Empress Ki with Ha Ji Won and Joo Jin Mo Release First Script Reading Stills

My interest in the upcoming 50-episode MBC tentpole sageuk Empress Ki (formerly known as Hwatu) has waned considerably since it was announced that Ha Ji Won and Joo Jin Mo would be starring as the leads. The first reason is based on logic and experience – this sucker is airing on MBC which has had an abysmal track record of producing quality sageuks this year. There was Horse Doctor better called Sleep Doctor since its the best sleep inducer, then Gu Family Book with its kindergarten writing, and lastly Goddess of Fire which combines both boredom and lame writing. This network is on a roll, a crap roll, and I do not trust it at this moment. Another reason for my hesitation is seeing that the PD was the dude who directed Dr. Jin. No denying that sageuk was ridiculous in concept but the execution was equally ham-fisted. This guy is going to direct a 50-episode serious sageuk? Oh vey. The writing team behind Empress Ki is the well-regarded tandem who did Giant, History of the Salaryman, and Incarnation of Money. I may not always love their works but they have patience when it comes to building a long running story. So my concern over the potential quality (or lack thereof) has dampened my enthusiasm, but another reason was the casting of Ji Chang Wook as the second male lead.

Ha Ji Won plays Empress Ki, Joo Jin Mo is King Chunghye of Goryeo, and Ji Chang Wook is the Yuan Emperor. Ji Chang Wook doesn’t bug me but he’s nowhere in the same league in terms of acting ability and onscreen charisma as the other two seasoned leads, and I really wanted this love triangle to have three equal legs. I don’t like watching a story with a central love triangle where I actively feel nothing for one party. It sucks the air out of the excitement and makes me FF’d through half the scenes that involve the less compelling leg. I much prefer love triangles where I love both men – think Ha Ji Won in Damo with Lee Seo Jin (Naeuri!) and Kim Min Joon (Rebel Leader!), or Ha Ji Won in What Happened in Bali with the reserved So Ji Sub and outburst prone Jo In Sung. Whenever I re-watch those two awesome dramas, I switch ships often because the story has built up both possibilities with equal narrative weight and comparable levels of sizzling chemistry. Based on my previous reactions to watching Ji Chang Wook onscreen, I doubt I’ll suddenly be wowed by him. But one never knows so here’s to hoping he brings it for the sake of this production. MBC released the first script reading stills of the cast and it’s definitely chock full of sageuk veterans up the wazoo. Check out more script reading stills as well as the first pictures of filming involving Ha Ji Won and Joo Jin Mo on a tiny bucket-like raft.

Of the supporting cast I absolutely love Jin Yi Han (he would have made a niiiice second male lead here after what he delivered in Conspiracy in the Court), Jung Woong InChoi Moo Sung, Kwon Oh Joong and Lee Won Jung. A couple of lovely ladies are also part of the cast including Kim Min Jung (yay, a mini-Fashion 70’s reunion with Joo Jin Mo) and Kim Seo Hyung.

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Empress Ki with Ha Ji Won and Joo Jin Mo Release First Script Reading Stills — 18 Comments

  1. Another reason to add to your list is lack of time. We have Future Choice on Mon-Tue, Heirs on Wed-Thu, Answer me 1994 on weekends and then you add Basketball in between and there is no time left.

    • Seriously. not enough time in the world for this fall season.
      I’m also watching suspicious housekeeper atm on mon/tues (i really enjoy watching it so far) and going to hop on potato star the second there are subtitles.

  2. I don’t know… I wasn’t very excited when I heard LSG was cast opposite HJW for TK2H, thinking there was no way he would be able to match her and I thought he did a good job. Dr. Jin was all kind of bad, but it didn’t help that the writing sucked and the leads were either horrible in their acting or had zero chemistry. So, perhaps between the good actors and good writing, the directing will be elevated? I’m mmore deterred by the length… 50 episodes??? I can barely get through dramas with 24 episodes.

  3. I think it’s a role perfect for Ji Chang Wook. He is a natural at sageuks (like both our leads) and that’s really important: I’m tired of pretty faces who don’t speak correctly or have no clue on how to wield a sword or just feel like Gangnam fishes out of the water.
    Now if we talk channel/writer/PD, I have to say that I’m worried too… Crossing fingers to be happily surprised: It’s going to be 60 eps and despite the love that I have for the cast, if it goes to crazy land I won’t be able to stick to it.

  4. Ha Ji Won is soo pretty with long hair, she’s also one of my favorite but I’m not determined to watch this since the episode is too long 🙁

      • That lady gets more beautiful with age. Since her what happened in bali days, i really do think she got prettier since then. I doubt it’s plastic surgery, since she seems au naturel and not your standard south korean beauty.

  5. definitely I’m going to watch this. I love ha ji won and the fact that I can enjoy her amazing acting and the awesome chemistry that she always create with all her co-stars for 50 chapters is good for me.

  6. I hate to say it, but the Yuan emperor was never going to be an admirable guy in a Korean sageuk… every country has its bias and it’s pretty telling that they’d rather fudge Chunghye’s character and make him out to be some sort of patriot than stay true to history.

  7. Love Ha Ji Won! I’ll definitely watch this drama. Am curious how she’s going to develop/portray her character? I do know she’s going to deliver as far as acting. Oh yeah, am curious as well how her chemistry with Joo Jim Mo will unfold? Yey!

  8. Well, many here have asked that the drama must be true to history. But how much history do we actually know. Many of us are not even familiar with our own country’s history, let alone the history of Korea. I am sure not many have heard of the historical figure Empress Ki before.Its because of this drama that we start to make random check here and there and then insist that the protrayal of the Empress must be 100% in line with what we have read or heard.
    Well for me, I watch drama for entertainment. If I happen to learn some historical aspects directly from the drama or through the interest it generates for me to find out more elsewhere, that is a bonus. Well, well which means I will definitely watch out for this piece, come rain, come shine.

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