Today, I thought I’d share my episode 1 & 2 notes on King The Land, because I’m having a fun time with it, and I was wondering if you’d like to join me? 🤗
These are my episode 1 & 2 notes, exactly as they appear on Patreon, ie, without screenshots (I’m saving those for the actual review).
I hope you all enjoy, and I hope you’ll consider joining us over on Patreon, for the rest of the discussions! ❤️
E1. So, I’ve now watched the first two episodes of King The Land, and I have to say, I like it.
I do think that I need to qualify that by setting some expectations here.
I’ve heard some people say that King The Land is old-fashioned – but that’s the thing. That’s why this drama feels so effortlessly appealing.
I get that this show might not appeal to everyone. For example, if you’re looking for something with a fresh new twist, this isn’t it. If you’re looking for realism, this also isn’t it.
But if you cut your teeth on the classic k-romcom; if you’re sick and tired of romcoms that always seem to come with a side of murder &/or a serial killer; if you’re tired of dark, gritty shows, or heavy melodrama, then this show might just be the comfort watch that you want / need.
I know that I’ve been over the “romcom with a side of murder” trend, almost immediately after the trend began, so I’m more than ready for the classic k-romcom to make a proper comeback.
Watching these couple of episodes felt like the drama equivalent of finally getting to taste a favorite, simple, nostalgic comfort food – like the chicken wings that you used to eat daily, at your school canteen, with your best friends – that you haven’t been able to taste, for a long time.
It’s still no award-winning dish, but, sinking your teeth into it again, does it feel oh-so-good and hit the spot? Very much yes.
That’s basically where I am, with King The Land.
I expect that Show won’t be re-inventing any wheels, and is likely going to trot out many familiar romcom tropes, all in service of furthering our OTP connection, and I am perfectly content with that. 🥰
All that to say, I do think that if you’re able to approach this show with your expectations adjusted for something light, fluffy and easy, then I think you probably have a good chance of having a good time with this one.
I’ll also say that anyone who approaches this drama with a critical mindset, would definitely find things to criticize. But where’s the fun in that, right? 😉
Another thing I wanted to say, was, when I’d first heard the casting for this show, I’d been doubtful about Yoona as our female lead, because I’d been that underwhelmed by her outing in The K2.
I think I’m scarred by the memory of that infamous ramyun dancing scene. 😅
However, after I eventually calmed down, I remembered that I do enjoy Yoona when she’s allowed to play off her natural charm, and that I’d enjoyed her nicely, in The King Loves.
I’m happy to say that so far, I’m pretty happy with her casting as our female lead, Sa Rang.
I find Sa Rang charming instead of annoying, and that’s key, for me (or anyone) to enjoy this show. 😁
I like that she’s a cheerful person, who has a dream, and works hard to realize that dream.
I like that she’s competent at work, and easily performs beyond the expectations others have of her, and thus quickly gets promoted to the concierge, an important customer-facing position, in the lobby.
I also like the lashings of scrappy-ness that we see in her, that make her flexible and adaptable in unexpected situations, like when Hwa Ran asks her to demonstrate her piano-playing skills during the interview, and Sa Rang gamely plays air-piano, since there’s no actual piano in the room.
And then, there’s Junho. I’m just SO here for Junho playing a sharp-suited chaebol on my screen, y’all. 😍😍😍
The minute he showed up on my screen, all decked out in that designer suit, striding across that helipad, I had a goofy dazed fangirl grin on my face. 😁😅
Also, I had to giggle, coz when he adjusts his shirt cuffs and tosses the harness on the ground, it felt JUST like Junho was in a music video, and this was part of his dance routine. 😆
Clearly, I’m mainly here for Junho, and Show does not disappoint.
Already, Show is bombarding us with the Junho Handsome, so that his scenes consistently look like a mashup between a designer fashion show, a photo shoot, and a music video.
And y’know what, I’m not complaining one bit. I’m just happily lapping up allll of the Junho Handsome. 😁
I’m biased, but I don’t know that I’ve seen another male lead wear a suit quite like Junho does. 🤩 The lines are so clean and sharp on him, that they look surreal; like, can this actually be real life..? 😅
On that note, I’m rather tickled by how Kang Gi Doong’s supervisor character can’t believe that Gu Won’s real, questioning everything about him, from the way he got the wrong building, to his designer clothes and shoes.
I feel like Show’s poking fun at itself, and acknowledging that yes, Gu Won doesn’t look or feel real – but let’s just believe that he IS real. 😁
I have to admit that it took me a little while to get used to the fact that I’m watching Gu Won the character on my screen, and not Junho the celebrity, because we do see a lot of Junho suited up like this, for awards shows and such.
It was a little bit disorientating, to see Gu Won be aloof, broody and scowly, because that’s not the flavor of Junho that I’ve gotten used to, watching all his vlogs. 😅
But, I’m acclimated now, and y’know, despite Gu Won’s flaws, I find that I like him, and not just because he’s ridiculously, distractingly handsome.
He’s clearly quite kind, underneath his prickly demeanor, like the way he offers Sang Sik a job, when Sang Sik is in danger of being fired for making that mess with the printer toner at the office.
On that note, I find Sang Sik likable, even though he’s the requisite ubiquitous bumbling male secretary to every drama chaebol out there.
Mainly, I like that he’s got a good heart.
Even when he and Gu Won are new colleagues in that internship, he offers Gu Won all kinds of help and advice, to help Gu Won fit in better, and hopefully not get fired.
He could’ve just minded his own business, but he made it his business to help Gu Won settle in, complete with fashion advice, and I find that endearing.
Also, it might be childish of me, but I have to admit that I felt a thrill at the scene where Intern Gu Won reveals his identity, and everyone collectively loses their minds in response. 😁
I think Teenaged Me would’ve loved being able to pull off something like that, and discombobulate all the people who’d been looking down so condescendingly at me. Muahaha.
Plus, I do like how matter-of-factly Gu Won details why Sang Sik’s not at fault for the toner mess. This streak of his, where he tends to speak up in the name of justice, is pretty appealing.
Additionally, I started to feel sorry for Gu Won, the minute I realized that his sister Hwa Ran is only pretending to be nice to him, in front of their father.
In private, I’m kinda shocked (but also, not shocked?) that she tells him so baldly, to leave and not bother coming back.
For reasons that we aren’t privy to, Gu Won doesn’t seem to consider telling his father about the situation, and plays along with Hwa Ran’s continuous push to have him out of the country, preferably for good.
I’m glad that despite his cooperation with Hwa Ran, Gu Won doesn’t appear to actually be intimidated by her.
It kinda feels like he’s cooperating with her, only because he actually would prefer to stay out of the family business himself as well.
That makes me feel better, but that doesn’t change the fact that there’s an air of.. (what I think is) loneliness, about Gu Won.
That makes me root for him, to find a happier self – most likely through his upcoming interactions with Sa Rang.
But wait, of course our OTP-to-be has to have a first meeting where they start off on the wrong foot, and that whole thing, where Sa Rang mistakes Gu Won for the sleazy guest who’d made a pass at her, is such a trope that I’m willing to just roll with it.
Of course it doesn’t make sense that Sa Rang would make that big of a mistake if she’s got such a customer-attuned mind, but this is a romcom and she needs to cross paths with her One True Love, so fine. 😉
I hadn’t been expecting the time skip that we get after this first meeting, but I’m not opposed to the highlight reel of the years in between, because we get to see Junho being all handsome in a variety of sharp suits, in a variety of settings, and altogether, it feels even more like a music video sort of thing, heh. 🤩
Yes, Show is just speeding through set-up, using a bunch of narrative shorthand to get us there, but as long as I know that Show’s doing this in the interest of getting us to the meat of the story – where our OTP finally share the same orbit – I’m actually ok with it.
We don’t know yet what it is about this “Han Mi So,” whose personnel record gets delivered to Gu Won, and galvanizes him into an immediate return to Korea, but I’m sure we’ll find out what that’s about, soon enough.
My first guess is that she might be.. his mother? I mean, he does mention that he has no idea what his mother looks like.
..Which also indicates that he and Hwa Ran don’t share the same mother.
Circumstantially, it looks like Chairman Dad had Gu Won out of wedlock, then brought him back to include him in the family register, so that he’d have a possible male heir.
I guess that does explain the animosity from Hwa Ran, to some extent. She probably doesn’t see Gu Won as an actual brother.
And, I might be overreaching, but I’m thinking that that pocket watch that Gu Won carries, might have been something that his mother had left behind, perhaps..?
When we get to the end of the episode, our OTP finally meet again, but.. it’s under very mortifying circumstances, where Gu Won comes upon the sight of Sa Rang sitting on the toilet, in his suite. Eep. 🙈
The only silver lining to this scene, really, is that the bottom section of the glass remains frosted and therefore opaque, regardless of setting. 😅
By the time I watched this scene, I’d already heard the rumbles about toilet humor, so I was bracing myself for the worst – and that’s how I got through this one, relatively unscathed.
Sometimes it helps to be a little late to the party, it looks like. 😅
E2. Happily, we don’t revisit ToiletGate for too long, this episode, and Show quickly moves into throwing a Falling Embrace at us to distract us from the toilet humor, heh.
Since Show soon establishes that Sa Rang doesn’t actually remember Gu Won from their first encounter at the gym, I’m actually a little puzzled that she asks him to just leave, and that she’ll bring his phone to him later.
With Sa Rang being such a consummate professional as part of the concierge team, I feel that she would have bitten the bullet, and face the guest head-on with profuse apologies, and a quick return of the phone that she was sent to fetch in the first place.
But.. I get that Show was gunning for a way to make the Falling Embrace happen, and this was the way writer-nim landed on.
(Maybe writer-nim’s playing a game, where they’re tasked to insert a particular pattern of tropes into each episode, and the challenge is to find a way to do it, while keeping the story flow as natural as possible? 😁)
Anyway. This little issue is soon taken care of, when Gu Won establishes that he remembers her from the treadmill incident.
Once Sa Rang understands that they’ve met before, and under such circumstances, it makes sense that she’d immediately stop treating him like any other guest, and we have lift off, of sorts, in terms of OTP conversation? Because now the words are coming out fast and unfiltered? 😅
..Which is unfortunate for Sa Rang, because she finds out Gu Won’s real identity soon enough, at the inauguration ceremony. Oops. Way to get on your new boss’s wrong side. 😅
Kinda like that intern scene in episode 1, I kinda love the discombobulation on both Sa Rang’s and her section head’s faces, as Gu Won strides into the room.
Sa Rang’s in shock that the rude guest is her new boss, while Section Head’s in shock that Sang Sik, whom she’s been chatting up, isn’t actually the chaebol prince she’d thought him to be.
I don’t know what it is about these kinds of scenes; I get a thrill from Gu Won making a splash, just for being who he is. 😅
But of course, Gu Won’s got some hidden trauma behind his dislike for fake smiles (because what other reason could there be, in a classic k-romcom, right?), and I’m reaching for the idea that he’d spent a lot of time at the hotel as a child, and everyone had faked their smiles at him.
That doesn’t sound like the full story, coz there must have been a point where those fake smiles had actually resulted in some kind of rude awakening or something, thus causing him to have such a strong reaction, I’m thinking.
I’m glad that Gu Won and Sa Rang deal with the treadmill incident this early in our story. I wouldn’t have liked it to be dragged out, and this feels like we’re putting the incident behind us, which I like.
This episode, Show tells us that “King The Land” is the name of the lounge of the VIP floor.
Ok, at least we know what it refers to, even though, grammatically, it’s still driving some drama fans nuts? 😁
I’ve gotten to used to Dramaland giving us nonsense titles like “The King 2 Hearts” that this doesn’t even bother me anymore. 😉
Again, I don’t think it’s really that logical that Sa Rang makes that exclamation during the toast to Gu Won, because, hey, she’s been a hotel concierge for 7 years by this point, but I figure Show just needed a way to put Sa Rang in the spotlight for a bit, so that she’d have occasion to get up close with Gu Won – and also, have a chance to impress Chairman Dad, so that he’d give her that tuna head.
Clearly, the writing is a little paint by numbers, but I’m not bothered by it, as long as our OTP development is nudged along at a nice pace.
After all, Show isn’t pretending to be what it’s not, and we know, and Show knows, that this is allll about the OTP and their interactions and chemistry.
Speaking of which, I just wanted to say that I’m pretty happy with the chemistry that Junho and Yoona have going on, so far.
There’s an ease between them onscreen, that comes from them having worked together on so many occasions, over so many years, and that is definitely a good thing, in my books.
Also, this episode, I feel like Show’s giving us Junho fans a cheeky nod, with the way we’ve got Gu Won saying Junho’s signature line, “Go home,” and more than once too.
(For those who aren’t in the know, this is something that Junho says very often to the staff, during his vlogs. It’s become a signature soundbite of his, by this point, coz he’s always telling the staff to knock off and go home.
And so I couldn’t help but grin, at the inclusion of his signature soundbite. 😁)
The whole “Nation’s Mom causing a scene” thing doesn’t seem to have a great deal of narrative purpose, but it does accomplish two things.
1, It gives Show a chance to reinforce that Gu Won is a just person who will speak up in his no-nonsense sort of way, even when it involves someone with whom he doesn’t actually want to have any involvement, and
2, It gives Gu Won a reason to get Sa Rang to his office, which gives us more opportunities for OTP communication.
For the record, I couldn’t help but feel a good stab of satisfaction, at the way Gu Won flatly refuses to entertain the request of Nation’s Mom.
I’m quite thrilled at his refusal to play the courtesy game, especially when it’s to do with unreasonable people like this.
(Again, I’m pretty sure that part of that thrill comes from the fact that this is unlikely to happen in a real-life situation. 😅)
I also like the way Gu Won expects that Sa Rang gets to see the list of questions that she’s to ask him, ahead of time, even though everyone else thinks that it’s not necessary, because as an employee, it’s Sa Rang’s job to just do as she’s told.
The fact that he insists that Sang Sik give Sa Rang the list of questions, and right away, is quite swoony to me. He respects her right to know, as the other participant in this interview, and I really like that.
At this point, I feel I should mention Sa Rang’s boyfriend.
He doesn’t seem like a bad guy, necessarily, but he’s certainly a bad boyfriend.
He clearly doesn’t communicate much with Sa Rang, since she doesn’t even know that he’s gone to Busan with his mates for a game, forgetting that they’d actually agreed to go to Namsan Tower together.
What’s even worse, is the way he makes her climb up the last leg, not even realizing that it’s making her feet hurt, and then makes it such a perfunctory thing, when they do eventually get to the top of Namsan Tower – and then drags Sa Rang to that reunion “just to say hello,” and then leaves her alone while the “hello” drags on, with him drinking and joking with his friends for a really long time.
And even when Sa Rang makes to leave, his goodbye turns into him sitting down again for drinks.
He’s that kind of guy of which all his friends would say, “Oh, he’s the absolute best,” but when you’re his girlfriend, he’s the absolute worst, because he’s so busy being nice to other people that he doesn’t have any spare brain cells to spend on caring about you.
Show makes the point very effectively, that Sa Rang is wayyy better off without him, and I’m officially waiting for her to make that clear to him.
And of course, Sa Rang and Gu Won have to brood side by side, while completely missing each other – because this is a classic trope that every romance drama can’t be without. 😆
It’s very prettily filmed though, and I’m not actually complaining; I’m just amused, is all.
At this point, I just wanted to take a moment to mention Sa Rang’s two gal pals.
I like both actresses, but I have to say, this is only my second time seeing Go Won Hee, and this is already the second time I’ve seen her playing an air stewardess. I guess she’s got the look?
I do rather like the fact that all three friends are working in the hospitality industry, and can empathize with one another.
Pyung Hwa’s also got a maybe-loveline brewing, with that young male colleague who is clearly looking out for her, and I’m actually pretty interested to see where this goes, for her.
As for Da Eul, I really like that when she gets promoted to Manager, she remembers the promise that she’d once made herself, and her first matter of business, as Manager, is to get rid of the old traditions that had tormented her when she’d been a rookie.
Aw. She is such a good egg. This is enough to win me over to her side unequivocally.
As we close out the episode, Gu Won and Sa Rang are both on Jeju Island, for that live interview, and it looks like Hwa Ran’s trying to sabotage the interview by switching out the interview questions at the last minute.
I’m counting on Sa Rang to be quick on the uptake, and think on her feet, to protect Gu Won’s interests, but in the meantime, I’m gawking right along with her, as Gu Won makes his handsome slo-mo entrance.
Sigh. So handsome. 😍😍😍
*This show is being covered on the VVIP Early Access (US$20) Tier on Patreon*
To view episode 1 & 2 notes in Patreon, along with everyone’s comments, you can go here!
Episodes 5 & 6 notes will be out on Monday, 3 July 2023! I hope you’ll consider joining us!
It’ll be a way to have fun, and support me at the same time? ❤️
PS: For more information on what the Patreon experience is like, you might like to check out my Patreon update post for July, which you can find here!