왕의 얼굴 (The King’s Face)

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23 Episodes
A KBS Media/The King's Face SPC Production
Timeslot: Wednesday & Thursday Evenings, 10:00 PM
Genre: Fusion Sageuk
Format: 1080i Dolby Digital 2.0 – 65 Minutes
Ran from: 2014/Nov/19~2015/02/05

WITH 서인국 (Seo In-Guk) as Prince Gwanghae; 조윤희 (Jo Yoon-Hee) as Kim Ga-Hee; 이성재 (Lee Seong-Jae) as Seonjo; 신성록 (Shin Seong-Rok) as Kim Do-Chi; 김규리 (Kim Gyu-Ri) as Lady Kim; 임지은 (Im Ji-Eun) as Queen Euiin; 박주형 (Park Ju-Hyeong) as Prince Imhae; 김희정 (Kim Hee-Jung) as Crown Princess; 윤봉길 (Yoon Bong-Gil) as Im Young-Shin; 김현숙 (Kim Hyeon-Sook) as Lady Park; 안석환 (Ahn Seok-Hwan) as Lee San-Hae; 송민형 (Song Min-Hyung) as Yoo Seung; 이병준 (Lee Byung-Joon) as Kim Gong-Ryang; 김명곤 (Kim Myung-Gon) as Eunuch Kim; 이순재 (Lee Soon-Jae) as Baek Gyeong; 이기영 (Lee Gi-Young) as Go San; 윤진호 (Yoon Jin-Ho) as Seo Yong; 고인범 (Go In-Beom) as Jang Su-Tae; 백재진 (Baek Jae-Jin) as Mu-Cheol; 임지규 (Im Ji-Gyu) as Heo Gyun; 주진모 (Joo Jin-Mo) as Jung Cheol; 김명수 (Kim Myung-Soo) as Kinoshita Yoshihisa; 고원희 (Go Won-Hee) as Queen Inmok;

CREW Production Director 윤성식 (Yoon Seong-Shik) B-Team Director 차영훈 (Cha Young-Hoon) Main Writer 이향희 (Lee Hyang-Hee) 윤수정 (Yoon Soo-Jung) Chief Producer 정해룡 (Jung Hae-Ryong) Producer 황인혁 (Hwang In-Hyeok) 박우람 (Park Woo-Ram) Director of Photography 오재상 (Oh Jae-Sang) 위창석 (Wi Chang-Seok) Lighting 윤명석 (Yoon Myeong-Seok) 김정수 (Kim Jung-Soo) Art Director 정홍극 (Jung Hong-Geuk) Editor 장시연 (Jang Si-Yeon) Music 오준성 (Oh Joon-Sung) 이임우 (Lee Im-Woo) Assistant Producer 심성훈 (Shim Sung-Hoon) 박흥진 (Park Heung-Jin) 이정 (Lee Jung)

AGB Nielsen Nationwide
HIGHEST: 9.1% (02/05 - E23)
LOWEST: 6.1% (11/20 - E02)
AVERAGE: 7.23%


Photo ⓒ KBS Media, The King's Face SPC


Born as a concubine's child, Gwanghae was proclaimed as an heir to the throne. Gwanghae suffered from the threats of dethronement and assassination for 16 years because of his background. This drama is the epic of Prince Gwanghae who used face-reading skills as his weapon to overcome his destiny and become the king. And there is a woman, beloved by both Gwanghae and his father King Seonjo, who denied himself to qualify for the throne. Because Prince Gwanghae was able to read others' faces, he succeeded to govern the Joseon Kingdom. [KBS World]

EPISODES 13~16 [66/100]

Gwanghae is one of the most exciting subjects in Joseon history, what with it being one of the most tragic and controversial. With that being said, neither TV nor the big screen have ever really fulfilled all that potential, mired in age old clichés and hero/traitor dichotomies as works attempting to depict his life often are – 광해 – 왕이 된 남자 (Masquerade) being the closest to an acceptable rendition, I suppose. Now, there could be plenty of negative things to say about this latest (pleasantly “fictional” in a self-proclaimed way) entry in the Gwanghae saga: Lee Seong-Jae is painfully inadequate as any king, let alone one as complex as Seonjo; depiction of Wa (Japanese) invaders still hasn't evolved one bit, at times seeming even more stereotypical than the good old “octopus heads” of 불멸의 이순신 (The Immortal Lee Soon-Shin); music ranges from acceptable to laughably out of place, sounding like what a conservatory sophomore would come up with after a few hours of lazy struggle; tonal shifts have been almost decimated by the need to actually focus on plot development, but they're still present. But at the end of the day you want to give this show a chance, because you see a semblance of character arcs, of logical narrative carrying over week after week – even if it's of a derivative, connect-the-dots nature. You want to stick to it because Yoon Seong-Shik – often so infuriatingly schmaltzy as seen in 남자 이야기 (The Slingshot) and 각시탈 (The Bride Mask) – seems to be toning down his most problematic stylistic flurries, even excelling at times (the transitional “infographic” scenes with maps, narration and battles raging in the background are some of his best work, ever). Most importantly, you want to wait and see if Seo In-Guk will continue to build on a shaky start but consistent improvement over the last few weeks. He's still not king material by a long shot, but he's slowly earning his crown.

EPISODES 17~23 [61/100]

A competent, if largely insipid third arc. It's hard to fault the show for trying to build a dramatic conclusion, but you can only do so much when your team visibly underperforms – especially as you enter those “clutch moments,” to continue that basketball analogy. Giving the ball to Seo In-Guk might have been an interesting experiment but ultimately he has neither the charisma nor the technique to pull off a convincing Gwanghae, let alone try to compensate for Lee Seong-Jae's risible performance whenever he was with Seonjo. Even Shin Sung-Rok, Kim Gyu-Ri and Jo Yoon-Hee, as acceptable as their performances are, often ooze an air of manufactured make-believe, not the passionate acting that their characters require. And that's the problem, really: the show looks passable on the surface, like something you would have no qualms about. But scratch the surface and you'll begin to see how every single element suffers from chronic problems and how much it underachieves. The writing does present a coherent narrative as a whole but characterization is either not too convincing (remember that the show purported to be fictional from the beginning, so this has very little relation with the annals of history) or so derivative as to feel lackadaisical; directing always seems to be one step behind when it comes to conveying the right emotions, and the music often feels like an awkward bystander more than a helpful running mate. At the end of the day, this is a bit like this year's 천명 (The Fugitive of Joseon): honest material earnestly made by people who are sadly out of their league when it comes to this all-too-demanding genre. Because when I say that sageuk isn't for everyone, it also applies to those behind the camera. KBS needs to find new blood for its sageuk and quickly, because these last few years of efforts just don't cut it.


72 안석환 (Ahn Seok-Hwan)
71 이기영 (Lee Gi-Young)
71 김명수 (Kim Myung-Soo)
71 이병준 (Lee Byung-Joon)
70 고인범 (Go In-Beom)
68 김명곤 (Kim Myung-Gon)
68 송민형 (Song Min-Hyung)
64 서인국 (Seo In-Guk)
63 신성록 (Shin Seong-Rok)
62 김규리 (Kim Gyu-Ri)
62 임지규 (Im Ji-Gyu)
62 김희정 (Kim Hee-Jung)
60 박주형 (Park Ju-Hyeong)
60 이순재 (Lee Soon-Jae)
60 조윤희 (Jo Yoon-Hee)
60 윤봉길 (Yoon Bong-Gil)
60 백재진 (Baek Jae-Jin)
57 김현숙 (Kim Hyeon-Sook)
55 윤진호 (Yoon Jin-Ho)
55 주진모 (Joo Jin-Mo)
50 이성재 (Lee Seong-Jae)


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