This Fan Theory About Gu Won’s Mother’s Identity in “King the Land” Is Compelling


In Netflix’s latest K-drama “King the Land,” 2PM’s Junho stars as Gu Won, the spoiled heir to the luxurious King Hotel who, due to a revolving door of sycophantic staff and superficial acquaintances in his life, has become weary of insincere smiles. Meanwhile, Girls Generation’s Yoona stars as Sa-rang, a driven hotelier who has long aspired to ascend the ranks of King Hotel. Despite her sometimes fake smiles, Sa-rang’s unwavering work ethic in the face of adversity grabs Gu Won’s attention and gives him a new outlook on life.

When viewers aren’t swooning over these iconic K-pop idols’ onscreen chemistry, they’re stewing over one of the show’s biggest mysteries: who is Gu Won’s mother?

Early on, the show establishes that Gu Won does not have the same mother as his older sister, Hwa-ran, and that she disappeared when he was very young. Ever since her disappearance, his questions about her have been ignored and met with complicit smiles apart from Hwa-ran, who torments him with non-answers about how his mother was “reckless” and that she “left because she didn’t want” Gu Won.

Ahead, we’re breaking down the possibilities of who Gu Won’s mother is and what may have happened to her.

Did Gu Won’s Mother Work at King Hotel?

Now, in his early 30s, Gu Won is searching for his mother and has returned to King Hotel to find her. He seems to believe she worked for King Hotel, but can’t find any record of her employment in his investigation into the hotel’s personnel records. His father, Chairman Gu Il-hun, may have scrubbed any information about his mother from the hotel’s records, but the question then would be why?

Is Hwa-ran Gu Won’s Mother?

Viewers can’t help but notice while watching “King the Land” that Gu Won’s sister, Hwa-ran – who is in a one-sided beef with Gu Won to succeed their father as Chairman of King Hotel – looks significantly older than him. Like, as in, old enough to be his mother.

In the show, Gu Won appears to be in his early 30s, as he looks at the hotel’s personnel record for the year 1989 (presumably when he was born). That age lines up with Junho’s age in real life, having been born in 1990. Assuming the rest of the cast are of similar ages to their characters, that would make Hwa-ran nearly 50 years old (actress Kim Sun-Young was born in 1974).

Taking their ages into account, it’s possible that Hwa-ran could have given birth to Gu Won when she was around 15 or 16 years old, in which case the Chairman would actually be Gu Won’s grandfather.

The only problem with this theory is that in episode four, we see a teenage Hwa-ran in a flashback to Gu Won’s childhood. If Hwa-ran gave birth to him at about 15, it would have put her in her early to mid-20s in the flashback. But, in the scene, Hwa-ran looks to be in her early teens and much closer in age to Go Won’s 7-or-8-year-old self.

Why Would Hwa-ran and Il-hun Hide That She’s Gu Won’s Mother?

Of course, the creators may have cast someone who was too young as Hwa-ran’s younger self to throw viewers off the scent of a big reveal. So, if we accept that Hwa-Ran is Gu Won’s mother, why would she and the Chairman lie by telling Gu Won she’s his sister?

The reasoning isn’t hard to guess: if Hwa-ran gave birth to Gu Won as a teenager out of wedlock, that would have brought shame and scandal to a high-profile chaebol family like theirs and potentially disrupted Hwa-ran’s future success. Being a man and an established, successful businessman, Il-hun would have been far more equipped to whether a scandal like having a child out of wedlock than his daughter, so he may have pretended to be Gu Won’s father to save Hwa-ran from “ruin.”

If this theory holds up, it would line up with Gu Won’s theory that his mother worked for King Hotel. It also means that Hwa-ran was referring to herself when she said Gu Won’s mother was reckless. Later in life, Hwa-ran is in a loveless marriage and consumed with her work, which could be why she seemingly resents Gu Won so much (he’s potentially the product of a relationship that was far more passionate and reckless that ended up threatening the future she desires).

As we’re only six episodes into “King the Land”‘s 16 episodes, there isn’t much more to go off of to nail down who Gu Won’s mother is, but more details are sure to come sooner than later.

“King the Land” is streaming on Netflix now, with new episodes hitting the streamer on Saturdays and Sundays.

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