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Series / Mr. Queen

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Mr. Queen (철인왕후, Cheorinwanghu, meaning literally "Queen Cheorin") is a 2020 South Korean series starring Shin Hye-sun and Kim Jung-hyun. It's based on the 2015 Chinese series Go Princess Go. The series can be watched with English subtitles on Viki, Netflix, or Hulu.

Jang Bong-hwan, a chef working for South Korea's top politicians, travels back in time to the Joseon period. He finds himself in the body of Kim So-yong — better known as Queen Cheorin. So-yong's husband Lee Won-beom — AKA King Cheoljong — is forced to be a figurehead while his aunt Queen Sunwon holds all the power. As Bong-hwan quickly discovers, Cheoljong is not happy with this situation and plans to change it.

Contains examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Double subverted. When Cheoljong is sitting for his portrait, he tries to cheer up So-young by pulling a funny face and speaking in a weird tone, but nobody finds it funny. After Bong-hwan returns to the future, he discovers that Cheoljong's official portrait shows him pulling the funny face, and it is only then that he laughs.
  • Alternate History: Events deviate further and further from history thanks to Bong-hwan's interference.
  • Anger Born of Worry: An explosion that happens to Cheoljong is actually part of his plan. So-yong who heard it from Cheoljong comments furiously, "Are you crazy?! You almost died, didn't you?!".
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: The relationship between Queen Cheorin and King Cheoljong. Although it is toned down after Episode 15, where they actually become much more affectionate towards each other.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Most people at court clearly think that Cheoljong is silly and harmless. They don't know what he gets up to at night.
  • Beta Couple: Royal Chef Man-bok and Court Lady Choi. And later Prince Yeongpyeong and Jo Hwa-jin.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: The dowager queen can only rely on gossip and superstition to advance her schemes. Even the naive Hwa-jin gets fed up with her.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Played for laughs, but Lady Choi seems to have this, capable of throwing a massive grenade over 100 meters and able to chop through rope restrains with her bare hands in seconds.
  • Cooking Duel: This happens to Queen Cheorin and Royal Chef Man-bok. Of course, the winner is Queen Cheorin.
  • Darker and Edgier: Compared to it's inspiration the Chinese series Go Princess Go. Though both share identical premise of a modern playboy being hurled back in time to inhabit the body of a princess they are sharply different in tone. The Chinese series is essentially a full on sitcom with occasional dramatic beats, with many intentionally ridiculous characters and costumes and constant humorous fourth wall breaks by the protagonist. The Korean remake meanwhile, while certainly having its share of humour, is much more of a dramedy with the emotional and political stakes played rather more seriously. Mr Queen is also more interested in the philosophical and spiritual element of the switch.
  • Defector from Decadence: At So-Yong's urging, Kim Moon-Geun gives away all of his ill-gotten gains, earning him a reputation for generosity which saves his life, and also spares him during the corruption trials (as well as the fact that he provided all the financial evidence needed to bring down the Kim Clan's ministers).
  • The Ditz:
    • Cheoljong. Most of it, though not all, is an act.
    • Played straight with Kim Hwan. He thinks that he is extremely smart and talented, when in fact he's clueless most of the time. This works to his advantage during the Kim Family Coup - he is mostly allowed to move about freely and share information to the heroes because no one suspects him of actually being capable of doing any harm.
  • Dissonant Serenity: As the series progresses, Lady Choi stops reacting to the queen's antics, even as other characters continue to express shock and dismay at her behavior. When Hong Yeon comments that the queen is acting particularly agitated one morning, Choi simply responds that she is acting like her usual self.
  • First Girl After All: We all think that Hwa-jin is Won-beom's first love, only to find out that So-yong is his true first love.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Our main character must suddenly live a life in Joseon Era Korea.
  • Gainax Ending: The finale has already achieved infamy for sending Bong-hwan back to the present, with no prior indication that a life-threatening injury would activate the time travelling.
  • Gender Bender: Bong-hwan, a man, time-travels into the body of So-yong, a woman.
  • Ghost Memory: After Bong-hwan time-travels into the body of So-yong, he receives her memories little by little.
  • Grew a Spine: As the story moves forward, Cheoljong learns to be a true king by no longer listening to Queen Sunwon.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Most of the men in the series are capable swordsmen, while Hwa-jin is an accomplished archer. The distinction is made the most obvious during the Surit-nal banquet; Cheoljong watches martial arts displays and ends up sparing with Kim Byeong-in; and Cheorin, Hwa-jin, and the three concubines take part in a traditional archery hunting competition.
  • Hero Antagonist: Hwa-jin is set up as the king's true love.
  • Historical Domain Character: Almost all the named Joseon characters really existed, most notably Cheorin and Cheoljong.
  • Hopeless Suitor:
    • Prince Yeongpyeong has feelings for King Cheoljong's royal concubine, Jo Hwa-jin, only for Jo Hwa-jin to reject his love. Although it's averted in the last episode, where Jo Hwa-jin accepts Yeonpyeong's feelings.
    • In the case of Kim Byeong-in it ends tragically with his feelings rejected and he dies in the end.
  • I Love You Because I Can't Control You: The main reason why Cheoljong ends up falling for So-young. While Bong-hwan is in her body, he is the only person in the palace who is unafraid of insulting Cheoljong, and he initially insists on a "no-touching" rule.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Implied with Bong-hwan, who is a straight man. When he time travels into So-young's body, he tries to hit on Hwa-jin at first. He also flirts with the three concubines he selects, and he is attracted to Hong-yeon as well. As the series progresses, he does also develop feelings for King Cheoljong, to the extent that he goes through a crisis when he realises that he enjoyed the experience of So-young and Cheoljong consummating their marriage. After he returns to the modern day, the first thing he does is to read up on Cheoljong's legacy, and he affectionately laughs when he sees Cheoljong's official portrait.
  • Ironic Echo: The Grand Queen Dowager forbade So-yong from leaving the palace by telling her "If you must die, you will die in the palace". So-yong tells her the same thing after she permanently confines her.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While Bong-hwan acts arrogant, selfish, rude, and gets angry fast, he shows a really kind side like giving servants drinks when they work hard to fill the lake; caring for Dam-hyang, a child servant whose father abandons her while her mother is taken as a slave and worring about Cheoljong after an explosion hits him.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After Queen Sunwon, Queen Dowager Jo, and the bad ministers try to get rid of King Cheoljong and Queen Cheorin, Queen Sunwon and Queen Dowager Jo get punished by being exiled to the West Palace, while the bad ministers get punished by turning to slaves and being thrown rotten foods by the town people.
  • Man, I Feel Like a Woman: Bong-hwan in So-yong's body.
  • Mental Time Travel: How Bong-hwan ends up in the past. When he is sent back to the present, So-yong returns to take over her body.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • A major trope where Cheoljong is concerned.
    • Captain Hong sometimes falls into this category as well, using a cheerful and casual attitude to catch people off-guard.
    • Se-jong has to act like an Extreme Doormat as not to incur the grand dowager queen's wrath.
  • Papa Wolf: Kim Moon-Geun works himself into a stroke at the thought of assassination attempts against his daughter.
  • Properly Paranoid: Kim Jwa-Geun is this, and it's the reason why he's the true power behind the throne.
  • Puppet King: Cheoljong is forced to be one. The series shows how he grows out of it.
  • The Reliable One: Captain Hong regularly complains that Cheoljong and Youngpyeong use him as a workhorse, frequently being sent on dangerous and exhausting missions outside of the capitol, and he repeatedly asks for a vacation. However, he never lets Cheoljong down and proves to be something of a Hypercompetent Sidekick.
  • Rescue Romance: When Cheoljong was a child, his family was massacred. He hid in a well but he was discovered and his family's enemies tried to seal him down there. He was rescued by Hwa-jin and he's loved her ever since. It was So-yong who truly helped him. Hwa-jin merely took credit.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Cheoljong is really this, as the viewer and Bong-hwan quickly find out.
  • Shipper on Deck: A lot of people in the palace ship Cheoljong and Cheorin like Court Lady Choi, Hong Yeon, and servants of the palace. Heck, even one of the Cheorin's concubines thinks they're cute together. Even more in Episode 14, when people think their chasing around is their playful way of being lovers.
  • Split Personality: The queen seemingly has this as So-Yong's memories, emotion and passions sometimes take control, only for Bong-Hwan to snap back in control. It results in her performing erratic behaviors that appear insane to a third-party, such as repeatedly smacking herself with flowers (to cover up smells that trigger So-Yong's memories and personality).
  • Supreme Chef: When Bong-hwan is still in the modern age, he shows his cooking skills as a chef but is ruined by Director Han. After Bong-hwan arrives in So-yong's body, he immediately shows his cooking skills to Royal Chef Man-bok and others which surprises them. They are also surprised by the taste that's unusual and delicious.
  • Those Two Guys: Prince Yeongpyeong, Cheoljong's brother, and Hong Byul-gam, his best friend, are nearly always together. They also fit the Big Guy, Little Guy trope.
  • Tragic Villain: The dowager queen fails to avenge her late son the previous king.
  • Undying Loyalty: Lady Choi and Hong Yuen to So-Yong. Choi even attempts a Heroic Sacrifice to delay the Kim soldiers from capturing So-Yong.
  • World's Best Warrior: Kim Jwa-Geun says that Sal Soo (the assassin) would be this if not for his mysterious disease (implied to be a form of drug addiction). He is proven correct when Sal Soo kills a (wounded) Kim Byeong-In in less than 10 seconds.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Kim Moon-Geun attempts to poison Dam-Hyang in retaliation for interfering with his plan to poison So-Yong.