In Episode 4 of King The Land, we were left with Cheon Sa-rang (Im Yoon-ah) crying in the rain. The frustrating experience of breaking up with her brainless boyfriend gets to her, and Gu Won (Lee Jun-ho) finds her. Comforting her, he whisks her to a fancy dinner to distract her. But to everyone except Sa-rang, the dinner is a way for him to express his feelings. These meals become a source of connection for the two future lovebirds in King The Land Episodes 5-6.
Gu Won’s infatuation continues to escalate in Episode 4. We see how Gu Won’s feelings for Sa-rang continue to grow while Sa-rang still views him as her superior. But, at the same time, there is potential. We also see how Sa-rang is continuing to influence and expand Gu Won’s worldview. Whether it’s making the head chef stay up late to make Sa-rang a birthday cake or teaching Gu Won that sometimes waiting for things can lead to amazing discoveries, it is clear that regardless of whether or not they end up together, Sa-rang is an essential figure for Gu Won.
Unfortunately, Sa-rang is still a pawn in the game that Gu Hwa-ran (Kim Sun-young) is waging against Gu Won to win the rights to their family’s enterprise. After much resistance, Gu Won gives in to his sister’s demands to send his department out to thank farmers who contribute their ingredients to the King Hotel. At the bottom of the department totem pole, Sa-rang gets sent out to the Mount Jiri region.
Determined to win over the ginseng farmer, Sa-rang travels through the mountainside, not realizing that storms are incoming. This leads us to a startling cliffhanger (no pun intended) where, after falling off the side of the mountain, we watch as Gu Won literally recklessly jumps to come to save her. Literally, he’s all in.
In Episode 5, Gu Won has to come to terms with owning up to his decisions. His decision to send Sa-rang to the mountains is his alone. With that comes consequences. It is also in King The Land Episode 5, we see the real focus of the episode come into play: workers are not expendable and should not be treated as such.
Through his interactions with the ginseng farmer to conversations with both Sa-rang and his father, Gu Won is being challenged and subsequently challenging the socially-enforced workplace standard of workers being cogs in the machine. While his action to take a helicopter to save Sa-rang is reckless and expensive, it reminds Sa-rang that she matters. It also is used to shock Chairman Gu Il-han (Son Byung-ho) when asked whether or not he’s saved anyone. When your only pursuit is capitalistic results, saving people is the least of your priorities.
We get less time with Sa-rang’s friends in King The Land Episodes 5-6. That said, the breadcrumbs for their own individual storylines are still being spread. Gang Da-eul (Kim Ga-eun) and Oh Pyeong-hwa (Go Won-hee) are struggling with their own workplace hierarchies. Da-eul is thrown a last-minute project, which highlights further the imbalance of responsibilities between her and her likely-to-be-cheating husband. Pyeong-hwa is struggling with the pressure of trying to elevate her team’s sales while also being the oldest one in her hiring group to not be promoted. It’s still too soon to say where these storylines will go, but it’s nice that the writers are still spotlighting them.
We also start to see a little bit more of Gu Hwa-ran in these episodes. While we’ve only seen her interactions with workers and Gu Won, we get a peak behind the curtain. In her pursuit of the inheritance, we see further how image-focused she is. She can’t have anything disrupt that. In the process, she continues to hurt those around her, including her husband. Given the similarities between Hwa-ran and her father and the earlier interaction between Gu Won and the chairman, if Hwa-ran wants to win this war, she may need to stop emulating him. There’s a sadness that comes with being cutthroat and, in the end, it doesn’t always reap the results we want.
With the arrival of King The Land Episodes 5-6, we’re starting to get little bumps in the road with pacing. With the episodes over an hour long, smooth pacing is essential in making sure things don’t drag on. Part of this issue may stem from what I can only refer to as side quests for our leading couple. From mountains to markets, they are working to develop the relationship between Gu Won and Sa-rang. A relationship needs these moments to grow organically. These moments of isolation naturally lend themselves to sparks flying.
However, these moments feel like a forced lull compared to previous episodes. We’re seeing these two taken away from the hotel. As a setting, the hotel has served as a source of conflict. Instead, in King The Land Episodes 5-6, we see them in locations outside their comfort zone or where their positions are equalized. For character growth, it’s great. For plot propulsion, not so much, even with mountainside rescues.
Pacing aside and the lack of real push to the plot this go-round, King The Land Episodes 5-6 take their time focusing on Gu Won and Sa-rang. With Gu Won all-in and Sa-rang still maintaining her boundaries, there’s a lot of work that needs to be done to break those walls down. By isolating our two leads, it gives them both time to spend undistracted personal time which will likely lead Sa-rang to catch feelings in the upcoming episodes. However, if the pacing continues to feel this slow in future episodes, this may prove to be a problem.
King The Land Episodes 1 through 6 are now available on Netflix, with new episodes airing on Saturdays and Sundays.
King The Land Episodes 5-6
Pacing aside and the lack of real push to the plot this go-round, King The Land Episodes 5-6 take their time focusing on Gu Won and Sa-rang.