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Captivating The King Ending Explained: From politics to seeking solace in love, Jo Jung Suk and Shin Se Kyung starrer makes for a slow-packed intriguing historical K-drama

en Bollywood News Captivating The King Ending Explained: From politics to seeking solace in love, Jo Jung Suk and Shin Se Kyung starrer makes for a slow-packed intriguing historical K-drama

The historical Korean drama began premiere on January 21 and came to a close on March 3, 2024.

The last couple of months witnessed the interest in a new Sageuk aka historical Korean drama Captivating the King, making notable waves with its story and high ratings for almost each episode. This drama promised a brilliant romance along with espionage, murders and royal power tactics. But did it deliver on its promise or did it fall short in captivating the audience? Let’s find out. Captivating the King saw a premiere on January 21, 2024, and continued airing until March 3, 2024.

Captivating The King Ending Explained From politics to seeking solace in love, Jo Jung Suk and Shin Se Kyung starrer makes for a slow-packed intriguing historical K-drama

Captivating The King Ending Explained: From politics to seeking solace in love, Jo Jung Suk and Shin Se Kyung starrer makes for a slow-packed intriguing historical K-drama

Captivating the King follows King Lee In (played by Jo Jung Suk) and his turbulent romance with a noblewoman Lady Kang Hee Soo. His reign over Joseon after the death of his brother, the former king Lee Sun, was anything but smooth. After a series of unfortunate events, Lady Hee Soo vows revenge on King Lee In, but as fate would have it, she soon finds herself developing feelings for the one she should not be falling in love with. Lady Hee Soo is a strong woman who heads out in the market disguised as a man. She goes around playing a game of baduk with noblemen, placing bets and winning most of them. She gains a reputation of her own as an infamous and illusive baduk player. King Lee In, before he became the king, was called Grand Prince Jinhan. Grand Prince Jinhan sought the company of this baduk player to challenge him to a game. It was supposed to be just a few rounds of games, but Grand Prince Jinhan finds himself intrigued. Thus begins a tale of fateful encounters between Grand Prince Jinhan and Lady Hee Soo.

Speaking of the characters, Jo Jung Suk did a great job as Grand Prince Jinhan /King Lee In. His eyes alone are expressive enough to emote a variety of emotions required in a scene. King Lee In is an empty shell of a person until Mong Woo comes into his life. While Jo Jung Suk emoted well, King Lee In as a character felt frustrating at times. Be it the fear in his mind that changed Jinhan into Lee In, or be it the unrequited love for Mong Woo. King Lee In showed growth but only as the drama concluded. Until then, it felt like he acted on a whim and kept things going as long as they weren’t an immediate threat.

Coming to Shin Se Kyung as Hee Soo/Mong Woo, there did not seem much to latch on to that character. Perhaps it was the flat character progression which made the character less appealing. Shin Se Kyung’s range of emotions was almost just limited to teary eyes or demure ones. Perhaps it is the historical romance genre, or it is the way the character was written, Shin Se Kyung’s performance failed to make an impact on this viewer. For an actress who has shown a good range with dramas like Run On, Shin Se Kyung did not feel convincing in this one. For a woman who was shown to be progressive despite societal norms, Hee Soo’s character did not see a growth of that scale. She finds Lee In’s activities and ascension to the throne to be unjust and thus begins to plan her revenge. But in all this, there was no end goal. The revenge was forgotten as soon as secrets were revealed and love was formed. This writer fails to understand the objective of Hee Soo’s revenge. It sure stemmed from unjust treatment towards her father, but what about the after-effects of taking Lee In down? Who would be king? Who would handle the unrest?

Hee Soo’s use of highly decorated language when talking to Lee In in private made it look like Hee Soo is just saying the words for they were written without actually meaning what she said. The language used in their conversations makes the relationship feel less authentic. Lee In’s insecurity towards Hee Soo every step of the way is what one would say is a red flag in today’s times.

Initially, the Lee In-Mong Woo storyline showed signs and prepared the fans for a gay romance in a historical drama. But it soon withered away as Mong Woo’s identity was made known. The diversion to a heterosexual romance was probably needed, owing to the times the story is set in. When a king has to fend off an invasion and keep wars within his country at bay, he must follow the dictated norms of the society. While it did not last long, that plot segue was quite a bold move.

Captivating The King Ending Explained From politics to seeking solace in love, Jo Jung Suk and Shin Se Kyung starrer makes for a slow-packed intriguing historical K-drama

The drama held promise in the first two weeks of its run when Jo Sung Ha was still a part of the cast as Park Jong Bae. Jo Sung Ha a negative character never fails to amaze. He delivers the menace, the cunningness, and the bad guy energy with such ease that one develops a love-hate relationship with the character. An evil genius who is a master at manipulation but uses his skills to sabotage others rather than do the greater good. Upon Jo Sung Ha’s exit from the show, Lee Kyu Hoe’s Park Jong Hwa took to the front. Park Jong Hwa’s handiwork never showed him pulling the strings as much as we saw Park Jong Bae take the calls. Park Jong Hwa was more of a silent whisperer who eventually lost himself to greed and wrongly placed ambition. As the story progressed, one felt slight pity for Park Jong Bae’s demise, for it could have been avoided. Perhaps he might have even redeemed himself for all that he did to control the late king. But with Park Jong Hwa’s demise, it just felt like the need of the hour.

Lee Shin Young as Park Jong Bae’s son Myung Ha is another pitiful character. The poor guy lost his father at a young age, lost the woman he loved as well, was almost put into exile and faced ridicule and bullying from ministers when he was in court. Myung Ha has his moments, but he fails to become a good second lead in terms of romance. He supports Hee Soo in her endeavours. Of all the characters, this writer finds only Myung Ha’s thirst for revenge on Lee In to be justified.

Coming to the visual aspects of the drama, some of the locations chosen were indeed splendid to look at. Especially the scenes from the finale episode where Lee In and Mong Woo are playing baduk under a tree. Or the penultimate episode when they spend a day together before Mong Woo leaves for Qing.

Most of the screen time was devoted solely to the characters, so much so that the screen felt crowded when there was a close-up shot of two, three or more characters. The makers tried to add to the dramatic effect with close-up shots and it did work to an extent. In a historical drama where the story follows politics and tactful behaviour, a character needs to be noted up close for even an eye twitch can be a signal to execute the next part of the plan.

For a drama that mentioned baduk so many times in the first few weeks, the game conveniently found its way out of everyone’s vocabulary. One would hope that the game would prove pivotal to the story, but it just ended up being a placeholder for the characters to cross paths. If one is to pick from the pages of an Indian mythological tale where a game of chess was played and bets were placed, a wager of land and assets over a game of baduk in Captivating the King would have made a nail-biting experience for the viewers.

A few answered questions: Kang Hee Soo's father's absence, despite Prince Rui's demise four years ago, raises questions. Will King and Hee Soo marry, or will she maintain her disguise as Mong Woo to pursue her mission? The Queen Dowager's silence amid her son's impending dethronement amid the Crown Prince’s new position hints at deeper political tensions. Though K-dramas explore the second season rarely, an open ending leaves it to audiences to imagine the scenarios.

With widespread acclaim and high ratings, Jo Jung Suk’s return to a drama after the endearing Lee Ik Jun in Hospital Playlist truly captivated the audience. Like we say, he acts with his entire being and those eyes capture the rollercoaster of emotions. , While the cast delivers commendable performances, the plot keeps the story engaging however lacks depth, particularly in its handling of the revenge aspect. Compared to other historical dramas, the romance angle leaves the audience to the imagination. The narrative's abrupt shift in the second half takes away from the romance, however, the political intrigue with the power-packed performance of Jo truly keeps the audience glued to the screens. Character deaths evoke mixed emotions, some poignant, others perfunctory. Repetitive dialogues detract from intimate moments, hindering the drama's overall appeal. Despite its promising premise, Captivating the King may not be everyone’s cup of tea in terms of its slow pacing, but ultimately it makes for a good watch for some, and a boring one for others.

What are your thoughts on Captivating the King?

Also Read: From Song Joong Ki starrer My Name is Loh Kiwan to Gong Yoo-led The Trunk, Netflix announces an extensive slate of 2024 Korean movies, dramas and reality shows!


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