King Maker: The Change of Destiny – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

I Know Your Face

Korean history is absolutely fascinating and if there’s one thing you can usually count on K-dramas to nail, it’s that rich Korean period drama feel. Given the popularity of The Crowned Clown several years ago, King Maker: Change Of Destiny (or Wind and Cloud and Rain as it’s literally known as) gets off to a promising start here, using its opening episode to set the scene for what’s to follow and doing a great job blending the fictional and real history together in this opening hour.

We begin episode 1 of King Maker: The Change of Destiny in 1862, 13 years into King Cheoljong’s Reign. Ja-Young Min is the Future Empress and the King consults a Shaman to try and uncover a hidden enemy lurking in the shadows. Seeing fragmented memories of an assassin arriving, a young girl named Bong-Ryeon acknowledges that his enemy will arrive at the palace shortly.

Outside the four walls, Chun-Joong looks upon the face of a young woman standing before him and confirms she’s the one he’s been looking for; his one true love. However, she doesn’t remember who he is thanks to memory blocking poison which he promises to try and rid by helping her remember. As he takes her hairband and shows it to her, fragmented seconds of Bong-Ryeon’s past come back momentarily.

It’s here we cut back in time to Ganghwa Island with a young Chung-Joong being berated by his Father at the palace. At the same time, a Shaman called Ban-Dal mentors Bong-Ryeon and reminds the young girl to never to reveal her true self or her gift of seeing people’s fates. The next day, she’s tasked with joining the young lords during an archery lesson thanks to disrespecting an arrogant boy called In-Gyu, forced to be part of their target practice as the archers take it turns to fire arrows and miss her body.

Thankfully Chun-Joong arrives and breaks things up, standing in the way of the arrow and forcing the archers to back down.

Later that evening, Bong-Ryeon tries to exact her revenge by blowing into a conch and scaring the archers away with a wailing noise. However, when Chun-Joong falls and slips down a hill, In-Gyu leaves him hanging and rushes away prompting Bong-Ryeon to come out of hiding and admit that she was the one pretending to be the nine-tailed fox. He goes on to tell her she’s always been glowing and promises to repay her debt.

The next day Bong-Ryeol returns to the palace and confronts In-Gyu over his actions the previous evening, promising to disclose everything if he picks on the weak again. Given Chun-Joong has been grounded for 3 days, Bong-Ryeon heads up to visit him at the palace and he bows to her first.

After eating together, they discuss their secrets including Chun-Joong’s passion for dancing. He takes her hairband and puts it in the tree, telling her that this is a sign that he’ll be coming soon. Only, as he hugs her In-Gyu happens to be watching from afar and plots his next move to sabotage them.

He turns his attention toward Ban-Dal next, burying a cursed item infront of the government building which prompts Woon-Kim, the Master of Finance, to demand an explanation from her in the morning. When she doesn’t give one, she’s beaten while Bong-Ryeon pleads with him to stop. In order to prevent her Mother from being killed, Bong-Ryeon is forced to disclose her gift in the process, promising Woon-Kim that he will perish at midnight.

The fated hour strikes and Bong-Ryeon makes a bold decision, saving the minister from death but not enough to save the governor who takes an arrow to the chest. Despite her pleading with him to release her Mother, he decides against freeing her as he realizes that she’s gifted and can be very useful to the Royal Family.

Ban-Dal is dealt a hammer blow in her crusade to get Bong-Ryeon back as the King’s Mother, Jo, arrives and reveals that she’s now part of the Royal Family and a princess of the palace. As Ban-Dal is disposed of, Bong-Ryeon is forced to work with her newly appointed family.

5 years pass and Chun-Joong continues to be hunted by In-Gyu who stalks him in the woods and hits Chun-Joong’s group with arrows before retreating. Chun-Joong happens to be a Minister now for Gang-Hwa but unbeknownst to him, Bong-Jyeon returns to town after a long absence with the Royal Family. She’s currently being groomed to marry Heungseon Daewongun’s son.

Bong-Ryeon awakens from her sleep after suffering terrible nightmares involving the town burning. Ever since she arrived, she’s been having the same dreams but as she steps out into the street with her hood up, Chun-Joong notices her from across the street and immediately follows the young princess. It’s a good thing he does too, as an assassin arrives and the duo fight onboard a fishing boat.

After thwarting the threat, Bong-Ryeon and Chun-Joong find themselves face to face once more after all these years. As they lock eyes, we cut back to fragments of the past as we see the duo remember who each other are.

With a decent enough plot and some good flashbacks to fill us in on what’s happening, it’ll be interesting to see what the time-frame is for us to cut back to that opening scene at the palace. Given we haven’t seen the mind altering poison or the deepening of this duo’s affection for one another, I’d imagine it’s probably going to be a while before we do.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing though and the entire show has a lovely musical score, utilizing a good use of violins and some decent world-building for good measure. Quite what next week’s episode will have in store for us remains to be seen but for now, King Maker has all the makings to be a really compelling period drama.

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