Review: 'The King's Affection' Episodes 1 and 2
Updated: Oct 17, 2021
Coming from the perspective of someone who has never read The King's Affection manhwa by Lee So-young, this review includes only remarkable elements in the series so far, a short recap, and some spoilers.
Park Eun-bin and Rowoon
Contrary to what was shown on the series' teasers where the scenes were playful and lighthearted, the first few minutes of the pilot episode are actually pretty dark. The King's Affection immediately goes head-on wasting no time to show the conflict: the birth of twins into the royal family. As it is considered taboo, only the young prince should be kept alive as the future head of Joseon, and the other half be discarded.
The evening rain adds to the dark atmosphere all these scenes were shot in. The first episode is a grand showcase of how desperate the king is to ward off the bad omen they believe that a twin son and daughter will bring about. The Crown Princess and mother of twins (Han Chae-ah) is visibly distressed about the situation as she is compelled by the men around her to agree to the murder of her daughter. This should come as no surprise as Korean society used to be heavily influenced by the teachings of Confucianism for centuries, where women were expected to be meek and obedient to men and seen as inferior to them. But a quick, genius attempt to conceal the secret that her daughter is still alive and a skeptic among the king's henchmen (Bae Soo-bin) led to the circumstances in the series. This situation firmly establishes the connection between the past events and the characters' present lives.
Years later, the twins meet within close proximity of the palace, the girl being a court maid named Dam-i and the boy as the young prince Yi-hwi (both portrayed by child actress Choi Myung-bin) immediately recognizing their uncanny resemblance. The young prince informs his mother, the Crown Princess, about a court maid who looks exactly like him. Suddenly, the past comes catching up to her like a predator in the night. The turn of events is depicted well in the series just at a time when things already seem to be peaceful. Adding fuel to the fire is the young prince's naughtiness to switch places with the court maid without anyone knowing except for a young eunuch (Kim Geon). One thing led to another, and Prince Yi-hwi dies in Dam-i's stead, while Dam-i becomes stuck in the guise of the young prince. With this, the court maid starts carrying the burden of becoming the future king and the secret that lies in it. The budding romance between Dam-i and young aspiring scholar Jung Ji-un (Ko Woo-rim) also comes to a halt when the court maid suddenly disappears.
Park Eun-bin as Yi-hwi
In Episode 2, Dam-i as Yi-hwi grows up to be an ill-tempered prince and also has the feminine touch that is obvious at most times. Park Eun-bin portrays the grown-up Yi-hwi with grit and the air of arrogance around her, which is effective in such a role that has been tormented inside for many years. Meanwhile, actor Rowoon is introduced as adult Jung Ji-un, a smart and quick-footed physician. The casting was accurate appearance-wise, with the young actors who do resemble their adult versions.
Rowoon as Jung Ji-woon
Park Eun-bin as Dam-i