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When Hotel King first came out, I was very intrigued. I wasn’t familiar with Lee Dong Wook at the time, but I did really liked Lee Da Hae. I attempted to watch it when it first aired, but ten minutes into the first episode, I saw how very intense it was going to be. Back then, I was burning out on melodramas so I decided to wait, but happily browsed recap posts so i could still get a taste of the drama. Finally, over a year later, in the midst of my Lee Dong Wook obsession, I decided this was the moment to sit and watch.

What I really found intimidating about this drama was the length. We’re not talking 24 episodes, but 32 episodes!! But, with my appreciation for both main leads, I had to give it a fair shot. I was pleasantly surprised. For me, the length of the drama no longer was an issue. The drama had good momentum and left me craving the next episode.

Genre: Romantic Melodrama,

Synopsis: Cha Jae Wan (played by Lee Dong Wook) grew up on the streets and was horribly abused physically as a child. All he had as comfort to get him through the abuse was his friend who was in the the same situation as him.

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Suddenly, after a horrific ordeal, Cha Jae Wan wakes up in a luxurious hotel where he’s notified by Lee Joong Goo (Lee Deok Hwa) that his father is a horrible man named Ah Sung Won who abandoned him and his mother. Seeking revenge for his mother’s death, Jae Wan works hard to become successful and to one day take over Hotel Ciel (which his father owns). Suddenly, the chairman Ah Sung Won dies. The seemingly flighty and inconsiderate chairman’s daughter, Ah Mo Ne,  (played by Lee Da Hae) comes to claim her spot as Chairwoman as she is the only “known” heir. She also is secretly suspicious over the circumstances surrounding her father’s death and is seeking answers.

Drama Strengths

Strong Chemistry Between the Leads

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Yay! Dramaland reunion between Lee Dong Wook and Lee Da Hae! So, they were both precious in My Girl, but since then both of them have really matured as actors and their chemistry in Hotel King is undeniable. It’s truly sizzling hot. I mean Hawt!!!! There’s this naturalness to how they interact. Although the drama can be very serious, they have some lighthearted moments which balance the drama so your not just spiraling down into a deep drama induced depression. Often they really felt like a real couple. They are definitely one of my favorite drama couples. Oh, and they kiss to perfection.. xoxo

Veteran Actors

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Veteran actors Kim Hae Sook and Lee Deok Hwa were perfect casting for this drama. I already liked them both but they really blew me away in Hotel King. Their roles are very important to the story and they both knocked it out of the park. Now there’s some level of predictability for sure, but with good acting the predictability wasn’t annoying.

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Kim Hae Sook in particular was really astonishing. I think part of the reason she astounded me to the core was because of her character’s transformation and evolution. We really get into her psyche which wouldn’t be possible without such phenomenal acting. I have so much respect for her as an actress. I feel like her role must have been really fun and fulfilling to play.

Melodramatic Glory

The story was really good. Well, it may have annoyed some, but as a melodrama lover it was right up my alley. I love drama. In the first few episodes some of the acting seemed overly intense and I felt a little taken aback a times, but it leveled out and the acting became very natural.

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Lee Dong Wook had a very challenging role with his heartbreaking past. I thought he played his robotic-like character well and showed us a lot of depth and growth as the episodes progressed. I really liked seeing him in this heavy melodramatic role, but in contrast he had these wonderfully “humane” moments where he felt like a very fleshed out character. His character had me hooked.

To be honest, I felt very connected to his character. Not through personal experience, but I found his acting moving. I kinda fell under the spell of his character you could say. The sorrow in his eyes… the circumstances of his life… I know not everyone would agree with me, but this is how I feel. It was really neat too, because while I was watching Lee Dong Wook in Hotel King, I was also watching reruns of Roommate where he’s being himself. The contrast of real life Lee Dong Wook and Hotel King Cha Jae Wan is so large, which really solidified my beliefs in his acting skills.

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Lee Da Hae is the queen of eccentricity but also managed to show us so much heart. At times I didn’t quite understand her or agree with her, but her heart was pure and I could really feel her emotions. Lee Da Hae is a phenomenal actress which I feel is perhaps underrated. She has a uniqueness to her which I find refreshing.

I would be very open to seeing them act together again.

Final Thoughts

This drama worked for me, but if you don’t have the patience for a long drama, or get annoyed with over the top melodrama, then it might not be the right fit for you. It’s worth watching for the OTP and the supporting cast is very good. Some humor and romance balances the very heavy and dark drama.

Overall Rating:

kdrama Quick review rating

4.5/5

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