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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Secret Door" Episode 6

2014/10/10 | Permalink

"Secret Door" is such a well-rounded show. It incorporates historical elements, moving character beats, intense character development, intricate background music, and beautiful cinematography to create a thickly textured plot fabric. We gain insight into the complex character that is King Yeongjo and into the very strictly structured palace life and politics that prevent royalty from having any kind of normal relationship.

The precarious position of "king" is what keeps Yeongjo in a state of constant fear. This fear over the years, develops into a type of madness that manifests itself in this episode. The constant stress over possible assassination, loss of power, and the inability to have a genuine relationship with the people around him causes fissures in his psyche. Han Suk-kyu delivers a nuanced performance as the unstable king who may have just reached the limit of how much pressure he can take. The way he interacts with Lee Won-jong as Minister Park, the king's single confident, is rich and creates so many moments that speak without words. The king is explosively manipulative and Park lets himself be manipulated, and has let himself be manipulated, for the past thirty years of the king's reign. After thirty years, Park still lets himself be jaded. Lee Won-jong doesn't have to say a word, we can see it on his face - and that's what makes this show so amazing. All of the actors do in the show.

The king's instability is also a nice historical reversal. It his Seon who is historically known as the nutjob. Here, it is first his father who very well may pull his son into the depths of paranoia with him. Already we see some of the king's outbursts happening in Seon.

Park and the king have a precarious friendship that was born during strife. Seon and Ji-dam, however, have a much purer friendship that is based in shared ideals that they are both willing to risk their lives for. There is a genuine admiration between the two that could lead to something romantic, but its nice to see a couple that is based on something solid. She is also encouraging him to act smarter in his investigation, using the knowledge he is privy to as the crown prince and figuring out pieces of the puzzle on his own. Ji-dam is a smart, independent thinker and that sharpens Seon's already acute intellect and instincts.

The other woman in Seon's life, Princess Hyegyeong, is also smart. Very smart. Unlike Seon, she prefers to abide by the rules and decorum, no matter the effect they have on her or her marital happiness. Again, it is the confines of palace life that prevent a normal relationship, like that between the King and Seon. Hyegyeong loves her husband. She is hurt by him and infuriated by him, but she will not let herself show it. Her position as princess comes before her position as a woman. Park Eun-bin softens what would otherwise be a stiff character with minute muscle movements that show the princess' inner conflict.

I'm impressed by how "Secret Door" has taken a single murder and has created a wealth of good story material from it. Usually dramas that focus on a single event run out of steam. This drama gets more intricate and engaging to watch. Is it next week yet?


Written by: Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'

"Secret Door" is directed by Kim Hyeong-sik, written by Yoon Seon-joo and features Han Suk-kyu, Lee Je-hoon, Kim Yoo-jung, Eun-bin, Kim Min-jung and Kim Chang-wan.


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