The Body Swap
We begin episode 1 of Mr Queen with an introduction to the youngest chef to grace Blue House, Jang Bong-Hwan. Despite the ambassador being sensitive to fish, Bong-Hwan tells his interpreter to tell him he needs to stop complaining. She does no such thing of course but it’s clear his motto of “cooking is politics” holds a lot of weight.
Arrogant Bong-Hwan serves his food to the ambassador but he finds a hook in the food. Uh oh. On the back of this, police come sniffing around Bong-Hwan’s door intent on taking him down to the station regarding the hook incident.
Eventually they break in as Bong-Hwan makes a break for it and tries to escape off the balcony. Unfortunately he winds up plunging all the way down into the water below, smacking his head on the bottom of the swimming pool. For some reason, he keeps falling as a woman swims toward him, surrounded by the northern lights, and kisses him.
At the same time, Han Pyo-Jin plans a coo to have his right-hand chef Bu Seung-Min as the one taking up the mantle as the best Blue House chef.
When Bong-Hwan awakens he finds himself in the past. As he looks in the mirror he finally understands what’s happening as he transforms into a woman. He initially believes this is all a dream until the reality of what’s happening starts to dawn on him
He creeps out the room intending to try and work out what’s going on. Everyone refers to him as “Your Highness” as it’s revealed that he’s inside the body of Queen Kim So-Yong. He believes that he’s been kidnapped and forced into a sex change operation though.
Back in the palace, Bong-Hwan is forced into answering a load of answers from the physician. He’s clearly concerned but soon after, Bong-Hwan realizes that it’s all linked to the lake outside. He theorizes that both his and Kim’s spirits have switched.
Bong-Hwan decides to head for the lake but his plan to jump in doesn’t go to plan as he ends up caked in mud.
Eventually Bong-Hwan heads back where he learns that Kim is due to be wed to the King at some point in the near future.
The King is as handsome as he is dense, reading explicit material which he calls his “studies”. When he notices Kim walking past, he beckons her over.
Bong-Hwan rushes up to see the King and asks him to fill the lake with water. It turns out the Grand Queen Dowager ordered the lake to be emptied and he’s just a puppet king in truth. Bong-Hwan even reaches out and slaps him across the face.
As the two wrestle for control over THIS book, all the workers watch on in horror as it flies in the air and eventually lands in the trough outside. In front of the Queen, the King does his best to play up to her and show how sincere he is, not allowing the Head Eunuch to be punished.
Elsewhere, the physician feeds back what he’s learned about the Queen and her “severe memory loss”to Kim Jwa-Geun. He tasks him to stay quiet, not uttering a word to anyone and somehow bring her memory back to what it was. They obviously believe someone set this up – especially luring the Destined Highness out to the Lake the previous night.
This theory is backed up in court later that day, as one of the men inside the Royal Palace claims that a Eunuch saw the Queen acting suspiciously.
Everything starts to become heated when they accuse Jo Hwa-Jin as being the one responsible. Only, it turns out she was with the King that night. He suddenly speaks up and claims that he wants to expedite the upcoming marriage.
The Queen Dowager soon puts a stop to this and puts him in his place, reminding the King that a Queen is more important than a concubine.
On the back of this, Jo Hwa-Jin is brought into the palace. As she arrives, Bong-Hwan learns that with no lakes anywhere, it could be that he’s stuck playing the Queen for the time being. Well, that doesn’t stop her from finding out what’s going on.
As it turns out, he’s in the year 1851 which is the Joseon Period and the second year since Prince Deokwan assumed the throne. Unfortunately he learns which King this is – and it doesn’t look good.
When the King arrives to see her, Bong-Hwan does his best to explain how he’s a man trapped inside a woman’s body but it’s no good. He remains more determined than ever to try and help her. He wants the royal physician to sort her out as she comments on how dumb he is – perhaps dumber than the real King from history?
Anyway, he’s taken to the royal physician but refuses to take any of the medicine. Eventually he caves though and agrees to marry the King with the intent of leaving as soon as he can.
With numerous layers on and a whole army of people there to help, he comments how heavy the helmet is that she’s forced to have on her head. Bong-Hwan is obviously completely out of his depth and acts undignified at the wedding.
When the Queen’s real name is uttered – Kim So-Yong – Bong-Hwan struggles to breathe momentarily before eventually sitting back down.
The reality of what’s happened finally hits him as he realizes he needs to consummate the marriage that evening. Believing there’s a way out of this situation, the liquor table is brought in but the King is not one to drink. Well it looks like Bong-Hwan is about to get a taste of his own medicine!
The Episode Review
Taking over from Start-Up’s time slot, Mr Queen offers up a completely different slice of Korean drama action. This is one hilarious episode and there’s so many moments throughout this that play into the body swap trope that works so well.
Of course, Mr Queen is not shy about some of the more taboo topics as the Queen is married off. I can understand how some history buffs may not like this depiction of the Joseon time period but to be honest, a lot of this has been done with respect and a very good script so far.
And what of Kim So-Yong too? Has her spirit switched completely with Bong-Hwan? Is she in the present? Or is it just Bong-Hwan in the past? Either way, the show is doing a great job with its material and the humour is backed up by excellent costume and set design.
The preview for tomorrow’s episode certainly looks intriguing though and I for one cannot wait to see what this show has in store for us next!