Well this is quite a casting surprise, coming this year it only elicits a happy reaction from me whereas the same casting last year would have left me screeching nooooo. Cha Seung Won is in talks to return to MBC after four years and his most memorable recent role with Dokko Jin in Best Love. It’s going to be a totally different experience this time around as he’s primed to join Lee Yeon Hee in the upcoming fantasy sageuk Splendid Politics (also floating around called Princess Jeongmyeong). It’s not confirmed yet and Cha Seung Won’s last possible sageuk drama ended up being the shelved Unprecedented so who knows.
It’s quite a ways away before Splendid Politics airs in Spring of 2015 as it’s following yet another fantasy sageuk Shine or Go Crazy with Jang Hyuk and Oh Yeon Seo. If Shine does well then MBC will extend audience interest in similar dramas, if Shine tanks then Splendid Politics will have an uphill battle. It’s billed as a fantasy sageuk but sounds more like the revisionist sageuk style of Jang Ok Jung, Live in Live – in this case the historically noble Gwanghaegun (Prince Gwanghae) becomes the evil villain throne usurper. The King’s Face on KBS about Gwanghaegun isn’t doing so well in ratings right now so it’ll be interesting to see if audiences welcome a different take on the same era.
I totally understand if drama viewers remain cold or indifferent towards Lee Yeon Hee. It’s hard to change perceptions when she’s got a laundry list of bad acting performances behind her. But she was fantastic in her most recent drama Miss Korea, and the kind of marked improvement that is the hallmark of an actor having worked on the craft. She was surrounded by great actors around her and working with a much older leading man in Lee Seon Kyun ended up being lightning in a bottle perfect.
That’s why the big age gap here with Cha Seung Won doesn’t bother me, I think she might actually be suited to work with older leads and benefit from her costar having the capability to lead. Lee Yeon Hee is slated to play Princess Jeonmyung, the older sister to one of King Seonjo’s heirs who are being exterminated by the power hungry Gwanghaegun. The Queen and Princess Jeonmyung end up being exiled during the succession power struggle and living as slaves. No word yet on which character Cha Seung Won’s leading man is supposed to be.