9 years of Empress Ki: 3 reasons why you should watch the iconic drama starring Ji Chang Wook

Let’s take a walk down memory lane and revisit some of the best aspects of one of the best sageuk dramas ever written featuring Ji Chang Wook, Ha Ji Won and Joo Jin Mo.

Published on Oct 28, 2022 01:03 PM IST  |  957.5K
Empress Ki Poster; Picture Courtesy: MBC
Empress Ki Poster

Empress Ki:

The series revolves around Ki Seungnyang, a Goryeo-born woman who ascends to power despite the restrictions of the era's class system, and later marries Toghon Temür (emperor of the Yuan dynasty) to become a Yuan empress, instead of her first love, Wang Yu. It managed to highlight the deep love the Emperor embedded in Lady Ki and depicts her loves and political ambitions. Ha Ji Won played the role of  Ki Seung-nyang / Ki Nyang, the future Empress Ki, a woman who was born in Goryeo and became the Empress Consort of the Yuan dynasty. She is initially the fiancée of Wang Yoo, but later becomes the wife of Ta Hwan thus making her Yuan's Empress Consort. Joon Ji Mo played the role of  Wang Yoo, King Choonghye who was King of Goryeo who is Ki Seung Nyang's first love and fiance. He later died in the Yuan dynasty. 

The main cast: 

Ji Chang Wook played the role of Toghon Temür / Ta Hwan, the last Emperor of the Yuan dynasty and Seung-nyang's true love and later husband. Lastly, Baek Jin Hee played the role of Tanashiri, daughter of Yeon Chul, a Noblewoman who was the first wife and Empress Consort of Ta Hwan but when her crimes are revealed, is deposed from her throne and is executed in front of her people. Tanashiri serves as the main antagonist of the first chapter who plotted to kill Seung Nyang’s friends and poison anyone who dared to take her throne. 

Empress Ki was one of the primary empresses of Toghon Temür (Emperor Huizong) of the Yuan dynasty and the mother of Biligtü Khan (Emperor Zhaozong), who would become an emperor of Northern Yuan. She was originally from an aristocratic family of the Goryeo dynasty and served as concubine of Toghon Temür. During the last years of the Yuan dynasty, she became one of the most powerful women, controlling the country economically and politically. 

The drama: 

Emperor Ta Hwan (Ji Chang Wook) found out that Gol Ta and Empress Dowager (Kim Seo Hyeong) were trying to establish a new emperor together, and threw them into a trap and executed them. In the process, Golta and Empress Dowager died, and a few years later, Tal-tal (Jin Yi Han) was killed. In addition, Ta Hwan also died after the poison that Gol Ta had fed had already spread to his organs. In the end, Ki Seung Nyang was left alone with his son Ayu Shiridara. Although controversial for distorting history, this drama is based on Empress Ki of the Yuan Dynasty, a figure who lived about 700 years ago. Therefore, the ending cannot ignore history at all. According to history, Sunje of the Yuan Dynasty, the real model of Ta Hwan, who died in the arms of Ki Seung Nyang in the Imperial Palace, died on the way to escape while fleeing the Ming army led by Joo Won Jang along with Empress Ki and her son Ayushirida. It is recorded that Taltal was not killed as in the drama, but was stripped of his office and killed in exile for the atrocity of his adversary Hapma.

The most different from history is the end of Wang Yoo (Joo Jin Mo), who was killed in episode 50. In the broadcast, it appears that Wang Yu is killed by Ta-hwan on the way to Goryeo. King Chunghye, who became Wang Yu's model, died on the way to Gwiyang by Sunje. In the drama, Wang Yu was a king trusted by the people and his servants, but it is said that no one mourned for the death of King Chunghye. Empress Ki was actually left with her son as in her drama. Even after Shunzi's death, he continued to flee and succeeded in establishing his son Ayu Shirida as Emperor of the Northern Yuan. In the end, the sad ending of the drama is a 'tragedy', so there is a part that matches the actual history as a result.

1. The story 

The story itself is heartbreaking and a rollercoaster of a ride as the viewers are able to navigate the story of a woman who worked hard to reach to the top and she comes across various betrayals, love, love triangles and more. Genghis Khan built an empire that spanned vast regions in East Asia and East Europe. And there was one woman who held immense power in the Yuan Dynasty, which Genghis Khan founded, for 37 years. She was neither of Mongol descent nor from the Han Chinese. She came from Goryeo, a small kingdom in the Far East. She was taken to Mongol against her will as a Gungnyeo (palace women) but somehow overcame her lowly status to become the last  empress in another land. Her name was Empress Ki.

2. Ha Ji Won as Empress Ki 

Ha Ji Won is a South Korean actress. She is best known for the historical dramas Damo, Hwang Jini, and Empress Ki, as well as the melodrama Something Happened in Bali, the romantic comedy series Secret Garden, The King 2 Hearts and the medical drama Hospital Ship. In this drama she did a great job of showing herself as a strong leader, great fighter and a person with a sturdy head on her shoulders. She is able to fight any adversities that are rained down on her life with vigor and determination, making her one of the most powerful women of her time. 

3. Ji Chang Wook as Toghon Temür/ Emperor Ta Hwan 

Ji Chang Wook rose to fame for playing the lead role of Dong-hae in daily drama series Smile Again (2010–2011), and had notable lead roles in television series such as Warrior Baek Dong Soo (2011), Empress Ki (2013–2014), Healer (2014–2015), The K2 (2016), Suspicious Partner (2017), Melting Me Softly (2019), Backstreet Rookie (2020), Lovestruck in the City (2020-2021), and The Sound of Magic (2022) and If You Wish Upon Me (2022). He did a great job at playing the hot headed and initially immature prince who becomes a mature king in love. 

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What do you think of the drama? Let us know in the comments below. 

Credits: MBC

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Oct 30, 2022 01:38 PM
JI CHANG WOOK\'S finest work
Oct 28, 2022 01:57 PM
My prince Ji Chang Wook!