KDrama Review: Queen of the Ring

For today, I will be reviewing the 2017 drama special Queen of the Ring, starring Kim Seul-gi and Ahn Hyo-seop. I ended up watching this after one of my rewatches of Splish Splash Love and I just needed more Kim Seul-gi. I MISS HER DEARLY. I want her to headline a drama so badly but I know that seems unlikely. But how about a second female lead with her own loveline? Like Go Won-hee in Strongest Deliveryman? Or being cast in an ensemble drama like Laughter in Waikiki? I JUST WANT HER ON MY SCREEN IN A MEATY ROLE, KDRAMA GODS, JEBAL. Anyway, I’m getting off-topic so check out my review under the cut!

Queen of the Ring stars Kim Seul-gi as Mo Nan-hee and Ahn Hyo-seop as Park Se-gun. Nan-hee has a huge crush on the hottest guy in school, Se-gun. However, he only dates pretty girls and is a known heartbreaker. Nan-hee is understandably dejected, that is, until her mother gives her a magical ring. If you make the one you like put that ring on you, he’ll see you as his ideal girl. And I mean, he wouldn’t see your face and your body, he’ll literally see his dream girl instead of you. Conflict ensues when apparently, Se-gun’s ideal girl is Kang Mi-joo (Yoon So-hee), Nan-hee’s childhood bestfriend/frenemy.

I have conflicted feelings about this show and I think it would be best for everyone involved (primarily my barely coherent brain) that I just list the things that I liked about it and the things I’m kind of meh about. Thank you, Charlie, for hashing this drama out with me, which helped me sort my feelings. Negatives first so we can end the review on a high note!

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NAY / Things I frowned at

  • While Ahn Hyo-seop and Yoon So-hee weren’t terrible, they were also not good. But at least their acting were serviceable and at least not cringe-worthy? So at least there’s that. I certainly wish there was more to their characters though. Or that they were much more better actors to have put nuance into their roles but as it is, they didn’t. They’re just so obviously subpar actors because we have Kim Seul-gi in the mix, who at Nan-hee’s pettiest can still make you root for the character.
  • Yoon So-hee’s Kang Mi-joo was so terribly written though! One moment she’s kind of a good friend and the next one, she’s a total bitch. I mean, I get toxic friendships, I am very familiar with them. But there are no repercussions or denouement for their friendship? Really? I don’t need them to have an epic fight but I wish there was more talking and reconciliation than just sweeping everything under the rug. That’s why Mi-joo keeps on stepping on Nan-hee! Because she doesn’t get punished for her meanness.
  • For Ahn Hyo-seop’s Park Se-gun, he was made to be a nice guy, actually. A sweet one, even. Despite his misdirected notions about finding an even prettier girl every time since he thought he’ll truly fall in love with the prettier girl. But I just couldn’t see what Nan-hee saw in him, which is my main problem with this drama. Se-gun realized that it was Nan-hee and her bright and wonderful personality he actually liked and not Mi-joo’s face and body. And we get the message that what’s important is what’s inside. But what about Nan-hee? Didn’t she like Se-gun because he has a pretty face? Sure, he’s actually and apparently a good person but it seemed kind of ironic that the show preaches about looking inside when Nan-hee herself liked Se-gun for how he looks. I just have such a beef with that. At least Nan-hee was upfront at the start though that she thinks she’s ugly and she thinks that ugly people deserve love too but then again, she also loves what’s beautiful. At least she states it explicitly. I know, I know, the heart wants what it wants. I just wish that that aspect was better dealt with. I guess I just wish that Mo Nan-hee didn’t appear as shallow as that?
  • Kim Seul-gi is not ugly (to me, I guess Korean beauty standards might consider her so BUT WHY) so it was weird watching the constant putdowns about her looks.

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YAY / Things I liked

  • Kim Seul-gi as Mo Nan-hee was great. You can always count on Kim Seul-gi to deliver a nuanced and emotionally investing performance. She just makes every character she plays affably warm, someone you would root for. While I was not thrilled with her laser focus on getting the boy who only cares about outward appearances, I was rooting for her to succeed.
  • The adorable second lead Byun Tae-hyun (played by Lee Tae-sun) was all sorts of a puppy and I had a semi-Second Lead Syndrome with him. I love how his arc was resolved though!
  • And since I’m still kind of easy to please, I found the romance cute!!! It was a good way to spend three hours because even though my brain was warring with my heart about what’s wrong with this show, my heart was still lapping up the romantic bits.
  • The empowering message of just being you. It’s something that’s been done in the past and can be considered hackneyed by some but it’s something I can watch again and again. Probably because I have self-esteem issues as well and I can relate to Mo Nan-hee’s self-worth issues (which reminds me that Kim Seul-gi’s character in Splish Splash Love had self-worth issues too). Despite all the detours, Mo Nan-hee’s journey in accepting herself and loving herself was beautiful.

Overall, Queen of the Ring was a light, breezy, and cute way to spend three hours. It was pretty entertaining, albeit simple. But sometimes we just need something simple to unwind, right?

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5 Comments

  1. I think the character of Kang Mi-joo was partly bad because of the writing and Yoon So-hee’s acting. I think the character could have been more sympathetic if they explored her issues of being on stage, or set it up so that she was trying to get Park Se-gun to see how much better Nan-hee was for him. But, they dropped the ball, making her just irritating and not in the least sympathetic. I don’t think she deserved Byun Tae-hyun.

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    1. Yes! I wish they explored her issues about being onstage too. I was happy that they’ve thrown in a character with anxiety (ooohhh, I didn’t mention that, I gotta edit my review) but also mad because they barely did anything with the character. She was nice when the story called for it, and mean to introduce conflicts. No organic motivation at all. It was like Kang Mi-joo was two different characters. And yes, preach! Byun Tae-hyun was too good for her! Kinda mad about that (which I forgot to include in my review too so I might edit it in). Thanks for dropping by!

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    2. I have to agree with this. I also have a problem about giving her a handicap to make her idk, likable? Human? It’s like they gave her anxiety and just forgave every wrong thing she has done in the past. I felt like there wasn’t even a realization on her part.

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      1. Yes! It’s not an excuse! She didn’t even admit that she did wrong. It’s normal for those with anxiety and/or depression to lash out and hurt the people they love but awareness is also key? So even just an acknowledgment that she did wrong would be wonderful but meh, LET’S JUST SWEEP EVERYTHING UNDER THE RUG, says writer-nim.

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