One of the most talked about K-Dramas last year was 100 Days my Prince. It’s a historical drama (sageuk), it’s romantic and funny. It has a spunky female lead (Nam Jihyun) and a taciturn, rich, handsome male lead (Do Kyungsoo) as the love interest.
If this is a plot line that sounds very familiar, that’s because it is. 100 Days my Prince is a drama that scores top marks for sheer enjoyability – but there’s nothing new or exciting in content. That said, it was a wildly popular drama for a reason. The chemistry between actors – how they play off of the script and embody their characters – makes this an easy watch. Replayable time and time again.
100 Days my Prince is Do Kyungsoo’s first lead role. When he’s not busy as the main vocalist of one of Kpop’s top groups, he’s flexing his acting credentials in a number of varied roles. This is a far more light-hearted character than we’re used to seeing him in, but there’s a certain weight to his character all the same.
As the Crown Prince, Lee Yul, he’s straight-gazed and slow-footed. Every movement is circumspect and pointed. Lee Yul loses his memory and is fashioned into the fictional, peasant soldier: Wondeuk. And it’s incredibly funny.
K-Dramas often have a formulaic approach to comedy scenes. It’s no different in 100 Days my Prince, but it works. The contrast between Wondeuk’s stuck up, deadpan misunderstandings and the exasperation of everyone else is a delight. Particularly against Nam Jihyun’s Hongshim.
Hongshim’s character, in particular, plays deeply into the tropes of sageuk dramas. You could probably replace her with Hwarang’s Ah Ro (Go Ahra) or Scarlet Heart: Ryeo’s Hae Soo (IU) and there’d be no significant change in the character’s progression. That said, Nam Jihyun’s portrayal is so light and airy that it feels almost wrong to suggest anyone else could play Hongshim as well as she did.
As always, with these types of dramas, the supporting cast are gems. The villain Kim Cha Eon (Jo Sungha) is chilling, even though (or perhaps because) his motivations are so murky. His daughter, Kim Sohye (Han Sohee), is one of the stand-out characters. As is Wondeuk’s reluctant best friend Godol (Kim Kidoo).
100 Days my Prince is not remarkable in the sense that it’s a stellar piece of art. It’s not a social commentary or piece of cultural observation that deals with the nitty-gritty topics. But it doesn’t have to be, and it doesn’t pretend to be.
Its sheer success shows that it filled the gap that viewers wanted and it does that incredibly well. It struck a chord with its viewers because it’s simple, good television. For that reason, this is high on our list of recommended shows.