The Red Sleeve


Title: The Red Sleeve

Genre: Drama, Historical

Leads: Lee Se Young, Lee Jun ho, Kang Hoon

Premise: Tells the record of a royal court romance between the King of Joseon, who believes his duty is to his country first, and a court lady who wants to protect the life she has chosen. 

Rating ★★★ (3)

Describe the show with a hashtag: #HeDeservedBetter

Reasons to watch

  • Great chemistry
  • Superb storytelling...until a point
  • Nice friendships
Reasons to skip
  • Took a turn for the worse after episode 12

This drama did not work out for me. It started well enough, and the leads had great chemistry, so I was excited at the start. As the drama progressed, I started to find myself getting annoyed with the female lead. While I completely understand her hesitations about getting into a relationship with the king, I felt she should have made a choice and committed to it fully. Plus, she kept saying no but being affectionate. Mixed signals are yuck 😠. As I see it, we all make choices in this life, and we must deal with the consequences. She didn't want to be fully committed to someone that was unable to fully commit to her, I get it, then that night, she should have refused him and left the palace! Don't say yes and then withhold a part of your heart so you can feel like you're in control. That is not love. It's almost like a parent saying, having kids has messed up my previous way of life, so I will half-ass parenting. Love doesn't work that way, and it is completely unfair to the other party. The king made his affections and intentions clear from the get-go. It was selfish of her to string him along for so many years and then finally agree to be his concubine and act miserably for the rest of their short lives...fine, they had sweet moments, but she was always holding back a piece of her, and there's no way the king didn't feel that. Requesting to see her friends, not the king, on her deathbed was the nail in the coffin for me. She was already in my black books for letting him mourn the death of their child alone, and then this. Ugh, I was so mad. Anyway, the king deserved better. 

Oh, and don't get me started on his "friendship" with Hong Deok Ro! I understand his hesitations in blacklisting the dude, but, omg, a punishment here or there could have set him straight, and if not, cut him loose! A good friend should be able to call out their friend if they mess up. You don't let them continue without consequences and then expect them to be/do better. The king definitely has some responsibility for the way the dude turned out, although not all, because clearly, he was self-serving from the jump. Anyway, that whole plotline pissed me off.

It wasn't all bad, though. They depicted the friendship between the 4 ladies very nicely; the female lead was strong, and the male lead was not toxic. Lastly, the drama avoided the super extra negative politics you find in most Sageuks...obviously, there was some, but it wasn't overwhelming.

Verdict: Not a bad watch, but I won't wholeheartedly recommend it.


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