Six K-actors Rumored for the Coveted Role of Yuan Dynasty Emperor in Ha Ji Won’s Empress Ki

You what know cured me sobs from today’s sad episode of Who Are You? Flitting around DC and Baidu and finally (I mean finally) hearing some underground rumors about the casting of the other male lead of the upcoming Ha Ji Won mega sageuk Empress Ki. Joo Jin Mo has already taken the role of King Chunghye of Goryeo who is one leg of the love triangle, but its been 3 weeks since his casting and no word on who is playing the Yuan dynasty Emperor Soon Jae (aka Emperor Huizhong of Yuan born Toghun Temür). Apparently MBC is having a hard time casting this role because (1) they need someone younger than Ha Ji Won because Empress Ki was a few years older than her husband, (2) this actor needs to have the screen presence to go toe-to-toe with former Baeksang winners Ha Ji Won and Joo Jin Mo (she won Best Actress in film for Closer to Heaven, he won Best Actor in film for A Frozen Flower), and (3) the network is having a hellish time trying to balance historical accuracy with trying to create the look for Toghun Temür because the Mongolian hairstyle in the 12th century was unimaginably hideous (I’ve included a picture below). So for those three reasons, this role is quite coveted but hard to cast. After weeks of trying to dig up any nugget of information, I finally heard the rumored actors in the running and boy is it a very juicy list. I’ll tell you at the end of the post which two guys its purportedly down to, but the script has been discussed with six K-actors ranging from seasoned to a lightweight relative newbie. The rumored six are Jo Hyun Jae, Park Hae Jin, Lee Jin Wook, Yoon Si Yoon, Jung Gyu Woon, and Park Seo Jun. Take a minute to digest that. My reaction ranged from yay! to huh? to hhhhmmm to nyet! to meh to buh? Of these six only one guy has significant sageuk experience and that is Jo Hyun Jae who headlined the 56-episode Seodongyeo with Lee Bo Young and got his breakthrough as the second male lead in the Jang Hyuk sageuk Daemang. Though I figured the drama was going younger for this role since it was offered to Jang Geun Seok first. I am supremely curious who gets the final selection. Who’s your pick? My vote easily goes to Jo Hyun Jae.

Park Hae Jin.

Yoon Si Yoon. I love Yoon Si Yoon. Y’all know I do. But as the Yuan Emperor opposite Joo Jin Mo? Er, not yet young padawan, not quite yet.

Lee Jin Wook.

Jung Gyu Woon.

Park Seo Jun. Despite talks with all six actors, at this time MBC has purported narrowed it down to between Jo Hyun Jae and Park Hae Jin, who are the two most logical choices in this group. Yoon Si Yoon is too flower boy to make a convincing Emperor who stole back his throne from his usurper brother. Lee Jin Wook can brood well but I don’t see the acting depth and gravitas required in sageuks. Jung Gyu Woon looks more like the Emperor’s bodyguard than the Emperor and too beastly for this role. And Park Seo Jun, as adorable as he is and he’s just so easy on the eyes to watch in the currently airing I Summon You, Gold, has barely any acting experience much less sageuk experience. His inclusion in this list seems like a joke to me, but Keyeast has clout so who knows. You know what? I don’t like him but I’m surprised current It-boy Lee Jong Suk isn’t on this list, but he’s busy with two movies so he can’t do it even if MBC wanted him.

The above picture is how K-drama sageuks portrayed Mongolians in the Yuan dynasty, this being a character in The Great Seer (Daepyungsoo) which aired last year. Clearly the male lead in Empress Ki CANNOT sport that hairstyle. EVER. I wonder if the other male lead refuses to commit until he is shown a costume and hairstyle fitting that would not require him to sport what is essentially the worst hairstyle in history. I can’t even adequately describe it – partially-shaved head with two side braids and one dollap front comb-over on the forehead? Which genius came up with this?


Six K-actors Rumored for the Coveted Role of Yuan Dynasty Emperor in Ha Ji Won’s Empress Ki — 44 Comments

  1. ROFL when I saw the hideous hair style. I was thinking, this is probably one of the reasons why Jang Geun Seok is not so keen in this role.

      • My sentiments exactly! Seriously, I am so sad that JKS did not have the sanity to choose this vehicle to get reinstated in Korean society:( It would have been perfect ;_;

      • Hehehe I imagine he’s throwing tantrum somewhere for not getting this chance. Because that hair is totally his style ^-^ (he has shown us some horrible styles lately which I assume is his preferences)

      • @Pipit “that hair is totally his style” – Are you feeling crappy? Obviously by your comment. Why don’t you try that style yourself & maybe you will learn to be kind.

      • @j kriss
        Did I just offend a diehard fan here? You’re totally wrong in thinking that I was feeling crappy or trying to insult Sukkie here. I love that dear boy. And even his strange styles. All those weirdness totally suits him/his star persona. FYI, I mined him 6 years ago and he’s still in my mine list. Oops, did I just offend you again for ‘mining’ a person here?
        On personal level, if you know me I’m probably one of the nicest and kindest persons you know. To my knowledge I never being unkind on purpose even to those who totally deserve it and being cut by every one else. Anyway thanks for the advise to be kind.

      • @Pipit well i don’t really get it why people choosed to say things they probably know its not plausible esp. – talking about a real person. And now you want to tell me that he is someone dear & loved by you after having described him as someone who prefers a horrible style…that is so patronizing of you. I hope that i got it wrong & you are being sincere with your latter comment. And yes I’m a loyal fan of JKS.

  2. Lol, has it occurred to these people that they don’t HAVE to cast someone younger? But then again, no actor with clout in this industry would touch this role with a 10 ft pole since the Yuan emperor will inevitably be some sort of sullen loser while Empress Ki’s character will be whitewashed to the moon and back (and Chung Hye Wang as a HERO?!? What a joke). The articles on the historical inaccuracy of the script are already being written and the show hasn’t even premiered yet.

    • Whitewashed indeed. Since they’re going to have to essentially turn what historically have been viewed as villainous figures into heroic ones (or at least more protagonist-like), why don’t they just say to hell with historical accuracy and toss out that hideous Mongolian hairstyle while they’re at it?

      • Because you have to create the illusion of authenticity (as with Jang Ok Jung) … as the esteemed Mr. X says, we’re living in a post-sageuk world. Can you imagine people who actually cared about history stuffing a bunch of flower boys who don’t look like they have the authority (or the balls, lbh) to order a fly around into a political sageuk like this? And all in the hopes that someone in Japan might give a shit.

  3. Also, I can’t see how they can avoid the hairstyle. It’s what the Mongols wore, so that’s what the character should look like. I can kind of imagine Jo Hyun Jae redeeming it… if I squint really hard, I guess.

    • Oh no! Not my Jo Hyun Jae! I mean yes my Jo Hyun Jae should get this role but….but…..

      I 1000% agree with your sentiment Ms.Koala that no male lead should be unfortunate enough to be saddled with that hair do. Particularly not my Jo Hyun Jae!

      He’s perfection in my eyes but that hair!! It doesn’t even have enough hair to be called hair!

      But I want him to be chosen for this role. He’s wonderful in Sodongyo (which is my favorite Sageuk) and he’s enough stand and presence not to be shadowed by Joo Jin Mo and Ha Ji Won.

  4. I’m sorry, but when Lee Jongsuk’s name was mentioned the fangirl in me could not contain itself. I need him in this drama. The boy has proven he can clone himself, so maybe… LOL. He did an interview with Ha Ji Won before too, quite recent, and I thought they were so cute and fluffy.

    Aaaaah. But asides from the one I mentioned above, my vote goes to Park Haejin. Reason? He had the cutest crush on Ha Ji Won back when she guested on family outing. That is all.

    I kinda flinched when I saw Yoo Siyoon and Lee jinwook’s name there. Love both, but sticking them in a historical drama would be very… Odd.

    • Jo Hyun Jae is actually a sageuk baby. His first film back in 2003 was in Untold Scandal (Joseon reinterpretation of Dangerous Liaisons), as a young Confucian scholar seduced by a yangban lady.

      He’s quite good at sageuk. In fact, I prefer him in sageuk over modern day dramas.

      • Really now? He seemed pretty unimpressionable in 49 Days, but I’ll keep an open mind. Maybe I’ll watch Untold Scandal and see what I think about him then. Thanks for the info!

  5. LMFAOOO. That hairstyle is atrocious; its an insult to the word ‘hairstyle’ or ‘style’ or… ‘hair’.

    But anyway, I don’t really know any of the actors in the running all that well. I’ve seen 1 or 2 shows of some, and none of the others, so can’t say who I’d prefer. What I hope is they don’t try and alter history and make villains into heroes or vice-versa. The ratings tragedy that JOJ was is enough a reason to at least suggest that knietzens aren’t into that. Also… its a 50 episode sageuk – no matter how much I love HJW, this will not be in my list. Unless, Seung-Gi is casted. But then there’s zero chance of that – he doesn’t do second leads, or more than one drama a year. Drats!

  6. My vote goes to Jo Hyun Jae, hands down. Between him, HJW and Joo Jin Mo, it will surely be epic! But oh…that hairstyle!!! So.hideous.

    • My votes goes to Jo Hyun Jae as well. Just want him back in korean dramaland. If all three are confirmed, I’ll probably tune in to this. Already excited!

      btw, that picture of him looks gorgeous. just pointing it out there.

    • Same here. Jo Hyun Hae it must be.

      Imagine Lee Jin Wook’s movable hair/scalp/ears and any kind of mongolian hair-do or kat. That would destroy a drama.

  7. If they gonna use that hairstyle, pleaseeee.. no Jo Hyun Jae or Park Hae Jin. I’ll never look at them the same way again.

  8. JHJ is also my choice favorite here too. I was really meh about his Ad drama. But I think he has enough sageuk and screen presence up against HJW and JJM.

    Please please drama God’s let this one be good. I had so much hope for many sageuks in the past year and most have been blah to boring. We know that no matter how stellar the cast is, a crappy script can bring everything down.

  9. I love how they’re obsessing over the pigtail as if this show is brimming with historical authenticity and it just needs the icing on the cake. It’s like shooting a Nazi war drama and depicting Adolf Hitler as a caring mama’s boy with a predilection for Hello Kitty bags. And then worrying about the ‘stache.

    Word from the grapevine is they’re finalizing next week. And oh, it’s LeeKim. Weigh rumors with copious amounts of salt… is all I’ll say. ㅋㅋ

  10. Agree that amongst the 6, JHJ and PHJ are nearest to their criteria. YSY is too young, JGW looks too mature, PSJ too inexperienced-acting wise, and LJW is in-between but he just got some good buzz from Nine, so I see him trying his hands on film. But between JHJ and PHJ, I prefer JHJ. I’ll try to check the first few episodes and then decide if it’s for me. 🙂

  11. If..and if they choose park hae jin then it will be dream come true.I mean park hae jin dream’s come true.He is so big fan of ha ji won.I know since i’m family outing fans..v^^

  12. Mongolians were all for practicality. They did not want the Han Chinese long hair flowing around all getting entangled and getting into their face if “oops, lost my hair tie” while battling in combat. HAHAHAHA

  13. None of the actors should try this role unless they change the hairstyle. I know Passion should come first but no.not for this role.

  14. Not many actors want this part because they are worried.

    Eric commented on a staff members CY, saying he is seriously debating whether to appear or not..
    This is considered korea’s worst king in history,who raped his new mother and raped his cousins.

    Not so sure if lots of actors want to play …knowing..there may be some who heavily criticize for trying to change the history.

    Eric will probably do it though..or someone who needs a chance will do it cause the drama can be a hit…u never know..since they make him a hero, since they will do a different interpretation of history but people should bare in mind that empress ki and her siblings who dominated Koryo (where korea gets its name) dynasty are considered one of the main reasons behind koryo’s demise.

    It’s either people will watch out of curiosity of how they will interpret it differently,or people will just shun it outright! Empress ki and her siblings kills a koryo king and places their own king who goes and rapes the queen and the royal family.

    Let’s put it this way 100% of Ha Ji Won korean fans are against her doing this drama. She got in trouble for the comment that she made some weeks ago about liking her character for his drama, which people thought was such a stupid and insensitive statement on her part.

    • I can understand why Jo Hyun Jae would want this role. He’s been trying to get a different image. He’s been trying for some make over. That particular hairdo if not the script might tempt him. Sigh….

  15. First of all, Kamsahamnida for all the news about my Ha Ji Won. 🙂

    Wow, if they ever pick Park Hae Jin, he’s going to be one happy guy. I remember him having such a big crush on Ha Ji Won on the show name Family Outing. Hope I’m correct. Jo Hyun Jae, not bad either. I love him in Seo Dong Yo and have seen him in Untold Scandal. So it’s not a bad choice either.

  16. Lee Jin Wook! Lee Jin Wook!! It’s a shame Song Joong Ki went off to the military. He and Ha Ji Won would melt my screen.

  17. why they never consider jung kyung ho?? is he too amazing for this? i think he fit enough with the character…look younger but at same time can be manlier…but maybe his back injury that hold him down…so pity…

    • i would love to see JHJ in a drama again. i’d watch him in anything, i’d even watch him watch paint dry lol. such a gorgeous man and a good actor to boot.

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