Asia Reviewer Maniac

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Current trek with Empress Ki, and why everyone (and anyone) should watch it


Hey everyone!! I am finally back. New house is finally organised, my old house’s keys have been handed in, and I have officially started my 2nd of uni! Everything just came crashing down all at once huh? I guess that’s life for you guys…wait, how the hell do I have the right to just reminisce about life like that??!

Anyway, back on track here. I haven’t posted up anything over the past couple of weeks not just because of the whole moving thing (though it is the main cause of it) but also my internet at home had gotten cut off since I needed to relocate the network to the new house. That took a while to fix up, but once it did, the first thing I did with it was catch up with Empress Ki (because of course that’s the first thing you do after almost 2 weeks of no internet), which I had missed roughly 3-4 episodes of.

And geez guys, I’ve missed a lot. And I can’t wait to watch the next episodes!!

And so, this particular post is dedicated to how much I love this drama, and the reasons why I think you guys should go out and check it out for yourselves, whether you are sageuk-lovers or not!

My favourite poster out of the bunch *0*

My favourite poster out of the bunch *0*

So, as I have previously mentioned before, I was a late starter with the drama since I knew that I wouldn’t be able to loyally follow it until I come back from my holiday in January. And so, not long after I got back, I jumped on board the bandwagon and started the drama only with a limited background knowledge of the drama and the time period it was based on.

Was that a good idea?

Honestly, I would say it was. Entering it with a neutral mind allowed me to form my own opinions, thoughts and ideas about the drama and how it was possibly going to turn out. Sometimes, these K-dramas require more than just an empty head to watch. At times, they require people who can absorb, process and think about the drama as it goes along.

And that, my friends, is super special awesome!

Alright, just to give a heads-up here, I will be avoiding any sort of spoilers in this post; I want to leave it up to you all to watch it, and see what you think about the drama yourselves. Once you see it, come back and share it with the others; I’d love to discuss theories, possible plot twists etc!

So, Empress Ki is a historical drama loosely based on the story of Empress Ki (or Qi, as I’ve seen in some Chinese translations), who was from Goryeo but later ends up marrying the Emperor of the Yuan Dynasty. The drama stars Ha Ji Won (Secret Garden, The King 2 Hearts, Hwang Jin Yi) as Ki Seung-Nyang, who later on becomes the future Empress Ki. Her other leading co-stars are Joo Jin-Mo (A Frozen Flower, 200 Pound Beauty, Dream) as Wang Yoo (aka future King of Goryeo) and Ji Chang-Wook (Warrior Baek Dong Soo, Smile Donghae, Bachelor’s Vegetable Store) as Ta Hwan (aka future Emperor Huizong). What I absolutely love about these 3 leads (and the entire cast overall) is that they all have had some sort of experience with the genre, which interests the dedicated fans (such as myself) and also ensures pro-acting! I like guarantees, don’t you?

The three main leads, future-obvious love triangle and gorgeous photogenic models *drool*

The three main leads, future-obvious love triangle and gorgeous photogenic models *drool*

I have to admit, one of the reasons I wanted to start watching this drama wasn’t just the cast alone; I am an undying lover for historical dramas and movies. Look at any of my top dramas – at least 70% of them are historical dramas. But I can’t help it! History has been and is my life; I’m even studying to become a history teacher for god’s sake! (Yep, that dedicated yo!) So, it’s no wonder that I didn’t hesitate to start watching this drama, just to see what it’s about etc.

Not that that should discourage you from watching the drama; just like how I mentioned in the beginning, this post will explain to you guys why even people who don’t enjoy Sageuk dramas as much, will end up becoming addicted to this drama. This is due to the fact that this drama holds numerous qualities that makes it separate from other Sageuk dramas, which I will begin to list below. These qualities are what got me so hyped up in the beginning, seeing these aspects unfold before my eyes right from the start.

1. The pacing of the story

Most 50+ episode dramas tend to take their time due to the extensive amount of episodes available to them. They can become tedious, tend to drag on and I personally end up losing interest within the first handful of episodes, lover-of-history or not. I think to myself, if this is the rate that they are walking through now, what am I going to do when it hits the halfway mark, and more? In particular, Sageuk dramas love to take their time. Take a quarter of the drama just to talk about the childhood, and then rush through another dozen or so episodes trying to build some tension and romance, with another 2-3 episodes left to just try and tie all of the loose knots together again (Yes, I’m looking at you Sword and Flower!)

But Empress Ki is so different that I was absolutely overwhelmed. 1/3 of the first episode was all they needed to explain the childhood of Seung-Nyang; by the 20 minute mark, we had the beautiful Ha Ji Won already there, ready to be gazed upon. By the end of the first two episodes, everyone that seemed of importance was introduced, and the seemingly “forbidden” romance between Wang Yoo and Seung-Nyang is already underway. That, my friends, is some pretty awesome pacing right there.

OMG OMG I loved this ep! And no, this isn't a's an incentive??

OMG OMG I loved this ep! And no, this isn’t a spoiler…it’s an incentive??

2. The obvious amount of effort placed in production

No words can describe the awe I had when the beginning sequence began for the drama. Visuals alone were able to speak a thousand words, with both the abundance of background actors and location. The drama is currently being filmed back and forth between China and Korea, and it clear to us all that the extra effort in making the drama truly realistic, is evident. Costuming is also a huge thing to the producers of the drama. Each character has their own certain costuming, which has clearly had much thought put into it. Different ranks equalled different quality of costuming but never did any of them seem ‘tacky’ or ‘fake’. Effort will forever always be appreciated, and for those people who like looking at pretty things, will definitely not be disappointed with this drama.

*Drool* I want that Hanbok man!

*Drool* I want that Hanbok man!

3. The impressive high-quality acting from EVERYONE

You know how sometimes you pick out certain favourites between characters not because of who they are, but actually how they act in the drama? With Empress Ki, I never hated actors/actresses for how they acted – I ended up hating them for who they acted as, which is what’s meant to happen! But in the end, I admired each and everyone of them simply because the way they portrayed the characters is spot-on. One’s that are meant to be hated on, I despised. One’s that were standing on two boats, I was left with a suspicious feeling in my gut. And the true hero/heroines which are loved by all allowed me to stand behind them and root for them too (except for you Ta-Hwan…initially I just thought that you were a wuss and an annoying brat ><) That is the type of reaction the audience should have when watching anything hence why this drama is awesome simply by that!

Pic borrowed from The Talking Cupboard (btw, loving her recaps of the drama; she's doing a fantastic job!)

Pic borrowed from The Talking Cupboard (btw, loving her recaps of the drama; she’s doing a fantastic job!)

And do you know what the best thing is?

It’s the fact that all three points above still continue to impress me and stay on board, 37 episodes later.

Now, for the sake of anyone who has not watched anything related to Empress Ki, I will save the recap(s) for another post in the coming future. That way, you can choose to read it at your own will!

However, I will talk about my first impressions from watching the drama so please people, venture forth cautiously! If you want to skip anything to do with the beginning, just skip to the heading: SPOILERS FINISHED!

First Impressions

So, as I’ve loosely mentioned before near the beginning, I didn’t have a lot of background knowledge about the drama apart from the fact that Ha Ji-Won and Joo Jin-Mo were two of the three main leads for the drama. And in all honesty, they were the two driving forces that encouraged me to watch the drama, even though I wasn’t too sure if it was a commitment that I was willing to make. But, the true concern was, did all of this matter?

Nope, it didn’t, hence why this drama is just mind-blowing good.

By the first half of first episode, I had already started crying, and was absolutely mesmerised by everyone’s acting, especially Ji-Won unni’s acting. We are introduced to a huge and captivating cast, the pacing of the drama is fantastic (especially for a Sageuk drama) and the amount of effort put into this drama is clear for all to see.

Oh unni, why so flawless?!

Oh unni, why so flawless?! (And why do you still look beautiful when you are crying your heart out?!)

I was absolutely amazed by the amount of money they must have spent to do that beginning sequence; shocked even. I only ever saw that amount of production in films, in particular Chinese ancient films during scenes where soldiers were ready to head out and battle their enemy. At that moment, I knew from the get-go that this drama wasn’t going to be like any other.

The effort is clear right before our eyes! ...So pretty~

The effort is clear right before our eyes! …So pretty~

Look simply at that ladies and gentlemen - that is what I call high production!

Look simply at that ladies and gentlemen – that is what I call high production (And, it’s legit too!)

That, my friends, is what you call an introduction.

And so, I was truly, truly impressed by the overall journey the drama took me on in the beginning. It blew all of my expectations out of the water, and ended up converting me into the sleepless zombie (for those hardcore drama watchers out there, you are probably quite familiar with this state of livelihood ROFL)

The picture says it all honestly.

The picture says it all honestly.

Oh, and there is cross-dressing too, which is always welcome 😉

See what I mean by the costuming?? So detailed...and Ji-Won unni looks great!

See what I mean by the costuming?? So detailed…and Ji-Won unni looks great here!


Therefore, what ended up happening was that I finished watching the entire drama up till the most recent episode in 3 days. Yep, 28 episodes in THREE DAYS. Honestly, that is a record; it took me almost a week to finish up Dong Yi years ago. So yeah, it’s been a while since I’ve been so dedicated to an epic drama such as this one (The Heirs honestly doesn’t count in my books ><)

And I have been trailing behind this drama ever since. It has been over a month since then and I still have no regrets (apart from the waiting every week concept – now that sucks) Which is why I HIGHLY HIGHLY recommend you guys to possibly wait until it is almost finished broadcasting (say ep 47-48 or so) before starting it. On the other hand though, what is the point in enjoying Kdramas if you have taken away one of the most crucial aspects of watching them in the first place??

So, I guess in the end, it’s up to you! Think you can take up the challenge like I have, or would you prefer to wait it out until you can’t wait much longer? Whatever you choose to do, I can guarantee that you will not be disappointed!

So, I hope you all liked this post! I’m so sorry once again for my lack in activity on my blog and also on Dramafever. If it makes you feel better, I did finish typing an article for Dramafever yesterday so hopefully that gets published quite soon~~ Uni stress is starting again (when does it ever end really?!) but I will try and continue being inspired and write posts ASAP. My next one should be in relation to Emergency Couple (has anyone watched the recent eps? I AM FREAKING OUT SIMPLY FROM THE PREVIEWS!!) so hopefully that is posted up soon~

Anyway, enough rambling! I hope you all have a lovely day/night wherever you are and I’l talk to you guys very very soon~~

❤ Yami Hyunnie ^^~

P.S. Missed you all heaps! xoxo


Author: Hyunnie

Hello~~ ^^ I'm a young blogger opening her first ever blog in order to share to the world reviews on some of the best and worst Asian dramas, movies, music; you name it! I am also currently guest-posting on Dramafever News. Mainly, I post about dramas on that site so if you are interested, check me out there! Please fill free to comment on this site and maybe suggest some stuff for me to talk about ^^ Hope you guys enjoy and see you later!

12 thoughts on “Current trek with Empress Ki, and why everyone (and anyone) should watch it

  1. Your post and feelings very much mirror my own with this drama. I LOVE Saeguk dramas but 50 episodes usually has me balking. Ha Ji Won though, well the whole trio really, had me having to at least watch the first couple of episodes to see how it was. I got hooked, just like you. And, just like you, I sped through the entire 37 episodes that were available in just a couple of days 🙂 Now I die waiting every week for the episodes, but only 4 left 😦

    So, are you happy the sequel to Jewel in the Palace is coming out?!

    • Hey, thank you for the sweet comment! Yes, it is so hard to let go, what with only 4 episodes left?! Nooooo~~~

      So, the sequel is officially going ahead? They’ve postponed it so many times already, I wasn’t too sure whether or not they were going to go ahead with it. If it’s true then YES!!!!! I am absolutely pumped for this sequel!! Ahhhh the memories~~ How about you? What do you think of it?

      • I’m so excited I can’t wait!! Apparently it’s going to start either filming or airing in October. But yes, it’s official! i do segging/subbing at and there is a very VERY dedicated crew of us that are fixing the subtitles on the original version. It’s all volunteer based subbing and it was done well before there was a training program etc. Right now we’re fixing the timing of the subs and editing them all to put in the proper titles, names, etc. Normal viewers might not care, but those that love history and saeguk dramas will understand and appreciate why we do it 🙂

        We’re trying to finish it up asap so we are ready to go when they start releasing teasers of DJG2 (as we call it lol) and people start re-watching the first one.

        Now, I’m a fan of all 3 of the main leads in EK, and alot of the support characters too, but Ha Ji Won is totally killing this role! …. and wearing some of the most amazing outfits ever. I’m so damn jealous.

      • Looks like I’m not the only one overwhelmed by her outfits in the drama. I swear, her recent black outfit when she was sitting on the throne with Ayu was stunning! And I totally agree about the supporting characters! Tal-Tal is possibly the best thing after the 3 main leads (is it wrong of me to be shipping TalNyang???)

        And wow, you sub for Viki?! How cool~~ We as fans and viewers are very grateful for the effort you put in these videos! Without you, there wouldn’t be a community if people who can watch these wonderful dramas regardless of their spoken language. So, thank you!

        And omg omg omg I cannot wait for Jewel in the Palace 2 to come out. Too many old Kdrama veterans cried out that it wasn’t enough years ago, so I am absolutely excited and hyped up that they finally decided to make a second part!!! But October?! *sigh* Hopefully there will be enough other dramas to sate my drama hunger for now lol

      • LOL… There aren’t enough saeguk ones out till October…. and yes, Tal Tal, I could eat him with a spoon. I’d just keep him to stare at and let him read me all my emails every day 🙂 That voice, dear God it could melt frozen butter. In my initial post about Empress Ki I said I just wanted to keep 2 things…. Him and the Emperor. Well, I’ve loved him forever, Tal Tal was new for me 😛

        I gotta admit, the hair and outfits always sucker me in (hello Faith and my undying infatuation with LMH) but his voice would win me over in ANYTHING.

      • Oh! And, speaking of outfits! The one she wore about 4 weeks ago… oh, I’ll have to go find a pic. It was during the “rape”, she had on this amazing dressing coat.

  2. Pingback: “Empress Ki” Review: An adventure which will follow me forever… | Asia Reviewer Maniac

  3. Hello. This is A.K.I.A. Talking…
    Thanks for the great review of Empress Ki! I enjoyed it a lot.
    I added it to my collection of reviews for the show. The show has now an average score of 82%.
    Here is a link to the page if you would like to give it a look:
    Thanks again for the review.

  4. Do you know the places it was filmed at? I would like to visit them on holiday if it’s possible.

    • Hi Suzu! I was just doing some google searches, and here are the results it came up with:
      Earlier episodes: it was said to have been filmed at the Hengdian World Studios located in Hengdian, China. Some articles mention that some other scenes were filmed at iconic locations in China, but never mentions where specifically. I’m presuming the Forbidden City though since that is the largest palace that can be filmed from.

      Some scenes during the middle: this link shows some iconic tourist places where numerous Sageuk dramas have been filmed at including Empress Ki. It’s quite detailed and hopefully it helps –

      Ha Ji Won and Joo Jin Mo scenes at the beach: here is a list of tumblr posts where it describes some iconic locations Empress Ki was filmed at –

      Hopefully this list has helped. Googling “Empress Ki filming locations” gave me these results so if you want to do a more thorough search, this may help. Wishing you good luck on your search for these locations, and I hope you have a fun and lovely holiday 😉

  5. I just started watching this drama. Now on episode 20. I find the Emperor is an annoying character…and irritating. Knowing that Sungnyang will end up as the Empress. I can’t believe she goes for the weak Emperor

    • Likewise about how I thought about it too .___. I mean, later on you’ll possinly learn to tolerate him, but it was just so hard for me to ship them, no offence.

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