This recap was hard to write, since its hard to process dialogue and write when one is sobbing like a loony. So much happened in one episode, yet it was shockingly low key. I don’t know if the writers intended it this way, but even the most shocking or drama altering plot turn felt muted, controlled, stoic almost. But it made sense to me, a drama about the most far-fetched of possibilities being presented without histrionics. The end of episode 7 of The King 2 Hearts has made me officially a Lee Seung Gi fangirl. His performance was stunningly restrained and perfect, so much emotion kept so tightly wound up just like his character was feeling but could not express. Beyond the love story of Hang Ah and Jae Ha, which is fantastic, I also love the story about family and cultural differences and rising up to the challenge.
Episode 7 recap:
In the middle of sucking face in front of the fridge, Hang Ah and Jae Ha are busted by the duo of daddy and big brother, respectively. They quickly break apart and get up, unconsciously touching their lips as if it wasn’t obvious enough what they were doing.
Jae Ha is pacing in the room, clearly not looking forward to what comes next. To his shock, the person who walks in to “talk” with him is not Jae Kang, but is instead Hang Ah’s daddy. Ruh roh, things are not looking good for Jae Ha, whose penchant for taking the easy way out is about to be dashed in the face of an angry daddy.
Similarly Hang Ah is nervously awaiting her own talking-to but she is stunned when she sees Jae Kang walking in to walk with her instead of her dad. I love how the parental-esque units split up and then changed things up. Jae Kang is so sweet to Hang Ah, asking her if she likes Jae Ha? He wonders if she’s been sad because of Jae Ha, and Hang Ah assures him that she is fine.
He knows that it will be tough on her, liking Jae Ha and choosing to be with him. It’ll be harder after the engagement since the cultural differences will make Hang Ah a target of criticism. Jae Kang offers to help take a bit of the pressure off them, would that work? She can hide behind him until Jae Ha matures and things settle down. Hang Ah sincerely asks if it’s okay that she’s the one, and Jae Kang assures her that because she’s the one then it’s okay.
Unlike the warm discussion between Hang Ah and Jae Kang, in the other room Jae Ha is all nervous when faced with Hang Ah’s daddy. Hang Ah’s dad asks Jae Ha what was going on back there? Jae Ha’s foot-in-mouth problem flares up and he blames it on the alcohol. Hang Ah’s dad asks if just because Jae Ha is the South Korean prince he can get drunk and kissy kissy all he wants without any consequences?
Jae Ha quickly says that’s not what he meant, and that’s not what happened either. It was mutual just like how it looked. Hang Ah’s dad scoffs at the mutual part claiming he knows his daughter’s heart. Right now he wants to know if Jae Ha likes his daughter? Jae Ha hems and haws, not wanting to answer. That makes Hang Ah’s dad stand up in anger and declare he’ll head back to North Korea right now and tell the world that the South Korean prince got drunk and kissed his daughter. Plus he’s taking his Hang Ah with him back to North Korea. Jae Ha grabs his future father-in-law’s leg and looks all contrite and nervous, so Hang Ah’s dad asks if an engagement should be announced?
Next thing we see is a giant banner being unfurled announcing the engagement of Prince Jae Ha to Kim Hang Ah after they have dated for a month. Political pundits are discussing this unprecedented alliance on TV, while Jae Ha and Hang Ah have become the Will and Kate of South Korea, with their face plastered all over pillows and t-shirts being hawked by street vendors.
Hang Ah returns to South Korea using a special South Korean visa as the first move for her to marry into the royal family of South Korea. She will undergo three months of royal training before she is given South Korean citizenship, and she will become the first person to hold dual citizenship in both North and South Korea.
Hang Ah’s father is getting ready to leave South Korea as Hang Ah will stay and prepare to become the Princess. Jae Ha walks in and asks if Hang Ah’s dad wants to say goodbye, but instead Hang Ah’s dad gives Jae Ha a formal fully prostrating Joseon-era bow. Jae Ha is alarmed and wants to help him up, telling all the guards to leave.
Hang Ah’s father says he doesn’t know South Korean customs, but he needs to sincerely ask something of Jae Ha. Hang Ah’s father tells Jae Ha that his Hang Ah is a girl who has endured a lot. Her mother died when she was born, so she doesn’t have a lot of freedom to do as she wanted and was a very obedient child, taking care of him and doing whatever is asked of her. He asks Jae Ha to please take good care of Hang Ah, because his daughter is his everything. Hang Ah’s dad gets up and then goes back down for a full bow again, and this time Jae Ha gets on his knees and also bows his head back. Oh, this daddy scene makes me all teary and warm inside.
Hang Ah’s dad leaves without saying goodbye to Hang Ah in person. He only sends her a text, telling her that from now on she is a South Korean so she needs to obey the laws and customs of South Korea. Hang Ah watches her father leave from the window and cries, apologizing to him.
The royal family sits down for dinner, now with future daughter-in-law Hang Ah as part of the group. They are eating rice sent over from North Korea, and when asked, the Queen Mother says it’s very delicious.
The Queen Mother tries to talk with Hang Ah, but the decades of separation between the North and South make it easy for what Hang Ah says to be misconstrued. Jae Ha teases Hang Ah during the meal and Jae Kang has to kick his little brother under the table to shut him up.
Hang Ah starts her princess-to-be educational training, which includes learning everything about South Korea including its currency and how much the royal family is worth. Hang Ah is also flabbergasted to see a check and what its used for. The Queen Mother is informed that Hang Ah’s education level is equal to that of a senior in high school. The Queen Mother also starts to instruct Hang Ah in learning to speak like a South Korean.
Jae Shin goes out drinking with her friends, and then when the guards arrive to escort her home, she takes off. Shi Kyung catches up to her. She gets on the wall to get a better view, saying that there will be a meteor shower tonight. Shi Kyung tries to get her to come down, but she asks him to make a wish. She tries to find out what he wished for, such as world peace maybe?
Shi Kyung gets annoyed with her, asking why she has to make their lives as guards difficult just because she’s the princess. Jae Shin offers to sing for him, and she sings a lovely song. She sincerely apologizes to Shi Kyung, she was not intending to mock their duty to protect her.
Secretary Eun meets with a foreigner who tries to get the whereabouts as to King Jae Kang’s upcoming vacation destination. Secretary Eun does not divulge it, saying that this information is confidential even amongst the staff. The man says he just wanted to know where to vacation when he visits South Korea.
When Secretary Eun goes back to his office, he sees a gift from that foreigner, whose name is Daniel Craig (mwahahaha), consisting of an old Beatles album. Secretary Eun calls him to decline this too expensive gift, but the man persists and says it’s just a token of their friendship. He’s insistent and starts to get annoyed so Secretary Eun accepts it, and then reveals that a great vacation destination in South Korea is Anmyeongdo, where the sunset is very beautiful.
Bong Goo, staring at his wall full of pictures of people in pain and agony, talks to his female companion and plots his next move. He decides the evening sunset is beautiful in Anmyeondo, and perhaps his next picture addition should be something related to fire.
The palace ladies are reading gossip on the internet about Hang Ah. The Queen Mother pulls Hang Ah aside to discuss Hang Ah’s education and training. She’s not pleased with many of the things Hang Ah is doing, but Hang Ah is just trying her best. She reminds Hang Ah to be careful with what she says and does. The Queen Mother reveals that she was commoner born as well and had to learn to be royalty. The Queen Mother continues to adjust Hang Ah’s way of referring to the South, saying it is not the South, it is the Republic of Korea.
Secretary Eun drops off the King and the Queen at their vacation destination in Amyeongdo, telling them that everything is safe and this area has been cleared. Shi Kyung is also there, to remind the troops guarding the couple to be extra vigilant and report immediately if there is anything odd.
Jae Ha comes in to see his mother speaking with Hang Ah, but is told that Hang Ah is just getting pointers about her education. After Hang Ah leaves, Jae Ha asks his mom not to push Hang Ah so hard, but his mother replies that she’s tired of having to do so as well. After Jae Ha talks with his mom, he wants to see Hang Ah but the guards tell him that he can’t. He calls up sister Jae Shin, who is out shopping for groceries. Turns out Jae Shin is headed to Anmyeondo to drop off food for Jae Kang as a surprise.
A car full of supposedly lost foreign tourists pull up to the gate of the King’s vacation compound in Anmyeondo. It’s Bong Goo’s assassins, of course, and they get one of the guards to touch a glove by pretending to ask for directions. Afterwards they lift that guard’s fingerprint and find a way to enter the compound.
The assassins sneak into the compound and rig the furnace and chimney, setting it up for a potential carbon monoxide poisoning. Jae Shin arrives to drop off groceries and she runs into the assassins and is promptly kidnapped. The King and Queen return from a stroll and find groceries on the table and deduce Jae Shin came up and left.
Hang Ah is dressed in a traditional Korean wedding gown from the Joseon era and she’s still smarting from her earlier talk with the Queen Mother. Jae Ha comes in and Hang Ah can’t conceal her frustration, saying that she has her pride as a North Korean as well. They get in a fight about how poor North Korea is and how money-focused South Korea is, and the Hang Ah huffs that she wants to go home.
But then Jae Kang calls Hang Ah and helps her calm down, he knows how hard it is for her.
Jae Ha is dressed in a tux and headed for an event. He gets a call from Jae Kang, who is happy and a little tipsy. Jae Kang tells little bro that he really likes him, and he likes Hang Ah for him as well. Jae Kang asks if Jae Ha and Hang Ah fought again, telling Jae Ha to not sweat the little things. Jae Ha brushes it aside and tells his brother than he needs to go, hanging up.
Jae Kang talks with his wife and they remember how they fought over little things when they first got married. It’s even harder for Jae Ha and Hang Ah since they are from North and South Korea. Jae Kang lays down on his wife’s lap and sighs that its nice to get some rest. He’s been tired working so hard to bring North and South Korea closer, all leading up to the WOC, this engagement, and Jae Ha and Hang Ah.
They change the subject to discussing their kids, teasing about what if Jae Ha beats them to the punch. The Queen wants a son, a boy like Song Joong Ki, but the King wants a daughter just like his wife. They are happy to discuss joyful events they can expect to have in the future. They lean against each other as they grow sleepy and then fall asleep, clearly of carbon monoxide poisoning as there is a roaring fire in the fireplace.
The Princess is taken to a remote cliff side where she is taken out of the car. The female assassin prepares to inject her with something, apologizing for using an old fashioned story like a car accident to off her. Jae Shin looks fearful and determined, and then turns and jumps right off a tall cliff. Whoa, that girl has some backbone. The assassins leave thinking she’s done for. Shi Kyung tracks her cell phone and manages to find her.
Palace officials arrive at the compound in Anmyeondo to inform the King about Princess Jae Shin’s accident, but they find the door locked and the King and Queen sleeping on the sofa. Jae Ha arrives at an event and gets up on the podium to make a speech. In the middle of his speech, suddenly Secretary Eun arrives with a coterie of royal guards. He interrupts the speech to inform the Prince that the King and Queen have died.
Secretary Eun and the guards all kneel and call Jae Ha “our King”, as he will be getting ready to be coronated as the next King.
As Jae Ha is being driven to the hospital, Secretary Eun tells him that the King and Queen died of carbon monoxide poisoning, and the Princess also had an accident tonight and is in surgery. The doctor says she might be paralyzed for life. There is a call scheduled with the President of the United States…..which is when Jae Ha asks for the car to be stopped.
Jae Ha gets up and stands before the bridge watching cars pass by. He hasn’t cried since he heard the news, but his hands are shaking at he places it on the railing. His eyes are red-rimmed and he takes these deep deep breaths to calm and control himself. Secretary Eun watches him silently, and he sees a message from Club M on his cellphone but ignores it. Jae Ha steels himself, and you can see the moment when he goes from being the carefree Prince to the determined King.
He turns and calmly gives Secretary Eun instructions on what to do. And this is the moment I became a Lee Seung Gi fangirl. Baby boy, you were magnificent in this scene.
Jae Ha arrives at the hospital where his mom is waiting to hear about Jae Shin’s surgery. The Queen Mother is very strong in front of everyone about the death of her son and the injury to her daughter, who she is told will be paralyzed for life, Once she is alone with Jae Ha, she breaks down and Jae Ha comforts his mother. The Queen Mother says it is now left to the two of them to guide this country, and she will assist Jae Ha to be the King.
Thoughts of Mine:
Even when you know its coming, when the inevitable moment hits and the drama takes away the King (and Queen) so that Jae Ha has no choice but to assume the mantle he has tried to avoid his entire life, it still hurts like a punch to the gut. King Jae Kang was such a wonderfully written character, a good husband, brother, and ruler, all without seeming maudlin or idealistic. He was not averse to pushing Jae Ha when needed, angling for political alliances with the North to further his own agenda, but ultimately he was able to juggle his role as King and brother with equal aplomb. He shall be missed greatly, especially when the drama has give us so many cute brotherly moments for us to look back on and then cry some more.
I thought everything in this episode continued to push the story forward, even if Jae Kang’s death overwhelmed everything else. Hang Ah’s cultural conflicts and friction with her future mother-in-law makes sense and will take time to entangle. I like that neither Jae Ha or Hang Ah are all lovely dovey with each other, even when they have a clear indications about each other’s feelings. Falling in love doesn’t mean their personalities suddenly change, and I enjoy them sparring as they get to know each other better while trying to overcome substantive obstacles for them to be together.
I love this drama so much because cohesively it works for me, doing something different with most of the characterizations and plot developments outside of K-drama tropes. The villain is the exception, being cookie cutter crazy, but since he wants to either bring down the South Korean monarchy or take over himself, a dude with such far reaching ambitions needs to be loco to think he can succeed. But beyond that, all the emotional moments are presented with subtlety, understanding that there are additional over-arching considerations outside from love and finding a way to be together. With this episode, Jae Ha has become the heart of this drama for me, his maturation and growth under the most adverse of circumstances grounding this story in stakes that feel relatable and poignant.