Ma Joong-seok: Queenmaker character explained

In Queenmaker, Ma Joong-seok goes against his ex-wife, Do-hee, as the two are managing opposing candidates, but the circumstances convince him to switch sides later on. Joong-seok is played by Kim Tae-hoon.

While Do-hee is the campaign manager of Oh Kyung-sook, her ex-husband, Ma Joong-seok, is a member of the Reform Party of Korea and Assemblywoman Seo Min-jung’s policy director. 

Before taking Baek Jae-min down, Do-hee plans to deal with Ms. Seo in the primary election. The election sees Do-hee going head-to-head with Joong-seok, who has been working in this field for years.

The voice of reason

From the very beginning, Joong-seok comes off as someone who does not want to give up on their ideals just to make their candidate win. He is against the idea of using Kyung-sook’s appearance to attack her, but Ms. Seo refuses to listen to him.

When Do-hee threatens to expose Ms. Seo’s old affair, he is the one who negotiates with her. He knows that Ms. Seo has no choice but to give in to Do-hee’s demands, and for that, he is even accused of working with Do-hee.

Despite that, he continues serving Ms. Seo faithfully and comes up with efficient solutions to protect her image. It was his idea to make Ms. Seo’s daughter look like a victim of bullying to cover up the scandal of her tuition fees; he even coerced her daughter to go along with it.

Joong-seok also serves as the voice of reason in Ms. Seo’s camp. When Ms. Seo decides to fabricate stories to defame Kyung-sook, Joong-seok tries to stop her, as this is against the law.

Ms. Seo then tries to get him on board by promising him her district once she becomes the mayor. Even the promise of advancing in his career does not lure him, and he keeps voicing his objection.

However, he does not openly oppose her, as he goes along with whatever her final decision is. When Do-hee asks him to stop fabricating stories about Kyung-sook, as it is unlike him, he tells her that winner is always righteous in politics, which shocks Do-hee.

Switching sides

Ms. Seo forces Hwa-soo to betray Kyung-sook, which results in Hwa-soo trying to take her own life. When Joong-seok gives this news to Ms. Seo, instead of feeling sorry, she is elated because if Hwa-soo dies, she can blame Kyung-sook for her suicide.  

Joong-seok tries to point out that she will be killing two innocent women to win an election, but Ms. Seo tells him that human lives are not worth anything in politics. He talks to Do-hee after this, and she reminds him of his ideals when he entered politics.

Joong-seok then stops Kyung-sook from withdrawing by playing the recording of his conversation with Ms. Seo and showing the world her true colors. He believes that by staying by her side, he was turning into a vile person and losing himself. 

Ms. Seo is forced to withdraw, and Joong-seok seems to be happy for the first time since he started working on this campaign. He does not stop there; he continues supporting Kyung-sook, as he wants to prove that an honest person can make it in this cesspool.

He starts working with her camp and brings his experience to the table. Even though Joong-seok has worked in this corrupt field for years, at the end of the day, he chooses his ideals over his personal benefit.

Queenmaker Joong-seok
Joong-seok comes to help Kyung-sook’s camp

Joong-seok’s relationship with Do-hee

Joong-seok and Do-hee got divorced a few years ago, as Do-hee was so busy with her job that she failed to notice that her marriage was falling apart. She could not do anything to save it.

Despite getting divorced, Joong-seok still meets her sick father regularly; the three of them were a family once, and that was the happiest time of Do-hee’s father’s life. 

Joong-seok even shows up when she gets admitted to the hospital after saving Kyung-sook. He reminds her once again that she deserves better than the Eunsung Group, but she dismisses him.

Later, when Do-hee makes Kyung-sook the mayor of Seoul, she finally thanks him for caring about her. There seems to be mutual respect between the two of them, but their relationship does not change, as Do-hee ends up in prison for accepting illegal funds.


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