The differences between Lee Seo-jin, Hyun Bin and Lee Jun-ho’s portrayal of King Jeongjo of Joseon

King Jeongjo has always been an interesting topic for Korean dramas and has been played by many famous actor until now.

The love story of King Jeongjo/Yi San and Seong Deok-im/ Royal Noble Consort Ui of the Changnyeong Seong clan, is considered one of the most romantic stories in the Joseon dynasty. After Seong Deok-im’s death, Jeongjo expressed his sadness by saying “It hurts like a knife cut”... For this reason, it is also a material that is frequently dealt with through mass media. Naturally, people also pay attention to who took on the role of Jeongjo Yi San and Seong Deok-im.

King Jeongjo of Joseon

Actor Lee Seo-jin played the role of Jeongjo in MBC’s drama “Lee San, Wind Of The Palace” which aired from 2007 to 2008. Before securing his position as a top actor through “Lee San, Wind Of The Palace“, he rose to stardom thanks to “Damo” and “Phoenix”. In “Yi San”, he neatly portrayed Jeongjo as a wise king with a smart brain and warm personality.

Lee Seo-jin, who had shown great performances in historical dramas to the extent that he was praised as an actor specialized in historical dramas, reached the peak of that assessment through “Lee San, Wind Of The Palace “. His “chemistry” with Han Ji-min was also well received. Thanks to this, “Lee San, Wind Of The Palace” gained explosive popularity, recording its own highest nationwide rating of 33.3% (based on Nielsen Korea).

King Jeongjo of Joseon

In director Lee Jae-kyu’s 2014 film “The Fatal Encounter,” King Jeongjo, Yi San, was more of an action star. In the trailer, King Jeongjo, played by Hyun Bin, showed off his muscles as if he was a special force member of the popular show “The Iron Squad.”  As a movie focused on the attempted assassination of King Jeongjo, the film did not feature his love interest did not appear, but the fact that Hyun Bin, who was just discharged from the Marine Corps, appeared as King Jeongjo, who was good at martial arts itself drew attention. Coincidentally, actress Han Ji-min, who previously played the role of Royal Noble Consort Ui in a drama of the same genre “Lee San, Wind Of The Palace” drew attention by playing the role of Queen Jeong-soon, who is like King Jeongjo’s grandmother, in “The Fatal Encounter.” However, the movie didn’t become a box office hit, attracting only 3.84 million people to the cinema.

King Jeongjo of Joseon

In MBC’s Friday-Saturday drama “The Red Sleeve,” which is recently airing and receiving attention, King Jeong Jo, Yi San, is played by actor Lee Joon-ho from the group 2PM. “The Red Sleeve” becomes the most realistic painting of the romance between Yi San and Seong Deok-im. The fact that Seong Deok-im entered the palace due to Lady Hyegyeong (Kang Mal-geum) and that she became a concubine after refusing King Jeongjo’s special favor twice will also follow history.

Despite the recent fantasy trend in historical dramas, “The Red Sleeve” is also pursuing historical realisticness in clothes and titles. 

King Jeongjo of Joseon

Therefore, the character Yi San in historical facts is also quite thorough. The media has only depicted King Jeongjo as a “good son” who always misses his father (Crown Prince Sado). In this drama, even the traumas caused by the actions of his father – Crown Prince Sado appeared. That’s why Prince Yi San in this drama, who has a personality that is more like paranoia, is attracting more attention from the viewers because he is not portrayed as a romantic guy only.

Due to the dementia of King Yeongjo (Lee Deok-hwa), Yi San took over the work of a king instead and revealed his dignity of gradually becoming a true king, showing his determination with a decisive tone, “Decisions are up to them. I will either live or die in Joseon in the future”.

It’s not easy to simply evaluate which Yi San version is better. Compared to Jeongjo’s appearance in each work with a unique personality, Lee Jun-ho’s acting, which has more fun and a stronger image of him as a singer, is worth being highly evaluated.

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