The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: The Moon that Embraces the Sun

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

Moon/Sun is basically a romance dressed as a simplified saguek with supernatural elements, so it’s fairly light on the political intrigue.

Kim Soo Hyun is absolutely fantastic in this, and everyone else is pretty excellent too, except for Han Ga In, who seems miscast. Kim Soo Hyun more than makes up for it, though.

Cliffhangers are mostly of the romantic kind instead of the political kind, and there’s some pretty strong sexual tension that goes on for a good stretch of the drama. I lapped up back-to-back episodes of this. Even my mother zoomed her way through the first 8 episodes in just 2 days

The ending could have been handled better, but overall, I really enjoyed this one :)

The Moon that Embraces the Sun OST – 애지애가(愛之哀歌)

THE LONG VERDICT:

The cinematography is very pretty in Moon/Sun, and everything looks fabulous right off the bat. The colors are beautiful and intense, and makes everything look just that little bit more amazing.

The child actors take us from episode 1 through 6, and they are So. Good.

I was blown away by their delivery, which is so convincing and so mature. These young ones are going to be brilliant adult actors in time to come. Wow.

They really set the stage – and the bar, really – for the adult cast, and I wondered if the transition would be convincing.

I had no doubt that Kim Soo Hyun would be as intense and nuanced as Yeo Jin Gu, but I wondered if Han Ga In would be able to match Kim Yoo Jung’s layered and completely convincing delivery.

Most people seem to agree that the writing was better in the childhood portion of the drama. It was after the transition to the adult actors that many people started to feel the drag story-wise.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Many people said that it was laughable how simplified the story became, with basically one main romantic plotline: will he or won’t he sleep with his wife?

[END SPOILER]

Let me just say that I can see where they’re coming from, but I managed to enjoy the story for the most part, even after the adult actors showed up.

I don’t need a whole lot of intricacy in the story if there is a main romance plotline that interests me. Especially if the actors involved are very good.

And they were. Except for Han Ga In.

Let me say right away, that I am a big Jung Il Woo fan. Big.

I loved him in The Return of Iljimae and also in 49 Days, where his amazingly nuanced deliveries shot him way up my mental Brilliant K-Actor List.

I went into Moon/Sun expecting to enjoy Jung Il Woo much more than Kim Soo Hyun.

I’d enjoyed Kim Soo Hyun a lot in Dream High, but I hadn’t seen him in anything else. I thought he was very good, but my loyalties were with Jung Il Woo.

Imagine my surprise when I came away completely mesmerized by Kim Soo Hyun instead.

I think it’s partly to do with the writing. Jung Il Woo was rather wasted in this show, I felt.

Yes, he did show flashes of brilliance as Prince Yang Myung, but it was Kim Soo Hyun who had all the opportunities to really blow it out of the water.

Kim Soo Hyun is seriously magnetic as the young, bitter, heartbroken king striving to rule on his own terms in the midst of political scheming on all sides.

His ability to deliver with nuance is displayed early on, even before the serious crying scenes surface. He delivers surface pleasant with bitter edge and undercurrent really well.

He also looks mighty fine in his kingly robes, and I especially dig him in his royal military uniform. He simply looks dashing.

Very nice indeed :)

It’s actually really refreshing to see him be dashing and sharp-witted and in a position of power, after seeing him as Song Sam Dong in Dream High.

In Dream High, he was the underdog who spoke with a country accent. And because it was a high school drama, he played a teenager.

In Moon/Sun, though, he’s all grown up and mature, and so cool.

He comes across as nuanced, natural, layered, regal, charismatic.. and sexy. A lot sexier than I thought I’d find him, since he was last Song Sam Dong to me in Dream High, and Sam Dong is cute, not so much sexy.

But just look at him here, shrewdly teasing his queen:

And then wooing his first love / true queen here:

And here:

And here:

I was mesmerized. Who knew that Kim Soo Hyun had it in him to be so badass sexy?

Of course, he delivered equally magnificently in the heartrending scenes as well. In fact, he was all-around fantastic in every scene.

Kim Soo Hyun really did an amazing, amazing job.

It’s even more amazing when I consider the fact that this is actually his first adult role. He delivered so effortlessly that it didn’t occur to me till halfway through that he’d never had the chance to play an adult before. Prior to this he’d always played teenagers.

And in his very first adult role, he takes on such a complex, demanding lead character who’s royalty, no less, and delivered so well, sageuk-speak included, and he even won the Baeksang. Wow. Kudos. What a feat.

He is one talented young man, definitely an actor to keep on my radar. I am a full-on fan.

If only his Wol / Yeon Woo had been better cast.

Han Ga In is serviceable at best, in this role.

She’s seriously disadvantaged in Moon/Sun, in my opinion.

First of all, Kim Yoo Jung was simply stellar as the young Yeon Woo, and set a really high bar for Han Ga In to match. Han Ga In is an ok actress, but this kind of heavy lifting is not her forte. And it shows.

Her delivery is mostly quite flat, and she spends most of the time opening her already big eyes really wide. Regardless of whether she is scared, angry or happy. That got old really fast.

Now, what makes this even worse, is that she’s playing opposite two seriously amazing actors. Kim Soo Hyun and Jung Il Woo act circles around her, all the time.

And to really drive in the nail on this coffin, she looks way older than both of them. And she IS quite a bit older than both actors. Han Ga In is 30 while Kim Soo Hyun is 24 and Jung Il Woo is 25.

I don’t fault her for being older, but the casting folks should really have taken this into consideration. No matter how fresh-faced she is for her age, she simply does not look like a 21-year-old, which is the age of her character.

Add all of these things together, and Han Ga In was fighting a losing battle from the get-go.

Still. Kim Soo Hyun sells his role and sells the romance so well that I was happy to suspend disbelief for what I tend to think is poor casting, just so that I could enjoy his fabulous king.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [DEFINITELY VERY SPOILERY]:

Lots of viewers were unhappy with the ending. And yes, I did find the ending somewhat lacking as well.

I guess the disappointment for me, is how Jung Il Woo’s character died. I mean, having his character die per se is fine. But the way he died just didn’t make sense.

I can buy his reasoning, but it was such a long drawn-out moment that surely somebody could have saved him from his suicidal decision?

The rebel who killed him took a long time to aim his spear, and there was a whole line of people armed with bows and arrows within range, including the king. And the king could see what was going through his brother’s mind in terms of his intention to let himself be killed. Surely he could have at least tried to stop it from happening.

Even if he couldn’t make it in time, surely he could have at least reached for an arrow, instead of just standing there??

That’s where it didn’t work for me. If they could have staged this more tightly, and made this moment more believable, I could have accepted Yang Myung’s decision, though I do think letting him live would have worked fine too.

Other than that, I can pretty much accept what the drama served up for the finale, in terms of how they killed off characters. While some netizens contend that it was all too convenient, I can still buy it, coz of this drama’s spiritual emphasis, ie, the heavens decree that everything will be put back in its place etc.

That makes it plausible in terms of people conveniently getting out of the way, eg, the queen who hanged herself, making it easy for our OTP to get married, and for a new queen to take her place.

What I did like (sort of), is that the drama gave us an epilogue that delivered a lingering view into the happy-ever-after of the OTP, and resolved Yeom’s relationship with his wife.

The cute moments were suitably cute, and Kim Soo Hyun was really adorable. I appreciated the cute moments purely for the fact that they showcased Kim Soo Hyun being adorable.

The wedding night scene where Kim Soo Hyun pulled his new queen towards him, sliding her across the floor, was hot, but much too fleeting.

The earlier portion of the drama, where the sexual undercurrent ran strong and outweighed the cute, was the perfect balance point, in my opinion. I would have liked more of the sexual tension in the epilogue, and would have happily sacrificed some of the cute if I had to.

I know that sageuks don’t usually do that, unless it’s the overtly sexy kind of sageuk. But this drama did tilt the balance that way in the first half, while still mixing in the cute, and that worked really well.

Ah well. At least I get that for a good chunk of the drama, instead of not at all.

All in all, I enjoyed this drama, though I was somewhat less engaged towards the very end.

Kim Soo Hyun was my favorite part of this drama, and I’d watch this again just to see him be king.

He was a faceted king with nuances and layers and was by turn frustrated, angry, bitter, heartbroken, vain, controlled, yearning, playful, cute, conflicted, hopeful, loving & sensuous.

I loved Kim Soo Hyun being so regal. It becomes him :)

MY THOUGHTS ON THE BAEKSANG DEBATE:

There was a lot of unrest in the drama-verse when Kim Soo Hyun won the Baeksang for his role in Moon/Sun.

Basically, people were unhappy that he won when the other contenders were his more experienced and respected sunbaes in the industry.

I don’t know if he did better than all the other contenders, since I didn’t watch some of the dramas in question, like Brain, but I would say that he did outperform Park Shi Hoo (The Princess’ Man).

Now, let me say upfront that I am a Park Shi Hoo fan. I fell hard for him in Family Honor, and proceeded to lap up everything else that he ever acted in, and I would watch each show more than once. And I loved The Princess’ Man, which I think is an awesome drama.

I also thought Park Shi Hoo did excellently in TPM, and made huge strides in his acting. But his delivery, while showing great improvement, is still not layered. And Kim Soo Hyun is layering, delivering a nuanced king even in the small moments, while making it all look effortless. Now that’s impressive.

Also, objectively speaking, I feel that Kim Soo Hyun was more natural than Park Shi Hoo. He delivered more layers and more nuance, and I would agree that he was overall a more deserving choice for the Baeksang than Park Shi Hoo.

As for Han Suk Kyu, another contender who was the king from Deep Rooted Tree, I think the competition is close between them. Still, I think Kim Soo Hyun’s role allowed him to shine within a wider range of emotion.

In Moon/Sun, Kim Soo Hyun’s king has a whole romantic plot-line, on top of the plot-line of what kind of Joseon he wanted to make. In Tree, Han Suk Kyu’s king mainly operated within the plot-line of the kind of Joseon he wanted to make, but didn’t have a solid romantic plot-line. I think perhaps that is why Kim Soo Hyun won instead of Han Suk Kyu.

It’s not necessarily the case that he’s a better actor than Han Suk Kyu, which is what had quite a few netizens up in arms as well. It was the role that allowed him to show more range, and he rose to the occasion. Perhaps if his seniors had had roles that allowed them to showcase similar range, the Baeksang may have gone to someone else.

In my opinion, though, if a role doesn’t give you the space to showcase your range, then that range, even if it’s there, is simply dormant for that role. You can’t rate someone on something that doesn’t get showcased.

As far as I can tell, having watched most of the dramas nominated with the exception of Brain, Kim Soo Hyun deserved his Baeksang.

A TANGENT ON MOON/SUN VS. THE PRINCESS’ MAN:

On another note, it’s true that TPM is a better show overall, with tighter writing, better music and more intricate plotlines. And I seriously loved TPM.

But Moon/Sun was somehow addictive where TPM was not as addictive. I found myself reaching for another episode, and then another with Moon/Sun, but with TPM, I sometimes had to rest during an episode coz it was that intense.

Perhaps there’s something to be said about a relatively light story: you don’t have to rest after an episode. That, coupled with some good cliffhangers, and I was reaching for another episode in spite of having other dramas half-watched on my plate.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Definitely worth checking out. If you dial down your expectations for an intricate plot, you’ll be much more likely to enjoy Moon/Sun.

It’s got pretty cinematography, and of course, it’s got a regal Kim Soo Hyun, who is just riveting to watch.

POST-SCRIPT:

The OST is excellent, and this is one of my favorite tracks. The video quality isn’t as sharp as I would like, but this video’s got some nice footage from the show, of both the child actors and the adult actors playing our OTP :)

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Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

57 thoughts on “Review: The Moon that Embraces the Sun

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  3. I just finished watching this drama today, and i think it was a “okey” drama, but it got a bit slow and draggy in the second half of the drama. It was first my first historical k-drama (not counting time travel dramas) that i watched. I have watch some episodes of “Damo” also because of Ha Ji-won (love her), but this the first historical drama i have finished. I’m a bit skeptical about watching historical dramas, because i’m afraid the historical setting makes them a bit limited on what they can do with the plot and tends to be a bit to much focuses on “fancy”, but a bit boring, dialogues. I think i at least was half-right with that preconception after watching this drama.

    I can only agree that the younger female actresses was more fun to watch than the older ones, and Han Ga-in was pretty boring in this drama. She was much better in the drama “Witch amusement”, the only other drama where i have seen her before.

    But in the end it was a enjoyable drama to watch, even if it was not a great drama.

    • Hi Patrik_k! Welcome to the blog! ^^

      I have to concede that Moon/Sun wasn’t a well-written drama, and I was mostly pulled along, mesmerized by Kim Soo Hyun, the promise of romance, and the pretty setting :P I totally agree that Han Ga In was much more enjoyable in Witch Amusement. I find her a pretty limited actress, so something light and fluffy like Witch suits her much more.

      It’s true that historical dramas tend to be limited in scope by actual history.. There are some dramas that manage to be really good while working within those confines. You could consider checking out Tree With Deep Roots &/or The Princess’ Man. Both shows aren’t very long and are well-written. The writers worked in real historical events while inserting characters and other events that could have plausibly existed at the same time, which I find pretty cool :)

      Otherwise, the other sageuks that aren’t so confined by history are the ones dealing with fantasy &/or folklore. In terms of the fantasy element, I thought Arang and the Magistrate was really good, and my favorite sageuk involving folklore is The Return Of Iljimae ^^

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  5. I’m such a fan of KSH in dream high but I became a BIG FAN because of moon sun. Seriously, He portrays so good and he acts so sexy even wearing a robe :p But my big disappointed rather than Ga in’s big eyes acting is the Queen. I mean I like the way that woman hu I don’t know the name portrays her character but I think she was taken for granted like what I most read in some reviews. She can do a lot of twist and turns in the story, same comment for another cutie Jung Il Woo maybe they should emphasize the love of this four persons :) And yeah the ending part which is the scenes of the dying jung II woo is quite lame, not their acting but how he died in that part. Grrr! And hey, I’m saying this not as a fan of KSH but a viewer of moon sun, Soo Hyun brings his drama on the top :)

    • Aw, me too! I loved Kim Soo Hyun in Moon/Sun! The writing wasn’t great for sure, but he just rawked my world throughout and I enjoyed this show so much because of his performance! ^^ I was like, woah, since when did Kim Soo Hyun become this hot?? Hee. I’m looking forward to him picking another drama, I think he’s a really talented actor :)

      I agree that Jung Il Woo’s talent – among others’ – was rather wasted in this show, which is too bad, really. If the show had been better written, to make better use of everyone’s talents, this would have taken the show to a whole other level!

  6. I really liked your review. Nice one……Im fan of Kim Soo Hyun since Dream high. Our innocent samdong. I couldn’t believe samdong and lee hwon are the one person. When i saw him in Dream high. He was innocent boy. But when i saw him in moon/sun. He’s become so hot man. Real man. :) He’s shining like a sun in moon/sun. I have to agree that he is born to be actor. He has very natural acting ability. Plus he has so sexy and deep voice. Mostly korean male actors have strange voice. :) I also like child actors. In my opinion Childhood story was very well written. Adult story is not that good. I was watching this because of casts. If there are no Kim Soo Hyun and Hyung Sun. I dont think i could finish this drama. :) I love Kim Yoo jung. She is soo talented. I want to see KIm Soo hyun and Kim Yoo jung acting together in romantic drama. Thier chemistry will be amazing. Maybe 10 years later. :) I love your “except for han ga in”. YEAH!!! She is sooo beautiful woman. But not a good actress. I cant believe MBC gave her Best actress award. The same award gave two different acting quality. The same with Kim Soo Hyun? My god….. :( What was they are thinking? I want to give that award for Kim Min Seo. She was sooo much better than Han Ga In.

    • Thanks, Niko!! I really liked KSH as Sam Dong, but I was floored – completely blown away! – by his Lee Hwon. He’s a very talented actor, and I love watching him do his thing onscreen! <3 And totally, he was sooo sexy as Lee Hwon! I was disappointed by the casting of Han Ga In.. and even though KSH sold it very well, her limited acting was a real damper for me :/ And YES! What a great onscreen pairing Kim Yoo Jung and Kim Soo Hyun would make! They're both such talented actors, I can only imagine how awesome they'd be, acting opposite each other!! Can we get you on the casting director's seat somewhere in Korea?? XD Coz I'd LOVE to watch that drama! ;D

  7. Just finished this drama after watching Dream High and Moon/sun back to back. Wow, Kim soo hyun is like that sweet nerdy kid in school that became super sexy and badass overnight in Moon/Sun. His acting was magnetic just like you said. Your comment about Ha Ga In opening her already really big eyes wider for basically every expression made me laugh out loud. Hehe. So true! The child actors were indeed awesome. I would like to see the young crown prince and young heo yeon woo in a romantic drama when they get a bit older. Great review!

    • Yay, I’m so glad you enjoyed MoonSun, MelloYello!! :D Coz a lot of people felt MoonSun was overrated. And in some ways it is, but Kim Soo Hyun is sooo magnetic and soooo sexy in this, that I forgive the show for all its weaknesses. He’s just so very swoony as king <3 <3 COMPLETELY different from Sam Dong in Dream High! Have you seen the trailer for his new movie Secretly Greatly?? The bits where he's a badass spy look SO COOL. I really, really like badass cool sexy Kim Soo Hyun! ^^

      If you haven't seen it yet, you can check out the subbed trailer here: http://t.co/9rgMjKdYmQ

      • I just watched the trailer. Thanks for sharing. Can’t wait to see this!!! Kim soo hyun has proven to be a versatile actor but I agree, I like him more as being baaaadd, oh yeah lol. He is filling the void until the next gong yoo drama.

        I found myself addicted to moon/sun and watching ep after ep but I realize it was more for scenes of Kim soo hyun rather than the storyline.

        I’m going to watch “you are beautiful” next!

        • Yes, Kim Soo Hyun is definitely versatile! He’s one of my favorites <3 And definitely, I'm with you on him being a big part of why I found MoonSun so addictive! ;D

          For "You're Beautiful," might I recommend that you be prepared to suspend disbelief quite a lot for certain things, and expect a campy, sometimes OTT sort of approach? I went in serious on my first watch and hated it. Then readjusted my expectations and mindset and tried it again a couple of years later and LOVED it! It's a whole lotta fun if you go in expecting some nonsensical camp and logic stretches. Jang Geun Suk is fantastic as our prickly hot-shot rock star band leader ^^

  8. I’m having a blast reading you’re reviews :)

    I think you summed up everything really nice. For me the hardest part was transitioning to the older actors when the younger actors were SO GOOD. Yeo Jin Goo as the Crown Prince was so endearing and relatable. I couldn’t get over how GORGEOUS and sincere Kim Yoo Jung was (seriously, she might be the most beautiful person I have ever seen!). And then Lee Min Ho got me all swoony and marshmallow-hearted. I know its unavoidable but the older actors just didn’t resemble their younger counterparts enough, especially Prince Yang Myung. In the case of the King I quickly got over this because he is so sexy and talented, but the other two…it was a stretch.

    I agree with you that Han Ga In left a lot to be desired. In the infamous words of Tyra Banks, she was resting on the pretty. Specifically, in her case, the big eyes.

    Overall though, I still really liked this drama. It was my introduction to sageuk’s and got me pretty hooked (the funny hats! the beautiful hanbok’s! the court regulations! marrying people off at questionably early ages! the abundant greed to control the throne!)(Wow, during that rant I realized how similar it all is to Game of Thrones. Which is a favorite of mine, of course).

    Anywhoo, as a Kdrama noob who doesn’t know any other Kdrama fangirls you’re blog is like being in a candy store!!!! I suspect you’ll be seeing me around ;D

    FIGHTING!

    • Welcome to the blog, Megan!! And also, welcome to the kdrama-verse!! ^^

      I’m so glad you enjoyed MoonSun! And yes, the younger actors were AMAZING in this. I especially loved Kim Yoo Jung; she’s got amazing depth in her delivery even though she’s so young. Definitely a talent to look out for!

      I agree the child-adult actor sets don’t share much similarity in terms of appearance, and I think this is a universal challenge when casting for sets of actors to play one another. I suppose you could plausibly get someone who looks the part, but the harder thing is, can they actually deliver? Which is why I think that most child-adult actor pairings usually hinge more on the vibe they bring across. It’s not always successful, of course (like in Han Ga In’s & Kim Yoo Jung’s case!) but I did think that Yeo Jin Gu & Kim Soo Hyun had similar levels of nuance and intensity despite their very different physical appearances. And plus, Kim Soo Hyun is so very sexy in this, which definitely was a plus! ;)

      Although MoonSun isn’t a hardcore sageuk, it’s a great introduction to the genre, so I’d say you picked a great one to start with! Sungkyunkwan Scandal is a great fusion sageuk to check out – it’s light and a lot of fun. For a more intense sageuk flavor without the usually large sageuk episode count, you might want to consider The Princess’ Man or Tree With Deep Roots.

      Btw, what are you currently watching, Megan? :)

      • I am currently watching Queen In Hyun’s Man. Even though I promised myself I wouldn’t start a new drama (because I’m leaving the country for a month and a half and I should probably do cultural or social things while in France :)) I couldn’t block out all the buzz and praise for it. Only one episode in but I’m loving Yoo In Na, who I loved originally from Secret Garden. I’m new to Ji Hyun Woo but I can see myself falling for him. Also, holy action, Batman! Those slo-mo shots are pretty impressive.

        I’m excited :D

        Thanks for the suggestions! I already had The Princess’ Man on my TBWL but now I’ll have to add Tree with Deep Roots as well!

        • I also liked Yoo In Na in Secret Garden and loved here in Queen In Hyun’s Man, she is one of those actresses that have a special charisma that is hard to resist. :)

        • I’m gonna have to third the Yoo In Na love.. I agree with Patrik_k that she’s got a very special charm about her which I really like.

          And QUEEN IN-HYUN’S MAN!!! What a great choice!! It’s honestly a fabulous, lovely watch, one that will get more addictive as the episodes go on, so that’s fair warning to you and your travel plans ;) Ji Hyun Woo is fantastic in this – his character is so well-written, and he delivers so well! – and of course, the fact that he actually fell for Yoo In Na for realz makes the context all the richer! All those lovey-dovey smitten gazes – 100% authentic!! Squee!! <3 <3 And yes, that cinematography is not to be sniffed at. The camera work and editing are so polished in this show, it's a joy to watch.

          I can't wait to hear how you like it, after you're done!! ^^

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  10. I completely, 100% agree with every word in your review. Still working through your other reviews ;) will comment as I do… I play the instrumental parts of the OST in the car as well – really, REALLY well done. I saw Jung Il Woo only in Flower Boy Ramyun Shop – definitely he didn’t read as a high school boy there! He had cheek in this – sounds like he has more breadth as an actor than I have seen so far – looking forward to it! I actually followed Soo Hyun to this drama from DH, so I had already bought in, but my goodness! Up until now I pretty much pushed back on watching any period dramas (forgetting I enjoyed a couple of Chinese ones with Hu Ge) – sticking with modern stories. To venture back into the romance of this drama, adding in this soundtrack, there’s such intense emotional pull. I feel that Ga In did OK, because her nature was supposed to be a bit stiffer, but this then lacked the playfulness and joy that Soo Hyun brought. The sparks were one-direction-only – what she had was very calming coolness, which is not against what the moon should be. Bright, but not really playful. Anyway, it was fine, because Mr. Sun had enough for BOTH. :) I went through a super-charged-up period watching this drama – and I would watch it again, but only if I fast-forwarded a whole bunch of it ;) Kim Yoo Jung – amazing – saw her in May Queen as well. Yeo Jin Gu is great, will watch for him in the future.

    • Yes, Jung Il Woo is capable of delivering pretty brilliantly, given the right role. I was really impressed with him in The Return of Iljimae, and in 49 Days too. I felt he was rather under-utilized in MoonSun. But definitely, Kim Soo Hyun more than made up for it with his brand of smoldering sexy! <3 <3 I found him really likable in Dream High, and I hafta say, NOTHING prepared me for his sexy turn in MoonSun! XD Blown away, I was! ^^

      You make a really interesting point about Han Ga In's character being cool like the moon. I hadn't thought of that. It does help to make her character more palatable, though I still have issues with her acting range. Sexy Kim Soo Hyun MORE than makes up for it, though!

      I LOVE the MoonSun soundtrack too! It's gorgeous, and I do still play it sometimes, while driving! High five, lyricalpeach!! :D I wouldn't mind watching MoonSun again too, mostly for Kim Soo Hyun! ;D But like you, I'd be quite likely to fast-forward some parts, mainly to get to the KSH goodies, heh.

    • I was disappointed with Jung Il Woo in this drama. But I really can’t blame him though because his character was horribly written. Watch 49 Days and you’ll see that he’s got a good acting range.

  11. ;) High-five back :D After DH2 I’m still mostly listening to this OST… not just my favorite songs but the entire soundtrack from start to finish with all the instrumentals – so beautifully done that it could have been for the greatest epic film ever!

    I’ll put Jung Il Woo’s dramas on my next to see – still debating what to watch next! Once I get started I have to finish, so I try not to watch anything that hasn’t finished airing and subbing – I’m only a newbie Korean Language learner, I need subs :) After 20 Kdramas and some studying (Mirai Korean app and some online stuff), I’m slowly picking up new vocabulary – just don’t have time to study as I’d like. I’m not sure if I want drama next or idol-style… after DH 1 and 2, I tried a bit piece of City Hunter, maybe 5 minutes. Looks like it will be good… might watch a few tidbits to decide which to go all-in on. Off to read a few more reviews for the ones I’ve seen, hehhe…

    • Oh yes, the OST for MoonSun is beautiful. I find the OSTs for a lot of sageuks very well-done, actually. Many of my all-time favorite tracks from kdrama OSTs are from sageuks rather than trendies.

      City Hunter is VERY GOOD, lyricalpeach!! There’s a lot of set-up in episode 1, but once you’re done with the set-up, you get to the meat of the drama, which is very engaging. And this is Lee Min Ho’s best performance that I’ve seen, so far. There are some emotional scenes where he really kills it. And the way he delivers the action scenes are so matter-of-fact and cool. You should totally keep it on your watch list! ^^

      You should definitely also check out Jung Il Woo’s other work. The Return of Iljimae can be a touch serious and sometimes a little slow, but it’s a well-told story with beautiful cinematography and a very intense, thoughtful Jung Il Woo. 49 Days is definitely a melo, considering its premise, but Jung Il Woo showed a wide range in his role as the Scheduler and had some pretty brilliant moments especially towards the end. Neither show is light, though, so you’d need to be in the right mood. If you’d like to see Jung Il Woo in his break-out role, you can check out Unstoppable High Kick, where he’s likable and quite adorable as a rebellious teen who’s slightly slower with his wits than his fists. He even gets to nurse an angsty crush on his teacher, which makes you totally want to root for him. <3

  12. I haven’t seen anything else with Lee Min Ho except a little bit of the first episode of Personal Taste – maybe because the quality of the recording wasn’t good, or I just wasn’t interested at the moment. I’m definitely going to get into City Hunter at some point :) I’ll definitely keep The Return of Iljimae and 49 Days on my list as well. So many, not enough time… :)

    I love how you reply to all the comments! :) I don’t have anyone else to squee with anyways since I’m not on AsianFanatics or any other boards these days, just watching by myself… watching in itself is already a time investment… there’s no time for squeeing :)

    • Hm. I didn’t love Personal Taste, actually. Although Sohn Yeh Jin is a well-loved actress, I didn’t find her very compelling in Personal Taste. I only finished watching that show for Lee Min Ho, and I was rewarded with an excellently delivered kiss. But would I recommend that show? Can’t say I would, honestly! I think City Hunter would be a better choice :)

      And about replying all the comments – I love connecting with other drama lovers. I have RL friends who watch dramas too, but they’re not so much into breaking it down or discussing the shows, so it’s always exciting to meet other people who enjoy discussing the dramas! Plus, I used to be a total lurker myself, so I like to acknowledge the effort readers put into leaving a comment. I hope to be able to keep up with responding to everyone! ^^

  13. Is there a sageuk you recommend that has a similar feel to Moon Embracing the Sun? I don’t really want to watch a sageuk that’s rom-com or a cross-over modern-sageuk… I want a full-on drama with light moments… something engaging and beautifully filmed… and not too long :) 20-ish is about as much as I can take, I don’t have the patience (at least not now) for those that are 50 episodes :)

    • Lol! You know, sageuks are almost always NOT light, practically by definition. That’s why MoonSun was such a rarity, and that’s also why sageuk purists considered MoonSun juvenile and simplistic.

      I’d say your best bets would be Sungkyunkwan Scandal and Arang.

      Sungkyunkwan Scandal has 20 eps, and is light-hearted and fun. It’s more rom-com and it’s also a little fusion, but it’s not a cross-over and I really enjoyed it.

      Also at 20 eps, Arang is a full-on sageuk drama, and it’s engaging and beautifully filmed, but it’s a fantasy sageuk, so expect lots of supernatural elements. It’s all very well done, though. It’s not a rom-com, and it has some light moments like what you’re asking for. And I really love Lee Jun Ki and Shin Min Ah in this. Highly recommend this one <3

  14. Hm… Ok. I’ll go for Arang first, SS is older. I’ve read that both are very good, and I haven’t read spoilers for either :D Those would have been the ones I’d be looking at, your nod just makes the decision that much easier :) After City Hunter, and maybe a backwards look at PK or Taiwan’s Hana Kimi with fast-forwarding (there is some overacting in there I just cannot stand.) maybe instead I’ll look back at tidbits of TTBY to see Woo Bin instead.)

    • Yes, Arang is a great choice. I named it my fave sageuk, in answer to a Liebster question. And going back to see Kim Woo Bin isn’t a bad thing.. I’m likely to do that too, sometime. When I watched TTBY I hadn’t fallen for KWB yet, so I’d like to go back to it, with fangirl mode on this time ;D Just to see, LOL!

  15. Liebster is cool :) I didn’t know what that was and now I do :) You are awesome! (but I knew that before I knew what the Liebster was.) Which dramas have you watched full through more than once?

    • Hm. Interesting question. I’ve watched a number of dramas more than once. Some because I loved them so much, and others because I wanted to give it a 2nd chance despite not loving it the first time. And then there are those that I rewatched purely out of fangirl loyalty :P

      Stuff I’ve rewatched out of love: Goong, Save Your Last Dance For Me, Hotelier, Winter Sonata, (that’s all the older stuff, & not all have stood the test of time). Newer shows I’ve rewatched are: Coffee Prince, Pasta, Dream High. There are lots more that I’d love to rewatch, but haven’t gotten around to. Am currently rewatching Chuno.

      Stuff I wanted to give a 2nd chance to: You’re Beautiful (went from hate to love), Playful Kiss (also from hate to love), Autumn in my Heart (liked it a lot better on the 2nd watch), BOF (hated it even more the 2nd time), My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (went from like to spazz-out love), My Girl (went from hate to liking it quite a lot).

      Stuff I rewatched out of fangirl loyalty: One Fine Day (terrible, but it’s Gong Yoo!), Family Honor, Prosecutor Princess, How to meet a Perfect Neighbor (varying quality, but I watched them mostly for Park Shi Hoo. That PSH fangirl phase has stopped, and thankfully that was long before the scandal happened, or I’d have been even more shocked).

  16. I haven’t seen Goong but heard good things… I really don’t think I could start BOF. I keep looking at the thumbnail and wondering if I should give it a chance but I just can’t bring myself to do it. PK I’d get through partially a second time but I’d get annoyed at stuff that isn’t as well done as ISWAK and TKA and I’d miss the lovely chemistry. Pasta was great – I like Lee Sun Gyun :D I’d definitely give that a second round in the future out of love. Dream High I definitely would also at some point. Most of the others I haven’t seen. If I watch Autumn’s Concerto again that’ll make like 3 times all the way through and 4-5 if you count partials. I’ve been re-watching bit pieces of Moon Embracing the Sun and enjoying stuff I wouldn’t think I’d enjoy re-watching. Beautifully done. As much as I like dramas, the more I watch, the more critical I become… as it were, there are few I put on my favorites list. For Mandarin dramas I have 5 on my list out of 37 – those are the ones I have watched full through more than once (except In Time With You, that’s once and partials or clips). Even for others that I’ve seen partially more than once, I don’t put them on this timeless list… If you haven’t seen Fated To Love You, that’s a pretty good romantic comedy. There’s a bit of overacting but it’s still well done. Probably you’ll never get to it… but if anyone asks you, you can say you heard it got a lot of awards (which it did). :) (Ariel Lin also got a very special award for her role in TKA – more mature than ISWAK…) anyway. I’ll try to stop babbling about those haha!

    • There is a lot of cute in Goong, and some genuinely engaging emotional beats as well. The palace politics were slow and dragged the show down, but overall, I’d still say it’s worth checking out. It’s got a very vibrant almost manga feel to it. BOF.. I can’t recommend that even with both eyes closed. It is a big hot mess. But there are people who genuinely love it, so.. maybe if you’re head over heels in love with Lee Min Ho or Kim Hyun Joong or Kim Bum you might find it tolerable? :P

      • I’m curios about Goong, I know the drama was very popular, but at the same time the plot sounds a bit boring. But it was the show that made Yoon Eun Hye a drama star and that make me interested to watch it, but my skepticism about the drama is still stronger, so I have not seen it yet and I don’t know if I ever will. :P

        • Well, now that I think about it, Goong is high school meets royalty meets contract marriage meets manga.. Considering how that’s a lot to mesh together, I’d say the show managed it pretty well, except for the palace politics which did drag the show down at times. Other than that, it’s quite a bit of cute, and Yoon Eun Hye manages to imbue the cute with an emotional core that feels genuine. I’d say wait for the right mood to strike before checking it out :)

        • Goong is “cute” but boring in some episodes. Yes, the politics and scenes featuring the royal family made the boring moments but the romance part was a little emotional, yeah. It’s actually the only drama where I got to see YEH from the beginning until the end. I never finished Coffee Prince and Missing You (the drama was absurdly melodramatic and nutty). Anyway, I think she was the one who put the charm in an otherwise boring teen marriage drama. She had good chemistry with Joo Ji Hoon who was pretty wooden the whole time. LOL. I mean if you want to see how good JJH is, watch Mawang aka The Devil. If you can stomach the bleakness and heaviness of the story, that is. The manhwa of Goong was darker though. Loved the second lead prince in the drama but hated his obsessive streak in the manhwa.

      • Fortunately for me I am not into any of those three, so I will probably never have to sit through BOF. Sounds like I should leave Goong on the list but I won’t hurry :)

        • Never sitting through BOF is not a bad thing in my books ;) And good plan, on Goong.

          • Haha! It’s funny that many people can’t seem to finish BOF. Oh I got to finish it alright but only after I finished and rewatched about a hundred times the Japanese version Hana Yori Dango. If anyone wants to experience the BOF love story, I’d recommend HYD instead. The story is the mother of all cliche high school romance (I think it started the trend). I loved loved loved Jun Matsumoto and Inoue Mao’s performance. Their chemistry was lovely :) It was great that the producers, screenwriters and directors managed to change and weave together a lot of parts in the manga without making the whole thing confusing. I guess the fact that J-dramas have much fewer episodes than K-dramas was an advantage. But if they’d want something more loyal to the manga though, Meteor Garden (season 1) would be okay.

            • Oh yes, HYD is hands-down my favorite version of the story! So well-done, I enjoyed it a lot. I thought the casting was excellent too. BOF – I got caught up in the frenzy the first time & was rather taken with KHJ. But on a 2nd watch, I realized how awful the whole show is! XD Hindsight is 20-20 after all!

            • I was a bit skeptical about HYD, because it sounded more like a drama for teenage girls, but after had reading so much about it in different forums and blogs, my curiosity got to big and I watched the first season. I like the drama, it was fun. After first season I watch, I think, two episodes of the second season, but I don’t liked the second season as much as the first, so I dropped it at that point. I will never watch BOF, because I don’t like to watch remakes of shows or movies I liked.

              • I liked the first season of HYD better than the second too, but I finished the second just to see how the story developed and what happened to the characters.. BOF.. no loss if you never do check it out, imo! ;)

  17. I’m rewatching this drama now. I planned on watching the first 6 episodes only because anything beyond episode 6 reminded me again of the great potential of the drama (grumble). I agree with a lot of people that say that Han Ga In was a major contributing factor that made MoonSun a mediocre drama IMO. I absolutely adored the teenagers but my great love for them was not even able to keep my love for the drama as a whole. The writing was just plain bad in the latter half. And Prince Yang Myung’s death was the most pathetic thing I’ve ever seen.

    • Lol! Yes, Prince Yang Myung’s death was truly a WTH sorta moment! Guess the writer had a few minutes of screen-time to fill and didn’t know what else to do? Such a long drawn-out moment where so many people could’ve saved him!

      I would re-watch MoonSun at some point, mostly for Kim Soo Hyun. Much as I love Jung Il Woo, I agree with you that this wasn’t his finest outing. And Han Ga In was not a plus point of this show either. I really dig Kim Soo Hyun’s sexy king tho, and when my fangirl tendencies take over, I can forgive a lot, clearly :P

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  22. Hey girl! I agree on everything you said about this show.

    I enjoyed very much the first 6 episodes. The young OTP had me giggling like a teenager that I did not stop until the adult OTP appeared. Yeo Jin Goo and Kim Yoo Jung are simply WONDERFUL. I’ve acknowledged Kim Yoo Jung’s talent in Dong Yi but it’s my introduction to Yeo Jin Goo. He’s so good!

    And yes! Kim Soo Hyun is nothing but brilliant. I love especially that though he looks like a boy, he was so manly in all his actions and gestures. Those strong brows and eyes…. I still find him more brilliant in Moon/Sun than in YFAS. But sexier in YFAS… ahem

    There are two things I did not like about this show and you’ve pointed them out quite well. First, Han Ga-In. Her acting was so shallow… so superficial. It became more evident given the stellar performance of the young Heo Yeon U. I felt like there were two different characters. I thought… perhaps its because she’s lost her memory. But even after regaining that memory… nothing changed. What’s with those ever bewildered eyes? Kudos to Yeo Jin Goo and Kim Soo Hyun for making Lee Hwon’s character consistent. Though the writing overall could have been better, I like how Lee Hwon was written. As you’ve said “He was a faceted king with nuances and layers and was by turn frustrated, angry, bitter, heartbroken, vain, controlled, yearning, playful, cute, conflicted, hopeful, loving & sensuous.”

    The other thing that I find hard to believe was the manner by which Prince Yang Myung died. You’re right. With all those archers not even one stopped the injured soldier from throwing the spear? What the heck was that…. It would have been better if he got slashed by the prime minister… Un rushes to save him but was able to save only the register… Or maybe the king and the prime minister are fighting each other, and the king not being a good swordsman is disadvantaged and the prince saves the king and takes the blow instead…

    Anyways, I still enjoyed the show. Yes, largely because of KSH. :-)

    • Eeeee!! Looks like we are very much in agreement on MoonSun, kaiaraia!! *high five, fist bump, topped off with the fangirl secret handshake* ;)

      There definitely are a good number of flaws in this show, – Oh yes, Han Ga In and her big-big eyes, and that WTH way Jung Il Woo made his exit – but Kim Soo Hyun definitely makes it worth the watch! I remember feeling like I was in fangirl heaven, swooning and melting at his sexy king. Even while my viewing tastes have evolved and I’ve gotten stricter with shows, I would still recommend MoonSun for a good dose of KSH sexy.

      I can’t decide if KSH is sexier in MoonSun or in YFAS.. In YFAS he’s more mature, and made the crossover from boy-man to man. YUM. But in MoonSun, he delivers overt sexy so well! Those smoldering gazes, with the hint of daring flickering in his eyes. Add that sarcastic edge that he displayed for much of the time, and you can see why I was toast. ;)

      One thing I didn’t mention, but which I did love, was King Lee Hwon’s friendship with his eunuch attendant. SO FREAKING CUTE! XD I couldn’t get enough of them together! And neither could everyone else, apparently, since they guested on Taxi together, and then there were the cameos in YFAS too. ❤

      • Giggle. Giggle. Giggle. That’s me reading your reply. YFAS or MoonSun, whichever as long as we agree on his melty sexiness. Whoah! And yes, I enjoyed much too that naughtiness in Lee Hwon. Yay! I love that relationship between Lee Hwon and Hyeong Seon too, especially, most especially when the prince/king tells eunuch to face the wall. So damn cute! And also when eunuch learned to play that 12-stringed instrument while watching the king. How I love KSH expression, hahaha! And when the naughty king made a ghost player out of the eunuch, hahaha, so so cute!

        • Oh yes, melty sexiness indeed. There’s just something about KSH. He brings an almost magic touch to each of his roles. I’m really interested to see what drama he picks next! :D And oh yes, all those moments between the king and his eunuch assistant – A-DOR-ABLE!! ❤❤❤ They were unspeakably cute together! All the petty peevishness. All the affection. All the playfulness. GOLD. I should rewatch MoonSun sometime, for them, AND for sexy regal KSH! :D

          • I think his powerful speaking voice adds a lot to that melty sexiness. So powerful that if he tells me to sit, I’ll gladly oblige with puppy dog obedience. hahaha! So you could imagine how I enjoyed the narrative parts of Secretly Greatly. :-)

            • Ahhh.. I can totally imagine you going all melty during the narrative parts of Secretly Greatly! XD I do think that KSH puts a lot of himself into his characters, and I’m sure that immersion comes through in his voice too. So besides the natural timbre of his voice, that emoting probably adds to the overall appeal – and swoon factor. ;) And yes, he was extremely commanding in MoonSun. Much more than I’d expected, so that was definitely a very lovely surprise! ❤

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