Edited by Hwang Hong Sun
Translated by Kim Yoo Hyang
Most roles of the King and Emperor in dramas have been played by middle-aged actors, showing the dignity of a leader. However, recent works have broken away from this and are attempting to renew monarchs’ image with young actors taking the roles. Young actors can easily become a dignified ruler of the fictional universe and a witty character who gets along with the people. Not to mention that they please the viewer with their attractiveness that suits the King’s countenance. Let’s take a look at actors who led the popularity of their works with youthful energy.
Kim Soo Hyun in Moon Embracing the Sun
Moon Embracing the Sun is the first to come to mind when we speak of a young king in drama. The show remains in many people’s memories after recording more than 40% of viewer ratings at its airing time. Based on a novel of the same name, Moon Embracing the Sun is a romance depicting the sorrowful love between Lee Hwon, a fictional king from the Joseon Dynasty, and Shaman Wol, who hides behind the veils. In it, Kim Soo Hyun mesmerized all with his charm as a young king. He dispelled the voices that worried whether an actor in his 20s would suit a King’s image. He then captivated the viewers by simultaneously showing his side as a dignified, cold monarch, yet loyal lover.
Do Kyung Soo in 100 Days My Prince
100 Days My Prince is a historical-romance drama where the subject of memory loss has blended in with the Joseon Dynasty. In the series, the prince loses his memory after being embroiled in a cold war of powers. He meets the oldest woman who remains unwed in Joseon.
Do Kyung Soo plays an idealistic prince Lee Yul, leading the series with a chilling charisma, showing dignity as a next-generation leader with his undisturbed appearance and qualified literary and martial arts skills. He also provides laughter and humor during the time of his amnesia. When he has no memory of his past, he lives his good married life as commoner Won Deuk with Hong Shim (Nam Ji Hyun). At times, he would still have the royal family’s habits and embarrass those around him. Other times, he made the viewers’ hearts flutter by saving Hong Shim from her trouble.
Kim Jung Hyun in Mr. Queen
Shin Hye Sun led the series, Mr. Queen, with incredible comical acting skills. The series is about the chaos that occurs when the soul of a modern-day’s man goes into the Queen’s body from the Joseon Dynasty.
Kim Jung Hyun added power to the show with his role as a young ruler, Won Beom. Though Won Beom may seem like a powerless king, he is a bold character who fights against the Andong Kim clan. He dreams of the renaissance of the country to strengthen the royal family. Kim Jung Hyun depicted Won Beom’s ambivalence at the right place and time. And he provided laughter as a ‘No Touch’ couple with Shin Hye Sun. Because Won Beom thought So Yong was a spy at first, he kept his distance from So Yong as he started to open his heart for So Yong, the viewers loved the blooming romance between them. Whilst Mr. Queen had been under multiple controversies in the early days of its airing, it succeeded to attract attention once again with Shin Hye Sun and Kim Jung Hyun’s passionate performances.
Yeo Jin Goo in The Crowned Clown
After playing several roles related to the king from works like Moon Embracing the Sun and Warriors of the Dawn, Yeo Jin Goo decided to play a double role. As a remake of the movie with the same name that attracted 10 million viewers, The Crowned Clown is about the story of a king who calls a clown who looks just like him into the palace to escape from those who seek to kill him. Yeo Jin Goo showed a spectacular performance as he played both Ha Seon, the clown, and Yi Heon, the king. He added to the show’s tension as he expressed King Yi Heon’s isolated and precarious mentality amid continuous threats by demonstrating insanity; on the contrary, he drew laughter and emotions as the clown Ha Seon who is friendly and humane.
Thanks to Yeo Jin Goo’s ever-changing performances, The Crowned Clown overcame a remade piece’s limitations and received reviews as positive as its original.
Lee Min Ho in The King: Eternal Monarch
The King: Eternal Monarch is a fantasy about the cooperation between a detective and an emperor who tries to close the door to parallel worlds against evil.
Lee Min Ho demonstrated his elegant appearance and serious acting as Lee Gon, the king of the Kingdom of Corea. After drawing a lot of attention as the actor’s returning piece after being discharged from the military, he revealed new sides of the character as an emperor by wearing various uniforms apart from the Dragon robe. He also added a sweet atmosphere with the romantic chemistry that crosses the worlds’ boundaries with Kim Go Eun. Though he had an image of a somewhat stern intellect at first as a mathematician, he gradually became a humane monarch, being increasingly emotional through Kim Go Eun. The King: Eternal Monarch received better overseas, and became the most viewed on Netflix in many countries around the world.
Editor Hwang Hong Sun: A Korean movie buff who wishes that the warm messages in good works will warm up this world at least by one degree Fahrenheit