Rating:
Average user rating 5.0
147

The Crowned Clown: Episode 1

tvN’s latest sageuk about a paranoid king and the lookalike clown who sits on his throne pulls no punches when it comes to murder, romance, betrayal and assassination plots, and that’s just the first ten minutes. We’re dropped right into the middle of the action, as the young king struggles to hang onto control of both his country and his sanity. So much is going on that it’s no wonder that the king is going mad, but does his scheme to save his life come too late to save his soul?

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

A young crown prince, YI HEON (Yeo Jin-gu), stares at his father’s kingly robes as nearby, the dying king (cameo by Jang Hyuk) gasps to his crying younger son, Yul, that he’s sorry that he won’t see him grow up. The king calls Yi Heon to his bedside, then spits with what little energy he has left that knowing Yi Heon will be taking the throne fills him with rage.

He says that he worries Yi Heon will persecute his younger brother Yul out of resentment for their father. He tells Yi Heon to promise that he’ll protect his brother, but instead, Yi Heon whispers coldly, “Your Majesty, that’s not how you ask for a favor. You should plead in tears and beg until your palms wear out.”

The king weakly pulls himself up to be face-to-face with Yi Heon, and threatens to wait and see how he molds his world… “I will see how you govern your people, you insolent and obnoxious fool.” He loses strength and collapses in Yi Heon’s arms, and Yi Heon clutches his father’s dead body as he fails to hold in his tears.

Yul runs over, wailing, and grabs his brother’s hand, but Yi Heon coldly jerks his hand away. The country mourns as Yi Heon bows formally to the king one last time. Tears stream down his face as he says, “Your Majesty, the throne you protected with your blood and tears is now mine to shield and cherish. May you rest in peace.”

Elsewhere, a troupe of clowns performs for a boisterous crowd of nobles and peasants. They play music and perform acrobatics, as they tell a story about the scariest thing known to man — a buffoon who doesn’t know his roots. A figure dressed in red robes and mask to impersonate the king accuses a peasant of being such a buffoon and orders him taken away and flogged.

They’re recreating a torture that Yi Heon actually ordered to force a man to confess to conspiracy against him. The man is mutilated and bloody when he names Lord Neungchang, Prince Yul’s grandfather, as the ringleader, and Yi Heon orders him arrested immediately.

Of course, Lord Neungchang denies the accusation, and demands to speak to his daughter, the queen dowager. MINISTER SHIN (Kwon Hye-hyo), the Vice Minister of War, refuses the request, and Lord Neungchang accuses him of telling the king lies against him. He threatens to tell Yi Heon that Minister Shin is the true traitor, but he doesn’t even finish his sentence before Minister Shin cuts him down in cold blood.

The tiny prince, Yul, is taken from his screaming mother’s arms on Yi Heon’s order, but the Chief Censor argues that the boy couldn’t possibly have committed high treason. Minister Shin asserts that Yul was on the list of traitors, but the Chief Censor tells Yi Heon that if he punishes his brother, he’ll be harshly criticized. Minister Shin calls for the Chief Censor to be punished along with the traitors, and as his advisers argue over what to do, Yi Heon just sits with no expression whatsoever on his face.

He visits Yul at the prison, and when Yul throws his arms around his big brother, Yi Heon crouches down to speak to him. He displays compassion for the first time as he tells his little brother that he has to send him away for a while, promising to come get him as soon as he can. But as Yul is led away, Yi Heon’s emotionless mask slams down over his face again.

Yul is taken somewhere and fed a hearty meal, but he’s dead before he even finishes eating, the food having been laced with poison. The rest of the supposed traitors are executed, and Yi Heon grants Minister Shin the title of Lord of Goseong as reward for his service to his country.

The troupe of clowns finishes their re-enactment of Yi Heon’s murderous rampage with a wild dance by the red-robed figure. He concludes with a jump high into the air, during which he throws off his mask to reveal… Yi Heon?

But no — this is HA SUN (also played by Yeo Jin-gu), a clown who bears a striking physical resemblance to the young king. The noble enjoying the show remarks that Ha Sun is incredibly handsome considering his lowly status, and thankfully, Ha Sun’s personality appears to be playful and carefree.

The following morning, the noble informs the troupe that he won’t pay them for making fun of the king in his house. He tells them to be grateful he doesn’t report their disrespectful display, and the other clowns have to drag the loudly protesting Ha Sun away.

Ha Sun tries to leave town quietly with the others, but he just can’t do it. He jumps the wall into the noble’s yard, where he smashes several food jars, then leaps back over the wall and tells the other clowns to run. They flee all the way to the river, where they collapse in exhaustion.

Ha Sun has another surprise — he stole a small package of yellow corvina, a fish that’s so expensive even the king rarely gets to eat it. The clowns all share the fish, Ha Sun taking particular care of Dal-lae, the youngest of the group.

Gap-soo, the unofficial leader of the troupe, belatedly starts to worry about the huge trouble they’ll be in if they’re caught, not to mention the fact that they’ve lost their performance space. But Ha Sun says they can just move to a bigger town — Hanyang, the capital.

The other clowns are happy to follow him, though Gap-soo has a tendency to collapse wailing on the ground, ha. When Dal-lae grows too tired to walk, Ha Sun just carries her on his back with a huge smile on his face.

That night, Yi Heon has a nightmare in which his dead brother Yul approaches his bed, clutching his belly and crying for Yi Heon to save him. Nightmare Yul climbs onto Yi Heon’s bed and grabs him, and Yi Heon wakes, shaking with terror.

Being awake isn’t much better — several assassins climb soundlessly into Yi Heon’s bedchamber. Luckily the Chief Royal Secretary, Minister Lee, is there and a vicious fight takes place. The assassins get away, only to find more opposition by the palace guards outside. They’re all killed but two, who are taken prisoner.

Yi Heon comes outside and offers to spare one assassin’s life in exchange for the name of the person who gave the order to kill him. The assassin snarls that Yi Heon killed the king and his rightful heir and stole the throne, and that he plays with his consorts while Minister Shin runs the country.

Yi Heon grabs a guard’s sword and runs the man through, then with crazed eyes and an evil grin, slashes him several more times just to vent his anger. Even his guards look horrified, and Yi Heon orders the other assassin tortured until he confesses everything.

He staggers back to his bedchamber, where he paces, still covered in blood, and rants to Minister Lee that everyone thinks he’s out of his mind and wants to kill him just because he killed Yul. Minister Lee asks him to put down the sword, but Yi Heon brings it to his throat and orders him to kill everyone who’s against him.

Minister Lee says honestly that he can’t make that promise, and Yi Heon begs him to say it even if he can’t do it. What Minister Lee swears to protect Yi Heon with his last breath, but Yi Heon growls that it’s not enough and demands that he find a way to eliminate his enemies and ensure his safety. When Minister Lee promises, Yi Heon collapses, begging Minister Lee to hurry or he really will lose his mind.

Minister Lee goes to Minister Yoo, the queen’s father, who takes the blame for the recent problems, since he didn’t listen to Minister Lee’s warnings and let Minister Shin into the court. They agree that Minister Shin needs to be stopped, and set a date to discuss it with Yi Heon.

During a procession through the city, Yi Heon looks deeply miserable as he’s carried through the streets. Nearby, a nobleman stares malevolently at Yi Heon and growls to one of the guards (who was there the night of the attempted assassination) that he failed.

Ha Sun and the clown troupe have finally made it to Hanyang, and they all gape open-mouthed at the huge gate to the city. They’re scared they won’t be allowed in, but Ha Sun tells them to wait and approaches a nearby gibang to offer to perform the troupe’s show for their guests.

The head gisaeng turns him away despite his adorable begging, but another gisaeng takes notice and laughs when Ha Sun bonks his head on a railing. She chuckles that nobody finds it entertaining to make fun of the king these days, and Ha Sun makes a cute attempt to puff up with indignation.

The gisaeng advises him that jokes about the queen and someone named Sun Hwa-dang are popular lately. Ha Sun asks why, so the gisaeng explains that Hwa-dang is the king’s favorite consort, and that the queen hates her to a staggering degree.

In the palace, QUEEN SO-WOON (Lee Se-young) summons SUN HWA-DANG (Seo Yoon-ah) to her chambers to present her with an ornate jade ornament. Hwa-dang eyes the gift with suspicion, but So-woon says that it’s simply her way of asking Hwa-dang to take good care of the king.

Hwa-dang replies cheekily that it’s such a shame that there are negative rumors about her when she’s such a caring person. So-woon knows about the rumors that she delayed Hwa-dang and Yi Heon’s first night together out of jealousy, but she says she doesn’t care and neither should Hwa-dang.

Hwa-dang politely excuses herself, taking the jade ornament with her, and on her way out she betrays a tiny sneer. She goes straight to Minister Shin, her uncle, to whine that the queen was just pretending to be nice. Minister Shin gives her a talisman meant to help her conceive a son when she spends the night with Yi Heon tonight, and she grins that she’ll do her best.

Minister Shin says that her best isn’t enough, and that if things go wrong, she’ll die. He tells Hwa-dang that her entire reason for being in the palace is to give the king a son, and that it’s also the only way to save herself.

Meanwhile, Queen So-woon confesses to her father that she wishes he would speak casually with her when they’re alone, so he complies. He asks if she’s still uncomfortable with her life as queen, and she admits that living in the palace makes her long for life outside the palace. Minister Yoo assures her that Yi Heon is truly a great man and will make a great king, once the current problems are handled.

Minister Yoo and Minister Lee visit Yi Heon to present him with evidence that Minister Shin has been taking bribes, siphoning tithes sent to the palace from the provinces, and selling government positions. Yi Heon says that he understands their concern, but that Minister Shin can’t be punished unless he commits high treason. Minister Yoo warns that Minister Shin has installed so many of his own people in the court that he could do nearly anything without opposition, and that people even say that there are two kings in the palace.

That comment incites Yi Heon’s rage, and he screams to Minister Yoo that he won’t listen to any more. He says that every minister has acted dishonorably, even Minister Yoo himself, and refuses to hear another word.

That evening, Yi Heon visits Hwa-dang. He asks her about the jade ornament, and she tells him that it’s a gift from the queen, along with the food and drink. He laughs coldly, then offers Hwa-dang a drink and feeds her a morsel of food, asking how it tastes. When she chirps that it was delicious because he gave it to her, he lunges at her.

He forces her mouth open and pours the drink down her throat, screaming for her to drink more since she likes it so much. Hwa-dang finally wrenches away from his grasp, but he grabs her again and rips the ornament off her dress, and opens the pouch to find the talisman inside.

He says that the queen wouldn’t give her a talisman to make her conceive a son, guessing that it came from Minister Shin, her uncle. Hwa-dang begs his forgiveness, but Yi Heon rips up the talisman and pounces on her, snarling that he needs a legitimate heir while her son will be nothing but the child of a concubine.

He storms to the queen’s quarters, where he asks So-woon why a concubine is wearing conception talismans yet she does nothing to try and give him a legitimate son. So-woon argues that she’ll do anything he orders, but that what she believes will move the deities to bless them with an heir is if he becomes merciful and virtuous.

He starts to leave, but So-woon continues that even if he won’t listen to her, he should listen to his people. He grabs her and yanks her close, but his anger drains out of him at the sight of her pleading expression and he leans down to kiss her. At the last second, So-woon turns her face away, and Yi Heon’s face hardens again as she whispers in her ear, “Those who have no idea would say that I have been rejecting you. Who would know that you are the one rejecting me?”

The clown troupe take the gisaeng’s advice to heart and put together a show about the queen and her jealousy of the king’s favorite concubine. Ha Sun plays the queen, complaining about all the other girls flitting around her husband, while Gap-soo as Hwa-dang pleads with the king for protection against his vengeful wife.

They “fight” by bumping bellies, with the queen ending up on her rear, then chase each other around the gibang yard. Dal-lae sits nearby waiting for the show to be over, and the way one of the young nobles eyes her is incredibly disturbing.

One of Yi Heon’s attendants is a spy for Minister Shin, and she reports Yi Heon’s insistence on getting an heir from the queen only. She says that he trusts Minister Yoo too much, so if the queen gave him a son, her family would become too powerful. Minister Shin decides that they can’t allow that to happen, and the easiest way to make sure the king still gets an heir from the queen while preventing So-woon’s family from gaining power is to install a different queen.

Yi Heon makes Minister Shin answer to the charges against him, but he has an explanation for each accusation. Yi Heon is skeptical that all the bribes were only to build him a new palace, but he says that he’ll believe Minister Shin’s loyalty.

Minister Yoo and Minister Lee despair that nothing will stop Minister Shin, but they get an unexpected burst of hope when the captured assassin finally confesses that Minister Shin ordered Yi Heon’s death. Minister Lee wonders when to use this information to best effect, and when Yi Heon promotes Minister Shin to Left State Councilor, Minister Yoo shocks Minister Lee by telling Yi Heon that he wants to report high treason.

He has the assassin dragged into the room and asks him who gave the order to kill the king. Yi Heon tells him that he’ll spare his life if he tells the truth, but instead of accusing Minister Shin as he said he would, the assassin names Minister Yoo as the traitor.

Minister Shin looks triumphant, and in flashback, we see him talking to the assassin in the prison. Minister Yoo bellows that the assassin named Minister Shin before, but the assassin lies that Minister Yoo offered to save his life if he accuses Minister Shin. Minister Yoo kneels before Yi Heon, swearing that he never met this man before yesterday, nor did he order his assassination.

Yi Heon asks for proof that the assassin is lying, but Minister Yoo has no proof. Yi Heon orders Minister Yoo imprisoned for high treason, and Minister Yoo is dragged away, screaming that he was framed.

The queen appeals to Yi Heon, insisting that her father is innocent. Yi Heon says that it’s certain that Minister Yoo conspired to frame Minister Shin, so So-woon gets on her knees and says that she can’t remain queen if her father’s loyalty is questioned. She asks for a chance to clear Minister Yoo’s name, but Yi Heon sneers that if she tries to blackmail him like this again, there will be consequences.

The truth is that the person who ordered the assassination was the queen dowager — little Prince Yul’s mother. She’d worked together with Prince Jin-pyung, next in line for the throne, who’d told the assassin to accuse Minister Yoo if he was caught in exchange for a government position when he becomes king.

Upset by everything that’s gone wrong, Minister Lee gets drunk at the gibang. The gisaeng who laughed at Ha Sun, WOON-SHIM (Jung Hye-young), cuts him off while outside, the clowns cavort in their parody of Queen So-woon and Hwa-dang.

Infuriated by Ha Sun’s disrespectful portrayal of his queen, Minister Lee storms outside to grabs Ha Sun and rip off his queen mask. He freezes in shock when he sees Ha Sun’s face, identical to the king’s, and he tells Woon-shim to lock Ha Sun up in the shed.

In the morning, back at the palace, a eunuch tells Minister Lee that the king is going mad again. He’s terrorizing a young palace maid, convinced that his breakfast was poisoned when she couldn’t taste it for him because it was hot. He forces the porridge into her mouth and throws the rest of it across the room.

He stops when Minister Lee arrives and says that he has something to tell him. Minister Lee reminds Yi Heon of the part in the story “Journey to the West,” where Monkey’s hair transforms into an identical monkey figure, and says that he’s found a monkey’s hair.

Ha Sun sits in the gibang shed until some men blindfold him and carry him away. Minister Lee uncovers him, and it takes Ha Sun a moment to process that he’s in the king’s throne room. He and Yi Heon stare at each other, shocked by their uncanny resemblance to each other.

At a reminder from Minister Lee, Ha Sun remembers to bow to his king. Yi Heon takes off his hat and places it on Ha Sun’s head, then removes his crimson robe and orders Ha Sun to put it on. Terrified, Ha Sun obeys, and Yi Heon stalks around him, assessing his appearance.

He tells Yi Heon to say, “You fool,” when when Ha Sun squeaks out the words weakly, Yi Heon roars at him to say it properly. Drawing on his clowning experience, Ha Sun pulls himself to his full height and perfectly mimics the king’s words and tone.

Yi Heon stares, then bursts into barely-sane laughter.

 
COMMENTS

Well, I’m in. I was drawn into this story about a king on the verge of madness and the lookalike young clown almost immediately, and despite my usual tendency to be confused by first episodes of sageuks (all those ministers look so alike!), the plot isn’t so complicated that I couldn’t easily figure out what’s happening. I like that we were put right down in the middle of the conflict without having to sit through several episodes of backstory first, though I’m intensely curious about what’s made Yi Heon go so completely batshit crazy when several people close to him have said that he used to be a good person. I’m looking forward to finding out what’s made Yi Heon this way, and how poor innocent Ha Sun will survive when he’s about to become the human equivalent of a baby duck thrown into the middle of a ravenous wolf pack.

Speaking of Yi Heon, he’s hard to like, isn’t he? I imagine that growing up in a palace could make a person hard and callous, but I wonder if he became that way because his father was hard on him, or if his father was hard on him because Yi Heon was supposedly heartless? Some interesting almost-throwaway comments were made about Yi Heon, such as that he stole the throne from Yul, the rightful heir, so there seems to be a lot more going on than what we’ve been told, and I’m convinced that the answer to Yi Heon’s slipping mental stability lies somewhere in his recent past. I can see glimpses of sanity in him, when he seems like someone who’s just been pushed to the edge of his breaking point. But he’s letting his fear and paranoia run rampant and committing unforgivable acts already, so I can’t help but wonder if it’s too late for him to be redeemed. I’ll reserve judgment until we learn what’s happened to make him this way.

I found Queen So-woon a really fascinating character, both for herself and for her effect on Yi Heon. She doesn’t seem scared to stand up to him, even knowing how merciless he can be, and she didn’t hesitate to say (respectfully) that Yi Heon’s behavior is probably the reason the gods haven’t given them an heir. But what really interests me is the way Yi Heon changed around her — he was in a blind rage, but the moment he stepped into So-woon’s chambers, the fury left him and he almost looked… wounded? In the face of So-woon’s censure, he basically gave up his entire argument, and when she gave him that pleading look, Yi Heon just seemed deeply sad (side note: that whole scene was masterfully acted by both Yeo Jin-gu and Lee Se-young). To me, Yi Heon and So-woon feel like a couple that loved each other once, and who probably still love each other, but his rage and paranoia have driven them apart so that they can’t connect anymore.

I prefer to go into shows knowing as little as possible, so I was expecting, from the two teasers I saw, for Yi Heon to simply be a young king who fears for his life because he’s overwhelmed by his position and the responsibilities and dangers that come along with it. But in fact, Yi Heon is basically a homicidal psychopath, and at this point I’m not sure that his being assassinated would be such a bad thing for the country. So I’m happy that Ha Sun seems to be a good guy — if recklessly impulsive — who truly cares about others, because he’s a character I can get behind. I’m scared for him… not just for his life as he plays decoy for Yi Heon, but because of the risk that palace life may taint him like it’s tainted Yi Heon.

It’s no secret that I’ve been a huge fan of Yeo Jin-gu’s since I first saw him the The Moon That Embraces the Sun, and I’ve watched him get better and better as he’s grown up. I haven’t seen everything he’s been in, but he still manages to amaze me with his incredible talent, and this show looks like it will be no different. His characterizations of Yi Heon and Ha Sun are so opposite, there’s no question which one he is at any given time, and I don’t think that will change even once Ha Sun begins to wear the kingly robes. Ha Sun is still very much a boy, playful and mischievous but loving and loyal to a fault, while Yi Heon often has this blank expression but with haunted eyes, and looks on the edge of losing his sanity for good at any moment. Even at the end, when each character had to say the same words with the same tone of voice, there was no question which was which just by the tiny twitches of fear on Ha Sun’s face. I don’t know what may happen to these two by the time this is all over, but wherever they end up, I know that Yeo Jin-gu will break our hearts over and over, times two, before we get there.

RELATED POSTS

Tags: , , , ,

147

Required fields are marked *

*Obi-Wan voice*

This is the sageuk you’ve been looking for!

This episode singlehandedly, forcefully threw me out of my drama slump and made me eager to watch the next episode - as well as catch up on all the dramas I’d had on hold.

Holy cow, it’s amazing. Truly, truly amazing. The directing, the gorgeous music... And I’m so in with the story and the characters. Yeo Jin Goo (and Yeo Jin Goo) is phenomenal as always, and I’m excited to see more of Lee Se Young’s steady Queen.

Bring it on, Cray Cray and the Clown. I’m ready for ya! (Well, maybe not... But I want to see, anyway.)

36
12
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is exactly what I need then. I haven't watched a drama in MONTHS!! Variety shows are the only thing keeping me in the K-tv world.

11
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I’ve been trying dramas and just... not... sticking to them even though I know I’d like them in a different mindset. And now I’ve gotten that other mindset!

I hope you enjoy! The episodes are stupid long, and maybe it was because I watched it in a group, but it didn’t feel like it dragged.

5
reply

Required fields are marked *

All of this. 2018 was rather unsatisfactory, and this is by far the most engaging drama in a while. Hopefully it's a sign of good things to come for the rest of the sageuks lined up this year (and that the rest of this series will continue to be good until the end). I've missed meaty historical dramas so much.

8
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes, please! The back half of 2018 had some standouts (I’m currently going back to finish Terius because it’s so fun, and Dance Sport Girls because it’s awesome) but overall, felt lackluster.

Give us all that goodness, 2019!

9
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Where are you watching Terius? I really want to watch it because —So Ji-sub!!

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I was able to find them on Vimeo of late, but hopefully it’ll move to Viki/KOCOWA/Netflix..

1

2018 had some good dramas, but spread out. I'm hoping that this year the dramas live up to the hype.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

This is *exactly* how I felt! (Are you my twin version?!). It's been 5+ months since I laid eyes on a K drama, and I am already looking forward to next Monday. Yip yip!

5
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

*circles you while cackling madly* Now, why would you ask that?

Thank goodness for the dramas that make us look forward to Mondays!

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

The second episode is the one that hooked me. Amazing.

3
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes! It kept that steam and went strong. Gosh. I was so mad, yet I knew that they were doing everything masterfully.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Me, too. First was interesting, second one I couldn’t stop watching.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm in love with this show!
(Will elaborate later when more awake.)

12
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yeo Jin-gu, of course, is sensational. His two characters couldn't be more different. Lee Se-young is captivating, too - her character had a pretty non-existent role in the film, so I read worried she wouldn't get the screen time she deserves. So far, it seems like I'm worried for nothing.
This time last year, I was obsessed with Grand Prince, flaws and all. What this and that share is an easy logic to follow and a manageable number of important characters. I have a tricky relationship with sageuks, because I don't which anything that I have trouble following. But THIS.
If the cinematography hadn't clued me in, this is going to be something really special. Hail sageuks! Hail fantastic actors! Hail having good things to watch!

10
reply

Required fields are marked *

A.W.E.S.O.M.E!
Thanks Lollypip for the recap.

6
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yeo Jin Goo's acting though. It's awsome...

16
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Wow. Let me find some words. So... *drumroll*... This was excellent, and terrible, and bloody. I hardly remembered to breathe! The drums OST is daebak and adds to the suspense. Now I only wish I had more episodes to binge it all.

It's nothing new to see a bloodbath at the start of a reign in a sageuk (with younger princes and a cohort of nobles executed in various ways) - that's Joseon politics. But I am interested in learning the backstory of how this new king changed from king-material (according to the Queen and her father) to psycho-killer. It doesn't help that his last conversation with his father ended badly. That was a suitably chilling way to start the drama. *shivers*

Thank you for the recap @lollypip! I look forward to recaps, discussions and learning from the more knowledgeable sageuk beanies. :)

18
9
reply

Required fields are marked *

I love the very first scene between Yi Heon and his father.
The intensity of restraints between two powerhouse actors is something to behold. I was waiting for one them to crack but nothing (*claps with joy*).
It reminded me of a scene from TREE WITH DEEP ROOT between Song Joong-ki (young King Sejong) and his father Baek Yoon-shik (King Taejong). All that emotions held within limits.

Obviously his younger brother is his father's favorite but he chose Yi Heon to be king which I think means that his father believes that he is capable.
Yi Heon is a son of a concubine which means that the emperor of Ming will not approve of his enthronement. His younger brother is legally the rightful heir to the throne and when he gets older, he has a legitimate claim the throne.
Yi Heon's position is basically unstable and I think that might have contribute to the change in his behavior.

I'm trying hard to keep the history aside and just go with the writer's own fictional take. It's kind of easy in the beginning since Gwanghae was 34yrs old when he ascended the throne.

14
8
reply

Required fields are marked *

Aha, I remember reading that Yi Heon was the son of a concubine in the synopsis but I wasn't given that information in the drama itself... and I forgot. Thank you. That helps explain his insecure position to an extent, and also maybe why he wants to have a legitimate son.

8
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Exactly, he is insecure. He could be over thrown anytime. He has no friends, only subjects and enemies.
Nothing feels safe, even the food that he eats. He can't sleep at night for fear of being assassinated in his sleep. That would be more than enough to drive someone crazy.

Naturally, I think he wouldn't want his son to go through what he is going through. Rank/status was everything especially the mother's rank.

9
reply

Required fields are marked *

Is that why minister shin called him out on the hypocrisy when he refused to sleep with his niece? I didn't know that.
Also what about the other guy? The one who's conspiring with yul's mother? How is he related?

4
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes, I believe so.

The guy who is conspiring with Yul's mother is Prince Jinpyung. I'm guessing that he is Yi Heon's half brother from one of his father's other concubines but he is given a fictional name.

If I am right, he does have a big role in the end and it makes sense why he is part of the show.

4
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm back at dramabeans after a long time...

And I'm so excited! I want to tell everybody that LH is not just randomly crazy but he's lived a very crazy (and not in the good way) life for years when this drama begins! (I assume that the viewer in korea is supposed to know this history.)

As seen in Daeribgun (ad time!) there was a Japanese invasion when he was still quite young. The Japanese were so successful that they almost overwhelmed the country in a very short time. At that time there was no "legitimate" son by the queen yet, and LH's father was so scared he decided to run away to Ming China. Because his ministers protested that there cannot be no king in Joseon, he just named LH crown prince (because he was the most capable) and king by proxy and then fled the country.

The responsibility of being king was thrust on LH from one day to the other and he dutifully lead the troops and cooperated with the troops that were eventually sent from China, but they weren't very successful, the war was only "won" when the Japanese general died of natural causes.

After that LH's father returned, but he became very wary of his son who had been king when he was away, not the least because his own reputation suffered from abandoning his country. He treated LH very badly for an extended period of time, insulting him and refusing audience. To add insult to injury his queen died and he got a new queen who prompty had a son, a "real" heir to the throne.

Now Ming China was having problems themselves because the emperor favoured his younger son contrary to age old rules of the oldest son born of the wife (not concubine!) being the rightful heir. Not being able to sway their emperor the Chinese refused time and again to acknowledge LH's crown prince status, since he was not only born by a concubine, but he wasn't even the oldest, he had no justification at all to be heir to the throne. The Joseon ministers also started to talk and a change of crown princes was spoken of. In these years LH has already become depressed and slowly destabilized mentally.

It was only the sudden and rather unexpted death of the king that made it impossible for him to change crown prince while he lived, historically it was discussed whether LH had actually killed his father, but we won't ever know.

2
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

Welcome back!

Thank you for going into a bit more detail.
Please stay and hangout with us :).

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you so much for this! I wish we had seen some of these events, but that would be another sageuk. This one threw us in the middle of the events surrounding his reign after the death of his father, and is fiction rather than closely following history. I suppose it's assumed that audiences know the general history. But Western audiences won't. So thanks again!

1
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Haha I'm really advertising here but you can watch Daeribgun if you want, it's a story about Gwanghae when his father flees the country and leaves him to fend for himself, where YJG also plays Gwanghae XD

0

I'm in love with this drama. Every single scene is a masterpiece. And I've never been happier with a cast than here- the leads, kim sang kyung, jang kwang, kwon hae hyo, jang young nam all in one drama- *swoons* It's only been 2 episodes but I'll be very surprised if the drama doesn't stay amazing.

9
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm ready to following it every week and invest my busy time for this.So happy that Yeo Jin-gu finally has good project. thanks @lollypip for the recap.

9
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Minister shin really has a hold on the king doesn't he? The king didn't believe his charges without proof and even gave him a chance to explain his embezzlement.

But with yul's grandfather, the minister who pleaded for yul's life and even his own father in law, he just relied on verbal confirmation from one party and didn't even bother about giving them a chance or waiting for more solid proof.

11
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Comment was deleted

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

That bugs me too but considering that he just became the king, he is unsure about a lot of things. Who is on his side and who to trust so he had to let it go.
Balancing his court is a great challenge. His brother and his clan are his rivals and Yi Heon is in a position that belongs to his brother. I think he is using Minister Shin's ambition to get rid of them.

5
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yeah but how can he not trust his own FIL? He'll obviously not do anything that can ruin his daughter's life. Shouldn't he have thought of those things as well?

And how could he charge his brother with treason? He's a kid! He probably couldn't even comprehend such things, much less plan something. Or am I underestimating royal children?

2
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Because this is politics and his FIL hold a high position in the court plus he is also the queen's father. He has to keep her family's power in check too.

The punishment for treason affects 3 generations. If you commit treason, you, your sons and grandsons are all going to be punished.

In history, King Taejong eliminated his younger brothers, his queen's father and her brothers in order to stabilized his position as king.
His son King Sejong (who is considered the best king in Korea) was able to rule effectively without blood on his hands because his father did the bloody house cleaning.

It's cruel but it happened back then in that dog eat dog, kill or be killed era.
Look at North Korea and the events between the former or current ruler and his brother. It's like history repeating itself.

9
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm also upset he doesn't trust his FIL more, while Minister Shin is obviously a crooked, no good dude. But he has nobody to trust, and Shin does the dirty work for him.

It's not that the kid brother would attempt something, but that other nobles would use him and create a faction against Yi Heon and even try to oust him. Last year's drama GRAND PRINCE showed how hard it was to be a king's brother, to not do anything that might be seen as a menace to the king, and yet to be ready to offer his services (or indeed, ascend the throne) in case of emergencies or the death of a king without an heir.

In sum, it was tough to be a royal in Joseon (also in modern fictional Korea, according to Last Empress).

11
reply

Required fields are marked *

I've seen the movie and I remember details from the history and I like the writer's own take so far but I don't know what to say lol.
Speechless in a sageuk? What?...
This is the side effect of watching jeon-ha inhale opium in his royal bath tub.

YEO JIN-GOO oh how I love thee!!!! Good or bad I'm in this till the end like every single sageuks that he was in.

Thank you so much @lollypip for picking up the first sageuk of the year <3. Here is hoping for a smooth ride all the way to Hanyang and back again.

15
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This was an amazing first episode. I appreciate how we jumped straight into the action and the storyline. Twice the Yeo Jingoo is twice as fun.

7
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Wow, it's intense! Queen Yun was somebody I always thought of as a dignified, simple yet immensely wise lady, an underrated simple beauty. And Lee Se-young brings EXACTLY that to life.
Anybody knows whether Kim Gae-shi is going to be in this drama, to muddle the waters? Had she been in the movie?

6
11
reply

Required fields are marked *

@peony, I was wondering the same thing about Kim Gae-shi. In ep. 2, the king's dresser is identified by name as Court Lady Kim. I recall her well from HWAJUNG / SPLENDID POLITICS, in which she was depicted as the King's sounding board and advisor.
http://asianwiki.com/The_Crowned_Clown

3
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

beat me to it :).

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I don't remember her in the movie but Court lady Kim is probably base loosely on Gae-shi. She is not a typical court lady. There is something rather sensual between her and Yi Heon. She takes care of him personally. Something Eunuch Jo should be doing imo.

6
8
reply

Required fields are marked *

@kiara,

I don't recall Court Lady Kim in MASQUERADE, either. And I just watched it -- but I may have slipped my clutch again. Omo.

In HWAJUNG, the relationship between Court Lady Kim and Gwanghaegun was depicted as a kind of mutual admiration society. He appreciated her keen intellectual insights into politics, but I don't recall whether it was physical, too. She was loyal -- rabidly so -- and plotted the murder of his younger brother without his knowledge when the boy's grandfather was implicated in a coup that was discovered in the planning stages. Her rationale was that as long as the younger prince lived, he would be a magnet to those seeking to overthrow Gwanghaegun. The king barely refrained from killing her in cold blood.

This is yet another take on Court Lady Kim Gae-shi. I caught more than a whiff of Jang Nok-soo, but not to the degree portrayed in THE KING AND THE CLOWN or REBEL. She strikes me as an enabler. At this point I cannot tell whether that's a good thing.

2
7
reply

Required fields are marked *

Unfortunately I checked out of HWAJUNG early and didn't get to the part with Gae-shi so thanks for sharing.

She is interesting but I want more of the queen.

1
6
reply

Required fields are marked *

@kiara, I stayed glued to HWAJUNG for Cha Seung-won, and then got mesmerized when Kim Jae-won appeared on the scene as the future King Injo. I found Gwanghaegun's ordnance and gunpowder R&D program interesting, too. It was a lot like one of the subplots in DAEMANG / GREAT AMBITION.

As for CROWNED CLOWN, I want to see more of the Queen, too. She's an interesting character.

3

@pakalanapikake

Speaking of Injo I think the prince that is in cahoots with Yul's mother is either Yi Heon's older brother or Injo's father.

I do remember Gwanghae's gunpowder R&D program briefly in DAEMANG.
He was intelligent and his capability as leader and reformer was proven when
his father fled to the Ming border to save himself and left the 18 yr old Gwanghae in charge of protecting and rebuilding the country during that 7yr war with Japan.
What kind of king would abandoned his people like that? I felt no pity for him when he died.

3

@kiara, January 10, 2019 at 6:26 PM

I think you may be right about the identity of Prince Jinpyung. Or maybe he's the offspring of a fictional grand prince, perhaps in the faction that put forth Yi Jong, Grand Prince Neungyang (future King Injo) as Gwanghaegun's successor.

Gwanghae's elder brother (by the same concubine mother) was Im-hae, who was depicted as out of control and definitely not kingly material in THE KING'S FACE.

It was while watching THE KING'S FACE that I learned how Gwanghaegun's father and the entire court upped and lit out of the capital, leaving him and the citizenry to fend for themselves against the Japanese invaders. It disgusted me, but sounds no different than the plans for evacuating the US President and Congress during the Cold War. When I read about the political factions and machinations that went on ever since King Seonjo was young, I find myself wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt. Greedy, power-hungry yangban are nothing new, but their infighting at the expense of the nation and its citizenry is truly reprehensible. Unsurprisingly, the rotten system that prompted Hong Gil-dong and the Righteous Army to rise up against Yeonsangun and the corrupt aristocracy continued to trample the people.

Be that as it may, Gwanghaegun Seja, whom Ming repeatedly refused to officially acknowledge as such, rallied the people, and along with Yi Sun-shin kept up the pressure until the Japanese eventually withdrew. Here's an interesting article on the admiral. The opposition he faced at home -- simply for being a competent military commander -- is depressing and entirely too familiar.
http://www.dramabeans.com/members/pakalanapikake/activity/693632/

Other films that depict Yi Sun-shin include ROARING CURRENTS and 2005's HEAVEN'S SOLDIERS, a fantasy / alternate history with a few humorous interludes that in no way is an action comedy. The latter may be a bit sentimental, but it includes the same touching poem from the admiral's diary that appears in ROARING CURRENTS, which should be watched first.

"Alone out at night...
The moon shining so brightly.
In grief...
with a long sword worn at the waist.
The pipe heard from [a]far...
rending my heart."

The admiral was a class act all the way, which is why he is one of my favorite Korean historical personages. ;-)

4

@PakalanaPikake

Thank you for sharing :). I have a lot to say about Gwanhae but I don't know where to start.

You are right, his father deserves credit for recognizing Gwanghae's abilities and talents. He did push for his installment as crown prince to be approved by the Ming emperor 4 times but got rejected.
I think the main reason for the rejection was because Gwanghae was not only a son of a concubine but the 2nd son of a concubine so that would make him 3rd inline to the throne after Yul's birth.

In GU AM HEO JOON, Gwanghae's older brother Im-hae fled to Ming with his father. Prior to that his only mission was to protect the border from the Japanese invasion but he failed. His father was smart to leave Gwanghae in charge.

You know, the first time I've ever heard of The Righteous Army was during a research on Gwanghae. I was watching DAEMANG at the time.
He was really the people's prince and I hope that our CLOWN would show some of that traits in the drama and become the people's king.

2

@kiara January 11, 2019 at 9:35 AM

I think you're right about the reason for opposition to Gwanghae's installation as Seja being his mother's inferior status and his birth order. This is one of the things that gives me a sageuk migraine: If it's so horrible to be born to a concubine, why the heck were concubines allowed in the first place? Even more so in the case of royalty? -- We MUST Have An Heir To The Throne -- plus multiple back-ups, just in case -- is the name of the game (along with boys will be boys...). The emphasis on primogeniture didn't always hold sway, as in the case of King Sejong the Great, but he was the exception rather than the rule.

Color me stunned that GU AM HEO JUN included Gwanghae and Im-hae. That part of the show completely slipped my mind -- not that I would have known who they were back then. So embarrassing. As for DAEMANG, I had no idea that that drama referenced Gwanghae either, as Jo Hyun-jae is only listed as Seja in the AsianWiki cast listing. The significance of a righteous army would have gone right over my head, too. Yikes. I saw both shows pretty early in my sageuk-watching career. -- Come to think of it, I don't recall seeing recaps around for either show, which would have helped my comprehension. ;-)

Since Ha-sun is a member of the hoi polloi, there's a good chance that your wish will be granted and that at least one of the Gwanghaeguns will actually be a prince of, by, and for the people. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he can retain his own sweet nature -- and his head -- in that snakepit of a palace. ;-)

2

Comment was deleted

0

@pakalanapikake

I feel the same way about the emphasis on primogeniture and how it "always" out weight talents and competence.

I think King Sejong's situation was different. His older brothers witnessed their father's bloody house cleaning and it affected them deeply since he was killing their grandfather, uncles and younger brothers.
I think neither one of them wanted the throne. His older brother was stripped off his crown prince status and his 2nd brother became a monk.
Sejong legally was the next in line and the most intelligent.
Maybe they thought that the country would be better off in their younger brother's capable hands.

I remember reading an article about their relationship. Sometimes they would share a meal together at Sejong's request. Now that's real brotherhood.

Back to Ha Sun, I have a bit of faith since I don't remember him changing much in the movie and I hope to see his relationship with his personal guard.

2

"But what really interests me is the way Yi Heon changed around her — he was in a blind rage, but the moment he stepped into So-woon’s chambers, the fury left him and he almost looked… wounded?"

I noticed Yi Heon did not treat the queen callously and cruelly as seen o other women (court ladies and the concubine). This is indicative he truly loves her. Even when he pulling and shoving her, it was done with much restraint.
The opium and the head of the court lady had the opposite effect .

9
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

@ long legs,

Re: the change in the king's behavior and attitude when he's in the queen's presence, thereby hangs a tale. So-woon does indeed have a calming effect on Yi Heon.

I can't help but wonder how many loyal servants he's seen croak right in front of him. That would be enough to make anyone paranoid and jittery to the max. I'm wondering why his father died so suddenly. Was he "helped"?

Methinks Yi Heon is being poisoned slowly, as was Seja in 100 DAYS MY PRINCE. Has someone been slipping him Ye Olde Joseon Mickey Finn?

7
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Eek, that's right! It seems the king died suddenly. The plot and incense smoke thickens.

4
reply

Required fields are marked *

A good first sageuk for the new year! \o/

The last scene between the King and his son told a lot about their relationship. The father was lacking the minimum of psychology , you don't insult the person who must take care of your other son...

I was really hoping that he won't kill his cute brother :( It will be hard to forgive himself.

It's hard to choose which character I want to support : the King and see him to become a better person and a better king or the Clown who already a good person and to see him become stronger.

"Side note: that whole scene was masterfully acted by both Yeo Jin-gu and Lee Se-young" Yeo Jin Gu was incredible. He's so charismatic for his young age! Lee Se Young is really beautiful and dignified as a Queen.

The OST was great. Some instrumental songs are classical like only piano and other reminded me The Goblin.

8
8
reply

Required fields are marked *

The romantic OST is directly taken from classical music: it's Schubert's Serenade (piano and violin). It played during the scene where the Queen pleads for her father, in vain.

Here is a clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=widDAQKdlUA

9
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Oh thank you! I was thinkin that it sounded really classical, I understand why now :D

2
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Hehe, no problem! Honestly hearing Western music threw me off for a moment because I was so engrossed in Joseon history and culture... it does signal "tragic romance" well though.

4
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

It threw me off, too! I don’t recall hearing classical Western music in a sageuk, but the choice works well here.

1

@wishfultoki,

Thanks for identifying the piano instrumental. I thought it might be by Franz Schubert. (A number of his valses nobles et sentimentales were used in the soundtrack of the film WANEE AND JUNAH, which I watched recently.)

That clip is so moving. The piece is so apropos for the scene.

4
reply

Required fields are marked *

That beating drum OST is my fave. Especially when they use it at the very end of the episode where the tension is at its highest then they immediately cut to the title card. I love that take instead of putting the cliffhanger scene on pause, slowly zooming it in while the OST plays. It somehow gives the drama a classier vibe.

9
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Oh, I LOVE the sudden title card ending. It doesn't put me at ease cuz the episode's over, but more pumped.

5
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Right? It almost felt movie-like to me.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

That was a very good pilot episode. Set the premise up pretty quickly, didn't they? With everything and all characters in place, we are good to go! I've seen the second episode, but won't say anything about it until your recap comes out.

I must say all the major characters are well-cast. Looking forward, especially, to the Queen's character development and story arc. Lee Se-young did so well in A Korean Odyssey while playing a dual-role. Yeo Jin Goo, as expected, with his wealth of experience, started out his own dual-role impressively as well. The deep tone of his voice is just made for sageuk-themed roles. He impressed me as early as Warrior Baek Dong-soo and also in METS, as you metioned. But for the life of me, I couldn't see how he grew up to have Kim Soo Hyun's softened face, heh heh. It was much more believable when he transformed into Ji Chang Wook....

Sorry for digressing. Back to The Crowned Clown, I'm already settling in for an exciting ride ahead. It has been a while since a good sageuk came along, since Six Flying Dragons, the standard by which all recent sageuks are measured! Well at least for me. 100 Days My Prince was good, but in a fluffy sort of way. What I've really wanted was another epic saga, a genre I've truly missed watching.

Thanks for the speedy recap, @lollypip. Can't wait for Episode 2 recap!

6
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'M SOLD!!! I don't usually watch saeguk because I can't handle the palace politics and uncountable characters will be killed. But tried this one for YJG.

Speaking of which, living in the palace can make sane people into the insane ones... Take Lee Heon and Lee Hyuk for example...

6
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

This episode seemed really long . . .

3
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

@owl22, it was long (an hour and 23 min., I believe). It was long, but for me it didn't drag. It was just very eventful. ;-)

8
reply

Required fields are marked *

Hahaha, because it really is. Running time was more than 80 mins.

Personally, I don't mind. Perhaps because YJG filled most of the running time. But mostly, because the story didn't waste the time with filler scenes and repetitive flashbacks. Every scene was put in with a purpose.

10
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm definitely gonna watch this maybe a few episodes in but how many of you are going with twin separated at birth plot?

4
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

eh... nah. I don't wanna consider that (somehow I'm getting Indonesian drama vibes? IDK why exactly...)

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

LMAO too cheap i know but i see no other way to solve if the clown dude gonna end up on the throne

0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Watching sageuks always give me some sort of anxiety attack, what with all the life at stake, and the hopeless feeling it gives. But episode 1 got me in deep, and now i have to watch it.

11
11
reply

Required fields are marked *

@thequiet1,
I'm standing by with a lifeline. Just holler when it gets too hairy. I'll try and talk you off the ledge. ;-)

5
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

i'm giving myself some pep talk before i start episode 2. pheww...

4
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

@thequiet1,
Just remember to keep breathing. ;-)

3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I hate sageuks generally. They're just so depressing and the overall theme seems to be "people are terrible, there is no hope, and also we didn't kick your puppy yet *kicks puppy*".

If it wasn't for Jingoo and also Jingoo I wouldn't be here frankly. But this episode really was fantastic and Jingoo was amazing - so was Jingoo.

5
7
reply

Required fields are marked *

I still think Jingoo is better than Jingoo, could just be me... *shrugs*

6
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

In Jingoo's defence, Jingoo had much more to work with in the first episode. Hopefully episode 2 will give Jingoo his chance to shine...

...

...

...Still waiting for this joke to get old

5
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

IT WILL NEVER GET OLD. Keep going, you guys are cracking me up!

In my head I'm already nominating Jin-gu and Jin-gu for this year's Bromance award...

9

Yeah, I hope this drama won't be too biased about giving Jingoo all the screen-time because they should also let Jingoo prove his worth too!

5

I also thought Jingoo was better than Jingoo.

7
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Suprisingly i knew which Jinggoo it is although its Jingoo & Jingoo...

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

My thoughts exactly! it's like, you're doom, either way. But jin goo happen, I have no choice but to watch while constantly checking my sanity. i even spread 2 episodes to 4 watching session. that's how intense jingoo-jingoo are.

on another note, I logged into dramabeans this morning after 1 full day off, and lo n behold, 18 notifications, of beanies debating whether jingoo is better than jingoo! you guys made my day!

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I've waited for this drama for months! I'm really happy and satisfied with the first two episodes! Bless Director Kim Hee Won for casting the perfect people for the roles and the masterful way she directed this drama. I mean, even if only 2 eps have been released so far, the gorgeous cinematography and the way she was able to capture the perfect amount of emotion and tension from the actors... Fantastic!

I read in her interview that she only has one rule for casting. Cast the people the viewers would want to watch and the staff would like to work with. And watching the behind the scenes videos, there's always so much laughter on-set. The drama can be very dark, but I'm glad the filming atmosphere is very light and fun.

The casting is so on-point! Kim Sang Kyung, Jang Gwang, Jung Hye Young, Jang Young Nam, Kwon Hae Hyo (whom I've only seen play parts that are for comic relief). I love that detail where Shin Chi Soo actually walks with a limp. Lee Se Young is so beautiful and dignified in this role. She's so lovely and her chemistry with YJG is already great! Looking forward for more!

And lastly... Yeo Jin Goo, my lovely fave! What a breathtaking performance! Knowing he has started filming for this drama while in the midst of finishing Absolute Boyfriend is mind-boggling. How did he manage? And yet he still did such a phenomenal performance! So proud, I'm so, so proud as a fan. Good job, Jingoo! Go get all the love and praises you have always deserved. ♥

As expected... Yeo Jin Goo is definitely better than Yeo Jin Goo.

12
6
reply

Required fields are marked *

@weaselking circulate9oo,

"I love that detail where Shin Chi Soo actually walks with a limp."

Perhaps that's a clue as to why the Left State Councilor is such an evil hellspawn. Maybe he was unjustly accused and tortured. Okay, that's my quota of devil's advocate for today. ;-)

5
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Ooh I like that take. :D There's gotta be more back story. I wanna know more how he got Yi Heon doing every single thing he bids.

3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I have a soft spot for Kim Sang Kyung since THE GREAT KING SEJONG. He played the same character twice.
I was worried about the casting because Ryu Seung-ryong is one hell of an actor but Sang Kyung seems to fit the drama well.
Shim Eun-kyung's character Sa-wol was my other fave from the movie but in the drama she is only in 2 eps. I'm not complaining. I think 2 is good enough and giving the clown a sister is kind of interesting.

3
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

I've seen KSK only in movies and he's really great. I have heard of him playing King Sejong twice and also as king in that movie with Shim Eun Kyung. It's actually hilarious watching the making how he sulks at his costume being demoted and now that he's standing below while Jingoo sits on the throne, he now knows how his seniors felt in the past. LOL.

I think the sister is the equivalent of that girl who was forcefully bedded by that rich man in the movie. But now in the drama, making her the sister of the clown raises the stakes much higher.

I didn't expect the court maid's appearance to be that short, but they've pretty much covered the entire movie in those two episodes, so I'm looking forward to where the writers would take this show.

2
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I kinda thought Yeo Jin Goo the clown had better chemistry with the court maid. Wished they had more scenes together.

3
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

It was the same in the movie. Her story was heartbreaking and easy to sympathize with so they had that closeness and friendship he didn't have with the queen.

2

Yeo Jin Goo owns my entire ass.

This first episode exceeded my expectations by a mile, and those expectations were pretty high to begin with. Yes yes yes.

6
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

"Yeo Jin-gu will break our hearts over and over, times two."

This is what I expect everytime I watch a project from Yeo Jin-gu!

11
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Hmmm... I must be the odd one out. I watched the first two episodes out ot curiosity due to the glowing reviews from beanies but I was not overly impressed. Perhaps it's because I've watched Masquerade, and the set up is very very similar so it feels repetitive. Not to mention the overly long episode. I was struggling to stay focused.

Acting: Yeo Jin-goo was great. In fact he was so good that whenever he wasn't on screen I felt myself tuning out. The supporting actors range from good to okay-ish to bad. I like Kwon Hae-hyo's turn as the villain this time. He usually plays the good guy and he somehow manages to change his voice tone in this drama so that he doesn't even sound like himself. I think that's probably a deliberate choice to separate this character from his other good guy persona.

Directing: I don't like the multiple tonal shifts throughout the episodes. It doesn't feel cohesive. It's as if we've got a long stretch of "Very serious moments" and then they're like "Quick, got to insert something goofy now" and they don't feel like they belong to the same drama. The blame lies in the director. Because I've seen dark dramas peppered with lighter/funny moments that don't feel jarring in better directing hands. Kim Won-seok (Misaeng, Signal, My Ajusshi) and Lee Jung-hyo (Cruel City, Life on Mars) are especially good at this.

Writing: Honestly I'm not familiar with the writer so I don't have much confidence that he/she can stretch a 2-hour movie material into at least 16 episodes. What will be the story here? At this stage I'm going to give it another 2 episodes chance, and I'm hoping against all odds that I'll have to eat my words later and this drama turns out to be great.

5
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

I was struggling a bit to keep myself awake on some scenes. I want to keep watching this so badly so I am hoping I can stick to it until the end. Masquerade kinda raised the bar. The tonal shifts of that movie were done so well.

3
reply

Required fields are marked *

"Perhaps it's because I've watched Masquerade, and the set up is very very similar so it feels repetitive."

...I don't know what else you expected from remake of Masquerade. Of course the set up is similar, haha.

I agree that there were a lot of tonal shifts in the drama, from humor to seriousness to gruesomeness, but it didn't bother me. We have two completely opposite characters in terms of backstory, personality and outlook on life with the same face who clash, so the show showing that contrast in the mood feels fitting to me. I expect the shifts will become less jarring from now on, since Ha Sun is realizing the gravity of his situation and is becoming more serious and, well, angry. The two worlds will mash and blend together more and more, and so the moods won't be in such stark contrast with each other.

5
reply

Required fields are marked *

That's strange, I remember thinking the tonal shifts were spot on, especially in ep 2 (which gets darker).

I haven't seen the film, so I could understand things seeming repetitive if you've recently watched it.

6
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

I thought it was testament to how well-written it was that the large tonal shifts - especially in episode 2 - worked so well. They didn't seem jarring to me at all.

5
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm hooked. In this episode, Yeo Jin Goo haven't exactly convinced me as the clown. Maybe because I'm so deeply fascinated (and terrified) in his role as the King Cray Cray? That maniac laughter. And all that abuse towards the ladies of the palace. I wonder how uncomfortable it was for YJG to film that.

4
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Really solid opening episodes. I’m not typically a big fan of Sageuk drama’s but the leads in this one made me have to at least check it out. I’m glad I did so far. Before it aired, I’d read they were planning a bit of a love triangle. I’m not sure how they plan to pull that off since they’ve made the king SO unlikeable.

2
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

OMG! YJG has always been a great actor, but I think he just raised the bar again. How can one person portray 2 people so effectively. I was in awe at the end of the episode. It was like YJG was too good; I was left speechless. His cold portrayal of a king on the edge of insanity, the way his faced twitched when talking to So-woon and then he calmed down and there was a sense of longing. You might think he would play one character better than the other, but no, he is phenomenal as both. This is going to be my new crack drama. Let the angst begin!

9
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

My theory: he was born as the son of the Queen (maybe the first Queen that then died) and he is the heir but his father made his consort the Queen (after the first died) and he had a second son. Maybe he only loved the consort and not the first Queen and YH resented him because of it. The lady that is conspiring against him said that he only wants an heir from the Queen just like his father did. Maybe that is the reason why he does not want a son from a consort because he does not want to put his son into the same messy situation he was in when he grew up?
I assume he did not want to kill his brother and that the order came from the evil minister. It all looks very promising but I hope there are not too many evil people to keep track of as it might get too confusing.

4
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

He was the son of consort actually, so that's why he want a heir, whose legitimacy and claim to throne won't be questioned like his was.

3
reply

Required fields are marked *

After this drama, Yeo Jin Goo can do no wrong. We don't deserve to complain about any drama he takes from now on.

This first ep was epic. Music is so important in setting the mood of a scene and I've become increasingly sensitive to the background music in shows. I'm just really happy that this drama is using music so well.

What can I say, YJG is larger than life. He's so charismatic that it's almost painful. He draws you in so much and doesn't allow you to breathe. Let me live Jin Goo, let me live.

7
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you so much for your recap, @lollypip. THE CROWNED CLOWN hit the ground running. Now that's what I call a premiere.

I, too, am wondering why His Majesty is such a basket case. Since the court is teeming with enemies, I can understand how he cannot sleep a wink at night. Do that long enough, and sleep deprivation can cause hallucinations. It also occurs to me that he may be getting gaslighted. So far, Lee Hyun is reminding me of Yeonsangun in REBEL: THIEF WHO STOLE THE PEOPLE.

6
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

Well, in a meta moment, Gwanghae and Yeonsan are the only "gun s" who weren't given a posthumous title!
.
And noting what you said earlier; This is yet another take on Court Lady Kim Gae-shi. I caught more than a whiff of Jang Nok-soo, but not to the degree portrayed in THE KING AND THE CLOWN or REBEL. She strikes me as an enabler. At this point I cannot tell whether that's a good thing.
Hehe, Kim Gae-shi too, is compared to Nok-su more often than not by History People. No wonder you feel parallels between this and REBEL. ;-)

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

@peony,

Very good point about the two big "guns" devoid of posthumous titles. Thanks for corroborating my inklings about Gwanghaegun and Kim Gae-shi. It will be interesting to see how they are portrayed. As @kiara noted elsewhere, Court Lady Kim displays a sensual vibe (starting in ep. 2, I believe).

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Yes Yi Heon reminds me of Yeonson. Both insecure with a chip on their shoulder. The weight of the crown is too much to bear. Paranoia from fear and acting out in a cruel manner.
Hopefully when the clown takes over Yi Heon would have the time away from politics to get himself together.

3
reply

Required fields are marked *

this is sooo goooood!!! Yeo Jin Gu is just amazing in both roles, to no surprise since he's been acting for so long.

i like the queen, Lee Se Young - she's going to be super strong in this, it is already apparent.

i really dislike the king, but i suppose we'll find out why he went so sour when he started out so sweet in their relationship... but i think i want the clown to stay in the palace... but that can't happen, can it...
: (

7
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Well I am in. For now. I like the story but it feels rather like a rocky ride of editing. The royal couple's (was it Schubert? Reminded me of The Young Victoria) BGM was distracting, and Yeo Jin Goo, dare I say, seems rather out of place? His acting seems quite green. I like him still. His charisma is one reason why I would like to continue watching. Especially after episode 2. Nonetheless, i finished watching episode 1 yearning to watch Masquerade again.

1
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

@kiara @pakalanapikake
Thank you both😃.
I looked up her profile in the link pakalanapikake gave me, and seems like she's has some Sageuk experience already, 34 years old which makes sense for Gae shi who served both Dad and Son, a 'pretty and young' looking choice while the PDs could've chosen an older actress for the Head Sangung role. It's possible she might be based on Gae shi. I'll wait and see.
In Hwajung(which I didn't watch) she was played by Kim Yeo jin right? The role was purposefully made non-physical? However I watched a fair amount of WEST PALACE, with Lee Young-ae in the role. Great characters. The young Queen Dowager, Queen Yun, Kim Gae-shi and Kim In-bin. It was quite entertaining to watch all the dignified hair-pulling powerplays between the ladies.
But I don't think I want it here....

1
6
reply

Required fields are marked *

Gaah why do I keep typing Queen Yun? Queen Yoo, it is.

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

@peony,

Yes, Kim Yeo-jin portrayed Kim Gae-shi in HWAJUNG, and she really got my attention. I've been tickled to bits to see her in other shows since then. It's possible that the physical aspect was discreetly hinted at. Her meeting of the minds with Gwanghaegun, on the other hand, was very intimate, so perhaps that made a stronger impression on me. She was like a protective mama tiger.

I haven't seen WEST PALACE, so thanks for the description. ;-)

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

@peony

According to my calculation, the real Gae-shi was 9 yrs younger than Gwanghae.
Every woman in the palace belongs to the king so it's not uncommon for a court lady to end up in a physical relationship with the king and climb the rank like the water maid Dong Yi.

2
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

@kiara,

Ah, yes, how could I forget that clause in the employment contract. ;-)

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Heol! Then how old was she when she served Daddy king?
I was honestly thinking she was in an appropriate middle-ground, age-wise in relationship with both kings. A "noona romance"(putting it mildly) with Gwanghae and an ajusshi one with Dad!😋
Sigh. I should've known better, considering this is ancient times we're talking about.

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Ikr? This was the era of Noona- Dongsaeng couples with huge age gap.

Court maids were probably as young as 9-11 when they enter the palace where they would spend the rest of their lives in the king's service.

Gwanghae was in his 30s when he became king. Gae-shi probably serves his father towards the end of his life. We don't know if she had that kind of relationship with his father. But that's what drama writers do. Create love triangles and squares lol.

Gae-shi officially became Gwanghae's consort so I doubt she had a phycial relationship with his father.

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

What a fast paced first episode! soo much happened in just the first ep.
Can't wait for more!
Thank you drama for not wasting YeoJinGoo cause having him in a bad saeguk is a Crime!

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

YGJ alone would've been enough to get me watching but I'm even more keen to start now after reading the 1st recap. Thanks @lollypip!

Ready to follow weekly and for YJGx2 to break my heart again over these next 2 months!

6
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

A few more comments from another thread -- before I saw the recap. Plus fangirling over JUMONG. ;-)

http://www.dramabeans.com/2019/01/junho-confirmed-for-new-tvn-drama-confession/#comment-3385153

4
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Comment was deleted

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I love it I love it I love it! I really needed an epic Sageuk in my life right now. Hoping it keeps momentum and doesn’t fall flat in the middle.

Jingoo is amazing. You’d think they were two different people and not the same person playing both roles. cray cray is frightening and the clown is just adorable.

We are in for a ride and I can’t wait!

8
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

Can i ask tonally
what kind of drama is this ?

Makjang serious

Serious tragic

or Comedy makjang

1
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

@hallyumint,

I think it's too early to tell. While the movie MASQUERADE had scenes and physical comedy that had me rolling on the floor, the overall tone was serious. I have a feeling that such will be the case with CROWNED CLOWN. Given the life-or-death stakes, I don't see it as a comedy, although there will, I hope, be comic or lighter interludes. I'm hoping it's intense, rather than gratuitously makjang. Just my hopeful $0.02. ;-)

2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Historical dramas tend to be serious-tragic rather than fluffy-comic. This one started out with serious intrigue and bloodshed so I don’t expect it to be light fare.
I’ve only seen the term “makjang” applied to modern dramas actually. 🤔

4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you @lollypip for recapping episode one of THE CROWNED CLOWN. I know how efficient you are so we are going to have to be on our toes.
I loved episode one. There were so many fine performances but I have to single out Yeo Jin-goo in dual roles. Impressive is all I can think of. The whole production is top notch. A few thoughts:
1. It is so nice to see beanie friends from the GRAND PRINCE days and on a full-blown DB recap not a do-it-yourself hijacked thread;
2. Hi @pakalanapikake, @kiara and @wishfultoki.
I am looking forward to the history lessons, things getting put in context and humor;
3. @pakalanapikake I thought of you when I read this in @lollypip's Comments:

But in fact, Yi Heon is basically a homicidal psychopath, and at this point I’m not sure that his being assassinated would be such a bad thing for the country.

I thought that sounds like something @pakalanapikake would come up with lol;
4. The length of episodes. tvN episodes run long ( I remember PRISON PLAYBOOK). If episodes are running 80-85 minutes, a 16 episode tvN drama will be more like a 21-22 (60 minute) episode drama; and
5. Thanks @wishfultoki and @kiara for clarifying Yi Heon's legitimacy.
For some reason I did not think Prince Yul's mother was the Dowager Queen.

6
12
reply

Required fields are marked *

And the "Fellowship of the Clowns" is now complete. Glad you are here @marcusnyc20 <3.

4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Good to see you, too, @marcusnyc20 bong-soo! <3 Methinks we'll be having good fun with @lollypip's top notch recaps.

*waves to @kiara and @wishfultoki*

Truth to tell, I'm a Gwanghaegun fangirl, so I'm not yet ready to sic the assassins on him. I need a better handle on what's happening first. Just because Yi Heon says he killed little bro Yul doesn't mean he actually did it. I suspect that he has assumed protective coloration, but that may be my own paranoia after watching so many sageuks. ;-)

Now that you mention it, Gwanghae seems to be acting like Prince Sado. Hmmm. I might have to rethink my stance on regicide with extreme prejudice.

I agree that this first episode is a ripsnorter. And the second is even more so. Show is wasting no time with a genteel introduction. It's more like being tossed into the shark tank at court along with Ha-sun. ;-)

3
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

"Truth to tell, I'm a Gwanghaegun fangirl.."
Me and you girl. This drama will not do him justice because it's a fictional take) but it helps me understand Yi Yeon's struggles and the clown definitely has his heart.

I am pleased that history remembers him as a great king. Although his kingly status was downgraded to a prince and his official annals was downgraded to a journal, it is still pretty much valid.

There were missing entries in his journal. A total of 15 days and that's where the movie and this drama creates their story to fill that gap.

3
3
reply

Required fields are marked *

@kiara,

I cannot think of Gwanghaegun without automatically thinking of Admiral Yi Sun-shin, who was known for his humane concern for his fellow citizens as well as his upright character and devotion to duty.

I agree that Gwanghaegun is looking like a psycho in this opening episode, which is distressing. But sometimes a fictionalized treatment can cast more light on a historical figure than the official records do. His acrobatic doppelgänger is like a Dr. Jekyll to Yi Heon's Mr. Hyde.

The missing span of official records rings a bell. I think a similar premise was used as the basis for a zombie or vampire horror sageuk that I haven't seen yet.

3
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

Same here. Did you get to watch Kim Myung-min's ADMIRAL Yi? He was so good that he will always be Yi Sun-shin to me. Much like Heo Joon-ho with Hae Mo-su.

"sometimes a fictionalized treatment can cast more light on a historical figure than the official records do"
So true. The dramas makes me think. Reading and listening to lectures puts me to sleep.

2

@kiara,

Thanks for that hot tip. I just watched an episode of IMMORTAL ADMIRAL YI SUN-SHIN on KBS Drama on YouTube, alas without subtitles. I think it was ep. 96 -- a big battle in which the local civilians on land are winching a heavy chain across a narrow strait while the ladies are doing some kind of may pole dance. The Japanese ships hit the chain and their crews get knocked galley-west. Then the turtle ships begin firing their cannons while safely out of range of small arms fire. I see what you mean about Kim Myung-min. Dashing and heroic indeed.

As for JUMONG, 53 episodes down, 28 to go. What a great show. ;-)

I agree with you about the appeal of watching a well-done dramatization of history versus reading or listening to lectures. On the other hand, I've been blessed to have had several excellent history teachers in high school and college whose classes were anything but boring. ;-)

2

*waves* Hello @marcusnyc20! It sure is nice to be in an official recap thread! And lol, Fellowship of the Clowns? I’ll need to practice my dancing and drumming. 😂

3
5
reply

Required fields are marked *

But no way are you going to get me up on a tightrope! ;-)

3
2
reply

Required fields are marked *

I wouldn't mind if Lee Jun-ki is at the end of the robe.

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Me neither! I was certainly getting THE KING AND THE CLOWN vibes in the opening episode. ;-)

1

@wishfultoki.
and @pakalanapikake. Sorry to go o/tt so soon but TCC is my most anticipated drama since YOUR HONOR and I want to tell you I am so glad I don’t have to go through the early episode angst that I did with YH. (For the unfamiliar: YH was Yoon Shi-yoon’s next drama after his fine performance in the sageuk GRAND PRINCE. After the first two 30 minute episodes of YH I was in shock and I will leave it at that other than to say that the YH ship righted itself and became a very good drama (except for the ending.) Apologies for the digression and I will try to stay on topic from here on out.

2
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

@marcusnyc20 bong-soo,

I was as spazzed out as you were over the premiere of YOUR HONOR. Multiple roles are tricky, and I tend to prefer nuance and understatement. I thought Yeo Jin-gu did a fine job differentiating his two characters, although I've got to admit that Yi Heon is certifiable at least some of the time.

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

My first sageuk! I don't know yet if it is my cup of tea, but I liked this episode very much. The music, the acting, the cinematography, all beautiful!

4
4
reply

Required fields are marked *

Welcome, @carmen KarmenKDramaNaive! Glad to have you join our merry band of Beanies. ;-)

You're jumping in feet first with a drama set in a tumultuous period in Joseon history. (Er, was there any reign in Korean history that was not tumultuous?! LOL.) The learning curve for sageuks can be steep, but it's worth it, IMHO. The more background knowledge you accumulate, the easier it becomes to understand what's going on. LollyPip writes wonderful recaps (and selects great screencaps), so you're in good hands. ;-)

3
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you very much, @pakalanapikake! :D

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Welcome aboard @carmen. You are in good hands. I hope you enjoy TCC.

4
1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Thank you, @marcusnyc20! :))

1
reply

Required fields are marked *

Wow! I'm in!

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

It isn’t so much as the king is going slowly insane. It’s more that he’s a drug addict. It’s no coincidence that the drama has twice shown him sniffing burnt (opium??) poppy? flowers from a pipe. Historically, it’s too early for tobacco, but not too early for opium. I also think that lady Kim who dresses the king is a bad influence on him.

5
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

after being in drama slumps for the whole of 2018, new year had finally brought something new. 9 days into 2019 and it already looks promising. As expected yeo jin goo never disappoints!

3
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I'm so sold with this drama. Looking at Yeo Jin-gu and Lee Se-young great acting is like when I see Park Bo Gum and Kim You Jong in Moonlight Drawn The Clouds, both are amazing and the story seems promising.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I resisted this drama because it didn’t sound very original. Decided to watch the first episode and bam! Immediately intrigued.

I’m not familiar with the lead actor, but he is doing a fantastic job with the dual role.

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *

I JUST WATCH THE FIRST EPISODE AND IM COMPLETELY HOOKED!! Omg, it was gorgeously shot and the casts!!! Yeon Jin Gu is just simply awesome! He delivers so well, even with the king craziness I can still sympathize, and Im sure it is because of how well Yeon Jin Gu delivers all the emotions. That scene between him and LSY! Omg, Im so in love with this!

I thought the previous king looked like Jang Hyuk so much, how happy I was when I found out its really Jang hyuk!

This sageuk.. based on real life historical character right? Gotta do a bit of research on Yi Hoen's background, Im so intrigued!

0
0
reply

Required fields are marked *