Drama: Haechi (해치)
Release Date: February 11 – April 30, 2019
Runtime: Monday & Tuesday 22:00 (35 minutes each / 2 episodes per day)
This drama tells the journey of Lee Geum/Prince Yeoning from crown prince to king of Joseon.
Jung Il Woo – Prince Yeoning / Lee Geum
Go Ara – Yeo Ji
Kwon Yul – Park Mun Su
Park Hoon – Dalmoon
Yes! Finally I got to watch a great historical drama! I have watched a few and I could never distinguish which dynasty and king the show is all about. This drama is all about King Yeongjo who reigned for 52 years as the 21st king of the Korean Joseon dynasty. He is supposed to be a great and compassionate king, and made various attempts to improve Joseon. This is a long drama with 24 episodes and the drama was written based on historical facts and events. I kept pausing the show because I got so interested in his life that I kept googling King Yeongjo and trying to identify which characters and events were real (Prince Milpung, Park Munsu, Lee Jin Hwa) vs fiction (Yeoji, Dalmoon).
Jung Il Woo did an terrific job portraying the titular role — from the prince with low self-esteem and not a lot of dreams, to the confident crown prince and eventually the decisive and caring king. Must have been tough to play such a great person – if the drama really showed King Yeongjo the way history has written him, I must say that King Yeongjo is truly impressive! a bit idealistic and almost unbelievable, but then the show only focused on his early days in the throne so he probably made bad decisions in his later years (I’m reading all sorts of stuff about his son’s murder).
Of course, Prince Yeoning would not have made it far had it not been for his great support system – from Park Munsu, Yeoji, Dalmoon to even Yun Hyeok, Jong dal, Abong, Cho Hong and his right hand man. I loved that he had a natural charm and leadership skill – no wonder people can’t help but follow him once he made the decision to take the crown. He is strategic and empathetic — he comes up with radical solutions and always finds the way to convince people to join him because he knows what makes them tick.
Kwon Yul as Park Munsu was also great. I’m used to see him playing bad scary guys that it was so nice to see him play a happy and upstanding man. At first I thought he was acting a bit excessive and overzealous but later on I realized that was what his character was supposed to be. a bumbling and honest guy who later matured to be an amazing and relentless Saheonbu. Even though he was the new joiner in the team, people later followed him and became the team leader. I also want to give a shout out to Han Jeong Suk – he was also an amazing guy – I wish he was alive to see all the changes that we dreamed of but his death was what triggered Yeoning and Munsu to fight back. Yun Hyeok, also was strong in his convictions – I kind of missed him when he was gone after he became the minister of personnel and even after he came back to Saheonbu, they didn’t give him enough material aside from joking with the lazy inspector.
Yeoji, on the other hand was disappointing. I think it’s largely due to Go Ara’s unfortunate injury that the team probably was forced to rewrite her role. She started off really badass as a female inspector. She was a fearless and brave fighter and I loved the funny interactions between her and Lee Geum. But after her injury, she disappeared for the next 6 episodes — crucial episodes for me and to be honest, I didn’t even remember that she was gone. When she eventually came back, her character and acting felt lifeless. Where was that brave girl who willingly goes on disguise to catch info and the bad guys? I understand she became a court maid to protect the King in her own way (which she did lots of times) but I was disappointed that her protecting was more on taking care of Yeoning when he is sad or worried. Is that what women are supposed to do? just be behind the back of men comforting them and not being able to shine on her own? (Don’t get me wrong, Yeoji did what she had to do and I know that famous saying that “behind every successful man is a woman” so maybe that’s what’s more important to her and being successful. I honestly didn’t mind their romance but I thought it was unnecessary – they could have been great friends (like Cho Hong) and I wouldn’t have cared.
Another great character is Dalmoon – the more I watch Park Hoon the more I get excited whenever I see him in a drama. he may have been bad in Memories of Alhambra but how I love his character. The only thing I didn’t like about him was his tragic love for Yunyeong. I thought he could do way better than her but it gives Dalmoon an emotional story and I felt bad (and happy) for him when he had to bury Yun Yeong. At least now he is free from their past.
Before I go to the bad guys, I want to first talk about the palace officials – Associate Initiate Cho, Lee Kwang Ja, Minister Min and Minister Jo. I really hated them at the start. I felt that they were so stuck up and traditional corrupt officials. They don’t even know Prince Yeoning and yet they just kept putting him down and telling him he is unqualified to be king. On what basis? Just because they are chief ministers and Yeoning was born from a lowborn mother? They haven’t even given him a chance. But knowing Prince Yeoning, he was able to gain the respect and support of these four senior officials just by being him. Lee Kwang Ja and Cho became the first two officials who sided with him and was with him till the end. Like wise, I almost cried for Yeoning when Min and Jo finally supported him — Jo’s smile and Min’s deep bow was so moving. I realized that they are not really that bad – they just did what they had to do because they thought they were protecting the country and in the end, they moved to Yeoning’s side.
Okay, Prince Milpung. where do I start? Argh!! I think he was a great villain at the start of the show all the way to around episode 16-17. I seriously could not understand him, he is a bit mad, killing everyone who got in his way. Was so angry at Yeoning for being lowborn. Assuming that the throne was robbed from him and he should be the king without even thinking if he actually is qualified to be one. Then around episode 15 or 16 they showed a little flashback of him getting abused by his own father. He was a bit stupid, how can he even be king. then he got captured, sent to exile and death. That should have been the end of his story. But nope. he escaped with Lee In Jwa’s help and got he more deranged. I couldn’t find any sympathy for him. The writer did a great job of giving him a great ending for drama’s sake, though how he was able to see a couple more sentences before he died was funny and I really just want him dead. I loved the final conversation between King and Milpung when King said, had you made these great decisions earlier on, maybe you could have been the king. So true. Yeon Yeong is just like Milpung, she just won’t die!! Dalmoon even helped her escape!! and when she had the chance, she went and saved Milpung!! Argh! I seriously wanted to go hunt them both and kill them just to end my misery of seeing them on screen.
Wi Byung Ju was another character that was sickening. Instead of being the better person, he kept making excuses to justify why he went evil – okay I did feel bad for him because even though he was the top of his class and did everything well, he was never rewarded because he was a Namin. But like Munsu said, he didn’t have to turn bad, he could have persevered and sided with Yeongjo, then maybe he would still be alive and getting his well deserved promotion. Until the end, he was in denial and a coward.
Overall, I really loved this drama. I have been looking for a historical drama to binge watch and i’m glad I picked this up.