Sitting on a 38-episode melodrama where birth secret, superhero villains, revenge-and-greed-driven plot needs to be munched was a feat so hard to do for an impatient girl like me. But I will give it to the setting of the story. I love how Korean dramas are tailored because they get to bring me at different worlds I’m not familiar with unlike American produced series which normally go to the cops-doctors-lawyers triumvirate. This time I learned something about the shipbuilding industry as the story evolved around characters moving in the oil exploration and shipbuilding technology business. While I’m waiting for the 1st quarter dramas to end, I played with the ocean, ships, azimuth thruster, drilling rigs, oil discovery and the realistic and moving love story of MAY QUEEN.
An oil expert Dr. Yoon Hak-soo and his friend Kang Wi were in the pursuit of probing and drilling oil but were thwarted by then deputy of Japanese intelligence unit, Jang Do Hyeon whose greed superseded his friendship with Hak-soo . After causing a car accident to Kang Wi and his wife, he trailed Yoon Hak-soo and killed him concealing the truth that he was behind the ambush. As if it was not enough Jang Do Hyeon ordered Park Gi-Cheol, (Dr. Yoon Hak-soo’s trusted friend) to kill Lee Geum Hee and Yoon Hak Soo’s daughter – Yoo Jin. In fear of the evil villain and because he begged him for his life to spare, he became a slave to his evil plans. Thank God, he got a little conscience left, he looked for his brother-comrade in the army and entrusted Yoo-jin to him.
Yoo-jin grew up and became Hae-joo, although she lived in a not affluent life, she was optimistic and cheerful and has loved her family so much. When his father has left no penny to feed the family, they went to Ulsan to see Park Gi-cheol and asked help for him. Gi-cheol who became the butler of Jang Do Hyeon’s mansion in fear of having Hae-joo’s identity be revealed drove them away but a kind prosecutor Yoon Jang-hee (Yoon Hak-soo’s brother) took them and let them stay in his house.
So in the twist of fulfilling kdrama plot, of course all of the main characters should be connected. Hae-joo went to the school where Jang Do Hyeon and Gi-cheol’s children were studying and ended being friends with In-hwa the daughter of Jang Do Hyeon’s family. She also met Kang San, the grandson of a shipbuilding company and became friends with him. Soon enough Hae-joo’s father learned of her identity but when he confronted Gi-cheol about it, he tried denying it. The uneasiness and the possible beating he will get from the Chairman made him accidentally kill Hae-joo’s father when he swerved the truck he was driving to evade Hae-joo. After taking over Kang San’s grandfather’s business and buying out the necessary land needed to expand his business, Hae-joo’s family momentarily stayed at the Chairman’s mansion, but Gi-cheol made contact with the loan sharks Hae-joo’s father was indebted to so they were left no choice but to leave Ulsan. When Chairman’s wife found the yellow baby cloth left by Hae-joo’s family, she recognized it as Yoo-jin’s clothing, the chairman although believing Gi-cheol that Yoo-jin already died didn’t want his wife to be thriving on the memory of her lost daughter so he ordered Gi-cheol to have Hae-joo be killed but she was able to escape her near-death experience.
Years later Hae-joo emerged as a very skilled technician and the only thing holding back her innate qualification was her lacking of formal education. Gi-cheol’s son, Park Chang Hee became a prosecutor and was dating Hae-joo for 15 years. Chairman Jang Do Hyeon still is his usual Voldemort-villain self as Gi-cheol is in his Gollum-villain character openly disagreed on his son’s relationship with Hae-joo. Kang San came back from the US and is representing an overseas big shipping company as an Inspector. The story revealed how Hae-joo and Kang San’s fathers used to be friends and their involvement to an oil exploration they were trying to dig into. They were murdered by the greedy Jang Do Hyeon who also passed on the burden torch to the late oil experts’ children. Chang-hee who has loved Hae-joo so dearly upon knowing his father’s involvement to her father’s death was left no choice but to leave her and put on a devil mask to ploy an attack to defeat Jang Do Hyeon. Avenging their parents’ death was a no easy task for Hae-joo and Kang-san, but combined with the support of the people who got hurt and traumatized by Jang Do Hyeon, with perseverance and clinging on the right path and thing to do, without magic they were able to throw a deadly stone to the mighty Jang Do Hyeon to finally end his tyranny.
All the fundamentals of a melodrama were ever present as the narrative crawled to its finale – the-most-vilest-of-‘em-all-villains, meek-good-natured-overly-optimistic-lead-girl and the good-prevailing-over-wickedness-theme. It was a slow-moving drama but I can say I appreciated that all was explained when it comes to the conflicts raised — the motivation, the actions after the intentions and the resolution.
May Queen depicted varied facets of villains, the prototype villain, the unreasonable villain and the secret villain. All of them contributed to my annoyance meter while patiently stalking the drama. Jang Do Hyeon as the head of the villains I’m sure attended Voldemort’s workshop to his unlimited whiplash thrown at everything that’s going in his way. The last minute twist of his relationship with Hae-joo I felt to have been a wrong move for the writers, and ending his character that way although not sufficing to the pain he cast was an acceptable closure and has brought tears to my eyes. You see there’s really a point that we get disappointed with our family, but at the end of the day they are still our family.
Chang-hee who has lived under the abusive treatment of Jang Do Hyeon has lived with a promise to himself that one day the ill treatment his father got from the family they were serving will be avenged. He has to rely on his intelligence and cunning ways to execute Jang Do Hyeon’s downfall even using his daughter by marrying her and throwing back the love he had for 15 years towards Hae-joo. Chang-hee balanced the relationship of the cast with his villain/protagonist role, and at some point I was rooting for him, but you see usually the motivation for “first love” relationship is always based on the thought that you have felt that love for the first time and you are scared that you might not feel that way again, but in the end when all has been done, and if even the memories can’t save it, you have to really let it go. Meanwhile Chang-hee’s father irritated me to a hilt in the drama. But of all the villains, his portrayal was the most painful and the easiest to be forgiven because you know that his reason for doing it is because of protecting his son.
Hae-joo stood up as your perfect heroine, vulnerable and defiant at the same time and knows what’s going on with her life. She didn’t abuse the drama of her life and has taken advantage of her setbacks to bring out the best in her. Kang-san who became her love-after-the-first-love has that comforting warmth and has been the source of my chuckles because of his comic timing. I love that he patiently waited for the love of his life to be fully healed before he took her in his arms. I really like the development of their love story. It was something believable and justified at the same time. In the end their love overruled the sad fact of their parents past and they were able to fulfill their parents’ dreams as well.
What I liked about this drama is they compensated the long run to explain everything they have to explain. They also made sure that each main character revolved and redeemed their personas. I think I’ll have this drama as my yardstick to melodrama that’s not taking the romance as an integral part. While it was not as stimulating as Five Fingers, it never lost its track to where it is heading. I guess it helped that they drew delineation between the villains and the protagonists and clearly defined where the problems of the story was derived.
If you have some time to spare, this is a good watch to share with your family… actually with your aunt or mom. Strongly-portrayed and defined, MAY QUEEN just like that historical ship famous for her endurance was able to justify its slow pacing… and just like a mighty ship soaring on the ocean and billowing waves, it will give you a serene feeling after.
P.S The drama title May Queen was the name of the drilling ship Hae-joo and Kang-san successfully built after ending the evil streak of Jang Do Hyeon.