Mr. Queen is about a modern man who is transported back in time to the Joseon era where he inhabits the body of a queen (Shin Hye Sun) and gets involved with a secretive king (Kim Jung Hyun) who hides his intelligence and true personality.
Shin Hye Sun plays Jang Bong Hwan who is a modern day chef…and a man. He is transported to the Joseon times where he awakens in the body of the Queen Kim So Yong. As he struggles to get back home, he finds himself in the middle of a lot of palace intrigue.
Kim Jung Hyun is King Cheol Jong. He is known as a puppet king who only rules in name due to his limited power. He comes off as not very bright, but in reality, he is very smart and involved in many secretive happenings.
Seol In Ah plays Jo Hwa Jin who is the King’s royal concubine. Then we have Na In Woo as Kim Byung In who is the Queen’s cousin that has harbored long-time feelings for her. Finally, there is Bae Jong Ok as Grand Queen Dowager Sun Won who wields a great deal of power over the King.
Mr. Queen was very well received during its run, and I can see why. It’s a lot of fun with plenty of laughs. There is also a nice helping of palace intrigue to balance things out. As is common with many historicals, it gets more serious as it progresses. It does keep the humor sprinkled throughout though.
Shin Hye Sun was made for this role. We get a cameo from Choi Jin Hyuk in the beginning of the drama as the modern Jang Bong Hwan, and then he continues to narrate Bong Hwan’s thoughts as the Queen in the past.
The great thing was that Shin Hye Sun went all in for the role, and it was easy to picture Choi Jin Hyuk somewhere in there. Her mannerisms were very funny including her acting out Bong Hwan’s more manly personality while in the Queen’s body. She was incredibly entertaining to watch.
I wasn’t sure how I felt about Cheol Jong and So Yong as a couple at first. They completely misunderstand each other and are pitted against one another. Plus, he’s in love with his concubine Hwa Jin. It was an interesting dynamic, but I wasn’t sure how I should feel about any potential romance between the King and the Queen.
I always give props to shows that do things in a fresh way though, and Mr. Queen certainly did that in the way it presented the relationships between its characters. It added a nice complexity to everything. I did have some issues with it though.
The drama, and in particular, Shin Hye Sun, did well at capturing Bong Hwan’s personality while inhabiting So Yong’s body. This was mostly played for fun for the first half of the drama which worked well. That combined with the dynamics at play in her relationship with Cheol Jong didn’t allow me to really feel any chemistry between the pair though.
Eventually, an incident allows Bong Hwan to start regaining So Yong’s memories. The characters sort of slowly begin to blend. Again, they did well with the transition while still allowing Bong Hwan’s personality to remain as the prominent one.
But even then, she still had a reluctance towards her feelings towards Cheol Jong that was continued to be played for fun despite their deepening relationship. We get pretty deep into the drama before things get really serious between the pair. It was nice to see play out, but it was a struggle to fully get on board with the romance.
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I did have a dash of Second Lead Syndrome for our brooding hero Byung In in the very beginning. His feelings for So Yong were so pure, and he was of so much help to her. This lessened for me as the drama progressed though.
SPOILER: He ends up on the wrong side of things while trying to help So Yong as well as teaming up with his corrupt father. He was also so robotic and misguided that I lost most of the connection I had initially formed with him. END OF SPOILER
Watching our female leads of So Yong and Hwa Jin go at it was also very entertaining. They both have strong personalities and watching them was quite fun. Things do get pretty serious between them due to some big misunderstandings.
As a side note, one of my favorite characters was So Yong’s servant Court Lady Choi (Cha Chung Hwa). She was a delight with her over-the-top expressions as she did her best to support and protect our Queen. She made me laugh so much!
I also really loved the friendship that formed between So Yong, Court Lady Choi, and her maid Hong Yeon (Chae Seo Eun). It has some interesting layers of complexity to it, but overall they were a lot of fun, and I enjoyed seeing how close they became.
ENDING SPOILERS BELOW
Now for the ending. The last the third of the drama lost some steam for me, so I was quite happy to see things get pretty serious in the last couple episodes with plenty of excitement.
After a hard fought battle, Cheol Jong is able to fully take his rightful place as King after he and So Yong take down all of the baddies. But in the midst of this, Bong Hwan is removed from So Yong’s body and returns to the present. His story gets a nice little wrap up there.
Then we are left with the real So Yong in control of her body where she lives happily ever after with Cheol Jong. I can’t say I loved it though. Although they had a brief childhood connection, a brief adult connection, and she had deep feelings for him, Cheol Jong didn’t grow close to So Yong and fall in love until Bong Hwan took over her body.
The connection formed was with Bong Hwan. I know some of that was due to the real So Yong’s feelings for him, but ultimately, Bong Hwan was the one in control. He eventually embraced those feelings and was the one who developed relationships with Cheol Jong as well as everyone else in the palace.
And we didn’t even see So Yong very much to really get to know her. They tried to hint that So Yong had some of Bong Hwan’s quirks left in her after the switch, but it just didn’t sit well with me.
I already struggled with the romance because of the unique dynamics at play, but switching out Bong Hwan for So Yong at the end when she wasn’t who Cheol Jong was actually in love with didn’t make for a happy ending for me. Everything did work out for the individual characters though, so there’s that at least.
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Overall, Mr. Queen was solid watch. It excelled with the humor and laughs with Shin Hye Sun shining in her role as the Queen. The palace intrigue propelled the plot along quite well, though it did lose steam for me in the last third.
I struggled with the actual romance too, but even then I found it fun to watch develop. All in all, Mr. Queen is an entertaining watch with a fresh spin on the typical relationship dynamics we usually see at play combined with a good story to flesh things out.
My Rating: 7/10
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