The Red Sleeve
Starring: Lee Jun Ho, Lee Se Young, Kang Hoon
Year Released: 2021
Number of Episodes: 16
Genre: Drama, Historical, Romance
Where I Watched It: Viki
Who I Watched It For: Lee Jun Ho
In Korea during the second half of the 1700s, Yi San is an aloof and perfection-loving young prince. His father’s killing haunts him, although it leaves him in the position to take the throne once his grandfather – the cruel and ruthless current king responsible for Yi San’s father’s death – dies. He has resolved to become a benevolent monarch who will reform the law when he eventually takes the throne, but the way his father was killed has scarred him emotionally.
At court, he meets a young woman named Sung Deok Im. Yi San falls in love with her and tries to convince her to become his official concubine. But Sung Deok Im is strong-willed and free-spirited. She is also intelligent enough to understand that becoming a royal consort to the future king is a prestigious role, but one that would restrict her freedom and likely bring her little in the way of joy. But Yi San’s love for Sung Deok Im is true, and she starts to understand that forming a union with him could ultimately benefit his troubled realm.
I planned to watch this show because I enjoyed Lee Jun Ho in all of the stuff that I had seen him in before and was looking for a new show to support. I’m not normally big on watching historical dramas but I’m so glad that I watched this one.
I’m not going to get into an in-depth description of what this show is about, you can read the blurb above, so I’m just going to jump into my thoughts on the show as a whole. From the casting, to the scenery, the dialogue, and the acting, I enjoyed every aspect of this show. I will say that there were a bit of a slow down in the middle but it didn’t last super long and I was heavily invested in what was going on so that didn’t bother me too much.
The main lead, Lee Jun Ho, did a tremendous job in bringing his character, Yi San to life. I felt his every emotion and though I spent a lot of time frustrated with how he treated the female lead in the beginning, I didn’t hate him because he’s the crown prince and of course, he’d act the way that he did. I cried a lot at different parts of this show and it was mostly with Lee Jun Ho’s delivery of different scenes. My heart hurt for him as he survived assassination attempt after attempt, on top of all of the shit that he had to survive with his abusive ass grandfather, the current King and all of the emotional baggage that came with the death of his father. There was a lot to unpack with his story alone, now add in the female lead, Sung Deok Im, played by Lee Se Young, and the story takes off even more.
I really enjoyed this show. The romance between Yi San and Deok Im was compelling as hell because he’s the Crown Prince and she’s a court maid assigned to work in his house. She’s strong, she’s smart, and though she finds herself falling in love with Yi San, she understands that becoming one of his concubines doesn’t lead to anywhere good for her. So there was struggle in all parts of her life, but also in Yi San’s life. Seeing the way that these two came together in love was a whole lotta, whole lotta. There was a lot of drama, there was a lot of hurt feelings, and worrying over each other so they really had to work for their happy ending and the way that this show came to an end was satisfying as hell.
Overall, this show had it all. A charming cast, a romance that you rooted for, and the backdrop of beautiful Korea that left you breathless. It was a beautiful drama from beginning to end and though there were parts of the show that dragged a bit for me, I still heavily messed with this show. Lee Se Young is a new to me actress but I enjoyed her portrayal of Deok Im, even when she frustrated me with her constant refusal to follow her heart but in the end, alls well that ends well and I was a happy camper. I hella recommend this drama if you’re in the mood for a good historical royal romance with a beautiful cast, setting, and romance. This hits all of those notes and more.
4 out of 5