This is it. This is the longest Korean drama that I will ever watch at 51 episodes. I had put this one off only because of the length for quite some time, and only recently decided to brave it. I am totally glad I did as it is turning out to be one of the best dramas I have watched in awhile. It has all the fixings of a saguek that I love. Ha Ji Won plays Suenyang, a Goryo born woman who lost her mother during her childhood as they were being hauled off to be the Chinese Yuan Kindom’s concubine tribute. After seeing mother and daughter being beat badly, young crown prince of Goryo, Wang Yu, attempts to free them. However, in her attempt to escape the slave caravan, her mother is shot down by Tanqishi, son of the all powerful Regent of China. Seungyang ends up crossdressing as a boy for most of her life to hide from the authorities and to have more independence. She ends up working for Wang Go, uncle to the Goryo Crown Prince, but secretly undermining him as he is the one fueling the concubine trade. She passes along information to the royal officers to take him down. She and her loyal group of followers manage to thwart Wang Go’s plans with the help of the now grown up Wang Yu. However, she does not know he is the crown prince. They end up forming a brotherly bond as they help each other out. Wang Yu is portrayed as a handsome and passionate man who tries to follow the just path. As they go their separate ways after, she manages to find her long lost father who is a General for the royal family. During her stay with him, they are tasked with making sure the exiled Crown Prince of China would stay alive and lately return back to China. The current Regent of China was El Temur, a brutal tyrant who was trying to obtain all the power for himself by killing off the Crown Prince of China in Goryo lands so that he can also oppress Goryo. Two birds with one stone. The Crown Prince of China is Ta Hwan, who will name as baby emperor as all he does is cry, whine, and pout. He is scared for his life and cowers whenever there is a fight. He manages to escape the Regent’s first attempt at killing him off because he was hiding and ends up being shunted to an isolated island for his protection.
Seunyang ends up having to be his personal bodyguard on the island. They form a close bond where she barely tolerates his childishness while he relies upon her for every little thing. However, due to a betrayal in their ranks, most of the island protectors are massacred and they escaped barely with their lives. Through this harrowing event, they grow even closer and manage to thwart The Regent’s master plan. However, again, to protect his own life, he betrays Seunyang even after all she has done for him and lays the blame on her and her father. His plan is to regain his Emperor throne and overthrow The Regent. He makes it back to China only to become a puppet Emperor who has to follow the Regent’s every word in order not to be killed off. Furthermore, he is in between a power struggle between the Empress Dowager and the Regent. In addition, they made him marry El Temur’s daughter, a arrogant and narcissistic hellcat. His life is literally hell. Poor Seunyang is sold off to the concubine caravan again along with the newly disposed Goryo king, Wang Yu. She suffers greatly on the way to Yuan and everybody manages to find out that she is actually a girl. Wang Yu, who already had deep feelings for her is now even more enamored with her. However, he is exiled to the border of Yuan to die while she is sent to the palace as a servant. In the palace, she plans to get close enough to the Emperor to kill him since he made her father’s death happen. Eventually Ta Hwan, who missed Seunyang greatly, finds out that she is actually his old bodyguard. Through their interactions, they become closer, unwillingly on Seunyang’s part since she still wants vengeance. Ta Hwan becomes obsessed about having her close to him though. The rest of the drama focuses on her journey to becoming powerful in the palace after she experience the twin traumas of losing her good Goryo friends in the palace and her first child. She becomes a Consort to Ta Hwan in order to manage palace affairs and get rid of El Temur’s tyrannical rule once and for all.
Nyangie, as Ta Hwan affectionately calls her, is literally stuck between two nations and two kings. Since she is of Goryo heritage, it would make sense that her first love is Wang Yu, King of Goryo who is powerful, the epitome of a warrior. However, the real chemistry sparks between her and Emperor Ta Hwan of China. Although he is the biggest baby in the beginning, under her tutelage, he matures slowly into a person that she can depend on. SLOWLY though, very slowly. However, it is for her that the Emperor changes. He realized that he needed to man up a lot more if he is to gain her affection and to protect her from all the ones trying to kill them both. Ha Ji Won is also amazing at portraying a cold calculating consort and I get such satisfaction from seeing her best the evil and manipulative Empress & co. Empress Ki is full of twists though since as soon as you think they have gotten the better of El Temur, but then everything is for naught. For me, I am hallway through the journey with one more empress to go until our Nyangie is empress. The journey is tough and bittersweet. To what ends will she seek vengeance and power at the expense of those who loved her?