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.