Without a doubt, Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me is my favorite Kdrama so far this year and one of the most deeply romantic shows I’ve ever seen! The story is about a love that spans centuries, facing greed, obsession and hatred head on, and comes off conqueror.
Ancient Days Plot
Over 200 years ago an arranged marriage between Lee Myung-So and Choi Seo-Rin was about to take place. Boon-Yi, Seo-Rin’s servant girl, finished making clothes for the bride and decided to try on the coat in secret. Myung-So, curious about what the girl he was to marry looked like, went to her home and immediately fell in love with the girl wearing the coat in the courtyard, naturally assuming she was his future wife. After he left, Seo-Rin discovered Boon-Yi wearing her coat and, as punishment, burned Boon-Yi’s face with a hot iron rod. When the wedding day arrived Myung-So sadly discovered the girl he had fallen in love with was not his bride-to-be but her servant, now severely scared. Unable to back out of the wedding, he followed through with marrying Seo-Rin, happy he could at least watch over and care for the poor servant girl. Although Myung-So’s heart longed to be with Boon-Yi, he was a kind and attentive husband to Seo-Rin. She, however, was angry because she was unable to have children so the elders decided her servant, Boon-Yi, would be given to Myung-So so he could produce an heir and the child would be given to Seo-Rin to raise. Since Seo-Rin’s evil heart was incapable of loving anyone but herself, in a jealous rage she took the life of both Boon-Yi and Myung-So, and was cursed with immortality, unable to age or die.
Current Day Plot
While on her first trip abroad, travel agent Jung Hae-Ra mistakes businessman Moon Soo-Ho for the photographer her company wants to hire. Soo-Ho immediately recognizes her as his first love, the one he has been trying to find, and goes along with the misconception so he can spend the day with her, all the while hoping she would recognize him. But that doesn’t happen and Hae-Ra goes back to South Korea not knowing who the handsome man really was. Very soon after her return she runs into the mystery man once again when she finds out he had purchased the place she and her aunt were planning to live in. Wanting to be next to Hae-Ra, he allows them to stay in his guest house until they can find other accommodations. How long will it take before Hae-Ra realizes the man she met in Slovenia is the boy she loved so many years ago?
When Moon Soo-Ho was a young boy his father passed away in a laboratory fire. Because his parents knew Hae-Ra’s family Soo-Ho became Hae-Ra’s tutor and was, in turn, taken care of by Hae-Ra’s family. Because tensions built between Soo-Ho and Hae-Rae’s father, he left and enrolled in medical school in America. While there, he sold some medical ideas he had and began investing his money. He soon left the medical profession behind and became a very successful business man instead. He’s back in South Korea now and ready to restore the small town he and Hae-Ra grew up in. It seems Soo-Ho was born under a lucky star because anything he touches flourishes and anyone who opposes him suffers misfortune.
Although Jung Hae-Ra is a pretty and kind woman she hasn’t had an easy life. When she was a girl her father suddenly died and her mother passed away after hearing the heart-wrenching news. The fortune her family had was quickly dissolved and an aunt she had never even met before raised her. She has worked hard all her life, struggling to make ends meet. Unfortunately, she just discovered the man she was in love with has been lying to her about being a prosecutor while scamming other women as well. Hae-Ra works at a travel agency and does everything she can to be promoted.
Choi Seo-Rin has been wandering for over 200 years in search of the reincarnation of the husband she murdered in hopes of finally having the life she wanted as his wife. Over the years, she went to school to learn fashion design and now owns her own business, Sharon Tailor. Although it has been more than two centuries Sharon’s evil heart has remained unchanged. She is vain, selfish, has a huge ego, and a burning sense of entitlement. What she feels for the husband she murdered is not love but obsession. When she finally meets the man she has been looking for she decides nothing will get in the way of her finally being with him – nothing!
Jang Baek-Hee is a refined, cultured woman who was also cursed for a sin she committed in her past and she, too, has never grown old and will never die. However, the difference between her and Sharon is that Baek-Hee has true remorse for what she did wrong and is doing her best to fix the problem she caused in order to have the curse lifted. She has a kind and forgiving nature and truly wants the best for everyone. She becomes a mentor and mother figure to Moon Soo-Ho, watching over him and helping him in any way she can.
Thirty-six year old Kim Rae-Won (our wonderful Black Knight, Moon Soo-Ho) had hoped to become a professional basketball player but an ankle tendon injury cut that dream short so he decided to study Theater and Film at Chung-Ang University. His acting debut came in 1997 with the teen drama Me and the following year he appeared in his first motion picture, Scent of a Man. Since then he has flip-flopped back and forth from movies to TV. Interestingly enough, his roles in TV dramas have mostly focused on being the wonderful, romantic leading man whereas with a lot of his film roles he has played the darker, tough guy roles. I first fell in love with him when I saw Which Star Are You From? His character was my idea of the perfect boyfriend. After watching that show I knew I had to see more of what he had done so I began a Kim Rae-Won marathon, watching whatever I could find that had him in the cast list – movies and TV. I discovered he is the type of actor that absorbs his character. Whoever he plays turns into Kim Rae-Won. Allow me to recommend a few excellent Kim Rae-Won shows I’ve seen and enjoyed (some dramas, some films) – My Love Patzzi, My Little Bride, Attic Cat, Love Story in Harvard, Gourmet, My Little Hero, A Thousand Day’s Promise, and Doctors. He has also had the opportunity to star opposite several amazing leading ladies – Jang Na-Ra, Gong Hyo-Jin, Kim Tae-Hee, Jung Ryeo-Won, and Park Shin-Hye (all on my favorite actresses list). Kim Rae-Won is Sara Johnson’s favorite Korean actor! There, the secret’s out.
Shin Se-Kyung (who plays Jung Hae-Ra) and I had a bad start. The first thing I saw her in was the Kdrama When a Man Loves and, unfortunately, I immediately disliked her because I disliked her jerky character. However, since then I’ve seen her in decent roles which have made me change my mind – Blade Man, Sensory Couple, and Bride of the Water God. In Forbes Magazine Se-Kyung was ranked 26th (in 2011) and 14th (in 2012) on the list of the 40 most powerful celebrities in South Korea. Aside from being in movies and on TV Se-Kyung also sings. Her entertainment career began in 1998 at the young age of eight years old, when she was featured on the poster and cover for Se Taiji’s solo album Take Five.
People first began noticing 33 year old Seo Ji-Hye (who plays evil Sharon) when she appeared in the 2005 horror movie Voice. I’ve seen her in the Kdramas My Nineteen Year Old Sister-in-Law (not so great) and 49 Days (quite good). Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me is not the first show Seo Ji-Hye and Kim Rae-Won have worked on together. She was in the 2014 legal Kdrama Punch in which Kim Rae-Won was the leading man.
Fifty-nine year old Chang Mi-Hee (whose character is Jang Baek-Hee) began acting in 1976. Since then she has been in numerous dramas as well as motion pictures.
We learn about these characters’ past lives little bits at a time. The historical fiction part of the story is revealed here and there, mixed in with the present day scenes. Questions that may be running through the audience’s mind are answered bit by bit which helps us stay curious and focused. I apologize if my plot synopsis revealed a little too much.
One of the many reasons I enjoyed this show so much is because I agreed with Moon Soo-Ho and Jung Hae-Ra’s way of thinking. There were only a few times they made decisions that I wouldn’t have made. That meant I wasn’t throwing my hands up in desperation thinking, “Oh, why are they doing that?” or “No, don’t do that.” I connected with their thoughts and hearts. As far as fantasy romances go, Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me is right up there with Goblin and Queen In-Hyun’s Man. I was fighting back tears and a big lump in throat by the end of the story.
Please commit to watching the first three full hours before you even start the show. There is a possibility you may think the beginning is a bit confusing and want to give up. I remember after watching the second hour I told a friend, “This drama is deliberately being vague. I hope it’s not one of those shows that keeps things in the dark until episode eight or nine.” (Maybe that’s why I revealed so much about the ancient plot. I didn’t want you to give up on the show.) If that’s what crosses your mind, stick with it. I ended up loving this drama!
However, as much as I loved it, Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me is not without shortcomings. I noticed a couple of (what I refer to as) “oops” here and there. Nothing major that upset the storyline, just things the actors, director, and editors overlooked. (For instance, a close-up of Hae-Ra’s hand shows an injury just below her thumb but the next scene shows the bandage below her pinky.) Unfortunately, there are a couple things in the storyline that I , personally,thought were not addressed clearly. I can’t tell you what they are without giving too much information away but maybe you’ll wonder the same things I did when you watch it.
Most of Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me‘s music is instrumental which really compliments what’s going on. Having too many songs with lyrics would have broken the flow of the story and the drama wouldn’t have been as smooth. Real life isn’t equipped with background music so too many vocal songs can get in the way of a good story. However, music helps to heighten the audience’s emotions. So, what to do? Well, subtle instrumental music solves that dilemma, giving the show a complete polish. There are parts in Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me where Sharon is angry and we hear a lone violin making sharp, striking sounds. Perfect for her emotions at the time. Among the small handful of songs performed with vocals is the very beautiful I Hope It’s Me, an exquisite love song that helps deepen our emotions at the end of the story. “I still see your heart. I still feel your love.” – heartbreaking yet hopeful. Daydream, performed by Kwon Sun-Il, is my favorite song. It’s a pretty ballad that makes you want to sway as you listen, so close your eyes and just enjoy it. Raon Lee sings Closer, an uptempo song that brings a smile to your face.
The scenery is some of the best I’ve seen in quite some time. The beginning and ending of the drama takes the characters to Slovenia and the landscape there is breathtakingly beautiful. An amazing castle perched high on a cliff and surrounded by a stone wall is the center of attention but there is also a large, lovely lake that adds to the beauty. We also get to enjoy quaint architecture we are not used to seeing in a Korean drama. The ancient scenes, too, have pretty scenery, contrasting what we see during the present day South Korea scenes. Every time they show inside Sharon’s boutique there is an obvious hazy, misty look to it, like there’s smoke or fog always hovering about. The audience realizes everything about Sharon is unclear, even her residence. And Soo-Ho’s elaborate house is simply stunning! Two thumbs up for the amazing aesthetics and cinematography of this show.
Anyone who loves romantic fantasies and/or Kim Rae-Won should make this the next Kdrama they watch. I definitely plan on seeing it again someday. Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me – although it’s not perfect I think it’s, so far, the best Kdrama of 2018!
*Note: I removed Healer so I could put Black Knight: The Man Who Guards Me on my favorite top 20 Kdramas list.
Amazing Kim Rae-Won
Kim Rae-Won and Shin Se-Kyung’s chemistry
Gorgeous, unique scenery
A few small flaws but the show is so entertaining I didn’t care about them