Cover Meeting the leading men of Netflix‘s The King‘s Affection (Photo: Netflix)

Actors Rowoon and Nam Yoon-su chats with Tatler about their roles in Netflix’s new historical K-drama, The King’s Affection

Netflix’s newest K-drama, The King’s Affection is different from the noir action series, My Name or the survival show, Squid Game. But it surely has its own charm. It will be a refreshing gender-bender story about a woman (Park Eun-bin) disguised as a crown prince. Besides the funny and heartwarming plot, we can also look forward to the two dashing leading men—Rowoon and Nam Yoon-su.

Rowoon—a member of the K-pop group SF9—captured the hearts of viewers in Extraordinary You. Since then, he’s been on a steady rise as one of the most charming leading stars in the industry. Meanwhile, for Nam, his performance in Netflix’s Extracurricular put him on the map and immediately gained another role in Beyond Evil, a Baeksang Arts Award Best Drama winner.

Their roles in The King’s Affection prove to be a challenge but the two are determined to entice viewers. In this exclusive interview with Tatler, Rowoon and Nam talk about their roles, what makes the drama different from others and what we can look forward to.

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Are there any funny moments while filming to share with viewers? How was it like to work with the co-stars in The King’s Affection?

Rowoon:  The funny episode question is a question that I get a lot when I work on a project. In The King’s Affection, there is a montage scene where Ji-un and Hwi have a drink. It was supposed to be a scene with no spoken dialogues. But we ad-lipped our conversation for about two minutes. It was fun and possible because we were well prepared in terms of analysing our own characters and the setting of the scene.

Nam Yoon-su: I had some lines where I had to speak in Chinese. I worked really hard to get the intonation and pronunciation right, but they suddenly changed the scripts. So, that was a moment when I was quite taken aback. We didn’t have much time to prepare and shoot the new scene, and I remember praying real hard for that scene to work out as intended. But, the overall shooting experience was fun and nice thanks to my co-stars, who are also my peers. We helped each other out and became good friends through this project.

Which scene in The King’s Affection is your favourite?

Rowoon: I can’t say much about the scene, because it might give some spoilers away. But, what I can say is that the emotions of the characters are augmented in the scene. Also, there were many scenes where the stars showed tears even when it wasn’t part of the script.

Nam: Personally, the scene where Yi Hyun gives Hwi a pair of shoes embroidered with flowers and says, “Let’s leave together, I will protect you” was awe-inspiring, because Yi Hyun is a daddy-long-legs type of character, who always stands by your side.

It’s a scene where Yi Hyun, a character who knows his place, expresses his long-hidden feelings to Hwi. I liked it when Yi Hyun said, “I will protect you in the future as well.” You can see that he is sincere about his feelings for Hwi. I’m sure that this will be a memorable scene for the viewers as well.

What kind of message did you want to bring out through the story or your character?

Rowoon: I’d say Ji-un is a character that wants to send the message: live and feel today to the fullest. 

Nam: The forms of affection of the characters in The King’s Affection are all different. However, if you have ever liked someone and wanted to protect that someone, you will be able to relate to the characters of this show. As for the people who have loved someone in a way similar to my character Yi Hyun, I would like to cheer you up and say that I will root for you.

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What is the reason why fans should not miss The King’s Affection?

Rowoon: Intertwined relationships and romance blooming despite different status in a historical setting are the main points viewers should look forward to. In short, I'd say it's about love over class.

Nam: Romance blooming amidst uncontrollable fate and tragic situations is the biggest point that the fans should look forward to. The King’s Affection is going to be a series that will demonstrate the remarkable acting of seasoned stars in the perfect narrative. Also, you will be able to see the various charms of young actors and actresses. The fact that people of all ages can enjoy the traditional beauty of South Korea is one reason why The King’s Affection is a must-watch series.

In your previous drama Extraordinary You, you have some scenes that were set in the past but this time is a sageuk (historical) drama. How do you feel and are there any differences in preparing for your role?

Rowoon: At first, I thought there were typical acting skills required for a sageuk drama. But then I thought nothing is set in stone because no one living today has ever lived in that era. In that regard, the degree of freedom that I had in terms of portraying Ji-un gave me a good opportunity to try a new voice and new type of acting for the series.

This is your first sageuk drama. How was it to play a character in a historical theme for the first time?

Nam: Because this is my first go at a sageuk drama, I promised myself that I would do my best in terms of preparation. And as expected, while I was preparing, I did recognize that this series is different from my other previous projects. Ranging from the outfit, hairstyle and makeup to the tone and the unique way of speaking in historical dramas, there were many things that made it look difficult to get adjusted to.

I had to put in a lot of effort to get used to these new things. Also, I got the feeling that the lines of a historical drama aren’t always about the written scripts, but the underlying meaning. Thus, I focused on trying to express those hidden messages. 

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There’s plenty of gender swap stories out there. What makes The King’s Affection different from other dramas?

Rowoon: I think it’s unique that a woman in disguise became the king in this historical setting. There were many subjects who loved their king, the absolute monarch. But, this is the first time a subject falls in love with a woman king, and I am waiting for and looking forward to the moment for the relationship to evolve between the characters in the series.

We heard that you’re the mood maker on set, so what do you normally do to lighten the atmosphere? And do you think that you’re similar to your character Ji-un?

Rowoon: I’m not sure about me being the mood maker. Rather the overall on-set atmosphere was bright and cheery. So, no, it’s not me who’s the mood maker. As for Ji-un, I’m not quite sure as to how similar I am with the character. I think I have various personalities, and some of them are shown via Ji-un. So, I don’t think I can tell how similar I am to Ji-un.

Lee Hyun holds a special person in his heart but hesitates to act on his feelings. Would you also do the same as Nam Yoon-su?

Nam: I think I would have acted similar to Yi Hyun. For most things, I do what I want to do, but if it came to the same situation as in the series, I don’t think I would be able to fully express my feeling of “affection.” I’d rather choose to remain best friends.

As it will be broadcasted through Netflix globally, do you have any messages for K-drama fans?

Nam: I think you’ll be able to see a different type of traditional Korean beauty. We’ve been all working hard since Spring to deliver a good show for our viewers, and still are. So, I hope you can all enjoy and stay interested in The King’s Affection as well as Yi Hyun.

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The King’s Affection airs every Monday and Tuesday on Netflix.



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