Drama Review: Queen of Tears reigns as one of the biggest K-drama royalties

The highly-raved Queen of Tears, starring Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Ji-won, is now tvN's biggest hit series to date.

Tan Kwang Yu

| May 2, 2024
Queen of Tears
Main leads of Queen of Tears, Kim Soo-hyun and Kim Ji-won, in a drama still. Photo: Netflix

Queen of Tears (2024) marks Kim Soo-hyun’s highly anticipated return after a three-year-long hiatus from the small screens. It tells the story of the married couple Baek Hyun-woo whom he plays, and Hong Hae-in (Kim Ji-won).

And his comeback drama has been making headlines both domestically and internationally, for all the right reasons.

Its final episode garnered a viewership of 24.85%, breaking the previous tvN record held by Crash Landing on You (2019). This makes it the third most-watched K-drama on cable TV after The World of Married (2020) and Reborn Rich (2022). 

Not so happily ever after?

Unlike the usual rom-com tropes, there were no cheesy damsels in distress.

Instead, the drama starts with both leads on the brink of a divorce after a turbulent marriage where Baek, a legal director who works under the Queen’s group, Hong’s family conglomerate, becomes increasingly distant from his domineering wife and family.

Queen of Tears
Kim Soo-hyun plays Baek Hyun-woo, a legal director who works under the Queen’s group. Photo: Netflix

However, their relationship takes a twist following Hong’s diagnosis of a terminal illness and has just three months to live.

The pair then goes through a tumultuous journey of rediscovery, only to be marred by family crises, revelations and sabotage along the way.

K-drama ace

The K-drama genre might have hit a slight block in the past year with few breakthrough shows and lukewarm responses to sequel titles.

But Queen of Tears — helmed by screenwriter Park Ji-eun, whose previous works include My Love from the Star (2013) and The Producers (2015) have commanded fans back.


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Kim Soo-hyun might be the show’s main star drawing attention and plaudits, but his co-star Kim Ji-won has also stolen the hearts of many for her portrayal of the head-strong, chaebol heiress of the family. 

While there might not be many intimate scenes between the two, their chemistry as a love-hate couple is unrivalled. And it shines through, especially in the later half of the series as they eventually come to terms with their true feelings.   

Queen of Tears

As the title suggests, this is a tearjerker.

Don’t be fooled by the seemingly light-hearted narrative in the opening episodes. The drama takes a heavier and slightly darker turn at the halfway mark.

Kim Ji-won plays Hong Hae-in, who is the chaebol heiress of Queens Group’s department stores. Photo: Netflix

But beyond the tears, the show does have its fair share of weaknesses.

As with most K-Dramas, it does succumb to some makjang moments with a few unrealistic and over-the-top twists, which makes it seem too unrealistic.

The backstory of the antagonists Yoon Eun-sung (Park Sung-hoon) and Moh Seul-hee (Lee Mi-sook) feels underdeveloped and unexplained at times.

Fans of Kim Soo-hyun might also find the characterization of him and his on-screen partner a tad familiar. He is often cast alongside a stronger, more demanding protagonist. Think It’s Okay to Not Be Okay (2020) and My Love from the Star (2013).

But as the saying goes, if it’s not broken, why fix it?

Royal flush

Each episode may average up to 80 minutes, comparatively longer compared to other K-dramas.

But the screenwriter does a brilliant job of balancing the right amount of romance, drama and witty humour. And with the impeccable delivery by both the main and ensemble cast, it somehow does not feel draggy at all.

Do keep your eyes out for the countless number of cameos throughout the 16 episodes as the cast and production makes several references to their past works. 

With a stellar cast, star-studded OST (featuring Crush, BSS, 10CM & more) and immaculate screen-writing, Queen of Tears ticked all the boxes for the perfect rom-com K-drama and more.  


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