It seems like one of the impossibilities of life, like people taking global warming seriously, economies being centered around the average taxpayer, and Gu Won and Sa Rang breaking up. We get that a period of separation or a tearful breakup is essential because the nobility of the time spent apart is supposed to make the couple “stronger”. It is also meant to establish the couple as being larger than life and to show how giving up on love makes them realize how to fight for the other things in life, along with their significant other. The breakup drama is always precious, with the second leads swooping in for their chance, the female lead overworking herself with a worryingly bright smile, and her getting drunk and needing a piggyback ride from the male lead who swoops in because he just couldn’t stay away. Breakups in Korean dramas are in a different league altogether.
But haven’t Sa Rang and Gu Won in King the Land placed themselves in a league of their own? The timing makes sense since it is 2023, and family members being toxic and causing breakups has become a tired narrative. A new spin on it is to show people being mature about it. But then again, there is always a burden that comes with said maturity, and people don’t always want to carry it.
It felt annoying to us once in a while that Gu Won was the only one who seemed to be making efforts for the relationship, right from the beginning. He asked Sa Rang out first, but after that, while she was taking her time pondering over what to do next, Gu Won kept fighting for her, be it with Prince Samir or by going to her house when he saw that she did not like seeing him with Yuri. Gu Won took a lot of steps forward, while it looked like Sa Rang did the bare minimum. Honestly, it felt good to see the woman do the bare minimum for once. Secondly, it is important to understand that Sa Rang and Gu Won came from vastly different backgrounds and personalities. Sa Rang was a generally social person who liked thinking about others. On the other hand, Gu Won had his code of ethics, but he did not care too much about doing a good job because of the conflicts in his home situation. It was only after meeting Sa Rang and being inspired by her that he started taking his job and the hotel more seriously.
What we are trying to say is that Sa Rang had a reason to be cautious and low-effort with her feelings because she had a lot more to lose than Gu Won. Won was Sa Rang’s boss, and being involved with him could not mean a good environment in the workplace if things went wrong. Maybe Sa Rang did not think about marriage or even about how long they would be dating, but she had to think about and understand the kind of man Won could be if they parted ways. Sa Rang worked in one of the best hotels in the industry, which meant that she wouldn’t even be able to switch to another job that would be equally worthwhile if they broke up and things got uncomfortable. Additionally, working in the hospitality industry brings one face-to-face with the way classism operates. For example, it is considered bad to be rude to the staff, but they are also not considered equal to the people they serve. It reminds us of the movie “Maid in Manhattan”, where one of the characters said that service to others is a job of dignity that few understand.
Sa Rang was well-liked by the Chairman for her abilities, and her good nature, but Sa Rang was no fool to delude herself that he would accept her as his daughter-in-law. But did that mean that she would break up with Gu Won at the first sign of the Chairman’s resistance? Definitely not, and we get proof of that when she tells Gu Won that she won’t break up with him because of his family’s arrangement with Yuri. This implies that she trusted him to not lead the girl on and be clear with her, as he was. It also means that Sa Rang expected to have to fight with the Chairman for the right to be in his son’s life. But perhaps she did not anticipate how her career would be affected. It’s important to note that it was not Hwa Ran’s evil schemes that sent Sa Rang to the King Tourist Hotel. It was the Chairman’s orders, showing Sa Rang that when it came down to it, she had little to no power in the matter.
It is a given that the two will be a happy couple at the end of the series, but in the meantime, do they have a good enough reason to part ways? Gu Won came for Sa Rang and took her back to King the Land, but she had to have realized how powerless she was in the matter. No matter how guarded she may be with her emotions, she had to depend on Gu Won to set things right. There is no telling how many more such obstacles they will face going forward. Would she always be the damsel in distress, waiting for Won to save the day? Sa Rang was an exceptional worker, which was the reason she had the success that she did. But it all amounted to nothing if the Chairman decided that he wanted her out of Won’s life. He may not sabotage her, but the idea of being thought of as nothing had to pinch. Sa Rang realized this when the Chairman off-handedly greeted her on her return, and when she was with her grandma, we can bet that she couldn’t get it out of her mind.
With the season coming to a close, Sa Rang and Gu Won might break up for a brief twenty minutes. Otherwise, Sa Rang may have some amazing plan so that neither she nor Gu Won have to suffer such indignities again. Only King the Land finale will tell us which is which.