Chungmuro/Film News
A Frozen Flower: Movie recap and review
by | August 27, 2009 | 155 Comments

Just a word of warning – the movie does deal with adult content, so I would like to respectfully ask people to stay away if they cannot be mature about the discussion. Thank you!

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Frozen Flower, a Review

In which Joo Jin-mo plays the king, Jo In-sung plays his loyal guard Hong Lim, and Song Ji-hyo plays the queen.

In short, the story takes place during the Goryeo dynasty, and the king portrayed in the movie formed his own group of elite bodyguards called the Kunryongwe. Hong Lim is the captain of these guards. The queen is a princess of Mongolian Yuan, and the movie revolves around the love triangle that forms around the three of them.

From the time of his introduction as a little boy in training to become one of the Kunryongwe, Hong Lim is shown as loyal and dedicated to a fault. He may not be the best swordsman, but he would always be the one to practice the longest. His devotion soon caught the notice of the king, who cherished him as a close companion.

Of course, this companionship comes with a price, and the first foreshadowing hints of trouble to come when the princess of Yuan arrives and is summarily ignored by the king. Hong Lim seems vaguely disturbed at this, but his king doesn’t care at all.

Fast-forward 10 years, to the present, when a group of the Kunryongwe is in hot pursuit of a runaway member. Han-baek, a junior guard, has decided to elope with a palace maid, which is obviously against the rules.

This carries a death sentence for both the maid and the guard, but Hong Lim is close enough to the king to be able to persuade him otherwise. The king treats Hong Lim with an abundance of affection and allows him the sort of freedom rarely given to even the queen.

Of course this incites jealousy from multiple quarters, one of them being that of the vice-captain. He taunts Hong Lim with using pillow-talk to distract the king from vital affairs, though Hong Lim’s skill with a sword usually puts an end to all the idle talk. He certainly isn’t ostracized and even seems beloved and well-respected by the other guards.

Anyway, the king and the captain of his guard are close. I think we get that by now, but just in case anyone has lingering doubts, there you go.

The queen comes to visit the king occasionally, but he just doesn’t give her the same kind of attention he does for Hong Lim, and everyone knows this as sort of an open secret in the palace. Unfortunately, her relatives are also coming to visit, and the continual lack of a royal heir is bound to come up as an issue. The problem isn’t the queen – the king has an abundance of concubines – it’s just that he’s gay.

However, the lack of an heir leaves the king open to deposition from the Yuan dynasty and treachery from his own nobles. The queen understands this, and in a secluded corner of the royal gardens, frigidly thanks Hong Lim for ‘taking care of something I should have done’. It’s a double-edged dagger kind of remark, because she’s referring to both his rescue of the palace maiden and (presumably) his place in the king’s bed every night. However, the queen reminds Hong Lim that in light of the royal heir problem, his devotion to the king may not be tolerated for much longer. Oh, the resentment, you can cut cubes of it and make stew.

On a rare outing from the palace, the king and queen relax and do their version of ‘kicking back’, but then assassins attack.

The Kunryongwe have been well-trained, and fight back relatively well. It’s just that the king, in defiance of all common-sense and self-preservation, refuses to leave with the queen. He wants to stay and make sure Hong Lim is alright. (Geez.)

Surprisingly, the king is much better at swordsmanship than any of his guards, which means he ends up rescuing Hong Lim a couple of times. As the fighting goes on, though, the two are outnumbered in the pavilion. Of course, narrative demands that the king gets hurt in trying to save Hong Lim. (Seriously, in this aspect he’s really the worst kind of ruler possible – doesn’t do anything to further the line and breaks all the rules for one person.)

The king survives being stabbed in the chest, and the first thing he does after waking up is to ask for Hong Lim and see if he‘s okay. If anyone needs me, I’ll be in my corner, facepalming.

The investigation into the assassination points the finger at Lord Cho, who’s influential enough that even the Kunryongwe don’t dare to accuse without more proof. So for the moment the bodyguard are going with the ‘random Japanese pirates’ story, though Hong Lim commands further undercover investigating.

Meanwhile, back at court the Yuan ambassador is welcomed with open arms if not exactly smiles. In the absence of a royal heir, the Yuan emperor has decided to enthrone a distant cousin, the lord Kyungwon, as crown prince, thereby robbing the king of autonomy in his own country. (It’s all a little too ‘big brother is watching you’ for me.)

In addition, the Yuan dynasty also demands that Goryeo send soldiers and maidens to help in the fight against insurgents ‘enemies of the empire’. (If it’s fighting, what the hell do they need maidens for?) The attitude of the emissary, while not calculated to be humiliating, views the king as just another pawn of the Yuan empire. And to add injury to insult Lord Cho and presumably the new heir is fully prepared to agree with all the demands.

The queen is really angry at this, however, and rather unrealistically lashes out at the assembled lords for their lack of loyalty towards the rightful king. It’s nice that she’s willing to take the blame for not having an heir, and even defending the man who pretty much treats her as just another part of his kingship.

Later at night, the king urges her to go home before he becomes only a puppet king controlled by the Yuan. However, the queen has firmly settled her loyalty on her husband, and refuses to go. (Either she has feelings for him at this point, or I’m blind.)

Then the king mentions ‘another option’.

Fertility rituals and preparations begin, as the king and queen formally set aside a night to try for the heir. Hong Lim is somewhat dismayed at the king’s request while the queen is just plain unhappy at literally being used as a brood mare.

The first attempt between Hong Lim and the queen don’t, ah, yield fruit, but that just means he has to try again. Hong Lim somewhat confusedly asks the king why he even considers doing something like this, and the king only answers that his heir must be a fair child, like Hong Lim.

The second and third nights are more successful, but all parties involved experience mixed feelings about the event. Hong Lim enjoys himself, the queen slightly less so, and the king is jealous of his lover and his wife spending nights together. The fractures in each relationship begin to show and Hong Lim gets totally confused about his attachment to the king. He uses the ongoing investigation as an excuse and runs away.

The king rushes out of the palace in plainclothes to greet Hong Lim’s return, but the latter had just returned from visiting the queen. (That’s terminally silly, but then I don’t write scripts and cautious people make bad stories.)

Meeting the king and being reminded of how loved he is brings out all the guilt again, because why miss a chance to angst?

Hong Lim continually oversteps his bounds by paying too much attention to the queen. By now they are both fatally attracted to each other and have trouble staying away for long periods of time. Hong Lim’s frequent absences and wandering mind irritate the king, who suspects the truth but is willing to believe in Hong Lim’s (weak) denials.

The Kunryongwe uncover that a merchant named Ma Young-il was recently killed after smuggling lots of Japanese weaponry. Being able to trace him back to Cho provides the king with proof to pursue and execute those who are disloyal. One of the co-conspirators include the queen’s older brother, the visiting emissary from Yuan. His special status means that he doesn’t get killed at the same time the treasonous nobles – but he can’t escape death.

Hong Lim is ordered to kill him, but a subordinate later reveals to the king that he was let go for the sake of the queen. (He’s still dead by someone else’s hand, though, as the head in the box attests.)

Things go rapidly downhill from there, as the queen attempts suicide after hearing the news. The king loses faith in Hong Lim while the latter is full of self-doubt at his own betrayal. He does promise the king that he was acting out of mistaken lust. (Yeah, you wish.)

They all try to return to life as it was, but it only makes things worse. The shape of the inevitable is obvious, and the tension is only waiting for the next disaster to break.

The king decides to send Hong Lim away to the border to clear his mind. However, the queen sends for Hong Lim, with the news that she is pregnant. They meet in their usual place, the library, and are caught in the act by the king and a retinue of servants and guards.

Incensed, the king orders that Hong Lim be castrated and imprisons him. He manages an escape, with the help of his friends remaining in the guard. The five of them seek refuge at an old temple.

However, the king has a bargaining chip in the queen, who is now alone to protect both herself and her child.

Naturally, when Hong Lim realizes this, he abandons his friends to ride off to the queen’s rescue. Halfway, he realizes the futility of actually going against the king. Unfortunately for Hong Lim’s former subordinates, when he returns, the king has already caught up with them. They are brutally tortured for news of Hong Lim’s whereabouts.

I think we all agree that the king has stepped off the deep end by now, and kudos to Joo Jin-mo for doing such a good job. He’s so desperate to have Hong Lim back that he won’t hesitate to commit more atrocities.

Defeated and alone, Hong Lim returns to the capital in time to see the heads of four men staked on the wall – he recognizes them, and also the pendant of the queen hanging from the fifth head.

Now solely aiming for revenge, Hong Lim disguises himself as a returning soldier and enters the palace during the celebratory feast. The king leaves while the celebration is still going on, and we find out two things: the queen (as expected) is still alive, and Hong Lim still retains his title as captain.

The king has killed everyone involved in the adultery case, with the exception of the vice captain. Now he tells everyone in the guard of what has happened, as a safeguard for his own life and the future of the Kunryongwe guards.

While the discussion is going on, Hong Lim has entered the king’s chambers and forced a fight. He intends to kill the king, though the latter is mostly yielding to him. The prolonged fight destroys most of the king’s furniture and suite. When Hong Lim cuts through a treasured painting of the two of them hunting, the duel becomes serious.

Multitudes of guards arrive, but are kept back by both the king’s command and the vice captain’s restraining hand.

As always, the king is the better swordsman, and when Hong Lim asks for death, the king stabs him through the shoulder, pinning him to a pillar. The king asks if Hong Lim had ever loved him, and he denies it. Then he walks forward, impaling himself further and stabbing the king in the stomach.

The king dies pretty quickly, but Hong Lim’s shoulder wound isn’t immediately fatal, so it’s up to Seung-ki, the vice captain, to kill him as an assassin. (It’s almost a matter of personal revenge, as Seung-ki seems to have been in love with the king this whole time.) The queen finally pushes her way past the guards in time to see Hong Lim in his death throes on the floor.

He hears her voice, and with the (er, hopefully) last effort of a dying man, lifts himself up so that he dies looking at the body of the king.

The bustle of dealing with the bodies fades into a flashback from happier times, when the two had just met:

Hong Lim: Wow! Everything looks really great from up here.
King: My home is right there.
Hong Lim: It’s beautiful. I’d love to live there.
King: Then how about spending our entire lives there?
Hong Lim: Yes, of course!

And the movie ends on the dream sequence of the two of them hunting in the Northern Plains, exactly as the destroyed painting depicted.

End movie.

Commentary/Rambling:

– Okay, first of all, I have to say, outstanding job on the scenery and choreography. Gorgeous doesn’t begin to cover it. I also really like the music used here – it doesn’t drown out the story, and the music follows the movie, not the other way around.

– Joo Jin-mo did a great job portraying all the turmoil and angst inherent in a role like his. His character felt so real, in fact, that I was totally on his side during the entire movie – even when he went crazy and killed so many people. I had expected it of Joo Jin-mo, as he’s a charismatic veteran actor with lots of films under his belt, but I had also hoped Jo In-sung would move past just being a pretty face. Oh well, he has plenty of time to develop when he comes back from military service. As for Song Ji-hyo, her performance here is a step up from what she did in Goong – understated, but she gets the message across. In terms of chemistry, however, it’s all on Joo Jin-mo.

– The actor for young Hong Lim deserves a special mention, I think, not just for his creditable performance here but in other dramas as well. For his age, Yeo Jin-goo shows pretty good depth and manages to retain the childlike vitality that underscores Hong Lim’s earlier relationship with the king.

– The costumes are a little too gaudy, but then historical movies always contain an element for dress-up. What I really didn’t like was the fact that the movie felt bloated with prettiness. More editing and tightening would have prevented fatigue during the second half – flashy is nice, but not at the expense of the plot. At the end, I just wanted all of them to die.

– Despite the presence of the queen and all the declarations of love running around, this movie is still very much about Hong Lim and his king. Their tragedy lies in the fact that they both feel too much (as opposed to feeling too little). Their emotions run to extremes all the time: they love too hard, they hate too hard, and they tied themselves together far too tightly for the break up to end well.

– There’s a tired joke I always trot out with friends unfamiliar with epic wuxia movies – namely, that the couple trying to find love against all odds will die (well, everyone dies, but their deaths have that special 30 minute prismacolour surround-sound touch). And while Frozen Flower doesn’t have much in common with the average wuxia movie (except teh sageuk pretteh, I suppose), I think it’s significant that the king and Hong Lim are the ones to die together.

– What’s your take?

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155 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Jacq

    I’m so glad you did a review of this movie. I watched it a while back and loved it. I think the two male leads had amazing chemistry, not to mention super great looking.

  2. cecee

    It is brokeback mountain except asian style. Interesting.

  3. ockoala

    Thank you for the recap and incisive commentary, Sevenses, and for sharing the review on your blog, Javabeans. Makes me want to watch the movie even more.

  4. amy

    Joo Jin-mo was so good in this movie.. but I can’t help but notice our lovely Park Gyu lol

  5. cecee

    does anyone know where I can watch this movie? Everyone raves about it so I want to watch it. Thanks!

    • 5.1 romeotesta

      there’s already one in youtube. it is divided into 2 parts

  6. TestingJake

    I thought the movie to be beautiful in terms of visuals and the plot to be very interesting. I really enjoyed the move so much and I agree I was on Joo Jin-mo side the entire time. When he was betrayed by the one he loved so was I , but then again never let another man sleep with your woman no matter his “orientation”.

  7. hmmm...

    saw this movie…did not like it…just wasn’t that good of a movie. I’ll never watch it again for sure.

  8. Snikki

    Ooh, I’ve been wanting to see this. I have friends who like this kind of movies…erm *whispers* I do too actually… 😛

  9. Mimimah

    Surprising me that you recap this. Since i was crazily waiting this movie for zo in sung. It bit disappointed me. I want see his acting , not his look. hmm.. i want something memorable like dirty carnival. He ‘s sacrificied him self in sex scene but it seems useless (for me ). But whatever reason i still love him hehe. It reminds me with Joo jin mo in HAPPY END hehe Hohoww that movie as crazy as frozen flower. Haha Thanks for recaps

  10. 10 Pully

    “that the couple trying to find love against all odds will die”

    LOL, freaking true. I just finished “Portrait of a beauty”, and pretty the same thing happened. Steaming sex + dead in the end.

    Movies, this type, are pretty to look at. But I forget the second after it ended. Maybe it’s just me.

  11. 11 Sevenses

    @6: Cecee, Email me at of.seven.seas[at]gmail.com.

    To misquote: If you watch a movie because it was full of beautiful frames, then it was a crap movie.

    (To poster above, yes, there was no need for all that sex. In addition, some of the implications regarding homosexuality are kind of offensive.)

  12. 12 Masaya

    OMG, so that was Im Joo Hwan running away with the girl at the beginning?

  13. 13 Jane

    From this summary, the story sounds like a mix of Alexander, Mists of Avalon, and the King and the Clown.

  14. 14 Sorrowmask

    Oh. I can’t say it is a great movie or the movie I like very much.. But I love Joo Jin Mo’s acting and character here. I agreed with you. I sided with the King’s pathetic love rather Hong Lim and the Queen. I think it is because of JJM’s acting. It is very persuasive and real, made my heart feel sorry for him even the King is merciless killing those peole involved in.
    Jo In Sung is just okay in this movie, I don’t think he really stepped up.
    For the Queen, the actress is alrigh, she certainly improved since Goong. But her role was shadowed by the King and Hong Lim.

  15. 15 Mona

    You should do more of these reviews, I can’t keep myself from laughing when I read some of your comments about certain scences. Lovely!

  16. 16 all4movies

    Nice recap Sevenses. I’ve been wondering about this movie even though the subject matter doesn’t appeal to me. Now I’ve got a better idea of what it’s all about.

  17. 17 onie80

    I LOVED THE MOVIE !!
    THE BEST EVER MADE if not sine i have stated to be interested in korean drama and movie!
    THE BEST !!
    so beautiful

  18. 18 Meix2

    I for one absolutely love this movie… So tragic that it lingers in your mind for quite some time afterwards. I absolutely agree with the doomed lovers thing cause having been re-aquainted with korean ‘historic’ ‘movies through Frozen Flower, I went back and watched Portrait of a Beauty and Untold Scandal….

    I have read somewhere that the frequent sex scenes were imperative to the pacing of the film as it builds up audience tension in awaiting for the inevitable discovery of The Betrayal. Sex in film is a good thing- both between Hong Lim and the King as well as Hong Lim and the Queen- but sometimes there’s just too much. So much that you start to roll your eyes (Again?) and then press the ff button just to find out what happens next – never a good sign for a film.

    I think that a major interest in this film is how flawed the main characters are, as well as how seemingly every choice they make regarding their relationships turns out to be the wrong one and propels their interaction onto the next phase, especially near the end. I would say HL character is weak to temptation (especially as there is a definite question about his sexual orientation… was he gay? If he was then why would the King think that HL could serve the queen if he, the king can’t. Was he bisexual? Was he groomed/ coerced by the King from his childhood days?). The King obviously loved HL very much, and was willing to forgive him right to the end and I for one was hoping for this outcome/ pairing… However, castrating your beloved, killing his friends and lover… not the best way to make him come back to you, man.

    One of my major problem with this film is the issue of love between the Queen and HL. When did that happen? Great sex does not equal love and the love confessions just came out of nowhere. It also ended with HL saying that he have never loved the King- not even once, which I take as a lie (only because it makes for a better story…) plus the fact that at this point HL was mightily pissed off with him. HL kills him. Then he gets killed. Queen comes in. HL makes a deliberate effort to turn and face the king as he lies dying. A single drop of tear as he takes his last breath…… (AHHHHHH I’m so confused about what this means?!!) Would someone enlighten me??

    • 18.1 Ron

      “HL makes a deliberate effort to turn and face the king as he lies dying. A single drop of tear as he takes his last breath…… (AHHHHHH I’m so confused about what this means?!!) Would someone enlighten me??”

      Check out wikipedia, it really helped me understand. :)

      Most of your reasonings were spot on. HL was extremely pissed to the point that he said he didn’t love the King. At that moment he probably hated the King so much that he wanted him to die with a broken heart.

      When HL realizes that the King hadn’t really killed the Queen, but instead had lied and done everything just to lure HL back to him…you’ve got to wonder – what was it all for? Think from the POV of HL, fucking confusion, yeah.

      From great love stems great hatred. His last question was probably “Why?”

    • 18.2 blackberries

      You are seeing the movie with too modern eyes :) … must watch it keeping the historic customs in mind.
      It’s the Asian Middle Ages, after all – just to put it in perspective.

      People around the king were taught to attend to his wishes, and not to waver in doing it – that could cost you the position you tediously (or painfully) climbed to (often the life itself could’ve been on the line) … a word had multiple meanings and the pressure was immense… the king himself was brought up as a superior being, and there are few people who don’t succumb (from a humanist point of view) to this sort of instilled self-importance

      Women were supposed to obey their male family members – and their wish was paramount: be it the father or, later, the husband. Besides, she had really no value outside a family, and if she was rejected by her partner it was a social and personal disaster (even if young, she was already “expired” )

      In regards to this , I don’t see the characters as “flawed”, but each fighting to survive within the social pressures of the day, while keeping their dreams too.

      The king, an ambitious man, had his authority severely reduced by the dependence to the Yuan empire… a sort of political castration, which echoed in his inability to control his noblemen. To add wound to the insult, all his value was reduced to his duty of producing a heir. (imagine, say, all ur family around u asking when u’r going to have a kid, but when? tell us! u have to do it now! or we’re just not interested in u!…sort of thing)

      The queen knew she would be a shamed woman if returning home, so she held tight in there , although being submitted to having sex with the man she hated most (for taking her husband from her) was immensely humiliating for her.

      Hong Lim is the frozen flower.

      He was a very interesting character to follow, yet with all the sex scenes the attention was whisked away from what was more important (it sold the movie though 😀 )
      As a young boy, being taken away from his family, he needed an authoritative yet warm and friendly figure, and he found it in the young prince – as such he sought to impress him (sword fight and devotion)… but as he grew that relationship had to change (court rules, king’ own mix of affection and selfishness – fueled by his insecurity and hurt pride )… and he turned into a very submissive young man, which had to fulfill his king wishes . He had a strong affection for king, but not love.
      The queen was a virgin, so, in a way they both started from ground zero – which gave them equal chances to discover and explore each other , and as such HL felt much freer, livelier in this relationship… hence the confusion, the fear (she was the queen after all), the inability to fulfill anymore his duty to the king.

      … but when somebody inflicts such a gruesome mutilation , it’s really impossible to have any affection left for that person…

      The last tear was for those pure, wonderful times, lived without fear, selfishness, possession or destructive ambition

      • 18.2.1 blackberries

        :) hum… out of characters-limit-fear I didn’t sketched better the queen attitude towards her husband:

        When writing that she hated HL because he took away her husband, it wasn’t because of some unrequited love… but mostly because her life at the court became extremely unhappy (also as an imposed foreigner), and stressful with all the gossip, people’s (and her family) unfulfilled expectations for the heir, and waning authority… it probably felt like breathing in an air vacuum… and the specter of even more troublesome times was rising as a Crown prince was being proposed – and she diverted all the frustration and resentment towards Hong Lim.

        …As a matter of fact she is the last one to get fully involved in the relationship with HL – in the beginning she even uses his feelings (wearing the necklace to allure him) & deliberately forces him to meet in hiding out of revenge… later, when he bursts into her room, she realizes he is totally in love with her, ready to risk his own life – and this reaction made her give in, and let her heart open. The tea & rice cake scene from afterwards speaks volumes about their shared, but dangerous, love.

        Later when the king proposes a different mating partner, she is so scared, desperate and disgusted at the idea of “staining” her body&heart , that she demands from HL to run away, even though knowing that was a capital crime … in the end she slashes her wrists, and the king backs up, for the moment.

        I think the queen is deliberately played in low-key – as a beautiful (but not outstanding) woman , without particular artistic skills or bright personality, to let the stage open to the two male leads, and step up a bewildering feeling in the viewers regarding HL’s preference for such an woman, and not for the handsome, charismatic king… :) I guess the trick worked

      • 18.2.2 milletzky

        I discovered the film last year and I thought it was one hell of a literature. The approach was modern but the story is quite different from those Korean movies and movies I’d watched.

        Today I came across news about Jo In Sung and suddenly I remembered “The Frozen Flower”. And now I found this site and read your comments. I think that your opinion and your assessments of the movie were almost the same as my thoughts. I find that your understanding of the story is quite laudable.

  19. 19 asianromance

    “namely, that the couple trying to find love against all odds will die” — so true. I knew both guys were going to die the moment you said the two guys were close. The ending dream sequence was so sad =*(

  20. 20 GT

    thanks for the recap…this indeed is a good movie, scene, music, costumes…etc. I enjoyed the movie & 2 thumbs up for Joo Jin-Mo & Jo In-Sung.

  21. 21 peachys2sleep

    I would have really liked to see the sword dance without all the sex scenes woven in.

  22. 22 Sevenses

    @19: My personal theory is that Hong Lim + the king = true lovers. All the symbolism with the painting, and especially the post-death ending sequence point that way. (It is kinda creepy that the king met Hong Lim when the latter wasn’t even a teenager and decided, ‘That’s it, he’s the one.’)

    It’s always irritating when two people have sex and voila! Instant love. But we must suspend disbelief, even if the queen and Hong Lim pretty much disliked each other up til that point.

    While we’re on the subject of flaws, if you look at the king, objectively, he’s a pretty sucky monarch. He won’t provide an heir, which leaves not just himself but the entire country at risk. His problem is that he values personal pleasures over other obligations. It’s hypocritical to force his boyfriend to sleep with the queen because it’s unpleasant – it’s not any less pleasant for Hong Lim, but he’ll do it because it’s his duty. And the queen, poor thing, has a bad habit of latching on to the nearest unrelated male and feel (real/fake) love for him.

    As for the gay/or not question, who knows? (Maybe he’s bi. That’d explain a lot.)

    • 22.1 blackberries

      The young prince is NOT sexually interested in the young boy.

      There was a special bond created between them, like when you favor somebody out of a group, not because you’re sexually interested in him/her, but because you can both relate better than with others…

      The kid was probably like one of those puppies, lost from their pack, that trail after you and jump&roll … and the king treated him like that, later developing a sense of possessive affection, and treating him as something between a lover and a pet – he would do anything for Hong Lim as long as he behaves as he wished … I wasn’t convinced at all that HL was in love with the king – in the love scene between them, HL is so overwhelmed that it really looks like a chore , than pleasure (nice bodies btw :)

      see also my comments above for the other issues

  23. 23 epyc

    For those who have also seen The King and the Clown and Farewell My Concubine, how would you compare Frozen Flowers to them (if comparable, that is)?

  24. 24 soysauce

    I saw this a month back or so, and it left me pretty confused. I wasn’t sure too sure to take Hong Lim’s words when he said he has never loved the king. But then again, I wonder if lust can blossom into love.
    As for the sex scenes, they were extremely graphic, and a little unnecessary.
    I also find it kinda “odd” that the King wasn’t even wiling to elope with his wife. I mean, sure he doesn’t love her, but a couple tries can solve the problem. Why drag Hong Lim into this? And the King is in assumption that Hong Lim loves him, so if he can’t proceed with this task, what makes him think Hong Lim can do it for him?
    However, as a whole movie, it was enjoyable. The sceneries were brilliant as well as the colorful wardrobes.

    • 24.1 blackberries

      Welcome to the Korean roller-coaster : one moment a suave song, the next slashed throats… love scenes, then history lessons, love scenes again , mutilation next and so on … aihoooo 😀

  25. 25 Blakey

    I liked your review and point of view on the movie, and I agree te best performance in the entire movie was from the King.

    But I must admit, I couldn’t help but hate the King, and I know it was all part of the plot, but really. What would he expect from making his lover and the queen sleep together? Of course he’d get jealous, and I just wanted his character to die in the end. I got way to frustrated with all the angst that I couldn’t just look at the beauty that the movie wanted to emit.

    Overall for me, great idea and plot, but could’ve been a bit better.

  26. 26 Missemergency

    I just watched this movie only days ago, and while I enjoyed it, I was not a fan of the relationship between Hong Lim and the Queen nor the King’s needy tendencies. The biggest gaping flaw for me was that the queen and Hong Lim only ever have sex, I think they speak a total of ten sentences to each other. How can either of them say that they are in love?

    I also agree in that there could have been a lot less sex and a lot more emphasis on the relationship between the king and Hong Lim. It felt as though the filmakers were still very uncomfortable with the whole gay plot.

    However I must agree, this movie was gorgeous to look at and the music was especially nice.

    • 26.1 TS

      Because it was like a young romance for them both. Neither had been with the opposite sex before. And sex leads to oxytocin which leads to attachment.

      The king was stupid and selfish here.

      • 26.1.1 Ron

        Hahahaha. This was a movie about selfish, intense and impulsive people… anyway, I think it’s a bit too much to go into detail here about the oxytocin and all. No need to drag in science to analyze a plot hole lol.

        The movie followed a simple storyline, and the focus wasn’t really much on the love between the Queen and HL. Probably that’s why the whole thing just felt cobbled together.

  27. 27 mochiballs

    @ Sevenses…i think the king’s love for hong lim was real but i don’t think hong lim’s love for the king is real at all. he might have genuine affection & respect for the king having grown up and spent most of his life by the king’s side…not to mention being doted on by the king…but it came across very obvious to me that he just didn’t know any better until he got intimate with the queen…and realized that he really bats for the other team. although i do agree that sex doesn’t necessarily equate to love, however, the intimacy can bring out all sorts of feelings! 😛 so i didn’t get the sense that the queen and hong lim’s supposed love was random at all. there were times when i felt that maybe the queen didn’t really love hong lim but rather just wanted his male companionship b/c she was obviously lonely…and horny! lol joo jin mo definitely did an awesome job in this movie…he played the lover scorned so well!

  28. 28 budsdiana

    WOW, finally a discussion about FROZEN FLOWER.

    I so agree a lot with @28 mochiballs
    King’s love for HL = true
    HL love for King = total devotion he grew up in his household, romantic love I don’t think so.
    Queen’s love for HL = yes possible, remember male and female reaction to “sex” are quite different. Male can do it without emotions, female usually attaches a certain amount of emotions to the act of sex. The frequent sex, I am sure stirred a lot of emotions to the queen.

    JJM was awesome, for me the best part was when he discovered the Q + HL doing it in the library, his facial/eyes reaction was SUPER. When I was watching this part and the build-up of the scene where the K was looking tentatvely at each aisle, i was literally shouting at the screen, “NO! NO! PLEASE DON’T LET THE KING DISCVOVER THEM, HE WILL BE DEVASTATED FOR SURE, POOR HIM.

    Then the next scene was the castration part, whew!! my heart was really pumping so fast. I so love the action of the the vice-captain, when the King ordered TO DO IT NOW!! His initial hesitation, confusion but finally he has to do it, the sputter of blood drops (tacky).

    I just wish the scene (backtrack) of the bodyguards performance with the sword dance(?) in the scene where there was a festivity, was loooonger. There was so much eyecandies and I sooo love it. Instead the scene was alternated with the Q + HL doing their tryst in the library (bummer!). I saw the scenes in youtube when they were rehearsing this scene and most of the actors (bodyguards) were shirtless or wearing sleeveless shirts, hmmmm yummy.

    Again, JJM was sooooo GREAT.

  29. 29 budsdiana

    I forgot, thanks a lot SEVENSES for the review. I forgot to mention that I watched this initially without sub, so I barely understood the real gist. Then I watched it again when I happen to see later that eng sub was now avaialble. But the episodes that had sex in it was deleted. Now, reading your review I now understood the correct storyline.

    @19 Meix2
    “Then he gets killed. Queen comes in. HL makes a deliberate effort to turn and face the king as he lies dying. A single drop of tear as he takes his last breath…… (AHHHHHH I’m so confused about what this means?!!) Would someone enlighten me??”

    My take is that, when all this fighting was happening HL believes the Queen was dead, so when he saw the pregnant Q walks in, he had to look at the King in his dying seconds. Probably HL was thinking “how could you let me think she was dead….” or probably “thank you for not killing the queen and the future heir (or my baby)….” I like this scene as well..

    • 29.1 blackberries

      I wonder how come so many people believed that head was the queen’s ??

      just because there is a hanging necklace doesn’t put an identification tag …

      Hong Lim didn’t attack the king to revenge the queen’s “killing”, but because he realized she is not safe anymore, the king he thought he knew is capable of doing lots of harm ..and he was fearful for his child as well

      (and she was not safe anymore as – although from a powerful empire , and squashing her like a fly could have been a trigger for war – she was still vulnerable to slow poisoning & other sneaky tricks….)

  30. 30 jaguar

    I like jim mo very much. He’s so charming and handsome. And he can act very well.

  31. 31 thankyou

    Thankyou for the review. I enjoyed reading it. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but will now.
    “Their tragedy lies in the fact that they both feel too much (as opposed to feeling too little). Their emotions run to extremes all the time: they love too hard, they hate too hard, and they tied themselves together far too tightly for the break up to end well.”
    Story of my life!

    ” It’s hypocritical to force his boyfriend to sleep with the queen because it’s unpleasant – it’s not any less pleasant for Hong Lim, but he’ll do it because it’s his duty.”

    I haven’t seen the movie so what I am about to say may be
    completely wrong. I wonder if the reason king forced Hong
    to sleep with the queen was because he rather be cheated on
    than cheat. I use the term cheating here loosely considering
    all parties involved had prior knowledge. The king rather go
    through the angst of having his lover be with someone else
    instead of watching hong in misery. “I rather be cheated on than
    cheat” kinda logic. It is selfish nonetheless.

    • 31.1 romeotesta

      my take is that maybe the king is so gay he won’t touch a woman. and hong lim, being a loyal subject, followed the order

      • 31.1.1 mimi

        lol yeah, I think the King is so gay too, he probably considers himself the “female” in a relationship, while HL is the “male” and only HL – though involved in a homo relationship- can still make love with women. On the other hand, HL was juz a child recruited and lured by the King, he definitely had not had experience with women before and somehow forced into the relationship with the King. Cant say its love.

  32. 32 langdon813

    Every movie that deals with male homosexuality is always compared to Brokeback Mountain and I’m not going to be any different. BBM is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen in my life. I can’t watch it without having a complete emotional breakdown; in fact I’ve only ever watched it completely twice. But it really hits me where I live and I always irrationally hope for a different outcome. In my mind, Ennis and Jack are living on Brokeback Mountain with gray hair and beer bellies, happy together forever.

    It’s the same for me with A Frozen Flower. I wanted so badly for the king to get his happy ending, but barring that, at least SOME admission of love from Hong-lim before they died. What a credit to Joo Jin-mo’s acting abilities that so many people feel this way!

    I completely understand why Hong-lim is confused by the events that unfold. The king has practically raised him from early childhood, given him every advantage and opportunity; and lavished him with attention and great affection. Hong-lim in return is fiercely protective of the king, respects him tremendously, and wants only to please him. They could have lived out the rest of their days blissfully happy together…if only the king had not made this one fateful command.

    But he did…and now Hong-lim has had sex with a woman for the first time. The king is gay; Hong-lim is not. That, to me, is the bottom line. Hong-lim has spent his formative years in the company of men, was introduced to sex by a man. Up to that point he’d never known anything else. But after the fact, he clearly prefers sex with the queen to sex with the king. The queen, a virgin who has long desired her uninterested husband from afar, is also awakened to the joys of sex. Is it love? Probably not, but it’s really hard to tell your raging hormones that when it’s all new and exciting. “Wait, you mean THIS is what I’ve been missing? More please!”

    It’s not the king’s fault; he was born that way and his love for Hong-lim is very pure and very natural to him. It’s not Hong-lim’s fault; he might never have left the king’s side had he not been forced to, but once he did, he realized that he was meant to be with a woman. It’s not the queen’s fault; she loved her husband but he was unable to return her desire, so she transferred those feelings to a man who could.

    It’s a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, if you ask me. The pity is that the movie wasn’t quite strong enough to flesh out (no pun intended) the emotions of all the parties involved. With the possible exception of the king, which is why so many of us who watched the film feel that he is the most tragic character of them all. Because he is; he is the one character who never hides nor wavers on his true feelings. Who doesn’t become irrational at the thought of losing the love of their life? The act of castration is horrifying and barbaric, but it was done in the heat of the moment after witnessing not just a physical betrayal but an emotional one. Remember, the king wants to believe that Hong-lim loves him, not the queen. And if lust is the reason Hong-lim can’t stay away from the queen (which Hong-lim stated was the case, truthfully or not) then why not make it impossible for it to ever happen again?

    I tend to agree that Hong-lim was the weakest character, not because of his actions but because the emotions behind his actions weren’t expressed enough. He had to know that what he was doing would destroy the king, but a few sad, pouty faces here and there didn’t really cut it for me. We should have seen Hong-lim struggle as much with his love for the king as with his lust for the queen. Because then the scene in which he rises up one last time to gaze at the king as they die would have had a lot more impact, rather than leaving us to wonder if he did or didn’t love the king after all.

    • 32.1 AnotherFan

      Just found out about this movie and reading DB reviews and comments now. And I want to compliment you on such an insightful and beautifully written review of your own.

    • 32.2 blackberries

      It’s amazing how people can still use affection/ love as a justification for mutilation.

      NO
      the king never fully loved Hong Lim if he was capable of such a horrendous act.
      He cared for him alright, but he considered him his possession, his work of art, and could use his body as he wished.

      I don’t see HL as weak – he is following his heart (watch the movie again, and don’t pay too much attention to the sex scenes) and being true to his feelings, not lying to keep his position and rights (one of the reasons the king refuses the offer the vice-chief is making, because the king knew he was more sneaky, and not fair, like HL)

      … actually it takes lots of courage to do what HL did.

  33. 33 Nom_Kitteh

    JB, I won’t read your review until after I have watched the movie for fear of spoilers, but wanted to give you a high five for the including Rufus Wainwright in your song for the day. Hallelujah indeed.

  34. 34 gyengao

    I was so excited to see your review, Sevenses! Thank you. This is maybe only the second or third review I’ve seen of the flick, in spite of how long it stayed in the theater, and I’ve been wondering a lot what other people thought of it.

    Personally, I was sooooo disappointed with this film. First and foremost, I couldn’t believe what an uproar it caused even before it was released because of the love scene between Hong Lim and the king, a scene which turned out to be **NOTHING AT ALL** compared to the 1001 heterosexual sex scenes that followed. I won’t lie–I had been looking forward to the film specifically for its slashy nature, and it was a terrible letdown for me when it ended up, IMO, focusing so much more on the relationship that developed between Hong Lim and the queen.

    Furthermore, it seems to me that the overabundance of sex scenes between Hong Lim and the queen (which I normally wouldn’t mind at all) was supposed to be a way of showing the desire that grew from what had originally only been duty, but I’d be a lot more accepting of that if I’d found any of the sex scenes sexy. I never felt any chemistry between the two of them at all, and the expression on the queen’s face every single time left me wondering whether she was enjoying it or in pain.

    And finally, I had no sympathy for the king whatsoever–I think that’s really what ruined the film for me. Such a selfish and immature character, the king was the cause of all of his own problems, and I was neither surprised nor moved by his demise.

    What a shame! I was bummed that I disliked the movie so much, but at least other people enjoyed it.

  35. 35 nycgrl

    I was so excited to see this film due to the topic but was so disappointed in Jo In sung’s performance. I had to laugh in some scenes because he was so bad. This movie would have been a lot better with another actor. I think his performance brought an element of cartoonishness to the story rather than any genuine tragedy.

    Also I do not shrink in face of man on man love having seen enough gay porn thanks to my status as a “faghag” (not my words) but the scenes were so awkward it felt literally like two straight actors bravely plowing forward. I felt almost like they had those scenes for the sake of showing audience that korean cinema had arrived to the world where broke back mountain was a mass success and that they had real artists who weren’t afraid to show some gay love. If it can’t be done well it would have been better for the director to allude to the intimacy. Sometimes a picture isn’t worth a 1000 words.

    I actually felt the most compelling part of the story besides Joo Jin Mo’s acting was the love story of Hong Lim and the Queen. It was an awakening in both of them. Not only did Hong Lim realize he wasn’t batting on the same team which must have been a shock to him after 20+ years but his chief rival to his surprise is his love, soul companion, object of his lust and his baby mama. How quaint and refreshing is that?

  36. 36 starletbang

    I’m glad you did a recap because I was never sure that I fully understood this movie.
    i can’t say i liked this movie but i do agree that the background scenery and the costume was really beautiful.

  37. 37 maxon888

    thanks for recapping this movie, as always you rock….Jo Jin Mo did a great job in this movie, lots of eye candy and the scenery was gorgeous……….I waivered between Jo Jin Mo and Zo In Sung’s characters, gripping… thanks once again

  38. 38 hqlover

    I love Jo in Sung and watching this movie at first got me really uncomfortable…OMIGOSH…I have never saw a Korean movie that is so full of sex scenes…My family thought I was watching a Porno or something…When I finally got over my uncomfortable stage, then I was able to enjoy the storyline…I thought Jo in sung did a great job in this movie …but now when I see him, I can’t help but imagine him naked all the time ….

  39. 39 orangemania

    I didn’t really enjoy the movie. I didn’t see any love from the Queen for Jo In Sung at all. I think that was a major flaw and didn’t really make the movie work. I was a little disappointed after watching it because i expected ti to be better from the trailer.

  40. 40 Meix2

    I have to say, never having been a fan of Jo In Sung or Joo Jin Mo, (okay… maybe during the ‘Memories of Bali’ stage with Jo In Sung), this film has certainly make me take notice of these two actors. So I went back and watched some of their other work (I’m just coming out of my Cha Seung Won (Cityhall) addiction!) While Jo In Sung has done some decent films – Dirty Carnival etc. Jo Jin Min has left me considerably less impressed with his past work, which make me wonder why the heck I like him so much in this film (to be fair, ‘Musa’ was ok and I have yet to see ‘Real fiction’).

    I suppose choosing Hong lim to impregnate the queen was a monumentally bad decision (duh), if the only reason being a matter of trust and wanting the child to look like HL. Maybe he wanted to raise HL child together as a couple, but surely this must cause problems if the child does indeed, as the King wants, to resemble HL. Surely, it would be much easier to find someone else to impregnate the queen and then silence them with death after the fact? Or maybe he chose HL because he knew that the Queen despised him and so there was little chance of any affection growing.

    Generally, the more I read about and discuss the movie, the more questions arises? Why this, why that, why, why, why…. Don’t get me wrong, I still love the movie but only wish that there was a bit more explaining to the audience and not just glossing over important character/ relational issues. This is one movie that needed a directors commentary to explain what was what and bring on the ‘Oh, I seeeeee’ moment. Opening discussion about a film is always a good thing, but having a film that NEEDS discussing just shouts pretension and laziness in directing/ editing. This is a good film, but it could have so easily been a great film.

    • 40.1 blackberries

      “I suppose choosing Hong lim to impregnate the queen was a monumentally bad decision ”

      :) well, it’s the 14th century… I guess people were still oblivious to the effect of certain decisions

      It’s always difficult for a director to dissect his own work :) it’s like pulling out all the magic that he created … and anyway, that is what a film/ creative work must do – bring questions & debates forward

  41. 41 Meix2

    Oh and in answer to the question as why the King never slept with the Queen himself and needed Hong Lim, I always got the impression that it wasn’t that he couldn’t do it because he found it distasteful (okay that too) but rather he couldn’t because he was ‘unable to take a woman’ – meaning he found it so disgusting that he could not get aroused. Which raises the question… what made him think that HL can? So some part of him realised that HL was not gay like him?

    Okay, I’ll stop asking questions now.

    • 41.1 Joanne

      I felt it was a test for Hong Lim….the first time HL and the queen tried, they failed. And when HL was asking for forgiveness from the king for failing, the king had a slight and very subtle please smile on his lips.

      That’s why when HL did start enjoying it, the king started going bonkers with jealousy and denial.

    • 41.2 blackberries

      I don’t think it was to test him – after all 10 yrs have past since being together, and all that time he could’ve tested Hong Lim.

      It was the pressure to produce a heir … and the queen offered to remain by his side, and not to return to her home-country – so the king (after the humiliating episode with the Yuan envoy) decided to use his most trusted man to solve the issue.

      Plus , as anyone knows, “you get laid, you’ll have a baby” – so the king expected (probably knowing what could HL do) that everything will be finished after one…two sessions… it’s just it’s not always as smooth as that

  42. 42 MEIKO**** ^-^

    Thanks Sevenses! Am very much surprised someone did a recap on this!!!

    I have been waiting for this movie…. it’s not available anywhere…and the DVD is in region3…*sigh*

    can i email you too?! ill do it anyways!

    I have been reading so many good reviews on this movie….

    Am just browsing over your recap…just enough to get the gist…dont want too much spoilers… ^-^

  43. 43 Soobi

    …so it’s up to Seung-ki, the vice captain, to kill him as an assassin. (It’s almost a matter of personal revenge, as Seung-ki seems to have been in love with the king this whole time.)

    I didn’t get the impression that Seungki would have been in love with the King but more like he was in love with the position Honglim had and Seungki wanted to be more important and was ready for sacrifices. I might be wrong though idk… I would have wanted to see more of this character in the movie.

    • 43.1 Joanne

      Well, Seungki definitely wanted to replace Hong Lim in the king’s heart….hence SK pointedly asking to let him serve the king that night. But then, orchestrating the downfall of them both does not really make sense that Seungki is acting out of ‘a man scorned’.

      It would’ve been more interesting if Hong Lim was the one Seungki was infatuated with since Seungki is obviously obsessed with being HL.

      But alas, too many sex scenes to allow that sort of plot line to develop more.

  44. 44 budsdiana

    @44 Soob

    Same here, i did not get the vibes that “he is in love with the King” when was it manifested or implied in the movie? Was there I dialogue I missed (probably it got lost in the translation). He is more in love/jealous with HL’s position. Probably he felt he was better/expertise (swordmanship, etc) than HL and yet HL was the captain bec. of we know what.

  45. 45 Anonymous

    Personally I don’t think Hong Lim has ever loved the King, I don’t think he’s gay either. He was raised with men, and his first sexual encounter was with a man, and with the king no less. Although it was wrong that he was emotionally cheating on the king, he was also a victim; a victim of circumstance. From the get-go we are given the impression that Hong Lim is an extremely loyal man, and I think this loyalty was what made him into the king’s lover in the first place. The scene at the end where he made an effort to turn his head was because he was sad that this was how they had ended, even when he preferred the queen, he still valued, loved (even if it’s not romantic) and had fierce loyalty towards the king. Remember that scene in the library before they got caught? the queen was saying that the king would not love their child, but Hong Lim had argued and believed in the king’s goodness.

    • 45.1 Joanne

      Agree with all you’ve said, I do think Hong Lim did love the king…but not in the “in love” sort of way he discovered with the Queen.

      I think part of the reason why he refused to say he loved the king at the end was because (1) he mistakenly believe his king was bad and had killed the queen with his child and (2) knew that the king was asking about “in love” type of love.

      Perhaps the film didn’t emphasize this aspect of HL enough or in the right way, but he is indeed fiercely and blindly loyal (and when those loyalties clash as they did with the Queen, he becomes wretchedly lost). So when the Queen begged to elope, Hong Lim chose to sacrifice himself and answered that he was afraid and would remain the “the king’s subject”.

      • 45.1.1 Tash

        I think, Hong Lim is the victim here.. The King confused him eversince he was a kid and enter the palace. He devout himself for the king.

        Even when he falls in love with the queen and he knows the queen feels the same, he sacrificed to continue “the King’s Subject” as to be the queen’s lover is far more forbidden at least to him.

        When the queen as to elope and he repkied he is afraid is not that he is afraid of him getting killed. More likely he are more worried about the queen getting harm that is why he choose to say and sacrificed himself as he was made to believed to sacrificed for the King.

    • 45.2 agave

      I also don’t think Hong Lim was “in love” with the king and I don’t think he was gay. In fact, I suspect the king realized that HL wasn’t gay. I think part of the reason why he commanded that HL sleep with the queen was to test him.

      After all, if the king couldn’t have sex with a woman, why would he think his lover could? That never made sense to me unless the king wanted to find out how attracted HL was to women.

      There are two scenes that make me wonder about the king’s motivations for having HL sleep with the queen. The first was when he asked HL if he ever thought about running away like the guard had at the beginning of the movie. The other scene was when the king seemed pleased when HL told him that he wasn’t able to have sex with the queen that first night.

      I also agree that HL was a victim and that his loyalty to the king made him believe that he would never harm the queen or their child. I think he knew the king well enough to know that if he and the queen ran away together, the king would never give up trying to find them. So, he thought it was best that she stay with the king.

      When he told the king that he loved the queen, I believed him. However, I think HL was too insecure in his abilities to take care of the queen and their child, so he thought she would be better off if she stayed with the king.

      That scene where HL admitted he loved her was so sad because he just seemed to be exhausted. Although he said he would go back to being the way he was before he fell in love with the queen, I think he realized this wasn’t possible, so he just wanted to end it by having the king kill him.

      Perhaps, because of his loyalty to the king, he couldn’t kill himself, so he wanted the king to make the decision. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that the king would have him castrated instead. I don’t think he realized until that point, just how obsessed the king was with him.

      • 45.2.1 Tash

        I think the King ask HL to do it
        1. because he only have trust for HL as he knows that HL will never say know to his orders.
        2. Because HL is the other man that the queen quite close to other than himself (close means meets “officially”) and knows their so called”secret”
        3. He wants to have an heir that looks like his lover as he knows well he cant bear an heir himself.

        but he really never expect that the 2 will fall for each other as the fact that they should be rival to each other to have a place at the king’s heart. Suddenly the king’s becomes the “unwanted in picture figure”. I do pity him at first but when he turns violent and castrate HL is just cant be tolerate.

        Yup you were right why HL wants to be with the king and becomes “his subject” is merely to keep the queen save. At this time he didnt know the queen already pregnant. And he found out from the queen personal maid and he realised the queen tried to commit suicide he felt guilty of being afraid earlier.

        if they weren’t caught i think they already ran away. When he got castrated than only he knows that the king was rather obsessed about him. i think HL already dead once he was castrated, but when the king kill off his friends and make he thinks the queen too, that is when he is soo enraged and no regrets to kill the king. He even state his objective to the king.

    • 45.3 romeotesta

      king’s love = true love

      hong lim’s love to king = filial love

      hong lim & queen’s love for each other = erotic love

      i guess that’s my assessment of the levels of their love

  46. 46 Anonymous

    Soob, i think he was in love with the king, he offered himself and was quite jealous of Hong Lim.

    • 46.1 blackberries

      I have a different opinion – think of the final sequence , and Seung-ki’s reaction to what was happening to the king.

  47. 47 alexandra

    I have some interest in astrology and I found out that all the 3 leads are leos! And the HL and the queen are born in the same year with very close birthdates. Amazing!

    As to the suppose love between HL and the queen, I think it is just typical of a male director who think that sex generates love! I think all the romance is really lacking.

    As for the last scene where both guys are hunting, I think the director just wants a happy ending. Confusing plot? Confused director I think.

  48. 48 budsdiana

    @47 anonymous

    Oh, so there is a dialogue that Seung-ki offered himself? Missed that one, however, I think that does not mean he is in love, I think he just did it to be in the same standing career-wise as HL, IMO.

  49. 49 SIITTIE2009

    passsss

  50. 50 budsdiana

    @4

    Just finished reading your parody, wow LOL.

  51. 51 thankyou

    So i saw the movie the other night.
    A few observations:

    There were questions raised about whether hong loves the king or not. I believe he does. However, his love comes from loyalty and not desire. He desires the queen. In the begining of the movie, we see him face to face with the truant servant and maid. He knows what it is to love. And what it takes to protect the one you love. In that instance, for hong, they are the same. As the movie progresses, you see the two seperate.

    For the King, the true angst comes not from the fact that he was betrayed. But that he was betrayed for a WOMAN. This brings into question everything he shared with hong. Was the relationship out of desire or obigation? Or even worse, pitty.
    He feels robbed of his own manhood. And the anger manifests itselfs in the form of hong’s castration.

    The sword fight scenes between the two are very telling and my favourite. One is superior in skill while the other poses greater strength: a reflection of their true self. It is out of anger. It is due to frustration. Emotionally injured at the other’s hand. And most importantly, it is out of a sense of betrayl. An impossibility in either mind.

    Queen is the most pathethic of the three. She married a man who will never love her because of what she is. She loves a man who can never have her because of who she is. To be a woman and a queen, what misfortunes.

    What a fitting end! The king dies watching hong’s back while hong dies looking at the king’s face. An antithesis to the way they lived as reflected in the final scene. The two riding together, Hong watching the King’s back while the king turning to admire hong’s face.

    Thank you again for reviewing the movie. I wouldn’t have watched it otherwise.

    • 51.1 Joanne

      “What a fitting end! The king dies watching hong’s back while hong dies looking at the king’s face. An antithesis to the way they lived as reflected in the final scene. The two riding together, Hong watching the King’s back while the king turning to admire hong’s face.”

      Ooo, nice point. I think it also reflects upon the reversal of power in their relationship. Despite his position, the king is under Hong Lim’s power because of his love for HL.

      • 51.1.1 Joanne

        The use of which way heads are facing/turning is also used in HL and the queen’s sex scenes. In the beginning, HL would also turn his face towards the door where the King was after finishing sex, but then HL started turning his face to the queen while they were in bed.

    • 51.2 blackberries

      a few notes :

      – when Hong Lim defends the 2 runaways it’s because he knows how is it to sacrifice yourself for somebody else (like the two did – they risked everything then), not because of knowing what is it to love.

      – not betrayed with any woman, but with THAT woman – she was somebody imposed by the Yuan (Mongol) dynasty , so they could boast later with their offspring: the tight grip on a foreign state and its resources.
      The king was coming from a famous line of Korean leaders with a great history, and now he and his ambition were reduced to making babies (I don’t think his children with the concubines would have been recognized as Crown prince by the Yuan)… no wonder he lost any interest, if he had any to start with

      – I think Hong Lim is the most pathetic – he really has nothing: he is valuable only near the king, and he can’t have the queen for himself

      nice observations, about the final; great fight scene indeed :)

  52. 52 Soobi

    @49 budsdiana:

    Yes there was. But even so I agree with your opinion. I thought it just showed Seungki was ready to do anything for his own benefit.

  53. 53 Meix2

    I was under the impression that Seung-Ki wanted Hong-Lim’s position and status, and that is why he offered himself to the King. Concerning if Seung-ki loved the king? He sure didn’t give much thought to letting the King die at the hands of HL at the end, especially since it took the Queen exactly half a second to change his loyalties.

  54. 54 Jenna

    Watched The Limited Edition Director’s Uncut version solely for Jo InSung, Ju JinMo and Shim JiHo..what a bunch of hotties..

  55. 55 SOphie

    This reminds me of The king and the clown. esp. the ending when they showed happier times.

  56. 56 javabeans

    I haven’t seen this movie, but what I’m getting from this (fascinating) discussion is that it is a damn crying shame this movie wasn’t able to make the most of itself. From the description of the power dynamics, it sounds like it could have been a fantastic, complex tragedy, like someone said up above, of Shakespearean proportions. Too bad!!!

  57. 57 Anon

    Hi Dramabeans,

    Thanks for reviewing the movie. I watched it a while back and I loved it. i thought that Joo Jin-mo did an excellent portrayal. I, too, was on his side even when he went berserk…there was something so raw about him. He definitely snagged the movie for me.
    I thought that the sex pat actually spoiled the movie for me. One, it was not needed at all. Two, i don’t think it was well done. The ending when the king asked him if he ever loved him and he replied no BUT he turned to the king for his dying glimpse. I thought wow…he must love him right? Sigh…i still think about it.
    I loved the movie although the plot could have been a bit better constructed! There was definitely a lot of symbolism and it’s the little details that gets to me!

  58. 58 Anonymous

    #52 Thankyou – you just gave very excellent points there. i agree with you 100% especially your take on the ending.

  59. 59 kimchii

    Sounds interesting.. I’m definitely gonna try and watch this.

  60. 60 Mara

    I was a little disappointed by Jo In Sung in this movie, was expecting much more out of him. Joo Jin Mo on the other hand, was amazing.

  61. 61 aichi

    i did love the recap.. ♥♥♥ but i dont know where to watch the whole movie. do you know where to watch it? :)

  62. 62 rhea maya

    First I saw FF advertisement, I become curious about it. When I watched the movie I like the story.
    The scene when the Queen serve Hong Lim with some food and she watched Hong Lim eat what she serve at that moment I think there are love at that scene, I think at that night only queen feel she has a husband in Hong Lim. The way she looked Hong Lim eat what she serve even for a while they forget their status, may be at that time only they feel as ordinary people.
    Actually I curious too with the ending, what is the meaning of Hong Lim Look into the queen and suddenly look into the king and died?
    My conclusion are he is glad see the queen and his baby still alive and he feel so glad about it, give the queen baby and the queen not loneliness and he think when he died the queen not alone in the world, he loves the queen. Somebody else has any opinion about the ending??????
    But for the King until his dying time nobody stay with him, so I think he choose the accompany the King as per his loyal to the king.
    But I think his feeling to the queen pure love, cause that is his first love and his feeling to the king only as a guard who loyal to his King.

    • 62.1 blackberries

      I agree too, with those ideas :)

      except, HL never thought the queen was dead… but he didn’t know how was she(and their child) – after all he left them around a furious panther (the king)

  63. 63 sittie2009

    i don”t really like historical drama so passsssssssss

  64. 64 müge

    I’ve watched that movie a month ago and I liked it. actors and the actress were really successful, also musics used in the film are really effective.

  65. 65 Camila

    This movie is amazing. I loved it and i have to start with that :)

    To me, Hong lim chooses the king over the queen when he tells the king everything. when he refuses to see her, i think he was very serious about it, but finally went because the queen was pregnant! not because of her!
    that last scene in the library proves it completely in my opinion. he was leaving, but she was still attatched to him, it was her that started the action that time.

    as to why hong lim says he loves the queen, i think it was pure guilt. he felt bad with the queen, with the king….. he probably just felt like **** and felt he deserved to be punished

    then the king goes over the line, castrates him, then makes him believe he killed the queen….

    Hong Lim was furious! and then again i guess the king just wanted him to come back, it was his “final test of love”

    when HL declares he never loved the king… the expression on the kings face is amazing

    but perhaps to me, the most intense scene of all is when the queen arrives and HL uses his last strength to turn and face the king, who is already dead. to me, that glance is … ” why did you lie, tou idiot?” and yet there is so much love in that glance!!!

    the love story is between HL and the king. that’s the main romance, there’s no doubt about it!

    Shaeksperean proportions? yes. and i think the stries were perfectly managed. it’s true that the love between HL and the queen was never felt too much, and i think that’s the way it was supposed to be.

    the acting in this is AMAZING. so is the photography. the story. the characters.

    it’s realistic, people aren’t that perfectly defined, frozen flower shows that, and very well 😉

    watch it! now!

  66. 66 deneeze christie

    i just loved this movie can’t stop thinking about it.
    watched it 4 xs

    my problem with HL was his lies and inability to be honest with the king about his attraction for the Queen. The King wanted him to share how he felt sleeping with a woman but he gave a glib answer that didn’t please the King (garden scene morning after).
    The King didn’t know if HL could serve the Queen. I expected he didn’t want him to suceed. (His expression after hearing the queen’s gasp, after pentration, is priceless and his moanful protrayal the morning after).
    Sometime I wonder if it was done to insult the Queen ( i mean he did ask if a new concubine would be required for a heir). blah.
    I mean she was practically insisting he impregnate her & he seemed resolved not to have children. Wouldn’t he have done something about it before.

    My spin on all this sex between HL & the Queen ,is how experienced he was and who taught him all those positions( food for thought).
    To me the Queen was making do with the material she was given and twisting a screw while at it.
    She did tell HL she resented him for years as the King only had eyes for him. Now tell me which woman wasn’t going to squeeze the situation and juice it, for all its worth.

    the favourite in your bed, panting for it, all when he says no you ensure that he chokes! she wasn’t as aloof but was very subtle, there must be some bitterness and resentment for both HL & the King.

    She knew she would become pregnant that the king would eventually find out. she instigated the first tryst (which shows a kind of coldness) at a party with her family and the king with his court in attendence.
    What if they were discovered?

    She was untouchable because she was a princess of Yuan. She was really bitchy at the end with her comments to the sub chief.

    my problem with HL & the King’s relationship was that they shared many things but didn’t master communication which is essential for all successful relationship.
    males hate to express emotions, apologize, or give a little grround especially if they think they’re in the right.

    The King wanted expressions of love not loyalty, desire not devotion and gifts not graditude. To me he wanted a more open relation and HL was too stift at times more conscious of their inequality. Do you notice we don’t know the kings name but the king used the chief’s own alot.

    the saddest part in the movie was the castration. because it was done at all.
    HL would have pleaded with the King not to carry out so harsh a punishment and I think the King really preferred if his command wasn’t carried out (loved how he slap down the sub chief)

    HL loved the king and was very conflicted about his desire for the queen. She was bearing his child and wether gay or bisexual progeny takes presidence.

    Well I will be watching it again to see it there are any scenes i missed.

    • 66.1 romeotesta

      royal court has its strict protocols so hong lim did not mention the king’s real name because it was forbidden to just address him like that even in their most intimate times.

      castration was even worse than death during those times because it was the highest form of humiliation any man could get.

  67. 67 din

    i was happy to see song joong ki & im ju hwan in this movie. hihi.

  68. 68 Michael

    this is one of my favorite korea movie,

  69. 69 Jungle Walk

    Aigoo..aigoo…aigooo…!
    Makes BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN look like peanut. Can beat HOLLYWOOD.
    Song, casting, acting,costume, decor cinematography etc… are FABULOUS….!!
    All thumbs up to KOREA,….! Great ending… PERFECT to the dot…!!

    • 69.1 blackberries

      “Makes BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN look like peanut.”

      No

      although I liked a lot A Frozen, it was too… overbearingly esthetic :), and left other issues poorly treated.

      Brokeback Mountain was a masterpiece.

  70. 70 steadfast

    In honesty, I’ve watched the movie and failed to be impressed about it.
    The cinematography and soundtracks are gorgeous and Joo Jin Mo played an astounding part of his role to a point where you could almost feel he is real
    ….but the story is just too simple hidden in the subterfuge of erotic scenes which seemingly not too well presented. I mean, they could have shoot those scenes with artistry and passion without being too provocative. In the end, it damage the quality of the film as a whole.

  71. 71 bestpest

    my fav….the movie was one of a kind!!!! specially the soundtracks were awesome….can someone forward me a link…i cant seem to find the ost….

  72. 72 calvin chen

    …………its nice to see them a big family!!!….but cant any more make a
    another love again……

    it is “LOVE TRIANGLE AGAIN???”..

  73. 73 belinda

    i was a pretty good movie, i like this sort of film ^^
    the sex scenes were a little bit over done, and the ending was a little bit confusing.
    Did Hong LIm actually like the Ki? because from how he turned his head, i think he did love the KIng, in his last moments. but it was hard to tell. the director could have made it more obvious. but then again, it would’ve taken the fun out of the movie:P

  74. 74 adipop20

    Help!!! Someone! I just saw the movie…… and after that I searched for about 2 hours one of the soundtracks I heard in the movie, it’s driving me crazy, ( it is played at 01:03:50 at the sex scene) ….I can’t find it anywhere, does anyone knows the name of the song????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Please!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  75. 75 adipop20

    here’s the link, it is the song from the min 4:10 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GDgruL9gk0

  76. 76 adipop20

    here’s the link from the movie, the part where plays the song I am looking foe is at min 4:10 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-GDgruL9gk0

  77. 77 anjo

    I see a lot of arguments about if Hong Lim loves the King or not. Whew I AM late to seeing this movie!!! ahaha

    But I believe Hong Lim did love the king. I think he was so blinded by lust and the confession of the Queen’s love, that he did not know that the King loves him just as much.

    I think he realized at the end, when he saw that the king did not kill the queen, that the kind truly did love him and that he, Hong Lim, also loves the King. Just my opinion though~

  78. 78 Indiannomad

    I just watched this movie.. and I should say, the One who played king did well in the scenes that show his madness, his jealousy and his love. I watched him in Chunmoo and didnt think much of him… Now I do.:). As for the one who play Hong Lim, he has a long way to go in terms of acting. But he did manage to convey his confusion, lust and angst at the end. The Queen, hmm..I felt was stilted in emotions. Maybe that was what she was asked to do by the director.. I did feel it was too flashy… but I am a sucker for traditional clothing.

    I think the movie portrays the Hierarchical Patriachial society well. I would question though, how ethical it really was in those times to ask for a stand in to sire a heir? Was this an artistic license taken by the writer/director or did such things happen? Would Hong Lim have chose to love the King if he didnt feel obligated or felt the power of authority growing up? Could that be called love when there wasnt a choice? Was it really Lust for the Queen? As for the vice-guard, I think he was power hungry, being close to the King meant power, I dont think it was love for the King.. He wanted the Kings favor.

    • 78.1 blackberries

      for the ethical part, it was an artistic license , although something (almost) similar happened with a Korean king – see Gongmin of Goryeo on wikipedia

      ” Would Hong Lim have chose to love the King if he didnt feel obligated or felt the power of authority growing up? Could that be called love when there wasnt a choice?”
      good questions…

      ” Was it really Lust for the Queen?”
      no, but because she looked so ordinary, many assume that must’ve been the case

  79. 79 dramafan88

    Song Joong Ki was one of the guards and who were the loyal ones to Hong Lim – he looked so cute and is still cute now! 😀

    • 79.1 dramafan88

      BTw the sex scenes were so real – how did they ever filmed it w/o being awkward after? Were they wearing a guard/cap of some sort? Im just really curious!

  80. 80 skadalex

    I was very happy to find review and huge discussion about the first Korean movie I’ve ever seen days ago, and it took me literally aback in positive way. The movie amazingly mimics real life in which, simply said, nothing is unequivocally black or white. A lot was said …even if I’m late, here is my bit.
    I think the king (wonderful performance from the actor by the way) really wanted the child from his true mate, whom they obviously could not have together and the queen’s ambition for an heir, despite the facts she knew, probably came in handy. I believe, the king, was perfectly conscious of bedchamber capabilities of his mate with women from the start, (after all for years he was his teacher, father, companion, his liege and finally lover, all in one) but possessive as he was, he was truly not built for threesome even for a while, not mentioning when thing got out of hand.

    The queen, she figured that much, that it was better to be a real queen with a civil, even though, homosexual husband then a puppet queen next to the possibly violent stranger, de facto usurper of their throne. During the process she and Hong Lim happen to fall into whirl of confusing feelings, which would crystallize into concrete result if they were given a looot of time.

    The king would never touch the queen while with the baby, the baby who was also his love’s child; he didn’t even touch her when they first time committed adultery and the pregnancy wasn’t announced yet. Hong Lim was aware of it. Thus Hong Lim could not be under impression that the queen was murdered by the king, I didn’t get that feeling from the movie.

    The swordfights; they were telling the love story between these two men with the force that any love scene (more precisely sex scene) between Hong Lim and the queen could not match. You can compare them to angry lovemaking. The last one was as an explosion of rage caused by mutual disappointment and betrayal. Hong Lim never more recognized his king in brutally acting man he came to kill. That was in my opinion what he intended to do (his last respect to the king), to kill the monster, he unintentionally helped to create, to keep the “old” king’s honour intact. At the end he cried for all wrong that happened between the three of them, he cried for the man he had once grew to love and lost to that madness. He didn’t lie when he said the cruel verdict to the king, the man he loved didn’t exist any more. To say he didn’t love him, both, metaphorically and literally killed the king.

  81. 81 laura

    awesome movie, despite all those X-rated scenes or may i say those scenes just added more spice to the movie. I also supported King and Chief Hong as couple than other way round!!! And Ji In seung has certainly caught my eye. However i cannot forget boy my song jong ki and another preety boy from BOF
    absolutely loved the movie!!! i wonder if they really had sex :O

  82. 82 windupbirdy

    Hmm well I finally got around to watching this (in super speedy time since I fast forwarded through all the gratuitous sex thankyaverymuch), and I gotta say, I’m pretty convinced that HL and the king were in love.

    Firstly to me it feels like the king was much more gay than HL. What I mean by this is that to the king, the mere idea of sexual contact with a woman is literally repulsive. I think he knew that HL was probably even bi, and so it was assumed that he would be more comfortable with it.

    I think HL realized that despite their love and the fact that the king was… well the king, it could still never be accepted. The king can love whoever he wants and no one will say things to his face, but HL is not socially allowed to romantically love another man. It’s not like a women who, after sleeping with the king could be proud of it. For him it’s almost a constant source of shame. And the king, for all he loves HL, is fairly oblivious to that.

    As for why HL said “no” I thought it was pretty clear he was just lying. Because if he had said yes the king would have forgiven him, just like he always has. And at that point he didn’t want to be forgiven, he went there to die, and to die by the king’s hand. In some ways it was the king’s love and generosity and forgiveness towards him that had been hurting him all along. He knew it would hurt him, but they had both hurt each other so much by that point that it seems like death was the only way to end it cleanly.

  83. 83 USfirsttimeKdrama

    I watched the movie and found it very pretty and empty, except for the king’s emotional turmoil.

    I think it is possible to love two people differently and to have loyalty to both. That’s the nature of human conflict, a gray zone of being instead of black and white.

    The Queen was awaken and was terrible, scary in her pursuit. The Queen and the King both abused and used HL, to the point of chopping of his bits.

    It is pretty awful to think that the King groomed HL to love him, although it was the usual practice in royal houses.

  84. 84 LeMD

    Hi all,

    I just watched the movie a few hours ago and spent a bit time reading all the comments. First of all, I really appreciate this comprehensive review of Sevenses. I came across this when I was searching for the movie’s info. I have made some points. You might agree or you might not; but it took me couple of times to push backward in order to catch the meaning between the lines of the characters’ conversations. Here are the few points!

    Firstly, I totally agree to all who were saying the Hong Lim had been raised amongst men and gotten accustomed to the King pretty much the entire of his life; thus, it’s understandable why he is so loyal and willing to obey all the King’s command (including sex desire). It’s hard though to conclude whether a man is gay back then. Probably, HL found out he had been straight all along after the first sex encounter with the Queen, which I found pretty normal (even nowadays, some might think one’s self is gay or les only to find out at the end that they’re not by sensibility with the opposite sex). So, it is fair for HL. When the King sought him out in the beginning of the movie, HL was surprised and felt guilty so much to be aware of the King’s affection for him. The scene that HL hugged the King when they were sleeping next to each other could bring so much meaning to the audience since HL is a very self-conscious man. At the end, when he looked back at the King with his last tear-drop. I think he realized how foolish he had been thinking that the King could be so merciless to kill the Queen along with his companions.

    Next, the King (I praised the actor’s acting skills) was a tragic character. He might be disgusted so much in trying to conceive the Queen. Perhaps, he took the feminine role in his built-up relationship with HL giving him the distaste in making love with another woman for himself feeling like one of his kind. He needs love from HL. And, obviously, he knows too well HL’s performance in bed as well for being too close (duh). The desire to have HL’s child to raise up together as a couple is not something too confusing. In the present time, many homosexual couple try to adopt. Back then, with all the power that he has, plus the limited acceptance from the whole monarchy regarding this issue (let alone it would be a pretty bad insult if anybody figure out). HL was very close and trust-worthy to the King. Besides, people use to say: to love is to take a risk of trusting someone 200% (or rather, infinitively). The King has done nothing but to love HL in a very true way. He must die not only as for the plot to revolve but also for his own sake. He would never reach happiness in real life with that heavy view from the public about being a gay. Happiness and true bliss only come when he liberates himself from the burden of a superpower, whom people look up and paint out more like a figure, not as a human being with flaws.

    Finally, the Queen herself, in my opinion, is very fickle. She showed loyalty towards the King at the beginning, which gives a plus to her characteristic. But, at the end, she asked the vice-captain to ‘free the king’ and if the distant relative would take hold of the throne, she would let the vice-captain to live. Was her love for HL too strong that all of sudden, she saw no potential from her husband anymore and wanted to eliminate him for good? I don’t think the sex scene was introduced too much in this movie. It added up for the Queen’s character as well, serving as a physical bearance of the monarchy’s future heir. Also, her desire for a ‘true’ relationship with a man was portrayed fully.

    The movie was a successful movie. All of the actors and actresses were very talented in what they were doing!

    • 84.1 agave

      The queen wasn’t being “fickle”, she was being smart. She was trying to save Hong Lim and herself because at that point, the king had already killed everyone else who knew that Hong Lim was the father of her child. Including long time servants. So, what was to stop him from killing her, Hong Lim and the Deputy Chief?

      • 84.1.1 Tash

        i agree with you @agave. the queen is being smart by wanting all this madness to stop. At that time, she never expect HL to come after the king and killed him that is why he asked the vice captain Seung Ki to do it.

  85. 85 jinx

    i too just watched (rewatched…parts of) this movie a couple hours ago.
    just came across this post and wanted to thank sevenses confirming that yeo jin goo WAS in this drama.
    coz i just rewatched early baek dong soo and tried recalling other dramas the kid was in…and i swear he was in this movie but wiki was unhelpful…

    and yeo jin goo is amazing!
    even now, early teens (13?14?) he is so bloody talented…i dunno wat to say
    let’s wait a couple more years when he can star in his own drama/movie (*excited*)

    anyways, nothing to say bout this movie
    besides the fact its damn unforgettable
    of course when i watched it the first time i nearly threw my slipper at hong lim…that should explain enough…
    and like with many “good” movies/dramas i’ve watched, watching once is enough, not gonna rewatch…

  86. 86 jitan88

    Hello..I love ur recaps for Frozen Flower and also the discussions here, I’ve done watched this movie yesterday, and I have to agree with you…Joo Jin-Moo really did a great job potraying the King, it felt so real. Song Ji-Hyo as the Queen did a good job also…but Joo Jin-Mo still the best.

    About the movie, hmmm….I love the story, but the love scenes was too much for me. Focusing on the relationship that developed between Hong Lim and the queen was a part of story, but it was..too detailed, when I think it doesn’t really need.

    Sometimes I get confused by Jo In-Sung’s expression, did he felt guilty, joyful, or really fell in love with the queen…hahaha.
    Anyway thanks for d recaps ^^

  87. 87 7

    Hong lim and the other boys were raised knowing they were servants/sacrifices/toys of/for the king. One of the first scenes was when the young guard acting on his natural instincts, tried to escape w/ his love(a woman) and was sentenced to die because he dared to want a normal life.

    The captain had been a little boy who’d caught the king’s eye/special attentions….. and had accepted what he couldn’t change (they all feared the king), then used his position to protect his brothers in arms, but any sense of loyalty or feelings he’d once had for the mad king ended when the king castrated him, killed his friends & he thought the queen… and stuck their heads on pikes over the city walls. Like he told the king in their death duel…”I’ve been cut to the root, there is nothing for me to fear anymore” then he said” you led me to feel love and I couldn’t be more grateful”. Meaning under the king’s orders to sleep w/ the queen & never being allowed to know any better/different then the king’s warped palace existence… he’d finally felt a natural attraction and love for someone… the queen.

    Turning his head toward the king at the end, was a director’s whimsy, not realistic/nor believable…. as many critics pointed out. At least that was my take.

    • 87.1 agave

      I agree that HL turning his head to toward the king at the end was a “director’s whimsy” because if it was to convey that HL was “in love” with the king, it failed because the set up didn’t support this.

      As you noted, HL and the other guards were raised to do the bidding of the king from the time they were young boys. In that type of situation the power dynamics between HL and the king was too uneven for me to believe that HL had free will in that relationship. That’s why I never believed he was in love with the king.

      However, I do believe that HL was content with his relationship with the king – before he discovered his feelings for the queen. Since be was raised to believe his lot in life was to die for the king, it’s not hard for me to believe that he would also become sexually involved with the king if that’s what the king wanted.

      Even as a child, HL had a tragic, stoic and somewhat submissive demeanor with the king, so he would have been easy prey for a confused, lonely young boy king who was looking for love. I think HL loved the king as a king and not as a lover. However, he found physical pleasure from being with the king because that was all he knew at the time. His body was just responding to physical pleasure and he did care about the king and felt a duty to please him.

      It wasn’t until he got involved with the queen that he realized how pleasurable sex could be for him. Those feelings seem to frighten him because he realized that there was no turning back. Even though the king expected the three of them to return to their usual relationships after he got the queen pregnant. Talk about delusional!

      Even if HL and the queen had not been caught in the library, there’s no way this situation would have had a happy ending.

    • 87.2 blackberries

      The boys where not brought up to be the toys for the king.

      But to be his special protection squad .
      Sort of kamikaze … or as there seems to be some nowadays in North Korea.

      I suspect, though, this “project” was an idea of a young prince frustrated by the political reality of his time – the dependence to the Yuan dynasty
      … so, he wanted his own “little army” that could have given him a feeling of being a king
      (there was not really a necessary thing to have that super-squad because the country was not in turmoil and there were the court troops , the army that could protect him)

      I don’t know if he ever considered the adulthood of these boys – with their needs, wishes and future plans… and rebelling / running away was out of the question – as the two runaways learnt it

  88. 88 anonim

    miar fi placut filmul daca il urmaream o poveste de dragoste

  89. 89 Neffy

    I just loved the movie, and I did like all the characters in it :)
    I think HL did developed love towards the Queen, since in i believe 2 occasions he was sacrificing him self for her, and what is sacrifice if not love. I think love can surge after sex, but I do agree with many other comments, and believe that indeed it was too much sex. It would have been nice if the queen and HL would have shared some time together talking or something, y’all know so it could give a reason as why they fall in love.

    For the Queen, she makes me sooooooooooo mad because there she has to go and make HL fall for her again , that last time in the library. She could have just kissed him and then walked away. But nooooo.I think she kind of wanted to feel love , because apparently nobody else had ever loved her physically and emotionally.The king always ignored her so I see how she was taking refuge with HL. And then again it just occurred to me that she could have been having sex with HL to take sort of a revenge on the King for ignoring her all those years……………. idk lol

    I did feel pitty for the king , I mean come onnnnnnnnnn why the f would u make HL have sex with the queen if he loved him so much, i mean i get he trusted him like no one else but come onnnnnn. Then I also think that even though he absolutely loves HL , his love towards him was kind of twisted. But yeah i did feel bad for him at the end, he just wanted to b happy, but really hurting or in this case killing everyone Hl loved or like wasn’t very smart of the king. The actor who played the king, i take my hat off for him, he was just AMAZING loved his performance, well played emotions and everything!

    As for the last scene where Hl turns around to face the king as he dies, It really left me thinking ………… He should have just looked at the Queen, i would have looked up and at least smiled if i just realized the person i loved was alive!!! I now am not sure if he loved the king or the queen or both ……. But i like the cliffhanger , because it lets us play with our imaginations and kind of give it the ending our self, Either he loved the queen or king which ever suits my mood :)

    One more thought, i think that Hl did love the Queen also because in various occasions he left the king or any other thing he was suppose to do and hurried to the queens arms!!! I mean i would do that if i was in love u know :) My favorite scene was where he runs off to find the Queen after she left to her trip ! where she is wearing i believe a red robe or something (the day the king was going to give him his new horse )I just find the scene to b full of passion and intensity !!

    wuuuuuuuu!! ok I’ll shut up lol :)

    • 89.1 agave

      Yes, I also believe HL loved the queen because in addition to the scenes you mentioned, he also spared her brother even though he knew the king was testing him.

      I think by the time we first saw them that the queen and HL had developed a respect for each other. I think HL always respected the queen because that was his dutiful nature. However, I think the queen started respecting HL because of his kindness and consideration for her.

      He seemed to go out of his way to make sure that he didn’t flaunt his relationship with the king in front of her or others. I’m sure she appreciated that. Also, she was thankful that he saved her maid when he saved his man.

      I don’t think she slept with HL to get back at the king, I think she did it because she realized that if they didn’t produce an heir that their lives would change and things might get worse for them.

      From what I saw, her relationship with HL went from respect, to lust to finally love. By the end, he was more concerned about her than he was about himself and she was more concerned about him than she was about herself.

      That’s in contrast to the king’s feelings because by the end he had changed and was more concerned about himself than he was about them.

  90. 90 Pitch

    I couldn´t side at all with the King in this. It felt to me like he had groomed HL to be his lover from a very young age, with HL not really having a choice in that matter, which is just endlessly creepy to me. I think the lovestory between the HL and the Queen was underdeveloped, but more believable. It was his first time with a woman, and if HL wasn´t gay or even bi like the ending suggests, that could have made a bigger impact than normal on him, confusing it with love. The Queen was straved for affection since she was teenager (when she met the King), so she was also more inclined to grasp at straws. In the end, the real villian in this is the society and its view on homosexuality. If not for that, these three wouldn´t have ended up in such a insane situation.

    • 90.1 TS

      Agreed.

  91. 91 j3zka

    I’ve come upon the Frozen Flower by chance, got curious and watch it. It was my first Korean movie that I’ve watched and believed me I took noticed. I loved it so much that I watched four times just so to be sure that my first impression was spot on. Now I’m a fan of Korean movies, not so much on dramas unless my favourite actors are in it.
    The three main actors do justice to their roles. The acting was superbly controlled and subtle that makes you clued in. I have to admit Joo Jin Mo was great; he really pulled you in to his character’s every emotion. Jo In-sung was great as well, the conflicting emotions that his characters have been through, from confusion, resentment, fear, guilt and realization. He has to keep it all in so as to protect the king and himself as chief. I don’t think it’s in his character to show his emotion and he was also aware the sub chief was waiting for him to show some weakness.
    I believed that HL loved the king because he has to. He was groomed after all to obey and be loyal to the king. I’ve feel for HL because he became a pawn to the power struggled between the king and queen. Either which way he chooses he bound to lose. When HL hugged the king while he was sleeping he was like a little boy’s lost and confused. The library scene, when I just stood up saying no, no, no stop! When the king hears the word love from HL my hearts broke with him and the tears my tears just won’t stopped. Then HL begged to just kill him and was castrated I just lost it all together I have to paused. I think the king knew he just keep denying it and he a bit scared I think to know the truth. That why the betrayal was so great and gone berserk. I cried for the three of them then.
    The fight scene was great. It was raw emotion on actors, passion and anger and hatred from HL. “You led me to fell love and I couldn’t be more grateful” that stays with me now. My take on the scene when HL turned his heads towards the king, it’s more of regrets and the realization that the king will never let him go no matter what. You just couldn’t see the ending written any other way after the library scene. The king regretted what he did but still won’t let him go; HL died a thousand deaths after the castration. HL came back to die after all in his mind he had lost everything. I do believe he love the queen. I think he straight too because if he was bi then he would have been happy to do them both, right?  For me I just want them both to let HL go, if they’re really loved him.
    I like the ending because it’s make you think, oh he loved him after all no wait is it? Nah he loves the queen. Hmmm. The love scene makes you wonder, are they doing it? Whew…
    I love the movie it’s become one my favourite of all time. It’s also started my one sided love affair with Jo In-sung. Lol Gosh he’s Hot!

  92. 92 sandivengeance

    Oh my, I agree completely with the men feeling everything too much. When Hong Lim denied loving the King I didn’t buy it, no way.

    I think the movie was beautiful, loved the King’s character and Hong Lim’s. This was the first movie I saw with these actors so it gave a good impression of their abilities.

    The plot was so dramatic, I think it echoed the King and Hong Lim’s relationship in it’s moments of intense violence and very quick movement between events.

    Nice, nice review. Thanks for posting it.

    • 92.1 agave

      I also loved the actors in this movie.

      I believed Hong Lim when he said he never loved the king because the king was asking if HL had ever been in love with him and I don’t believe HL had ever loved him that way. I do believe HL had loved the king as a ruler and perhaps as a friend/protector at one point, however, by the time of that scene, I doubt he even felt that kind of love for the king.

      After all, I can’t see HL loving someone who had killed the woman he loved and his child, castrated him and murdered his best friends because he was jealous and afraid of losing HL. Loving someone like that would have made HL just as twisted as the king became.

      I could never get past the fact that the king was the king and that HL was his subject. Because of this, HL was like a slave, so he never had free will to be an equal partner in their relationship. That’s not love to me, instead, it’s more like duty and obligation to a superior.

      In addition, HL came to know the king when he was only a small boy, so that made him even more vulnerable to being whatever the king wanted him to be.

  93. 93 Anne

    Um, did anyone else have that queasy feeling that the
    king was more than a little bit of a sexual predator? Those
    opening scenes with ranks and ranks of pretty boys and
    the king keeping them close to him? EH. Ish.

    And he chose Hong Lim because the poor mite said that he was willing to die for the king. URK. You can almost see the wheels turning: if this kid would die for me, maybe he’d also put out for me?

    I just don’t see any love there — at all. Possessiveness, sure. Vanity, of course. Lust, well, the king and so many of us. But love? putting the desires and needs of the beloved before one’s own desires and needs? Not a scrap. Sorry.

    And, the castration? No matter how angry, jealous, betrayed you feel — really? I guess I would characterize this movie as homophobic.

    And, I dunno, maybe I’m not watching the same movie
    y’all are, but I got that Hong Lim was always a little sweet
    on the queen. From their first scene together & then him
    watching her sing — I got that he was dazzled and a little jealous of the king.

    • 93.1 lady

      did you mean he is jealous with the king because the king is her husband?

  94. 94 Grace

    I’ve watched this movie and to my surprise, I like it. I said “to my surprise” because I have never liked movies with sex scenes (especially hard-core ones!). But I have to say that the sex scenes here between HL and the queen (especially the first 3 times) are necessary and artistic. However, I think the sex scene when HL came to find the queen unexpectedly at night when she was visiting her native place (maybe) for her nephew’s birthday was way too long and necessary. The sex scene there was necessary to show their passion and love for each other but no need to be that long and detailed!

    Although this movie was probably set out to be a movie about gay men, to me it is a touching love story between HL and the queen. I feel for them, both their pleasure and their pain.

    I think HL had to sleep with the king just because he was groomed since childhood to be the king’s sex partner. He had probably never had the opportunity or the freedom to make the choice and decide on his own sexuality. It was only when he slept with the queen that he found out he is straight.

    I believe HL truly loves the queen and vice versa. Their love for each other did not start from sex as it seemed, though intimacy plays a role in developing their feeling for each other into love.

    HL noticed the queen and admired her when he listened to her sing on a trip out of the palace and when he saw her make a short speech in front of the whole court. (Note that in the old days, a woman must have a lot of courage to do so in front of all men with high social positions like that).

    To me, the “frozen flower” as the name of the movie suggests is the queen. She is like a frozen flower, not responding to intimacy at first because of not feeling love.

    I like this movie because it shows that a woman is only frozen in that sense when her man is not caring enough. With a caring and loving man, there is hardly any woman who is frozen.

    It was made very clear in the movie that when the king tried to be intimate to the queen, he started by kissing her lips straight away. The fact that she did not respond to that was very discouraging to him who was making a huge effort to be with a woman. So of course he gave up. However, when it was HL’s turn to try, HL kissed her very slowly on the neck. Immediately her tears came out.

    What do those tears mean? They mean 2 things: guilty feeling and awakening to passion. She feels guilty towards her husband because Asian women especially in those days believe they have only one man in their life and doing that to somebody who is not her husband is an awful thing even though her gay husband initiated and allowed that to happen. But at the same time, she likes it. She likes the way HL slowly gets intimate with her. He did not jumped into action. He treats her like a queen in every sense of the word.

    Look at the way HL kisses her body, very slowly and passionately. Which woman wouldn’t respond to that?! (And I say so being a woman myself).

    So it is understandable that the queen appreciates HL’s caring efforts.

    The first time HL could not do it to the queen not because he is gay but because he saw her tears and he could not bear to continue. He did not probably realize that her tears also meant that she liked what he did. He proprably just thought that she was unhappy with it. Regardless, he did not force her into action. Being a gentleman, HL stopped.

    After that, when HL told the king he could not “serve” the queen, the king was happy thinking that HL could not do it because he was gay. But the truth, I believe, is that HL could not do it because he saw the queen’s tears and he did not have the heart to do that to her.

    The second time when HL and the queen “had to” be intimate again as per the king’s order, the queen offered to take off her clothes instead of waiting for HL to do so. Well, this says more than enough. The first time she was very nervous and lied down like a peace of wood. The second time she offered to take her clothes off herself.

    She still did not respond to HL the second time he was intimate with her (and also the first time he was successful). She was just laying there but from her facial expression, we can see that she kinda liked it. She just tried not to show because she believed it was wrong to show (given that she is a traditional lady and a married woman but was doing so to somebody who is not her husband).

    The third time they were together, HL did a good job to turn her from cold ice into fire. Remember that she was a virgin (in an ancient Asian culture, the queen must be virgin to be marred to the king but this king is gay so she must have remained a virgin till she met HL and HL is her first man). She was a virgin but after only 1 time doing that with HL, she turned to be quite responsive and passionate the second time they were together. No doubt HL is good!

    At the beginning of the third time they were in bed, the queen restrained herself from responding to HL’s kisses. Note that it was until then that HL tried to kiss her lips for the first time but she did not respond at first, probably thinking that it was wrong to do so. But when HL continued kissing her body, she started to gasp and pulled his head up and they kissed on the lips. That is like the start of something deeper.

    Then they turned to be so passionate and enjoyed each other so much that the king was curious enough to see what was going on. There was like no boundary left, no restraint left, between HL and the queen.

    After that, HL cared for the queen more by buying her a meaningful gift, i.e. the necklace from her native place. She also reciprocated his caring deed by giving him a handkerchief which she made the embroidery herself (that means a lot because she is a queen and it not supposed to do so).

    Then it was no longer just sex. Through their genuine care for each other, they got to another level which is not foreign to love.

    It was not lust that made HL not to sleep at night to travel by himself a long distance to see the queen on her trip to her native place and to come back before sunrise. It was only because of love that a man does that.

    Of course they did that when HL came to see the queen that night. (I think it is unnecessary for the sex scene there to be that long and in detail though). But what stroke me was the scene right after that bed scene. The queen offered HL a rice flower cakes which, in her traditional customs, are for the man she loves. She also made the cakes herself, which is not what a queen normally did. No doubt HL was so touched that he cried when eating the cake. The queen also cried. And so did I.

    I cried because I could see how love can develop out of something so earthly and ordinary like the sex they were ordered to have. That moving scene following the bed scene is like a reminder that the love making act should be taken with responsibility, humanity and love.

    What I like about this movie is the relationship between HL and the queen and the message that only care and love can turn “a frozen flower” into a fully blossomed one, in other words, a seemingly cold lady into a passionate one. This message is somehow similar to the message from the movie “The Piano”.

    HL did not love the queen at first, but he did admire her before getting intimate with her and he was very caring when being intimate with her. She could feel that so she responded to him. They started to care more and more for each other and that care, in its turn, develop into mutual love.

    The worst character in this movie is the king. I despise him not because he is gay but because he is so selfish, possessive and cruel. What kind of love is that to have the one you love castraded and so many people killed or tortured? Probably because the king was used to being served and controlling others, he became so cruel when he did not get what he wanted. He turned his life and others’ into hell because of his selfishness and possessive obsession.

    The movie, to me, is a love lesson for all (i.e. learning to love with care like HL and the queen; and appreciate love when you are free to be with the one you love, not like the unfortunate couple HL and the queen in the movie) and a warning of how dangerous selfish possessiveness (like that of the king in the movie) can be.

    • 94.1 lady

      i love your opinion, and i agree with that

    • 94.2 h0ns niech

      I love your rant… And that was also my thinking about HL loves the queen and that unnecessary scene when he visited the queen and in library when the king caught them..

    • 94.3 Tash

      love all your opinion. that is what im thinking too.

  95. 95 Grace

    I made some spelling mistakes in the above message but the worst one is the word “necessary” whereas it should be “unnecessary”.

    The paragraph below should be changed to:

    “However, I think the sex scene when HL came to find the queen unexpectedly at night when she was visiting her native place (maybe) for her nephew’s birthday was way too long and unnecessary.”

    I don’t bother about other misspellings. Excuse them. I didn’t reread what I wrote before sending. This is during my break. Thanks.

    • 95.1 Quan

      @Grace__ thanks, I like your analysis, I’m also looking at it from this angle … yeah I’ve been wondering too about the flower that’s been “frozen” ..
      It does make sense that the queen’s facial expressions have to be “frozen” and yet have to express emotions at the same time, and I think she has done it very well… she has to project coldness and distance because this is what’s expected of her in that setting…
      Hong Lim was VERY COURAGEOUS when he sent the honeysuckle tea to her, and again when he gave her the necklace—a mere “servant” does not do that to his queen, because in this setting doing that is like shouting out your love, nevertheless the queen answered when she wore the necklace in public—it was a very safe way of shouting out her love, in which Hong Lim would only be the one to understand the message…

      Hong Lim’s sexuality has also become “unfrozen” when he fell in love with the queen… instinctively he just kept mum about it when the king asked him how it was to become a “man” at last— he gave the king an evasive answer to protect all three of them, knowing that the king would be jealous of the queen and he didn’t want her to be a target of such ill-feelings, knowing that the king would be hurt and he didn’t want to betray the king even in that way, and for himself guarding that his newly found wonderful “freedom” isn’t “crushed” at its bud…

      I think the bed scenes between the queen and Hong Lim are for the purpose of speaking for the opposite of being “frozen”, that this is what it’s like when a fire has been ignited, that things become spontaneously expressive once it isn’t done out of duty anymore, or with a purpose in mind, and that the intensity of their passions towards each other is heightened by the constant danger that they are in, both knowing what kind of a person the king is—that he is as cold as steel to everything he deals with, even in his “love” for Hong Lim, which is actually emotionally/ psychologically manipulative: he pampers Hong Lim. But then, that’s his best way of expressing his love for him…

      What makes this story unforgettable for me is the portrayal of choices of victims of circumstance. I love it that Hong Lim and the queen did come to the point of being willing to die for each other’s sake—both had nothing at first, but eventually a self-sacrificing love blossomed, became unfrozen. Also, that Hong Lim might have felt betrayed by the king when he was ordered to father the queen’s child—I mean, he might have looked at sex as an expression of deep affection—and in a sense it would have bothered him that the king himself, the object of his affections then, would order him to a “betrayal” (one can’t simply switch affection on and off) …the saving grace is when he sees that the queen is alive, who with his growing baby inside her is the redemption of his castrated state, and so was willing to forgive the dead king, and be reconciled with him at his last breath for old time’s sake…

  96. 96 noi

    omg that kid is yeo jingoo *-* amaziiing. grow up fast, kid. i can’t wait to stan you legally (haha)

  97. 97 TS

    Is this a true story?

    • 97.1 EJ

      No, it’s loosely based on the history of the king who was killed by his eunuch.

  98. 98 charisma_7317

    I think HL loved the Queen with passion. I agree HL only feels loyalty and devotion as all soldiers of the court feels for their king. The king was like a father/brother figure, hence HL interpreted that as LOVE at the time. But you can see HL changing throughout the movie towards the Queen: He finally succumb and enjoyed their love making by kissing the Queen, got her a Sachet, couldn’t take his eyes of her during the party, He sent her medicine when he learned she was sick, unable to sleep/feels uncomfortable being in Kings Chamber, when midnight strikes all he can think of is the Queen, He did say the pastry she made is exquisite, he was shocked and almost beg for King to reconsider having a new mate for the Queen, couldn’t resist her especially knowing he is now a father and feels sad knowing she tried to kill herself, he did say he loved her to the king, when being swift away from the palace all he care about was the Queen’s safety, and finally he killed the king bec. he thought the queen is dead and confirming he only loved the queen. The last part when he saw the queen and turned his head to the king, i feel its just his final respect for the years /fond memories they shared. That after all, the king spared the queen’s life and let’s not forget his child. People keep forgetting, HL and the queen has a child, hence the bond between them is so much more than the king now. HL tearing the painting is s sign that the portrait is only a dream not a reality. HL turning his head with last tear of joy knowing his queen and child is safe, HL looks back at the king to pay last respect of gratefulness that he spared their lives. The last scene was just to remind us that the king and HL will only be together forever in a dream.

    HL and Queen is not just lust, its an unexpected love with so much passion. you can see it when the Queen served HL a drink and made him pastry symbolizing her love for him. Her eyes was filled with tears of joy as the man she once was jealous of, is now the man she feels deeply in love with. He then eats the pastry and you can see in HL eyes his happiness / tears of joy for finding new kind of love, something new though scary for him. If the Queen only wants sex from HL, then she wouldn’t have risk her own life saving HL even after he was castrated. She begged the king to bring down the head, bec. she knows HL will avenge her and will put him in danger. When she saw him dying, all she calls out for was his name. I believe these actions is love not just lust. I feel for the king as he sincerely loved HL, but his love for HL drove him to madness. SAD but he deserve to die. As a chief soldier, it is just right that HL dies as well as he betrayed the KING, by loving someone else. Knowing his queen and child is gone, no point of living.

  99. 99 EJ

    I watched all kinds of Asian movies because Mandarin is my first language, I am not sure how well the English subtitles are in this movie. There are some misinterprets in the reviews. The queen committed suicide because the king was going to force her to sleep with the vice captain. I wondered that she ever knew that her brother was killed. This is a wonderful movie. The story is well plotted. It’s not a true story. However, it was loosely based on the king was gay and actually killed by his eunuch. I read some reviews. I would say if you can understand Asian culture deeper. You might see the depth of it. The director put in those scenes with purposes to show the story line and the society at that time. There are quite a few stories like this in Chinese history, too. However, I haven’t seen anyone was elaborated so well like this one. I am glad I found it accidentally. It opened my mind and kept me thinking….

  100. 100 natasjja

    I really love this movie. And i was glad that a lot of the people here share the same oppinion as i am. Other sites more on bashing this movie rather than understanding the art.
    Yup despite all the sex scenes but I think those sex scenes is the way to tell the love that growing between HL and the queen. Those two can’t show their love to public so that is how the writer potrait it. Actually the director wants us to focus on their emotion expression rather than the bed scene.
    Even some of it kinda unnecessary. And I think all 3 actors potray their haracters well. Good job to them.

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