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'The King Loves': Coming-of-age show on Goryeo's forgotten mix-blooded king

All News 17:55 July 03, 2017

By Chang Dong-woo

SEOUL, July 3 (Yonhap) -- Though times have changed, Korea is and has remained by and large a homogeneous society. Looking back, it wasn't very long ago that interracial marriage was unimaginable by mainstream values, with the strong mono-ethnicity aspect of its people having often been considered a virtue.

Hence for many, it is a surprise to learn that Korea once had a biracial king, King Chungseon, during the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). His mother came from Mongolia's powerful Kublai Khan family and he is the main character on MBC TV's new fictional period drama "The King Loves."

The main cast of "The King Loves" pose for the camera during a media event on July 3, 2017, at MBC TV's headquarters in western Seoul. (Yonhap)

"Records show that Goryeo's first biracial prince lived a destructive life. Our show is a 'faction melodrama show' that mixes romance, bromance and factual events that took place then," director Kim Sang-hyup said during a media event held at the MBC headquarters in western Seoul.

Based on a novel by the same name, the show portrays Wang Won, Goryeo's crown prince who later becomes King Chungseon, played by singer-turned-actor Im Si-wan. The story centers on a love triangle between the crown prince, his childhood friend bodyguard Wang Rin, played by actor Hong Jong-hyun, and Eun San, a young woman from a wealthy family who possesses striking beauty and deadly charm, played by Yoona of Girls' Generation.

"Unlike other dramas that try to win over love in a love triangle, this story asks about how much can one sacrifice for love," Kim said. "Viewers will be treated to a different period drama compared to ones in the past."

Aside from the love triangle, the show is apparently also heavy on palace intrigue, themes of power struggle, identity in relation to race and geopolitical and dynastic rivalry between Goryeo and the Mongol Empire.

Im, who starred in the hit TV drama "Misaeng" and film "The Merciless," said he immediately researched his character after being offered the role.

"I've known him to be a mere tyrant but I found it interesting that we could understand the man not just as a tyrant depending on how we interpret the character," said Im.

The actor said he chose to take on the project -- his last work before beginning mandatory military service next week -- as he imagined portraying King Chungseon in a multidimensional aspect.

"I personally thought it would be great to do this project as my final work before joining the military. I'm glad my wish came true."

Singer-actress Yoona (L) and actor Im Si-wan, lead stars in MBC TV's new period drama "The King Loves," pose for the camera at a media event on July 3, 2017, at MBC TV's headquarters in western Seoul. (Yonhap)

Yoona, whose acting career turns 10 this year, said she hoped to reveal a different side of herself as an actress.

"The emotions and situations that Eun San lives through are quite diverse. I chose the project knowing that I could feel and experience a lot of things (through portraying Eun San)," Yoona said.

"The King Loves" is Yoona's first foray into the period genre. She said she put in extra effort as to not disappoint the fans.

"Character-wise, I had a lengthy discussion with the director and screenwriter. I also had to prepare for action and martial arts," Yoona said, further explaining that she tried to do as much as possible on her own in terms of action.

"The King Loves" premieres on July 17 on MBC TV.


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