“Hey Bonghwan (a queen, what?)
Hey Bonghwan (Joseon era, what?)”
– The titular character’s hysterical desperation to escape from an unexpected quandary is felt every time this lyrically fitting OST by Norazo tunes into the drama “Mr. Queen”!
tvN’s “Mr. Queen” starring Shin Hye Sun and Kim Jung Hyun in the lead roles, is a historical period drama well-proportioned in comedy, romance, and mystery. Based on the Chinese web drama “Go Princess Go”, the script revolves around a modern-day man’s crisis – that is both funny and suffused with the right amount of twists and turns – careful so as to not linger on inconsistent narratives that might lead to plot-holes.
The director of the highly acclaimed drama “Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth“, Yoon Sung Sik experimented with yet another historical theme this time, the result of which is truly applaudable! According to the production team, “What would happen if a modern soul met a real-life figure and caused waves?” was the central motif before articulating this well-set drama.
Whereas most historical dramas like “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” have a predilection towards making a calamitous and bitter ending, “Mr. Queen” manages to pull off a gratifying and entertaining finale while hitting the spot at ironing out the issues of the body-swap theme with coherent reasoning. The drama also takes the risk of portraying actual historical characters in a fictional story despite the flak it might (and to an extent, did) receive.
The drama that ran for 20 episodes could have been pruned if not for the stereotypical palatial gambits enmeshed into the drama which calls for prolonged screen-time in order to unsnarl those hitches. Thanks to the well-crafted ending, the drama attracted the fifth-highest viewers in tvN’s history!
Theme Of The Drama:
A queen, what?
(Note: The following contains mild spoilers.)
A self-proclaimed “womanizer” not constrained by any conventions – present-day Jang Bong Hwan (Choi Jin Hyuk) is a free-spirited and haughty chef at the Blue House relishing his life as the “youngest chef” who cooks for the country’s top-politicians.
However, he faces the biggest predicament of his life when he gets embroiled in a corruption case involving the ingredients used in the Blue House’s kitchen. Trying to flee from the officers chasing him, he stumbles from his apartment’s terrace and falls into the pool. With a blurry vision underwater and no comprehension of what would happen next, he sees the silhouette of a woman nearing him and then kissing him.
Joseon era, what?
200 years backward, Bong Hwan regains consciousness and wakes up in the body of Joseon’s queen-to-be Kim So Yong. Shin Hye Sun’s flamboyantly energetic acting as a modern-day man trapped in a queen’s body starts with this baffling situation and is interweaved with rib-tickling comedy through the character’s psychological soliloquy while struggling to adjust to this anachronistic environment.
Contextually, while Korea’s conservative society makes creators steer clear of contentious subjects like homosexuality, “Mr. Queen” allows for contemplation on such gender issues through toned-down sequences like the kiss that happens between King Cheoljong and So Yong.
Kim Jung Hyun’s role as a “Puppet King” (King Cheoljong) with its strings orchestrated by Queen Dowager and Andong Clan, draws the viewer’s attention towards his pitiable situation and thus garnishing the drama with a little bit of sympathy mired genre. The slapstick squabbles ranging from sangfroid Joseon style to modern-day chic words between the King and Bong Hwan contribute to the sheer comical charm exactly when and where needed.
However, the drama wouldn’t have been an entire delight had it not been for the amusing and light-hearted accounts of the supporting characters like Court Lady Choi (Cha Chung Hwa) and Hong Yeon (Chae Seo Eun), both of whom are So Yong’s unswerving and loyal attendants. The silly sequences of the Royal Chef’s (Kim In Kwon) bickering with So Yong whose exemplary culinary skills make the chef fear that his job as the Royal Kitchen’s master will at be stake adds to the entertaining individual ingredients required to cook a multi-genre mixed drama like “Mr.Queen.”
The OSTs are the cherry on the top!
The drama boasts of immaculate OSTs’ that perfectly complement the drama’s visuals. While Norazo’s “Bong Hwan” set the theme during the initial episodes articulating the protagonist’s bewildering situation, the tracklist slowly drifts towards melancholic melodies like Xiumin’s (EXO) “To My One and Only You“. The drama also boasts of OSTs sung by vocal powerhouses like DinDin (“Keep Going“), Soyou, and Park Woo Jin (“Puzzle”) each of which independently captures the pervading tone of the scenes. Every time Jo Hyun Ah’s “Here I Am” (OST Part 3) tunes in, the internal voices of the King and Queen’s pensive feelings can be heard.
Drama’s lead actor Kim Jung Hyun also stepped out of his actor’s cloak and took part in both penning the lyrics and singing the OST “Like The First Snow” (OST Part 10), featuring soft melodies that speaks of a man’s meaningful wish to watch the first snow of the year with his loved one.
A Final Note :
Airing its finale on 14th February 2021, the K-Drama bid farewell to its audience, halting its rollercoaster ride in the Joseon era through a modern man’s lenses. Though some issues (might) seem like they are left on a cliffhanger leaving the viewers pondering over them, the majorly neat arrangement of the storyline makes the ending quite a clean cut!
To sum up, the recipe needed to cook up the drama, Mr. Queen is – A Well-crafted plot. Genius acting. Great Production. Amazing OST tracklist. And ta-da, the all-rounder drama series, “Mr.Queen” is prepared!