So this is another version of Prince Gwanghae's life story. It started just before he became the King immediately after his father passed away.
While watching episode 1, I could not help but remember some scenes in The King's Face where Seo In Guk played Prince Gwanghae. The story is the same, but there are some differences as well. Perhaps the accurate part for both versions are how the King treated Gwanghae and never seemed to love his son despite his upright integrity. Since I have a background of the story I could tell that perhaps it was jealousy in the part of the King, Gwanghae's father that made him not trust his son.
The story in Hwajung started 5 years after the Imjin war where Gwanghae tried his best to protect the palace and the people from the Mings. This is a much mature version of the story considering Cha Seung Won is playing the role of Gwanghae. There is no doubt on the strong performance as an actor. I am seeing a lot of veteran and familiar faces in this drama. Haneum [Lee Doek Hyeong] played by Lee Sung Min is an interesting character in the story. It seems that his influence and actions can and will make a difference either in support to Gwanghae or to the Grand Prince, son of Queen Inmok who has a pure blood coming from a royal marriage.
Just like in previous version, there is Kim Gae Shi [Ga Hae] who became the King's court lady and the one who poisoned the King. She is known to have an association with Gwanghae. Although this drama is not a romantic drama, I think Gae Shi's role will be political and will help Gwanghae be rational as he seeks her judgement.
There is a feeling of warm emotions between Gwanghae and the little Princess Jeongmyeong despite the political factions surrounding the palace. I think Gwanghae is sincere in his love for his siblings just like with his hyungnim Im Hae. If only these people will not play these siblings in their own greed to stay in power.
It is sad to see Gwanghae feeling alone and not loved by his father. I don't see him as a greedy person but his love for the people made him want to ascend to the throne. It's pityful to see him cornered and seemed no one wanted to support him.
The drama will show hi strength as the next King and how he will protect what he promised to protect or destroy those people who continue not to trust him. I think in the process, he will face tough decisions in order to stay as the King.
Gwanghae's story is compelling and interesting at the same time. I am still intrigue in the story of Princess Jeongmyeong. In the earlier part of the story, Queen Inmok trust Gwanghae. But I think because of pressure and fear, she will soon be an enemy that will choose the path to protect her children from Gwanghae.
For those who already watched The King's Face, basically the story is the same. Hwajung will be Gwanghae's journey after he succeeded the King, his father to the throne. For the first 3 episodes, I have felt Gwanghae's frustrations. Im Hae's greed became his first sin. It was not shown but it was insinuated. Im Hae died because he had a treacherous mind. Now even if Gwanghae is not harming the Grand Prince and the Princess, everytime they are no in the palace and gone missing, all eyes and suspicions are thrown at him. To be suspected when he is innocent, to see the officials behind the little Grand Prince, to see them wanting and waiting for small mistake from him to oust him as the King are situations that seriously can make Gwanghae resort to tough decisions and actions.
Can I say that it the people around him that will make Gwanghae who he is as a King.
I think I will find some more pityful scenes of Gwanghae and more sufferings. I have just finished 3 episodes and still behind by 5 episodes.
So far, Hwajung is good. The twist of the story will be in the form of politics and alliances.
For first impression, it is a good start. Looking forward to more complications in the story. The build up should be anticipating.
writing for this post
screen caps episode 1