I am back with a review-cap this time!
After Ji Un leaves Dam-I with a “I hope you won’t be lonely”, he sets off to leave the Capital but So Eun manages to catch him with a tearful farewell. How could he leave when she only just realises her feelings for him?
To be honest, I was quite lukewarm towards Bae Yoon Kyung but her role as So Eun really adds points for such an honest and upright personality, even if she did not seem so at the start. I also love the fact that Ji Un / Rowoon held her hands together even after pulling his from her grip initially, as a gentle rejection.
What I hadn’t expected though was for such a heartbreaking (and well-executed) farewell to become the basis from which the Minister of Personnel can be removed. Talk about turn of events.
The other thing to look out for in this episode is Prince Wonsan’s manipulation of the court. The camera had always thrown in some focus on Kim Taek / Wonsan from the start, but as this is Kim Taek’s first role, the focus didn’t do much till this episode, when we realise how important Wonsan’s character is. Also, Kim Taek is only 23….? Amazing how he managed to age up so much in the show! Anyway, in 1 episode, Kim Taek first manages to rile Prince Changun up into getting into the books of Lord Sangheon (by removing So Eun from the selection of the Crown Princess and then Minister of Personnel from the cabinet), THEN uses Changun’s death to rile Lord Changcheon into action.
He’s acting for no one but himself, and it’s this kind of characters that is the most dangerous. Who else thinks that it is possible Won San had killed Changun?
I also thought Dam-I/ Hwi showed tremendous but gradual character growth in this episode.
She no longer cowers in front of her father and grandfather; instead, Jan-I’s death reminded her of her own, and how cheaply the royals think of the lives of those with no status. Indeed, if she doesn’t stand up this time, we do wonder what is the purpose of her life and her charade in the palace. Just to save her life seems pretty meaningless at this point, when the picture can be drawn a lot bigger than that. I do think Park Eun Bin is a bit weak in her sword scenes however; perhaps the sword is too heavy for her stature, and she does not exude the same kind of charisma as she does with a bow and arrow.
She is acing however all her other scenes which requires different emotions, like anger, longing, sadness and fear.
The King is also visibly not displeased with Hwi’s actions. In fact, I would even say he’s proud of her. His motivations are still not that clear to me, but perhaps that only goes to show that the characters here are not flat ones with one and only one aim in life. My guess is that he couldn’t bring himself to love or be at ease with Dam-I because of her ties with Lord Sangheon and the death of Hwi, but at the same time, every time she shows signs of being a good ruler, he’s proud of her.
Rowoon / Ji Un’s air time in this episode isn’t a lot, but for what the scenes are worth, I really like them. They draw the tension away from the main conflict of the drama – I mean, just look at how cute this guy is! Haha
yet highlights the longing and affection Ji Un has for Hwi. The fact that he even hung a wind chime for Hwi before he leaves the palace is an extra touch which I really appreciate – this guy suspected that Hwi would come back to their hideout for refuge, and wanted to comfort her even when she’s gone.
I also thought he did a great job in looking soulfully at the flowers and at Hwi’s image. The fact that he did this in two different occasions of the same episode leads me to think that he has been doing this every night.
It is also hinted that he settled here because of the flowers, which reminded him of Hwi / Dam-I. (What is it with Rowoon and flowers haha! Major throwback to Extraordinary You days)
Hyun continues to be an intriguing second male lead. Whilst I am too much of a Rowoon fan to even have second male lead syndrome (sorry, but you must understand that I already like Rowoon years before this drama), I like that Hyun is a very useful character who really furthers the Crown Prince’s agenda, yet does not pine unnecessarily for her. A highlight of this episode must be Hyun’s confession to Dam-I -that he knew she was not the Crown Prince from the start, and that he would protect her-, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. He confesses not because he wants her love, but because he wants to let her know that he will always be there for her and offers a way out of this situation. The confession was straightforward and practical.
Giving her the shoes was another nice touch – because he’s giving her a chance to walk away (literally and figuratively) from the palace, and be herself as a woman.
He’s also interesting because I can’t tell the extent to which he knows the truth – does he know that Dam-I is Hwi? Because in that case, he would have known that Ji Un’s first love is actually the Crown Prince and yet he did not tell both. Or does he only have a suspicion right now and prefers not to rock the boat which may be best for Dam-I?
In any case, I do like the brotherly banter between Ji Un and Hyun and I wonder how this would evolve.
Ga On is our mystery assassin of the show and it turns out that the King has protected him from being detected by Ji Un’s father. One thing that hasn’t yet been explained though is why Ga On tried to kill Hwi at the very start of the episode, or at least try to scare her, and then now seems to be doing a very good job of protecting her. Some have theorised that Ga On is Dam-I’s twin, but I’m just not a fan of that theory – that would entail some serious plastic surgery and his hiding would also seem unnecessary given that he could have just swopped places back with his sister. Instead, I suppose he’s the royal preceptor’s son, as he had already indicated that the tablet was given to him by his late father and it was this tablet that alerted the King to Ga On’s identity. I wished Byung Chan have more lines, but they must have intentionally chosen someone with such nice eyes to play this role.
Episode 11 ends on a cliffhanger with Dam-I walking in her red shoes and the King watching from the outside, but thank goodness we will soon have Episode 12 to save us.
Ultimately, I think the King’s Affection’s strength lies in the fact that the plot is so rich with so many different political lines and agendas, coupled with the tragedy of everyone having some form of unrecruited love with Dam-I being in the center of it all, and Episode 11 itself not only shows all of this within one episode, but also continues to solidify the drama. We are past the halfway mark now and the show should only get better from now. Please don’t drop the ball like half of the K-dramas do!