After IRIS I really needed something to revive my faith in humanity. Since I was impressed with Kim Tae-hee’s performance as Agent Seung Hee, I looked through her filmography and came across this gem of a romantic dramedy.
My Princess reminds me of My Fair Lady since the lead Chaebol spends most of the series scolding and lecturing his Galatea on the finer points of life. There’s plenty of wrist grabbing and outward chest thumping displays of Korean masculinity while the Princess (Kim Tae hee) is blissfully unaware of the political implications of her mere existence. Her teacher/mentor/father figure/love interest, Hae young (Song Seung-hun) does an acceptable job as the leading man. However, it’s hard to like his character since he is a chaebol who freely drops 5K on expensive jewelry and spends a good portion of the series whining about losing his inheritance. It’s charming to watch him warm up to Princess Lee Seol. Even though Hae young claims to have lived an innocent 31 years, he’s not an amateur when it comes to kissing and dating, which is a relief to watch. As is this:
I’m not a fan of winter, but My Princess makes Korea look gorgeous under a carpet of white snow. It’s also a chance to show off some trendy winter trends as Lee Seol skips around in various cute and feminine outfits. As a college student she rocks cool T shirts and impressive layering techniques, while as a the princess, her fluffy skirts and sky high heels make her appear like a Barbie doll come to life.
Since no rom com is complete without a love triangle, we learn that Lee Seol has spent the majority of her university education fawning over her history professor, Jung Woo. He’s handsome enough, but spends most of the series protecting the princess out of a sense of duty rather than love.
As usual, I found the scenes with the “evil” characters difficult to watch. Yoon Joo is the bitchy Royal Foundation director who schemes her way to the top and makes it her mission to keep Lee Seol miserable. This scene in particular really scared me because I thought Yoon Joo had even cut Lee Seol’s beautiful hair off. (Turns out she had just put a wig on her.)
In the end it was very satisfying to watch Lee Seol fire Yoon Joo from her dream job at the museum and kick her out of the palace. Yoon joo’s father tells her that she never deserved that job in the first place and assigns his daughter to a demeaning position as the team leader at a condo construction company. Then we’re treated to Hae young basically telling Yoon joo that he never wants to see her again even though they had been promised into marriage. I would’ve been happy to see Yoon joo’s storyline end there, but instead, her first love, Professor Jung woo rescues her and reaffirms (for whatever crazy reason) his desire to be with her. What bothers me is that Yoon joo never apologizes to Lee Seol. In fact, when she ends up being Lee Seol’s professor she continues to treat her horribly. In the end, Yoon joo is even rewarded with a fresh start with Jung woo. Where’s the justice?
The “evil” character who really gets beat down is Lee Seol’s adoptive sister Lee Dan. Even though Lee Dan is the unnie and should be the one watching out for her younger sister, all she does is kick Lee Seol out of their shared apartment whenever she’s moody and throws things at her. When Lee Dan finds out that her sister is going to live in the comforts of the palace, Lee Dan goes as far as to try and frame her own sister as a pretender to the throne.
For her troubles, she gets barred from leaving Korea, Hae young freezes her bank accounts, and Lee Dan is left wandering from one shabby apartment to another as she struggles to pass the bar exam. It’s a fitting punishment for once, but you can’t help feeling sorry for her since she also grew up as an orphan and due to her warped sense of human relationships has been unable to make any friends her entire life. The fact that Yoon joo, the character who actually stirs up the most trouble and never admits her guilt gets to go on with her life and be successful without having to apologize to the princess does not sit well with me. I really don’t understand the lack of justice in kdramas. Or the unsatisfactory finales. Princess Lee Seol’s lady-in-waiting sums it fairly well with her explanation that “where there is light, there will be darkness.”
After several episodes of charming romantic play between the lead couple, we’re left with a shabby proposal – Hae young literally just leaves the engagement ring on a fountain after telling Lee Seol that he has to leave the country again. This, after missing her birthday and not even bothering to text her while he works abroad for two years as a diplomat. She’s the one who has to make the effort to board an airplane to D.C. so she can be with him. Honestly, the writers couldn’t even end with a royal wedding? Oh well, at least the build-up to the romance was delightful to watch.
And on a side note, the plot line was definitely supposed to be light and nonsensical, but all the historical references definitely got me interested in learning more about the Korean Monarchy.
Pros: A lovely OST, gorgeous outfits, Seung hun’s shower scenes, and quirky dialogue. The loving relationship between Lee Seol and her adoptive mother was also very uplifting. Kim Tae hee is at her best with physical comedy whether its stuffing herself into a suit case or trying to eat a list of “porn” sites.
Cons: You won’t get the satisfaction of watching the “evil” character receive her due punishment. Whenever the focus shifts to the various subplots you’ll be counting the seconds when these scenes are over and you can get back to the sweet, simple romance of My Princess.