[K-DRAMA] Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo (2016)

warning: may contain spoilers

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Several princes fight for the throne and the heart of Hae Soo..

Plot:

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Go Ha Jin was depressed after her boyfriend and best friend cheated on her. She was in a park that time and she saw a kid who fell off the water. She tried to save the kid even if she can’t swim.. and from there she miraculously time traveled to Goryeo Dynasty in year 941. She woke up in the body of Hae Soo and everything was so new to her. She wasn’t used to live in that period of time. She met several princes who gained her love and trust. She fell in love with the 8th prince, Wang Wook, who was married with her cousin, Lady Hae. Apparently, Lady Hae’s body was weak and she eventually died. Wook and Hae Soo’s romance was progressing, but was cut short when the king was about to die and the princes were fighting for the throne. There’s Wang So, who excelled in martial arts but never gained the love from his parents. And Wang Yo, who’s been planning on being the king since day 1. And Wang Wook, who doesn’t bother to be the king, but seeing himself  so helpless and powerless, hungered for the throne too. Who will be the king and who will eventually win the heart of Hae Soo?

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Opinions:

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First things first. When I first heard about the list of actors, I knew it was going straight to my watch list. Moreover, I watched the Moon Lovers main 3 actors guesting in Running Man. The three guys were so funny that I want to watch it soon. They were so handsome and pretty. I have a soft spot for big casts and what more was that they casted some people I liked. I was excited to see Hong Jong Hyun, Kang Ha Neul, and Seo Hyun. I was also intrigued by Ji Soo, Baek Hyun and Nam Joo Hyuk. And I was worried for Lee Jun Ki since he picked another historical drama. The actors aren’t really big names in the acting department with the exception of Lee Jun Ki, and others are just getting there while the others are not really from the acting department. Baek Hyun and Seo Hyun are idols, and IU is technically a singer. Many have prejudice that they can’t act without even watching the show. I also thought that they might not do well upon hearing netizens’ complains, but after watching the show, I realised that we really should remove the prejudice since they did well. I was surprised that there’s no one who hard carried the show, but everyone worked hard. I also loved the friendships and bromance made in this drama. And if there’s one thing that I liked the most in the drama, it’s the cast.

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And so I didn’t know that it was sort of a time travel too since the female lead time traveled to the past unknowingly. It’s still a big question on how she time traveled back and forth. I wished it was somehow explained during the show, but they missed that part. I also loved the first half of the drama. It started with a bang with all these cute and handsome men showing off and a female lead who’s innocent and well loved by everyone. It was still peaceful and everyone was having fun. It was around episode 13 when everything went downhill. It became serious and the character developments were just plain weird. The mothers of the princes played a huge part in making the princes confused thus they made ridiculous choices and decisions. They were really irrational and only thought about their own sake. Just for that damn throne. I don’t want to be a king who’d get sleepless every night and worry about every little thing. It was obvious that the writer was trying to develop the story, but the pacing wasn’t right and it became draggy and messy at the end. Some characters ended up being in the back burner. I think that the writer spent so many time with the first half and lacked time during the latter so he failed to wrap up the story nicely.

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I have to mention the chemistry between the leads. Wook and Soo’s love story was beautiful in my opinion. The snow scene with Wook walking and Soo following behind was also a lovely sight to see. It was one of my favourite scenes in the drama. I felt that they had a spark during the first few episodes. There were so many scenes with Wook in it, and I doubted if he’s actually the first male lead or not. A Kang Ha Neul fangirl is really happy 🙂 It was during the latter half when Soo became closer to So and she fell for him. It’s weird how she quickly shifted from liking Wook to So. Just because Wook changed, her feelings for him also changed. I don’t think it would be so easy to move on. Wook is such a warm and nice person, and he also changed his goals to protect his family and also to save Soo. On the other hand, it was obvious how So liked Soo from the very beginning. He was always mean and had that “bad boy” feel in him, but he’s there looking out for her too. I’m really a sucker for second male leads, so I was rooting for him even though I knew they won’t end up together. Is it just me, but I liked their chemistry more than with the male lead.

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I also have to mention about the OST. Most of the songs were seriously good. It’s been awhile since I actually like most of the songs in the drama. Usually, it’s just one or two songs that retain in my iPod, but for this drama, I can’t choose just one song. When I first heard the main theme song which is For You by EXO-CBX in Running Man, I was curious with the song. I looked it up instantly. Say Yes by Loco and Punch is also a great song. I know how crazy Koreans are with hip-hop music these days so many of the songs have rap in it. The female’s voice was soothing to listen to and the combination of Punch’s rap was perfect. I also loved All With You by Taeyeon, Can You Hear My Heart by Epik High ft. Lee Hi, and Confess by SG Wannabe.

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Characters:

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Lee Jun Ki as Wang So — I was a little bit sad upon hearing that Lee Jun Ki is casted in another historical drama. Not again? He hasn’t really been doing well in his recent historical dramas. The drama’s ratings wasn’t doing good in Korea and I felt that it’s because of the writing and pacing of the drama. With the right drama and c0-actors, I think Lee Jun Ki can hit it big since his acting is already there. He portrayed Wang So in a really cool way and one can notice that his expressions are on point. Although rarely, he does get a little bit over exaggerated, but I loved how he did all his fighting scenes without a stunt man. I think it all depends on luck and his choice. I think he could at least be Gong Yoo level if he has one work that’ll make him popular. But I’m glad that international fans are not sleeping on him, but recognise his skills as an actor especially in China. I heard that he’s popular there right now because of this drama. I hope his next drama would be modern action drama. I can only just hope.

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IU Lee Ji Eun as Hae Soo — Many hated IU for her controversy two years ago, but she was still very loved in Korea. She still has many CF deals and is just doing fine. At first, I was a little skeptical as to why she was paired up with Lee Jun Ki. It doesn’t match at all, and I disliked his pairing with Lee Yu Bi last time, and IU has a similar vibe with her. It was good that IU’s character Hae Soo came from present time, so being awkward and not used to things was just normal. I can’t help but adore her cuteness and weirdness just like how the princes adored her. Her character transition was one of the things that I hated along with Wook. It wasn’t just right how she was so down, sad and serious during the latter half. I missed seeing the bubbly Hae Soo and the personality change was just plain weird. I doubted IU if she can do well at first, but seeing that she improved from lighter roles like Cindy and her role in Dream High, I’ll take back all those doubts. Hae Soo’s character was fit for her. If she can pick another role that’s suitable for her, I think she’ll do fine.

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Kang Ha Neul as Wang Wook — Ha Neul portrayed Wook perfectly. Wook is a kindhearted man, but the character turned evil during the latter parts. I can only pity him since it wasn’t his choice, but rather he has no choice. I saw how he’s actually very different in real life. He has a bright personality and full of aegyo. He follows older people well and I wonder how he’ll do if he’s the oldest. He’s such a puppy! I was really looking forward to him and he’s playing a bigger role too. I still remembered how I first eyed him in To the Beautiful You and saw his potential. I just knew he’s going to make it. He’s been doing movies and dramas quietly and I really think he’s slowly working his way up. I can’t wait for the day that he’ll land a lead role. I hope 2017 will be a brighter year for him.

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Hong Jong Hyun as Wang Yo — I realised that I haven’t seen Hong Jong Hyun act yet, but I’ve seen him in variety shows like Running Man and We Got Married. He’s known for his good looks. He looks like a bad guy, but he’s actually cute when he smiles. At first, I thought that it’s weird to put eyeliners when he’s in Goryeo Dynasty, but it does make a difference when he puts and when he doesn’t put it. He definitely looks kinder without eyeliners. Being the antagonist in the drama, I felt that he delivered well but could actually do better? Nonetheless, I enjoyed seeing a villain role who’s just as handsome as the other leads.

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Byun Baek Hyun as Wang Eun — Many people criticised his poor acting and he was even “proud” to say that he didn’t received any acting training prior to the show. I prepared myself for his cringeworthy acting as criticised by other people. I was surprised that he actually did better than expected. Wang Eun was an easy role; childish and the maknae among the brothers even if he’s not. Baek Hyun actually handled the role well even though the first few scenes were unnatural. I mean, you can forgive him since he’s such a little ball of cuteness in this drama. I can see that he’s slowly improving as the drama progressed. His acting was not disturbing at all.

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Nam Joo Hyuk as Wang Baek Ah — I remembered how Nam Joo Hyuk used to get criticisms in School 2015, but now there are more people here who’s new to acting, so the spotlight is not on him. He definitely improved from School 2015 and it shows that he’s better than those newcomers. His love line with Woo Hee was a great addition to the story, but  I don’t understand how he can fall for her despite everything that she did. It’s also weird that he’s alive after Woo Hee accidentally stabbed him. I mean, shouldn’t he be dead after that? That moment shocked me the most since I wasn’t prepared to have a prince killed yet, but they didn’t show anything about him after that.

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Seo Hyun as Woo Hee — I was pretty much excited since this is her first major drama work. She only did cameos in the past. I’m still not used to Seo Hyun acting, since I always see her singing and dancing onstage. I think she’s a little bit stiff and awkward in showing her expressions. I don’t know if it’s the side effects of botox or whatever procedure she did, but I really miss her old face. Her makeup is also very thick that she looks older. She has really grown mature now. Despite of all these, I knew that she prepared for the role and she also learned the sword dance. Hard work really paid off because she really looked cool with the sword. I hope she practices her acting more and land more small roles.

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Ji Soo as Wang Jung — I’ve been seeing his name frequently and wondered who is he? lol It turned out that he’s also a cutie like the other princes. I love how he’s the youngest and he can be both playful and serious at times. I loved his interactions with all the characters especially with Eun and Soo. I loved how he was also given spotlight towards the end of the drama. He wasn’t placed as a back burner after all, but given an important role too. His acting was also natural. I can’t wait to see him in another drama next time.

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Ending:

It was weird how Wang Yo was stabbed already, but he didn’t die just yet. He came back fiercer and with a moustache now. lol He became the king out of force, but was sleepless every night from having nightmares until he became a devoted Buddhist. He died and soon So became the king. From the last few episodes, I have a feeling that it’s not going to end up good. Soo was actually pregnant with So being the father and she had to keep it to herself or else the baby would not be safe. Soo decided to leave the palace by accepting Jung. She married him just for the sake of getting out of the palace. Soo’s health was deteriorating and she eventually died. She left her daughter with Jung and he took care of her. When King So saw the daughter, she reminded him of Soo. He then allowed Jung and the daughter to come to the palace frequently. I just wished that the princes wouldn’t die and they would reunite in the end. Would they really have to be sacrificed just for the throne? I wondered how it is in the Chinese version. A very sad ending, but I felt that there’s no more love between So and Soo anymore during the end. I also despised how Soo came back to real time, but it sounded just like a dream. They also showed how Goryeo was very influential in make-up and soap already during that period which wasn’t true. I wished that they didn’t show the present time anymore, and just leave it like a mystery. lol

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Final Thoughts:

Moon Lovers looked good with the star studded cast. The actors were chosen very well and despite of all the criticisms they received, I think they did better than expected. I think it’s the writing during the latter part that was a miss and could’ve written better. Nonetheless, it was a fun watch during the first half and it turned serious during the latter. I adored the first half so much and the characters were a huge plus. Despite of the drama not doing well in Korea, it has been the talk of the town among youngsters probably because of the cast. I’m happy that it’s also well-received internationally. If you’re into the actors, it’s highly recommended to watch this drama. I’m getting intrigued with the Chinese version. I might put it in my watch list soon.

 

Rating: 7/10

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. devonandcornwall
    Jan 07, 2017 @ 23:50:48

    Yeah, I thought it was much better as a light-hearted drama with a touch of seriousness like it was in the first half. Like you said, the second half just made me roll my eyes a lot. Like seriously, you all take yourselves WAY too dang seriously. Chill out.

    I don’t regret watching it, but I just hate it when a drama leaves a bad flavor in your mouth at the end, you know?

    Love your blog, and it’s nice to meet you! Cheers!

    Devon
    http://www.devonandcornwall.wordpress.com

    Reply

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