life of Empress Ki, a woman who was neither from the Mongols or Han Chinese descent but instead came from a small kingdom in the Far East called Goryeo which is presently known as Korea. During the Yuan Dynasty, she held immense power and prestige that she’s known in East Asia and East Europe as a tyrant queen.

1wgQdfBefore she was an empress, she was known as Ki Seung Nyang. From childhood up to being a woman, she had lived a harsh life. However her previous experiences were nothing compared to the day she became a Gungnyeo – a woman from Goryeo who is offered as a palace woman or concubine for the Mongol Emperor. Despite being brought to another country as a slave against her will, she was able to survive through her wit and perseverance. Eventually, Ta Hwan also known as Toghon Temür the Mongol Emperor falls in love with her not knowing that she was engaged to a Goryeo Prince named Wang Yoo. Due to palace conflicts and her political ambitions, she had to chose between love and survival.

I have this habit of checking out drama’s because of the cast and this drama did not fail me. Ha Ji Won’s acting as per usual, was flawless. I did have high hopes about the script/story during the initial episodes up to the middle part, but the entire show left me with a bitter aftertaste kind of ending. Why did the writers have to put an open-endedQJXJWf ending for the viewers when they could have just wrapped it up simply with a simple choice? It could have ended nicely when she finally became an empress because it was, after all the ultimate goal. What disappointed me was that every 10 to 15 episode the plot line changes and the story shifts its focus on something else aside from the previous problem on hand. That was really annoying, because when they go back to the initial conflict, there were more loopholes into the story which could not be addressed but instead it will be piled up with more issues to cover up the initial problem. Basically it’s a merry-go-round of never ending dispute – which is the norm in politics, only this one was badly portrayed in a drama. If it was me, I would have stuck with the romantic plot line instead of the political side of the story.

Another thing I have to take note of… I could have loved both kings – Yuan and Goryeo alike but instead I fell in love with Taltal, Governor Bayan’s right hand and nephew. Sometimes I day dream that he and Seung Nyang would actually end up together instead of the power driven-infused kings. Their tandem by the end of the drama was more in place than her link with the kings. I did somehow root her to the Yuan King because they had so much onscreen chemistry but decided against it during the later episodes.

As for the OST, the music was timely and I couldn’t ask for a better sound track for it. The visuals in this drama was awesome by the way. I have already re-watched several scenes from random episodes just because I liked the cinematography and the kick-ass fight scenes and archery of our heroine. Over all I would recommend this to watchers who are into saguek and palace-warlord-politics conspiracy, but let me warn you! This drama may seem to have a romantic story line, yet it isn’t the main theme and it might even disappoint in the end.

PHOTOS ARE NOT MINE. CREDITS TO THE OWNER.
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Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (Korean Drama 2016)

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Drama Rating: 9/10

Hong Ra On is a woman who disguised herself as a man named Hong Sam Nom due to personal reasons, she works in a performing troupe while selling her counseling expertise and ghost writing letters about love on the sidelines. Unknown to her, she has been writing for noble man who actually liked the princess and because of this, the Love in the Moonlight 23crown prince Lee Young aka Hyo Myeong read the letters and felt dubious about the whole courtship. He decided to meet the noble man by making an appointment to mean in the pretense that he is the princess but that man was too shy and scared that he begged Sam Nom to go in his stead. When the two met, one thing led to another and they both end up getting into a ditch, literally. After this incident, the prince has marked Sam Nom as an unforgettable person.

The second time they met was inside the palace when Ra On was sold to become a eunuch. When the prince found out about Ra On’s admission and caught her in the Love in the Moonlight 22middle of the night trying to sneak out and escape, he made sure that she will be able to pass through the test not knowing that the person he’s keeping an eye on to become a eunuch was actually a woman, while Ra On had no idea that he was the crown prince. When the politics inside the palace has intensified, the only person that prince Lee Young can trust were Kim Byung Yeon who was his body guard and Sam Nom his personal eunuch, who has eventually crawled into his heart. With all the things that’s happening, both the crowned prince and Ra On are drawn closer to each other day by day not noticing that they were slowly falling in love with each other.

This is such a cute sageuk drama for so many reasons. Despite mixed reviews from a lot of people, I gave it a high rating of 9 because I think the actors deserve that high point or rather the whole production deserves it. I do have my own complaints from the drama that’s why I’ve withheld that single point for my rant. I’ll be writing about my reasons for why it’s that good and why hold a measly point from the rating later on and will put some in spoiler.

First thing’s first… the reason I loved this drama were because of the actors. I’ve know Park Bo Gum and Kim Yoo Jung from a couple of dramas from the past, which I had no doubts they could portray their characters spot on and they didn’t disappoint in this drama. Both of them were so cute and had an amazing on screen chemistry that it soobin-4would be hard not to root for them. Oh and also Chae Soo Bin, I’ve seen her from the drama Sassy Go Go which I hated her character since she was the antagonist. Despite that, I liked her as an actress because she was effective in moving my emotions here and there. In this drama I’m happy that she didn’t end up as the bitchy girl who’s in love with the prince and would do anything to ruin the person he loves but instead, her character Love in the Moonlight 15was pure, even in her unrequited love, she had no ill intentions whatsoever. Despite knowing that she was alone on loving that one person whose heart can never belong to her, she still loved. I find her character sad because she had so many options but still… she remained true to her heart up to the very end. Aside from her, there are two characters Love in the Moonlight 09which I only got to know from this drama: Kim Yoon Sung and Kim Byung Yeon where were portrayed by Kwak Dong Yeon and Jung Jin Young. I had no idea who these two guys were but maaaaaaaaan… They were good. They’re not just the typical good looking flower boys in a saguek but they definitely deliver great fight scenes, emotional conversations and not to forget those smoldering eyes when they look seriously at something. I’m totally looking forward to the career growth of these two actors. I really think they are promising guys who deserve to be in a lead role someday.

Story wise, it was so-so. That’s one of the reasons why it’s not a perfect 10. I guess I am also biased with the actors that’s why whole drama was wonderful to watch. Another thing about the story, it’s just weird how the writer made Hong Ra On able to keep up the 5cf257ff-c822-472a-893b-cff6a1959d6druse of being a man inside the palace and even able to survive as a Eunuch for so long. Plus she was able to come in and out of the palace unnoticed with all the clothing disguise. That’s just too far fetched that it’s one of my complaints from this drama. Aside that, everything went well for me even the ending. The cinematography was also beautiful and full of royal themed and pastel colors. The different shades of pink was what mainly caught my eye since it’s also my favorite color, it definitely made an impact because it represented Hong Ra On and her feminine side. It’s also used in the hanboks she wore. The OST is worth downloading as well because its melody is so easy to listen to. PLUS! Park Bo Gum sang some of the songs in the drama. Overall I’m recommending this drama as a feel good watch.

PHOTOS ARE NOT MINE. CREDITS TO THE OWNER.

*MAJOR SPOILERS*

Highlight to see text below.

There are several scenes I like in the drama that I want to specify and share my thoughts with:

The scene where Ra On danced during the Ming Envoy’s visit. Since the main dancer mysteriously disappeared, Ra On had to step up and dance in her stead risking her life for the prince because the event was so important that it would tarnish the Royal family’s reputation. That’s how she wanted to protect him, even it meant she might get caught and die. It was a moving scene especially with the background music playing. The prince had this surprised look on his face and the dress that Ra On wore was breathtaking. It was a lovely hanbok that’s worth taking a screenshot of.

Click here for video: Dance Scene

Then there’s the part where in the prince finally realized that Sam Nom was actually a girl and that she was in fact very beautiful. Park Bo Gum had that fantastic expression on his face that only he alone could come up with, one that has a mixture of pain, relief and happiness. It was such a great scene to play over and over again.

Click here for video: Gender Reveal Scene

Lastly, there was the emotional death of Kim Yoon Sung. I loved the guy to bits even though he is a second lead because all he wanted was for Ra On to be safe and he made sure of that even at the cost of his life. He’s such a great character because of his noble kind of love, but it’s just too sad that he had to end up dead. I cried at this scene and at the same time was glad that the writer didn’t shy away from character death to one of the main cast.

Click here for video: Death of Kim Yoon Sung

The Royal Tailor (Korean Movie 2014)

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Movie Rating: 9/10

Dol Seok was a lowborn slave who raised to the ranks of head tailor in the royal palace.

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For 30 years he has worked with his hands until callouses has mangled his fingers, however it was known that he was the best tailor in the entire land. That was until he met Kong Jin, a vulgar man who makes clothes for gisaengs. One of the palace workers named Pan Soo had problems with his uniform and he requested Kong Jin to alter it. At first Kong Jin was hesitant to help him out because he only worked on Gisaeng’s clothing but his creativity and imagination couldn’t help expand his expertise that he was able to alter Pan Soo’s clothing better than what was expected. That’s how word went out about his work that he was recommended to the other palace workers until his name reached the Queen. She wanted to fix the king’s

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garment used for a special occasion and assigned the task to her maids. However, instead of fixing it, the clothing was burned and sought out the help of the head tailor, but he said it was beyond repair. That was how Kong Jin was called into the palace and sees the Queen for the first time that he was mesmerized and promised to repair the King’s garment for her. During this time, Dol Seok and Kong Jin forms an unlikely friendship, one that is mixed with respect and jealousy. As time pass by and Kong Jin’s works becomes more bold and daring, Joseon’s fashion slowly changed as women try to copy the Queen’s fashion trend. All the while rumors circulate in the palace that the Queen and her tailor are having an affair driving the King mad with jealousy, despite his indifference to his wife since the day they were married.

This movie is such a compelling watch even though it’s far from being perfect, I still do not understand why there are a lot of negative reviews about it. I’m not sure if the reviewers even understood the bigger picture of this show. This is the reason why I have put this movie aside for so long that it took me 4 years to check it out. I realized that I’ve read bad reviews about it that it’s a must that I make my own version to make sure people will not miss out on it.

First of all, the actors of this movie are veterans and they were really good. They actually did an awesome portrayal of their roles. I would like to start off with my favorite supporting actor in this film, which was Pan Soo who was acted by Ma Dong Seok.

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Because of him, there were a lot of comic relief despite the seriousness the movie had in store for the viewers. Thanks to him, the first quarter of this movie was a joy to watch. The next ones are Dol Seok and Kong Jin which was acted by Han Seok Kyu and Go Soo, their uncanny friendship which was brought by the love of making clothes was palpable that it was hard to feel bad when things had gone astray for the both of them. I especially liked how their dreams intertwined with each other and yet they both made different

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choices and the path that they took separately lead them to be what they were meant to become. The Queen and King, portrayed by Park Shin Hye and Yoo Yeon Seok suited the role, because the royal clothes certainly looked regal when they wore them. Their characters had their own backstory to tell, since their relationship prior to getting married seemed like a fairytale story but it was simply marred by power struggle and inferiority complex. The Queen and Kong Jin on the other hand, had this peculiar relationship as of a royalty and a subject but then since it was obvious that Kong Jin was smitten by the Queen, there is that very thin line that cannot be crossed between a married woman and a man. I would tell more about my thoughts regarding their

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characters but I will have to put it in a spoiler below, because it would reveal key points and major story plots from the movie. Oh, before I forget – I should mention one antagonist that really caught my attention because I totally wanted to bitch slap her character. Royal Concubine Soo Ui acted by Lee Yoo Bi was the kind of woman I would like to strangle due to her power hungry heart and her viciousness. For a royal concubine as ambitious as hers, I’d definitely want to see her fall from her power.

The cinematography of the movie was beautiful and colorful, though most scenes were

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shot inside the palace, what made it great were the clothes. There were all kinds of clothes ranging from the ones Gisaengs were wearing up to those in the royal court. As for the story line, it didn’t feel draggy or over the top, however some people felt that the film was a bit rushed. In my opinion, the pacing was alright and that everything that has transpired in the movie was as clear as it could be. The only thing I would have changed if it was up to me, was add more on the back story of several characters like the King and Kong Jin. I would have wanted to know them better if not because of the time restriction. It’s not that necessary though, since the story

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is about the current occurrences in the palace, the clothes they are wearing and how it moved and revolutionized fashion during that era. I know that not everyone cares much about their clothing ensemble or any trending fashion but it’s best to appreciate this film through Kong Jin. He’s the kind of person who loved clothes and has the guts to innovate and because of him, a lowly tailor during a time of heirarchy, was able to stir political power for the King and Queen.

Music wise, it felt like I was watching a saguek drama since most of them has a background music that felt like I was listening to Pansori music but other than that, music flow was great that it moved my emotions while I watched the show. I’m highly recommending this to those who like to watch saguek and those who love clothes.

Photos are not mine. Credits to the owner.

*MAJOR SPOILERS*

Highlight to see text below.

Here are my thoughts about the main character’s relationship.

Dol Seok to Kong Jin – I love their relationship despite the self imposed rivalry for Dol Seok’s part. He is filled with awe and respect for Kong Jin’s work and yet he is also afraid and jealous because at the other side of the coin, he can be overthrown from his position, which actually happened because someone better came along. Though it was a bit vague if he remained as a head tailor in the palace, the fact that he was supposed to become a noble man in a couple of months. It was shown in the last scene that he was waiting at his home for the King’s royal decree which looked like it was not going to happen and yet he kept on waiting. It was sad that he did so much for the King but his loyalty was overshadowed by his limited talent and the King’s inferiority complex.

Kong Jin to Dol Seok – All he ever wanted was to make clothes for people, to make them look good and let them feel great about themselves. I love the way he respected Dol Seok because of his roots. Both of them were commoners, but Dol Seok was sought out by the King himself that it elevated his status among other people. However that’s not the main reason why Kong Jin liked him, it was because he knew that Dol Seok loved making clothes and that he had dedicated his whole life to making clothes. He knew that Dol Seok understood how he felt about the garments he made. Despite Kong Jin being eccentric and bold with his creations, he did not allow fear to consume him and so he still liked Dol Seok up to the very end even though he knew that he was about to die because Dol Seok make a copy-cat of his work. That particular scene when they were talking inside the jail was heart wrenching because despite how evil or mean Dol Seok seem to be, at the end when Kong Jin was gone and Dol Seok was burning Kong Jin’s remaining works, he found a nobleman’s garment that Kong Jin promised to make for him when he gets promoted. I think in that scene he realized how important Kong Jin was to him and the loss of a friend finally settled into his heart.

Kong Jin, the Queen and the King – During the early scenes when Kong Jin first met the Queen, it was implied how much he liked her as a woman and therefore she became his muse and inspiration. The proof was also the gold headdress that the Queen gave him as a gift for helping her out along with the message that he should give it to a woman he likes. Near the end of the movie, it was shown that he gave it back to her, implying that she was the one he liked. That’s why he made daring clothes for her not thinking what it would cost him. I like the huge difference between him and the King when it came to their personalities. Though the King loved the Queen, he could not let down his pride and come to her. It took a brilliant tailor to create an extravagant attire, the approval and appreciation of the Ming ambassadors and the failure of the opposing officials to humiliate the King before he went to seek the Queen but in the end it was too late. If my interpretations were right, the Queen did fall in love with Kong Jin because she accepted the hairpin and actually wore it. She also tried to save Kong Jin in her own way even though it was to no avail, at least she tried. She also mourned for his death using the handkerchief he gave her with an embroidery of her mother’s favorite flower.

The ending was beautiful despite the death of Kong Jin, it shows the impact of a man who moved the nation with his ideas and principles despite it being as simple as through clothes.