Secret Door [review]

Secret Door [review]

secret door poster 2

“No matter how small the king’s voice is, everyone can hear it. But no matter how loud the citizen’s voices are, no one can hear them. That’s why they gather. They have to band together for anyone to take notice they’re talking.” – Sado

Let’s talk about Secret Door. I still remember it vividly when the first episode aired, I (almost) cried in joy. Secret Door is probably one of my most anticipated dramas this year. If you’re asking why, here are the reasons:

  1. Casting-wise. Hands down
  2. It’s from SBS (you gotta agree that KBS is the best when it comes to sageuk but for overall dramas, SBS is still best out of the 3)
  3. It’s sageuk yall (again, you have no idea how big my love for sageuk is!)
  4. I’m exactly the audience of this genre

This review is a bit longer than my usual post since I work on this for 3 days so I got enough time to dig deeper and write a little bit more than usual ahahha.

CAST + ACTING + IMPRESSION (9.5 out of 10)
This is like the best casting this year! Everybody can act! Okay, except the adult Jidam. Everybody in this drama is worth watching.

Han Suk Kyu (King Yeongjo)
Hands down! He perfectly portrays the king. Some of you can call him a bad guy all you want but his love for Sado is there (in this drama). He loves his son -his heir-, he wants to save Sado but he just can’t. Han Suk Kyu is the right actor for this role. Yeongjo is portrayed as someone who is grey, not black not white. You cannot predict what he’s thinking. Yeongjo is like full of hidden motivations. It’s like he’s thinking of the same thing that we’re thinking but he’s not? He portrays Yeongjo as a complicated, capricious King. I like Han Suk Kyu’s portrayal while watching.

Lee Je Hoon (Yi Sun/Crown Prince Sado)


To be really honest, I didn’t think he was a good actor in Fashion King. Either the drama really sucked or he couldn’t do his best. But thanks to Secret Door, now I know he’s a good actor. Probably not the best/top but he’s clearly more than just decent. On some scenes, he smiles a bit (just a little tiny smile but he smiles) when it’s supposed to be no smile, I think it adds value to the scene, just like you add salt and spies to your cooking for flavor.

Yes, I only review both of them since they are the leads and this drama is about them two.
Ps, it should be 10 out of 10 if only they casted a better actress for the adult Jidam role

CINEMATOGRAPHY (8 out of 10)
The first half of the drama is totally the best, cinematography-wise, plot-wise. BESIDES THAT, I like how detailed this drama is. One of the example:

ep 24 (2)
ep 16 (1)

See the person I circled in blue. They are not useless. In real life, in the past, according to the history, they were people who wrote down everything even down to the most trivial, useless thing the king said or did even though not all details included in the final version (the Annals). They were the ones who wrote the diary that we know as Annals of the Joseon Dynasty.

PLOT/STORYLINE (9.5 out of 10)
Those who complain -that the drama is boring- are watching the wrong drama. It’s not a romance drama. It’s a complex issues surrounding King Yeongjo, Crown Prince Sado, their people and people of power. If anybody can’t understand the the beauty behind the dedication and love of a ruler to his people then they shouldn’t be watching this drama. This is a beautiful historical story, what else do you want. This is not a drama about Sado’s romance life omg people need to know this.

Okay, now let’s combine the written history with this drama’s own storytelling and let’s discuss it.

On early episodes we are told that Yeongjo tries to abdicate his throne to Sun. And it’s true in real life. According to the Annals, King Yeongjo did that regularly to show that he had no greed for the crown.

Then few episodes later, “rumor” spreads among the commoners that their King is a “thief” who stole the crown from his step brother, King Gyeongjong. That’s also true. Someone who lived in Naju posted a bill on a public wall and declared that Yeongjo was the one who made Gyeongjong died by insisting that his older brother, Gyeongjong had to have Crab Marinated in soy sauce, persimmons, and ginseng tea at the same time. This combination can cause death if someone eats these three at the same time (proven by oriental medicine principals).

Yeongjo was a smart and compassionate ruler whose reign was characterized in history with successful economic policy and important reforms including efforts to improve the lives of the commoners thru education and increased opportunities for their children. And this drama also portrays it.

Sado on the contrary, is portrayed as a good, perfect-to-be-the-next king Prince. According to  the Annals, he was like a madman. The Annals paint him as someone who’s mentally ill, would randomly kill people surround him if he got angry, even his wife lived in fear. Different 180o from the drama.

Now, let’s talk about the drama only. Secret Door is a drama that’s worth watching. You will learn a lot. This drama is the perfect example of how dirty the world we’re living in. Greed over power can drive humans crazy. Just like the king. He, at some point, hates Sun for having loyal subjects, and is afraid for losing his throne.

ep 23 (2)
ep 23 (3)

I thought that Yeongjo was a slave for the throne, but on late episodes I changed my mind completely. Sure, he wanted to keep his crown but he was willing to give up everything to save Sun. He said this to his eunuch that he was envious of others who could save their sons’ life meanwhile he couldn’t do it due to his title, the father of the nation.

Ep 19, ah….. The saddest episode out of all 24. The king cries! He cries people! He cries because he is afraid of Sun’s position (my interpretation). And on this episode, we learn how much Sun love his people. On ep 22 the Crown Princess messes the whole thing. She wants to protect Sun but it ends up that she is the one who kills his husband (indirectly).

On the last episode, he tells San (Sado’s child) to have a friend. On contrary, on early episodes, the tells Sun that he may not have friends. “A king has no friend.” he says.

Yes, they do have boring episodes. It’s in the middle of the run. Can’t remember what episodes but those episodes are boring but not to the point it’s super draggy and worth skipping entirely. It was not draggy imo, it’s just those episodes do not have spark or something impressive that’s worth remembering. But the conflicts and politic plays are brilliant. It’s something that I somehow can relate to my own life.

Overall, I have no regret spending my 24 hours watching this. It’s a packed drama, with bad people here and there, and you must prepare yourself not to yell at Sun because he is VERY stubborn. And prepare a box of tissue if you’re going to watch ep 24. I cried like crazy! I watched it at around 6 in the morning lol. After shedding tears for 60 minutes my eyes became red and swollen for the whole day

ep 24 (1)

OST (9 out of 10)
Um… So… Secret Door only has 3 songs. Three friggin songs. So I checked Genie and damn, seriously, I’m not kidding. They only have three. I mean, this is a 24-ep drama. And if I’m not mistaken I’ve listened to so many BGM on this drama. I don’t know what’s happening. Were they mad because of the viewer ratings they got so they only released 3 songs. Errrrrr.

By the way, Block B’s songs got 3 different versions and so is The One’s. Ye Rin’s song only has 2 different version (the basic version, full audio with singing and instrumental version). But each songs has different charm and easy to listen to.

Overall rating :  9 out of 10
Will I Watch it Again? The politic play gives me headache. Do you understand what i’m trying to say?

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The King’s Face [dropped] | redliff
  2. Trackback: The King’s Face [dropped] | Red watches TV

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