Episode 1 of The King’s Affection begins with a traumatic birth. With the birth of twins – one girl, one boy – the King is livid at this betrayal of the crown. However, his close advisors suggest they kill the female child, making it out like there’s only the Crown Prince. Only, fighting breaks out in the royal court as cloaked assassins show up and work their way through the palace, killing all that stand in their way.
When officials shows up in the chambers to take out the crown princess, the wet nurses and Queen claim that the child has stopped breathing. The instructions are to burn the child’s lifeless body, but as they leave, a big secret is revealed.
It turns out the child is not actually dead, but only tranquilized and put to sleep. Scooping up the child, a rider gallops away with the babe, saving the royal’s life. The scar on her neck is a constant reminder of what happened – and something that will play an important role in the season ahead I’m sure.
Fast forward several years and that girl grows up to become a court maid, Lee Hwi. Her twin brother and prince-in-training is Lee Hyun, and for now they’re not aware of their ties together. However, Lee Hyun has bigger problems as he bears witness to the King ordering the arrest of the royal preceptor. The King’s advisors claim that this man has been desecrating the King’s honour and speaking ill at court.
Meanwhile, Lee Hyun brings Lee Hwi to his chambers, realizing that the pair look identical. Because of this, Lee Hyun orders Hwi to dress exactly like him. In fact, he intends for them to switch places for the time being.
With Lee Hyun out the gates, Hwi is forced to adopt the role of Prince. As food is brought in for her, Hwi encourages the Prince’s friend to join her while they eat sweet treats. After a close call with the Crown Prince, Hwi evades any suspicions as Hyun returns to his usual role, telling Lee Hwi she’s done well.
When Lee-Hwi gets back to her maid duties, a boy arrives at the court by the name of Ji-Un. He’s good friends with Lee Hyun, given they’re speaking casually to one another, but he spies Hwi drop a sheet on the floor. The same sheet if you’ll remember, that she picked out the trees earlier in the episode. He hurries after her to give it back.
Startled by his presence, Lee Hwi drops Hyun’s Zuo Zhuan book into the pond. As she and Ji-Un argue, the pair both fall into the water.
With the royal unconscious, Hwi gives him CPR. Just as a heads up here, that wasn’t invented until 1954 – woops! Anyway, we’ll just ignore this anachronism for now. Ji-Un does her a massive favour and manages to obtain a different copy of the book for her later on, much to Hwi’s appreciation.
Now, Hwi is actually known as Dam-I across this episode, on account of where she was originally found, but that’s of course not her name.
After dropping off the book, Lee-Hwi is taken away by Court Lady Kim where she’s introduced to her mother. With tears welling up, and Hwi bowing to the royal, the older woman notices the scar on the back of Hwi’s neck and realizes, to her shock, that her daughter has survived.
Outside the court though, Ji-Un and Lee-Hwi continue to hang around with one another. Ji-Un has a big plan to pass the state exam and stay by Hyun’s side. He’s also doing this to repay the boy’s kindness. However, Ji-Un’s father, Jung Seok-Jo, begins to grow suspicious and realizes that the there’s more to Lee-Hwi than meets the eye.
The twins’ mother realizes that she’s endangering the kids by allowing them to see each other so much, and prepares to separate them. She has plans to send Lee-Hwi over to Yanjing.
Only, an assassin shows up on the rooftops in the midst of all this, chasing Lee-Hwi through the streets. Or at least, that’s who he thinks he’s chasing. In reality, it’s actually Lee Hyun and as an arrow pierces his heart, Lee Hwi finds herself none the wiser to what’s happened in the court. Oh no!
The Episode Review
The King’s Affection kicks off the latest Netflix k-drama binge for the Monday/Tuesday run. It’s been a while since we’ve had one of these crop up on the platform, and this historical drama is simple enough, adopting ideas from The Crowned Clown and adding that into a more simplistic romantic drama setting.
With Lee Hyun killed and the future of the kingdom in jeopardy, it would seem as if Lee-Hwi is now going to have to adopt the role of playing the crown prince. But will she be able to pull it off? Much like Crowned Clown, the stakes are pretty high although given these are just kids those stakes are nowhere near as cutthroat and extreme as that seen in that fellow k-drama.
Here though, the show gets off to a pretty good start, with a simplistic plot that’s easy to follow, plenty of interesting characters and a niggling feel that we’re about to get a time jump in the near future.
Through all that, The King’s Affection gets off to a decent start and it’ll be interesting to see what direction this one takes next.