The Kings (And Queens) Who Ruled: ‘The King 2Hearts’ vs. ‘Rooftop Prince’
SPOILER ALERT. Stop reading if you didn′t finish the series!
From afar, the recently-wrapped SBS’ Rooftop Prince and MBC’s The King 2Hearts appear to be two completely different dramas with no relation.
Rooftop Prince was about a crown prince time warping into the present to solve the mysterious death of his wife, while The King 2Hearts was about the reunification of North and South Korea through the marriage of a king and a North Korean soldier.
When the dramas premiered on March 21, there was a battle of the ratings between the two, but a third competitor, KBS’ The Equator Man, soon climbed the ladder to take the top spot, turning the competition for second place between Rooftop Prince and The King 2Hearts into a battle of the two kings.
2 Different Kings
In The King 2Hearts, Lee Jae Ha is first introduced as a bratty, immature human being, who has been pampered and spoiled all of his life.
He sees nothing wrong with wasting the country’s taxes and taking everything for granted—simply because he can. He shows no interest in the country’s welfare, and the citizens consider him a royal pain in the ass, if nothing else.
But it′s this childish behavior that demands the drastic change in the drama when he is forced to become king after his older brother is murdered.
As the viewer, we see him grow up, surprising us each time he does something selfless. This growth reminds us that Lee Jae Ha isn’t some stupid prick, but actually a wise king who is capable of protecting the ones he loves and is willing to sacrifice his desires for someone else.
Who else was surprised when he outsmarted Kim Bong Gu in Episode 19? Kim Bong Gu definitely was.
On the contrary, Lee Gak’s first appearance in the drama, from the way he treated his wife and gave riddles to his sister-in-law, confirmed that he was a wise and kind-hearted king.
So, when he magically time warps into the present, all of that was expected to stay the same, because time traveling 300-something years into the future doesn’t change a person (or does it?)
There was, of course, a period when he demanded being treated like a king in the modern world, only to be ignored and cursed at for his pompous expectations.
But he soon returned to his normal self, solving mysteries and making every girl wish she was Park Ha.
In essence, it took Lee Jae Ha 10 or so episodes to become the king Lee Gak always was, so thumbs up for you, Lee Gak.
The problem with Lee Gak, however, is that there isn’t much character development. We knew from the beginning that he was smart. We knew he was sweet. The most surprising thing was how quickly he adjusted to the modern world, and the fact that he was able to con everyone into thinking he was Yong Tae Yong numerous times.
That’s not to say he was an entirely boring character. We just wish Lee Gak’s development had more highs and lows throughout the 20 episodes.
Behind every great man, there is a great woman
Despite what the titles may suggest, these dramas weren’t just about the king, and the last episodes, which aired on May 24, revealed that the real heroes, or shall we say heroines, of the dramas were Kim Hang Ah and Park Ha.
Consider who forces the bratty Lee Jae Ha to grow up in The King 2Hearts. Who encourages him to finish the 60 km race? And who holds Lee Jae Ha’s hand when he’s scared of Kim Bong Gu for the first time? Who shoots down Club M’s Bon Bon with a sniper—in a skirt? Who points the gun to Lee Jae Ha’s head to pressure her own country to step down during a pre-war negotiation?
If you haven’t answered Kim Hang Ah, we suggest you go watch the series over again.
It’s the same with Rooftop Prince.
We knew from the beginning that Park Ha was important. She was the one who took the lost Joseon men into her apartment and fed them fried rice every day. She was the one who taught them the ways of the modern world, even risking her life by teaching Lee Gak how to drive.
But Han Ji Min’s role proved to be the most important in the last episode. The drama began with the mysterious death of Lee Gak’s crown princess, which leads to Lee Gak time warping into the future to find out the secret.
It turned out the crown princess was actually Han Ji Min’s character in disguise, who purposely ate the king’s poisoned dried persimmons to save his life.
Later, when Lee Gak was shot by an arrow, he survived because the metal necklace that Park Ha had given him in the present deflected it. Whether in the past or in the present, Han Ji Min’s characters Park Ha and Bu Yong come to Lee Gak’s rescue.
These dramas aren’t about how the men achieved peace or solved the mystery, but what the women did to support the men to get to that point of success. And, it’s not until the end that we realize that these leading ladies definitely deserve a little more credit than what the drama titles suggest.
Photo Credit: SBS, MBC