Join our hero JANG BONG-HWAN (Choi Jin-hyuk) in his hilarious mishap and wicky Wacky hijinks to Joseon. The first episode itself sets up the fun journey. In his most awkward situation and the most comical codes let us enjoy the drama while having a good laugh.
Drama starts with Chef JANG BONG-HWAN (Choi Jin-hyuk) Just in his few minutes onscreen, a player, who is full of himself. We see him checking out every woman that’s alive, whether it’s an affair in the kitchen supply room, or blatant sexual interest in every woman that passes. He gets in trouble with the law, and in a crazy scuffle, winds up falling from his balcony (but he’s not above checking out an attractive woman on his way down). Well, after hitting his head on the bottom of the pool, a woman spirit comes and kisses him breathing life into him. With a body swap, he finally ends up in a Joseon palace.
Bong-hwan wakes up, now as KIM SO-YONG (Shin Hye-sun), who’s about minutes away from becoming queen of Joseon. It’s a fast-moving and really funny journey from Bong-hwan’s denial to actually piecing together, and finally accepting, what’s happened to him. Of course, these sort of body swap and time slip dramas require us to embrace the madness — and maybe because every scene here is total madness, it just makes it that much easier to get on board the journey. I found this really hilarious. And hope it will remain thus.
Shin Hye-sun’s performance alone here sells the show. From ogling her/his court ladies, to the totally unladylike behavior it’s pretty funny. Gender bending and body swap dramas have a storied history in dramaland, I can appreciate when the drama is having a good laugh. And Mr. Queen sure is.
It doesn’t take So-yong (we’ll call our hero by his Joseon queen identity now) long to stitch the details together. First, she makes a connection between the fact that the last thing she remembers is falling into the pool, and the thing she’s told by her court ladies is that she almost drowned in the lake and has been unconscious for a whole day.
The court is concerned for her safety and her mental health, no wonder when destined to be the queen wakes up with a personality change, a sensational gaze for all the women around her, and regularly trying to drown herself in every body of water she can locate. The water, of course, is So-yong’s only link back to her world, but when near-drowning doesn’t work, she slowly comes to accept the time slip/body swap that has occurred. After first thinking it’s a giant prank and she’s been forced into a sex change operation against her will, roll over with laughing ha ha.
Episode 1 does a pretty good job at selling the concept. So yong’s history knowledge is good. Apparently she figures out the name of the king much to her disappointment. After coming back to the realisation that she cannot go back, she decides to dig into the mystery. And she gets some vague flash backs, but she is not clear enough.
She meets KING CHEOLJONG (Kim Jung-hyun), whom she’s about to marry. And demands the lakes to be filled. But in vain. Her meeting with the king itself is hilarious. King Cheol Jong is shown as a “Joseon representative sex maniac” and a mere political puppet. Who has to follow his grandmother’s QUEEN DOWAGER SUNWON’s (Bae Jong-ok) cues, and having absolutely no ability to follow the political goings-on of his own court.
Cheoljong, in fact, is such an uninteresting guy. Besides mooning over his royal concubine, is there anything for Kim Jun-hyun to do here? But they’re not stringing us on for long, and soon we know that he’s a bit of an undercover hero! Or at least, with his underground night ninja squad and their efforts to undo government corruption, we are starting to see that.
But first, marriage! King Cheoljong marries So-yong, who is Hilariously horrified over their night , and equally ridiculous during the whole ceremony when she’s trying to affect the headdress or deal with proper court protocols. That the wedding may be a mere political one soon becomes obvious, and that’s once we start to ascertain Cheoljong’s image.. He’s not even remotely curious about her sexually, seems to possess eyes just for his royal concubine JO HWA-JIN (Seol In-ah) — and he knows an entire lot than he lets on.
What I am interested in the first episode is the hints that Cheolgong is very different from how history remembers him, and that So-yong will not only learn the truth, but that there will be a lot of court intrigue and mysteries to unpack along the way. We’re only at the very start of the story, but already So-yong is getting memory flashes of the night she fell into the lake. I have a feeling we’ll be discovering the truth very soon.