The Crowned Clown Korean Drama - Yeo Jin Goo

The Crowned Clown follows the story of a king (Yeo Jin Goo) who fears for his life so he brings in a kind look-a-like clown (Yeo Jin Goo) to stand in for him.  As the clown tries to protect the throne and the people, he also draws the affections of the queen (Lee Se Young) who warms up to his improved personality.

I have really been looking forward to The Crowned Clown pretty much since it was first announced. A historical with Yeo Jin Goo in dual roles as a villainous king and a sweet clown is pretty much what I would want from a drama. It’s the best of both worlds!

First, Yeo Jin Goo plays King Yi Heon. He is a bit unhinged and lives in paranoia as his life is being threatened by unknown enemies. He gets a break when the clown Ha Seon takes his place, but even that it is not enough to keep him sane.

Yeo Jin Goo’s second and main role is that of the poor clown Ha Seon. He’s a good-natured man who cares for those around him. Although he is unwillingly thrust into the role of king, he takes the position seriously and wants to do what’s best for the people as well as his queen.

Lee Se Young is Queen Yoo So Yoon. She doesn’t love palace life and has kept some distance between her and the king, but she is a kind and mature woman who does her best as the Queen. When Ha Seon replaces the real King, she soon finds herself warming up to his kinder personality.

Then we have Kim Sang Kyung as the Chief Royal Secretary Yi Kyu. He is the one who instigates the switch between the King and the clown in order to protect the King. He is involved in many difficult situations as he tries to keep the secret and do what is right for the country.

And I have to mention our lovable Eunuch Jo (Jang Gwang) who is always right there beside the King/Ha Seon. He proves to not only be a major help to Ha Seon in learning how to be a king, but he also becomes a good friend to him.

Of course, no historical would be complete without our other various baddies. The top of that list would include the Left State Minister (Kwon Hae Hyo) and the Empress Dowager (Jang Young Nam) who are always scheming and causing trouble.

The Crowned Clown is a historical that definitely has a whole lot going for it. First, it had a lot to work with in terms of creating a rich and well-developed story. It starts with an interesting premise of a switch between the King and the clown and all that the clown has to adjust to in the palace.

There was also plenty of palace intrigue including someone out to kill the King. Of course, that means there was a fair amount of palace politics. I don’t love a lot of politics, so I did find some of it to be a bit slow, but most of it was pretty intriguing.

The production as a whole is excellent from the script to the direction. The cinematography was lovely and the background music was beautiful and chosen perfectly to set the mood of each scene.

All of the actors in the drama were just wonderful! Of course, Yeo Jin Goo is phenomenal as always. I knew the second he was cast that he would do ample justice to playing two very different roles. And he makes each character completely distinct.

He really sells the King who is a touch crazy. I was in awe of his intensity. He lives in constant paranoia while being addicted to drugs, and his temper is quite scary too. While he isn’t a very appealing character, his story that led him to where he is now is quite sad.


Count me as surprised that he ends up dying halfway through the series. I thought we would get some more conflict between him and Ha Seon especially because the scenes featuring them together were always so intense and emotionally charged. I definitely wasn’t expecting him to go so soon. His death scene was the time I felt the most pity for him as his fear really had driven him mad, and it was quite sad.


Then Yeo Jin Goo was just so sweet and kind as Ha Seon. I loved getting to see his bright smile and cheerful spirit. But his acting talents were also on full display in this role. Ha Seon goes through some incredibly difficult challenges. The turmoil he experiences both personally and while trying to be a good king is beautifully conveyed by Yeo Jin Goo.

Ha Seon goes through some serious difficulties. He’s forced to leave his loved ones to pretend to be king, he has to work hard to make sure he is believable, he falls for Queen So Yoon and has to deal with his guilt of deceiving her, and his life is on the line. There is just a whole lot of pressure and heartache for our poor clown!

Ultimately, he just wants to be a good King. He tries his best to understand the needs of the people and do what he can for them. This is what sets him apart from the real King and draws everyone around him closer to him. His warmth and caring are very clear and that is what saves him despite participating in such a big deception.

Seriously though, Yeo Jin Goo is just such a nuanced actor who has had talent well beyond his years since he was a child. He’s still very young, but he is one of the best actors around. Everything he touches is gold in my opinion. Fantastic performance!

The romance between Ha Seon and So Yoon was just so sweet. She always kept her distance from the King, but after Ha Seon takes his place, his personality suddenly becomes much softer and more appealing.

Then she just warmed right up to his kinder personality while being completely unaware that he wasn’t the real king. This allowed her to fall in love pretty hard. I loved how Ha Seon had this adorable awkwardness yet was very much wanting to make her happy. The pair had this really lovely and comfortable chemistry.

Of course, she eventually starts to notice him seeming to act strange as he and the King switched places as well as when Ha Seon just seems different from the King she knew. Lee Se Young really did this character justice and brought to life the many emotions that So Yoon goes through from falling in love to having to cope the devastating truth about the King and the switch. She was just wonderful!

The other important relationship is that of Ha Seon and Chief Royal Secretary Yi Kyu. Things start off pretty tense between the pair, but Ha Seon has to rely on him to survive in the palace.

The Chief Royal Secretary takes quite a while to really warm up to Ha Seon, but eventually he sees just how good of a man Ha Seon is and how much he cares for the people. That allows the Royal Secretary and Ha Seon to have a much more meaningful relationship.

The Crowned Clown really tied everything together quite nicely with its talented actors, script, and direction to create a wonderful story that was filled with intrigue, romance, and heart. All in all, that makes for a pretty good historical.

My Rating: 8/10

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24 responses to “The Crowned Clown Korean Drama Review”

  1. BiblioNyan Avatar

    A sweet romance and palace politics sounds super interesting to me! I have yet to see a historical Korean drama, and there are so many to choose from! This sounds like a good place to begin.

    1. Kay Avatar

      If you enjoy palace politics combined with some romance, I think it would be an excellent one to start with. There are definitely a lot of really great ones out there, and I could start tossing out recommendations left and right, but I’ll just stick with seconding this one since it already appeals to you, hehe 😉

      1. BiblioNyan Avatar

        Haha thank you! If I ever need more recs, I definitely who to turn to. 🙂🙂

        1. Kay Avatar

          Sounds like a plan! 🙂

  2. honeycrunch321 Avatar

    I’m on episode 11 and so far so good~ As always, very nice review Kay!

    1. Kay Avatar

      Yea! Glad you’re liking it. It really is such a well done series 🙂 And thank you!

  3. MyKDramaticLife Avatar

    Well, haven’t watched many dramas these days. hope i could marathon them, if not plenty, several numbers f them these next days. 😉

    1. Kay Avatar

      I’m still hoping you get a chance to marathon some dramas soon too! Lots of good ones floating around right now 🙂

  4. MyKDramaticLife Avatar

    By the way, i’m anticipating for your review on Miss Hammurabi soon. That one is also on my top list but I am still waiting to hear or read some very strong recommendations regarding it. 😉 Hope you’d like it so you could really give me that recommendation.

    1. Kay Avatar

      Miss Hammurabi is one I’ve been curious about for awhile since I heard mostly good things about it. It’s one I considerate a high drop risk going in though. Of course, I’m not usually a big fan of legal dramas unless they are serialized with a thriller element. And I’m watching a legal rom-com right before it. Luckily, the legal stuff hasn’t been too overwhelming in Touch Your Heart, so maybe that will help. I’m certainly hoping I like it and that I can pass along a good recommendation for you 🙂

  5. D Avatar

    Hi Kay – I finally watched this one. This one was a 10 for me. The directing, the cinematography, story, and of course acting was so good. At times, this drama felt like a movie to me. The music was great. I especially loved the way they used the drums so effectively. I loved all the actors but I have to give a special shout out to Yeo Jin Gu. He was absolutely amazing. Overall, I absolutely loved this drama. 🙂

    1. Kay Avatar

      Yea! Wasn’t it so good? I know exactly what you mean. The drama really felt like movie quality and everything from the story to production to acting was top notch.

      And yes! Yeo Jin Goo! He’s just phenomenal in everything he does, and this drama perfectly showcased his amazing abilities. Such a well done series all around 🙂

  6. […] The Crowned Clown really tied everything together quite nicely with its talented actors, script, and direction to create a wonderful story that was filled with intrigue, romance, and heart. All in all, that makes for a pretty great historical! (The Crowned Clown Review) […]

  7. Snow Flower Avatar
    Snow Flower

    The first great sageuk of 2019!

    1. Kay Avatar

      That it was! It started the year off right 🙂

  8. […] The Crowned Clown really tied everything together quite nicely with its talented actors, script, and direction to create a wonderful story that was filled with intrigue, romance, and heart. All in all, that makes for a pretty great historical! My Rating: 8/10 (The Crowned Clown Review) […]

  9. […] Jin Goo easily won best actor for his roles in The Crowned Clown. He is phenomenal as always, and he does ample justice to playing two very different roles, a crazy […]

  10. Jermena Avatar

    Hi Kay. Thank you for the review👍

    1. Jermena Avatar

      First, I would like to send my warm shout out to Yeo jin goo👏👏👏👏 Phenomenal is the word for him😘
      He was such a talented actor on this particular series! Well, he always is anyway😄
      I loved how I was totally convinced that Ha Seon and Yi Heon were two different people. And both portrayals perfectly done! That says a lot about an actor’s genius at his craft, and our Yeo jin goo just proved himself once again. I wonder what Yeo jin goo thinks when he sees his portrayal as Yi Heon😁
      By the way, unlike what most people have said, I never felt any sympathy for the king. I felt whatever was happening to him, he called onto himself. I can’t understand why he could change so much. Yes, he had been drugged behind his back but the horrible cruel decisions he made just so he could stay in power were his own and he never was sorry about them. From being very sharp tongued to his dying father in ep 1, to coldly murdering his own young brother who had loved him so much, to ordering the death of his innocent father in law without any remorse…. The list is endless. The only time I felt sorry for him was being poisoned by the one man he trusted the most in the world before his favourite hang out. I guess no body likes that kind of demise.
      However, I loved the story, it was very solid and beautiful, I loved the varied characters… ladies and gentlemen, allow me recognise his highness, the Ming Emperor’s representative! Bwoy could he swagger! I loved his gait each time he floated into a room like his feet were made of gold, or just stared away into space instead of directly at whomever he was talking to, as if the rest of ’em were too bad for his impeccable taste! Goodness😆😆😆😆
      I really enjoyed his time on my screen, short as it was.
      I also loved Ha seon’s relationship with Eunuch Cho, it was so heart warming, special mention of the Persimmons scene🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣 Eunuch Cho’s delight after the King shared his snack with him was priceless….
      I love loved the romance between the clown and So woon! It was so natural, so beautiful to watch, so adorable…that library ep that culminated into that kiss at the king’s balcony was the best 😍 Se young was perfect as So woon. She portrayed elegance, prudence and sophistication at a whole other level. Am glad she got an award for her performance.
      Then my favourite relationship of the drama was that between Ha Seon and Secretary Lee….. I LOVED everything about their friendship, from being very complicated, to mutual respect, to strong loyalty and love towards each other. To me, that right there was the heart of the series; how Secretary Lee and Ha Seon resolved their differences in their complex situation so as to see how they could forge their way through the maze. I loved how together they could take on the world no matter what stood in their way. Watching them evolve in their relationship felt like watching a beautiful plant blossom and that scene where Secretary Lee, of his own accord bows down and accepts Ha Seon as his king officially, made me so happy I nearly wept with joy😭😭😭. It was my highlight of the drama. Another special shout out goes to Kim Sang Kyung🤗 he did his Character justice as Chief Royal Secretary Lee.
      There was just so much good in this drama that I enjoyed tremendously. All the actors were good, including that boy who later became king after Ha Seon 😄

      1. Kay Avatar

        Hi Jermena! You’re very welcome 🙂 And I agree, phenomenal is definitely the word to describe Yeo Jin Goo! He really was so convincing as the two separate characters. It’s just amazing to see.

        I can understand how you wouldn’t have much sympathy for the king. He was a pretty terrible man. He’s a character I didn’t have much sympathy for as I mostly pitied him. His fear and paranoia ruled him and transformed him into an awful person. I pitied what he became because of that. And his story was best drilled home by the way he died.

        And yes, everything about this drama was so well done. So many great and interesting characters too. I also loved the nice little romance 🙂 Plus, the very interesting relationship between Ha Seon and the Royal Secretary. I too really felt it when he finally accepted Ha Seon as the king.

        Truly a great drama for sure. I’m glad you enjoyed it too 🙂

        1. Jermena Avatar

          Thank you🤗
          Since Empress Ki and Queen Seodeok, this is the next best historical that has graced my screen in a verrrrry long time!
          Kudos to the writer and the whole team on this amazing series 👍
          About the king, now that you ve put it that way, I can see how miserable he was, deserving of pity in his prison of his own ghosts and fantasies.

          Now, could you please recommend another Yeo jin goo series please 😍😍😍

          1. Kay Avatar

            I can see why it has become one of your favorite historical dramas 🙂 It’s just fantastic all around!

            Oooh, as a big fan of Yeo Jin Goo, I tend to like pretty much all of his series, lol. I would say Circle: Two Worlds Connected is another excellent performance by him, plus the drama itself is sooooo good (if you like sci-fi that is).

            Hotel Del Luna was also very well received. He doesn’t get quite as much time to shine in that one, but he’s still great. I really liked his dramas My Absolute Boyfriend, Reunited Worlds, and Daebak a lot too, but those dramas weren’t well liked by fans as a whole. He puts forth great performances in all of them though 🙂

            If you want the best series as a whole, Circle is probably the one to start with. Then decide if you love Yeo Jin Goo enough to give some of the others a whirl, lol 😉

  11. Jermena Avatar

    Thank you. Will look up Circle. I love Yeo jin goo now, I believe in his talent, so will look up his other dramas as well😍

    Meanwhile, in the Crowned clown still, there’s that ‘gift’ that court Lady Kim supposedly left the queen dowager when she was in prison, what was that gift, I didn’t get that part.

    1. Kay Avatar

      Hmm, I can’t recall that specific part. Probably because it’s been almost a year since I watched it, lol

      Oh yes, you will just grow to love Yeo Jin Goo the more you see of him. His talent just shines through no matter what he does. Aside from his starring roles, I’ve also enjoyed so many of his child roles from years ago when he used to play the younger version of the male lead. He’s always been good.

      But Circle is a great place to start to get more of Yeo Jin Goo plus a really well done drama at the same time 🙂

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