As this week draws to a close, so does King 2 Hearts, the first 2012 drama that has truly sucked me in and deprived me of a social life on the weekends for the last two months. After shedding tears of joy, rage, and sadness over this twenty-episode long monster of an emotional rollercoaster, it’s hard to believe that it’s truly over. While it’s disappointing that my weekends will no longer be filled with hours upon hours of shrieking at Bong-gu in anger, laughing at Jae-ha’s never-ending antics as a mischievous, yet skilled king, “aw”ing at all the adorable Shi-kyung and Jae-shin moments (sob), and sitting in awe of Hang-ah’s badass North Korean officer moves, I was content, for the most part, anyways, with the ending of King 2 Hearts as I could have possibly been. Beware, if you have yet to see the last two episodes of this drama, there are spoilers ahead.
As much as I love the two main characters, Shi-kyung pretty much became my favorite character in the entire drama by the end. His personality and just the way that he was depicted was spot-on throughout the storyline — his seriousness about his job, the way that he helped Jae-shin overcome the obstacles she struggled with, and of course, his bromance with Jae-ha captured my attention and had me rooting for him every second of each episode. However, as much as I hate to admit it, his death was not something that could have been avoided by the drama. Shi-kyung and Bong-gu are on such opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of ideologies that in order for Jae-ha to bring Bong-gu down, he had to suffer some kind of loss as well. Even though the death of Jae-kang had already hit Jae-ha hard, that only signaled the beginning of Jae-ha’s determination to bring Bong-gu down. Obviously, it wouldn’t make any sense for the writers to have Hang-ah die, so the only other person important enough in the drama to really make an impact by dying would be Shi-kyung.
It was disappointing that the last two episodes had so much material in them that the characters didn’t even get to really grieve over Shi-kyung’s death. He played such a big part in helping our main characters step into their roles, especially Jae-shin, and we barely get anything from Jae-ha and excluding a gorgeously executed video sequence when Shi-kyung admits his love for her via video, nothing from Jae-shin. While it’s understandable that the main focus of the last few episodes were on the never-ending Bong-gu/Jae-ha conflict as well as the potential for war between North and South Korea, a little bit more sentimentality from our main cast for Shi-kyung would have been nice. Eventually all this nothingness led me to feel a little frustrated with the possibility that Shi-kyung had died for nothing. His death could have been executed a little more strategically and not rushed as much as it had been. I have to admit that the death of creepy assassin (Bon Bon or Mia, take your pick) was pretty satisfying. She was honestly the scariest killer in the history of K-dramas.
King 2 Hearts had been building up the conflict between North and South Korea for a while now, so the sudden introduction of a potential war between the two countries was not much of a surprise. It also felt a little rushed — there didn’t seem to be enough time for the gravity of the situation to sink in for us viewers until Hang-ah was pointing a gun at Jae-ha’s head (whoa, there!). There was a great moment, however, when Hang-ah was about to leave for North Korea with her father at the beginning of the final episode when you could really see Ha Ji-won‘s acting chops really kick in. Being forced to pick between the man she loves and her father who brought her up ever since she was a tiny kid could not have been easy, and Ha Ji-won easily channeled the conflicting emotions her character was feeling during that moment. Although Lee Seung-gi‘s acting had been a little questionable (to me, at least) in the past, his solid performance during this drama, especially during the last two episodes, has convinced me of his acting talent.
Perhaps the most satisfying part of this drama was watching Jae-ha transform from a bratty teenager-esque prince to a capable king. The romance between Hang-ah and Jae-ha didn’t necessarily take the backseat, but instead it contributed to the big picture — Jae-ha’s overall character development. Both the characters of Hang-ah and Jae-ha had been played out so successfully that by the end, you can truly feel the satisfaction from watching them get together and knowing that they are right for each other. However, there was something missing from the ending of King 2 Hearts that kept it from being as satisfying as it could have been. Maybe it was because the ending was rushed and most of the scenes went a little faster and choppier than they were supposed to go because there was so much material that had to be crammed into the last two hours of the drama, but it definitely could have been wrapped up a little neater. I did appreciate the epilogue at the end of episode twenty though — the fact that Hang-ah and Jae-ha had a kid (who was adorable, by the way) made me breathe a sigh of relief after all that miscarriage drama earlier on in the drama. One thing they should have added was a back story for Bong-gu, though, but right now, we’re just going to have to assume that he was born power-hungry and channeled that into craziness.
Something else that King 2 Hearts lacked was good foreign actors and actresses. If not for the makeup that Bong-gu’s assassin wore and her strange chocolate-eating habits, I would have laughed at her acting. The Americans from the last episode weren’t much better — they just were not convincing enough. However, because this drama is one of the only ones I’ve seen that features foreign actors on a regular basis (seriously, the appearance of Africans during the kidnapping scene was pretty surprising), it’s not something to be that nitpicky about. The international aspect of King 2 Hearts was something that should be really appreciated. As a politically-focused drama, it did a really great job of bringing other countries and nationalities into the plot.
Out of all the dramas that have aired in the past few years, King 2 Hearts is a memorable one. Even though it is extremely political (which can get a bit hard to follow at times), the solid plot and awesome cast make it worth a watch. The hero and heroine are worth cheering for (also, the lack of lead-girl drama was a breath of fresh air), the villain is actually creepy and not useless, the humor dark and biting, and the cinematography aesthetically pleasing. With the exception of a few plot holes and a slightly rushed ending, King 2 Hearts really hits the spot as a Korean drama with its plot twists and convincing performances from the cast.
Now that this bad boy of a drama is over, who else is going to be suffering from K-drama withdrawal for the next month?