Based on the true story of a controversial figure, Shin Don covers the life of Buddhist monk Shin Don (played by Son Chang Min), who took over the leadership of Korea during one of its most troubled times and became a powerful revolutionary and political leader. It is also the story of King Gong Min Wang (Jong Bo Suk) and Queen Nokuk (Seo Ji Hye), the two royals of the time whose lives were intrinsically intertwined with his. Directed by Kim Jin Min (La Dolce Vita, Time Between Dog and Wolf), Shin Don is a superb historical epic which ably captures the life of an extraordinary individual.
Gong Min, the heir to the Koryo throne, was taken before his ascension by rival dynasty Yuan (the Mongolian Empire) and kept as a political prisoner for ten years. When he finally comes to the throne, he has no particular fondness for Yuan. Driven by a desire to free Koryo, however, he agrees to the traditional political marriage with a Mongolian princess, and marries Princess Nokuk. Soon enough, however, when the Mongolian Empire begins to fall and the king turns more openly against it, the Princess finds her loyalties tested. What had begun as a marriage of convenience becomes something more as the Princess chooses her husband over her country and saves Gong Min from Yuan assasins.
Meanwhile, Shin Don, a Buddhist priest and the son of a princess and a slave, has become a rising political power whom both the King and Queen depend on for advice. The son of a princess and a slave, he essentially takes control of Korea during this hugely tumultuous time. Portrayed in history as both a tyrant and social reformer, a corrupt politican and a brilliant philosopher, a true priest and someone who used religion as a tool, the drama strives to give a face and personality to this famous figure, drawing him as both a skilled manipulator of political events for his own advantage and a driven revolutionary dedicated to bettering society.
An epic tale of love, betrayal, and political turmoil, Shin Don runs for 63 episodes and captures the rise and fall of one of Korea’s most disputed historical figures, as well as the life of Nokuk, the last Mongolian queen of Korea (revered to this day for her loyalty to the Korean kingdom).