Other names: –
Star rating (out of 5):
Starring: Lee Dong Wook (Cha Jae Wan), Lee Da Hae (Ah Mo Ne), Lee Deok Hwa (Lee Joong Goo), Kim Hae Sook (Baek Mi Nyeo), Wang Ji Hye (Song Chae Kyung), Im Seul Ong (Sunwoo Hyun).
Number of episodes: 32
Episode length: 60 Mins
Recommended to: Melodrama fans, tele-novella fans, people who like plot twists, love story fans, fans of humour.
NOT recommended to: People who prefer surprising elements, fans of realism.
This plot outline may be a little short because doing a full one without spoilers will be near impossible. In fact, the trailers for the show itself managed to spoil the first plot element by telling us it was a love story between Ah Mo Ne and Cha Jae Wan, kinda writing off that they were actually long lost relatives as it were.
The story centres around the daily running of a premier 7 star hotel in Korea. Cha Jae Wan is a street orphan who, after the death of his brother, is taken in by Lee Joong Goo who tells him that the Chairman of the hotel (Ah Mo Ne’s father) was his father who abandoned his mother. After a rather abusive upbringing by Lee Joong Goo with Jae Wan’s sole aim being revenge on Chairman Ah, Jae Wan lands the job of General Manager at the hotel.
Chairman Ah dies in mysterious circumstances. Unfortunately a spanner is thrown into Jae Wan and Joong Goo’s plans to take over the hotel when Ah Mo Ne decides to step up to the plate and become a good chairwoman of the company.
What follows is a tale of multiple deceits and interlinking stories mostly derailed from a happy ending by the evil ruminations of Lee Joong Goo. I’m loathe to go into much more detail that that as some of the story lines rely on the frustrating cliffhanger feeling as you go along. In fact each double episode ends on a cliffhanger!
Hotel King was my first melodrama and I really thought I’d hate it. It has very typical melodrama feels, with eternal feeling of frustration at the end of the episode when the music plays and they HAVEN’T ANSWERED THE QUESTIONS!
It does really go for as many K-drama tropes as possible in one show, so if clichés offend you steer clear of it. My main frustration was that the whole drama seems like it could have been tied up pretty neatly if people just spoke to each other. I used to have quite irate rants at my partner at how ridiculous it was, but I can’t say I was ever really offended by it– it was just one of those funny drama things.
The acting is, overall, really good by melodrama standards. Don’t expect subtle displays of emotion…That wouldn’t be very melodramatic but some of the characters are beautiful; subtly displayed with Im Seul Ong doing an amazing job as the love triangle extra. While I never really wanted him to get the girl, I wanted him to be happy so much. Wang Ji Hye also turns out a more downplayed character as the bitter ex and she does it perfectly. I rarely feel sympathy for those characters and despite no serious sob back story, my heart bled for her.
The two leads however are in full melodrama flow with Lee Dong Wook’s crazy angry eyes and iconic and recurring feature. Lee Da Hae plays a very typical whiny K-drama girl even when she is at her ‘strongest’, normally this would annoy me but, honestly, it suits the melodrama style here so I can overlook it.
The best parts were probably the comedy moments, especially those amongst the supporting hotel staff the show is worth watching for that and that alone.
On the down side, if melodramas really aren’t your thing then at 32 episodes this is probably a bit on the long side to dip your two in. The show itself is also 2 Episodes too long in my opinion. I was happy with the show where I thought it had ended and at the actual end, but not the episode and a half that feels very wedged in between them.
OH and Lee Doong Wook gets shirtless…
Bonus: So does Jin Tae Hyun…