Rating:
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104

The Crowned Clown: Episode 16 (Final)

It’s time for our clown to sink or swim on his own, and one wrong move could mean his death and the death of everyone he cares about. But he’s not finished surprising us yet, as he contemplates a decision that could change the future of the entire nation.

 
EPISODE 16 RECAP

Ha Sun watches, horrified, as Minister Lee grabs a sword from a guard and runs Prince Jin-pyung through, taking several sword wounds in the back himself. He falls to the ground, and although Moo-young tries to hold Ha Sun back, he breaks away and runs to cradle Minister Lee’s head in his arms.

Guards run to close the palace gates and protect the queen, but Ha Sun only has eyes for the dying Minister Lee. He asks why Minister Lee did such a reckless thing, and Minister Lee apologizes for not keeping his promise never to leave him. He gasps for Ha Sun to hang his body above the castle gates after he dies, to show that the criminal was brought to justice.

Ha Sun doesn’t want to disrespect his loyal friend that way, and Minister Lee says it makes him feel joyful to hear Ha Sun call him that. He reaches up a hand for Ha Sun to grasp, then he dies, leaving Ha Sun wracked with grief.

Minister Shin takes advantage of the confusion to try to sneak Prince Jin-pyung out of the palace, but they’re stopped at the gates.

Minister Lee’s body is taken into the palace, where Ho-geol sobs over him. He begs Ha Sun to let him send Minister Lee to his people, but Moo-young warns Ha Sun that opening the gates right now is too dangerous with the rebels right outside.

Ha Sun sends a letter to the queen dowager asking her to halt her men for one day so he can pay proper respects to Minister Lee. He says that if she refuses, he’ll hang Minister Lee’s body at the gates for the people to see, and then they’ll know that she caused this rebellion without justification. In addition, he’ll kill Minister Shin and Prince Jin-pyung for what happened at the assembly.

She decides to let Ha Sun pay tribute to Minister Lee, so he allows Minister Shin and Prince Jin-pyung to leave the palace. He stands before Minister Lee’s casket one last time, remembering his friend saying that he taught him about the importance of trust and bowing to him as his king. He cries again as Ho-geol accompanies Minister Lee’s body out of the palace and past the rebel soldiers, then the gates are closed again.

Woon-shim is allowed to say goodbye, and she sobs that she thought they would finally be together. Jong-rim and Jae-gu, who got to take the civil service exam because of Minister Lee, offer to help Ho-geol get revenge, but Ho-geol says they’ll only lose their lives. Monk Jung Saeng agrees that Minister Lee wouldn’t want them to die for nothing.

Prince Jin-pyung is in bad shape from his gut wound, but he tries to act like it’s nothing when the queen dowager visits him. She says that he’d have lived a long life if he hasn’t been greedy for the throne, but she tells him in a cold voice that she’ll make good use of his soldiers, and give the throne to Lord Younghwa instead.

She meets with Minister Shin, upset about how things went this morning, because when Prince Jin-pyung dies his soldiers will be demotivated. Minister Shin says he’s already rewarded them to offset the drop in morale, and he asks if she still thinks they need a valid cause for rebellion.

He says that she hasn’t been officially deposed yet, so she’s still of higher status than the king, and can order him to dethrone the traitor clown. The queen dowager thinks a moment, then gives him permission to invade the palace and remove the clown from the throne.

Ha Sun receives a message that the border situation has turned dangerous and Aisin Gurun may attack, since they never received Minister Lee’s peace letter. General Kang asks whether he should bring his men to the capital or prepare to fight at the border. Both Moo-young and Eunuch Jo advise Ha Sun to have him come to the capital to protect him, but Ha Sun says that people will be killed if Aisin Gurun attacks.

The problem is that the rebels have almost ten times the number of soldiers as Ha Sun, so Moo-young suggests that he smuggle Ha Sun and So-woon out of the palace. Ha Sun argues that the people in the palace are his people too, so he can’t just abandon them to save himself.

In the dark of night, Minister Shin leads the rebel soldiers to the palace gates and orders them to kill the tyrant king. Strangely, the gates are wide open and the courtyard empty, so Minister Shin halts the soldiers and looks around suspiciously.

Then, someone walks past an open gate alone — Ha Sun. Minister Shin orders his men after him, but the instant Ha Sun is through the gate it slams shut, cutting him off from his soldiers. He’s trapped, and he turns to see Ha Sun facing him, the two of them alone.

Ha Sun stands stock-still as Minister Shin raises his sword to strike… then the gates open for Minister Shin to see that his soldiers have all been killed or captured. Ha Sun tells Minister Shin, “I will take your life and make you pay for stealing my letter, putting the border at risk, and endangering the capital for your personal gain.”

Minister Shin tries to bargain, offering Ha Sun the queen dowager’s head if he lets him go. But Ha Sun stabs him in the belly, declaring that the price for killing Minister Lee is his death. Minister Shin manages to growl, “You lowly clown…” before Ha Sun yanks back his sword and slashes his throat.

We learn that the soldiers who arrived just in time were General Kim’s, Lord Yoo’s old friend. Ha Sun had learned they were on their way earlier in the day, and had made his plan based on when they were expected to arrive. General Kim advises Ha Sun to order the rebels to surrender, but Ha Sun says there’s something he must do first.

Prince Jin-pyung lies alone, bleeding and gasping for water. He manages to touch the pot of water, but he only tips it over as he dies.

The queen dowager grows nervous when things are quiet for too long, but then a soldier runs in to tell her excitedly that they stormed the palace and captured the impostor king. She asks why he’s here and not Minister Shin, and he says that Minister Shin fell in battle, but that they’ve got the king locked up.

He hands her a letter from Ha Sun, which says that if she promises not to punish his people, he will confess his crimes and hand over the royal seal. She enters the palace at the pre-arranged time and finds Ha Sun alone in the throne room. She notes that this is her first time seeing the throne in person, and that Prince Yul is dead, but her blood will soon sit on the throne.

She orders Ha Sun to confess to colluding with Aisin Gurun and disrespecting Ming, their ally. But Ha Sun states that he has committed no crimes, because the secret letter was his way of protecting the nation, which is his duty as king. The queen dowager snarls that he promised to confess, realizing that this is a trap.

Ha Sun orders the ministers waiting outside to enter. He takes the throne and the queen dowager looks frightened, but she’s relieved when Lord Younghwa, her choice for king, also enters the room. But he tells her that he’s been following the king’s orders, and for his loyalty, Ha Sun forgives his crimes.

Eunuch Jo brings Ha Sun a scroll, and he reads the hanja himself as he announces that for the queen dowager’s crimes of harming the queen, ordering Lord Yoo’s assassination, and leading the rebel forces, she is officially deposed and ordered to drink poison.

The queen dowager screams at the ministers to challenge Ha Sun, but they all stand silently in support of their king. She says that Ha Sun stole the throne from Prince Yul, and that she may drink poison and die, but she’s not the loser, because Ha Sun will be remembered as the king who killed his mother.

Unmoved by her tirade, Ha Sun says calmly that he’ll endure the results of his own sins, and she should do the same. The queen dowager refuses to be led away, and walks out under her own power. In the courtyard, she never loses her hostile pride as she drinks the poison and succumbs to its effects.

So-woon sits quietly in Ha Sun’s rooms while he mulls over everything that’s happened. Eventually she moves closer and takes his hand, and he tells her that this is the first time he’s killed anyone, yet he has no regrets, and would do worse to protect the nation and its people.

He promises that he’ll never become an animal who uses his power for personal gain, and that he’ll do what’s right even when he’s scared. So-woon says that now he understands the weight of the crown and can move forward, but that he can come to her when he needs a break, and she’ll always be there for him.

Eventually, the rice payment law goes into effect in a few southern provinces to begin. Ho-geol requests some time off, so Ha Sun suggests he take a working vacation to Jeju Island to see how the people like the new law, which is obviously not what Ho-geol had in mind.

Ha Sun meets with some young scholars, who have compiled “Exemplar of Korean Medicine.” Ha Sun wants to publish a version for the people to read, but the scholars argue that the people don’t deserve it. Lord Giseong (cameo by Yoon Park), backs up Ha Sun, saying that he only wants to make sure the people are taking the correct medicines, making Ha Sun smile gratefully.

While Ha Sun is studying in the library, Eunuch Jo says that he hasn’t been sleeping and suggests he go to bed early. Ha Sun says he has a lot more reading to do and sends Eunuch Jo on to bed, but later So-woon finds him asleep on the table. She presses a finger to the stress lines between his eyes, looking worried for him.

Ha Sun travels with Lord Giseong and sees people hard at work in a field. He says that even if he stepped down and one of them took the throne, the country would be okay. Lord Giseong agrees, saying that a king’s job is to approve court discussions and take responsibility for the consequences, not wield power as he pleases, and Ha Sun regards him thoughtfully.

One day, Ha Sun’s ministers bring up the fact that he’s led the country to a time of peace, but he’s still produced no heirs. They suggest he bring in a new concubine to give him a son, and even So-woon thinks he should do it.

But Ha Sun tells her not to worry about it, because he plans to abdicate and has already chosen his successor — Lord Giseong. He explains that he doesn’t wish to give the throne to a child of his blood, so he’s been watching the officials for a suitable successor, and he thinks Lord Giseong is the best choice.

He says he’s been planning this since the rebellion, because the throne doesn’t belong to him… he’s only been borrowing it. He believes that nobody should sit on the throne who wants to use it for personal gain, and that he wants to step down because he wants to go back to being one of the people.

So-woon tells him that he’s done enough, and that she supports his decision. She asks him to absolve her of her title first, so that instead of becoming the queen dowager and staying in the palace, she can go away and wait for him to join her.

Ha Sun writes out his abdication, then stamps it with the royal seal. As soon as it’s done, a weight seems to lift from his shoulders. He does as So-woon asks and sends her from the palace to wait for him while he ties up some loose ends, and they arrange to meet in the village soon.

He gives her a gift — the knife that she almost used to take her own life when they first met. He reminds her that he made her promise never to harm herself, and says that he’s returning the knife only so she can protect herself, but she says that she intends to keep her word.

Lord Giseong is crowned king, and Ha Sun dresses in common clothing as he packs to leave the palace. He takes special care packing the embroidered bag from So-woon and the compass she bought him in the marketplace. Eunuch Jo asks to come with him, but Ha Sun says he can’t because he’s recommended him for a promotion, and the new king needs him as much as he did when he first arrived in the palace.

Eunuch Jo gives Ha Sun a drawing that he made of him, remembering how Ha Sun once drew him a picture to cheer him up. It’s based on Ha Sun’s name, which means “summer fairy,” and Eunuch Jo says it perfectly suits him because he’s like the summer sun that shines equally over everyone. He says that serving Ha Sun has been a once in a lifetime blessing, and they hug, both of them crying.

Finally it’s time for Ha Sun to go. He pauses in the courtyard for just a moment, then steps off the brick path and walks away, a relaxed smile on his face for the first time in years.

On his way to meet up with So-woon, Ha Sun senses someone behind him and whirls — but whew, it’s only Moo-young. Poor Moo-young is hurt that Ha Sun tried to leave him behind, and Ha Sun marvels, “You really have fallen for me!” LOL, that joke never gets old.

Moo-young declares that he’s going with Ha Sun, and none too soon because only seconds later, he whips out his sword and goes after the assassins that have been following Ha Sun. He holds his own well, but neither of them sees the archers who sneak around behind Ha Sun and fire two arrows into his back.

Distracted, Moo-young tries to get to Ha Sun, but he’s stopped by a sword through the chest. Nooo, not Moo-young! He manages to throw his sword and take out the assassin about to finish off Ha Sun, then slips around Ha Sun to take the sword meant for him.

Moo-young yanks the sword from his own belly and uses it to kill the last assassin, as Ha Sun sinks to the ground. As Moo-young falls, he recalls Ha Sun asking him what his greatest wish in life is. He’d answered that it was to serve Ha Sun loyally and die in the line of duty, and Moo-young gets his wish.

Two years later.

Gap-soo and Dal-lae have rejoined their clown troupe. They tell the story of a king who was as handsome as he was wise, and whose greatest talent was looking out for his people. Ae-young tells So-woon that the clowns are in town, and she gets a look of desperate hope in her eyes.

Gap-soo is crediting this wise king for the current peace in the nation when So-woon arrives, and when the “king” in his red robes and mask dances, she smiles wistfully. She gives Dal-lae her two jade rings as a donation, but Dal-lae says they’re too precious. So-woon insists, saying that she’s enjoyed hearing about someone she admires.

Woon-shim finally packs up the things that Minister Lee left at the gibang, and she cries for him one last time. She’s decided to leave the gibang, and she tells Ho-geol that she intends to travel and just enjoy life for a while.

At night, So-woon holds Ha Sun’s compass, remembering two years ago when a pair of palace guards delivered the news that they believed Ha Sun was dead. So-woon had refused to accept it until they’d given her the compass, which they’d found next to Moo-young’s body. So-woon had sobbed that if Ha Sun’s body wasn’t there, he must be alive somewhere.

In the morning So-woon decides to go for a walk, and as she strolls, she recalls the intimate moments she spent with Ha Sun and the promises he made to always be with her. She stops when she hears a little girl making a wish to the goblin that protects the house as she holds a cracked hazelnut.

She asks the little girl where she learned to make a wish like that, and the girl says a man who was passing by taught her. She points the way he went, and So-woon hurries in that direction until she sees a man in blue clothing. She follows him, but eventually realizes that he’s a stranger.

She walks out of the village and into a field to think, carrying one of her wishing hazelnuts with her. She cracks it and makes a wish, but when she opens her eyes, she’s still alone.

She turns… and there’s Ha Sun, alive. They just look at each other for a long time, then So-woon says that she has this dream all the time, but when she approaches, he usually disappears. She promises not to get any closer if he just stays where he is this time.

Ha Sun says shakily that it’s not a dream, but that he’s walked endlessly in a dream to find her. So-woon asks what took him so long, and he says that he dreamed for so long that when he woke, a lot of time had passed. He apologizes for not running to her faster, but she just throws her arms around his neck, happy that he’s here now.

They’re both sobbing, grateful to be together again. They look at each other lovingly for a long time, then Ha Sun takes So-woon’s hand, and they walk home together.

In January of the Year of the Black Pig, the king suppressed the rebel forces and ruled the nation wisely. The entire nation praised his great virtues. He deposed the queen and abdicated, then suddenly passed away. Rumors say there was a clown with the face of the king, and that he was alive, but none of them was revealed to be true.

 
COMMENTS

What a lovely ending. It was beautiful how everything was brought full-circle yet felt natural, like Gap-soo and Dal-lae going back to their clown troupe, Woon-shim deciding to see the world, and especially So-woon wishing Ha Sun back to her with a hazelnut.

I never doubted that Ha Sun was capable of being a true king, but seeing him come into his own strength and take on his enemies himself, outsmart them, and return the nation to peace was extremely satisfying. The fact that he did it on his own, without Minister Lee’s help, was sad but also impressive, and he proved to himself that he’s capable of anything despite his low birth. But I’m also not surprised that he burned out quickly… he wasn’t raised to rule a country, nor did he ever really want the job. It wasn’t explicitly said, but I believe that once he had gotten revenge on Minister Shin and the queen dowager, he realized that he’d been using the throne for his own personal reasons and that’s why he abdicated to someone who could truly put the country first.

The show had its flaws, as they all do. I don’t feel that it did as good of a job as it could have in explaining why Minister Lee killed Prince Yul for YH, or framing his poisoning of YH as something he was doing for the country, even though it personally hurt him to do it. As an audience, it was too easy to see these things in modern-day context instead of the context of the time period, where often, getting rid of someone, though a heinous choice, was often the only choice to protect the power of the throne (and thus the people). For me, the difference between Minister Lee’s decisions to end a life and Minister Shin’s or the queen dowager’s is the intent. Minister Lee was doing it to create a better world, and he never denied that what he was doing was wrong — he accepted that he would be punished, but he was willing to sacrifice himself for his country. But Minister Shin and the queen dowager convinced themselves that their crimes were righteous and that they were morally innocent, when in reality they only wanted power and revenge. And I’ll always be confused why the queen dowager knew that Ha Sun was an impostor, but she spoke to him as if he were YH (saying that he killed Prince Yul and stole the throne), when she had the chance to out him to the entire court.

In general I feel that The Crowned Clown was successful in effectively telling its shocking story, and that it did so in a gorgeous, impactful way. From the masterful acting, to the cinematography, to the heart-pounding soundtrack, the drama always felt confident and assured, and I loved the beautiful way it told Ha Sun’s story. Even more than the king/clown swap, I loved the smaller stories about Ha Sun’s relationships, both with his existing family and the new one he cultivated in the palace. And I absolutely loved the ending, with Ha Sun abdicating the throne, because I’ve never felt okay with the idea of his keeping it when it really never belonged to him. Not because he’s not royal, but because he’s right that it’s not something that should belong to any one person, but should be used for the good of the people. Ha Sun was a good king, and he could have been a great king, but he wasn’t a happy king. Once he did what he wanted to do, and then some, it was wise of him to make the decision to pass it along to someone else who would use the weight of the throne for the good of the nation. All I ever wanted for Ha Sun and So-woon was for them to live a normal life like normal people, and they got exactly what they deserved — each other.

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The Crowned Clown Final Review

N.B. I have not seen the movie. This is a critique of the show alone.

1/4
The premise of this show is the story of a Clown who became King. That is what they wanted to tell. They wanted, I think, to tell the story of someone from a lower class who is better at serving the people of a nation than those who have been corrupted in power; they wanted to tell the story of what it would be like to put someone like a Clown on the throne, and what it would be like for a Clown to fall in love with a Queen.
Which sounds all well good. And even I would be interested, and was interested, in seeing what this story looks like.
The makers of this show (and I assume the movie) decided to show that story by means of a doppelganger plot. That is, a Clown, who is the spitting image of the King, becomes king.
But this show decided to ignore one crucial part of this premise.
The doppelganger part.
For a doppelganger Clown to become King, the King must already exist as a character.
The King, all his loves, fears, weaknesses and strengths, his idiosyncrasies, his handwriting, his tone of voice, he as a person, already has to exist before the Clown can pretend to be him.

And this show started out like that. It showed the King, as a character. It showed his relationships. His weaknesses. His fears. It showed his past. He existed as a fully fledged character.
The problem is, is that the show did not actually want to tell the story of the King AND the Clown. They just wanted to show the Clown as King.
So after the preliminary introductions, they used Yi Heon as a plot device, to get the Clown into the King’s position and then they abandoned the King. The Clown is King? That's all we need, they said. The King comes back later, as a cameo and as an excuse for conflict but we will kill him off because he's really not important to the Clown's story now; he's in the way. And nobody likes him anyway, right?

He is important.
The Clown cannot be King if there is no pre-existing King for him to pretend to be. And if there is a pre-existing King for him to be then who that king IS (or was) is very, very important.
Because everything the Clown does under pretense as the King, will be seen by the other characters, as being done by the King.

Think about this, initially only Haksan, Jo, and the Monk knew the Clown was pretending to be the King. That means, that everybody else in the entire canon palace world of this show, thinks, the Clown, is a KING they already know.

This show’s single and greatest flaw, therefore, is ignoring the consequences of the King as a pre-existing character as determined by the premise of the show itself.

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2/4
Because there were no consequences for the King as a pre-existing character. There almost were- with the Queen almost committing suicide out of guilt, Shin almost exposing the Clown as a fake, and Ha Seon finding out Haksan killed the king.
But none of that had any real stakes.
Let’s break this down.

The Queen- The Clown saved the Queen, thus the Queen forgave him, and then also abandoned the King as a pre existing character. She showed no remorse for him being gone after that point. It was like he was never her childhood friend or first love, it was like her past husband never existed once the Clown declared his love for her. The King? That relationship? Gone. Poof. There are of course all the issues with adultery and what should’ve been her reaction given the historical context and even arguments about who was the better husband for her, but none of that is really that important or relevant because on a basic writing level, her character, after trying to commit suicide promptly forgot, or acted like the King as a character never existed and was never important. This is a Absurd. And OOC*.
*(Out of Character: not a logical decision for the character to make based on how they have acted previously).

Shin- Shin and the Queen Dowager eventually find out, or well, guess that the Clown is not the real King. However instead of this being a huge and important plot point, and an opportunity for properly developed conflict and climax, this is practically swept under the rug. The Clown manages to fluke his way out of the accusations (without anyone on his side dying), and then the Villains lead a rebellion that is entirely unsuccessful and was executed without intelligence so that the Good Guys (lol) can win very easily and eliminate all threats, in the space of about 20 minutes, as if the last fifteen episodes of well, drama, mean absolutely nothing.
And then the Clown and his Queen live happily ever after, after the Clown suddenly abdicates after having a COMPLETE change in behaviour and personality I might add, that nobody frakking realises. Because whoever Yi Heon was, according to the makers of this show, no longer matters. Absolutely no repercussions, to the King even existing, let alone the Clown taking the throne and the King dying.
(~You know, it’s kind of paradoxical.
Nobody found out the King died because the Clown is the King. And nobody found out the Clown wasn’t the King because the King is dead. And the King only died because the King was a plot device and the King was only a plot device because this show, and its writers, are frakking stupid.~)
Why would I want to watch something when there are no stakes for a plot that should have all the stakes? And Haksan dying- so what. He didn’t die for any plot related reasons. Or well he did but not the important ones. He essentially died so that no one could ever actually prove the Clown as fake. Once again sweeping this fact under the rug.

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3/4
Speaking of Haksan- Haksan killed the king. Whatever you want to argue the reason for this was, and whatever you want to argue the reason for Ha Seon blithely forgiving him for this was, and whatever the argument posed for whether Haksan was good or bad, does not matter.
For all the aforementioned reasons. Let me say it again. A character as significant and prominent as the King, doesn’t even have to be on screen for anything that happens to him to be very important to how your plot plays out if you want your plot to make sense.
So what happens, when you kill him, and, moral implications aside, there are no consequences to this, is that your plot doesn’t frakking make sense.
And all conflict and tension that should exist because of a Clown being a fake King on a throne and surrounded by people that want to kill him, goes away. And it becomes very boring to watch. Because the show you THOUGHT you were getting, the doppelganger plot with the tension and juxtaposition created by that, is actually a different show altogether. One that is like a wolf trying to be a sheep and telling everyone that it is a sheep, when it’s actually still a wolf.

Honestly, it’s not even the underlying moral issues that are never addressed by this show, although sure they annoy me on a personal level, and I have argued about them till Kingdom come; it’s that a core ingredient for plot and character was just IGNORED in order for them to try and push the story they wanted to tell. And that’s really poor writing.
It’s not even just that, it’s poorly constructed as a concept, let alone a written piece.

If you want to tell a story about a Clown being King, do NOT make that ENTIRE premise hinge on a single character and then treat him as a plot device!
Do not base it on a doppelganger trope, only to IGNORE the implications and potential and importance of that doppelganger trope. Don’t base it on a doppelganger trope at all if you’re going to do that!
And your flimsy attempts at trying to justify this by saying that Ha Seon was better than Yi Heon and would never succumb to what Yi Heon did, mean nothing if you refuse to develop Yi Heon as a character!
Why even give us Yi Heon as a character with a backstory to begin with if you’re just going to do that to him. What was the point? To show how good and righteous the Clown was? But I don’t know the Clown. He had no backstory. He only existed to play the King and become the King, at the expense of the King.

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3.1/4
Speaking of Haksan- Haksan killed the king. Whatever you want to argue the reason for this was, and whatever you want to argue the reason for Ha Seon blithely forgiving him for this was, and whatever the argument posed for whether Haksan was good or bad, does not matter.
For all the aforementioned reasons. Let me say it again. A character as significant and prominent as the King, doesn’t even have to be on screen for anything that happens to him to be very important to how your plot plays out if you want your plot to make sense.
So what happens, when you kill him, and, moral implications aside, there are no consequences to this, is that your plot doesn’t frakking make sense.
And all conflict and tension that should exist because of a Clown being a fake King on a throne and surrounded by people that want to kill him, goes away. And it becomes very boring to watch. Because the show you THOUGHT you were getting, the doppelganger plot with the tension and juxtaposition created by that, is actually a different show altogether. One that is like a wolf trying to be a sheep and telling everyone that it is a sheep, when it’s actually still a wolf.

Honestly, it’s not even the underlying moral issues that are never addressed by this show, although sure they annoy me on a personal level, and I have argued about them till Kingdom come; it’s that a core ingredient for plot and character was just IGNORED in order for them to try and push the story they wanted to tell. And that’s really poor writing.
It’s not even just that, it’s poorly constructed as a concept, let alone a written piece.

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3.2/4
If you want to tell a story about a Clown being King, do NOT make that ENTIRE premise hinge on a single character and then treat him as a plot device!
Do not base it on a doppelganger trope, only to IGNORE the implications and potential and importance of that doppelganger trope. Don’t base it on a doppelganger trope at all if you’re going to do that!
And your flimsy attempts at trying to justify this by saying that Ha Seon was better than Yi Heon and would never succumb to what Yi Heon did, mean nothing if you refuse to develop Yi Heon as a character!
Why even give us Yi Heon as a character with a backstory to begin with if you’re just going to do that to him. What was the point? To show how good and righteous the Clown was? But I don’t know the Clown. He had no backstory. He only existed to play the King and become the King, at the expense of the King.

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4/4
I said this in episode 8, and I will say it again. I am mad they reduced the King, Yi Heon, to nothing, when he was in my opinion the most interesting, and the most important character. I am mad, salty, disappointed, call it what you will, at the mistreatment of the King as a written and constructed character. This is not his fault; he is not a real person. He can only be as abusive or violent or lost or addicted to drugs as his writing allows. Whether or not he was a lost cause because of his addictions, whether or not he was a bad husband or a bad King, is not relevant. He never had a chance to be anything other than a plot device that was promptly forgotten.
And he should’ve been. Because the show would’ve been more interesting, and would’ve made more sense if he had been treated as his necessary pre-existing character, and therefore storytelling cornerstone, (and Jingoo’s acting) deserved and required.

So now, @pakalanapikake, you see why this show and I were never meant to be. Because they went about writing it completely the wrong way, and the premise was flawed from the very beginning due to how they decided to tell it.

P.S. Under entirely different circumstances, namely had I liked this show for more than just the first 8 episodes, this final write up would mostly consist of how utterly ridiculous and pointless that fake out death and time jump was; it is stupid for even the flawed story they ended up telling. However, I find myself not caring so much. A pathetic attempt at last minute drama for characters I no longer care about and a plot that I think is fundamentally flawed only solidifies my opinion that this drama is written stupidly, and badly. In fact, I was this close to forgoing this entire essay last night and just shitposting for this recap, like I did for Memories of Alhambra. Seriously reviewing shows is too exhausting; I rather like @hotcocoagirl’s idea of Yi Heon returning as a vampire, and becoming a sullen loose canon on the Officer Jang and Uri Mathematician investigative team.

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(link to my Episode 8 write up because it wasn’t letting me do it as a word hyperlink: http://www.dramabeans.com/members/sicarius/activity/709687/ )

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Ohh man. I’m not usually a fan of vampire shows, but now I want that alternative ending/sequel.

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Cingu, I promise to read your essay but right now I gotta get away from the Cray Cray for a few hours and take a nap or something.

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Thats is why the drama is "Crowned clown" or "the man who became king" . Not king and the clown. They didn't really expose that at the beginning. So what!? It would be boring if we knew what happens on the whole drama in a preview.

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Did you read my essay? The entire thing?
It's fine if they want to tell the story of a Crowned Clown- what's not fine is HOW they chose to go about doing it in this particular scenario.
I said it all up there- do I really need to say it again?

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Nope it was kinda too long. I only read the first two parts at least thats what was there when i started reading it. Maybe if you have a better way to say it one day you will get a chance to write a drama yourself. Hopefully you will and i would watch it definitely. But i liked the way things happened in this drama as well. 😊 You didn't like it that doesn't mean others shouldn't like it. i liked the drama and that also doesn't mean everyone else should like it too. But i am happy to see in other forums and under youtube comments majority liked it. And the drama did well as well. We can write what we want but everyone involved in it worked really hard to bring this to life. And it seems they were successful in it. I have seen a lot if historical dramas because i generally like historical/costume dramas and this is certainly a drama that i really enjoyed.

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And i also think the doppelganger part is seemingly only the possible way to a mere clown to become a king. No one would let a lowborn guy like him to rule if he was not able to fool everyone to think he is the king. It made it interesting. In the history of my country we also have a story like that. There was a king and one of the his guards at the door looked very much like him, an uncanny resemblance. The king very much liked practical jokes. He used to swap cloths with the guard make him sit on the throne and would laugh when ministers and noble men bowed to the guard. This went on for 3 or 4 times, the guard took advantage of it and oneday ordered to kill the disrespectful guard who is laughing at him (but actually the real king dressed in guard clothing ). The king was instantly killed. The guard somehow managed to rule for few more years but was assassinated later.

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I mean, i dropped this show about halfway through so I didn't watch the back half. But that's not what Sicarius' point is. Sicarius' point is that the doppelgänger plot became irrelevant once they killed off one of the doppelgängers and so the central source of conflict - the fact that the Clown was an imposter- was removed. It reduced the second most important character to a plot device and resulted in him being poorly characterised.

I personally think they could have used the King's death and still told an interesting and important story. But from what I gather, they didn't. It's not surprising a lot of people think that Cray Cray's death was a narrative mistake.

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Yes it depends on the perspective. Some found it a plot mistake but others didn't or found it interesting . Its a matter of preference. Thats my point.

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For me the biggest issue wasn’t necessarily killing the king off in and of itself (although I do agree that things could have been so much more interesting with more interaction between him and Ha Seon). In my view, the story went downhill after Yi Heon’s death because almost nothing that was set up before then had any serious consequences. The story made a lot of promises, and then didn’t deliver. Even once a few people found out about Ha Seon’s identity, they for the most part just went on treating him like he was the real king all along, like Yi Heon didn’t exist. For one example: Moo Young. At first, for a while, I thought that when he finally learned the truth about Yi Heon dying, he would be the one to kill Haksan. At the very least, he would have to be conflicted about it, because he was only obeying Haksan’s orders because they came from the king or were in the king’s “best interests.” But then there’s no indication he ever did learn the truth, and he kept serving Ha Seon as king, and the show then tried to pass off him dying to save Ha Seon (after Ha Seon has already abdicated the throne) as being the same thing as dying in the line of duty as a royal guard. Another example would be the queen: after her suicide cliff attempt, she acted like she’d been married to Ha Seon all along instead of Yi Heon.

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The point I was trying to make in this essay, is that I think The Crowned Clown has objectively bad writing flaws- namely Yi Heon is an example of bad character writing, whether he dies or not (@leetennant)
This does not mean you cannot enjoy it. Enjoy it all you want. I enjoy things I also think are objectively bad.

But we are inevitably always going to reach an impasse @shaani.
Because I think writing can be objectively bad, and no matter how many times I try and prove this, back it up with philosophical and canon evidence, you, and half this comment section, are always going to think something being bad is relative and subjective; only opinion and perspective. And you’re probably going to reply to this with something along the lines of saying even THIS comment is also entirely subjective, thus ironically, proving my point.

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@sicarius
I briefly thought the show was trying to say that Cray Cray's Cray was entirely due to the environment he was living in. That there was a progression to his devolution and, put into the same environment, the Clown was going to start to devolve the same way.

By making Cray Cray entirely an insane drug addict, they set the bar for the Clown's superiority so damn low - because who can't top "insane drug addict" as an alternative ruler.

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I read the rest afterwards but i still have to say the same. 😊

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There's only one word I summarize with when I enjoy a show...

Suspension of Disbelief. It did its intended purpose. I have no qualms about it.

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Exactly.

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To me this drama was about Haksan and his quest to get the Dadong tax law passed. He was the king without the crown, the mastermind. Without him, we wouldn't have a clown to be crowned.

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👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻
EVERYTHING

(Can’t remember if I read all of your wall before you broke DB, but still... *nods*

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So it was @sicarius who broke it. And I always love reading your reviews. Because they do make sense. I didn’t watch more than the first episode, but to kill off such a central character and then not resolve the conflict that the murder would have caused would have been an utterly frustrating watch for me as well. Now we agreed about “Lookout” too, so that doesn’t surprise me. We just want better developed characters with a clearer plot and an ending that is believable. That’s all.

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Thanks s lot for this essay! It really speaks out my mind almost perfectly why I did not really enjoy watching this drama, especially after Yi Heon's death.

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I was confused too about why the queen dowager spoke to Ha Sun as the king. She had nothing to lose and maybe something to gain by ratting him out.

I enjoyed this more than most of the sageuks I've seen.

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SO many eye rolling inconsistencies with the time period it took me right out of the whole story but I enjoyed half it at least thanks to the actors.
I've seen a lot of fictional sageuks but they all stuck with their time period. This on the hand was all over the place.

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People who watch sageuks want historically acurrate stories, right? I’m kind of glad I wasn’t in the mood for this one, even for Jin-goo. The recaps were enough. Thanks for sticking through this for me!

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Actually not a copy paste historically accurate like the history channel but more about historically sensitive etc.

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Yes @kiara. Early on there were comments about the disclaimer at the beginning of each episode of TCC.
I recently read a forward (by Don Baker) to the Korean historical novel "Encounter" (1986) by Hahn Moo-Sook where he makes the point that scholars writing history are constrained to probability whereas novelists are constrained to possibility.
That being said I don't believe TCC passes either the probability or possibility test.
Nevertheless, I enjoyed TCC. What can I say.

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@marcusnyc20 bong-soo

Absolutely right! Thanks for sharing <3.

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What a complete waste of time.
Also, what a complete waste of what I could have accepted as an okay last 10-15 minutes, or even, heck, half an hour if they'd just used their common sense while writing the damn thing.
A) Ha Seon gives up the throne.
After all the drama and pain of the last 15 and a half episodes, after firmly declaring he wants to take Yi Heon's throne and use his power for good, he just...decides to walk away. Why? Then what was the point of...anything that ever happened in this show?
I could have accepted that, though, because Ha Seon only wanted the power to protect the people he loved, and his sister and the ahjae were safe, so he succeeded and then felt it would be better to hand over the throne to someone more suitable. Stretching it A LOT, but okay. There have been worse plot resolutions.
But, instead of Ha Seon finding his sister and the ahjae and living happily ever after with them and So Woon, which I thought would be logical progression...
B) He's attacked and left for dead.
Again, why? To kill off Moo Young and leave Ha Seon with literally no one but So Woon? Then why have him shot at and left for dead?
That too, out of desperation I would have taken as some sort of poetic justice, because Yi Heon died so Ha Seon could be king, and Ha Seon died because of Yi Heon's crimes against the Queen Dowager. That's a leap as big as Everest, but okay, fine.
But, no. Why stop there?
C) Most of what could have been a semi-satisfactory end to a once potentially good show ended up being So Woon wandering around in tears because she thought her husband was dead, which surprise! Not really. And then they walk off into the sunset and...what? Find Dal Rae? Live together in a small hut just the two of them and So Woon's maid in obscurity for the rest of their lives? What?

I guess my only questions are: Why? What was the point?

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I think you would really enjoy my really long and awkwardly posted essay up above...

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I read the first two parts and loved it and wrote my comment even before I read the recap, because I've been dying to since I skipped my way through the finale (what does it even say about a show finale that I skipped everything but the last bit and still got it right), and then I came back just now and read the other two parts and also loved those. It's like you've scooped every single thought I had about this waste of potential right out of my brain and put it in better words. Thank you and I very much understand your pain, rage, disappointment, every other similar emotion you may be feeling.
You know, I was angry at the How I Met Your Mother finale, like really, spitting flames type angry. Here, I'm just...what is even there to say?

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Yeah, I was all set to accept this final episode as “whatever, it’s over” and forget about it. But then they killed Moo Young for no reason and it made me so inexplicably angry that I can’t seem to move on.

And I almost didn’t even watch the reunion scene at the end because I knew exactly how it would play out. (I did watch it, and I was right.)

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I agree regarding Moo Young’s death. What, he doesn’t get to benefit from the magic two year time leap ? They want to show his loyalty via his death ? Why not let him save Ha Seon and then serve him for those two magic years? The two could have wandered the country checking that new reforms were taking place.

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The last 15mins is just drama just for the sake of drama.

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A. This kind of doppelganger plot makes more sense in the movie. The whole idea was for the clown to step in temporarily because they are bound by the custom and rules of that time period.
The king's every move and poop was recorded so it would be very difficult to make a switch but Ha Sun was only subbing for the king for 15 days.

In the drama the writers won't be able to keep the clown on the throne in the end or they'll have to deal with some angry Korean viewers.
Fictional or not, no sageuk has ever dare to change the royal line of Joseon. They knew from the beginning that Ha Sun will have to step down.

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In the history of my country we had a doppelganger fake king ruling for 6 years. But im note sure what was recorded of the kings in those days, like to what extent (like records on poop lol that was hilarious )

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It was mentioned by Ae-young to the queen that she heard that king's poop smells different and we all know why because he was not Yi Heon lol.

That's how much attention to details that was being paid to the king and his daily routine.
Also the king wasn't allowed to read his own records in case he'd changed it.

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But still if you look exactly like the king and sitting on the throne no one would dare to question you, unless you are bold like shin and he knew what he was talking about. But still could not convince other ministers because if they were proved wrong they will loose their necks. That is the amount of respect or rather fear a king was able to inflict upon others in those days. Poop smell can change for illnesses as well haha. A concern for royal doctors.

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The reason why this never happened in Joseon is because of the way they keep tap on the king's every movement. I'm not even thinking that this drama is even close to reality lol.
I doubt the ministers were this stupid not to reveal something that they know to be true.

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Rather i think its because its extremely rare (almost impossible) to find a doppelganger who matches you in everyway to the extent that you are even able fool most intimate people like wives, closest servants etc. But sometimes powerful people, criminals would keep people who really look like them to escape death just as yi heon did. But its not a secret to the close people to them. Anyway since i have heard of this king and his door keeper story since childhood the concept wasn't that new to me.

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And its not ministers its just one minister, others didn't want to believe it. Even jin pyong and dowager queen found it out in the last minute and the whole thing happened within 3, 4 months. Not a big time period.

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I dropped this drama once Yi Heon died, but have been keeping up with recaps only to be disappointed with what the writers have been doing every episode. Yi Heon and his contradictions with Ha Sun was truly the only reason why I was intrigued by TCC in the first place. In sageuks, the best character will always be the one with a twisted past, the one that isn't entirely black or white but has extremely strong values in something, and will do anything to protect those values (i.e. Lee Bang-won in Six Flying Dragons who murdered his mentor and is thus one of my favorite characters of all time). I felt that if Yi Heon got off his drugs a bit, he was very much capable of doing just that; protecting his place on the throne. And his relationship with So-woon was already really nuanced and had great potential for a very unique romance in which So-woon would be the only person who had power over him.

But then they killed Yi Heon off, and Ha Sun was just too inconsequential for me. Yeo Jin-gu was also just so much better and fresher as Yi Heon in every way. Not to mention that Ha Sun The Clown didn't even get to be a clown very much, so where was that characterization? The Crowned Clown had so much potential, but most of it was gone by the second half of the drama. Still beautiful though. And I loved the drums.

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I sure hope Lord Giseong was also PRINCE Giseong, because there would have been quite a commotion if Ha Sun had passed the crown outside the royal family.

Did it seem to anyone else that there were too many generals possibly coming to help from too many provinces? It might have all been clear to Koreans or anyone else who knows the province names, but it seems to me like they were jerking us around by having the general from near the northern border turn around and then having another general turn up like magic. Or am I confused?

And why didn't the rebels have scouts out to spot the approaching relief army? ???? I can believe lots of things, like time travel, zombies or moving with one suitcase, but not having scouts when you know the other side is expecting reinforcements is so absurd it's offensive. Grrr....

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*General Ex Machina*

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Lord giseong is a prince as i understood.

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I bitched about this on my fan wall, but I'm so pissed I'll repeat myself.... Two years pass, then HS shows up talking about how much time had passed when he woke up. Give me a break. Or give me a modern hospital with IV's and other life support for people who spend two years in a coma. Or change the two years to two weeks. Or change the writer.

I don't care how emotionally satisfying others may find the ending, two years in a coma without modern medicine is just so absurd it takes me right out of the story. Add it to the list of things that are harder to believe than time travel and zombies Yoo In-Na's cuteness in Touch Your Heart.

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zombies *and*

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SO COOL....you just turned this drama into the preamble to "KINGDOM".

:D

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I think it should have ended as Ha Sun walked out of the palace. Not as many ribbons and bows that way, but also no time skip that leaves more unanswered questions.

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Just when I thought this drama couldn’t get any worse they introduced the ‘seperation’ trope! What a load of crap! Ugh! It makes me soooo maaadddd!!!

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I hate the use of the ”magic random separation time generator”, ( henceforth referred to as the CRM-114 Discriminator ), as it’s license for the writer to just make up any old thing, the off screen magic that takes place helps tidy things up, loose plot lines melt away, (or not), in the last five minutes. Ta-da! 🎂 💐

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I seriously think they changed writers in the second half. Everything was inconsistent.

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I really liked this drama.
The end was quite disapointing, I mean the jump in the future was useless. I think they could end it a better way but I was happy to see their reunion. My favourite scene was the goodbyes between Eunuch Jo and the Clown, I really loved their relationship.

For the drama in general. It was a great journey and Yeo Jin Gu really killed it.

The King : I think it was sad they didn't show him more as a Crown Prince. Because it seeemed that he was a good Crown Prince until his dad died and made this stupid discour before. It would have been interesting to see him evolving and becoming paranoid. Honestly, his death was really a nice plot in the story. The character had reached the point of no return and the "goings-comings" between the Palace and the outside would have been boring. His death scene was really great. I personaly don't like doppelganger stories because they often are not very good or end not very well like Big, Are You Human Too, The Honor, Jeckyl, Hyde and Me (not a doppelganger but same principe). At least, his character was more interesting than in the movie where he was in the coma almost all the story...

The Clown : Yeo Jin Gu really acted him very well, showing the subtil evolution from a simple puppet to a real King. I really liked to see how the generosity of this character touched the people around him. It was the most interesting part, the relationships he had with Eunuch Jo, the Queen, Minister Lee, Moo Young, Ho Geol.

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Minister Lee : he was really a great character. I think they could show us the Lord "I don't remember his name" rebellion because it was not very clear and still had a big place in the story of this character. It was a character with a vision for his country. At the start of the story, we could see that he gave up, he was just in damage control task. But the Clown woke him up and he realized he could do good for korean people. And it's this point that made the drama very interesting. What is the limit between good and bad? The survival of the great majority allows everything? What were the different possibilities? Minister Lee didn't see himself as a hero but more like a tool for his country not good or bad but useful.

The good points : the instrumental music (the OST was so beautiful and went well with the scenes), the humor ( I kind missed it at the end), the scenery (it was beautiful), not too much characters (I tend to be lost when there are too much Ministers in the same clothes...).

The bad points : I'm not a fan of too much flashbacks, but in this case I think it would have been useful for the story, the end with jump in the future.

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@kurama,
Great points. Let me follow your thoughts:
1. The ending. Instead of the time jump etc. there could have been a slight nod to MASQUERADE by perhaps having Ha-seon and So-woon leaving on a vessel pulling from shore with maybe Moo-young on shore making a bow;
2. I agree with you that I would have liked to seen Yi Heon's back story pre crazy King and addiction. I mentioned earlier that it would have given Yeo Jin-goo the possibility to play triple roles; and
3. Minister Lee. Excellent performance by Kim Sang-kyung. Like you I would have liked to know more of the Lord Gil Sam Bong affair. I was sure there would be a flashbacks putting thing in context. (Maybe even a Lord GSB cameo by Lee Byung-hyun?)

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Thank you @lollypip for the recap! I loved this drama as you said it wasn't perfect in every way but still it was great in many ways. The acting was superb, the scenery was beautiful and the story was different from its source material. The drama took some risks like killing off the king halfway, according to the actor who played haksan it was something they had in mind since the beginning. I initially thought they should have kept yi heon for few more episodes which i mentioned in my comments under ep 8. Not because i didn't like it but because i thought it would cause to loose some viewers as yi heon really had gained some fans despite being kind of a villan (thanks to jin goos excellent acting on a villainous role. ). But thankfully it didn't. In fact it reached 2 digit ratings even afterwards. But overall i really had fun and thrill watching it. It was quite unpredictable and almost each episode ended with a cliffhanger 👀. It kept me Interested.

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The first part was so touching, with the last journey of Minister Lee...

I found the ending a little stretched... don't get me wrong, I always want happy endings and in this case a life as commoners for Ha-Seon and the Queen, but it seemed to me that the story was wrapped up that way to create suspense about Ha-Seon fate (and, I think, to give us assurance that his life will be safe in the future). It worked, because the scene in which he was hurt was really beautiful and I was on the edge of my chair and heartborken for So-Woon.
But then I wonder: "Why two years? Why did he leave the palace without guards? Who did take care of him all this time?" and so on.

Anyway, this was my first sageuk and I'm really glad I watched it. It is an 8/10 for me.
I liked the acting, the cinematography, the music themes, the multilayered characters. It was a beautiful journey, and when the last episode ended I felt a little sad to say goodbye to them all. (Oh, I was forgetting Eunuch Cho. He was the best!! XD)

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I saw same say so woon biting on the hazel nut is a metaphor for her hurting herself and finding ha sun in a dream. Which means they both died. But i don't think thats what happened

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Hurting herself means kind of killing herself and finding him in afterlife i guess but i don't think thats how it happened.

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It's an interesting interpretation, but I prefer them alive :)

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Yeah lol me too 😊

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@carmen KarmenKDramaNaive, you wrote:

Anyway, this was my first sageuk and I'm really glad I watched it. It is an 8/10 for me.
I liked the acting, the cinematography, the music themes, the multilayered characters. It was a beautiful journey, and when the last episode ended I felt a little sad to say goodbye to them all. (Oh, I was forgetting Eunuch Cho. He was the best!! XD)

Welcome to the world of sageuks. I am glad you enjoyed TCC. I am relatively new to historical dramas but I am enjoying them.
O/T but can I suggest that you maybe jump over to HAECHI and give it a try?
More politics and history but with last weeks (30 min.) episodes (13-16) I think it has found its groove (for me at least.) Jung Il-woo is giving a fine performance as Prince Lee Geum.

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Thank you for the suggestion, @marcusnyc20, I will try Haechi in the future :)

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Congrats on your 1st Sageuk!🎉🎊
Lucky you, for having a fairly good Sageuk as your 1st one. It'd leave a fairly good impression and understanding about the Sageuk world in your mind.
There's no telling how much faulty impressions you'd get if your 1st sageuk was MLSHR or Hwarang or Moon embracing the Sun, because then you'll have it on high pedestal, comparing the other Sageuks to your 1st one for some time for all the wrong reasons.
It can be a pretty bad thing. My sister's 1st one was MLSHR, and now she thinks it's the BEST ever Sageuk in the whole world and uses it as a scale to measure other Sageuks. I too loved MLSHR, BUT I enjoyed it WHILE knowing and recognising its flaws. It saddens me that my sister can't do the same. There's no fault in loving faulty things, but you have to see them for what they actually are. Thinking the faulty thing has zero faults and loving it under THAT impression? No no.
.
So, I'm genuinely happy you got CROWNED CLOWN as your 1st Sageuk. Like I said, it's a fairly good and fairly solid Sageuk, preserving at least the "vibe" you expect from a Sageuk. Which is a rarity these days in Kdrama land.
I hope you get to see many many wonderful sageuks in the future!😃

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Thank you very much, @peony!!!
I wanted to try a sageuk, and picked TCC to discuss about it here on DB. :)
I was lucky, it was so beautiful about music, acting, costumes, and I appreciated that there was balance between politics and romance. And that there was a happy ending, of course! :)

What is MLSHR? The one with Park Bo-Gum?

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No no. It's Moon lovers; Scarlet heart, Ryeo. It aired simultaneously with PBG's Moonlight Drawn by Clouds (MLDBC).
MLDBC too was a fairly nice, pleasant and most importantly, CONSISTENT drama. Meanwhile, MLSHR had ALL the potential to be THE Sageuk of the decade, but it tanked, epically.
We the fans who stuck with MLSHR to the end instead of MLDBC, did it simply because of the lost potential that shone through the mess time to time, not because it was a better drama than MLDBC. And even that wouldn't have happened if Lee Jun-ki wasn't leading the drama basically single-handedly!

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I was interested in Moon Lovers, but when I read only bad comments, I searched for synopsis and ending and actually it had so much so much potential that it's a pity it went that way. If MLDBC is consistent, I could try it. Another girl suggested The king loves. What do you think is better?

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DEFINITELY MLDBC!!
It's not that King Loves is terrible, but if you put MLDBC, MLSHR and KL on a scale, KL veers more towards the extreme that is occupied by MLSHR, instead of the MLDBC extreme.
Because I can't do history as well as kiara nor Sageuk reviewing like HeadsNo2, I'll comment upon my forte.
The uncanny, period-inappropriate costumes, hairstyles, makeup and actors turned me off right at the VERY beginning of the drama. Even MLSHR didn't do that, although MLSHR overall was crappier than KL. It was unconvincing. It made me think that the PD doesn't have enough control over one of the most important departments of a Sageuk, which is Wardrobe and aesthetics department. It signalled me that it's highly probable he doesn't have enough control over the other departments either, which are Plot Consistency, Believability and Execution.
So I dropped it.
It didn't turn out to be a bad drama, but it's not like I missed something important!🤷‍♀️
On the other hand, MLSHR is QUITE the viewing experience, and I do NOT regret the time I spent on it al ALL even though it was crappy. It was a peculiar incident. Which is why it is still very (in)famous, known as the "MLSHR Phenomenon". Nobody knows why. I do not know of any other drama where it attracted the attention of so much of the wisest and knowledgeable beanies, SIMPLY because of its potential and not because it was actually a phenomenal drama. If it was any other drama it would gain only a few comments which would decrease over time, but MLSHR had 2000 comments within few hours even during the last episodes!!

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

Wow, 2000 comments??!!

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Sorry for the late reply! I was caught up in some work! :-)
If you have time, do go to MLSHR recaps and threads, even if you don't watch it. I swear you won't regret it. It was one of my most fun and blissful experiences here at DB.
Recaps done buy the Sageuk Queen HeadsNo.2 (We miss you, @headsno2 ) and filled with the snarkiest comments and jokes, most creative beanie poems, enjoyable analysis and historical trivia, all provided by the most fun, experienced and intellectual beanies EVER to date.
I learned a LOT back then. And had so much fun. And I'm not alone, for Beans of Wisdom threads can prove you that. (In case you don't know, it's a weekly article we had then to publish the BEST comments of the week. And it was filled with MLSHR comments!)
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Also, MLSHR had one of the BEST instrumental collections of Sageuk-land. It's songs were crappy, but the instrumentals hold their ground against even Dae Jang-geum and Arang and the Magistrate instrumentals. It's simply epic!

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Thank you, Peony, I'll give a look if I have time. It's a pity at that time I wasn't on DB, it sounds a so fun experience!

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I got my happy ending and a toe-to-head pan-up view of YJG in that awesome blue outfit (right after he killed Shin) looking like a bada** so I'm happy. And I'm very happy for YJG that he finally got a drama worthy of his talents. Kudos to the entire production team.

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Yes me too. Hope his next drama also does well. He deserves it 😊

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Re: Ha Seon (YJG) in fighting blue. A great fit. He looked excellent.

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LollyPip, thanks for the recap. My second bean for 2019 . It was an enjoyable show, very pretty. I’m glad it was 16 episodes. The plot can’t take any additional eps. I wanted to see some little clowns running around. Moo Young should have survived. Dal-lae should have reunited with Ha Sun.

I liked seeing the leads, the romance was sweet to the point of unbelievable, but what the heck.

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Me, too. I expected a pair of little ones running in the yard!

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Thanks so much for the recaps LollyPip! Also, I completely agree that the acting, cinematography, and soundtrack were superb.

Director Kim Hee-won is a new discovery for me, and I definitely see why everyone praised her as they did. As for the cast, so many lovely talents and wonderful performances (my favorites being Jang Gwang, Jang Young-nam, and Kim Sang-kyung because I'm biased). The writing, on the other hand, definitely the weakest link. While there were memorable scenes and dialogue, I feel like the overall message the show was trying to convey got muddled along the way. Rather than be daring, some parts felt more sensational than meaningful.

I'm probably in the minority for this opinion, but I thought it was a bold move for the show to have Lee Kyu kill the king in secret and become the "king" from the shadows. There was so much dormant potential with this turn of events, yet this treasonous act wasn't delved into further which is a shame. I was expecting more repercussions and a deeper analysis into these morally grey characters, but their actions, especially the murder of Yi Heon, were brushed over in simple strokes, diminishing the weight and impact of these moments. Ultimately, the show may have raised interesting questions, intentionally or not, but it gives a simplistic answer that's wholly unsatisfying in this regard.

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@lovepark, I agree with you, especially with regard to:

...it was a bold move for the show to have Lee Kyu kill the king in secret and become the "king" from the shadows. There was so much dormant potential with this turn of events, yet this treasonous act wasn't delved into further which is a shame. I was expecting more repercussions and a deeper analysis into these morally grey characters, but their actions, especially the murder of Yi Heon, were brushed over in simple strokes, diminishing the weight and impact of these moments.

I was also wishing and hoping to get more of Yi Heon's pre-addiction backstory.

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I personally like the movie better. The only reason I watched the drama version was because of the movie. The drama version had put their own spin on it. Unfortunately, the drama version ending didn't give us much closure and added more questions that needed to be answer. Where was Ha Sun the whole time in those two years????

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When I thought it couldn’t get worse, it did.

Why was killing off all the bad guys done so poorly and quickly? Of course, they aren’t worth the time I suppose. Nothing like watching our protagonist send off his master in the most glorious way to jerk some priceless tears. You’re amazing cuz you even got the queen dowager to agree. Yep, the mother of the baby that was killed so cruelly agreed to let the honorable Haksan die with utmost integrity. She’s the most despicable queen dowager ever, worth being poisoned to death immediately afterwards. That’s right, these bad people need to be punished severely! What right do they have to the throne? Royalty? Legacy? Clan power? All that means nothing if you’re going against the almighty Team Good! So what if you’re a prince. You don’t get a medic so learn your own first-aid. And no maid will serve you water if you’re not Team Good.

Our royal guard MooYoung is laughing in heaven at these horrible freshmen of hell.

Though I really feel bad for our queen. Ever since she promised to protect the clown, everyone keep serving her chopped onions. First she lost the king, now she lost the clown. But thank goodness after 2 long and nobody changing years, the Clown has miraculously woken from coma. Finally they live happily ever after. 🤣🤣🤣

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Not fond of separation endings. To me they always make for a cliched and boring ending. Other than that, I loved this drama and I'm sorry it over.

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It WAS a good decision for Ha Seon to abdicate. It wasn't surprising. But because he did such a good job, I almost wished he would stay (however in the movie I wanted him to stay more than anything). The basis of him getting on the throne was not exactly morally right anyway. I wished we had more time to get to know Yoon Park's character cuz I wanted to get attached/root for him.
Y U GOTTA KILL OFFICER JANG?!
The goodbye scene to Eunuch Jo... sniff... so beautiful... so sad.
I hate sounding petty, but, uh, what? No kiss for the finale? Heh.

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Thank you for recapping CROWNED CLOWN, @lollypip, especially as it is not the only drama on your plate. It has been a pleasure. ;-)

I expected that Haksan would perish, and am not surprised he took Prince Jin-pyung with him. I was not expecting his remaining foes, Daebi and Lord Shin, to lose their mojo or get a group rate on lobotomies. Both of them walked right into Ha Sun's traps. Hello? I could only assume that Moo-young's sparring sessions with His Majesty paid off as the latter skewered Lord Shin.

I was happy as a clam that Eunuch Jo and Ho-geol survived the rebellion. Ha Sun kept his nose to the grindstone, and lined up a successor. Thanks for noting that Yoon Park portrayed Ha Sun's successor, Lord Giseong. I didn't even recognize him from his turn as wild and crazy PD Lee Gang in RADIO ROMANCE.

I'm totally mystified over how Ha Sun survived two arrows in the back (let alone managed to extract them by himself). I realize that it was to his advantage to have his enemies think he was dead, but for the life of me, I cannot see how he could have lived. Did he wish on one of his hazelnuts?! Since Writer-nim didn't bother to reveal who patched up Ha Sun and kept him safe while he recovered, I'll fill in the blanks by assuming that he somehow ended up in the care of Doctor Monk.

As for Moo-young... he died with his boots on. It was a suitably heroic end for a loyal bodyguard.

When Kab-soo and Dal-rae's clown troupe arrived where Ha Sun had intended to rendezvous with the former Queen, I wondered how the guardian managed to leave his job working for the navy in Ha Sun's hometown. Is he now AWOL?

The final scene in the grassland was beautiful. I truly enjoyed the drama's cinematography, particularly the outdoor settings. The soundtrack and instrumental music was lovely, and enhanced the action. I'm glad I tuned in. Thank you, fellow Beanies, for your thoughtful and thought-provoking comments. ;-)

Now to catch up with HAECHI.

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I'm still trying to catch up with HAECHI. I have a few minutes here and there but this show needs my full attention lol.
Here is hoping that they'll space out the upcoming sageuks.
I can't handle 2 or more at a time and it makes me sad when they compete for the ratings.

Btw, it's wonderful to see you back on the comment section <3.

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Part 1 of 2

Aw, shucks, @kiara. Thanks so much. ;-)

I don't know what came over me that I felt so compelled to embark on JUMONG and KINGDOM OF THE WINDS around the start of the year. (Oh, right. The upcoming CHRONICLES OF ASDAL, set during Gojoseon days.) JUMONG was simply momentous, with KINGDOM OF THE WINDS a worthy successor. They weren't flawless, but they honored their own internal logic and the characters' developmental arcs. They had more than a few epic interludes. And their casts were first-rate. Perhaps because of unavoidable comparison, CROWNED CLOWN has come up a bit short. Who wouldn't, if they were up against Hae Mo-su and his badass grandson?!

I'm glad to be live-watching along with everyone now. Nevertheless, it takes me a while to get my thoughts in order, so I don't comment in a timely fashion. My mind has a mind of its own, and it's like herding cats. (Translation: It takes more energy and attention than I can muster at the time.) Better late than never is the best I can do these days. The old grey mare ain't what she used to be.

In the past, I've gotten myself in a swivet over dramas I was deeply invested in that later derailed or otherwise succumbed to out-of-character behavior, illogical happy endings, etc., etc. Working myself into a lather wasn't good for me. (Cases in point: TEMPERATURE OF LOVE and BECAUSE THIS LIFE IS OUR FIRST. Both were major distress-inducers.) Hence I've been making an effort to be somewhat detached and not take CROWNED CLOWN too personally.

Part of my detachment is also because of what for me were inadequate characterization, and plotting that at times strained my suspension of disbelief. The sweeping under the rug of the regicide, adultery, and treasonous impersonation issues was problematic for me. In comparison, I was passionately and unequivocally committed to REBEL for the entire run of that show.

I've watched enough sageuks to understand the ethos even if I don't always personally agree with it, and am disturbed when social conventions and obligations of earlier historical periods are flouted, or treated as if they don't exist. Haksan had to die for his sins. But I'm still not sure how the Queen managed to stop feeling guilty over her initially inadvertent betrayal of Yi Heon. And how exactly was she able to leave the palace and not return to her family home or hie herself to a nunnery – as she had told Daebi that she would do? Hmmm.

- Continued -

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Part 2 of 2 – Reply to @kiara

We got to see one measly flashback of Yi Heon and the Queen early in their marriage before he started going off the deep end. In re-reading the ep. 1 recap and comments before posting my thoughts on the finale, I noted that numerous Beanies were expecting to get more of Yi Heon's backstory. Alas, it never materialized. I think that was an unfortunate oversight.

I cannot believe that Lord Shin would have allowed himself to walk into a trap. He basically committed suicide by cop, which makes no sense. Nor can I believe that Prince Jin-pyung would have been caught so flat-footed at the outdoor assembly. He was always so twitchily suspicious that I can't believe he just stood there as Haksan grabbed a guard's sword and charged at him. He didn't even try to run. Showing Haksan in such slow-motion looked a bit off to me.

Hmm. I'm getting into water-over-the-dam territory. As is so aptly stated in NIRVANA IN FIRE, “Time flows like water, and what has gone cannot come again.” Give it a rest, Pakalana.

I neglected to state that Jin-goo's performances were great, and that Kim Sang-kyung is a new favorite. It was a treat to see Jang Gwang reprise his film role as the King's eunuch. I especially enjoyed his sound effects of Yi Heon on a bender. His dignified presence was a centering, moderating influence for both monarchs, and elevated every scene in which he appeared. Kwon Hae-hyo delivered with bells on in the ruthless social-climbing department – until Lord Shin inexplicably lost the plot at the end of the show.

I'm relieved to know that you, too, find HAECHI a mental bandwidth hog. It's taking all my concentration, too. I thought I would have gotten caught up by now, but have held off until CROWNED CLOWN cleared the decks. KINGDOM, alas, also got short shrift from me because it was too much to juggle with CROWNED CLOWN. I'll have to go back and rewatch it.

Like you, I'll pray to the Drama Gods that we be preserved from simultaneous sageuk scheduling in the future. No man can serve two masters. I cannot watch two sageuks at the same time without getting the details bollixed up, even if they're set in different time periods. Auwe!

See you over at HAECHI, which I am enjoying so far. Yay for Jung Il-woo and the Good Guys. ;-)

-30-

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Thanks @kiara and @pakalanapikake for all your comments during the run of THE CROWNED CLOWN.
It helps to know that I am not the only one who struggled live watching two sageuks at the same time. If it was a challenge to my Sageuk Sages @kiara and @pakalanapikake then this sageuk punk is in good company.
(Lol. I just discovered in Merriam-Webster that the oft used kdrama translated word “punk” is a synonym for beginner!)
I am now pushing on with JEONG DO JEON (35 of 50 episodes completed.) It was not possible for me to juggle three sageuks.
In JDJ we are now with the last King of Goryeo, Gongyang. The transition is close.
HAECHI is my only live watch right now. I am waiting for several upcoming dramas.

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@marcusnyc20 bong-su,

You're most welcome, Chingu! I just wish I could have commented more on CROWNED CLOWN, but the mental fatigue was real. Like you, I'm only live-watching one drama at present, having dropped both TRAP and ITEM. At a couple of points in the past two years, I was simultaneously live-watching 9-10 dramas – along with older shows and films. Sheesh. I must have been bonkers.

It felt like I was really grinding my gears when I started watching HAECHI. I don't know whether it was the difference in tone between it and CROWNED CLOWN, too many details, or what. I suspect that having to contend with another court full of braying ministers was a bit too daunting. And some shows just seem to have an initial hump that I have to get over before they draw me in – but then from there on out it's smooth sailing. Could it be that Lee Kyoung-young's recent turn as the Big Bad in supernatural thriller ROOM NO. 9 is following him into the sageuk? ;-)

I thought I would have caught up through at least ep. 7-8 of HAECHI before today, but no such luck. On the other hand, last week I finished reading the existing 106 chapters of the translation of NIRVANA IN FIRE, and am looking forward to commencing that watch when I'm current with HAECHI. Since NIF is set in fictional ancient China, I think it will be easier to differentiate HAECHI from it than from another sageuk.

You're making good progress with JEONG DO JEON. When I was watching HWAJUNG, I had to put it on the back burner a bit more than half-way through, and didn't get back to it for three weeks. That was during my first DB live-watch, OH HAE-YOUNG AGAIN, which got into some trippy metaphysics. One of these days I intend to watch SHIN DON, which may overlap with JEONG DO JEON. I think @kiara tipped me off about it. Jung Bo-suk, Oh Man-seok, Kim Yeo-jin, and Jung Sung-mo are in it, which makes it very appealing.

PS: You're not a punk. You're a neophyte. ;-)

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Thank you @lollypip for recapping THE CROWNED CLOWN. A few final thoughts:
1. The cast and crew can be proud of their production;
2. Yeo Jin-goo. This was my first YJG drama and it is hard to believe he is only 21 years old. If he ever has to hang his acting hat on a piece of his work in my mind all he has to say is: “episodes 7 and 8 in TTC”.
He gave an incredible performance;
3. Jang Gwang. The one degree of separation to MASQUERADE. I will remember his Eunuch Jo for a long time. Yes, I did get a little teary at the final goodbye;
4. The cliffhangers and the drums-terrific; and
5. The ending, although not a disaster, definitely needs to be reworked. Maybe some beanies can take a shot at that.

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Drat! knew it would happen before the end of this drama: line 7, strike TTC and insert TCC.

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Yup, I concur with all your points, @marcusnyc20 bong-soo. Jang Gwang's steady presence was a joy -- especially when Eunuch Jo was blending into the woodwork and meticulously inspecting the curtain pull while Haksan was going ballistic over Ha Sun early in his residency at court. I was relieved that he survived the rebellion, and presumably will serve the new king for years to come. I had to chuckle over his interpretation of Ha Sun's name ("summer fairy"). It made Ha Sun sound like the Winter General's bartender sister in HWAYUGI. LOL!

Jin-goo has indeed been phenomenal. I'm interested to see what's up his sleeve in his forthcoming drama. ;-)

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"From the masterful acting, to the cinematography, to the heart-pounding soundtrack, .."

I can't agree more than this. I'm going to miss this drama.
I was surprise when Ha Sun decide to abdicated but again it just makes the ending more beautiful

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The ending is meh..
But Yeo Jin Gu is awesome throughout the drama, i love him.
And the music is perfection. Shiver!!

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For those who are interested and have watched the whole drama, I wrote an essay on why I interpreted it as a tragedy: file:///Users/zozosparklesicloud.com/Downloads/The%20Crowned%20Clown%20(1).pdf

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