When Hotel King first came out, I was very intrigued. I wasn’t familiar with Lee Dong Wook at the time, but I did really liked Lee Da Hae. I attempted to watch it when it first aired, but ten minutes into the first episode, I saw how very intense it was going to be. Back then, I was burning out on melodramas so I decided to wait, but happily browsed recap posts so i could still get a taste of the drama. Finally, over a year later, in the midst of my Lee Dong Wook obsession, I decided this was the moment to sit and watch.
**Read with Caution – Contains Spoilers**
Alright! We’ve reached episode 6, and still… Confusion! I have to say though, I’m loving it despite the unanswered questions I have. But what I really want to know (and I’m sure everyone else wants to know as well) is this really Jae Hee (Jin Se Yeon)? If it’s Jae Hee, is she working with the North Korean side to get close to Park Hoon (Lee Jong Suk) so she can protect him? Has she lost her memories? Is she a Doppleganger? Has she been brainwashed? Does she have a twin? Did she have a face transplant? Was she somehow not who he thought she was? Heck, does she have multiple personalities!!!! Yes, I know, that last one is perhaps a stretch. I think everyone was hoping for some answers this episode, but I think they’re going to stretch out this mystery for a while. It’s also possible that once we think we’ve truly figured her out they’ll throw another wrench at us and confuse us some more.
Great Episode Moments
Doctor Oh and Doctor Park Moments
So Dr. Oh (Kang So Ra) and Dr. Park (Lee Jong Suk) moments are continuing to prove to be my guilty pleasure with this Drama. Yes, yes, I know he’s in love with Jae Hee, but we still don’t know much about what has happened to her. In the meantime until we have more clarity, these moments have been really great. I feel like Dr. Oh is starting to feel a growing connection and attraction towards Park Hoon. I’m going to feel really bad if this ends up as a one-sided love for her.
I love the moment when he’s passed out from drinking and she reaches for his face. Dr. Han Jae Joon (Park Hae Jin) watches her from a distance as she does this and in his jealousy he calls her to see if she’ll be honest about her whereabouts. Some may wonder why she lies. Well, it seems obvious to me. Even though she didn’t really do anything wrong, she feels guilty and is starting to realize she likes him.
Then they had a few sexy awkward moments. First there was him passing out drunk bringing her down with him and holding her tightly. Of course though, in this moment he says Jae Hee’s name. He really loves and misses her.
Awkward Out of the Shower Moment
Then he accidentally walks in on her just after she’s had a shower. Well, at least she was wrapped in a towel or I think she would have died from embarrassment.
Sweet but sad Dr. Oh looking nervous
Another really cute moment which shows us how Dr. Oh is feeling is when they are at her deceased mother’s house. As Dr. Park is leaving, we can see Dr. Oh’s nervousness in her hands. You can tell she’s anxious by how she keeps moving her hands and touching her arms. I think many women have nervous ticks when they are around someone they like. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I think it’s pretty adorable though, but at the end she looked somewhat sad. I wonder if it’s going to end up in heartbreak. I think it’s really too early to tell which direction this is going to go in. But I must say, I do like Dr. Oh’s character. Can Dr. Park ever love her the way he loves Jae Hee? That really depends on “Who is Jae Hee”. I thought the title Doctor Stranger was referring to Park Hoon, but now I think perhaps it’s referring to Jae Hee.
Now, in the mist of this ever so serious suspenseful plot, I’m glad to see we continue to still have some comedic relief. I find that really helps keeping this drama well balanced. Dr. Moon (Choi Jung Woo) is funny! I want to nickname him Doctor Goofball.
I could barely watch the torture scene of the North Korean Cha Jin-Soo (Park Hae-Joon). I’m not a fan of his character, but that was just brutal *shiver*.
I feel so bad for Hoon right now. He sees the woman he loves right in front of him, but she claims that she’s not her. He doesn’t know what to believe, but he desperately needs to know.
Where were all the medical scenes in this episode? We didn’t get to see many but I forgive it, because it delivered in other ways. But I do want to see some more amazing Park Hoon saving people moments.
I want more!!! More Dr. Stranger please! I’m still enjoying this and it rocks. Dr. Stranger, Hwaiting!
So, I’m curious what everyone thinks about Jae Hee. Any theories out there that can be backed up from what we’ve seen so far? Personally, if I were to guess right now I would say it’s her, but she’s been brainwashed, or she’s pretending. If she’s pretending though, why did she look so clueless in the last episode when watching herself in the video? I’m not committed to any theory. Truth is I just don’t know.
Episode Rating: 4.7/5
Tree with Deep Roots takes an already interesting subject (the creation of Hangul, the Korean alphabet) and adds an intense fictional story which makes it a suspenseful masterpiece.
Synopsis: Based on the novel “Tree with Deep Roots” by Lee Jeong-myeong. Ddolbok (played by Jang Hyuk) and Dam (played by Shin Se-Kyung) are childhood friends and slaves. An unfortunate and tragic event separates them for years to come. Lee Do (played by Han Suk-Kyu) may be King, but his father, former King Taejong (played by Baek Yoon-Sik) holds all the power. Lee Do and Taejong have very different ideas of ruling. Years pass, and a series of murders occur while King Lee Do is working on a top secret project. Who’s behind the murders and for what reason?
I’ve watched my fair share of Kdramas, and in a short period of time. Out of everything I’ve watched, Tree with Deep Roots was one of the most fascinating, intellectual, cunning, and captivating dramas of them all. Unlike some dramas, it didn’t drag in the middle. It kept its momentum. It was witty, clever, heart-shattering, suspenseful, meaningful, tragic and liberating. Here’s some more insight into why I loved this drama:
A gorgeously filmed Sageuk (Historical drama)
The first thing that caught my eye with this drama was how vibrant the colors were. From the costumes to the beautiful scenery, everything popped and came to life. In the first scene we see grown up Ddolbok (Jang Hyuk) and he’s filmed so beautifully with great camera close-ups showing off his intense face. The colors are rich and I couldn’t get over how impressive the filming looked.
CSI Joseon Style
It’s amazing today with technology what you can find out about a murder. Well, this drama was just as cool! It was so neat to watch bodies being analyzed and crime scenes investigated to find clues on cause of death and insight into murders.
What is a drama without outstanding character development and back story? Although some may argue the first few episodes were slow, I would state that they were essential in introducing us to the various key characters who played important parts in the story. A lot happens in the first few episodes before the adult characters are introduced. There’s also a lot of information about historical events (some based on history others I’m assuming fabricated).
Hangul -Creation of the Korean Alphabet
So, as a huge Kdrama fan, I’ve developed an interest in learning Hangul (the Korean alphabet) and wanting to learn to speak Korean. I was not familiar with the history of the written language, so it was really neat to see how Hangul started. After watching this drama, I want to learn even more. They made it sound like it’s pretty easy to learn. The idea was that the common people didn’t have the time or means to learn Chinese (which is complicated to learn with thousands of characters). It was the King’s desire for his people to be able to learn to write the language that they speak.
Both the younger ( Song Joong-Ki) and adult (Han Suk-Kyu) King Lee Do were ensnaring. I really felt for his character. Normally I don’t sympathize with the rich characters with power in dramas, but the King had the biggest burdens to carry. You could sense the love and compassion he felt for his people. Often he would be torn in two separate directions. He struggled so much and has a lot of constant opposition. The noblemen would be telling him one thing while his heart would be telling him another. Despite all the pain he had to endure, he had a bright, extremely focused, joyous personality which was contagious. He looked at life differently than what was the norm, and paved the way for change.
Ddolbock is a lot of things. He’s a very intelligent kid (Chae Sang-Woo) with a lot of fire and spunk. He’s far from being a pushover and he believes in justice. He has a big heart and cares deeply for Dam and his father. As an adult (Jang Hyuk), Ddolbock has the same characteristics but has learned to control his emotions a lot better. He’s a fantastic problem solver but has remaining hurt from his childhood that won’t seem to fade. He is an extremely well calculated individual who tries to outweigh the risk before acting (something he learned to do with time).
King Lee Do’s and Ddolbock’s banter
The King and Ddolbock have a very complicated, yet simple relationship. They certainly face some obstacles, but the way they challenge each other ends up benefiting them both in their personal development. I felt that they truly learned so much from each other, even though they both often had to listen to things they didn’t want to hear from each other.
I won’t elaborate too much, because I don’t want to spoil the drama. All that I’ll say is I was shocked. Sometimes you can see twists coming; I did not. This drama had an element of surprise, which kept it interesting throughout. There was an lot to “figure out” so as a spectator, my brain was constantly working and I had to really pay attention to what was going on so I wouldn’t miss anything.
This drama uses a fair amount of symbolism. There’s symbolism in the title “Tree with Deep Roots” which is explained in the drama. Another symbolism that is used is the flower. The King is referred to as a flower which is also explained. It’s really a very well written story full of depth, symbolism and foreshadowing.
Overall: If you enjoy historical dramas with well written stories, bloodshed,action and suspense and a lot of heart, this may be worth checking out. I loved it, and I hope you enjoy it too.
My rating: 4.9/5
The Client was a movie starring Jang Hyuk that I was really looking forward to watching. I was really curious about this movie because the premise reminded me of the 1996 popular American movie Primal Fear. I wanted to know how similar it would be and if the outcome would be the same. I was also curious about any similarities there might be in the portrayal of the main suspects in each movie.
Edward Norton’s performance in Primal Fear was unreal. He was fantastic and really caught me by surprise. I was only 12 years old when I watched Primal Fear, so I must admit I only remember it vaguely. I haven’t re-watched it since, but now I think that I might have to. I had faith Jang Hyuk would perform as well, but I wanted to see how he would make this character his own (which he did). Both performances were great, and Jang Hyuk’s character is not a clone of Edward Norton’s by any means, but there are some similarities.
I should emphasize, these are not the same movie. The plot is different and so are the suspects, but they are comparable.
Primal Fear Quick Sypnosis
Martin Vail (played by Richard Gere) defends Aaron Stampler, an alter boy (played by Edward Norton), charged with murdering a Catholic archbishop. Is he guilty or not? Is he a sociopath or is he a victim of abuse who is mentally ill?
The Client Quick Sypnosis
Likewise as mentioned in the above, Han Chul-min is being accused of murder (played by actor Jang Hyuk). In this story, they believe that he has murdered his wife. He is a quiet man that many suspect because he shows a lack of emotion. He’s also very suspicious because he has no fingerprints and none of his DNA was found in his own home. Kang Sung-Hee (played by Ha Jung-woo) defends him and many hidden truths start to unravel. This makes us wonder, is this some sort of elaborate cover up? Prosecutor Ahn Min-ho is convinced of Chul-min guilt.
… And so do both stories unfold…
So, yes, there were similarities but many differences as well.
***This section is not SPOILER proof**** Do not read ahead if you don’t want me to ruin either movies for you.
Here’s where the stories drift. Edward Norton’s character has a stutter and it’s revealed that he has suffered sexual abuse through the church. The Client doesn’t go down this road at all. Unlike Norton’s character, Jang Hyuk’s character is calm, composed and very quiet. I’m going to go even as far as to say that he’s elegant. Now, here’s where the similarity lies; They are both covering up their true identies with these facades. They are both actually, indeed sociopathic murderers. This isn’t revealed until the very end. So, both movies lead you to believe at the beginning that yes, they are probably guilty, then you start to believe their innocents, then Wham! Right at the end the truth comes out and they are both evil geniuses.
Here’s where the Client slightly disappointed me and perhaps this makes me a sick individual I’m not sure; I didn’t want Chul-min to get caught at all. So the verdict comes in and he’s found not guilty. After that all the pieces come together and at the very end Sung-Hee helps the prosecutor get the evidence he needed.
Now, you may wonder why I didn’t want the evil sociopath to get caught: Shock factor. Primal Fear had that shock factor when Richard Gere realizes he was utterly fooled and it’s too late to do anything about it. Aaron Stampler is deemed insane but reveals that it was all an act.
Chul-min was really a genius too. He played everyone perfectly and shed many heartfelt tears on the stand. This was in fact his second murder (that we know of). I think if they let him get away with it, it would have made it so much more dramatic and disturbing.
Jang Hyuk is stressing me out with his death and pain scenes. This actor portrays pain all too well. There’s a scene towards the beginning of the movie where Chul-min tries to hang himself unsuccessfully. I really didn’t like watching this. Whether he was guilty or not, he really looked like his was in physical agony and was about to die. It hurts me inside to see him like this!
I won’t state one actor better than the other, because I loved both of their performances and both were very different. I think both movies are worth watching if you haven’t seen them. Brilliant acting! Bravo! I tip my hat to you both.
My Rating for both movies: 4/5