Queen In Hyun’s Man (2012) Review : Repost!

A series that respects the rules of time…most of the time.

Hello. This is a Korean in America. Today, I’ll be reviewing “Queen In Hyun’s Man” which came out during the year 2012.

While K-dramas have many positive common qualities, clever writing has not been one of them. That rare quality has been more of the domain of J-dramas. So, it is always a pleasant surprise when you get a series that actually make you mumble “that was clever!”. The K-drama series,  Queen In Hyun’s Man” is one of those pleasant surprises.

Plot description
“Queen In Hyun’s Man” is what you would call a mystical time travel story. The common cliché in time travel stories with mystical/supernatural elements is that time travel is more or less one directional and not under the control of the protagonist. A mystical item or event transports the protagonist to somewhere else in time accidently or because of fate. It is the protagonist’s goal to return to the time where the story originated. This type of time travel is also call time slips in which people slip through time in the same manner as slipping on a wet floor. It is not under your control.

Time travel stories, in which the protagonist has control over the time travel, usually involve science or pseudo-science as the basis for time travel. This divide seems to be derived from our common perception regarding our relationship with both science and the supernatural. With the supernatural, you have to take the impossible as a given. With science, explanations about the reasoning and rules of the phenomenon have to be provided in order for the seemingly impossible to be accepted. What is more impossible than time travel?

When this is translated into fiction, it means that mystical/supernatural time travel stories use time travel as a mere device to bring a character to a place and time that the character could not be at. The time travel itself does not play an important part in the story beyond this setup. With scientific time travel stories, time travel plays a more integral part in the story.  

“Queen In Hyun’s Man” combines elements from these two types of stories which does not happen a lot. You have the male lead, Kim Boong-do played by Ji Hyun-woo, time traveling between 300 years in the past and the present using a mystical talisman.  With this talisman, our protagonist is given control over whether he will to jump to the present. In other words, the mystical talisman is being equated to a modern day time travel machine. However, at the same time, he is unable to control the distance in which he travels in time. That factor is fixed.

This is where fate comes in. Kim Boong-do can only jump in time a fixed distance relative to his own perception of time. Because of the connection between Kim Boong-do and Choi Hee-jin played by Yoo In-na created by fate, the two people who cannot exist in the same space and time are infused into a single thread of destiny. This means that time flows constantly in both time frames: the present and past. Thus, even in a time travel story, time and choices matter. As with life, you cannot get a do over even with a time traveling mystical talisman. On one hand, this means that the series has a built in suspense factor. On the other hand, this means that the writing of the series has to be handled with cleverness to keep the story believable.

The series “Queen In Hyun’s Man” is very successful in this aspect. The series is setup as two parallel stories separated by 300 years. In the past story, you have the events of a palace intrigue unraveling with Kim Boong-do as a core character. In the present story, you have a TV dramatization of those past events being filmed on set with Choi Hee-jin getting the role of another core character in that past palace intrigue. While there are a myriad of threads running through the two stories, the series chooses to reinforce the separation between the parallel stories rather than exploiting them.

In the past story, Kim Boong-do is able to change certain outcomes using time travel. However, these changes do not influence the fate of the dynasty to a large degree. Even after Kim Boong-do acts to change the events’ outcomes, the players within the palace intrigue react to those changes in accordance to who they are. Thus, the story adjusts in the grand scheme leaving only individuals’ fates to be subjected to the changes in time. The most evident case would be Kim Boong-do himself. As a consequence of his own actions, he was basically exiled out of his own fate and time.

In the present story, the changes in the past story do not change the present story in any drastic manner.  In other words, the fate of the present does not depend on the past. The only thing that Kim Boong-do’s jumping around time achieves in this story is to change the script of the historical TV series being filmed. Choi Hee-jin was born and grew up to be the same person who became an actress.

By not tying the two stories together over-tightly together, both stories are given enough development and care to be interesting in their own right. At the same time, the series clearly defines the rules of time travel and does not violate these rules…well...  almost. Not only does this help the audience follow the story which could get very convoluted with time travel,  it makes the connections between the two story more tangible. I personally like how they solved the question of how to travel long distance in space, not time, in the past using time travel.

Ultimately, the stories of the past and present merge into a story about the love created by destiny between Kim Boong-do and Choi Hee-jin which is surprisingly mature for what it is. It does really touch one’s heart while not feeling campy. The two actors playing the leads in this series have great chemistry together. They are able to prevent the mood from becoming heavy even when the events happening are dark.

After thoughts
Queen In Hyun’s Man” is a unique K-drama series representing the rise of original programing for cable TV in Korea. It shows a great effort of the creative team to create something new that differ from the dramas of the major networks. I especially recommend it to anyone who does not enjoy historical K-dramas because of the history aspect. You do not need to know any Korean history to enjoy it. It provides all the information required during the series’ running time.  It is a classic time travel K-drama in my opinion.

Score: A+

Score: A+ or 10/10

Here is information about a fan edit of this show!

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  1. I really like the way you worded this, very well-written. You had me thinking about the story differently!

    Also, great blog!

  2. Thanks! read some of my other articles!
    Like my facebook page if you can...