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King the Land (2023) Summary

King the Land (2023) Summary

King the Land Spoiler: Amid a tense inheritance fight, a charming heir clashes with his hardworking employee who’s known for her irresistible smile — which he cannot stand.

Rated: 13+ Score: 8/10 TV Ratings: 8.8%
Genre: Romantic Comedy

EP.1 A Guy Who Never Smile

King Hotel, a luxurious 6-star establishment owned by the esteemed King Group, looms splendidly amidst the bustling city of Seoul.

Today, Cheon Sa-rang (portrayed by Yoona) arrives with an infectious smile to interview for her dream job. As she enters the interview room, her high heel suddenly breaks. Undeterred, she cleverly and resourcefully fashions a makeshift virtual heel, seamlessly maintaining her poise as she strides into the room, unnoticed.

However, Sa-rang, despite being in her second year of college and not meeting the prerequisites for a fourth-year position, boldly expresses her desire to intern at the illustrious King Hotel. Deep down, she realizes that the odds may be against her, but she remains determined to give it her all.

To her surprise, the following day, Sa-rang receives a phone call informing her that she successfully passed the interview and has been offered a one-month internship at the King Hotel. Overwhelmed with joy, she jumps up and down, her excitement radiating through every fiber of her being.

A Man with a Determined Smile

Gu Won (portrayed by Lee Junho) is the heir to the prestigious King Group. Today marked his first day as an intern, as his father intended for him to learn from the ground up. However, on this very day, Gu Won finds himself arriving late for work. How did this happen? Well, he mistakenly parachuted onto the wrong building! Departing from Jeju Island in a private plane, he descended from the sky with style, only to land in the completely wrong location.

Being a scion of a wealthy family and having no prior work experience, Gu Won is unfamiliar with the ways of employment. When tasked with photocopying, he resorts to searching the internet on his phone for guidance. Eventually, a helpful colleague intervenes, but their attempt at assistance leads to a catastrophic ink spillage throughout the room. Unbelievably, both of them are dismissed by their supervisor, despite having barely spent a day on the job.

Unbeknownst to the supervisor, Gu Won is not just any ordinary employee but the son of the King Group’s owner. This ignorance leads to comical situations, leaving the department head looking quite foolish. However, Gu Won readily accepts his dismissal, as he never intended to become an apprentice in the first place.

Gu Hwa-ran, Gu Won’s elder sister, shares a rare disagreement with her brother. Their father has entrusted Hwa-ran with the management of King Hotel, while he attempts to push Gu Won to learn the ropes of business. However, Gu Won finds himself caught in a bind as Hwa-ran constantly holds him back. In her desperation, she pleads with their father to compel her younger brother to live in England.

The Girl with a Simple Smile

On her first day of work, Sa-rang is assigned the task of maintaining and cleaning the fitness center. She approaches her duties with utmost diligence. However, her day takes an unexpected turn when she receives a handwritten letter from a disturbed guest, inviting her to his room. Filled with anger, Sa-rang contemplates taking matters into her own hands. Coincidentally, Gu Won happens to be wearing the same shirt as the unsettling guest, leading Sa-rang to mistakenly curse and scold him without giving him a chance to explain. Confused and angered, Gu Won exclaims, “What!?”

As the story unfolds, Sa-rang finds herself transferred to the lobby. With her infectious smile, Hwa-ran explains the reason behind this change, stating, “The lobby is the face of the hotel. Your smile will be the face of the hotel.”

Meanwhile, Gu Won embarks on a journey to study in England.

7 Years Have Passed

In the present day, Sa-rang has become a full-time employee at the esteemed King Hotel, recognized for her exceptional performance and selected as an outstanding employee.

While residing in England, Gu Won receives a mysterious letter that compels him to make a sudden decision—to return to Korea. This time, he expresses his desire to take charge of running a hotel to his father. His father, pleased with the opportunity for both Hwa-ran and Gu Won to prove their skills, contemplates who truly deserves to be the next successor to the family business.

Today, as Gu Won wakes up in his suite and takes the elevator for his first day of work, he realizes he has left his phone behind. In response, Gu Won’s secretary contacts the lobby and requests a staff member to retrieve the phone. It turns out that Sa-rang is the one assigned to this task.

However, Sa-rang urgently needs to use the restroom, causing a momentary dilemma. The team leader insists that Sa-rang retrieves the phone first and attends to her restroom needs later. Reluctantly, Sa-rang complies. As she journeys towards the suite, she battles against her desperate need and the ticking clock. Upon entering the room, she notices the exquisite Heavenly Room before her. Faced with a difficult decision, Sa-rang contemplates breaking the rules and using the guest restroom, as opposed to letting her enemy break down the walls.

As she finally sits on the luxurious sanitary ware, a sense of relief washes over Sa-rang. This is how it was meant to end. However, lacking a clue, she absentmindedly picks up the remote control and unintentionally opens and closes the electric curtain within the restroom. It is precisely at this moment that Gu Won walks back into the room to retrieve his phone. Perplexed by the moving electric curtain, he enters the restroom, only to be greeted by an unexpected sight.

Sa-rang’s face contorts in shock as she sees Gu Won standing there, witnessing her liberating her enemy in that very moment!

EP.2 Changing Perspectives

Gu Won catches a glimpse of Sa-rang seated in the restroom, occupied with her personal matters. He decides to step outside and wait, allowing her privacy. Moments later, Sa-rang finishes, wearing an amused expression on her face. However, she forces herself to maintain her trained smile as she apologizes for using the restroom without permission.

Observing Sa-rang, Gu Won starts to recall their past encounter seven years ago when she had rudely labeled him as a psycho. After a brief moment of contemplation, Gu Won requests an apology for that incident as well. Sa-rang, however, refuses to comply, prompting Gu Won to insist that she never cross paths with him again.

Smiling with the poise she has mastered, Sa-rang responds, “Certainly, sir. That is also my desire as a customer.”

Fake Smiles

As Gu Won is appointed the hotel director by his father, a respectful welcome ceremony is held in his honor. Standing at the podium, he looks down, feeling a sense of unease. Despite his internal struggle, all the staff present him with smiles. Overwhelmed, Gu Won battles a bout of dizziness, desperately trying to maintain control as he introduces himself.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to Gu Won, Sa-rang, burdened with the task of presenting flowers to him, is unaware that the person she once referred to as a “psycho” would now hold the position of director. Frustrated with her circumstances.

After the reception, Gu Won personally calls Sa-rang to his office. He inquires about her previous use of the term “Psycho.” Sa-rang recounts the events of that day, only to realize that she had mistaken Gu Won for someone else entirely. Deeply apologetic, she bows and expresses her regret.

Just as Sa-rang prepares to leave the room, Gu Won commands her to stop smiling. He insists, “Don’t smile. If you force a smile, you’ll be dismissed. I despise those fake smiles.” Sa-rang obediently follows his orders, admitting that she is not yet ready to offer him a genuine smile and expressing gratitude for not having to feign one.

Meanwhile, Hwa-ran remains suspicious of Gu Won’s intentions to inherit the family business. In response, Gu Won confides in his sister, assuring her that he has no desire to become the successor. However, Hwa-ran’s trust in him still wavers.

Mother of the Nation

On this particular day, a renowned senior actress, fondly known as the “Mother of the Nation,” arrives at the hotel for her stay. However, she requests an upgrade from a deluxe room to a suite without paying any additional charges. Sa-rang, with a smile and carefully chosen words, politely declines the request. Nonetheless, the Mother of the Nation persists in her demands, venting her frustrations. Sa-rang can only respond with a rehearsed line, accompanied by a smile.

Gu Won witnesses the situation and intervenes. He instructs the security guard to escort the actress out of the hotel. Gu Won then summons Sa-rang to his office. Expressing his dissatisfaction with the lack of a system to handle difficult guests, he seeks an explanation. Sa-rang clarifies that regardless of the situation, it is essential to always treat guests with courtesy. She emphasizes her professionalism, separating her personal emotions from her work.

Gu Won is taken aback by Sa-rang’s exceptional attitude and professionalism.

Later that night, Sa-rang goes on a date with her boyfriend of over a year. The couple decides to enjoy the view of Seoul together, heading to a location that offers a scenic overlook. However, it becomes evident that her boyfriend is a somewhat anxious individual, as he abruptly calls for a taxi midway and then proceeds to lead Sa-rang up approximately three thousand eight hundred steps, claiming it is for exercise purposes.

Upon reaching the top, Sa-rang has the chance to appreciate the view for a brief moment. However, her boyfriend’s friend calls, inviting him to a drink party. He suggests they head back. Feeling frustrated, Sa-rang realizes she has reached her limit. It seems she will have to end the relationship with this inconsiderate partner.

Changing Perspectives

Sa-rang and Gu Won embark on a trip to Jeju Island. As they arrive at the airport to film a program promoting the King Hotel, Gu Won finds himself momentarily taken aback when he catches sight of Sa-rang dressed in a flowing white gown, her hair cascading down.

During the shooting, Sa-rang, who takes on the role of MC, experiences a moment of astonishment. Upon witnessing Gu Won’s composed demeanor, she rises to her feet and gazes at him, her perspective shifting in that very instant.

EP.3 Feeling Called Love

Just moments before the interview is set to begin, Hwa-ran instructs her subordinates to bring in a different script… The live interview commences, and Sa-rang directs a question to Goo Won about his mother. Instantly, the expression on the interviewer’s face changes. He turns to lock eyes with Sa-rang, rising from his seat with a dissatisfied look.

His mother remains a lingering knot in his heart, and he misses her every second.

Fortunately, Sa-rang swiftly manages to salvage the situation. She shares a personal story, and after a few minutes, Goo Won returns to the set with a calmer demeanor. He requests to see the script in Sa-rang’s hand, only to discard it shortly after. Thanks to Sa-rang’s skill and quick thinking, the interview concludes on a positive note.

The following day, a still photo shoot takes place featuring both of them. The photographer notices Goo Won’s lack of smiles, and frustration sets in. Numerous photographs are taken, but Goo Won remains solemn throughout. One of the photographer’s assistants suggests using Photoshop to add a smile to Goo Won’s face. Lol

Stranded on a Mysterious Island

The day’s work should have come to an end, but the director requests more photos to be taken. Sa-rang and Goo Won find themselves boarding a fishing boat that delivers ingredients to the hotel. However, in the middle of the sea, the boat suddenly breaks down. Now they are left stranded and must spend the night at a hotel on a remote island, where there is no cell phone signal.

The island carries an eerie ambiance, its darkness enveloping the surroundings. It feels like a place that could be haunted, with ghosts lurking in every corner. Sa-rang takes out her iPhone and turns on the flashlight to guide their way. After walking for some time, they spot three dim lights, causing Goo Won’s face to drain of color. Then, a faint figure appears before them—it’s the ghost of an old woman! Goo Won is startled and faints instantly. Oh dear, he claimed he wasn’t afraid of ghosts, but his reaction says otherwise, hahaha.

Sa-rang musters her strength and carries Goo Won to the hotel. As it turns out, the ghost that Goo Won saw is actually the grandmother of the innkeeper. That night, the two find solace in each other’s company, enjoying a moment of closeness. The next morning, they embark on a bicycle ride together.

When it’s time to settle the bill, Sa-rang begins to haggle persistently. “This is clearly overpriced,” she exclaims. The old lady initially charges them 675,000 won (approximately 500 USD) for accommodation, food, and bicycle rental. However, after Sa-rang’s relentless negotiation, the old lady reluctantly agrees to reduce it to 350,000 won.

During the boat ride back, Goo Won complains to Sa-rang about wasting their energy on bargaining. He suggests they should just pay and be done with it. Sa-rang explains that her grandmother taught her from a young age about the value of money and the importance of not being taken advantage of. Her words make Goo Won look at her with newfound admiration and understanding.

Love’s Confusion

Upon returning home, Goo Won faces his father’s scolding for his inappropriate behavior during the live broadcast. However, instead of responding meekly, Goo Won looks at his father with piercing eyes and utters a cryptic sentence, “I need to uncover the truth about my mother.” His father hears these words, his voice filled with vulnerability, and abruptly walks away. What secrets lie hidden concerning Goo Won’s mother?

Meanwhile, Sa-rang receives recognition for successfully resolving the situation during the live broadcast, which leads to her promotion to work in the hotel’s VVIP zone.

Since their return from the island, thoughts of Sa-rang have consumed Goo Won’s mind. He finds himself captivated by her smile and increasingly bewildered by his own emotions. Could it be love?

In the midst of grappling with his feelings, Goo Won decides to surprise Sa-rang one night by bringing her some macaroons. However, as he approaches, he witnesses a heart-wrenching scene—a warm embrace between Sa-rang and her boyfriend. Goo Won’s world is thrown into confusion.

EP.4 Conflicting Emotions

Unable to bear the distressing scene, Goo Won walks away. However, it turns out that the picture he saw was misleading, and the reality is quite the opposite. That night, Sa-rang makes the decision to end her relationship with her self-centered boyfriend.

The following day, Sa-rang feels excited about her new role assigned by the president (Goo Won’s father) to work in the VVIP guest rooms—a coveted position for every employee. However, her colleagues speculate that she is inexperienced and show reluctance to accept Sa-rang. Despite Sa-rang having graduated from a renowned university in Seoul in her fourth year, while her peers only completed two years. Sa-rang realizes that she needs to prove her skills in order to gain acceptance.

Meanwhile, Goo Won, a young man struck by the force of love, finds himself unable to stop thinking about Sa-rang. She occupies his mind completely. Unable to resist, he sends her a text message: “Let’s meet after work this evening.” Goo Won anxiously checks his phone every minute, but to his disappointment, Sa-rang does not reply. Oh, it must truly be his first experience with love—quite overwhelming, he chuckles.

After a day of no response, Goo Won approaches Sa-rang and invites her to dinner. He tries to mask his intentions by framing it as a business discussion, complete with official-sounding terms. However, his tone comes across as commanding rather than gentle, prompting an immediate refusal from Sa-rang. She also takes the opportunity to school him on proper etiquette for asking someone out to dinner, emphasizing the importance of being polite.

Determined not to let go, the stubborn Goo Won decides that he must have dinner with Sa-rang that evening. He seeks advice from his intelligent secretary and comes up with a plan to gather all the employees for dinner. While it may not provide a private setting, at least Sa-rang will be present at the table, he muses.

During the dinner, Goo Won notices that Sa-rang dislikes sashimi, so he orders a steak for her instead. Sa-rang feels embarrassed by the attention and becomes the subject of curiosity among the other employees.

After the meal, Sa-rang seizes a moment to scold Goo Won. She expresses her displeasure at being put in an uncomfortable situation and being negatively perceived by her colleagues. She urges him to pretend as if he hadn’t noticed anything. Their interaction takes on a somewhat cheesy tone, reminiscent of their first experience with love—both awkward and endearing, he chuckles.

Conflicting Emotions

On that very same night, Sa-rang’s boyfriend arrives with a bouquet of flowers, hoping for reconciliation. However, his efforts prove futile as Sa-rang firmly decides to end their relationship.

As her selfish boyfriend walks away, Sa-rang breaks down in tears. She stands in the rain, allowing the downpour to wash away her tears and mask her regrets. In the midst of her sorrow, Gu Won approaches, holding an umbrella, his expression stoic.

Sa-rang pays no attention to Gu Won’s umbrella or his emotionless face. It’s not the romantic encounter Gu Won had anticipated. Sa-rang casts him a displeased look before turning around to leave. However, fate has a different plan. Suddenly, Sa-rang stumbles, collapsing to the ground. Fortunately, Gu Won is quick to catch her, holding an umbrella in his right hand and supporting her with his left.

Sa-rang finds herself in Gu Won’s arms as they lock eyes. One wears a calm expression devoid of a smile, while the other’s eyes are reddened from tears. One has just experienced the beginning of a new love, while the other mourns the loss of a failed relationship.

EP.5 A Never-before-seen Aspect

In the midst of the rain, the romantic atmosphere grows intense. Raindrops fall relentlessly, striking the canvas of the umbrella held by Goo Won. The umbrella becomes a shield, protecting Sa-rang from the ceaseless downpour.

Observing Sa-rang’s face becoming wet with rain and seeing the sadness in her eyes, Goo Won, though not one for smiling, recognizes sorrow all too well. “Come back, I’ll take you home,” he says.

As they sit in the car, trapped by the pouring rain of the night, Sa-rang drifts off to sleep. Taking the initiative, Goo Won decides to take her to an elegant restaurant, a celebration for Sa-rang’s birthday. However, there, Sa-rang witnesses an aspect of Goo Won that she had never seen before—a certain indifference.

Upon returning home, Sa-rang’s “ex-boyfriend” waits for her outside her house. The two engage in an argument, and despite her insistence that he leave, she carelessly walks away into the house. It’s the rotten love of a bad man. Witnessing the ex-boyfriend’s continued shouting, Goo Won steps forward, issuing a threat, “Don’t mess with Sa-rang again.”

That night, Goo Won calls Sa-rang and wishes her a happy birthday, the unspoken desire evident in his words. It’s at this moment that a special feeling begins to blossom between them. Sa-rang’s birthday, which had never felt significant, suddenly became meaningful because of him.

The following evening, Goo Won invites Sa-rang to dinner. She agrees, but on the condition that she be the one to take care of everything. Sa-rang takes him to a renowned restaurant that Goo Won has never been to before. It’s an entirely new experience for him—from waiting in line to sitting among a crowd of people, with the bustling ambiance filling the air. It’s a departure from the tranquil dining experiences he has been accustomed to.

The next day, Goo Won approves the VVIP Zone employees to participate in an annual event called Super Farmer Week. As the youngest member, Sa-rang is sent on a challenging mission to find “wild ginseng” on Mount Jiri.

Initially unaware of the details of Super Farmer Week, Goo Won learns of the hardships Sa-rang has to endure and can’t help but worry. Meanwhile, as Sa-rang ascends the mountain for over two hours, Goo Won calls her with concern. It’s precisely at that moment when Sa-rang accidentally stumbles upon wild ginseng, near the edge of a cliff.

With excitement, Sa-rang slowly reaches out and digs out the rare wild ginseng. Suddenly, she slips and falls off the cliff. Fortunately, she doesn’t plummet to the bottom of the abyss. Sa-rang’s unconscious body collides with a small protruding ledge.

Hours pass, and as dusk descends, Sa-rang regains consciousness in a state of shock. The sound of helicopter propellers fills the air, accompanied by the glow of lights. Goo Won’s figure emerges—the protagonist arriving by helicopter to offer assistance.


Available 1 July

Image: JTBC Korea
Watch King the Land on Netflix: click here