It’s obvious to see that despite the crux of Akatsuki no Yona IS Yona and her four dragons, the bonds between Hak, Yona and Soo-Won is equally important to the story.
Soo-Won is an exemplary king, focusing on the people’s welfare and strengthening the Kouka Kingdom, a feat unachievable for the late King Il. As a person which such grand ideas, you would think he’ll bring himself more arrogantly than the rest of his peers. Strangely, he doesn’t put himself on a pedestal. In most stories, the character playing the role of a king is either a character adhering to noblesse oblige or someone who thinks he’s above the rest, but Soo-Won is neither of these cliches.
On the contrary, he is a detached person. He’s oddly sympathetic at times but only when necessary. He embraces topics of the future, but dismisses ideas of HIS future. He’s apathetic to almost everything save for his goals - to strengthen the Kouka Kingdom. It’s admirable but no human can this big-hearted without personal motive sneaking in, which is why I find it strange how Soo-Won was portrayed in the story.
Sympathetic and apathetic in one package
I believe what was portrayed of Soo-Won in the first chapter is his true face unmasked. He is close to Yona and Hak, and regard them highly. He is soft-spoken but shown to be an adept with archery on horseback.
He IS aware of Yona’s confession but chose to ignore them. If we have only read the first few chapters, anyone would have assumed that the reason for this is because Soo-Won has steeled himself to murder her father in cold blood that night. However, the story has advanced way beyond that point. We now know Soo-Won had a noble motive(?) all along. The kind-hearted Soo-Won is in there somewhere but first, his goals take priority. I’ve honestly thought this is the only reason why Soo-Won is apathetic to anything unrelated to his goals.
While Yona appeals to the dragon through heartfelt emotions, Soo-Won is calculative AND charismatic. He did what he must to fulfil his goals in the quickest way. Initially, his actions rubbed me as a natural-born leader with a noble heart. I’ve seen many threads in Reddit questioning his actions and motives. I personally thought nothing of it because these characters aren’t exactly rare in fantasy stories. He simply wants to fulfil his father’s wish and do what he thinks he must do. But things start getting fishy. He avoids talking of a future but more for the present. Once again, I think nothing of it until chapter 185 happened.
Living with a time constraint
To be fair, there have been hints littered across the chapters. He shot down the talks to get a fiancée and rejects the notion of a heir. He thinks relying on the power of dragons is absolute hogwash too. I thought he is just following his principles but all along, he’s just ill.
I have a good feeling it’s terminal too. If we were to fit this puzzle piece into the picture, everything makes sense.
He committed regicide to avenge his father, and to get Kouka Kingdom back on her feet.
If you’re on Death Note’s to-do list, I’d scurry my feet too. Waiting for King Il to abdicate seems like an impossible plan, so off the king goes.
The tribe generals have been trying to play matchmaker, but he seems adamant to stay single.
It wasn’t that he’s disinterested in ladies. It’s a waste of time to get invested. Besides, we have all seen what it did to Zeno ):
A heir is impossible
No, I’m pretty sure he’s potent. He mentioned that raising a good one takes time which further fuels my suspicion that time is ticking for him.
Immortality sounds nice
He asked to talk to Zeno specifically to question him about his powers. He could have led the whole talk with things like “How does it work”, or “Would you work with us”. Instead, he questioned Zeno along the line “Does immortality exist” instead. He was curious and probably had hopes it may help with whatever it is he is suffering from.
Next chapter will be interesting
At the end of the chapter, Soo-Won collapsed into the arms of Yona. We see her biting back the hate she felt rushing back as she consoles the current king. Soo-Won looks to be in the mood to talk too! We may get more information on just what his illness is all about, and the truth to the regicide.