Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo Promotional Poster

Scarlet Heart Ryeo follows a Go Ha-jin (IU), a 21st century woman, who is transported back in time to Goryeo Dynasty. She wakes up in the body of Hae Soo and there, she encounters the many royal princes. She initially falls in love with the gentle and warm 8th Prince Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul), and later Wang So (Lee Joon Gi), the fearsome 4th Prince. Rivalry and politics ensue among the princes, in a fight for the throne, and Hae Soo finds herself caught between it all (plot summary taken from Wiki).

Title:                           Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo
Main Actors:          Lee Joon Gi, Lee Ji Eun (IU), Kang Ha Neul
Release:                    August – November 2016

Background

Scarlet Heart Ryeo is a remake of a Chinese television series of the same name. It was adapted from the Chinese novel Bu Bu Jing Xin that was released in 2005.

Initial Impression

I’m not a fan of historical drama but I stumbled upon this newly uploaded series in Gooddrama one night. I was feeling really bored then, so I thought of giving it a chance. Anyway, I know IU as a KPOP Idol and saw her in Running Man before (her voice is lovely, btw). To make the story short, I started with the first episode and was ‘forced’ to stop halfway the third episode due to slow internet connection.

The plot itself is not realistic. An ordinary, broke, and broken-hearted girl from the 21st century traveled back to the Goryeo Dynasty where she encounters eight princes. What was the enticing factor that hooked me to this drama then?

It was Wang So’s story. The first two episodes were able to show the conflict of this mysterious character that left me wanting to find out more about him. Plus, IU carried out the funny scenes very well, not to mention the playful princes (most of them), that made it really interesting.

Performance

I don’t even know where to start. All I have are praises for the story, the actors, and the overall production. I was even thinking of memorizing three of its OST so I can sing along with it on Youtube. Seriously, I had the Scarlet Heart fever everyone was talking about.

This is the first time I watched a Lee Joon Gi drama series. No wonder he carried out his role as the 4th prince very well as he’s one of the few Korean actors usually tapped to portray historical drama roles. He was good, really good!

IU was not bad herself, too. I read several comments doubting her acting skills since she’s widely known as an Idol in South Korea. I admit that I knew some of her dramas (Dream High and The Producers), but haven’t watched any of it. With Moon Lovers, I think IU just proved that her prowess in singing is somehow at par with her acting skills. I really like her funny scenes. It comes out naturally, at least for me.

My heart literally danced, cried, and wept for Wang So and Hae Soo throughout the series.

I must admit I was getting all giddy with the 8th Prince and Hae Soo’s  love story. Their chemistry was so noticeable that I had to revisit Wiki and confirm that Hae Soo was supposed to be ending up with Wang So! Funny! I also had to commend the performance of the other princes – they were all good for their respective roles!

What I appreciate most from this drama is how it crafted an entirely new story (a love story) in Korea’s history – the Goryeo dynasty. I had actually taken interest in reading all about it and found myself reading through King Taejo’s life, the next in line for the throne and up until Wang So became the emperor. Reading through Korea’s history was actually fun and very informative. See! I’m learning something new here! *clap clap*

Final Impression

If you don’t mind investing in tissue boxes, then this drama is for you. Blame the drama’s OST – really! This song got me crying every time it’s played (you’ll know why… huhu).

Overall, I think the drama was able to capture the right balance – story-wise. They were able to maximize the roles of ALL actors and used it to the drama’s advantage. Aside from their physical looks, each prince was able to establish their own identity which was pertinent for the delivery of the story.

Aside from the heartbreaking song I embedded above (credits to the owner), I also like Taecyeon’s All With You and Davichi’s Forgetting You.

The drama is open-ended. Okay fine, the truth – it was sad. Even if I knew it beforehand (as per the Chinese version), I still had this ‘I hate the writer’ feeling for a few days. It took me quite a while to  understand that he/she was actually doing the audience a favor.

Nevertheless, I wish to believe Wang So and Hae Soo ended up together in the 21st century – who wouldn’t want that anyway, right?

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