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Political greed drives MBC’s ‘Ruler’

May 10,2017
Fairness, justice and leadership seem to be the buzzwords these days in Korea, where a new presidency is about to begin. And MBC’s “Ruler: Master of The Mask,” a show about a crown prince who fights greed and corruption, couldn’t have arrived at a more peculiar time.

The show is about a crown prince named Lee Seon of the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910) - played by rising star actor Yoo Seung-ho - who wages a war against a technocratic guild known as “Pyeonsoohoe,” which seeks to privatize the public water supply for personal gain.

The mask that Lee dons serves as a key plot device in the show; since no one but a handful of people know what the crown prince looks like, he’s free to roam among the people with his mask off.

“Playing the crown prince’s emotions was difficult,” said Yoo, since his character himself isn’t aware of why he wears the mask in the beginning. I had to express the mental collapse, rage and other complex emotions of the prince.”

Noh Do-cheol, director of “Ruler,” told reporters that he tried to depict the Pyeonsoohoe as a massive behind-the-scenes conspiratorial organization, similar to the Freemasons, and that he also referenced the American TV series “Game of Thrones” a lot in terms of tone and vibe.

The director, however, drew the line when asked whether he was trying to send a political message to viewers.

“I’m not sure if I’m qualified to throw that kind of message. I think I could end up as a laughingstock when proposing a half-baked vision of statesmanship when viewers’ political insights have become profound and expectations in the quality of TV shows are high.”

Yonhap