This movie is truly so beautiful, both in terms of the cinematography as well as our characters and the plot.
“The Princess and the Matchmaker” stars Lee Seung-gi as Inspector Do-yoon and Shim Eun-kyung as Princess Songhwa and their journey together in discovering who Princess Songhwa’s future groom is going to be. However, as with any other movie, they face challenges and struggles along the way and work together to overcome those predicaments.
Charming, light, fluffy, and comedic, this movie will keep you engaged and watching – just as it did to me throughout its entire two hours.
K-Movie Recap: The Princess and the Matchmaker (2018)
The movie starts off with King Yeonjo in the royal court, discussing with the palace officials about the drought that has been plaguing the country for a while now. The only way for the drought to disappear is if his daughter – Princess Songhwa (Shim Eun-kyung) – gets married. As a result, King Yeonjo will begin a groom selection challenge where the most fitting man will marry his daughter and receive some benefits in addition to the marriage.
A fortuneteller resumes his daily business of revealing people’s fortunes to customers. Other than the usual visitors he receives, a new customer has come forth to ask for the fortunes of two people with one of them being the fortuneteller himself. We discover through the customer that the so-called fortuneteller isn’t actually a fortuneteller at all; he’s a con-man along with his brother who scams people of their money. The customer is none other than Inspector and Astrologist Seo Do-yoon (Lee Seung-gi) who arrests the con-man and takes him to the palace.
While on the way to the palace, we learn that the con-man used to be a royal astronomer for the palace. He shares with Do-yoon his experience of working with the palace and why he believes Princess Songhwa is the icon of bad luck after having worked with her.
We learn that Princess Songhwa actually had been kicked out of the palace when she was younger. Her mother – who was a royal concubine of the palace – died when she gave birth to Songhwa so it was assumed that Songhwa was an icon of bad luck and misfortune. However, it wasn’t until the King became very ill that they brought Songhwa back to the palace in hopes that her energy would help cure the King’s illness. Sure enough, the King’s health improved upon Songhwa’s return and she’s stayed in the palace ever since.
The selection for the Princess’s groom begins. Many men enter the competition in hopes of changing their luck and being admitted into the palace, but as with all competitions there are certain standards and qualifications that those competing must meet.
Princess Songhwa spends some time with her older sister Princess Yeohee (Joo Da-young). Princess Songhwa assumes her older sister must be happy with her married life, but her sister isn’t. She complains about feeling lonely and isolated. As for the upcoming marriage, Princess Yeohee gifts Princess Songhwa a book including sexual inferences, nudity, and other sex-related material and tells her younger sister to not be so excited about her marriage.
The conman is interrogated in the palace where he reveals the mastermind behind everything: it’s the Chief Royal Astronomer. Inspector Yoon Shi-kyung (Yeon Woo-jin) arrests the Chief Royal Astronomer and his team for bribery, but is stopped by the Queen who orders him to stop the investigation and to free Chief Royal Astronomer. So Inspector Yoon does as he is told.
Astrologist Do-yoon visits his brother Seo Ga-yoon (Choi Minho from SHINee) who’s visually impaired. Do-yoon treats his brother’s injury, but his brother remains indifferent. He wishes for his astrologist brother to just take care of himself.
Princess Songhwa is worried about her upcoming marriage and who she will be getting married to. She wants to make sure that he’s someone she actually likes and approves of. She makes a bold request to her assistant and asks for her assistant to roleplay as the Princess while she sneaks out of the palace before the groom selection. She wants to see these final candidates herself. Her assistant is hesitant and reluctant on accepting the request in fear of the consequences she will have to face if she gets discovered.
After proving himself to be qualified and adequate to the King, Do-yoon is selected to read the marital harmony for the Princess and her groom on the day of their wedding. Additionally, the list of candidates in the running to become the groom will be released on the night of a grand feast the King is holding for the selection. Princess Songhwa’s assistant won’t be available that night to help the Princess sneak out to peek at the candidates so Princess Songhwa will have to do it all by herself.
It’s the night of the grand feast. Princess Songhwa sets off on her plan while Do-yoon is given the list of the final four candidates. He notices that one of the candidates is none other than Inspector Yoon Shi-kyung himself. Interestingly enough, there were plans for Shi-kyung to marry Princess Songhwa a couple of years back but he rejected the offer because he was afraid of getting bad luck from Princess Songhwa. He was even too afraid to do something as simple as kissing her.
Princess Songhwa overhears the entire conversation between Do-yoon and Shi-kyung and grows angry. Once Shi-kyung leaves, Princess Songhwa runs up to Do-yoon and smacks her lips onto his. She’s going to get her revenge! The only thing is.. the person she kissed isn’t Shi-kyung but Do-yoon. AHHHHHH! They fall onto the ground lips still intact until Princess Songhwa realizes that she’s kissed the wrong man. She runs away while Do-yoon sits on the floor in shock. Talk about first impressions. Hahaha.
The list of candidates that originally had been given to Do-yoon is stolen by an undercover eunuch who hands it to Princess Songhwa. She panics because she just wanted to know the names, not be handed the physical document of the candidates and their horoscopes. Through the list, she does discover who the final candidates are, but she has to find a way to return the list safely.
Princess Songhwa manages to sneak out of the palace pretending to be her assistant Mani. Meanwhile, Do-yoon threatens to punish the undercover eunuch if he doesn’t reveal to him who he gave the list of final candidates to. The fearful eunuch panics and shares that he had given the list to Princess Songhwa’s assistant Mani (who of course is now being roleplayed by Princess Songhwa). OOOH, this gonna be fun.
It’s an entire new world for Princess Songhwa as she explores the village. While feeding a group of hungry kids, she learns more about how people outside of the palace perceive her as well as more details about the final four men in the running to be her groom. Just like before, people outside of the palace also believes that Princess Songhwa is the epitome of bad luck and misfortunes. And apparently, she’s not that pretty either. One of the candidates supposedly lives in this village which Songhwa’s friend can help them meet. Her friend hands her some clothes and Princess Songhwa undergoes another disguise – this time as a man.
Of course, Princess Songhwa is hunted down and discovered by Do-yoon. He looks into her bag to retrieve the list of the final candidates, but it’s nowhere to be found. She feigns ignorance, but Do-yoon isn’t having it. He threatens to report her to the palace if she doesn’t come forth with the truth. Princess Songhwa then starts to play pretend and lies that the real reason why she escaped was so she could meet her crush for the last time. Do-yoon feels apologetic to Princess Songhwa so he goes with her to meet the man. The man is one of the final four candidates: Choo Yoosang.
Do-yoon apologizes to Princess Songhwa while they’re waiting for the man in his house. The long wait ends as a young man enters the room with some tea who Princess Songhwa assumes is the final candidate. But he’s not and Choo Yoosang is instead a little boy. ASKDJFD. Do-yoon takes the 12-year old’s horoscopes and compares it with Princess Songhwa’s to read their compatibility rate. She grows bewildered and pleads for him to stop.
Meanwhile, the real Mani is still pretending to be the Princess back at the palace. She hasn’t been caught yet! Phew.
Do-yoon and Princess Songhwa has lunch with little Yoosang and his father Lord Choo. We discover that Yoosang’s mother isn’t living with them because his relationship with his mother was supposedly unfavorable and would bring him bad luck. He’s lived with only his dad ever since. Of course, Yoosang is still very sad and depressed about this. The only way he would be able to see his mother again is if he gets married to the Princess. Princess Songhwa reassures Yoosang that he will grow up to be a good man and that he shouldn’t worry about his dad’s expectations. Do-yoon watches Princess Songhwa comfort young Yoosang from afar.
Back in the palace, the Queen meets with Shi-kyung and the Chief Royal Astronomer. She demands the Chief Royal Astronomer to come up with a plan that will please the King and allow Shi-kyung to become the selected groom.
Before meeting the next candidate Master Kwang-hwi, Princess Songhwa changes roles and decides to be a Chaekbi (a reader). She learns from her friend that the Master is a popular and charming young man who many girls easily fall for. Princess Songhwa is no exception and she also falls for the Master when she sees him in person with her own two eyes. However, her impression of him starts to change when she realizes how much of a playboy he is. If selected to be the royal groom, he’ll still go out of the way to meet girls even if it’s prohibited.
Shi-kyung asks Do-yoon to help him become the groom. Do-yoon is reluctant with the request, but Shi-kyung offers him a deal. If he helps Shi-kyung become the royal groom, Shi-kyung will hire an eye doctor to fix Ga-yoon’s eyes and help him see again.
Do-yoon grabs a drink not too far from where Princess Songhwa is hanging out with Master Kwang-hwi and the group. She’s playing her role as a reader just fine until two men start to aggravate her who she threatens. Just when she’s about to continue, the same con-man that we saw in the beginning of the movie joins the group and scams some of the people there in the group. He reunites with Do-yoon again and asks for Do-yoon to determine the compatibility rate between Kwang-hwi and Princess Songhwa. When Do-yoon determines their future together, he warns Kwang-hwi to stay away from Princess Songhwa as it’ll only lead the master to despair and even death.
Princess Songhwa leaves the party drunk and a little unconscious. Thankfully, Do-yoon watches after her and they sit down together on some stairs nearby. She asks why he keeps following her around and reading her compatibility rates with other men, but he isn’t so sure himself. She just keeps making him worried so he feels the need to look after her. Princess Songhwa’s friend arrives to take her away.
The next morning, Do-yoon spends some time with his brother Ga-yoon, but he’s not the only one there. Con-man/former royal astronomer is also there to visit his brother and the three of them have some food together. Conman tries to warn Do-yoon to be careful of the Chief Royal Astronomer. He’s in a team with the Queen and Shi-kyung and together they got rid of the evidence documenting that the Chief Royal Astronomer was committing bribery. Of course, Do-yoon doesn’t believe in him and warns him to watch his mouth. Later on that day, Do-yoon is returned the list of final candidates that had been stolen from him.
Princess Songhwa plans to return to the palace after she visits one more candidate. Meanwhile, Do-yoon rejects Shi-kyung’s offer to help him become groom. He’s not going to write down false compatibility rates between him and the Princess as Shi-kyung wants.
Do-yoon gets suspicious when the same horoscope that was given to him by the Palace to make compatibility rates are the same that Princess Songhwa gave him when she was still undercover as Mani. This confirms any doubt he has and he finally realizes that he had been accompanying Princess Songhwa this entire time.
The Queen and the Chief Royal Astronomer discuss about their plans to make Shi-kyung the groom. Although they’ll do whatever they can to ensure that he wins, it doesn’t seem like it’ll be easy considering that Do-yoon isn’t willing to help them. That’s when the movie takes us back to how Princess Songhwa was driven out of the palace when she was younger. The Crown Prince was ill and weak and the only way for him to heal was if Princess Songhwa left the palace. Although she had originally left, she came back because her energy was helping the king from dying. Since Princess Songhwa’s energy isn’t necessarily healthy for the Crown Prince, the Queen and Chief Royal Astronomer have been attempting to weaken Princess Sunghwa. They first took away anyone who loved and cared for Princess Sunghwa and now they’re going to find a groom whose energy will suppress the Princess. Shi-kyung is the best choice.
Meanwhile, Mani’s undercover role as the Princess gets revealed. The Court Lady discovers Mani acting as the Princess and the palace goes wild.
Princess Sunghwa is on her way to meet the third candidate: Nam Chi-ho. The young master has a kind and genuine heart and cares for the less fortunate. Or at least that’s what we think. The servants working for Chi-ho says otherwise. They’re nearly starved to death and have to work in such awful and poor conditions. He has a storage room full of rice, food, and other products, but he keeps it locked. Princess Songhwa pities the servants and decides to bring a bag of rice from the storage room to feed the servants. They’re scared and afraid not only for themselves but for her as well, knowing that Chi-ho would be extremely furious if he finds out what she did. And the servants’ predictions are right. They’re beaten, punished, and yelled at when Chi-ho finds the empty rice bag. He and his men run after Princess Songhwa who escapes into the forest thanks to a little boy who had warned her about Chi-ho a little earlier.
Meanwhile, Do-yoon reads the compatibility rates between Chi-ho and Princess Songhwa and becomes worried for Princess Songhwa. The fortune read that their relationship will end up with blood becoming shed. He runs from the library in the palace and out to find Princess Songhwa.
The men are too fast for Princess Songhwa. They manage to catch up to her and tie her up to a tree before she can run any further. Just when Chi-ho threatens to hurt Princess Songhwa, Do-yoon arrives in time to save her. Chi-ho orders his men to fight Do-yoon while he himself grabs Princess Songhwa and drags her to the edge of the cliff where he throws her over the cliff and into the water. Do-yoon runs after her and gets slit by Chi-ho’s sword before plunging into the water to rescue a drowning Princess Songhwa. They survive the raging waters just fine though and Do-yoon takes Princess Songhwa to rest. However, it doesn’t seem like Princess Songhwa and Do-yoon are safe. Some men are after the two.
Princess Songhwa helps Do-yoon treat his arm wound. She uses a handkerchief that she had been sewing herself to cover up his wound. Princess Songhwa later on opens up to him about her wishes and desire to escape from the palace and to just live freely. He listens to her quietly, but interrupts her by suggesting they get some sleep.
Princess Songhwa suffers a fever that night while sleeping so Do-yoon sets out to find her some medicine. However, he returns only to find Princess Songhwa gone.
She’s safely back in the palace, but Do-yoon is prohibited from meeting her. Meanwhile, Princess Songhwa wakes up to find herself in Shi-kyung’s house. They exchange greetings and Shi-kyung is one step closer to becoming her groom.
Do-yoon receives an update that his brother is in danger. He hurries over to his brother’s house to find the conman locked up and tied down and his brother almost thrown into the well. Do-yoon is forced to forge a false compatibility rate between Shi-kyung and Princess Songhwa or else Ga-yoon dies. Do-yoon hurriedly writes down Shi-kyung’s future with Princess Songhwa in order to save his brother. Shi-kyung’s men deliver the written fortune to Shi-kyung and he’s satisfied. Princess Songhwa overhears Shi-kyung’s conversation with his men so she sneaks into his room to look for the fortune that Do-yoon had written about her and Shi-kyung. Luckily, Shi-kyung doesn’t find her inside his bedroom, but he is aware that she was inside to look for the fortune. He then comes up with a plan to kidnap her.
After getting Princess Songhwa to become nearly unconscious and faint, Shi-kyung starts to strip the Princess of her clothes in his room. Do-yoon arrives just in time after having learned about everything and enters the room to find Princess Songhwa knocked out while Shi-kyung is hovered near her. At that moment, the Princess’s court lady and royal guards also enter the room to rescue the Princess. They bring the Princess back to the palace and take Shi-kyung away.
Princess Songhwa is scolded by her father for daring to stay with Shi-kyung alone in a room just right before the groom selection is to happen. Songhwa defends herself, but it’s of no use. Her father is still disappointed in her. Meanwhile, the King learns from his advisor that Shi-kyung claimed they had slept with each other that night. Although the King wants to punish Shi-kyung, his advisor reminds him about the importance of the wedding and how it could be the possible cure to eliminating the drought.
Do-yoon meets with the Conman to dig up more information about the Queen, Shi-kyung, and the Chief Royal Astronomer. The Conman shows Do-yoon a bunch of journals that has records of bribes the Chief Royal Astronomer has done as well as other things committed by the Queen. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anything on Shi-kyung.
Do-yoon attempts to steal the fortune that he wrote about Shi-kyung and Princess Songhwa, but Shi-kyung’s men catch him in the act and capture him. The Conman hides not too far away and watches the men take Do-yoon away.
There’s only one more day until the royal wedding. Based on the requirements and standards of the groom, it seems like Shi-kyung is the most fitting to be the groom. While the wedding resumes and preparations are underway, Conman goes to save Do-yoon who’s held in captivity.
It’s the day of the royal wedding. Princess Songhwa doesn’t seem too happy or excited, but everyone else is – especially the Queen. Conman manages to help Do-yoon escape and the two rush over to the wedding that’s taking place. Just when the Chief Royal Astronomer is about to read out loud their fortune as bride and groom, Do-yoon crashes the wedding.
He recites out loud the couple’s compatibility rate using their individual horoscopes and concludes that the relationship is not meant to be by any means. He then admits his fault for forging the compatibility rate that they were going to use for the wedding, but adds that the marriage must be stopped at all costs.
Shi-kyung defends himself and comments that Do-yoon is only doing this because he’s jealous of him. But Do-yoon confesses that he interrupted the royal wedding to save Princess Songhwa from living a miserable life. He wishes to protect her.
Shi-kyung and Do-yoon are taken away from the palace guards. While Shi-kyung is severely punished for his act, Do-yoon is stripped of his title and to be exiled. Princess Songhwa pleads for her father to forgive Do-yoon and to let him go. Everything was all her fault and he only saved her because of what she did. She was the one who chose to run away because she wanted to find true love and see what the final candidates were like. Her dad isn’t so forgiving as he still wants to punish Do-yoon, but Princess Songhwa will do whatever it takes to make sure that doesn’t happen. She’s even willing to be stripped of her title as the Princess to save Do-yoon. Spare his life; he risked his life to save her.
Before leaving the country, Do-yoon hands the King the records documenting the Chief Royal Astronomer’s bribes as well as acts that the Queen committed to save her son. Instead of getting mad at the Queen, the King is instead apologetic to his son and hugs the Crown Prince with love and pity. In the letter he writes for the King, Do-yoon states,
When a compassionate heart reaches for the skies, the doors will open for heaven and earth to become one. This is the secret to moving the heavens.
Rain suddenly starts dropping and the drought has finally come to an end. Everyone rejoices over the rain including the King himself. He’s suddenly reminded of the daring offer Princess Songhwa made to him about stripping her title to save Do-yoon. When asked about it, Princess Songhwa’s feelings about the offer still hasn’t changed and she’s expelled from the Palace after leaving to meet Do-yoon.
Impatient with how slow the palace guards are carrying her, Princess Songhwa runs off to meet Do-yoon at the dock where he is to be sent away. However, when she arrives he’s no where to be seen and she loses all hope. She starts to cry in sadness and disappointment and even when Do-yoon shows up at her side, she still continues to cry. She confesses that she missed him so much which explains why she’s at the dock.
The two walk in the forest full of pretty flowers and tall trees. Princess Songhwa timidly follows behind Do-yoon, but stops him to ask him if he’s ever had any feelings for her. He pulls her closer towards him and answers that yes, he does. He’s always seen her as a woman to him, acknowledging the feelings he has for her since the very first time they met.
The couple stares lovingly into each other’s eyes while surrounded by the pretty view of nature all around them, just like how the two are beautiful and amazing to each other.
AHHHHHH, SO SO PRETTY. That’s the first thing I wanted to get off my chest after watching the entire movie, especially that last scene. I’ll speak more about this later, but this movie was truly so so beautiful to watch and every scene breathed so much life and color. It was so stunning to watch even if the movie had fallen flat.
But the thing was that the movie never really fell flat. Even when we weren’t watching scenes of Princess Songhwa and Do-yoon together goofing around and meeting the candidates, the movie was still as compelling and engaging to watch. Our antagonist Shi-kyung was truly so ruthless and selfish with only one goal in mind to help better his position. Meanwhile, the Conman played a much bigger role than I had expected him to and he saved not only Do-yoon from near death but also our Princess from marrying an evil and corrupt stranger. When I think about it, he probably was the side character that probably played the most important role in this movie. If not for him, Do-yoon wouldn’t have been rescued which meant Do-yoon would not have stopped the marriage which meant Princess Songhwa would have married Shi-kyung which meant the drought would not have stopped meaning everyone would still be unhappy and nearly starving. He deserves so much credit for saving many people’s lives.
I went into this movie without having any expectations and to be honest I watched this movie only knowing our two leads were. This could explain as to why I was so surprised upon seeing Yeon Woo-jin play the villain in this movie. I’ve only watched him play protagonists so to see him so wicked and dishonorable in this movie was definitely new but so fascinating to me. Whether a protagonist like in ‘7 Day Queen’ or an antagonist in this movie, he’s such a great and talented actor.
I’m just as surprised that all the other candidates were also so.. corrupt (except for the little boy Yoosang hehe) which made me disappointed to an extent. Excluding the little boy (because we all knew he wasn’t being taken seriously and didn’t really have any chances of becoming the groom), couldn’t any of the candidates at least have some decency and kindness in them? Playboy Kwang-hwi was so despicable and tricky while Chi-ho was just straight up immoral and malevolent and evil. Had there been at least one decent and kind candidate, I think I would have been even more sad witnessing the almost-marriage between Princess Songhwa and Shi-kyung. Kwang-hwi and especially Chi-ho made the movie a lot darker than I expected it to be compared to the rest of the movie which remained primarily funny, light, and easy to watch. Their appearances caused a sudden shift and change in the mood of the movie and the movie really didn’t want them to be with Princess Songhwa. Lol.
Even with the minor hiccups I have of this movie, I have to admit that it was really well-done and enjoyable to watch. The plot was simple to begin with which is always a plus since the movie was easy to follow along knowing that there wouldn’t be any sudden plot twists or tricks pulled along the way. Princess Songhwa is about to get married and there’s a bunch of strangers who are in line to get married to her. She just wants to know who they are and what they’re like to form her opinions of them. Along the way, she meets Do-yoon and he’s the one who she has feelings for and wants to love. I never doubted at any point in the movie that they weren’t going to end up together; I knew that Do-yoon would end up with Princess Songhwa in the end but it was rather just seeing how this relationship was formed that would be the fun and interesting part. Happy to say, the movie did a wonderful in executing its story and showing us how Princess Songhwa and Do-yoon ended up together.
It’s obvious through this movie that love truly does conquer all as the movie implies. The King loved his family so much it touched the heavens and the skies started to cry. He also loved his own daughter so much he was willing to let her go so she could pursue the love she seeked and always wanted. Shi-kyung did not love Princess Songhwa as he should have which is why their marriage would have caused the both of them to be doomed. This movie was all about love which was a theme that it showcased in such a refreshing way.
The thing that makes me the happiest is the fact that everything made sense. You were never confused as to why the Queen disliked Princess Songhwa and wanted her to fall or why Shi-kyung was pretending to be a saint to Princess Songhwa or why the Conman kept on making appearances throughout the movie when you thought he would just have a minor role. Everyone in the movie played some kind of role essential to the plot and the entire movie was wrapped up nicely and tied all loose endings. When the movie was telling a story and needed flashbacks, it used just the most necessary flashbacks to convey that story that it was telling. There weren’t any unnecessary details being placed in just because and all the details we needed were there. The movie also managed to stay light, comedic, fluffy, and witty until the very end even with the appearances of evil Chi-ho or the dramatic wedding crash at the end. I was never confused at any one point in the movie which is often rare because I usually do get confused when watching dramas and movies that sometimes have trouble telling its story in the most direct, explicit, and simplest ways to do so. This movie, however, stayed true to itself and was so simple and easy to watch which is why I tremendously enjoyed it.
The cast was great and talented, but our two leads were so good and amazing. This is my first time watching Shim Eun-kyung in anything so I didn’t have any particular thoughts about her. However, in this movie she was so charming and cute and funny and even when she needed to be more serious and sad she managed to sell those emotions as well. I really have to give it to Lee Seung-gi though who was sooo good in this movie. Just like Shim Eun-kyung, I haven’t really watched him anything (I started ‘Gu Family Book’ but I never finished it) although I definitely know who he is. I never really bothered to check out of his projects, but that might just change after finishing this movie. He was so expressive and immersed in his character as Do-yoon and I never once felt confused about what emotion he was trying to emote or how he was feeling. Lee Seung-gi was the true charmer in this movie (sorry Kwang-hwi).
Overall, this movie was well done and so charming in many ways. Simple, easy to watch, light, and witty, this movie contained all the elements of how any Korean rom-com movie should be made. I’ll definitely return to watching this movie a second time around because the first time was not enough. Although there won’t probably be a part two, I’m hoping there’ll be a sequel of Princess Songhwa’s life post-palace. She expressed her desire to live a carefree life and to not be held down by the palace. Now that she has that life she’s always wanted and she’s with the person that helped her get there, I want to see her adapt to her new life with Do-yoon. The ending to this movie was not enough and plus, we still have to know what Do-yoon’s compatibility rate with Princess Songhwa is! Oh.. and also because I want to see more beautiful scenery, filming, and cinematography that the movie had throughout its two hour run. The movie was just as stunning to watch as our two characters’s relationships with each other was. This I’ll never forget.