Splendid Politics (aka Hwajung) is one of the most splendid historical K-dramas I have watched this year, pun intended. With 50 episodes you will be taken in by the grandeur Joseon dynasty and its majestic palace setting, a cast of interesting yet complicated characters and not to mention the scheming plot which will have you gritting your teeth and have your mind running at the same time. However, do not let the long episodes deter you from watching this. There was never a bored moment and truth be told, I was too busy digesting the story to be sidetracked by anything.
In a nutshell, this is a story about power and wealth, revenge and love and of course, politics in the palace. Prince Gwanghae (starring Cha Seung-won) is the son of a concubine and since he isn't considered a "true blood" of a royal family, the King and his followers decided that the next heir to the throne would be his legitimate son despite he is only a small boy. His older sibling, Princess Jeongmyeong (starring Lee Yeon-hee), is also too young to inherit the title and on top of that she is a girl and no woman at that time should sit on a throne and rule the nation. With King Seongjo being poisoned by the head servant, Prince Gwanghae finally got his throne and have his two step-siblings executed and exiled respectively. Princess Jeongmyeong used to be close with Prince Gwanghae and her exile led her to lost her trust in him. Her escape was an unfortunate en route to Japan as a slave working in a sulfur mine after she was captured by some pirates. There, she was disguised as a boy and no one knew her true identity and her gender except her two close mates whom she knew from the mine. Despite the hard times, she vows to be a stronger person and would one day get her revenge and reclaim her title.
Hong Joo Won (starring Seo Kang-joon) and Kang In Woo (starring Han Joo-wan) are best friends since young and both of them came from a noble family. Their fathers have some connections with the royal family due to their positions - one is a police chief while the other is an important merchant who has ties with the Ming dynasty. The two boys met Princess Jeongmyeong the first time near the palace garden when their fathers attended a political event nearby. Princess Jeongmyeong was taken in by the studious Joo Won but eventually fate plays a cruel joke on all of them. Of course there is a day when Princess Jeongmyeong finally returns to Joseon and reunite with her two childhood friends who are all grown up and this moment is the beginning of the political battles and in return will lead to many turn of events as the story progresses.
Well, what can I say? I was kind of stumped while writing my thoughts as honestly, I don't know where to start. There are so many issues and sub-plots here which I don't think I would be able to sum them all up in this post. However, I can tell you how much I liked these three characters - Princess Jeongmyeong, Joo Won and In Woo and not because they are the lead characters but because of their individual characteristic and the patriotism they portray when there are moments they have to leave their loved ones and yes, one even has to turn against his family members when righteousness, justice and loyalty are concerned. How far would one go for power and wealth? Then, there is the question of blood and loyalty and how much would one do to right the wrongs and not to resent in the end?
I am aware that this post is getting too long and to conclude it - just watch it and be swept away by this splendid politics. No pun intended.
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