[Review] The Moon that Embraces the Sun – 해를 품은 달


The story is based on the book about a fictional Joseon king-to-be named Lee Hwon (Yeo Jin Goo) who falls in love with Heo Yeon Woo (Kim Yoo Jung) when they are teenagers.

Jealousy and political rivalry cause their union to be separated and Hwon believes Yeon Woo to be dead.

Saved from death by a shaman, Yeon Woo returns to court as Wol (Han Ga In) with no memories of her former life.  Still mourning the loss of his first love, a bitter Hwon (Kim Soo Hyun) grows curious about the shaman.

LYn – Rewinding Time

린(LYn) – 시간을 거슬러

A very big ratings winner.  In Korea and abroad, there’s a lot of love out there for the characters of this drama.  The younger cast really wowed audiences with their emotional performances.

The moon and sun imagery was very prevalent in the drama as the conflict stems from a folklore about how there were two suns and two moons in the beginning.  It caused the days to be too hot and the nights to be too cold so the world was in chaos.  But then a hero appears and shoots one sun and one moon out of the sky and it brought peace to the world.  The two suns are Hwon and Prince Yang Myung (Jung Il Woo) and the two moons are Yeon Woo and Bo Kyung (Kim Min Seo).

I guess it’s only fitting to start with the performances of the younger cast because I was greatly impressed by Yeo Jin Goo, Kim Yoo Jung, Lee Min Ho and Jin Ji Hee.  They’re at the level of acting that adults are at.  However, these kids have been acting since they were born and have more than a dozen projects on their resume.  I think I’m just more impressed by good kid actors because they’ve accomplished so much more at a young age while making me feel like such a slacker with just my ballet classes and piano lessons when I was their age.

It’s so weird for me to be seeing these young faces talking about marriage and love with our modern mentality.  Despite the actors limited experience with this kind of stuff, I think their performances were very convincing enough to warrant all the love they’ve been receiving from viewers.

I did like the older cast as well but I felt that Kim Soo Hyun outshone everyone because his presence as the king was so strong.  Kim Soo Hyun is a great actor, big ears and all.  But that’s no big surprise since both his parents were pretty famous actors back in the day.  He’s got it in his genes.

His best scene?  Ah, it’s so hard to choose.  Is it his crying when he finally figures out who Wol is?  That was pretty painful to watch.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in my house.

Or is it his scenes with his eunuch, Hyung Sun (Jung Eun Pyo)?

There was a nice balance between the light and funny with the heavy-duty serious scenes for Lee Hwon.

There was a lot criticism over Han Ga In’s acting but I think she did an okay job given what she had to work with.  The character Wol doesn’t remember her former life as Yeon Woo.  In that sense, I got the feeling that Wol always felt that there was this missing part of herself that she was trying to discover.  Most of her performance was about being reflective instead of being emotional.  She doesn’t have that direct connection yet.  And many viewers just tend to notice the person who’s overly emotional so in that respect Han Ga In was working with what she got.

Although, besides Yeon Woo’s mother, the Heo household, as a whole, was unemotional.  They’re a very practical family as evidenced by Young Yeon Woo’s conversations with her brother, Yeom (Siwan).

Even the older Yeom (Song Jae Hee) was very unemotional.  For me, it just seemed to run in their family.

As Wol is starting to remember details about her past, you do see this drastic change in her.  Especially when she gets put into small, dark spaces.

That scene during the eclipse when she sees her younger self is just super eerie and the combination of performances is commendable.  And then when her memory returns, I feel that’s when Han Ga In’s acting changes drastically.

Oooh Jung Il Woo.  I don’t think anybody else would have been better suited to take on the playful Yang Myung with all that flair that is Jung Il Woo.  And Lee Min Ho did a great job in matching that.

The pair of them are like a modern Hong Gil Dong.

His love for Yeon Woo hit a soft spot for me.  Yeah, she was meant for Hwon but Yang Myung was the first to recognize her and help her out.  But as in a lot of K-Dramas, nice guys finish last.  I loved it when he said that he didn’t have any aspirations to be king and didn’t care if all his friends became the king’s men.  He just wanted Yeon Woo.  **Sniff, sniff.

The girls got it tough in TMETS.  There was a lot of hate for Princess Min Hwa (Jin Ji Hee/Nam Bo Ra) from viewers but I want to defend her.

What really struck me in this drama was when Yang Myung’s mom advises Yeon Woo when she brings a hurt Yang Myung to the temple.  It’s dangerous just looking toward your object of affection.  You don’t see what’s around you.  I love this scene in part because Yeon Woo realizes how much Yang Myung has loved her but she also sees how much danger it has put him in as well.

Even Hwon got advice from his dad saying that it’s not easy to be king and he has to sacrifice a lot and protect the people he loves.  Being king is a great balancing game and Hwon doesn’t fully understand this until he’s older.  Now he’s got to live up to promise he made to his younger self and punish his younger sister.

Almost every single person in this drama has that narrow field of view.  From Yang Myung to Seol to Bo Kyung to Hwon’s grandmother to Bo Kyung’s father and they all pay dearly for it.  It doesn’t matter if you’re good or evil.

So considering those factors you have to remember that Min Hwa was misled by her grandmother and then her father instructs her to keep silent for the better good.  What else was a girl supposed to do back then when the man you marry determines your whole world?  She was just a foolish, young girl.

And why should Min Hwa be denied marrying the person she truly loves?  She got to marry him but guilt plagued her for those 8 years.  She deserved her punishment and served it but I’m glad that she was able to get a happy ending too.

I do feel that Seol (Yoon Seung Ah) got the shortest end of the stick.  In the beginning, I thought she had a crush on Woon (Song Jae Rim) but it turned out she harbored feelings for Yeom.  Meh.

I was hoping that Woon would become interested in her.  Doesn’t he deserve a girl too?  But noooo, he’s too busy escorting the king, watching over him while he sleeps and checking in with Yang Myung.  Then, I thought we’d get an interesting backstory on Woon but we didn’t get that either.

From point A to B to C, the drama was a good ride.  It was romantic, cute and funny.  However, the story lacks much complexity.  It kind of felt like teenage romance novel à la Twilight.  It’s an interesting story but not all of the characters feel fleshed out so that aspect of it was disappointing.



3 thoughts on “[Review] The Moon that Embraces the Sun – 해를 품은 달

  1. I absolutely agree, especially the ‘Woon character’ – we have watched him from A to B to C and yet have have no back story about him and his only show of emotion is when Prince Yang Myung is dead and as a character with a little/no emotion,i guess it shows us his human side.The only one thing I disagree is Princess Min Hwa should have got the short end of the stick.True, she was innocent and was misled by the Queen Dowager and she did deserve her punishment and served it(despite having being ranked-up from slave to commoner) BUT did she deserve to get a happy ending too? That is still questionable.


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