It took a little while for me to become completely submerged in Mr. Queen but once it happened I really enjoyed the show. It’s a historical/fantasy/mystery/comedy drama that completely pulls off the strange-sounding combination-genre while superbly dishing out a 20 episode dose of pure entertainment.
Jang Bong-Hwan, the egotistical head chef at the Blue House, is framed for something he didn’t do and, as if loosing his job wasn’t enough, the cops show up at his extravagant apartment demanding he go with them to the police station. Chef Jang has no intention of doing that and in an effort to get away from the men, falls from his balcony into a huge swimming pool below. Just as he is about to drown, a woman swims over, kisses him, and the next thing he knows he’s waking up in an unfamiliar place, at an unfamiliar time, and in an unfamiliar body! Bong-Hwan is shocked to discover his soul has taken over the body of Kim So-Yong, the woman who is about to become the Queen of Joseon. When his efforts to get back to his own body are blocked at every turn, he comes to realize he needs to play the hand fate has dealt him and become the Queen, hoping that in doing so he will somehow discover a way back to his own reality. In the mean time, he is beginning to experience bits and pieces of Kim So-Yong’s memories and feelings, and when those strange feelings start to make him actually like the King, he is appalled and fights with everything he has to keep his masculine identity alive.
Jang Bong-Hwan, considers himself to be god’s gift to women. He’s wealthy, has a prestigious job, is extremely good-looking, and (according to him) a fantastic lover.
Kim So-Yong had dreamed of marrying the King ever since she was a young girl but, only after being chosen as the future queen did she realize how difficult that life would be. She grew up an only child but was extremely close to her adopted cousin, Kim Byeong-In. She is a member of the Andong Kim clan, directly related to the Grand Queen Dowager. So-Yong had always been a happy, carefree young woman but after coming to the palace she has become frightened, lonely, and depressed.
With Jang Bong-Hwan inside her body, Kim So-Yong is outgoing, spunky, and just plain weird. Using strange phrases and words the people of Joseon have never heard before, she is able to get by with her eccentricities only because she is the Queen. Although Bong-Hwan is not happy that the So-Yong side of him keeps getting closer to King Cheoljong, it doesn’t take long for him to realize his husband, the King, is really a nice guy.
Yi Won-Beom and his older half-brother were exiled to a small island when they were children. After the King died, they were brought back to the palace so the Grand Queen Dowager could place Won-Beom on the throne and use him as her puppet. He hates the fact that his grandmother is still ruling and he is simply a figurehead but he does the best he can with the little authority he has. Yi Won-Beom sincerely cares about the people in his country and worries about their daily struggles. He realizes that both sides of his family don’t care about him at all and often dreams about being murdered. Without his brother, one friend, and Jo Hwa-Jin, King Cheoljong would be absolutely on his own in the gigantic palace.
Jo Hwa-Jin is the woman King Cheoljong has been in love with for many years. Since she was not the person chosen to be his Queen, he has been successful in keeping her by his side by making her his head concubine. Although they once shared the same goals, jealously of his relationship with the Queen is responsible for turning her into an ally of his enemy.
Kim Byeong-In is Kim So-Yong’s (Queen Cheorin) older adopted cousin. They have been extremely close throughout their growing up years and that relationship has gradually become more than sibling-like for Byeong-In. He is the only person So-Yong feels is truly in her corner but she has no idea about the depth of his feelings for her. Byeong hates the idea of So-Yong being the Queen but realizes it is her duty to fulfill that role so he keeps an ever-watchful eye on how King Cheoljong treats her.
Leader of the Andong Kim clan, Grand Queen Dowager Myeonggung (Queen Sunwon), set her grandson, Yi Won-Beom, on the throne so she would not have to give up the ultimate power she has been enjoying ever since her son, the former king, passed away. Her grandson, King Cheoljong, has been her puppet and the way she has been able to keep her influence in Joseon’s political arena. She was instrumental in choosing the new Queen, who happens to be from her own clan, and sees the young woman as another way to insure her power.
Prince Youngpyeong is not only the King’s older half-brother but also his guard and he shares the puppet-ruler’s dream of Yi Won-Beom becoming a real king and reforming Joseon. Because the Prince has been right by his brother’s side he has gotten to know Jo Hwa-Jin and has fallen in love with her. Since he is clearly aware of her feelings for his brother the King, he simply chooses to love her from afar.
The Poongyang Jo clan, the other family seeking political power, is headed by Queen Dowager Jo (Queen Shinjeong). She believes in mysticism but hast to keep the fact that she dabbles in it a secret. She is plotting against the King by using Jo Hwa-Jin who is part of her family.
Kim Jae-Geun is Kim Byeong-In’s adopted father and the Grand Queen Dowager’s younger brother. He shares his sister’s lust for the Andong Kim clan to remain as the family who wields the ultimate political power in Joseon. The man is the evil behind the evil.
Court Lady Choi is a by-the-book woman who has spent her life in service to the royals. The palace is her home and she dislikes going outside of it. She is appalled at many of Kim So-Yong’s actions (after Jang Bong-Hwan’s soul enters her body) and is exhausted from having to constantly nag her about how a queen is expected to act.
Hong Yeon has been So-Yong’s personal servant for many, many years. Although she definitely knows what her station is, she still feels like she and the Queen are friends. When Jang Bong-Hwan first becomes conscious in his new body, he is enamored by Hong Yeon and his feelings only serve to grow the more he is around her.
Royal Head Chef Man-Bok has worked in the palace kitchen for decades and is quite proud of his culinary achievements. He is not happy about the Queen coming into his kitchen and feels a rivalry with her when it comes to cooking, although he is always interested in the things she conjures up.
I thought Shin Hye-Sun was excellent as the bewildered Jang Bong-Hwan/Queen Cheorin. I was also impressed with her acting inThirty but Seventeen, and the fact that I so disliked her character in Angel’s Last Mission: Love proves her acting was wonderful in that, as well. You can read a little more about this talented actress in my review of The Hymn of Death, a drama I rated a perfect 10!
Thirty-one-year-old Kim Jung-Hyun began his entertainment career in musical theater and then went on to act in two short films and one independent one. In 2016 he moved to the small screen with a role in the TV drama Don’t Dare to Dream. His acting in the 2017 drama The Rebel earned him a Best New Actor award and that same year he starred in School 2017. I remember thinking his acting was excellent in that drama. He received huge accolades from Crash Landing on You’s audience for his portrayal of Yoon Se-Ri’s ex-fiancé. In fact, his character’s name in that show (Goo Seung-Joon) became Korea’s number one real-time search ranking! His acting in the role of King Cheoljong is absolutely superb! The character experiences a vast amount of emotions and Jung-Hyun’s acting portrays each one perfectly! Majoring in acting at the Korea National University of Arts was definitely a good idea.
I mentioned in my first paragraph that Mr. Queen is a historical/fantasy/mystery/comedy. Because it fits into so many different categories I thought it might be helpful if I broke it all down for you.
Historical: Although the beginning of the show’s time is set in 2020-2021, after just a few short scenes we watch events unfold during the Joseon era.
Fantasy: Jang Bong-Hwan’s time traveling, as well as possessing someone else’s body is, of course, purely fictional.
Mystery: It takes several episodes for us to discover the covert operation King Cheoljong and his buddies are involved in.
Comedy: All the fish-out-of-water scenes are silly and quite creative. (Although I, personally, never laughed out loud, I did find the scenes cleverly funny and entertaining enough to consider it a comedy.)
Mr. Queen performed phenomenally well in the ratings, grabbing the “7th highest-rated drama in the history of Korean cable television” spot and the “5th highest rated show in tvN’s history” position. Interestingly enough, tvN announced the drama had “a spin-off” entitled Mr. Queen: The Secret (officially, the Korean name is Mr. Queen: Bamboo Forest) which would be aired only on the streaming service TVING right after the completion of the series.
I was only halfway through the first episode when Secret Garden popped into my head. A guy and girl switch bodies – it happens in both stories but the major differences are that –
The body/soul swapping in Mr. Queen happens right at the beginning of the story but in Secret Garden the writers allow us to get to observe the characters for several episodes before the switch takes place.
The characters that do the swapping in Mr. Queen live in majorly different periods of time so they have no idea who the other is, whereas the Secret Garden characters know each other quite well (and even like each other).
In Mr. Queen, Jang Bong-Hwan is stuck in Queen Cheorin’s body for the entire duration of the drama, but the folks in Secret Garden switch bodies back and forth a few times throughout the show.
Both stories are cute and romantic but as good as Mr. Queen is, if I were to watch one of the dramas over again it would definitely be Secret Garden!
If you’re a Choi Jin-Hyun fan like I am you’re in for a major disappointment. Yes, he is part of the cast but he’s mainly just a voice actor in this. For most of the show it is his voice we hear when Queen Cheorin is thinking but later, as her suppressed memories get stronger, the vocalized thoughts inside her head switch to Shin Hye-Sun’s voice and we loose Choi Jin-Hyun completely. We get to see him lying in bed for a minute or two, about two-thirds of the way through the story but other than that we have to wait until the very end to see him again. So, if you’re wanting to watch Mr. Queen only because Choi Jin-Hyun is in it, be prepared to not see much of him at all.
Mr. Queen was based on the Chinese webdrama Go Princess, Go which was adapted from the Xian Chen novel of the same name. The drama was written by Park Gye-Ok and Choi Ah-Il who did a fantastic job entertaining Kdrama fans worldwide.
There are three very noticeable “oops” that I’m surprised no one making the drama caught. The first is that from behind a screen we see Jang Bong-Hwan, in Kim So-Yong’s body, doing squat exercises with his arms straight out in front of him but all of a sudden he’s going up and down with his arms folded. The second one shows King Cheoljong holding a sword in his right hand but one second later he is fighting with it in his left. The last “oops” shows the King cupping the Queen’s face in his hands and then when someone walks by, all of a sudden they’re down by his side. These aren’t huge mistakes but they are extremely noticeable.
Multi-talented Kim Jung-Hyun (King Cheoljong) not only sang Like the First Snow, a song on Mr. Queen’s soundtrack, but wrote the lyrics to it as well. It’s an absolutely gorgeous ballad! All of the drama’s music is really good. Like a Star is a lovely ballad sung by Jang Han-Byul and Venus is my favorite upbeat song. Another excellent piece is the toe-tappin’ Puzzle, sung by Soyou with Park Woo-Jin (from AB6IX) doing the rapping. It’s awesome. The appropriately titled song Mr. Queen is the show’s opening theme song which sounds like something from an old 1950s Hollywood comedy.
As like all historical Kdramas, Mr. Queen offers us some amazingly gorgeous backdrops. The palace is elaborate, as a palace should be, and the Joseon landscape is jaw-droppingly lovely. The bamboo forest, where Court Lady Choi goes to scream, is especially breathtaking!
I liked Mr. Queen. In fact, I liked it a lot. The plot is original, the storyline is extremely entertaining, and the acting is excellent -and aren’t those things all Kdrama fans want?
Perfect blend of historical fiction, fantasy, mystery, and comedy
Some obvious “oops”
Characters and their relationships can be slightly tricky to follow at first