3 Reasons To Watch Revenge Romance K-Drama “Love Song For Illusion”
Revenge and love make strange bedfellows but remain a favorite genre in K-dramas. “Love Song for Illusion,” adapted from a webtoon, is a throbbing love story between a crown prince and an assassin but with a twist. Crown Prince Sajo Hyun (Park Ji Hoon) suffers from a personality disorder. He has an alter ego named Ak Hee, who is at loggerheads with Sajo Hyun’s reticent and sensitive personality. Then there’s Yeon Wol (Hong Ye Ji), whose life fell apart as a child when her father, the former king, was murdered in front of her eyes as well as her mother. The little girl swears to avenge her family and becomes an assassin. Fate works in strange ways when she finds herself mysteriously becoming the Crown Prince’s concubine, the very man whose family she hates. What complicates matters is that Yeon Wol finds herself developing fondness and deep affection for Sajo Hyun, who resents her, since he regards her as Ak Hee’s woman. If this piques your interest, here are three reasons for you to watch “Love Song for Illusion”!
Breaking gender stereotypes
There is always a specific gender portrayal, especially when it comes to historical dramas. The men are usually shown as valiant, masters in the art of artillery and smart statesmen, who have little or no time for the artistic pleasures in life other than their material conquests, with a bit of time for romance. However, Sajo Hyun is the opposite. He would rather spend his time in the drapery than go on hunting sprees. He is a dress designer, and ever since he was a little boy, all he has wanted to do was design clothes. This of course made him the object of derision, especially from his father, who cruelly chastises him saying, “All you ever do is draw headless men.” Sajo Hyun is asked to “man up,” which results in watching bloodshed and violence, and that’s when he develops mental health issues. When he grows up, his creations, fabrics, and drapery are his refuge from the chaos of his own life as crown prince, and it’s obvious he’d rather design than sit in court. It’s interesting to note that a royal-turned-fashion designer is not something you commonly see in the drama space.
On the other hand, Yeon Wol was a child who enjoyed the martial arts, and her parents nurtured that aspect. Her father even proudly presents her with a mini sword, acknowledging that even though she is a girl, she is destined to lead. When her family is massacred in front of her own eyes, you can see the burning flames for revenge. She joins rebels, and her skills are way more advanced than the men she defeats. She is the one who tells Sajo Hyun that there is nothing to be ashamed of regarding his skills as a designer, and he tells her, “You think it is strange that a man likes to meddle with fabric and sew.” Her response is that men and women should do what they enjoy doing. She is also far more astute and wise than Sajo Hyun as well as fearless. The way these two characters are portrayed and the breaking of gender stereotypes make the show pretty interesting and refreshing.
Hong Ye Ji’s and Park Ji Hoon’s performances
The performances by lead actors Park Ji Hoon and Hong Ye Ji are one of the strengths of the show. The role of Sajo Hyun and his alter ego, the troublemaking Ak Hee, is a polar opposite of Park Ji Hoon’s character as the smart Yeon Si Eun in “Weak Hero Class 1.” As Sajo Hyun, he brings forth the inner conflict of a man who is caught between his contrasting personalities. As Sajo Hyun, he is a conflicted man, one who is ridden by guilt for not saving the little girl (Yeon Wol) he had met when his father had launched the bloodbath against her family. Also aware of the Crown Princess’s conniving ways, he sometimes musters up the courage to react but is essentially a non-confrontational person. Sajo Hyun seeks solace in making clothes, and his tender nature comes to the surface as he regards his creations as his children, well knowing they cannot hurt him like those around him. On the other hand, as Ak Hee, he is playful, obsessive, and has no filter. Even though Ak Hee is regarded as the evil spirit in possession of Sajo Hyun, in reality he is the manifestation of the untapped emotions in Sajo Hyun. Park Ji Hoon grows on you as the sullen Sajo Hyun and cocky Ak Hee, and both endear.
Hong Ye Ji’s strength lies in her ability to emote from her eyes. Hers is a physically demanding role, and she aces it. Her inner conflict when she falls for Sajo Hyun and keeps reminding herself that he is the son of the man who destroyed her life is well brought out. From losing her memories and regaining them, as well as the betrayal she witnesses from the very people she trusted, these events are subtly brought forth. There are no unnecessary theatrics or histrionics but a rather nuanced performance.
The other two characters who are exceptionally good are the manipulative crown princess played by Ji Woo and Hwang Hee as Sajo Hyun’s scheming half-brother who hides a dual identity and is the mastermind behind palace intrigues, which impact both Sajo Hyun and Yeon Wol.
Awesome choreography, stunts, and dance sequences
The scale of production is usually grand in historical dramas, but it is the choreography in “Love Song for Illusion” which deserves a mention. Yeon Wol, who has to hide her identity, has taken on the name of Kyera and is also a member of a dance troupe. It’s her way to get familiar with the palace and get close to Sajo Hyun’s father, the debauched king. The drama contains fluid moments and flowing costumes to the beats of tense music, and the dance sequences are well orchestrated, blending in Salpuri (a Korean traditional performance) along with modern movements. The fight sequences, which bring forth martial arts and parkour, are well choreographed, and it’s again Yeon Wol’s character who is the one executing it, and she makes it very convincing. Though the story gets stretched at times, nonetheless it keeps you engaged as you wonder where this ill-fated relationship will lead Sajo Hyun and Yeon Wol.
Start watching “Love Song for Illusion”:
Have you seen “Love Song for Illusion,” or are you planning to watch it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!
Puja Talwar is a Soompi writer with a strong Yang Yang and Lee Junho bias. A long time K-drama fan, she loves devising alternate scenarios to the narratives. She has interviewed Lee Min Ho, Gong Yoo, Cha Eun Woo, and Ji Chang Wook to name a few. You can follow her on @puja_talwar7 on Instagram.