King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu (also known as Baker King, Kim Tak Goo and Bread, Love, and Dreams) tells the story of Kim Tak Gu (Yoon Shi Yoon), the son of the president (Jun Kwang Ryul) of Geosung Enterprise, a large baking corporation. Because he is born to the president’s mistress, a plot is set in motion to prevent him from ever inheriting the company.
In order to protect Tak Gu from the president’s wife, In Sook (Jun In Hwa), and his right hand man, Manager Han (Jung Sung Mo), Tak Gu’s mother, Mi Soon (Jeon Mi Seon), flees for their safety and goes into hiding in a small rural town.
Years later when Mi Soon is discovered by Manager Han, she takes matters into her own hands and shows the now 12 year old Tak Gu (Oh Jae Moo) to the president. To give him a better life, she allows him to go live with his father.
But things aren’t easy for Tak Gu. In Sook and Manager Han dislike him as well as the president’s other trouble making son Ma Jun (Shin Dong Woo).
As Tak Gu finally starts to grows closer to his father, he is again forced to leave in order to save his mother. But when his mother is kidnapped, he makes it his mission to spend his life looking for her.
We then fast forward 12 years and meet a now grown Tak Gu (Yoon Shi Yoon). Still on his quest to find his mother, he ends up at Pal Bong Bakery. The owner is a famous baker who agrees to train Tak Gu and allow him to take his baking exam. Of course as coincidence would have it, Ma Jun (Joo Won) also shows up to take the exam going by the alias Tae Jo.
Eventually, Tak Gu’s childhood friend Shin Yu Kyung (Eugene) shows back up, and she gets in the middle of Tak Gu and Ma Jun’s rivalry. The granddaughter of the bakery owner, Mi Sun (Lee Young Ah), also gets involved as she tries to help Tak Gu learn to bake.
From this point on, a huge amount of over the top drama happens. Ma Jun is out to ruin Tak Gu’s life and prove he is better. He makes it his mission to defeat him in the baking exam and to also take his girl, Yu Kyung. Tak Gu unwillingly has to rise to the occasion to best Ma Jun as he continues his search for his mother.
So I’m one of those people that really enjoys makjang (crazy and over the top plot points). Because of that, King of Baking is one of my favorite dramas. There are affairs, birth secrets, jealousy, murder, and one disaster after another befalls poor Tak Gu. I loved all the drama and the complicated relationships of our characters. In the midst of all that, there are a lot of life lessons and words of wisdom, as well as the endearing and positive spirit that is Tak Gu.
Yoon Shi Yoon was such a joy to watch as Tak Gu. He has a smile that is contagious and brightens up the room. Despite all of the hardships in his life, he remains positive and determined to overcome. Even though his brother Ma Jun only wants to cause him problems, Tak Gu would forgive him in a heartbeat. He’s just that kind of guy.
King of Baking was also the breakout role for Joo Won as Ma Jun. It’s true that Ma Jun was a spoiled, self entitiled jerk, but behind all that was a scared little boy who just wanted the love of his father. For him, Tak Gu was the child his father always wanted, and Ma Jun just longed to be loved in the same way. The way he was treated by his parents shaped the man he became. He spends so much time consumed with taking down Tak Gu, never realizing that would never earn his father’s love.
And be sure to watch out for Ma Jun, he is a master lurker. You can count on practically any meaningful conversation to be overheard by Ma Jun hiding around the corner. You will see this face a lot. Ha ha! I loved it!
Joo Won has wonderful facial expressions that contain so much depth to show the many different emotions of Ma Jun. And when Ma Jun finally starts to realize the error of his ways, Joo Won delivers some of the most heartfelt tears and emotion I have seen in a drama. It’s easy to see why Joo Won so quickly rose to popularity because of this role.
I actually found Yu Kyung to be a unique character. Having been abused as a child, she longed to rise to a place of power where she could affect change on the world. This drive is what inevitably pushes her to make terrible decisions. If she could have simply moved on from her past, she could have been happy with Tak Gu. But she becomes hungry for power and becomes intertwined with Ma Jun and his world. She becomes the very thing she hates. But there is redemption for Yu Kyung, and once she realizes the error of her ways, she has a second chance at happiness from an unlikely source…Ma Jun.
Mi Sun was peppy and adorable. In the beginning, she would go head to head with Tak Gu, but eventually he works his way into her heart. I also highly enjoyed her anxious encounters with Ma Jun when he unleashed that alluring smile on her. She just didn’t know what to do. Would you?
King of Baking features possibly my all time favorite love square. I frequently doubted who I wanted to end up with who. We have childhood friends turned lovers Tak Gu and Yu Kyung who seem made for each other. But then we realize the difficult and complex emotions faced by Ma Jun and Yu Kyung, and their love-hate relationship certainly sizzles. And Tak Gu and Mi Sun have a fun and simple relationship that almost resembles that of siblings. Each relationship had merit.
But my favorite relationship was the love-hate bromance between Tak Gu and Ma Jun. Ma Jun lives to hurt Tak Gu and wants no part of him. But Tak Gu has such a pure heart, and all he sees is his brother and friend. Most of their relationship is on the hate side, but man those moments where they really connect are priceless.
ENDING SPOILERS BELOW
The ending was amazing and was able to tie up everything in quite the nice little bow. Tak Gu finds his mom and finally has a relationship with his father. Manager Han is sent packing to jail. Ma Jun’s mother is given countless opportunities to change, but refuses and ends up alone.
Not everyone would agree on the final pairings, but I thought the couples were perfect. It turns out that Ma Jun and Yu Kyung really needed each other. It was a rocky road to be sure, but they eventually brought out the best in each other. They started out using each other, but in the end they heal together.
Tak Gu needed some time to move on from Yu Kyung, but when his heart was finally ready, sweet Mi Sun was there and waiting. I think these two have a bright future together.
Tak Gu and Ma Jun become real brothers and friends and agree to let their elder sister run the company with their help when needed. Oh how I would have loved to have seen more of these guys actually getting along and goofing off. Aren’t these two just adorable together?!
King of Baking is quite the ride, and it certainly isn’t for everyone. But if you like makjang, King of Baking is one the most well done I have seen. With interesting and complex characters, it really is unforgettable. King of Baking, Kim Tak Gu is a drama I highly recommend.
My Rating: 9.5/10
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