From ‘Goong’ to ‘The King: Eternal Monarch’ – Romance Dramas with the Setting of a Constitutional Monarchy

There always have been dramas that base their settings on the hypothesis of “If the Republic of Korea became a constitutional monarchy….”

The first start was Goong, which aired in 2006. Based on the comic book (manhwa) of the same title, it is a romantic comedy drama that depicted the story of Chae Kyung (Yoon Eun Hye), a high school student, marrying Prince Lee Shin (Ju Ji Hoon), in line to become the next king, due to the promise between their grandfathers. Goong made headlines by recording its highest viewer ratings of 26.6% (based on Neilsen Korea). Yoon Eun Hye, who had a fixed image of ‘powerful girl’ in the industry at the time, rose to the stardom.

In 2011, MBC’s My Princess, starring Kim Tae Hee as Princess Lee Seol, was aired. The story showed Lee Seol, a college student who suddenly became a princess overnight, and a diplomat Park Hae Young (Song Seung Heon) falling in love with each other. This romantic comedy drama made a hit, recording 20.9% viewer ratings at the time. Also, the fact that it used the female lead character as the royalty caught the attention.

Then in 2012, MBC’s King2Hearts was aired. This too, is a romantic comedy drama about a female officer of North Korea’s special force and a supercilious prince of South Korea overcoming the prejudice against each other, the distrust of the world, and hindrance between their love. Ha Ji Won played the North Korean officer Kim Hang Ah and Lee Seung Gi played the South Korean Prince Lee Jae Ha. Also, director Lee Jae Kyu, who made a hit with Damo and Beethoven Virus, was in charge of directing the drama, but the result wasn’t so successful.

The setting of a constitutional monarchy, which had lost its reputation for some time, was revived in 2018. SBS’s The Last Empress, which hit the jackpot by recording the viewer ratings of 17.9%, is it. The Last Empress revolves around a cheerful, lively musical theater actor Oh Sunny, who suddenly became a Cinderella by marrying the emperor. After fighting against the person who holds the absolute power of the palace, she uses the murder of the queen as a medium to destroy the imperial family and sought true love and happiness in the end. What’s unusual about the drama is that writer Kim Soon Ok, the top-of-the-line writer of the “provocative genre,” wrote the drama. Also the fact that she described the imperial family so hideous beyond being unconventional grabbed the attention.

Writer Kim Eun Sook joined this group with her new drama, The King: Eternal Monarch, which airs its first episode on April 17. It is a fantasy romance about Lee Gon, the Emperor of the Korean Empire, who tries to close the gate between the two worlds, and detective Jung Tae Eul, who joins forces with him to protect the people. The King: Eternal Monarch seeks to differentiate the setting by presenting the Republic of Korea and the Korean Empire as two parallel universes. On top of this, Lee Min Ho and Kim Go Eun, who have already worked with writer Kim Eun Sook by starring in The Heirs and Goblin, once again decided to star in the drama, raising the expectations.

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