The Secret Romantic Guesthouse | A Viki Original Historical Korean Drama Series
The Secret Romantic Guesthouse is a Viki Original historical Korean drama series set during the Joseon Era. The literal title for this series is Flower Scholars’ Love Story. This series is 18 episodes, released in 2023.
A Young Crown Prince is Saved
This is a common reoccurring event throughout the history of the ancient Korean kingdoms. Joseon is the last Korean Dynasty, and historical records indicate that its kings almost always rose to power after shedding the blood of their relatives. The storyline for The Secret Romantic Guesthouse begins with a young crown prince who barely escaped death. His father was been brutally slain by his uncle. Somehow he gets away, runs into the yard of a nobleman, and hides in a dog house.
At that time, the nobleman who was the owner of the home had died and his young daughter was trying to honor him. However, there was a coup taking place at the palace, so nobody was attending her father’s memorial services. Soldiers who are chasing after the prince invade her home. They ask if she has seen a young boy and plan to search her home, including the doghouse. For a little child, she used quick thinking and tells the soldiers her dog is hungry. If they try to stop the dog from eating, he’ll attack them! So! They don’t search the doghouse.
The crown prince does not reveal his true identity. Instead, he thanks the young girl for saving his life and tells her that if he ever returns (i.e. if he lives), he will tell her his real name then.
A Haunted Inn is Bad for Business
Thirteen years passed and Yoon Dan-oh (played by Shin Ye-eun), the crown prince’s savior, is now a young lady and savvy businesswoman. She has converted her father’s home into a guesthouse called Ihwawon Inn. Guests are welcome to stay but they must never go near the annex. Just in case they might be tempted to disregard her rule, she tells them the guesthouse is haunted by a virgin ghost. Of course, there is no ghost. Yoon Dan-oh has a secret and it’s the real reason why she doesn’t want anyone near the annex. The problem is the rumor has spread about the haunted inn and it keeps most customers away.
Three Flower Scholars Sign Up As Guests
What is a flower scholar? Generally speaking, a flower scholar is called
- “flower” because he is a handsome young eligible bachelor and
- “scholar” because he is a student of Confucianism, likely studying to take the civil service exams.
There are three flower scholars who become guests at Ihwawon Inn.
- The first flower scholar, Jung Yu-ha (played by Jung Gun-joo), is already staying at the inn. The ghost rumor does not bother him. He wants to live near Yoon Dan-oh and hopes to one day win her heart and marry her.
- The second flower scholar, Kang San (played by Go Yoon-hwan better known as Ryeoun), came to town hoping to pass the civil service exam for martial arts and become a royal guard. Yoon Dan-oh persuades (or rather she “tricks”) him into staying at the inn.
- The third flower scholar, Kim Shi-yeol (played by Kang Hoon), has no money but he did rescue Yoon Dan-oh when she was being harassed by a group of noblemen. She should at least repay the debt by allowing him to stay at Ihwawon Inn.
Love Stories and Mysteries
As the story develops it is understandable why the literal title of this series is Flower Scholars’ Love Story. There is a love story for each scholar. But they each have a mystery as well.
Two of the scholars have a secret identity and are on a secret mission. One of the scholars doesn’t even know he has a secret identity, but he is also on a secret mission. One of the three scholars is the deposed crown prince, Lee Seol, whose life was saved by Yoon Dan-oh thirteen (13) years ago. Has he finally returned to tell her his real name?
A Mother’s Worst Nightmare
Queen Dowager is the mother of the king who was violently slain during the coup and the mother of the tyrant king who killed his brother and stole the throne.
Now her living son is determined to kill his brother’s son, her grandson, i.e. the deposed crown prince who escaped during the coup.
- The true crown prince who was unlawfully deposed has spent thirteen years of his life on the run, trying to avoid being killed by his crazy uncle. It’s not just the fact that he has suffered unjustly, but the entire country of Joseon has been suffering ever since his uncle stole the throne. Lee Seol, the deposed crown prince, grew up with only one goal in mind: to remove his uncle, the king, from the throne because he is a madman!
Imagine her mental pain and anguish. She is the mother of a murderous tyrant who could not save her son from his brother. Will she be able to use her power to save her grandson?
Viewership and Ratings
There is no way to watch this series without wanting to become real-life friends with all of the main characters: Yoon Dan-oh, the innkeeper, and the three flower scholars, Jung Yu-ha, Kang San, and Kim Shi-yeol. It did not matter which one of the three was the real crown prince. You liked all three, along with the innkeeper, and just wanted them to have good fortune and a happy life.
The Secret Romantic Guesthouse is a Viki Original series, based on the web novel of the same name by Kim Jung Hwa. Close to 6000 Viki viewers have given it an overall rating of 9.6 out of 10 stars. I agree.
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