Light spoilers: This week I finished watching The King: Eternal Monarch. The 16-part drama is about two parallel Koreas. One is our own and the other is a constitutional monarchy, ruled by the remarkably handsome King Lee Gon. Lee Gon travels between the two Koreas, entering the lives of Jeong Tae-eul and her friends, and even meeting people who exist in his world too. And as if that’s not enough excitement, Lee Gon also travels through time.
I loved The King: Eternal Monarch. My one criticism is that the show’s time travel elements created a paradox that was never dealt with. You know how it goes. If you change the past you also change the present. This may mean you never go back to the past at all. At one point I fully expected Lee Gon’s actions to create an alternate version of himself, but it never happened.
Ah well, so that’s what was wrong with The King: Eternal Monarch. What was right? The concept, the action, the relationships and the acting were all superb. Out of all those things, it’s the acting that I’ll remember the most.
Woo Do-hwan excelled in two contrasting roles. He played Lee Gon’s loyal protector Jo Yeong and Jeong Tae-eul’s friend Jo Eun-seob. Yeong was serious, suave and polished. Eun-seob was his opposite, a merry joker with messy hair. Quite often, Woo Do-hwan had to play the two parts in the same room. That’s when his talents as an actor really came to the fore. What I liked most was Woo Do-hwan’s voice. He was brilliant at sounding like two completely different people.
Kim Go-eun was also impressive as police detective Tae-eul and thief Luna. Her super skill was her facial and body language. Kim Go-eun was really good at changing her movements and expressions to make herself look like a different person.
Lee Min-ho played Lee Gon. He didn’t have the chance to play two characters, but he was good to watch all the same. I thought it took a few episodes for his charisma to kick in. Possibly because he’s so implausibly handsome he’s hard to relate to. But by gosh, when his charisma did kick in, he was the star of the screen. I particularly enjoyed the episodes where he heroically dashed around on his white horse.
I could go on about this all day, but then I’d give away too much of the plot. It’s a shame the time travel elements didn’t go quite right. Of course, it’s possible I didn’t fully understand how important fate and destiny were to the story. Perhaps some things were always meant to be, no matter how much the past changed.
But one last actor mention. I’ve noticed online that a lot of people wondered about the boy with the yo yo on a red string. Yo yo boy knew a lot. I think he was the living embodiment of the Manpasikjeok, the magic flute that enabled Lee Gon to travel between worlds.
The brilliant young actor who played yo yo boy is Kim Bo-min, and she’s actually a girl! You can see pictures of Kim Bo-min and some of the other younger cast members on kdramastars.com.