I watched Princess’ Man back-to-back, and finished 24 one-hour-long episodes in about 2 days. Yup, like what my sister, Michelle, said the ending was very Winter Sonata-ish. In fact, I would say that the ending is what you get if you mixed Winter Sonata and Dae Jang Geum’s endings together.
This drama keeps you on your toes right till the last ten minutes of the show. When I was watching the last episode, my mind was busy asking myself, “Yeesh, why is everything still not resolved?” I prayed for a settled, unrushed ending. But, the show surprised me during the last 8 minutes of the show. Surprised me, in a good way.
So far, I’ve watched quite a few historical K-dramas. For now, the ones I’ve enjoyed most are Dong Yi, Dae Jang Geum, and Princess’ Man. Many compared Princess’ Man to Iljimae, the Lee Jun Ki version. I have to say, I dislike the comparison. Though I loved Iljimae’s soundtrack and cinematography, the ending ruined the show for me. Come to think of it, I agree with those who said watching Iljimae wasted 16 hours of our lives.
Back to my favourite dramas:
Most favourite: Dae Jang Geum.
Second place: Dong Yi (very very closely tied with Princess’ Man)
Third place: Princess’ Man (very very closely tied with Dong Yi)
Best Overall – Dae Jang Geum.
All these dramas I liked had political subplots. Dae Jang Geum and Princess’ Man had the most similar plots. Both are about how its main characters exacted their revenge. Dong Yi was about two women: the upright and honest heroin and the devious consort-later-queen.
Among all, I preferred Dae Jang Geum’s subtle plot. DJG is a drama that is not dramatic and it has a good pace that is neither boring nor confusing. Watching DJG is like watching a piece of flower bud unfolding slowly but surely. And, although the romance isn’t the passionate on-screen type, it is the most heart-warming one for me.
Besides the complex and riveting plot, DJG has wonderful characters – even the villains were wonderful. That said, the proof that DJG is my favourite sageuk drama is that I can re-watch this 54-episode drama many times a year. I adopt this attitude for most dramas: Watch-it-once-and-forget-immediately. But, DJG is unique.
Why the close call between Princess’ Man and Dong Yi?
Both have excellent visuals and moving soundtrack, but the differences lie in their characters and plots.
Best Plot: Dong Yi (but very close with Princess’ Man).
Princess’ Man has a slight modern feel, which is fine, but I preferred Dong Yi’s stricter adherence to Korea’s ancient traditions. Watching Dong Yi is like watching a fascinating chess-game where both players are trying to check-mate each other. Watching Princess’ Man, however, was a frustrating experience of watching people die again and again due to flawed plans, betrayals, sometimes pure foolishness, and sometimes foolish personal principles.
Summary: Dong Yi – the brain. Princess’ Man – the brawn and constant revival of a philosophical and ethical question – Would you rather die with honour according to your idea of “good”, or betray others and yourself by living life as a coward? Hmm… Hmm…
In the end, it is not as if Princess’ Man doesn’t have a good plot, but it just can’t be compared to Dong Yi’s longer (60 episodes) and richer plot.
Best Characters: Dong Yi (very close call with Princess’ Man).
For a long time, I didn’t like the female protagonist in Princess’ Man. She hesitated too much. She lied too much. Many times, I felt like smacking her. Fortunately, she redeemed herself later. Most of all, in Princess’ Man, I was annoyed with the protagonist’s lack of forethought and people-judgment. He was too trusting.
Let’s put that aside and return to Dong Yi. To be honest, I could not bring myself to like Dong Yi. She’s the kind of character you would love to hate: She’s too upright, too good, too smart, too perfect, too lucky. Look, to be likeable, you need to create some personality flaws. Dae Jang Geum was likeable because although she was all that (clever, smart, beautiful), she also had her share of insecurities and flaws (pride, envy, vengeful). That made her likeable! Let’s add that Dong Yi left her lover many times voluntarily! Totally not a nice thing to do to your lover who practically begged you to stay by his side. Not nice at all.
Despite that and though I liked Park Shi Hoo’s character, I have to side with Dong Yi because of the King and the evil consort-later-Queen. She is an awesome villain. She redeems Dong Yi’s extraordinary goodness.
Sigh, I really enjoyed watching these dramas. Made me happy. It was time worth spent, but now I’ve got to go back to work and studies. Sigh, sageuk dramas are the best!