Haechi Review

Synopsis. Haechi is a 24 (48 split) episode 2019 kdrama about the struggle for the throne. The best candidate is a prince with a commoner mother, but no one wants him to become the next King. Through dogged determination, a cadre of supporters, and events outside his control, he makes his bid for the throne.
What I liked.

Writing and Production. Writer Kim Yi Young crafted each episode chock full of events, surprises and cliffhangers that kept you coming back. This was my first drama by Writer Kim. It won’t be my last. If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage. Writer Kim’s interruption of this historical time was never boring. There was balance between Team Good and Team Evil. They both won some and they both lost some. Even better, some of them garnered each other’s respect and support. That isn’t a typical outcome. Team Evil was nuanced and not one note characters. Writer Kim made the myriad of political struggles interesting. Yes, you read that right. Political machinations were watchable. I appreciated the low body count, unusual for a historical drama. The production of the drama was also top notch. This was the first drama I’ve seen directed by Lee Yong Seok. He and his team delivered what felt like authentic windows into that historical time. Good writing and direction laid the foundation then the actors brought the drama to life.
Core Characters.

Leading man Prince/King Yeoninggun Lee Geum (Jung Il Woo). I watched this drama for Jung Il Woo who I fell for watching 49 Days. Jung Il Woo completed his military service in November 2018 and Haechi was his “comeback drama”. I was pleased to see that he still has “it” – intensity, a darling crooked smile, vulnerability, and command of the screen. I couldn’t be more pleased to see Jung Il Woo shine in a series that provided a showcase for his talents. This is what I hope for every actor I follow – they act in a series with great writing, a capable director, complimentary actors, all that combine and create a quality kdrama.

Secondary leading man Dal Moon (Park Hoon). Dal Moon was the king of the streets. His deep connections were originally mined by Team Evil but he became a friend and avid supporter of Prince/King Yeoninggun. His secret Achilles heel, was his first love who scorned the simple life to become the evil prince’s concubine. She played him, but he couldn’t give up hope that one day she’d see the error of her ways. Park Hoon was the best looking actor in the cast with swarthy looks and a terrific smile when he flashed it.

Secondary leading man Park Moon Soo (Kwon Yool). Moon Soo was the moral compass for justice. He believed everyone, regardless of rank or station, had to abide by the rules and those that didn’t should be punished. Needless to say in the corrupt core of inspectors, Moon Soo wasn’t well liked by those in power. Moon Soo and Prince/King Yeoninggun had a rocky start but they soon saw the positives in each other. They trusted and respected each other. I could use that phrase “respected and trusted” to all those in Team Good. Moon Soo’s evolution was one of the better ones in the series, he grew, matured and came into his own as leader and stanch supporter of the King.

Secondary leading man Minister Min (Lee Kyoung-Young) . Originally part of Team Evil, Minister Min slowly grew to realize that Prince/King Yeoninggun was worthy of the throne. He surprised himself and his political party when he aided his former adversary. Minister Min was a true politician and jaded by his belief that politics would always win. King Yeoninggun proved through perseverance, smarts, and respecting everyone, that wasn’t true. The final scene between Minister Min and the King was touching and the personification of the hard earned “respect and trust” between the two men.

Secondary leading man Prince Milpoonggun Lee Tan (Jung Moon Sung). This evil Prince was a dreadful, angry, murderer that believed he was the rightful person to take the throne. But Writer Kim made him nuanced. When you saw behind the curtain to the unsure man that desperately wanted to fulfill his promise to his father that he would be King, you felt for him. He only wanted respect and the throne, nothing else mattered. He never gave up his quest. He was used by others to pursue their own agenda, but as long as he saw the dots connecting to get him to the throne, he was willing. Jung Moon Sung did a terrific job with this character and commanded the screen.
Message. This drama’s theme “never give up fighting for what you believe in” was clear and the mantra of our many characters (good and evil). Belief in yourself was another theme. Surrounding yourself with supportive people was another take away.

OST. This drama’s a mini two song OST. Check out the two vocal songs here.
1. Love Poem sung by Jung In
2. Story Conveyed By The Wind sung by Jun Woo Sung

What I didn’t like.
Minimal Romance. The romance in this drama was a side note, it could have been fleshed out more.

Would I recommend Haechi?
Absolutely. This was a stellar series. I loved seeing Jung Il Woo shine in an outstanding drama surrounded by a bevy of actors that made this well written, directed series a winner.

Asian drama fan. I watch and blog dramas on https://kjtamusings.wordpress.com/.

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Posted in Haechi, Kdrama, Reviews
3 comments on “Haechi Review
  1. Jane Tilly says:

    I appreciate that you mentioned the OST, it was good❣️ This drama was on my short list as I am also a Jung Il Woo fan too. I had high hopes for Haechi … who knew it would be my favorite drama in 2019 … so far.

    I 💗 the themes of believing in yourself and never giving up. Kudos 👏 to writer Kim Yi Young for a superb script with an unprecedented number of nuanced characters and to the skilled actors who portrayed them. Flawed characters painted in shades of gray made them seem more realistic and human. My perspective of Minister Min 👴💩 was initially as an antagonist, but later changed to being a protagonist👴🌸. I even felt pity for psychotic serial killer Mil Poong 🍁🤴, who was distinctly a reprehensible villain; actor Jung Moon Sung gave a spectacular performance as Mil Poong 🍁🤴❗‼️ As KJT mentioned, the low body count was also unheard of, for a sageuk.

    I’ve seen Yeoning 🏹🤴 and or his parents portrayed in “Dong Yi” and “Jang Ok Jung” as a child, growing to young adulthood in “Jackpot” and an aged King in “Warrior Baek Dong Soo”. I thought Jung Il Woo did a fantastic job of playing the controversial Prince Yeoning 🏹🤴 who became a very good king.

    I really liked all of leading men and as much as I adore 💗 Jung Il Woo, I concur Park Hoon stole our hearts with “swarthy” looks … Oh those smoldering eyes and his smile ✳️


    • I had high hopes for Haechi … who knew it would be my favorite drama in 2019 … so far.
      My hopes weren’t that high for this historical…it is my favorite drama of 2019…so far…I wonder what drama will overtake it.

      Kudos 👏 to writer Kim Yi Young for a superb script with an unprecedented number of nuanced characters and to the skilled actors who portrayed them.
      Well said. This was a perfect storm of writing, production and acting. This won’t be my last series I watch from the pen of Writer Kim.

      Park Hoon…Oh those smoldering eyes and his smile
      He was effortlessly hot.


    • Jane Tilly says:

      (my screen orientation changed while I was typing and sent my comments accidentally – my apologies if there were any typos)
      I can HARDLY WAIT for a drama with Park Hoon as the first lead.

      Inspector Park Moon Soo 🖌️📄 won the award for having the truest moral compass; I like that in a man.

      I was okay that the romance was minimal, since Yeoning 🏹🤴 already had at least one wife and concubine. I did like the character Yeo Ji 🍵👧 and her protection of Yeoning 🏹🤴, but I could never see such an independent woman find true happiness with the King. I thought she would have been a good match for Moon Soo 🖌️📄, but the heart 💓 wants what the heart 💓 wants AND she could not have been in a position to save him unless she was in the palace.

      The writing, direction and acting was all WELL DONE; Oh that more dramas would have this impeccable trifecta. I would whole heartedly recommend watching Haechi. It is WELL WORTH your precious drama watching time.


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May 2019

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