Empress Ki (기황후)
Original : Whoovy
Translation : Dushbadou
Synopsis : An historical romantic drama depicting the love and battle of a woman coming from Goryeo. She will become the powerful Empress of the Yuan Empire. (/!\ this is a fiction)
Country : South Korea
Episodes : 51
Genre : Historical
Aired : Oct 2013 → Apr 2014
Network : MBC
Duration: 1hr. 5Min
Casting: Ha Ji Won, Joo Jin Mo, Ji Chang Wook, Kim Young Ho, Baek Jin Hee…
At first I didn’t want to watch Empress Ki. To be honest I’m not a big fan of historical drama so I wasn’t really ready to start one which, moreover, lasted 51 episodes. But the high audience rating -usually I don’t give a shit of it^^- and Ha Ji Won’s presence in the casting finally pushed me to give it a try.
51 episodes! It’s an obstacle that might seem too hard to overcome for people who are not used to watch dramas exceeding 20 episodes. But in this case, it turns out to be essential to the plot. 51 episodes was the right amount of episodes to better exploit all the characters’s potential. Their evolution was what kept the audience out of breath- or at least me! A Korean drama without evil characters scheming against good ones is not (or hardly) a Korean drama. This show didn’t breach the rule. But here the interesting point was the constant swaying of the audience between good and evil. The admiration we felt for a character could quickly turn into aversion and vice versa. The boundaries between bad and good was thin since all the characters were neither wholly “white” nor “black”. Human nature was perfectly depicts through a succession of schemes, treasons and alliances. They all fought for their own interes committing crimes in order to reach either power, wealth or quench their personal revenge. We assist, powerless, to this succession of schemes and are easily blown away, taken by surprise by the complexity of those characters.
Everything can not only be positive. Even though I appreciated all the twists in the story I also considerated it as a weakness. Scriptwriters didn’t leave us the time to breathe. It’s like being forced to eat another portion of chocolate cake whereas we are already fulled and ready to explode. I would have appreciated some breaks between all those schemes. That was one of the key point that kept me from giving it a 10/10 grade. The drama started on a quite lighthearted note but the atmosphere was quickly turned to seriousness with the countless conspiracies (I would not have liked to live in this era! seems so tough to survive!^^). One villain died? not a big deal we still have plenty of them in stock! Empress Ki was a really good and well-made drama but I couldn’t help myself to find the lasts episodes veeerrrrrryyy long. The scenario had lost its consistency and that was my main reproach. We could almost see the work of the scriptwriters that were adding twists over twists >>>>SPOILER– like the fact that the head of the Eagle House was TATATANNN…Kolta and his accomplice the little guard of the emperor…maybe it’s just me but I thought it was a bit too much -specially the useless guard –SPOILER<<<< just in order to keep our attention.
One other thing bothered me at first: the fact that the girl was, ONCE AGAIN, taken for a boy (guys can be sooo blind in dramaland! well I admit it was well-made – the clothes were well-chosen and we could “barely” see, most of the time, that (s)he had in fact a boobs…But how comes they didn’t feel them when they took her in their arms? XD one of the great mystery of Koreans dramas I guess). But this aspect turned finally well cause it played an important role in the transformation of Ha Ji Won’s character.
The perfect film-making of the drama gave us an authentic and realistic glimpse of the Korean court’s life. Even though Empress Ki is a fiction it respects some part of the Korean history. We are immersed in a Korea that is torn by several kingdom and in particular Goryeo’s kingdom and the Yuan dynasty. All my prejudices and hesitations about this drama had vanished with the first beautiful shots and scenery of the first minutes of the drama! It was breathtaking. And the OST was just amazing. I could not have asked for more!
The casting was also very good! I only knew Ha Ji Won and 2, 3 supportives roles so I was really glad to discover others talented actors.
I was really happy to see Ha Ji Won in an other drama and it strengthened the good opinion that I already had about her. She plays the most complex and well-written character- which is not a surprise since the drama depicts before everything else, HER story. Without Ha Ji Won’s performance, the drama would not have been as successful as it was, in my opinion. She manages to give life to her character: Seung Nyang -a young, clever woman who lives in Goryeo and pretends to be a man. She fights for her convictions, fights injustices. All the hardships that cross her path change her dramatically. As she starts to live at the emperor’s court she becomes little by little- like all the characters that lives in Yuan- a cold and calculating woman. She becomes Lady Ki.
I have read many comments on the net that criticized her evolution. For lots of people she had lost all her charms because of her selfishness that started to prevail in her personality. But I personally didn’t share those opinions (even though I admit she was a “pain in the ass” sometimes). Her evolution was necessary because it would have been completely incoherent for her to remain the same old Seung Nyang after all she had been through (and honestly it would have been a bit boring, don’t you think?). It was even more interesting as it prevented the drama to fall in pathos. Lady Ki seems strong, insensitive but she, in fact, only hides her weaknesses. She knows that it would only endanger herself and her beloved ones. Besides it was not like the old good Seung Nyang had completely disappeared with her entry into the emperor’s court. She reappeared many times during her scenes with Wang Yu for example. In conclusion I would say that her transformation, her two dual personality only made her more human.
On the male side, we can find Wang Yu- the king of Goryeo- played by Joo Jin Mo. I quickly fell under his spell, although he was far from my ideal type, physically speaking *cough* He has lots of charism and I totally understood why Seung Nyang had come to love him! He is one of the character that evolved the less. He remains faithful to his first convictions and it was a pity to see his character lose his importance over time! Plots concerning him tended to become less and less interesting and I was constantly waiting for one thing: his return to the Yuan’s court.
And to complete the love triangle I have to mention our dear emperor. He is the character that disconcerted me the most honestly. His personality seemed so dull compare to the charismatic Wang Yu and Seung Nyang, the badass girl. In fact, he annoyed me a bit in the firsts episodes. He was such a glue-pot with Seung Nyang (couldn’t spend 1 sec without her) and didn’t care about his kingdom -in short he was the complete opposite of Wang Yu! It sounds like a harsh critic but I’m only pointing facts. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t like his character for all that. In fact it was quite the opposite! I found his relation with Seung Nyang really interesting and deep. We can read his relation in two different ways: a simple man/woman relation and a mother/child one. Because after all that Emperor was just a big kid who grew alone and without affection. My interest grew even stronger once Wang Yu had started to step aside. We had a better understanding of his character. I liked his evolution but the fact that the scriptwriters decided >>>>SPOILER to make him crazy in the last part of the story was a bit too…we could see the scriptwriters’ efforts behind this new aspect of his character; trying to revive the plot with this new twist. I didn’t really like this new side but I have to underline the AMAZING performance of Ji Chang Wook who played really well craziness (I could barely recognize him!) SPOILER <<<<
Like I wrote earlier characters were not inherently black nor white (even though some were nonetheless more evil than good, let’s face it).
I always expects the worst in villain’s characters because most of them are not well-written and just too much! So far I had only liked one bad guy in dramaland: Shunji from Bridal Mask. Now that I have watched Empress Ki I can say that my list lengthens for a bit. I would not say that I preferred the “antagonists” characters to the mains ones but I felt lots of sympathy for a few of them.
I was particularly touched by Tanashiri played by Baek Jin Hee and Baek Ahn played by Kim Young Ho.
Of course Tanashiri’s actions were awful! but I couldn’t hate her. I think it came from the fact that the scriptwriters did their utmost to show us her evolution and her uneasiness. All her actions were driven by her jealousy and the Emperor’s lack of love (to be honest I would probably be very angry too, if my husband was such a glue-pot with another woman!). I’m not saying that we can forgive all her actions but I have to admit that I couldn’t stop feeling sad for her especially near the end. So, for me she was an interesting character and I really liked her (even thought I couldn’t stand the actress’s voice. But that’s an other thing, right?).
I felt the same for Baek Ahn. His loyalty towards the Emperor touched me the most even though that was what caused his end. I also like the fact that he was one of the character that stood against Lady Ki the most, whereas she helped him a lot in the past. His relationship with the Emperor and his nephew, Tal Tal (played by Jin Yi Han *-*) made him so human that he was even hard to see his “evilness”.
I have to say a little word about El Temur because, even though there was a lot of antagonist characters, he was the main one. He was present during the whole drama even when he was not physically there (like for example near the end where he lived through Baek Ahn’s actions). Baek Ahn refuses to see that he is becoming exactly like his old enemy. And it was really interesting to see «the history repeating itself». In addition Jun Gook Hwan’s performance was good and gave me chills.
Well despite those characters, some others were just hateful -but I can’t blame the scriptwriters for that. There were too many characters they could not dwell upon each of them (otherwise the drama would have lasted 100 episodes…thing that I would have not wished). I would have liked to mention others characters, like Tal Tal (sexy brain! my weakness *-*), Batoru, El Temur, the Dowager but my review is already suuuupppeeeer long so I’m gonna stop there.
Note de Whoovy: 9/10
Note de Dushbadou: 10/10
Note finale : 9,5/10