Kdrama Review : The Last Empress

The Last Empress is a fantasy drama in which an imperial family still exist in 2018 South Korea.

A musical actress Oh Sunny had a long time crush on the emperor Lee hyuk. She somehow ends up marrying him. She then realizes that the imperial family isn’t what they show to the world. But rather cruel, selfish and holds many ugly truths. At times she rebels against them risking her life. She also gets help from other victims of the imperial family. And then her only mission in life is to reveal their ugly truth to the world.

I have just one word for the drama and that is “Perfect”. Yes! the drama was perfect. From Episode 1 to Episode 52, I enjoyed each and every second of the drama. The drama didn’t fade even for a single second. It had everything, crime, mystery, revenge, suspense, jealousy, a pinch of romance, a touch of history and an exciting script. So we had our recipe of a perfect drama ready!

The drama depicted the common theme that is fight between good and evil in a very interesting way.

Now let’s talk about the characters~

The Mains

jang na ra as oh sunny in the last empress
Oh Sunny the empress of Korea in 2018 (fictional) played by Jang Na Ra.

Oh Sunny is the main character of the drama. She is a musical actress. She is sweet, innocent and has a bright aura. Her only dream is to marry her long time crush emperor Lee Hyuk. And one day that comes true. But she gets betrayed and finds out the hidden evil personality of her husband. Now she is no more a sweet musical actress but a strong and daring empress.

Jang Na Ra’s sweet face, strong voice, her hard work and dedication made the role of Oh Sunny so lively. She transformed from an innocent girl to a daring empress. The way she was able to carry the emotions of sadness and anger was really praiseworthy. Oh Sunny’s character depicted the power of one woman army.

shin sung rok as lee hyuk in the last empress
Lee Hyuk the emperor of Korea in 2018 (fictional) played by Shin Sung Rok

Lee Hyuk is an Emperor with evil personality, who could use or even kill anyone for his own benefits. He believes he is the emperor so he could do anything and sacrificing one’s life for the emperor is not a big deal. To sum up he is really an evil character.

I don’t think anyone else would have carried the role of the emperor like Shin Sung Rok. If I meet Shin Sung Ruk in real life, I would really call him ‘pehyaa’ ( ’emperor’ in English), because he did it so well! I wonder if he is actually the emperor of Korea.

shin eun kyung as empress dowager kang in the last empress
Empress Dowager Kang played by Shin Eun Kyung

Here is the most evil character of the drama. Mother of Lee Hyuk and the empress dowager of Korea. She is a megalomaniac and avaricious women who is actually a modern version of queen Elizabeth Báthory. She is maintaining the palace in a very subtle way by using her own children. Her character was really scary and hateful.

You know the villain in the story has done his job well, if you are actually scared of him/her. Shin Eun Kyung held perfectly the essence of a bad women.

choi jin hyuk as na wang shik in the last empress
Na Wang Shik the royal bodyguard disguised as Chun Woo Bin played by Choi Jin Hyuk

Na Wang Shik whose mother was wrongly killed by Lee Hyuk and his mistress looks for revenge and changes his complete personality including his name, identity and even lost most of his weight to become the bodyguard of the emperor. While Oh Sunny was clearly saying to the face of the imperial family that she would reveal the truth, Na Wang Shik was playing silently by winning the faith of the imperial family.

I was here for Choi Jin Hyuk, beside the plot Choi Jin Hyuk was also the reason why I started watching the last empress. We all know how good of an actor Choi Jin Hyuk is.

lee elijah as min yoo ra in the last empress
Min Yoo-ra, Imperial head secretary played by Lee Elijah

Min Yoo Ra is a beautiful, quick-witted, clever and greedy women who is the mistress of Emperor Lee Hyuk. She is  the past love interest of Na Wang Shik. She takes advantage of her relationship with Lee Hyuk to break the closeness between him and his mother.

I was really impressed by Lee Elijah’s acting. She is a kind of villainess that you would not be able to hate much, but rather enjoy watching. She brought a lot of life in the drama when our main lead was just playing a plain girl role.

The Midst

The other people in the palace have The Emperor’s brother a.k.a the crown prince Lee Yoon played by Oh Seung-yoon, Seo Kang-hee the palace worker played by Yoon So-yi, Princess So-jin played by Lee Hee-jin, Grand Empress Dowager Jo and little Ah-ri played by Oh Ah-rin.

Now let’s talk more about the drama.

The Drama

The drama starts with many secrets hidden in the palace and it progresses revealing them gradually. Most part of the drama have suspense, crime and mystery going on but cute and funny moments comes side by side. I must say the last empress brought us some classic characters. Pheyaa, Min yu Ra, Oh Sunny, Tehu mama (I hope I am spelling it right) all of these will be remembered a lot.

The character development was satisfying in the drama. We wanted weak to be strong, bad to be good and we get it in this drama. These qualities were always hidden in them, it just took certain circumstances to bring out their strong character. And when that happened, that was really the best part of the drama.

Above all the drama turns out to be a fight between good and evil. I really liked the point in the drama where all the bad characters and the good characters were facing each other. There were points in the drama where you would feel like the ugly imperial family has finally win over, but then the drama surprises you with another twist.

And Oh Sunny, where do I start, my favourite character from all of them, the way her sweet character changed into a bold one made me clap for her. I loved her fiery eyes and frown appearance that even scared the evil Empress Dowager.

Spoiler Ahead!

oh sunny in the last empress

That point of the drama was really fascinating when she came back to the palace from near death experience fully knowing that her husband, the emperor has asked his guard to kill her. She didn’t fear and dared to fight back. In fact both emperor and the empress dowager tried many times to push her back whether that means framing her for a murder or blackmailing her loved ones, Oh Sunny didn’t fear and bravely fought them face to face.

Spoiler Over!

At times people who were helping her told her to stop and live a peaceful life but Oh Sunny was fully convinced to bring justice for her and for other victims from imperial family. Waooo! we really had a strong, brave and daring women character here, she was really a one woman army! I thank the script writers for writing such a brave woman character. And Jang Na-Ra really carried it very well. You would definitely love her.

The villains cast in the drama which included Shin Sung Ruk (Empror Lee Hyuk), Shin Eun-kyung (Empress Dowager) and Lee Elijah (Min Yu ra) they gave a pretty strong appeal to the drama. Just by seeing a few seconds clips of them acting, you could say that the drama is really an entertainment ride. The characters were well made and their respective actor’s acting made them classic.

Especially the emperor Lee Hyuk as his role has two sides. One that is ugly and the other is sweet side. His sweet side is sure hidden by the burden of being an emperor. At first I hated him, but when his sweet side slowly started to come out on the surface, I actually started to like him. You know the actor has acted well enough when he could win you over by both of his bad and good roles in a single drama.

There is a lot to learn from the drama. Oh Sunny teaches us that we should not let others do wrong to us. We should always be brave and never give up. Lee Hyuk shows how the power and greed takes away your loved ones far away and can turn you into a bad person. Na Wang Shik’s character teaches us that to take revenge you don’t need to become like the person who did you wrong.

The drama also shows how news and media can really be powerful to bring out the truth in this modern world. Oh Sunny’s live streaming in the palace became her safety tool.

the last empress review 2018

Although one of the main lead (Choi Jin Hyuk) didn’t get to finish the drama and his ending felt a bit rude. Still if we ignore these facts, the ending was very satisfying. As we have always known that between the fight of good and bad, good always wins and this drama was no exception. Except that we have a heroine as the center of attention. We rarely get to see this.

Lets Sum Up

To sum up the last empress is packed with the best cast possible and great script with a fast plot and yet each episode is unpredictable. You would not be able to blink your eye while watching the drama as it reveals a secret every second. With cliffhanger in every episode will leave you in the state of distress. You would surely find yourself loving it.

My Ratings : 9.5 / 10 (Highly recommended)

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