‘King The Land’ Episode 1 Recap And Review: What Will Happen To Sa-Rang Next?

One of the most anticipated K-dramas of 2023, King The Land is finally airing, and the first episode definitely didn’t disappoint. The 2nd generation idol combo of Lee Jun-Ho and Lim Yoon-A is lethal, to say the least! As if the enemies-to-lovers trope wasn’t already the most common one in such shows, we have another one added to the mix! In the first episode, we meet Cheon Sa-Rang (her name itself means love, so she’s oozing with it), whose big dream is to be part of the hotel industry. On the other hand, there’s Gu-Won, who is in the battle of heirs between his sister and him to win over the King Hotel.  As you can anticipate, Sa-Rang hopes to get a job at this precious hotel, and the rest follows. Let’s dive right into King The Land episode 1!


Spoilers Ahead

What Happens In Episode 1?

It’s 2016, Cheon Sa-Rang is a diligent young woman who lived with her two best friends. One is a flight attendant and the other works at a duty-free shop. Sa-Rang is keen on getting a job in the hotel business and takes a chance on the hiring drive at the massive King Hotel. She’s doing this on a whim because she doesn’t have a graduate degree, which is a must for this particular hotel. Still, since it’s her dream to work there, she decides to show up anyway. The interviewers look unimpressed at first, and even though she makes the best of the moment with a broken shoe and having to play the air piano, she thinks she’s left a lackluster impression. The girls decide to head out for the night to drown their miseries, but the next day, Sa-Rang gets the call she’s been waiting for all her life! She’s got a one-month internship at the King Hotel.


At the same time, Gu-Won has just landed on the building opposite the hotel via parachute, and he’s about to be late for his own internship. Gu-Won is hilariously nonchalant about being late, although he thinks he was right on time. On the other hand, fellow intern Sang-Sik tells him that his “on time” is 30 minutes early. The manager calls out Gu-Won for wearing expensive items to the office, making jokes about him not being an heir. But joke’s on him because Gu-Won is part of the family that runs the King Hotel. They don’t really have any work to do, and Gu-Won is given the trivial task of printing some sheets, which he doesn’t know how to do. Sang-Sik decides to help him out, but their manager tells him he needs to shake up the ink for the old machine to work. Unfortunately, it creates a huge mess, and the manager blames Sang-Sik for it in front of Gu-Won. Gu-Won talks back to the manager and immediately gets fired. He’s also told to clean up the mess, but instead, he calls a director, Choi. That’s when all hell breaks loose, and the people at work realize who they’re dealing with. Gu-Won is impressed with Sang-Sik, so he decides to take him under his wing after being fired. Sang-Sik agrees because Gu-Won has offered him a full-time job after being an intern five times already.

Back home, things are not so high and mighty for Gu-Won. We learn rather quickly that he’s unwanted by his older sister, Hwa-Ran because he’s an illegitimate child born out of wedlock. Gu-Won doesn’t love it back at home either and takes up her offer to stay in the hotel and then go back to the UK, where he came from, to the disdain of his father. Sa-Rang, on the other hand, has to start from the bottom and work her way up in the hotel business. Her next goal is to be a part of the lobby team. Sa-Rang and her friends are a very hardworking bunch, and we see them struggle in each of their own sectors because of terrible seniors who assign them to the lowest ranks of work. Still, they push through and endure so that they can grow in their own ways. Sa-Rang works at the gym of the hotel, and she’s made to clean up butt-sweat and refill stock because she’s only a temporary employee. Sa-Rang falters for once, but she never loses her smile.


But one day, Sa-Rang gets harassed by a perverted guest who claims that she’s been following him around. He has left a note for her inviting her to his room, and she’s completely disgusted. But the note was given to her senior, and Sa-Rang never saw the guy’s face. Instead, the senior tells her that it’s the “tiger” who gave her the “tip,” so Sa-Rang heads out in search of the tiger. She sees Gu-Won working out wearing the same tiger t-shirt as the pervert and ends up yelling at him for making moves on her and walking away. Gu-Won yells after her, but she ignores him. Instead, Hwa-Ran shows up and tells him to treat her hotel staff better. She doesn’t know what’s gone down, but when she sees Sa-Rang, she asks her some questions regarding the hotel business. Sa-Rang answers everything perfectly, and Hwa-Ran is so impressed that she immediately shifts her to the lobby.

Gu-Won decides to head back to the UK and take Sang-Sik along. Gu-Won has an estranged relationship with his father, but we see that he wants to connect with him but can’t do it because of his sister. He has an old pocket watch that he wears on his 3-piece suits every day, and we can only imagine it has something to do with his mother. Over the years, Gu-Won spent time studying in the UK, and Sa-Rang got promoted and became a full-time employee, as she dreamed of. One of the three girls even gets married, and Sa-Rang seems to have a decent dating life too.


In 2023, things are looking up for Sa-Rang, but Gu-Won receives a package in the UK with nothing but his name on it, written in Korean. He’s shocked by the contents of it and immediately decides to move back to Korea. He tells Sang-Sik he doesn’t know how long he plans on staying. The contents of the package were the records of a person named Han Mi-So.

What Will Happen To Sa-Rang Next?

Gu-Won’s return is different this time around. He tells his family he plans on working in the hotel, and his sister is irritated by this. She can’t understand what his plan is, but Gu-Won’s father is extremely happy to know this fact. Hwa-Ran has been reminding Gu-Won that the hotel belongs to her, so why is he going after it despite knowing that fact? Talk about their mother’s wake comes up, and Gu-Won asks his father which mother he’s talking about. He says he isn’t even sure his mother is alive, and his father leaves the room in disdain. Hwa-Ran, on the other hand, reminds Gu-Won that he’s being just as reckless as his mother. Gu-Won needs a drink after this detestable conversation and leaves the house in the pouring rain. We find out then that he and sang-Sik have become quite close and that he might be Gu-Won’s only friend and employee.


On the other hand, Sa-Rang has a bad stomach, and the friends deduce that it might be because of her current boyfriend who is causing her a lot of stress. It’s time for her to leave him, but they’re distracted by the club-like atmosphere of the children’s play area. They’ve been so busy working, and one of them even has a daughter now that they haven’t seen a club in years. So they dance in the children’s play area while the daughter watches in disbelief.

The next day, Sa-Rang feels awful, but Gu-Won needs his phone from his suite, so she’s sent to fetch it. It’s Gu-Won’s first day at the hotel, and he must not mess up. Sa-Rang requests that her manager let her go to the washroom first, but she denies it. Sa-Rang finds the phone in the suite, but at the same time, she sees the washroom as she’s about to burst. She takes the opportunity, but Gu-Won, who has left some papers in his room, decides to go back and get them too. Sa-Rang is done with her business, but she notices a remote for the bathroom. She clicks on some buttons, and it makes the opaque walls clear. Sa-Rang is fascinated by this and begins to play with the remote until Gu-Won happens to see her. Of course, Sa-Rang screams in horror when she sees him, and that’s where King The Land Episode 1 ends. Poor Sa-Rang’s life is on the line, but as we see from the preview of the next episode, something entirely different may be happening.


Final Thoughts 

King The Land is one of those shows that does not need to be taken seriously; it’s just a fun watch with some slapstick comedy. The leads are, of course, gorgeous, as we know, and they make for a delightful pairing. Both have great comic timing, and we can’t wait to see the sizzling chemistry we saw in that one dance performance they did some time ago. The show is reminiscent of 2016–2017 dramas and can also be compared to Business Proposal. It looks like there’s also some fake dating on the line for Gu-Won and Sa-Rang too. We just hope it keeps getting better from here!

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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King The Land is one of those shows that does not need to be taken seriously; it's just a fun watch with some slapstick comedy. 'King The Land' Episode 1 Recap And Review: What Will Happen To Sa-Rang Next?