Mr. Queen is such a hilarious ride! Poking fun at the historical drama tropes with our hero being transported to the Joseon era, the drama is simultaneously funny and heartfelt. Shin Hye Sun is the star of the drama and is completely winsome.
It is based on 2015 Chinese drama Go Princess Go. Choi Jin Hyuk plays Jang Bong Hwan, a chef in the present world who somehow gets transferred to the Joseon Dynasty. His soul enters the body of the to-be-queen, Kim So Yong, played by Shin Hye Sun. Kim Jung Hyun plays King Cheoljong who is about to get married to So Yong.
The fish-out-of-water shenanigans are double here as the hero not only has to deal with a different period but also has to be present in the body of a woman. This leads to a lot of hilarious situations. The most laughs come from the fact that he is the opposite of the grace and poise present in a queen. The drama never stops being funny. The way Bong Hwan navigates his way through every situation and struggle while trying to make sense of things is an interesting ride to take, with him forming new bonds and helping others on the way. I loved his friendship with court lady Choi and Hong Yun — their relationship filled my heart with warmth. The scenes featuring the Royal Kitchen, our hero/ heroine and the head cook Man Bok are full of laughs and heart. The drama thrills us with the various schemes thrown at our protagonists and the way they outmaneuver them (or sometimes not). It’s one of the rare times when I didn’t get bored with the palace politics. The characters are well written and colorful. Mr. Queen keeps you engrossed with its fast pace and one entrancing narrative line after another.
Coming onto the fantasy element of the drama, it never fully explains why or how things happened. There is no proper explanation about the soul switching. But that doesn’t matter much in terms of rules of the game. It does matter when So Yong/ Bong Hwan start developing feelings for the King. We do get bits and pieces in between to comprehend what’s happening but only the final arc gives us the full picture.
Above everything else, the main romance is the main factor that made this a beautiful experience for me — classy, amusing, sexy and stirring.
I loved Bong Hwan’s relentless spirit and sense of humour. It’s hilarious how he knows history and that also helps him to get sense of every person of the past he meets. Beyond the impatient, unrefined attitude, Bong Hwan also has a heart, wanting to do good and help others. I love how he brings modern vocabulary and concepts, leading to amusement and confusion of the characters of the historical era.
The other soul of the queen’s body, or should I say the main person to whom it belongs, Kim So Yong, seems like the standard upstanding heroine. We explore more into her personality as the drama moves forward. But since she has a lot less screen time, I never felt a strong connection with her beyond the surface level.
Coming to Cheoljong, we initially get the first impression of a meek and docile king, who follows the orders of the ministers and the Queen. But as we progress further in the story, we see hidden layers to his character. It’s not that huge a spoiler that we find out that he is secretly an intelligent, righteous and brave person who is planning to take control of the situation for the betterment of the society. He is also witty.
THE MAIN COUPLE
I loved Cheoljong and Bong Hwan (or Cheorin) together. Mr.Queen marks a satisfying path for these two as they gradually become closer and start falling in love. They bicker but also feel attracted to one another as each time they see a new side of the other person. Their interactions are full of humour, fun, mischievousness, cute banter and romantic tension. They respect the good qualities of each other. They click all the right buttons of the arrange marriage trope. It’s exciting to see them beat their opponents together, one trick at a time. Easily, their love story gives one of its best moments to Mr. Queen.
The chemistry between Shin Hye Sun and Kim Jung Hyun is amazing. I could feel the sparks in their interactions — just perfect!
Coming onto the supporting characters, I loved Queen Sunwon — she is evil but also really funny. Her interactions with Queen Cheorin are one of the best in the show, full of witticism and banter.
Compassionate but strict court lady Choi and cute, bubbly Hong Yun are also my favorites. Man Bok as chief chef of Royal Kitchen is comedy gold.
Then there is Kim Byung In, who is devotedly in love with the heroine. I liked his continuous dilemma between ‘anything for So Yong’ and ‘working against the king’.
I also enjoyed Jo Hwa Jin’s character. There was a nice growth curve for her. She has depth in her and a maturity which totally discarded my initial suspicions that she would turn out to be the typical negative second lead.
Prince Yangpyeong is one character that I found really boring. He had this constant expression of sadness on his face and I didn’t find him interesting.
The other characters that contributed to the fun factor are So Yong’s father, Kim Hwan and Special Director Hong.
THE MINUS POINTS
I’m conflicted about how the main love story concluded. On one hand, I can understand how there was sudden attraction from Bong Hwan’s side as there was So Yong’s soul inside the body. But I’m hundred percent sure that Cheoljong fell in love with the carefree and fun loving Bong Hwan, despite having a childhood emotional connection to So Yong. So yeah, it was a kind of happy ending — everyone was where they should have been. But it was also sad — we are shown how Cheoljong kind of feels that something is missing in his life, he just doesn’t know what.
Now an argument can be made about how So Yong started becoming like Bong Hwan but that’s not enough to convince me that it was So Yong and Cheoljong falling in love with each other. Oh the dilemma! I guess this is my only complaint in an otherwise stupendous show.
Now I do think it would have been unfair to Bong Hwan to not have full agency of his circumstances if he had been trapped in Queen’s body forever. So in a way, it was a good thing for him to go back to his world. But what about the bonds he formed in the Joseon era? What about one last goodbye? *sobs*
Shin Hye Sun steals the show with her brilliant and uninhibited performance as Bong Hwan/ So Yong, perfectly delivering humour and poignancy, and the right emotions for a man trapped in a woman’s body. I have seen Kim Jung Hyun before but I fell in love with him in Mr. Queen — he gives a lovely performance, so graceful and nuanced. Bae Jong Ok is superlative as the queen, and Na In Woo and Sul In Ah are impressive as well. Shout out to Cha Chung Hwa as court lady Choi, Chae Seo Eun as Hong Yun and Kim In Kwon as Man Bok for their endearing performances. Kim Tae Woo is flawless as the main antagonist but it feels like I have seen him in similar roles so many times!
IN A NUTSHELL
Packed with fun, laughs and giddy romance, Mr. Queen is an ebullient ride. Most importantly, watch it for Shin Hye Sun‘s magical performance.
MY RATING: 8.5 out of 10