missing crown prince review exo suho

In 2021, writers Kim Ji-su and Park Chul delivered a monster hit for MBN called Bossam: Steal the Fate. The series, which told the story of a bachelor who alters his fate when he mistakenly kidnaps a widowed Joseon princess, became the highest rated drama in the South Korean network’s history. Tapping that same duo to replicate their success, Missing Crown Prince is a romance and a historical drama that revolves around the accidental abduction of a royal, a blossoming love between the kidnapper and the kidnapped, an attempt to change one’s destiny, and lots of Joseon-era politics.

EXO’s Suho stars as Lee Gon, the compassionate titular character who struggles to fulfil his duties as the King’s (Jeon Jin-oh) eldest son. Instead, he prefers to sneak out of the palace with his half-brother Do Sung (Kim Min-kyu) to hang out with the common man, and occasionally take down petty criminals with his martial arts skills. His nocturnal misadventures concern the imperial court, as they assume that Gon is a playboy who disappears to consort with courtesans at disreputable establishments.

Certain ministers call for Gon to be replaced by Sung as the heir. In order to settle tensions, Gon’s parents seek to marry him to Choi Myung-yoon (Hong Ye-ji), the daughter of trustworthy royal physician Sang-rok (Kim Joo-hun). Much like the crown prince, Myung-yoon is a free-spirited young lady uncomfortable with her noble station. Instead, she prefers to sneak out of her castle to work as a doctor at her father’s clinic, and occasionally take down thugs with her martial arts skills.

When she receives news that she has been chosen to be her country’s future queen, she’s far from delighted because the position would curtail her independence. More importantly, both Myung-yoon and her father are aware that she’s cursed to be a widow, and that her first husband is doomed to die early. To counter this terrible fate, her father hires mercenaries to kidnap a random man from a tavern and forcibly wed him to Myung-yoon, thereby ensuring Gon’s safety. But unbeknownst to Sang-rok, the person they snatch is Gon himself!

Thankfully, Gon and Myung Yoon are able to break out during the ceremony and run away together. Although they are unwilling to reveal their identities to each other in order to protect their respective families, sparks inevitably fly between our two good-looking leads. As it turns out, it’s probably good that Gon has someone on the outside to shelter him, because he soon discovers that the Queen Dowager Min Soo-ryun (Myung Se-bin) has been engaging in a tawdry affair that could ruin her and conspires to assassinate Gon in order to maintain her secret.

While the promotional materials bill this as a rom-com, these first four episodes have been far more serious than anticipated – hinging upon action and palace intrigue. It’s these elements that keep Missing Crown Prince compelling, as the show’s plotting does well to draw you into various mysteries and machinations that make up its tension-filled web. Sadly, the series isn’t as adept at character development, as Gon and Myung-yoon are presented rather two-dimensionally.

While Suho and Ye-ji are serviceable in their roles, but neither are charismatic enough, nor do they possess enough romantic chemistry to compensate for the archetypical writing. But the series is at its worst when it attempts comedy. Not only are its jokes broad, lazy and juvenile – a significant portion of it is anachronistic – forcing modern mannerisms upon characters that aren’t just unfunny, they break the viewers immersion into the narrative’s Joseon period setting.

Missing Crown Prince is available to stream on Viu and Viki in select regions.

The post ‘Missing Crown Prince’ review: compelling palace intrigue bogged down by juvenile comedy appeared first on NME.


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