The Emperor- Owner of the Mask (군주 – 가면의 주인) – Kdrama RIActions


Ep 1 – I’ve seen a few short clips of this drama pop up on FB, so when it became available on Netflix I jumped at the chance to give Empress Ki (and my head) a rest.

Unfortunately, I jumped out of the frypan and into the fire with yet another overprotected and frustratingly sheltered, clueless Crown Prince 🤦🏽‍♀️ – BUT I really like the quick storyline of this first episode, it seductively weaved its tiny dramatic fingers around your eyeballs and drew me in for more! What scorcery is this? Lol. Alas, I find myself quietly excited for what this drama holds.

Because of my love for period drama’s, I’m now well aware that at first glance everyone seems nice enough – but I know better, and as of right now, I’m suspicious of E V E R Y O N E – noone can be trusted – especially the overly nice Queen Dowager, I’m watching you lady 😑 lol

🤦🏽‍♀️ Well dang! I half expected “The Owner of the Mask” to remain mysteriously unknown for a little while longer – but his unmasking was lightning fast.

Ohhhh gurl!! NO ONE does the “Ice Queen RBF” stare better than Yoon So-Hee… as much as I dont remember any standout performance from her in other dramas, there’s no forgetting that signature Resting Beezy Face.

… AND she’s flawlessly beautiful. Girlfriend, your lips are gonna chap if you keep pouting them like that.

Ep 2 – I LIKE THIS DRAMA! I’m trying so hard to remember that Crown Prince was raised sheltered in a pretty palace and greenhouse but still the eyes naturally rolled when His Royal Righteousness tries to tell everyone “outside the palace” how to act 🤦🏽‍♀️

Before we move on, let us pay tribute to the “Crimped” hair style on the Water Bureau’s head-honcho – hello 1989!

Master Woo Bo 🥰 – be my teacher please.

Ep 3 – Awww Yi Seon, what a cutie but oooooh the love triangle being created is gonna hurt later on, I know that within this seamlessly innocent scene is the beginning of everything that goes wrong later – watch!

The emotional retaliations of those seeking revenge is crazy fast in this drama – Yi Seon shot off like a bull seeing red in search of revenge for his father’s death.

I really like Ice Queen – she aint scared of nothing, she reeks confidence and it looks great on her!

Ep 4 – We have another emotional outburst of retaliation for a killed loved one, albeit, I dont know what it feels like to watch your family member be killed, but these instant revenge outburst is like an outbreak ya’ll – Lady Ga-Eun shows her bravado to the palace guards and lets them know she is coming to kill the Crown Prince for killing her father, yep… thats really gonna get you to the Crown Prince hun.

There is some serious sword skills in this drama BUT its a bit annoying that our heroes go from “ohdamnskills” to “icantholdasword” real quick!

Ep 5 – Our flawless Ice Queen, Hwa-Gun finally see’s her grandfather’s true face of evil – awww poor thing and her heart breaks watching the Crown Prince being killed. Its only Ep 5 – pfftt as if you could kill a Main off this early.

I love how Gon is loyal to her – must be some serious feels there, I feel sorry for him if there is, having to protect the one you love chasing after the one she loves – sob, I’m dizzy with all these love webs!

Ice Queen tries to save Crown Prince but his body is stolen and now she has no idea if he is alive or dead.

The bodyguards in these historical dramas are the epitome of loyalty and commitment. 👏👏

The villagers get kicked out of their homes, but they are rewarded for choosing to follow Lady Ga-Eun by finding water in a the middle of a desert – totally believable! 👀

The Crown Prince lives and seeks out Master Woo Bo to help him destroy Pyeon-Su Group. Master Woo Bo stays drunk lol

OMG that was the longest most pointless farewell dialogue ever – Crown Prince stood there stalking Lady Ga-Eun for almost 6hrs and she didnt look up till around Hour 7! K-Drama’s be doing too much sometimes with their obvious “let me just stand out in the open but behind one branch and look forlornly at my love interest” scenes 😖

Master Woo Bo’s deep and thought provoking insights mixed with comical relief could drive this drama in itself, all he has to do is travel from village to village teaching drunk and it would be the BEST drama ever lol! I freakin love him!

Crown Prince gets downgraded to “Burden” under the guide and training of a new master – I love how Master Woo Bo just wakes up from a drunken stupor and dumps Crown Prince on someone else lol

Our “Burden” gets upgraded to “Youngest Member” in literally two short scenes, a walk up a hill and an amazing soundtrack! 🥰

😱 So those 2 scenes, short hike and soundtrack also amounted to 5 Years later – what-the-what?! Look, I know I said I like the quick storyline earlier but this is just extreme… To the Writers; “You wouldnt have had to cut down 5yrs to 2 scenes if you had just shortened that ridiculously long as goodbye scene earlier. Just give me a pen, I’ll show you how its done... ” (And here marks my official entry as a couch football K-drama writer 🤦🏽‍♀️🤣)

❤️❤️ Kko Mul, I love this little cutie with a 50yr mentality, in fact there are so many loveable support casts in this drama, its easy to forget there are main’s – Kko Mul is a definite favourite but her appearance was a little freaky – little girl dont be sneaking up on people like that!

Ep 6-7 Passed at the speed of light, I dont remember how I got to Ep 8 but I did. Im trying to remember what happened exactly in these episodes. What I do know is: I’m still enjoying this drama – what else?, the race to the copper was a thrill! Poor Yi Seon and his quiet suffering and 🤦🏽‍♀️ALL THE SECRETS 🤦🏽‍♀️ – I have a question though; Why is Cheon Su still being referred to as “Crown Prince” when technically his stand-in, Yi Seon, is now King? – Ice Queen and Lady Ga Eun both reunite with Crown Prince (who has been promoted once again to Chief Peddler) with varying outcomes lol AND STILL, noone can be trusted!

Kko Mul interviewing Chief Peddler is quite possibly the cutest thing ever! Missy is quiet the natural actress! I’ll be looking into what other dramas she’s in thats for sure.

Ep 8 – So listen, these sword injuries and their recovery times are getting confusing now! I mean how is it, when our Ice Queen cuts herself with a sword (on THE ARM) in order to help her father escape, she takes it like a champion and has a full speaking dialogue directly afterwards B U T when Chief Peddler gets cut during a botched kidnapping attempt (also on THE ARM), he faints straights away and cant speak and gets a lie down session while everyone worries if he’ll SURVIVE?!? Does this even make sense??

Also can we please rewind back to Ice Queen’s Father’s fight scenes on the beach for a bit… hilarious! He’s so lovable.

I still don’t know who to trust in this drama, I feel like I’ve seen the Queen Dowager playing evil characters in other dramas – I cant remember which drama, but I dont trust her – it’s extra hard NOT to be suspicious with QD’s sour face, it just doesnt scream “I am fighting for my people”, you know what I mean?! Something fishy this way comes 😑

Ep 9 – Awww poor Ice Queen’s Dad (Kim Woo Jae) getting demoted by his own father, he’s just not cut out for evilness – well, at least IN THIS drama he isn’t – in most dramas he’s either amazingly evil or adorably cute! I salute Mr Kim for his amazing ability to flawlessly go from being evil to loveable and back again, all without his evil following him to the next drama… unlike some characters lol

Ep 10 – Took the longest time to find out where that sneaky Madam comes into play, and when we do, her once faceless “father” (Chief Eunuch) claims no side and we are right back to being confused as to who and what they’re fighting for.

All these flashbacks and Lady Ga-Eun still doesnt remember what the Crown Prince’s Mother told her to look for! Guuuurl! Find.The.Crock! 🤦🏽‍♀️

Meanwhile, our suffering friend Yi Seon is struggling with reality and fantasy, dont do it bro! Its only going to hurt you – remember where you came from. Be Humbl… never mind 🤦🏽‍♀️

Ohhhhhh Ice Queen’s Grandfather is amazingly receptive – she best watch her plans. Her dedication to helping Chief Peddler is adorable. On the flip-side, the struggle is real when her father has to ask his own daughter, now New Leader of Pyeon-Su Group, for permission for a new job 😔 – you can see she’s hurting for her Dad. Love these two!

Ep 11 – That speech by Crown Prince though – woooo! So much passion. He’s got my vote. BUT listen, arent we supposed to be keeping Chief Peddler’s identity a secret??? – So why ya’ll outside yelling “Your Majesty, Your Majesty” like your nosy neighbours aint listening through the paper thin walls! Come on – we still have 9 episodes left !!!

Queen Dowager’s facials when General Choi says he wont rally the army against Pyeonsu Group almost killed me, I just imagine her practising those twitchy facials in front of the mirror – Was this a Historical Comedy? Lol – 👏 Ha! I knew it! QD’s true face is peeking through, I knew those crocodile tears werent real, QD you slitherin house member you lol

I think we need to add a meme here for Crown Prince – “Tells Army General not to protect him – gets poisoned” 🤷🏽‍♀️🙄 – this drama is small kine obsessed with poisons!

Kudos to the production team for making a near drowing look so romantic though… that scenery!Who the hell fished them both up?

The longwinded farewells between our Crown Prince and Lady Ga-Eun remains boring yet again and pointless… 🤦🏽‍♀️ Now you’ve been caught, I keep telling you that longwinded farewells are useless! OFF WITH THEIR HEADS 🤣 jk, thats what I want the Puppet King to say but I still dont have a pen… 🤣

LOL at the Puppet King telling the Crown Prince what the Palace rules are & how to act… BOY IF YOU DONT STOP! 🤣🤣🤣

That puppet show gift for the Queen Dowager LOL what kinda Birthday gift is that?!?! Her eyebrows were having major seizures!

Chief Eunuch’s warning is No Joke… but who are you?! I’m getting serious Game of Thrones Lord Vary’s type feels with this one – who are you and whats your deal?! Who do you bend the knee to?

Ep 12 – Queen Dowager’s face be having some serious twitchy seizures – its so OTT that it’s comical! Her screaming at her brother/councillor is equally OTT and it still baffles me how anyone managed to keep secrets in the Joseon era with all the screaming.

Lady Ga-Eun… for someone who was smart enough to find water in a desert, why has she still not found the crock – despite the location of the clue was already provided to her – And man, when this girl jumps to conclusions, its like its going out of fashion and her emotions follow suit. Im soo impatient lol

I forgot the Queen Dowager was supposed to clear Lady Ga-Eun’s father. Ahhh thats why she needed the General’s army! Oooohhhhhhh… lol dont worry about giving me that pen anymore 🤣🤣 Nice work writers.

Chief Eunuch… This man is freaky!

Ep 13 – Poisons, Poisons… everywhere!!

Queen’s tantrum after poisoning herself had me rollin, this crack up drama! Lol

The bride interviews had me rolling but Ice Queen shows errone she’s still the baddest beezy in Joseon and Lady Ga-Eun gets a bitter taste in her mouth after her cocky little outburst… as heroic as it had seemed at the time.

The face seizures and twitching is outta control – everyone’s face is doing it now! Lol

The puppetry in this drama guys! Holy Moly! Everyone has a string to pull… even for a lowly Court Lady!! Just tear her to pieces and share why dont chu?

Ep 14 – AHH young love – we have a Crown Prince in hiding in a forbidden love triangle with the Court Lady and The Fake King, reckless hormonal decisions made by all … and frustrating the heck out of the adults – who just want to play baddies! You kids are messing up their game! 🤣 Freakin kids! Lol

I wanted to reach through my phone screen and strangle or throat punch the Fake King when he revealed to Dae Mok that the Crown Prince was still alive but I was too impressed when Dae Mok made the connection that Chief Peddler was the Crown Prince, to hold a grudge – See youngbloods? Thats what happens when you dont think with your “ahems” 🤣 Impressive deductions leading to quick actions and regained control. Go evil team! Lol

However, to see this much love & compassion being shown by the evil side is truly… confusing🤷🏽‍♀️ Ya’ll poison or kill others without blinking an eye but jump to action when one threatens suicide! Huh?!

WOOOOWWWW! Yi Seon you scoundrel – lol oh boy! In the battle between Reality & Fantasy, Fantasy won today, oh but the punishment you’ll receive when Reality rears up and slaps you all the way back to 5yrs ago… boy!!

🙌🙌🙌 Head Eunuch to the rescue!!! … but I still DON’T trust you! 😑

Dae Mok reveals some juicy family secrets to the once again cocky Crown Prince … so many unnecesary secrets leading to a whole lotta if only, if only, if only… AISH!! Gotta admit, I did laugh along with Dae Mok watching the penny drop for CP – or Traitor CP as his new identity is now 🤣 He really is the owner of the Mask! So many identities! 🤦🏽‍♀️

🎵And then a Hero comes along…🎶 Lol at Fake King rushing to Lady Ga Eun’s aid… Boy sit down! This Maiden does not want your help.

Slap Lady Ga Eun again Ice Queen! 🙌

Oh come on.. we just watched that scene, does it really need a flashback?! 🙄 – once again, Crown Prince is killed!!! How many times is that now?

Ep 15 – Pyeonsu Group takes over the palace – our Fake King still believes he’s chosen the right team to back him now, Lady Ga Eun is still clueless and Queen Dowager has been sent to the other wing to practise her facial twitches some more 🙄

While everyone else wallows in their hopeless defeat, Crown Prince awakens YET again from the dead (this time thanks to his magic tattoo) and is reminded of WHO he is supposed to be fighting for when a dying child offers him water and quietly dies on him.

Ep 16 – After a much needed rest in the field of dead servants lol our Crown Prince once again resumes his duties of hero and finds the poppy field and see’s the making of the poppy pill…

My drama bias, The Ice Queen gives her grandfather some chilling words, Grandfather heeds the warning for what it is while our clueless Father loving applauds his daughter’s ability to find strength despite her pain… such a cutie!

Fake King clings on to his fantasy control. Dumbass! 🤣🤣

THAT’S IT… sack the rest of the cast and make the Ice Queen and Gon the main, I love them so much! When Ice Queen asks Gon “Are you my person?”, the determination in her gaze and smile hits poor Gon (and me) straight in the feels – ohhhh a big Ice storm approaches. What an amazing actress! 🥰

The Ice Storm named Hwa Gun whips by the Crown Prince without so much as a goodbye kiss but her name on his lips – my heart is broken knowing the fate that Hwa Gun will no doubt meet with a heartless grandfather and for Hwa Gun’s father 😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

Awwwww poor Dad, the look of defeat on his face! OMG was Dad dependant on the poppy seed too? I hope not 😭 – and then still he tries to save his daughter!

Even while showing his heartlessness, Grandfather still shows a tiny bit of remorse, but a Monster he will always be. 🥺😭Farewell my Ice Queen! I’ve never biased a baddie from the beginning to her end before. Yoon So-Hee was truly amazing in this drama.

Ep 17 – Reunions everywhere! Fake King reunites with his mother & sister, neither like this new downgrade. Crown Prince is reunited with his team and then a lack lustre reunion between Crown Prince and Lady Ga Eun.

Lady Ga Eun finally remembers the crock she was supposed to find 🤦🏽‍♀️

After 16 episodes, Crown Prince announces he will regain the throne, find an antidote, defeat Pyeonsu Group, save the world and bring about World Peace! 👏👏👏 🙄 – oh and gains another bodyguard! 🥰 Gon-a!

Ep 18 – The montage of Crown Prince & Ice Queen, Hwa Gun scenes as he remembers her and pays tribute to her awesomeness had me teary eyed!

I’ll never understand the need for Kdrama characters to speak their plans/thoughts out loud. Lady Ga Eun – INSIDE HEAD VOICE PLEASE!

The slow steady nod from Chief Eunuch as Crown Prince gives another inaugural worthy speech was classic historical dramatics… SHAME you got called out for your fear and not doing anything before that though lol – but can I trust you yet Chief Eunuch??! **sucks on teeth** I hope so… anything can happen in 2 episodes.

A little game of switcharoo is played by Chief Eunuch and we see “a King” making his way to the throne.. a quick cut to Fake King waiting in his room confirms it is Crown Prince walking into the Royal Court towards the throne.

In Chandler Bing voice “COULD HE WALK ANY SLOWER TO THE THRONE?!🤦🏽‍♀️

Fake King makes a race to the Throne and confusion ensues as to which King is the real King.

Ep 19 – Queen Dowager is summoned to confirm which Fake King is the Real one lol

Lady Ga Eun finally does what she was asked to do all the way back in Ep 2 or 3 and finds the crock – kindly smash the crock over your head 🤦🏽‍♀️

With the help of the Chief Eunuch’s daughter and GON (🥰ok you handsome fighter you), Lady Ga Eun is able to present the crock to the Queen Dowager, who reads out the long awaited secret revelation of the true King’s Healing Tattoo.

If you are the real King – Prove it!” Queen Dowager

And with those words, Fake King watches his Fantasy come crashing down around him, as Queen Dowager offers him the cocktail of choice… Poison! *gasp* lol

We all saw it coming but the slow characters we’ve come to love, are only just realizing now the extent of what might actually happen to Yi Seon and they all watch on in sadness to see if Fake King will actually drink the poison… will the Crown Prince save him?

Of course he does, because Crown Prince is all about saving his people – that is, provided his love interest isnt in any kind of danger. Priorities lol

🤦🏽‍♀️Fake King still throws a sissy fit despite being saved. Someone get our Yi Seon his pacifier.

And just like that, Crown Prince regains the throne and promptly drops the bombshell that Dae Mok had tried notsohard to keep hidden, that the poppy field has been burnt to destruction and that Dae Mok does not have enough antidote to save all of those loyal to the Pyeonsu Group – everyone freaks out! Its the funniest thing.

Find antidote countdown begins – 5 days…

Ooooweee, check out the upgrade in the King’s personal bodyguard’s eyepatch! Daaaaaang son!!

Dae Mok is placed under “palace” arrest and all his followers in the royal court are placed in the jails. They beg Crown Prince to save them.

Fake King is still acting like a spoilt brat and screams like a possessed demon at anyone who tries to speak with him – Mother and baby sis included – this actor would prove to be a worthy stalker or pyscho in any drama – he’s cray-cray!

Ep 20 – Waaahhh the last episode 😭

Every attempt to find an antidote fails and the King is left with no other choice but to go to Dae Mok and demand the antidote – yep thats really gonna happen! Lol of course Daw Mok knew this would happen and the answer is a fluid – “Sure bro! Get down and bow to me first!” Lol

With a little “happy” persussion from my favourite bodyguard Gon, Ice Queen’s father provides the King with the antidote recipe on the last day -for dramatic effect of course lol – BUT it comes with an unexpected condition… 😔

The antidote is a success but none of the followers poisoned by Dae Mok will accept it due to rumours started by Dae Mok, the man who is supposedly under palace arrest but still somehow has access to messenger doves and people who can come and go as they please… 🤷🏽‍♀️🤔

In an attempt to be a heroine, Lady Ga Eun, takes a double dose of poppy pill “to speed up the affects” apparently and then takes the antidote to prove that it works to Dae Mok’s poisoned followers… however, in proper kdrama tradition – she faints and doesnt wake up so the followers all freak out and run back to Dae Mok 🤣

In a twist of fate lol suuureeee – those who ran back to Dae Mok appear before him with no spotty signs of death from poppy seed… flashback to what actually happens (Sidenote: THIS is how a flashback should be. Bravo!)

Yi Seon is the last to be given the antidote but he’s still salty so he just leaves after being healed – but soon after realizes something else is amiss and starts to put things together.

We finally see who Yi Seon’s ex bodyguard really is and what his new orders are… ahhh so that’s Fake King’s redemption 😔 I can’t say Im surprised it had to end like this for him but at least it wont be ending on a salty note – I hope, one never knows with a Kdrama lol

Maybe its because its the last episode and we have yet to see what the outcome of Yi Seon’s ex bodyguard’s new orders are (even though… its pretty obvious lol) but the sountrack in this episode is extra foreboding – an extra loud offkey piano note has you expecting something bad at that very moment and then it quickly switches to fluffy goodness and light yoghurt, and just like that it switches to short quick succession of the long hand release farewell, Yi Seon’s wide eyes as he confirms his earlier deductions and runs to find Master Woo Ro, a stopped palaquin, the hard run to the King to let him know what is happening and I’m about to pass out from holding my breath! This why I love kdramas ya’ll!

If this was based on a real Joseon King, I’d be on to google right about now doing a full history research before I watch the last part but I’m too invested now to leave – well, except to write my reactions that is, but maybe even that excuse is just an attempt to prolong the actual ending.

Kdrama writers are MASTERS at suspense – even if they messed up some storylines along the way, the cliffhangers are so worth the emotional rollercoaster ride!

Awww what a redemption for Yi Seon – standing ovation for our youngblood 👏👏👏 New catchphrase for despair: “Yi Seon-a!!” The King’s heroic success at stopping the killing sword blow with his hand is quickly overlooked… 🤔

That was probably the cutest, most impressive coronation and drama ending, I’ve ever seen – loooved it!

Final Thoughts: Although mostly predictable, I quite enjoyed this drama – it was a mixture of fast and furious and frustratingly slow all at the same with chunks of absolute cuteness.

It totally went against the grain for my normal historical drama reactions in that I found myself rooting for the bad team half the time (Ice Queen, Manse!) and saw the humanity in even the evil monster.

As frustrating as some parts were, I found myself laughing out loud a lot and getting happy feels in situations that shouldnt warrant happy feelings 😬

It is highly likely I would watch this drama again – if just for Ice Queen, Gon and majority of the support cast.

What next? I’ll most probably move on to another rom-com to keep this fluffy happiness going for a little while longer and then prepare myself again much later to finish Empress Ki-ll me now lol

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