Gender Identity Crisis, Stuck in the History, and Endangered by Royal Families’ Schemes: What’s So Interesting About Korean Drama “Mr. Queen”

Blue House chef, Jang Bong-hwan, believes that there is no one more powerful than him in Korea. After all, he is the one who decides what food will be consumed by important political members of South Korea. His arrogant attitude invites hostile intention from other people around him. They then come up with a plan which results in Bong-hwan’s coma after a police chase.

When he wakes up though, instead of in a hospital, he finds himself in a chamber of a Joseon Dynasty’s crown princess, Kim So-young (later known as Queen Cheorin) from the Kim Clan. Now, not only puzzled by his changing sex and historical events surrounding him, Bong-hwan also faces the danger of opposite clan who wants him (her) to let go of his (hm, her) status as crown princess and soon-to-be-queen of Joseon Dynasty. As the icing on the cake, it seems that her own fiance, King Cheoljong, does not hold any affection for her and instead wants her dead.

Mr. Queen is a historical comedy drama about a modern male soul trapped inside a historic female body. Jang Bong-hwan (played by Choi Jin-hyuk)’s hilarious narrative coupled with Kim So-yong (played by Shin Hye-sung)’s comical expressions truly bring the best out of this show. The dynamics between each characters are superb as well. Even the antagonists have their own of funny moments, which I deeply enjoy.

It’s also interesting to see how our main lead consistently being puzzled by his/her own gender identity. Even though he is in a female body — a princess who will be married to the king — his soul and memories are still perfectly in male’s perspective. It also doesn’t help that in his original life, Bong-hwan is actually a huge flirt, so it’s hilarious to see Queen Cheorin (with Bong-hwan’s soul in control) trying to woe the King’s consort who is supposed to be her love rival.

Beside the comedic sequences, Mr. Queen also offers a lot of its dark moments and thrilling scenes. While on the surface he looks unreliable and weak, King Cheoljong actually hides a very big secret from people around him. He doesn’t trust easily and definitely doesn’t have a reason to trust his own fiance — who is selected by his grandmother, the Grand Queen Dowager, from the Kim clan. Kim clan wants him to be a puppet king, but so does the opposite Jo Clan, from which his royal noble consort comes from. Trapped between two women he can’t fully trust, it’s normal for King Cheoljong to keep all his thoughts and ambitions by himself. So, it’s touching and very heart-warming to see how King Cheoljong and Queen Cheorin gradually grows closer and to find allies in each other. It’s a definite moment of a couple against the world.

Another point I like about the show is how Jang Bong-hwan keeps bringing his modern vocabularies and cultures into the Joseon palace setting. We will see him spouting off slang words or even English terms in between conversation (which results in her companies’ puzzled expressions) and, since he is actually a Blue House chef, making new inventions for the palace’s delicacies.

All in all, watching Mr. Queen was a truly enjoyable experience and one I definitely wouldn’t want to forget about. I found many great actors from this show and feel excited about what they will bring in their next works. I also want to applaud Shin Hye-sung for her incredible performance as Queen Cheorin. It’s almost unbelievable how she manages to capture Jang Bong-hwan’s soul in Queen Cheorin’s body so well — the way she speaks, the way she walks, the way she acts; it’s honestly so bewildering. Lastly, since the drama is so eventful and it’s hard for me to pull back from it once I start watching, I would recommend to watch it when you truly have time to spare (please don’t watch it in between class or hectic schedule, I beg of you, you will end up neglecting your duty, seriously) or when you really want some emotional rollercoasters. So have fun and I’ll see you next time!


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