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Series / The King 2 Hearts

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The King 2 Hearts (더킹 투하츠, also known as King/The King) is a 20 episode Korean Drama which aired from March 21st to May 24th 2012 on MBC. It stars Ha Ji Won as the North Korean special forces agent Kim Hang Ah and Lee Seung Gi as the South Korean Crown Prince Lee Jae Ha.

In an alternate present, South Korea is a constitutional monarchy.

Tensions are rising between North and South Korea when the South Korean King, Lee Jae Kang, announces the joint participation of both countries in the World Officer Championship (WOC). The team consists of six members: three from the North, including special forces agent Kim Hang Ah, and three from the South, including royal guard (and son of the King's secretary) Eun Shi Kyung. To gain more support for the idea, the king convinces his younger brother, Crown Prince Jae Ha, to join the team.

Hijinks and hilarity ensue as the combined team put aside their differences to train together, while Jae Ha and Hang Ah fall for each other. Fortunately for the lovebirds, King Lee Jae Kang encourages their marriage for political gains.

However, a mysterious and powerful organization called Club M is not as approving. Their mad leader Kim Bong Goo holds a grudge against the South Korean royal family and is willing to do whatever it takes to destroy the fragile relations between the two Koreas.

This series provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Want to get your ass kicked? Just try threatening or harming anyone Hang Ah cares about!
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Hang Ah turns down Jae Ha's proposal via Kang Seok.
    Kang Seok: I have no feelings whatsoever for comrade Lee Jae-ha. I will not get engaged.
  • Alternate History: South Korea still maintains its monarchy, even after the split from North Korea.
  • The Beatles: Secretary Eun receives a bribe in the form of a Quarrymen album.
  • Beleaguered Assistant: Secretary Eun, when he first becomes Jae Ha's secretary
  • Benevolent Ruler: Jae Kang
    Jae Kang: I'm the king. Let me be your shield.
    Hang Ah: (tearing up) Is it ok that it's me?
    Jae Kang: It's ok because it's you.
  • BFG: Hells yeah, Kang Seok brings a rocket launcher to a fire-fight.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Averted. Translators are always used when needed. However, they deliver translations via earpiece, so there's an appearance of Bilingual Dialogue.
  • Blackmail: After finding out that she joined the WOC team in order to find a husband, Jae Ha threatens to blackmail Hang Ah.
  • Booby Trap: The treadmills during WOC training
  • Break the Badass:
    • The scene where Shi Kyung trips over a traffic cone starts out mundane, then elevates as Shi Kyung unleashes his anger, finally falling to his knees in tears.
    • After being kidnapped, shot, and then spending time in a Chinese prison, Hang Ah is understandably traumatized.
  • Break the Haughty: After Jae Shin's accident, the tough, self-reliant princess has to come to terms with having to rely on other people for basic needs such as cleaning up after herself.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: At the beginning of the series, Jae Ha is putting more effort into getting out of working than doing actual work.
  • Broken Pedestal: Once Shi Kyung finds out what his father did, the confrontation scene is a Tear Jerker.
  • Callback:
    • In episode 3, Hang Ah asks what type of girl guys like. Jae Ha says that a girl should call him "oppa." Later, after she moves into the palace, Hang Ah uses the term to cheer him up.
    • After rejecting Kim Bong Goo's "rotten cookies," Bong Goo greets Shi Kyung with a "Hello, this is Rotten Cookies."
    • "You happy?" (Jae Ha is talking to Jae Kang's picture when he "accidentally" records a password for his video diary. Comes in handy much later.)
    • Jae Shin visits the wall where she and Shi Kyung sang together to ask him an important question in the finale.
  • Calling Big Brother Out: Subverted. After Jae Kang expresses his disappointment in Jae Ha's behavior during WOC training, Jae Ha lashes out.
    Jae Ha: [North Koreans] are the enemy! For sixty years, "they’re the enemy, they’re the Reds, we don’t trust them"—who’s the one who taught me that?
    Jae Kang: (paraphrased) YOU should've risen above it! You're royalty; you should set an example. I know you still have a lot to learn, but I expected more of you.
  • Celeb Crush: Why can't Hang Ah marry Brad Pitt or Barack Obama or Jang Dong-gun instead?
    Jae Ha: He is married. With children.
  • Censor Suds: When Jae Kang interrupts Jae Ha in the middle of the latter's bubble bath, objects around the bathroom provide censorship.
  • Character Name Alias: Bong Goo's English name is John Mayer.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Every time Jae Ha tries to bully Shi Kyung with jokes, the latter takes everything seriously.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: is what prompts Jae Ha to cross the DMZ into North Korea for Hang Ah.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Jae Ha "promotes" Shi Kyung to royal guard so that he can make Shi Kyung's life hellish. His reasoning? "Do you like Kim Hang Ah that much? Did you have to play in the snow? In front of me? Laughing?"
  • Culture Equals Costume: Although the cast usually dress in present-day clothing, on several occasions the royal family have dressed traditionally and Hang Ah has worn a hanbok/choson-ot.
  • Daddy's Girl: Despite her badassery, Hang Ah is first and foremost Kim Nam Il's (only) daughter.
  • Divided We Fall: The combined Korean WOC team can't get it together during training.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Bong Goo's right-hand man
  • Double Reverse Quadruple Agent: Which one is Shi Kyung again?
  • The '80s: In his first appearance, set in 1989, young Jae Ha is complaining about his Game Boy.
  • Engagement Challenge: Jae Ha promises that the WOC team would pass the first round of the games before he and Hang Ah get engaged.
  • Et Tu, Brute?
    Hang Ah: Your majesty. (bows head)
    Jae Ha: Don't you call me that too.

    Jae Ha: (to Secretary Eun) My father ... picked you. My brother ... trusted you. I ... leaned on you more than anyone!
  • Fake–Real Turn: Jae Ha's initial plan is to fake falling in love with Hang Ah, but well ... that doesn't quite work out.
  • Femininity Failure: Poor Hang Ah.
  • Feuding Families: North/South Korean rivalry
  • Fictional Sport: World Officer Championship is basically War Gaming—but with real people.
  • Fish out of Water: Hang Ah's disconnection with South Korea serves as an allegory for how many discrepancies there are between the two once-united countries.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: The WOC team by the end of training. Even North Korean soldier Kwon Yong Bae almost burst into tears.
  • Friendly Sniper: Young Bae
  • Full-Name Ultimatum: When Jae Ha keeps obstructing Shi Kyung from going after Bong Goo himself, Shi Kyung confronts Jae Ha, screaming "Lee Jae Ha!" in banmal. (One should never call out his king like that.)
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language
  • Hitler Ate Sugar: But, according to Bong Goo, similarities with Hitler are actually a good thing.
  • Handsome Lech: Jae Ha
    Jae Ha: [Hang Ah] likes me. I'm handsome, stylish, intelligent. Who wouldn't like me?
    Jae Kang: (rolls his eyes)
    Jae Ha: I'm also cute.
    Jae Kang: A man your age, calling himself cute?
    Jae Ha: I ''am'' cute.
  • Hilarity Ensues: The WOC team
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: May be an Actor Allusion. Once again, Lee Seung Gi plays a guy who knows his cosmetics.
  • It's All My Fault: Shi Kyung tells Jae Shin to repeat "it's not my fault a hundred times a day." She tells him promise to do likewise.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jae Ha comes off as this from time to time.
  • Killed Off for Real
  • Kissing Under the Influence: Subverted. Jae Ha and Hang Ah were drunk enough to kiss, but tipsy enough not to blame it on the alcohol.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Hang Ah and Jae start out their relationship bickering during WOC training.
  • Loony Fan: Stoic North Korean soldier, Kang Seok, first encounters Girls' Generation when he visits South Korea for the first time, and over time develops into a Loony Fanto hilarious results.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Jae Shin
  • Love Confession:
    Jae Shin: The world’s most frustrating and boring leader of the royal guard …I like him.
  • Love-Obstructing Parents: Subverted. Kim Nam Il knows his daughter is in love with Jae Ha, but finds the crown prince severely lacking. He's, however, willing to let her make her own choices.
  • Make a Wish: Jae Shin urges Shi Kyung to make a wish on a star, but he insists that stars have nothing to do with wishes. She makes him wish anyway.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Jae Kang's assassination.
  • Manly Tears: When Jae Shin gets sedated after her trauma tantrum, both Jae Ha and Shi Kyung cry for her. Shi Kyung's is particularly jarring as he tries to muffle it, having cried angrily just a few scenes before.
  • Martial Pacifist: When Jae Ha mutters off his revenge plan to Yom Dong Ha, who is another South Korean member of the WOC team (and royal guard), Dong Ha tries to talk sense into Jae Ha's head. Dong Ha is still quite badass on the show.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Jae Kang and his wife Hyun-joo
  • Multitasked Conversation: When Hang Ah is video-chatting with Jae Ha while she has guns pointed as her head (off-screen)
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The first time he makes Hang Ah cry by just being a Jerkass, Jae Ha is understandably taken aback.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: This universe's Daniel Craig is a rich business man who favors bribing information out of secretaries.
  • Never Be Hurt Again: Once young Jae Ha discovered the most people only got close to him because he was prince, he never got close to anyone.
  • No One Could Survive That!: The assassins decide to stage a car accident for Jae Shin's death after they kidnap her. She instead jumps off a cliff and they decide that she's dead enough.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Jae Ha tries to explain to Kim Nam Il, Hang Ah's father, when he and Hang Ah gets caught kissing. Kim Nam Il replies exactly what it looked like, "South Korean prince got drunk, succumbed to his animal instincts, and messed around with peace."
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Appears to start out this way between the Queen Mother and Hang Ah, but actually the Queen Mother is more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold towards Hang Ah.
    Queen Mother: (when Hang Ah is not around) Just because she made a mistake doesn’t mean we should laugh. Think about how lonely she must feel, all by herself. We have to be much better to her.
  • Open-Minded Parent: The Queen Mother
  • Personal Effects Reveal: Jae Shin goes through Shi Kyung's things and finds his video confession.
  • Phoney Call: Hang Ah calls her father to wail because she's fed up with life in South Korea, ranting that all the South Koreans care about is "money, money, money." When she's done ranting, we hear a standard operator recording on the other end. Just then, Jae Kang calls to check up on her.
  • Politically-Active Princess: Jae Shin
  • Practical Voiceover: The conversation where her father tells her that she's ineligible for South Korean princess bride-hood is delivered via voiceover in episode 5 while Hang Ah plays minesweeper. As soon as she hits a bomb, her father's voice gives the bad news and Hang Ah dissolves into tears.
  • Product Placement: Jae Ha's snack food of choice comes from Dunkin' Donuts.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: As a teenager, Kim Bong Goo wasn't above stabbing princes with pens. As an adult, he moved on to much worse.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech
    • During WOC training, Hang Ah calls Jae Ha out—that he's also afraid he won't ever find someone to love him, that he's always trying to find a way out, and that he has no pride.
    • Jae Ha delivers one to Bong Goo via a puzzle: What is one thing that Jae Ha has that Bong Goo doesn't? Answer: People (that he can trust).
  • Rescue Arc
  • Royal Brat: Jae Shin is not "bratty" per se but she starts off quite arrogant, but is eventually brought down to size.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Played With. In the beginning of the series, Jae Ha is serving in the army and Jae Kang is actively working towards a North/South reunion. Ironically, the royal family is seen as mere figureheads for all their effort.
  • Separated by a Common Language: All over the place, but a particularly egregious one is when Hang Ah calls the Queen Mother "째째 (jjae jjae)." The term alternatively means "petty" in Hangungmal (South Korean spoken language) and "bright/cheerful" in Chosonmal (North Korean spoken language). Later, Jae Ha tells Hang Ah that his mother is sensitive, even a little "jjae jjae."
  • Serious Business: Kang Seok's Girl's Generation (also known as SNSD) addiction almost leads to a bloodbath. During WOC training, Kang Seok gets "addicted" to SNSD. (He confesses to Hang Ah that "those girls’ legs won’t leave my brain for a moment.") For his birthday, he receives a SNSD video with a note, "Don't be embarrassed. Admiring an advanced country’s culture is a given." When Jae Ha then confronts Kang Seok about the SNSD video, Kang Seok lifts Jae Ha off the floor to strangle him, which leads to a Mexican Standoff as everyone draws their guns. In the Stunned Silence, Shi Kyung decides to call Jae Ha - whose ringtone is a SNSD song.
    Jae Ha: Are you crazy? Why should I apologize? I ask if he likes a singer and get strangled. North and South have guns drawn over SNSD. What should I say?
    • Also Hilarious in Hindsight now that Lee Seung Gi (the actor who plays Jae Ha) is now dating Yoona from SNSD. Did Kang Seok go crazy on Jae Ha because he's dating his beloved idol?
  • Shipper on Deck: Jae Ha towards Shi Kyung and Jae Shin
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!:
    Kim Bong Goo: When you hear fireworks, you'll jump in fear. When you hear sirens, your heart will race. Korea is like that. A country that has experienced war. You will become more anxious. You'll always be scared of what you encountered, and only amass more weapons.
    Jae Ha: We stopped it. I did. We did. We have the confidence that we can stop it again. They say that the scariest thing in the world is war. But we stopped it. So what can’t we do? Thank you ... for making us more powerful.
  • Significant Reference Date: Jae Ha asks Hang Ah what she's doing on May 24. For the audience, the answer would be "watching this episode."
  • Spoiler Title: Naturally, the lead character of a show called The King 2 Hearts (previously titled The King) wouldn't stay a prince forever.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Jae Ha/Hang Ah
  • Storming the Castle: When Jae Ha is kidnapped in North Korea, the North Korean half of the WOC team springs into action.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: When Jae Kang first proposes that Jae Ha marries Hang Ah, Jae Ha launches into a sarcastic diatribe, ending with, "No matter how much I love her ..."
  • Take Up My Sword: Jae Kang dies and Jae Ha assumes kinghood.
  • Talking to the Dead: Multiple characters to Jae Kang. And later to Shi Kyung.
  • Tempting Fate: Young Jae Ha says to his brother, "If I end up being king, you're dead!" As in, I will kill you. (Note that the only way for Jae Ha to become king is if Jae Kang is incapacitated or dead.)
  • To Absent Friends: Numerous times for Jae Kang, but especially when the royal family sits down to dinner together for the first time since the king's death.
  • Tomboy: Hang Ah
  • Tournament Arc: The WOC
  • Tragic Bromance: Actual brothers, Jae Kang/Jae Ha
    • Unfortunately, it happens to Jae Ha again with Shi Kyung's death.
  • Trying Not to Cry:
    • Hang Ah does this when she's first told she's not eligible to be South Korean princess, and then later when Jae Ha goes to North Korea to bring her back.
    • Jae Ha also does this when Jae Kang dies.
  • Undying Loyalty: Shi Kyung
  • Unlucky Childhood Friend: Hang Ah, to her North Korean best friend.
  • Unwanted Harem: Smart, loyal, and with a booming voice to boot, what woman wouldn't fall for Shi Kyung?
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Jae Ha and Shi Kyung
  • Wham Line
    Jae Shin: I killed him! I killed him! So that I could live.
  • What's Up, King Dude?: The amount of access Bong Goo has to the king is just baffling.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious: Straight-laced Shi Kyung actually calls out his king by full name.
  • You Say Tomato: Naturally, all the North Koreans have North Korean accents, but Hang Ah especially suffers for this when she moves to South Korea.