About five minutes before this show ended, I was fighting a lump in my throat while thinking, “What a tragically sweet love story.” Then, the second the ending credits were done, I went right to Google and looked up who this Queen for Seven Days actually was. And do you know what? The real story isn’t as tragically sweet as the drama is. The show takes creative liberties with the lives of King Jungjong, who was the Joseon Dynasty’s 11th king, his wife Queen Dangyeong, and his older half-brother King Yeonsangun. Please don’t read up on the real, historical account until after you’ve seen the entire show. Let your heart go along with the sweet tragedy before you learn the truth.
When she was a very young child, Shin Chae-Kyung’s parents sent her to live in the country to keep her far away from anyone having to do with the Royal family. Her parents were given a prophecy – if she ever became entangled with royalty, there would be suffering and bloodshed for both families. However, as a teenager, she accidentally runs into Prince Lee Yeok one day and although they begin their relationship with anger, suspicion, and outright hatred for one another, it doesn’t take long for them to see past circumstances and into each other’s heart. Will love conquer all or will the tragic prophecy come true?
Although Prince Lee Yoong should have had no problem taking over the throne when the King passed away, his father told him he wanted Yoong to abdicate the throne to his younger brother once Yeok became an adult. Before that announcement, Yoong was a loving, attentive older brother but once he heard his father’s wishes he quickly came to resent Yeok and became very possessive about his title. Now, as King Yoongsangun, he’s not about to hand over his power to Yeok. He’ll kill him before that happens.
There’s no way Prince Lee Yeok will agree to marry the pesky girl he had a run in with while in town. However, the more he gets to know Shin Chae-Kyung, the more he sees to like. Although he’s never sought after the throne, he comes to realize what an oppressive ruler his older half-brother is and organizes a small group of friends, known as The Snail Brides, to help him overthrow King Yoong and stop his bloody, tyrannical reign.
Shin Chae-Kyung has no idea why her parents sent her to live with her nanny, far away from the palace, but she has an idea – if they won’t come visit her she’ll sneak away and find them. Once in the capital, she meets a rude young man she mistakes for a thief. She also runs into another man and is instrumental in saving his life. Chae-Kyung is totally unaware both men are half-brothers – one a Prince and the other, the tenth King of Joseon! What will happen when the Royal brothers both fall for the sympathetic yet spunky Chae-Kyung?
Kim Bong-Ho began his entertainment career as a model and then debuted as an actor in the short film Just Friends? under the stage name Seo Ji-Hoo. It was his management company that ended up changing his name a second time to what we now know and love him as, Yeon Woo-Jin. I first saw him in When a Man Loves playing a guy who falls in love with his sponsor’s girlfriend. Next, I saw him in the first story of Kara: Secret Love, but what really turned my attention in his direction was his acting in the excellent mystery Just an Ordinary Love Story for which he received the award for Best Actor in a One-Act / Short Drama. He’s also wonderful in A Divorce Lawyer in Love and the recent romantic drama My Shy Boss. The more things I’ve seen him do, the more I like him.
Before being known as a wonderful actor, Lee Dong-Gun was a popular and successful singer. He’s made nine albums, two of which are Japanese! A year after his first album came out, he decided to try his hand at acting. I’ve seen him in several things – Sang-Doo, Let’s Go to School, Sweet 18, Lovers in Paris, Marry Him if You Dare, and Super Daddy Yeol – but his acting in Queen for Seven Days is far and away his best. I really hope he gets an award for his portrayal of the paranoid, jealous King Yeonsangun. The range of emotions he shows is fantastic. Oh, double congratulations are in order for his recent marriage to Laurel Tree Tailors‘ co-star Jo Yoon-Hee and becoming an expectant daddy.
Park Min-Young’s entertainment career began in 2005 when she debuted in a SK Telecom commercial. Her first acting opportunity came in the form of the sitcom Unstoppable High Kick a year later. However, four years later she made viewing audiences sit up and take notice when she played a girl pretending to be a boy in Sungkyunkwan Scandal. Although I’ve seen her in the last 7 Kdramas she’s done – A New Leaf, City Hunter, Healer, and Remember, to name just a few (three of which are on my perfect score list) – she isn’t one of my favorite actresses. She’s a very talented woman and quite pretty but I’ve just never “clicked” with her or her characters well enough to call her a favorite. She graduated with a Theater degree from Dongguk University in 2013.
The synergy between those three leads is one thing that aides in making this drama so enjoyable. Their tricky triangled relationship plays off very well, helping to engage our emotions in the characters’ lives.
There’s a fair share of decent action in this show, my favorite being an emotionally charged sword fight scene between brothers that is excellently choreographed and executed. There’s so much passion and fury in that fight, sparks flying as heavy swords crash against each other, and the slow motion shots help add detailed exactness to what we’re seeing. It’s very well acted and very well directed.
From Shakespeare’s play Henry lV we get the line, “Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown.” That statement proves to be absolutely true, not only in this drama but in real life as well, at least where King Jungjong (Lee Yeok) and his brother (King Yoongsangun) are concerned. This show clearly points out all the stress, trials and difficulties Royalty goes through. In real life, King Jungjong died at the age of 56 but his disposed (kicked out) Queen lived to be 70. She was a year older than he was but lived 14 years longer than he did, most certainly because she resided outside the palace and away from the Royal life. It seems running a country must really take years off your life.
I was expecting this historical drama to lean more on instrumental music than songs with lyrics so I was surprised when I discovered the soundtrack had quite a few sung ballads. Junggigo sings my favorite one entitled Miss You in My Heart. He’s no stranger to Kdramas, lending his talented pipes to the soundtracks of Uncontrollably Fond, Radiant Office, The Man Living in Our House, and High School – Love On to name a few. No Matter How Hard I Try is a faster tempoed song performed in English by Yael Meyer, who also wrote the music and lyrics. Music, itself, plays an important part in the show, with Chae-Kyung telling Prince Yeok how whistling is something that calms her down and brings her peace. It’s quite touching when he recalls her lesson and puts it into practice, himself.
I’ve noticed that costumes, set designs, and scenery are always beautiful in historical Kdramas, and Queen for Seven Days is no exception, although this one didn’t wow me quite as much as either Moonlight Drawn by Clouds or Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo. The palace didn’t seem to be as big and fancy as I’ve seen in other shows and we’re not shown a lot of the outside palace courtyard, either.
All in all, Queen for Seven Days is an entertaining 20 episode show, one lovers of historical dramas will definitely enjoy. It may not be completely accurate but, oh well – it’s good even though it doesn’t completely follow the true story.
Lee Dong-Gun’s acting
Synergy between three main actors