The “moon” appears to be an inspiration for a lot of sageuk dramas lately. Adding to the long list of dramas I’m watching lately, Monday/Tuesday nights are filled with a lot of swooning over princes of the Joseon and Goryeo Dynasties.
I’ve been really looking forward to Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, which is based on the Chinese novel/drama, Bu Bu Jing Xin. The drama was fully filmed before the premiere and I hope that the story will be exciting and epically romantic while showcasing some beautiful cinematography.
The story follows a girl from the 21st Century who gets dragged back into time and trapped in the body of a noble lady, Hae Soo (IU). She encounters the sons of Goryeo’s King Taejo. Before the start of this drama, I was quite fascinated to learn a bit more about the Goryeo era. I think the most interesting part about Goryeo is women had a more equal standing with men in the Goryeo era than they had in later years. That’s why when we see Hae Soo speaking informally, it’s not out of character for a woman of her standing.
King Taejo was known for having a lot of consorts and kids. All in all, he had 29 consorts and 34 kids (25 of them males). Before Taejo, Korea was split into several kingdoms and Taejo was instrumental in unifying them under Goryeo. One of the ways he did it, was having a lot offspring and marrying his daughters to the various royals families in the other kingdoms and bringing them into their family.
The other interesting fact about Goryeo is that the king’s various consorts were not ranked the way they are during the Joseon era. Rather, they all had equal standing and any consort who had a son, their eldest had a good chance at being the next in line for the throne. Now that’s bound to cause trouble within the family.
Despite the fact that Taejo has so many sons, this drama is only featuring 8 of them. The eldest is Wang Mu (Kim San Ho) who is clearly first in line for the throne. However, Queen Sinmyeongsunseong (Park Ji Young) comes from a very powerful lineage who has set her sights on making her own son, Wang Yo (Hong Jong Hyun), the next king.
Wang So (Lee Jun Ki) is the child that Queen Sinmyeongsunseong is the child that she disdains. From the first moment we see him in this drama, he leaves quite the impression. It’s clear that he has major issues but more on him later.
Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul) is smart, strong and gentlemanly. He’s married to Hae Soo’s sister, Lady Hae (Park Shi Eun), and has always been the dutiful one.
Wang Won (Yoon Sun Woo) is always concerned with his looks while Wang Eun (Byun Baek Hyun) is the playful jokester. Wang Wook (aka Baek Ah) (Nam Joo Hyuk) is the artist in the family with interests in music and art. Wang Jung (Ji Soo) is the youngest son of Queen Sinmyeongsunseong but unlike his brothers, he’s been able to grow up with the pressure to take the throne and has received a lot of love from his mother.
Although Hae Soo feels so out of place in the world, one of the first people who treats her warmly is Wook. He encourages her and her plucky forthrightness is what initially attracts Wook to her. The fact that he’s married to her sister might complicate matters.
On the other hand, Hae Soo and So start off on the wrong foot. He’s rude and confrontational. Because Hae Soo is from the modern world, she isn’t afraid to call him out.
In fact, I think it’s interesting how beauty is held to such a great standard in the Goryeo era. The scar on his face also seems to represents the scar on So’s heart. And he uses it as a shield to push people away but Hae Soo isn’t the type of back down so easily. So much so that their characters remind me of Beauty and the Beast.
I.O.I – 사랑해 기억해 (Love You, Remember You)
What’s so interesting about So is what a twisted character he is. His mother, Queen Sinmyeongsunseong, is to blame for the scar on his face but yet there is a part of him that longs for that attention and affection. He’s been sent away so long that he has a hard time interacting with his brothers, especially the younger ones. They only know of his fearsome reputation through stories that they heard about him but they have never really got a chance to know him.
Though he’s fully aware of the conflict within his family and does not totally approve of his mother’s methods, he’s willing to cover up his mother’s treacherous deeds. So is such a flawed, conflicted but fascinating character. Queen Sinmyeongsunseong seems to accept that So is “monster” but is in complete denial for the part she’s played in making him that way. I can’t even imagine what it feels like to have your own mother despise you but yet hold on to a sense of loyalty to her. I mean, I guess that causes one to close off their heart but I’m eager to see how Hae Soo could be that person that breaks down his walls.
As for Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds, I didn’t originally intend to watch but I like Park Bo Gum, I like Kim Yoo Jung and I adore B1A4’s Jin Young so I just gave in. The story is about Hong Ra On (Kim Yoo Jung) who disguises herself as a man as she dishes dating advice to men. Due to a love letter she writes for a client, she crosses paths with the Crown Prince Hyomyung (Park Bo Gum).
Ra On doesn’t know that this stranger is the Crown Prince while Hyomyung doesn’t know that Ra On is a girl. Rather he knows of Ra On by another name, Sam Nom. Through a number of circumstances, Ra On ends up in the palace as one of the royal eunuchs.
Crown Prince Hyomyung is King Seonjo’s eldest son and expected to take the throne but there are a number of forces that are working against. King Seonjo is a weak king as he ascended the throne at an early age. As it is announced that Queen Kim is expecting a child, she hopes that it will eventually become the next heir thereby securing the power of her familial clan.
Now, this is where the drama veers vastly off course with history. In fact, it was Queen Kim (better known as Queen Sunwon of the Kim clan) who was Hyomyung’s mother. There was no Queen Yoon as the drama fabricated her in order to create the drama’s main conflict.
At first, Hyomyung and Ra On get off on the wrong foot when she treats him with disrespect. However, this is due to the fact that Ra On simply assumes that he’s just an average nobleman. He helps her pass her eunuch exams just so that he could torture her for the embarrassment she put him through but Hyomyung ends up taking a liking to her because she doesn’t realize that he’s the prince and treats him like a normal human being. It’s that type of camaraderie that Hyomyung wants to keep close by his side at the palace.
When Ra On finally learns of Hyomyung’s true status, she begins to see him in a new light.
Soyu, Yoo Seung Woo – 잠은 다 잤나봐요 (Must Have Slept My Last Sleep)
She agrees to help him and when she becomes aware of a plot that will publicly embarrass the prince, she steps in as a female to help him out.
As for Kim Yoon Sung (Jin Young), as a relative of Queen Kim, he becomes aware of his grandfather’s plot to seize the throne for their clan. Yoon Sung doesn’t seem to have much interest in politics except for the fact that he may not agree with what his family is doing. He’s more interested in getting to know Ra On, especially since he’s aware of her true identity.
This might complicate matters as Hyomyung becomes curious of the young girl who captured his heart during his birthday festivities.
Right of the bat, the drama is cute with its overwhelmingly playful tone and it has made me laugh a lot in its first few episodes. It’s to be expected as the drama is based on the webtoon of the same name. However, some of the major plot points reminds me of Sungkyunkwan Scandal a lot which does give me a little pause. I just hope that it’s not the kind of drama where I’ll only be interested in the love story rather the underlying politics. That’s what I liked about Sungkyunkwan Scandal as there was a lot going on underneath the story of the OTP.