Empress Ki is one of the few 50 plus-episode Korean dramas that I was able to watch from beginning to end. That alone deserves some merit.
|Empress Ki (Courtesy of MBC)
I finished this drama last year when I was craving to see some good sageuk after watching more than five consecutive rom-com series. I was like “Okay, Ha Ji Won won’t let me down, let’s give it a try.” Not to mention, it also stars Ji Chang Wook.
The story features Ki Seung Nyang’s rise from being a Goryeo plebian to the most powerful woman of the Yuan Dynasty despite the restriction of the era’s class (the series was set when Goryeo was in a complete subservient to the Mongol government).
I don’t know if it’s just me but Empress Ki really reminds me of Queen Seon Deok.
The Boy Pretense
The pretense played only a small part of the story for both dramas but is still one of its major similarities.
Mi Shil is to Queen Seon Deok; El Temur is to Empress Ki
Both of the series main antagonists were skilled politicians who have the nobles and other powerful government officials to back them. They were both manipulative who can easily raise their puppet kings.
Mi Shil just turned out to be more appealing as the viewers tend to like the battle of the minds between the two wise women more. And yes, Mi Shil is such a complicated character who can actually be the heroine of the story when told from her point of view.
The Lead’s Change of Heart
We all know from the very start that Seung Nyang will eventually marry Togon because that’s what the title suggests. However, that the emperor will win her heart, is indeed a surprise. Well, not quite for me. I got a hint of that during the first few episodes when she started to care for Togon. It’s just that her having a child with Wang Yoo made me confuse again about all of this love thingy, not knowing that the child will play a big part of the story at the latter part of the series.
And yeah, in Queen Seok Deok, oh come on. Who might have guessed Deok Man will ultimately fall for Bi Dam?
As how I root Bi Dam for Deok Man, I also ship Togon for Seung Nyang. I don’t know. Maybe I find characters like Yu Shin and Wang Yoo a little bit on the boring side. And they aren’t realistic either—a man of righteousness who fights incredibly well that he wins any war or battle?
Women’s Ascend to Power
It’s probably the main reason I see Queen Seon Deok in Empress Ki. This is basically where the story revolves—the lead’s rise to power from being a commoner who most of the time has very little (if there’s any) say on government affairs. I actually like feminist dramas and how it addressed the gender restriction during the historical times. If Queen Seok Deok proves women can rule, Empress Ki shows they can fight as well.
I know it’s hard to commit into watching a 51-episode drama but I can pretty much say that Empress Ki weaved the story in such a way that the viewer will keep hanging onto it until the ending. The last arc of the series that took place after Bayan’s death is a bit off though. Hahaha. The same way others might criticize Queen Seon Deok‘s final episodes ’cause they focus more on the romance between the two leads (which is quite an unpredictable turn as everyone expected the series to end with a political note). But of course, as a certified Bideok fan, that’s more than okay with me.
I’ll definitely choose Queen Seon Deok or The Legend over Empress Ki but it’s something worth the watch. Ha Ji Won and Ji Chang Wook’s performance in this series is indeed commendable. The drama IS great, just a little less to be considered epic.