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‘The King Loves’ delves into destructive desire

  • Published : Jul 4, 2017 - 17:13
  • Updated : Jul 4, 2017 - 17:13

Loosely based on history, the show highlights consuming love story and identity crisis of King Chungseon

From left: Hong Jong-hyun, Yoona and Im Si-wan star in “The King Loves.” (U-Story 9)
Period drama “The King Loves” traces the turbulent love triangle and identity struggle involving an interracial Korean king, with two lead actors who have transitioned from careers in K-pop to acting.

The MBC drama, which premieres on July 17, stars Im Si-wan as Goryeo Prince Wang Won, Korea’s first royalty of mixed heritage whose mother was the daughter of Kublai Khan, a Mongolian emperor and the founder of Yuan dynasty in China.

Girls’ Generation’s Yoona plays fictional character Eun San, the prince’s love interest, who is the strong-willed daughter of a wealthy nobleman who conceals her true identity to survive.

Producer Kim Sang-hyup wanted to spotlight the stormy life and romance of the Goryeo prince in the “faction” piece, based on historical evidence but heavily infused with imagination, he said.

“There’s melodrama, there’s bromance. I tried to fill in the space between historical events with new emotions,” Kim said at a press conference Monday at the MBC headquarters in Seoul.

Kim wanted to delve into why Prince Wang Won, who later takes the throne as King Chungseon (1308-1313), is remembered in history as a destructive force. According to historical records, Chungseon went on a violent killing spree when his father ordered him to abdicate the throne. He also suspected that his mother had been murdered. In his later years, Chungseon was sent into exile in Tibet.

The series, penned by Song Ji-na, is based on a novel of the same title by writer Kim Yi-ryung.

Hong Jong-hyun (top) and Yoona star in “The King Loves.” (U-Story 9)
Model-actor Hong Jong-hyun plays royal bodyguard Wang Lin, who is also Prince Wang Won’s cherished friend. Both men fall for Eun San, creating a bitter love triangle.

Im, who kicked off his acting career with wholesome roles such as the downtrodden office worker Jang Geu-rae in “Misaeng,” is set to portray an increasingly dynamic side to his craft in the new drama.

The Goryeo prince is an “alluring character who harbors a heated desire for domination,” according to producer Kim.

Im recently received praise for his performance as a boisterous mobster in the action-noir flick “The Merciless,” which screened at the Cannes Film Festival.

“I got the chance to start acting just as I was wondering what my place was in the entertainment world,” said the former K-pop group ZE:A member, referring to his acting debut in the 2012 period piece “Moon Embracing the Sun.”

“Many people applauded my performances and that boosted my confidence. That support has allowed me to keep acting,” he said.

Yoona, who starred in tvN’s “The K2” last year, felt she would break new ground in her acting with Eun San.

“I thought I would be able to feel and experience new things with this character, who has many different emotions and is placed in many situations,” she said. “She is brave and bright in the beginning. Later on, her emotions and choices become very deep.”

Yoona (left) and Im Si-wan meet with reporters at a press conference for “The King Loves” on Monday at the MBC headquarters in Sangam-dong, Seoul. (Yonhap
The shooting of the entire series has been completed and Im is set to begin his mandatory military service on July 11.

While many pre-shot drama series have fumbled in the Korean market, producer Kim strived to make his show feel as “live” as possible, he said.

“I think the reason pre-shot dramas did not do so well was because they were unable to reflect the immediate responses of viewers into the script,” he said. “But we tried to reflect the emotions of the actors and our responses as much as we could as we were filming.”

“The King Loves” was produced by U-Story 9 and will air Mondays and Tuesdays at 10 p.m. It will be available to international audiences on the streaming site Viki.

By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com)