One of the highest rated dramas. Aired in SBS in 2016.
It won The Best Actor (long-length drama): Jang Keun – Suk
Excellent Actor (long-length drama): Yeo Jin-Goo
Ten Star Award: Jang Keun – Suk
The twenty four episode long History, Fiction, drama revolves around the main four characters below.
The apex of the power is the throne. There is a one who wants to protect the throne, The one who wants to overtake the throne, and The one who wants to stop it
The plot is mainly about two princes of king SookJong, the eldest one closer to the throne, destined to grow up as a poor commoner because of the manipulative plan of Lee In-Jwa, and the second son growing up in the palace as the second in line to the throne, later king Yeongho. They meet up as friends in their youth and love the same lady. But the lady’s intentions are not as they think. Bothe princes have one intention in their minds, “to catch the rebel who is corrupting the royal court and the country” They find out the truth later. Will they be able to keep their close relationship forever? When their circumstances change, necessity calls. King SookJong is aware of this. What will happen to his three sons? He needs to protect them. So at the last moment of his life, he makes a plan for all his living sons to survive.
Jung Keun-Suk as Baek Dae-Gill / Prince Yeong-Soo
Prince Young -Soo, Who was born six months Premature, but a perfectly healthy baby, was considered not the kings ‘baby by the palace and to save his life, he was switched to a dead baby and was considered dead by the palace. While he was sent to the queen’s previous husband Lee Moon-Sik, ( Baek Man-Geum) who was a gambler, even gambled his wife to the king. Since he was born various attempts to kill him failed. Lastly Jeon Kwang-Leol (Lee In-Jwa) who planned the marriage between his mother and the king, tries to kill him, while miraculously failing the attempt. Baby was named Baek Dea-Gill. He grew happily with his father and grandpa for twenty years, living the life of a gambler and always with no money or power even though he was a noble. At the age of twenty, he goes back to the capital with his father and grandpa again and falls in love with Lim Ji-Yeon (Dam-Seo). He also meets a promising young man, Yeo Jin-Goo prince (Lee Yeon-in) later (King Yeongjo),
His happy go lucky life turns upside down, when his father, Baek Man-Geum was killed in front of his eyes, and he goes looking for the man responsible, his fate would not have ended this way if it weren’t for the nobleman and Royal teacher Lee in-Jwa. When he find’s out the truth about his birth, and his path crosses several times at gambling dens with Lee In-Jwa, He Vows to destroy Lee InJwa through gambling to stop the cruelty happening to the people. He comes to the cross roads of life to decide whether it is to fight for the throne or to fight for Love.
Yeo Jin-Goo as Prince Yeoning later King Yeongjo
Having lost her first born son, his mother’s continues effort to protect him was making him suffocate in the palace. He starts secretly wonder out every day, never in his home, always out. He was showing off that he loved spending time with women, drinking and gambling, Nothing more. but his eyes were watchful of what was happening outside. He is a constant dour. He is sick of his older brother, the crown prince, being always manipulated by Lee In-Jwa. Wanting to stop corruption, and always watchful of where all the money from the gambling house is going to. Are they planning to start a rebellion?
He is the one who wants to protect the throne. He wat’s to be like his father one day, who is known as the monster with thousand eyes and thousand ears. He is more capable than the crown prince. King is always testing his second son’s ability by giving him tasks, which he dives into with enthusiasm. He also love’s Dam-So and makes friends with Baek Dae-Gill, who never speaks to him with honorific terms. Baek De-Gill becomes his one and only trusted friend, where he learns that he can achieve success only through working together with Dae -Gill than doing things all by himself. When he comes to know Dae-Gil’s real identity, will the ambitious prince remain the same friend? Fate is really heartful. Will they be able to live helping each other as their mother wishes? He learns the lesson of the throne is very lonely.
Jeon Jwang-Leol as Lee In-Jwa
Lee In-Jwa is the perpetrator of the series. He holds a deep grudge against the king Sook-Jong. He is a master planer and plans a future event through many years. as soon as opportunity comes, he takes the crown prince to his grip as a friend and as a Paduk teacher to the prince, he manipulates the prince to a level, he is even ready to give anything Lee In-Jwa asks for. He planes the marriage between the king and Choi Sukbin, but Sukbin cannot be easily manipulated as he thought. Finally she ends up in deep grudge with Lee In-Jwa. He plans to use the castaway prince, Baek Dae-Gill to create an uprising and overthrow the monarch.
Lim Ji-Yeon as Dam -Seo
Dam Seo is Lee In-Jwa’s adopted daughter. She lives her life from childhood for the purpose of revenge. Thinking the King killed her father. She is the first love of both Dae-Gill and the prince. Later She realizes that she is mistaken, and starts living a life of her own for the purpose of getting rid of the criminals by killing them, She sadly is a misguided killer who later sacrifices her life.
Choi Min-Soo as King Sookjong
King Sookjong, is the character everyone fears. He is known as the monster with thousand eyes and thousand ears. No one can get pas him, because he knows everything. He knows his family and he is a kind and understanding father, but can turn into an angry man when it comes to lack of discipline. He recognizes his long lost son, but wise enough to understand that he cannot turn the fate back. He offers Dae-Gill his favorite sward. When a king offers a sward, it means an order that you protect me.
What I was most interested was the king Sookjong’s master plan to protect prince Yeon-in. He knows after his passing, Lee In-Jwa will manipulate his eldest son, King Gyeongjong, and plan to kill Prince Yeon-In, he uses his son who grew up outside the palace as insurance. Before dying, he summons his three sons separately. From oldest he asks “When you become king, what will you do to Yeon-in?” He is not answering. Then he summons his second son, De-Gill, and asks him Do you plan to live on the streets like a gambler all your life? No, He has a plan of his own. He does not want to be a king and live in a palace forever. Then he asks De-Gill, Will you do your duty as an older brother and protect your younger brother? He answers, Yes I will. and for his third son, He says, you will be the king one day. (because he knows that his oldest son has an illness and will not survive long.) Your brother has other plans so do not worry about him. Protect yourself and be safe. Be a good king. Life is too short, and he dies.
Baek De-Gill’s transformation from the naïve happy go lucky youth falling into deep suffering , and through that, to a leader, master planer who cannot be beaten. He is smarter than his teacher, and also shows a qualities of a leader. The last few episodes bringing his experience and humanity is so interesting, How he instruct the king to win over the rebels without killing them, The story line developer has done a real good job by showing how Dae-Gill gathers people’s trust through helping them, leaves him with ever trusting mass of friends and people even who don’t know him speak about him. He is more popular than the king.
This is a drama of brotherly love. Jung Keun-Suk gives one of his best performances in this drama. He plays different sort of roles of the same person as Baek Dae-Gill. We see a different portrayal of him than his previous performances. He is more manly in this drama. as for Yeo Jin-Goo, He is wonderful in this drama. as king Yeongjo. I have never seen a more handsome king in a drama.