Wednesday, December 15, 2021

The King's Affection

It was easy to get intrigued by the premise of "The King's Affection," but I was forced to watch the old fashioned way.  I started watching the first 6 episodes in a semi binge manner that got me hooked, but learned (there were warnings) that I would have to wait another week before I could find out the next step followed by a second new episode one day later.  Waiting is agony.

 The premise of gender deception is not totally new, but perhaps was wrinkled a little differently.  Supposedly in medieval Korea twins were considered taboo for the royal couple.  As it happened the princess gave birth to twins that were one boy and one girl.  The prince was furious and ordered the second child, the girl to be killed before anyone could find out.  His wife was horrified and arranged despite resistance to send the daughter away with the intention of never seeing her again.  Fortune intervened and the daughter ended up as a court maid, entirely ignorant of her royal birth.  Again fortune intrudes and the young crown prince meets her and is struck by how similar they look.  He has a problem; his favorite tutor has run afoul of the royal court and is about to be executed.  He decides to put on his "twin's" female clothes to meet his tutor, but somehow is mistaken for an intruder and is killed.  The princess is horrified and afraid her secret will be outed and she seeks her daughter to complete the disguise was dressed as the crown prince and commands her to pretend to be the crown prince.  

Wow, that is only the first two episodes.  An overlooked detail is that a young boy whose father is a court official  becomes attracted to the young court maid and she likes him.  They are separated when she is forced to pretend to be the crown prince.  He is sent away and surprisingly is brought back to court as a very capable tutor and natural physician and she is forced to accept him as her royal tutor.  You can sense some sexual tension and at the beginning of this new relationship she decide he needs to be executed.  Of course he avoids that.  Further complications ensue amid various power struggles and the threat that exposure could mean death for several.

What happens when the Queen Dowager decides an heir is required?  What happens when the Crown Prince doesn't need to shave?  What happens when a childhood sweetheart is attracted to "him"?   What happens when suspicions of a homosexual nature are taking place? What happens when inevitably more people learn the secret?  Plenty of royal court intrigue including corruption tied into these speculations.

It reflects medieval thoughts on gender equality, but does comment that beneficial rule is better than corruption.  Has a poetic ending.

During the filming they had two delays.  One was a fire on location and the other was due to Covid-19.

One reviewer had this experience:  "but the last 10-12 minutes of each episode have been riveting. You want it to resolve, but don't want it to end!  It will seriously have you talking to your TV."

Yun Wook Song, director has been directing tv. series since 2009.

Han Hee-Jung and Lee So-Young were the writers and it appears that the story originated as a comic.

Eun-bin Park had the tough job of playing a masculine female with sword fighting and archery and making decisions while still underneath it all being feminine.

 Kim Ro Woon  played the court tutor who had befriended the princess before it was even known she was of royal blood and then felt attracted to her as the crown prince although he thought she was a man.  But there were little clues about their common knowledge. 

Deception plays a role in many of the stories we enjoy.  How can the hero or villain fool so many for so long?  In reality gender deception has happened.  Enjoy this film as it carries the tradition of deception very well.

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