Official Posters and Drama Plot Spoilers for Empress Ki with Ha Ji Won

I have good and not so good news about the upcoming MBC sageuk Empress Ki. The good news is that the first posters are out featuring leading lady Ha Ji Won as the titular Empress and she looks glorious. There is glamour and splendor in these posters, something that has been missing from MBC promotion material for its last sageuks Horse Doctor, Gu Family Book, and Goddess of Fire. These remind me of how eye-catching the first poster was for The Blade and Petal from KBS. Ha Ji Won is absolutely rocking the regal aura, and her holding a sword evokes shades of Joan of Arc. While she’s dressed in extravagant robes, her expression is fierce and the sword implies that she’s less a courtier and more a warrior. A good poster is a good poster and MBC gets high marks for these two. I hope the forthcoming ones include both leading me Joo Jin Mo and Ji Chang Wook, because what’s a good Empress story if the K-drama version doesn’t throw in a King and an Emperor vying for her heart. The not so good news I mentioned earlier is that MBC is preparing to release a novelization of Empress Ki written by the scriptwriters, and the leaked full spoiler synopsis had me wide-eyed and slack-jawed. All I can say is that the Chinese audience will shred this to pieces by it rewriting Yuan dynasty history in Goryeo’s favor, and the Korean audience will loathe it because turns bad Goryeo people good and claims they did everything for the good of the nation. After reading the synopsis, I now know why MBC could not find an actor to take on the role of the Yuan Emperor and so many passed on it before Ji Chang Wook accepted. Forget the Mongol braid that he is not sporting, his character seems like the proverbial third wheel to the main OTP of Empress Ki and King Chunghye, who not only love each other but have a kid together! LOL whut? Read on for the synopsis, which was intended by MBC as the first step in making Empress Ki a Hallyu hit and continue the spread of Korean culture through its riveting sageuk dramas.

Drama synopsis for Empress Ki:

A woman with Goryeo on her shoulders, and dreams of a greater world.

She was a woman born of a time period where being a female was akin to being a criminal. To avoid being taken to court to be a serving lady, the future Empress Ki lived as a boy growing up on an outlying island. It was there she became the squire to the future Yuan Emperor Huizhong, who was exiled there by his own brother. Because of a political conspiracy in the Goryeo court, the island becomes an inferno. Empress Ki accompanies the Yuan Emperor to Kaesong (the capital of Goryeo). Due to the betrayal of the Yuan Emperor who she trusted, her beloved father died and she was exposed as a girl. She was forcibly taken to court to become a serving lady. On the way to court, she meets the future King Chunghye of Goryeo who is currently stripped of power. He falls for the quick witted and resourceful Empress Ki, and even saves her from being raped. She falls in love with him as well, and they consummate their relationship and she bears his child.

She goes as a retainer with Consort Park sent to the Yuan dynasty, and meets the Yuan Emperor again. She decides to start her revenge. But she and Consort Park are kicked out of the palace due to the machinations of the Dowager Empress. Consort Park uses her life to save Empress Ki, and she discovers a chance for her to return to Goryeo. But she chooses to go back to the Yuan dynasty, because going back to Goryeo she will forever live a poor life being called a fallen woman. She would rather sever the ties with Goryeo and the poor girl who lived there and start anew. Her goal is to finish what Consort Park did not do, to earn the Emperor’s heart and take revenge on the powerful women in the Court, to use her power to help the poor Goryeo citizens, that is the greatest revenge.

She goes through the selection process and becomes a Consort and meets the Yuan Emperor again. She uses her intelligence and decisiveness to impress the Yuan court and ends up holding the reigns of Yuan military control and the treasury. She not only gave Goryeo nobles official Yuan ministerial positions, she also position Goryeo people in all corners of the Yuan palace and court. She created a small but strong Goryeo contingent within the Yuan dynasty. But when the son she bore with King Chunghye reappears in her life, she is suddenly thrown into a tumult.


Comments

Official Posters and Drama Plot Spoilers for Empress Ki with Ha Ji Won — 28 Comments

  1. If you look closely Ms K you will see JCW is a coopy of Emperor Zhou in LanLing, character I adored. If he shows half of his aura and charisma I will be happy.

  2. Lolwut.

    One thing that bothers me about these types of sageuks is that in trying to be edgy (in a shoujo manga kind of way), they just end up reinforcing the painfully modern conflation of power with masculinity. If people like Herodotus could recognize that women were enormously powerful and dangerous in their own right, through influence and rational leadership, why is it so hard for us to find healthy female paradigms of power in this so called enlightened age?

    So that shot of her holding the sword? Generic, uninspiring. You could switch her out with any one of the many mindless killers that history has described. But a shot of her smiling menacingly standing next to the throne but casting it in her shadow? Chills.

    Kdrama writers, let’s explore how women actually struggled with and confronted the draconian social standards of the past instead of making them men with breasts and a uterus.

    • you should watch War of the Flowers.. amazing, and the women in power portrayed the way you’ve described as wanting.. unfortunately it aired on cable and is kinda removed from mainstream consciousness (as shout-outs in popular english kdrama blogs. you can find maybe 3-4 articles about it)..

      worth it you gotta watch it..

    • Hi Rina. I agree with you. I mentioned something similar in one of my postings in another site. I tend to see a lot of straw feminism in works that purport to be portraying strong and independent women. I also see overcompensation (“I am woman, hear me roar”) in what you describe as “men with breasts and a uterus.” I like to see women navigating patriarchal structures in ways that would have been more realistic. We can have strong female characters that do not have to be stripped of their femininity. I hope that was clear. I agree with the others above and suggest that you watch Cruel Palace. I would love to know what you think about that show.

  3. Ms.Koala, could you explain why Korea will hate the fact that Goryeo is portrayed as “good?” I didn’t realize they were the “bad guys” for both Korea and China. It seems bizarre to turn the story into this when both history is ruined and all audiences are angry by said changes.

  4. I’m not worried about the story but as you said one time ,you would like to see HJW in a different character.Whether she is evil or not,I would like to see her in that role.I ‘m still looking forward to see this drama.

    • After further thought… so how I’m interpreting this is that MBC plans on releasing a FANFIC of its script and passing it off as a Great Korean Love Story novel? Damn, I want some of what those people are smoking, ’cause it’s obviously quality stuff…

      I highly doubt that a cast of this caliber would sign on to this project already knowing of the production’s machinations, so I wonder if they have any pull to tell MBC to siddown and shaddap?

      Argh. Where’s my Vicodin?

  5. AAAAhhh..I am already frustrated with the drama synopsis. But I’ll watch this regardless for HJW.

    If done right, this could still be really exciting. Anyhow, can’t wait for next Monday.

  6. What’s the use of portraying a bad person as a national hero? The people behind this drama are playing with fire.
    Lol at synopsis, ‘he saves her from being raped’.
    King Chunghye himself was a rapist. He is the same one who in Faith, sexually harassed Lee Min-ho’s lover.

  7. I agree. This is totally going to go the way of JOJLIL… do they not learn anything? Why take a historical figure and do that? Just go with the completely fictional route. Didn’t that work soo darn well on TMETS?

    Once I read the changing of the Yuan dynasty part, all I could do was think… wow, they had to go there huh? That’s pretty darn daring. I was shaking my head at JCW’s outfit… wow… (and not in a good way)… doesn’t take a genius to know that that was definitely not the dress of a Yuan emperor.

    I love JJM and HJW to pieces. And that they can star together in a drama is awesome. But the story… I don’t know. It’s going to be tough.

  8. MBC is not being smart (they hardly ever are). Why would anyone try to rewrite history when mostly everyone in Korea is so against it. Jang Ok Jung was a huge indication of that. Despite it having KTH, it sinked to nowhere’s land. Even something like King 2 Hearts – which may be extremely adored internationally – did not fare so well in Korea because it promotes something the audience may not necessarily agree with.

    It’s ok to portray a bad king as bad. Even if he were Korean. I’m sure the audiences would agree that the king didn’t do much for the better of the country anyway. I suspect they’d rather watch their heroine become a queen of Yuan and make their country proud. Or maybe not. Maybe this would be another Horse Doctor (which may be boring to some but brought in some huge numbers). Who knows? I really like HJW so I’m hoping this is more HD than JOJ.

  9. The whole Empress Ki character synopsis reminds a lot of Mishil. If this synopsis is correct, then MBC really took the risk by making Empress Ki their lead (well Mishil is more charismatic than Seondok anyway)

    This drama have Ha Ji Won, Joo Jin Mo and Ji Chang wook, not to mention it is sageuk, so I’m confident that it will still do well in ratings.

    If modern day drama have chaebol and celebrity; Sageuk have Kings, emperors, warriors and nobles… lol..

  10. Frankly, I’m not too bothered about how close the plot is to historical records. Rather I will enjoy the show for goof drama twist, good acting skills and chemistry of the 3 leads. They kinda look good at the press conference. Hence will be looking forward to the drama. Is also looking forward to your review of the 11 mins drama.

  11. O.O Ha Ji Won looks gorgeous in the posters, She exudes an elegant aura. Just looking at this makes me exited about Empress Ki. I will check it out just for the gorgeousness Itself. MBC .I. Don’t f**** this drama. Expecting high things from this well atleast visually.

  12. So 18 episodes into Empress Ki and quite a bit has been changed, making me wonder what’s really going to happen. Is there still going to be a love child? How is that even possible when the emperor can barely stand for her to be more than three steps away from him? Unless of course, he stands next to the bed while they take care of business, I can’t see Emperor letting her out of his sight for her to conceive a child that isn’t his.

  13. well..
    av always loved korean movies talk more empress ki… its quite interesting. love wang yus boldness but disappointed at ki for leaving her so calld Sire after everything. It would av been more fittn if Wang yu maried yon fiestu . they re perfect nd moreover fiestu alreadr admired him. what a relief El Temurs clan was cleared…..
    I m a Nigerian who loves korea bt cant possibly be there… too bad

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