The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

A highly-buzzed, high-profile drama project that boasted strong credentials, a big budget and an even bigger cast, but which ultimately failed to deliver the expected awesome.

Patchy writing, jerky direction & execution, and uneven acting all contribute to Show’s general lack of oomph. For the tenacious viewer, though, there are small stretches of soapy crack to be had, and quite a lot of pretty to gaze at, for the most part. Lee Jun Ki is mesmerizing and quite wonderful in this, despite his character getting off to a somewhat shaky start.

All the pretty; emphasis on Lee Jun Ki ❤

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo OST – 내사랑 (My Love)

THE LONG VERDICT:

Seriously, I need to know what is up with Lee Jun Ki’s drama choices in the last few years.

From Joseon Gunman to Scholar Who Walks The Night, and now Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo, all of them looked nothing short of ah-MAY-zing in promo material like teasers and posters, but none of them actually turned out to be shows that I truly enjoyed nor felt like I could engage with. This, despite Lee Jun Ki clearly pouring himself into the roles. The shows themselves were just quite lackluster. Whyyy?

Is this the k-universe’s way of balancing out the fact that Lee Jun Ki is so beautiful?? Say it ain’t so! Don’t hate him coz he’s beautiful! *wails*

STUFF THAT ADDED UP TO BEMUSEMENT CITY

If I had to describe Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo in one word, it would be: bemusing. There is a lot that I found bemusing in this show as I watched it, from characterization, to narrative choices, to direction and execution.

Let me state upfront that this show had its moments; there were small stretches where I even found this show mildly cracky. Sadly, those stretches didn’t last long, and the the overall experience of watching this show added up to be a mix of confusing, bemusing, and generally underwhelming.

There are silver linings, which I’ll talk about later in this review. In this section, I’ll be highlighting the things that most bemused me, starting with the writing, since that strikes me as the biggest culprit in making this show as perplexing as it turned out to be. I’ll also be diving into other areas a little bit, which will inevitably overlap with the writing.

The writing

Honestly, the writing in this show strikes me as quite strange, mostly. I don’t know how much of it stems from aligning itself with the source material, since I haven’t seen the Chinese version myself, and how much of it is just this show making odd choices, all by itself.

In the interest of (well, relative) brevity, here’s a quick list of some of the things in this show that made me go “huh?”

1. Jerky tone shifting
Show does a weird thing of switching between a Serious, Dramatic tone, and a Super Jokey Comedic tone. The stark difference between the two, and the frequency with which we are expected to adjust our viewing lens accordingly, makes for a watch that often feels jerky. I cringed at many of the scenes, particularly the obviously-angling-for-cutesy ones that involved all the younger princes bickering and horsing around (I get the princes were supposed to be very young, but isn’t it the case that early maturity and decorum was routinely expected of royalty?).

2. Patchy sageuk-speak
The use of sageuk speech patterns is very inconsistent in this drama world, particularly in the first half of the show. I know that Hae Soo (IU) is supposed to be from a different time period, but I found it really strange that we’d get scenes where almost everyone would speak to her using more modern speech patterns, and then see a subsequent scene where more sageuk speech norms are used. That choice seemed.. very odd.

3. Unexplained shifting relationships
A lot of time passes in our drama world, and with it, relationships among characters evolve. That, I get. What Show doesn’t do is paint a picture that we can easily follow, so that we can feel convinced of and engaged with the evolving relationships. This also results in a story that feels disjointed and roughly stitched together.

[MINOR SPOILER] For example, in the beginning, most of the princes start out pretty confused and bemused by Soo’s sudden change in personality after her “accident” (read body-swapping time-travel). In episode 6, though, all the princes are suddenly fawning over Soo like she’s their favorite person in the world. I get that some time is supposed to have passed since Lady Hae’s passing (Park Shi Eun), but we don’t get to see how Soo endears herself to the princes to this strong degree, save for that flashback of her drinking and talking with Baek Ah (Nam Joo Hyuk). The sudden strong affection feels like it’s coming out of nowhere and doesn’t feel organic. [END MINOR SPOILER]

4. Odd characterization
Many (seriously, so many) times while watching this show, I felt like characters were behaving in very odd ways. I found it hard to understand why they would behave the way they did, and this affected my ability to connect with these characters. This in turn hurt my ability to engage with this show, especially when the characters involved were often main characters.

[SPOILER] As a small example, in episode 2, Soo runs after So (Lee Jun Ki) when she spots him as he chases assassins into the woods. I just couldn’t make sense of why she’d choose to do that. She’s terrified of him, and it’s obviously a highly dangerous situation. He’s certainly not going to the woods to, say, have a friendly game of cards with the assassins. Seriously, that decision made no sense to me whatsoever, and made me question the intelligence and the sanity of our leading lady.

On a tangent, I also wondered why Evil Queen (Park Ji Young) hated her own son So to the extent of wanting him dead, and scorned him for the very scar that she’d personally inflicted on him. That just made no sense to me either. [END SPOILER]

5. Big plot leaps offscreen
Sad but true; this show regularly makes rather large leaps in its story, and does them offscreen, often with no explanation whatsoever. Given that everything already feels rather roughly stitched together, this just made everything so much worse.

[SPOILER] A good example of this phenomenon is in episode 13, when King Taejo (Jo Min Ki) dies and Yo (Hong Jong Hyun) fails in his attempt to usurp the throne. It’s around this point that stuff on my screen felt so disjointed that I wondered how we got there. Like Evil Queen coming out of the palace with her hair down and suddenly all grey. Why was her hair all grey all of a sudden? Did it turn grey from the stress of Yo’s capture? And, after Yo had been captured, why was he suddenly on the run with everyone chasing him? I deduced that he must’ve escaped somehow (rather than just being set free for the hunt like an animal, for instance), but that was a seriously confusing leap that made very little sense to me. [END SPOILER]

Direction & execution

The execution of this show is a very weird beast that manages to feel indulgent and yet low-rent at the same time.

The low-rent stuff

Given Show’s high profile and buzz, I’d expected a more luxurious feel in its costuming and general execution. Disappointingly, the costumes often looked, well, cheap. It was bad enough that all the princes’ robes were so ill-fitting, but the gauze overlay that was introduced in later episodes only served to make the princes’ robes look even worse.

Additionally, important scenes like royal coronations and weddings were consistently handled with just a handful of extras, when these scenes logically demanded more pomp and grandeur.

The indulgent stuff

On the indulgent side of things, PD-nim has a clear penchant for extreme close-ups, and allows the camera to linger so up-close-and-personal that I’d be able to see every pore and eyelash of our actors. I personally found that rather too in-yo-face for comfort.

Sometimes, I even found PD-nim’s choices almost annoying, to be perfectly honest. [SPOILER] Like the time in episode 14, when So takes Soo out on a boat, and the sunshine is dappling off the water in the background. Through most of the scene, the glare from the dappled sunshine off the water is so strong that the faces of our leads literally aren’t properly visible for moderately long stretches. I know, coz I frowned through most of that scene – at the glare, and also because it was almost impossible to take a proper screenshot showing either of our leads’ full faces. That directing choice felt extremely indulgent and unnecessary to me, and I didn’t like it. [END SPOILER]

At the same time, there were certain scenes which seemed overly excessive.

[SPOILER] Like the extended bloody massacre of tongueless monks in episode 3, which felt gratuitous and try-hard at the same time. Like, LOOK AT HOW BADASS HE IS. SLASH. KILL. SLAY. This style of badassery didn’t work for me so much, precisely because it feels so try-hard. You basically lose all of your cool points once you look like you even have to try, y’know? [END SPOILER]

Also, the abrupt time skips and resulting dizzying parade of kings didn’t help.

Hae Soo’s characterization & delivery

I wanted to like Soo as our leading lady, but try as I might, Soo just didn’t work for me, as a character. I believe both the writing and the delivery factor into this, so let me break it down a little.

On a side note, let me just say that many other characters in this show suffered from the bad writing. As our leading lady, though, it’s just natural that any weaknesses around Soo as a character would affect the viewing experience more than in the case of a supporting character.

The writing

The characterization around Soo is really strange, whichever way I look at it. Consistently, I didn’t find her actions and reactions believable, in the way that I wouldn’t believe any normal, reasonable human being would arrive at the decisions &/or conclusions she did.

[SPOILERS]

Here are a handful of instances (out of many) where Soo didn’t make sense to me:

1. Her oddly quick adjustment to her situation
Given that Soo finds herself in an extremely fantastical circumstance, I expected her to be more careful and wary, and a lot more tentative in her approach to people and situations. Instead, Show glosses over how she adapts to her new surroundings, and Soo very quickly assimilates herself into her new environment with very minimal fuss. In my opinion, that just makes her – and this whole story – feel not very believable.

2. An uneasy mix of timid & brash
From episode 1, I found Soo to be an odd mix of timid & scared, and bold & brash. It seemed out of character (what little I felt I grasped of the character anyway) for her to stand up to the princess when she was a new fish in a completely foreign pond. That sudden surge of ballsy from Soo in the later part of episode 1 felt like a jerky tack-on; a sudden shift from her timid and scared persona when she realized she was in Goryeo.

Soo’s brash tendencies struck me as very strange, given her new-to-everything situation. Her decisions bemused me often. Like when she chased So into the woods when he was hot on the tail of assassins, or when she grabbed and wrestled a crazed-angry-dangerous-bloody So when she barely knew him, or when she wrestled a peeping Eun (Byun Baek Hyun). It all struck me as very strange behavior. That all the boys were so charmed by how different she was from other girls just made me cringe harder.

3. Her take on Chae Ryung
Most recent in my memory is how Soo reacted in the latter episodes, to the information around Chae Ryung (Jin Ki Joo) basically being a treasonous spy who’d betrayed Soo’s trust. Soo’s reaction was basically a few quiet tears, and a wistful statement that Chae Ryung was simply someone in love. That was very, very strange. Considering how deeply Soo trusted Chae Ryung, and therefore how deeply the deception reached, and over an extended period of time, to boot, Soo’s reaction seemed to skip several key strong emotions, like disbelief, betrayal, hurt and anger. Soo simply grieving that Chae Ryung was only someone in love was.. sweeping a heckuva lot of bad things under the carpet, and just not normal human behavior.

That this stance on Chae Ryung was also a key issue that drove her apart from So, just made it all the more frustrating.

[END SPOILERS]

The delivery

Let me state for the record that I actually really liked IU in Dream High and Producer, and thought that she did very nicely in both shows. Which is why it makes me sad to say that I didn’t enjoy IU in this role.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say she’s terrible in this role, but her delivery did mostly come across as flat and one-dimensional. There was a lack of depth and nuance to her take on Soo, and that – on top of the questionable writing – affected my ability to engage with her as a character and my ability to root for the OTP.

There were times where I found IU’s Soo quite earnest and charming, but there were many more times when her delivery just didn’t work for me. Which is unfortunate indeed.

[SPOILERS]

The times when Soo was supposed to be cute mostly fell flat for me. Like the time in episode 3, when Soo breaks down crying in the forest. I gathered that her blubbering like a baby was supposed to be cute, since Wook (Kang Ha Neul) looked affectionately amused. But instead of cute, I found it stiff and hollow, and I found myself feeling more annoyed at Soo’s reckless behavior than anything else.

I also quickly grew tired of Soo’s stricken wide-eyed face, coz that seemed to be her default expression so much of the time. Whether Soo felt shocked, or dismayed, or scared (or any other related emotion, really), this was the expression she wore, and it got really old pretty fast. It also had the unfortunately effect of showing IU’s acting limits quite starkly, because there were no varying nuanced shades of shock, just that one single shade.

In episode 9, Soo becomes more withdrawn. Oddly, IU’s delivery makes Soo come across as aloof instead, which I don’t think was the intended effect. The way she walked to Eun’s door to talk him into attending his own wedding, it almost felt like she was cold and annoyed, which doesn’t make sense when I take into account her personality and her long-standing friendship with Eun.

[END SPOILERS]

SILVER LININGS

Lee Jun Ki as Wang So

Even though Lee Jun Ki counts as my single biggest silver lining in this show, I must admit that it took a while for his character Wang So to settle, for me.

For the first couple of episodes, both the writing around So, and the delivery of his character felt a little try-hard (I’m sorry, Jun Ki-sshi!). I mean, I found Lee Jun Ki gloriously beautiful in screenshots, but the bristling anger that So nursed in the early episodes came across a little too strong, I felt. I love Lee Jun Ki most when he’s exercising some restraint in his delivery, and this was not restrained.

I also felt like So’s layers weren’t very elegantly constructed, and the layers sometimes felt like a hodgepodge mashup to me. [SPOILER] The scene in episode 2, when Soo sees So’s scar in the bath area, is the first pull-back to reveal So’s inner insecurities and hurts. Gone is the strong and steely So, and in his place, we see a scared and vulnerable So. I get that this is supposed to be a meaningful character and relationship moment, but after all the broody, angsty macho swagger, this sudden shift felt jerky and out of place to me. [END SPOILER]

As So started to settle in my head as a character, though, I began to truly enjoy Lee Jun Ki’s performance as So. As So softened up more, and showed more warmth and willing vulnerability, I warmed up to him more and more. Plus, Lee Jun Ki basically killed all the undercurrents of sadness that So felt, from being rejected not only by his mother, but by his father as well.

In a drama world where so many things weren’t working for me, Lee Jun Ki’s all-in, faceted delivery of So became the thing that grounded the show for me, particularly in Show’s second half.

[SPOILERS]

Here, I’d just like to give a quick shout-out to 2 scenes where Lee Jun Ki really blew it out of the water.

In episode 9, So’s mother finally treats So with affection over a meal, then asks him to kill the Crown Prince (Kim San Ho). The look of conflict on So ‘s face when he thinks his mother is giving him love and approval, finally, is so well-delivered. There is so much conflicted emotion that flickers across So’s face, as he puts food in his mouth and struggles to eat.

In episode 16, Eun pleads with So to kill him, rather than let him die by Yo’s hand. So’s tortured expression as Eun pleads with him to kill him, is a display of a multitude of complicated emotions. Pain for Eun, grief that this is the only choice, hopelessness that he can offer no other option to his brother, anguish as he steels himself for the deed, and a complex mix of hopelessness and fury, in the face of the situation created by Yo.

Augh. Absolutely stellar, seriously.

[END SPOILERS]

In spite of my reservations about Show’s patchy storytelling, I got sucked into So’s story much more than I anticipated. I felt invested in So’s journey, and that’s completely thanks to Lee Jun Ki’s delivery. He imbues So with many layers of believable emotion, and I couldn’t help but root for him.

Special shout-outs:

Kang Ha Neul, Hong Jong Hyun & Nam Joo Hyuk

In such a large cast and such a big bevy of princes, there a few that I also count as silver linings.

I enjoyed Kang Ha Neul’s take on Wook, and found his delivery heartfelt, layered and believable as a general rule (more on Wook in a bit). I also have an existing affection for Hong Jong Hyun, and I thought he did a decent job of portraying the scheming guy-linered Yo. It’s true Yo’s arc didn’t always make sense, but I thought Hong Jong Hyun did a pretty good job of the evil glowering.

I’ve also had a fondness for Nam Joo Hyuk since watching Who Are You – School 2015, and I found him quite pleasant as Baek Ah. Sure, I didn’t think Baek Ah had that interesting an arc, but I simply liked having Nam Joo Hyuk on my screen. He’s got a warm sort of screen presence that I dig.

Woo Hee Jin as Court Lady Oh

There are a few secondary arcs that add interest to the main story, and the one that left the deepest impression on me, is Court Lady Oh’s relationship with Soo.

[SPOILER] When Court Lady Oh chose to die in episode 11 in order to save Soo, I found the entire arc very moving indeed, and thanks to Woo Hee Jin’s excellent delivery, I genuinely felt the emotion of the moment. [END SPOILER]

SO vs. WOOK AS ROMANTIC ENDGAME [SPOILERS]

Based on what I know about the Chinese source material, Show follows the C-version in ramping up Soo’s loveline with Wook in the earlier episodes, even though he isn’t endgame. I find that this makes for an interesting and rather odd watch. Coz, if you’re in the know, you find all of Soo’s romantic interactions with Wook unimportant and also, irrelevant even, and you spend time wondering when the actual loveline is going to kick into gear.

If you’re not in the know, you’ll likely be caught at least somewhat off-guard when you’re set up to root for Wook, and then the loveline appears to then shift later in the show. While this does make for more interesting storytelling in theory, I found that this also hampered the development of the OTP relationship, since Soo spends so many episodes pining for Wook. During those times, we often didn’t see much of So, to the extent that he almost felt like a minor supporting character. Which is weird, since he’s the male lead of this drama.

In terms of setting up both Wook and So as romantic interests, Show initially presents Wook as the sweet, melty (albeit married) choice, but as we get deeper into the drama, Show takes pains to contrast the two men as romantic rivals.

Essentially, we get to see that Wook is self-focused and self-preserving in the way that he loves, while So gives and cares even when it means putting himself at risk.

When Soo is in danger of being forced to marry King Taejo, Wook prays to his dead wife to ask her to save Soo – and promises to give Soo all the love that he didn’t give her. That is the weirdest promise to a dead wife who must’ve been saddened by his attraction to Soo while she was alive. Seriously, how is that promise supposed to comfort his dead wife? “I couldn’t love you when you were alive, so I’ll love your cousin now, if you’ll save her and send her to me”? That is some selfish love goin’ on there. Just sayin’.

In episode 11, when push comes to shove with the poisoning incident, Wook doesn’t have what it takes to stand up for Soo, let alone put his life on the line for her. I get that he’s pushed into a corner by his scheming sister Yeon Hwa (Kang Han Na) over the whole poisoning issue, but there’s something in the way he responds that rubs me the wrong way. He’s resigned to the corner his sister has pushed him into, but it also feels like there’s a part of him that doesn’t hate being in that corner. I didn’t feel as much anguish as I’d expect from him, for someone who’s forced to abandon Soo, after professing to love her so very much.

So, on the other hand, shows up as Soo’s protector in the same episode; someone who’s literally willing to put his own life on the line for her. Not just in the way he quietly drinks the poisoned tea, but also in the way he pushes himself to see her in prison, when he’s barely survived the poison himself and is still weak from it. And, the way he stood by her in the rain, literally, while covering her with the shelter of his cloak – that stoic look in his eyes speaks volumes to me, about his determination to love this woman.

Show is far from subtle in the way it contrasts the two men as love rivals, but it does an effective job of turning the romantic tide in So’s favor, despite the many early episodes that served up Wook as a melty romantic match for Soo. I did have some issues with several of So’s romantic gestures, but I’ll talk about that in a bit. In general, I definitely rooted for So rather than Wook; credit to Show for making that effective loveline switch.

THOUGHTS ON THE OTP

I have to confess that my heart wasn’t fully into rooting for this OTP. This mostly had to do with my general feelings of disconnect because of the writing and the rushed time skips, which resulted in a overall sense of disjointedness in the viewing experience. The other factor is, as I mentioned earlier in this review, I found it hard to believe in and connect with Soo as a character.

This means that all my OTP loyalty basically came from Lee Jun Ki’s delivery of So. Which is no small deal, considering that there were moments that I found the up-close-and-personal time between Soo and So quite crackly. It was more because of So’s intensity and growing intent, than because of shared chemistry, but I take what I can get, and I give credit where credit’s due (all hail Lee Jun Ki!).

I didn’t care much for Soo’s tendency to backpedal where So was concerned, and sometimes I wanted to shake her vigorously because of it, but So’s constant, unwavering loyalty, care and undiluted emotion for Soo was something that I found very appealing indeed.

[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]

There are two OTP scenes I especially liked, and I’d like to highlight them here. I’ll also talk about the OTP separation, since that’s a key part of their story.

Melty #1: Removal of the mask

I really love the scene in episode 8 where Soo removes So’s mask and just looks upon him, and he just lets her. Well, after some resistance, he just lets her. The deliberate vulnerability it demands from him, to just sit there as she looks upon him, and then touches the very scars that represent the rejection that dominates his life, is very moving, intense stuff.

That Soo can look upon him and touch him with gentleness and empathy, must mean so much. It’s no wonder he falls for her. The intensity, as he deliberately declares, “If it is you… I can put myself in your hands. Do whatever you want. From now on.. I am yours.” And then only after she’s finished covering up the scar, the declaration, “I said before, right? You’re mine. Whether it was then, or now. Or the moment you touched my face I’ve made up my mind I will make you mine. Brace yourself from now on. I will never let go of you.”

Yes, the declaration that she is his, is a little domineering and dictatorial, but I take the point that in this scene, he declared himself hers first, and before he gave permission for her to touch his face. Putting himself in her hands, and allowing her to touch the very scars that represented rejection in his life, is literally, giving himself up to her to the maximum extent. That’s deep, and I dig it very much.

This is possibly my favorite OTP scene of the entire show.

Melty #2: The OTP consummation

In episode 16, we get treated to a shirtless So and an OTP consummation. I liked that the consummation and the events leading up to it were poignantly and meaningfully pulled off, and I particularly loved So’s tortured fever-fueled delirium moment – so mesmerizing and well-delivered; it sucked me right into the scene.

My thoughts on the OTP separation

In episode 19, Soo makes the decision to leave the palace, despite So’s efforts to dissuade her.

I feel like when I rationalize everything, I can understand Soo’s decision to leave the palace. But, Show doesn’t do a good job of portraying it. In fact, the way Show presents it, it feels like Soo’s decision to leave is hinged on Chae Ryung’s death, which really seems petty, since Chae Ryung really had been involved in treasonous acts.

When I look at the bigger picture, though, I can see why Soo would be at the end of her rope; she’s forced to watch Yeon Hwa become So’s queen; she doesn’t have long to live and all the bottled-up frustrations worsen her condition; the people she cared about are falling around her like flies; So is displaying a ruthlessness which he had promised he wouldn’t give in to. Chae Ryung being beaten to death was the straw that broke the camel’s back, not the sole reason she left.

In this sense, I felt like I understood Soo’s desire to leave, even though it meant an OTP separation that would ultimately never end. Boo. Poor So.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING

I.. honestly don’t know what to think about this ending.

On the one hand, it seems that Show was at least somewhat faithful to the source material, since I’d heard that the Chinese version had a sequel (or was that a spin-off?) that took place in a modern-day timeline. I’d also come across the fact that the female protagonist in the Chinese version had a short lifespan, and had died in her thirties.

Still, if Show was going to go with Hae Soo waking up as her modern day self, remembering her epic love with So, why couldn’t we have seen her meeting her modern-day So? Particularly after that voiceover from So saying that he would find her; wouldn’t that have been a more satisfying way to end the show?

Instead, we end on the sad image of So being left all alone in his timeline, while Soo (well, Ha Jin, if we’re being technical) cries many tears in her timeline over how she’d left him all alone. And then Show leaves us with a flashback glimpse of So and Soo together in the palace, in happier times. Which is bittersweet, granted, but why couldn’t we have gone for a bittersweet modern-day “Do I know you?” reunion? That would’ve been much more satisfying, no?

Ultimately, I think this show’s problem is that it was never quite clear on what it wanted to be. I never felt it more than in this final episode, what with the multitude of flashbacks employed in order to have almost every characters’ lives flash before our eyes, all juxtaposed by the finale tears and angst. Despite the cheery happier times that we see in those flashbacks/earlier episodes, Show had been determined to be as sad and tragic as it possibly could, the later it got into its run.

And while I do occasionally appreciate a well-done tragic tale, I found it really difficult to engage with this show’s bent for tragedy because of the hodgepodge execution and patchy acting, which together made this journey feel fraught with drama whiplash. Suddenly, things would be light and obviously gunning for comical. Suddenly, things would be heavy and serious. Suddenly, we would get informed of important events that had happened offscreen. Suddenly – or perhaps not so suddenly – I found myself not caring anymore.

In the end, this show was a letdown on so many fronts, which disappoints me, because as a fully pre-produced drama, it had the time to figure out what it wanted to be, without the pressures of a live shoot. For the record, I really wanted this one to be awesome.

On the upside, I did get awesome Lee Jun Ki, who basically pulled much more than his weight in helping to keep things as grounded as possible. And he’s gloriously beautiful while he’s at it too. Which isn’t too shabby of a silver lining, I must admit. But that’s all it is, at the end of the day: a very beautiful, very well-delivered silver lining.

Show could’ve done so much better; Lee Jun Ki deserved so much better.

Sigh. So pretty though.. ❤

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Bemusing and patchy, with small spots of soapy crack, and a glorious silver lining in Lee Jun Ki.

FINAL GRADE: C+

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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.

136 thoughts on “Review: Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

  1. Great summary, fangirl. I confess to not seeing this drama- I watched BBJX this summer (as a warmup to Nirvana On Fire) and I loved it….and just didn’t have the heart to follow it so soon.

    I have been reading the online discussions/criticisms about Scarlet Heart. I think it’s very hard for actors, etc. to render gripping performances when the overarching storyline is garbled. I think the writers own this one.

    Like

    • I absolutely agree that the writing was the main culprit in this one. I do think several of the actors did great by lifting the writing, and it would’ve been helpful if IU could’ve also done that, as our female lead. But absolutely, I wanted to throttle the writers sometimes, coz there were occasions when things made so little sense.

      From what I’ve heard, you watched the better show. You clever gal, you 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I so agree with your conclusion. Show is not so sure where to go or in my opinion, it has all the right ideas that it was so overwhelmed with it and in the end, failed to execute things smoothly. RE ending, I’ve heard/read somewhere that LJK did shoot some present time scenes that didn’t make to the cut and quite frankly, there’s so many things that was shot that didn’t make in the end product that I can’t help but think if they made it at least 24 eps, which I think is an acceptable length for a sageuk, it would have been better. And the developments that’s happening off screen could have been shown as it was happening and not in flashbacks. I do like flashbacks but excessive use of it is just, meh.

    It could have been an awesome show, but.. Either way, I watched until the last minute for Lee Jun Ki and that is all that matters.

    Like

    • Hi5, Erl!! I totally watched this to the very end for Lee Jun Ki. He was magnificent. Ok, a little try-hard and OTT in the early bits, but after So settled as a character, LJK was so good. He totally grounded everything for me, even when Show as going off in strange directions.

      I totally think 24 eps would’ve worked quite nicely! Then perhaps the time skips wouldn’t have felt so frequent and abrupt. It actually got to a point where I had to stop and figure out who was on the throne, there were just so many king switcheroos! 😝 And then they could’ve written the story more cohesively too. And included the modern-day footage that LJK shot! This show’s downfall was trying to cram a 35-episode story into 20 episodes. The way they just sliced away at bits and pieces trying to whittle it down to size didn’t do the show any favors, I feel. What a waste of lovely Lee Jun Ki!

      Like

  3. SPOILERS EVERYWHERE

    Finally! Thanks for the review, and I agree with you. I expected SO MUCH from this show, and had gone to great lengths to make sense of the story, only to feel completely indifferent in the last two episodes. I don’t even want to rewatch the last two *sobs* When I said I went to great lengths, I watched both SBS and international versions, read comments on Reddit and Dramabeans (all 800 comments per episode!!), just to know what the heck is Show trying to say. I’ve never invested so much time, emotions, and angst into live-watching a show like this : 😦 I started for the story, and stayed til the end just for LJK, plain and simple.

    There were so many things I learned from watching the deleted scenes, and reading the historical background and references to the C-drama on some of the Dramabeans/Reddit comments. Prince 9 and Chae Ryung seemed to have come out of nowhere for me, but someone on Reddit said that even early on, Prince 9 looked worried when Chae Ryung got whipped by Yeon Hwa. And I never understood how Baek Ah and So became chummy, until I saw a deleted scene where So stood up for Baek Ah, and when Baek Ah told So why he didn’t look when So was forced to take off his mask in front of all the princes. Also, in one of the versions, the scene of Soo drinking with Baek Ah didn’t even exist!!! I had no idea how they became close until I saw that scene. THE HOLES IN THE STORY KILLED ME 😦

    Plot holes and crazy two-versions aside, LJK really saved the show all on his own… OK maybe Lady Oh was great but she was only in it for like, 5 minutes 😦 The rest of the princes, while pretty to look at, were just ridiculous in their ill-fitting Power Rangers/Teletubby robes. And who the heck thought flicking up the end of LJK’s bangs was a good idea? And the hair flicks didn’t even move during the monk fight… Bad, bad hair people! The helmet updo hairs on Wook and So were also SOOOO BAD. And Queen SMS’s hair turning white in one night (although a commenter said it’s a known condition), but later turning black again was super confusing to many.

    As for the close-ups, I didn’t mind so much but only when the focus was LJK. That face is just so gorgeous, it even invaded a dream or two, for real! It did get jarring when the focus is on goldfish Soo.

    The writing was really what brought this show crashing down for me. It felt that too much emphasis was given on Wook-Soo, that they had to rush the latter part of the story. The time-jumps were just lazy writing, and there were not enough voiceovers to explain what happened in between. The other thing that made me so exasperated was how Soo just couldn’t trust So, despite him proving his trustworthiness and devotion over and over again. A few times, a slap was what the silly bint needed. I do agree there were some parts where it was so good, but they just made me sad for what this show could’ve been. My favorite moments were that time Soo slashed her own wrist to get out of marrying Taejo, that time she proclaimed So king, and when she relentlessly chased So until the candle flickered 😉

    But obviously the best parts of the show was all LJK’s scenes. There was only once scene that I thought was unnecessary: where he butchered the horse. What’s up with that??? It served no purpose whatsoever for the story. The rest of his scenes, especially when Eun asked him to end his life, was so brilliantly, heartbreakingly and masterfully acted. His hysterical laughter that turned into sobs broke my heart 😦 This show could have been LJK’s magnum opus, if only it had a different writer and director 😦

    OK rant over. Bring on season 2!! (just kidding!)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Quick shout out to Torture Taco and Death Song, best parts of the show after LJK. Whenever I see a death scene in other shows after this, I’ll be playing that song in my head.

      Also, I must be the only person who just can’t see Kang Haneul and Kang Hanna as brothers and sisters after seeing them in Empire of Lust. Kang Haneul was so creeptastic there, I had a hard time believing him as Wook. And I couldn’t take Kang Hanna seriously, because boobs. 😢

      Like

      • Omigosh, your dedication to this show is truly something else, neve! 😱 I can’t imagine seeking out all the different versions and watching all available versions, to piece the story together! That, AND reading the deluge of comments that each episode generated every week? I just can’t imagine how invested you must have been, with this show! I take my hat off to you, seriously. I personally watched only the Korean version, which was easier for me, especially since I don’t have access to DramaFever where I am. Plus, I just don’t have the dedication to watch more than one version, honestly. 😝

        OMG, you know, I was staring at how LJK’s hair stayed put throughout the monk massacre scene as well!! 😂 I was wondering exactly how much hair product had to go into it, to make it stay like that during all the action work! Still on the topic of hair, I was very bemused when Evil Queen’s hair turned back to black as well – just this time, with a stylish lick of white on the side. Like, what in the world?? Talk about selecting random style details to distract your audience!

        The writing often did strike me as lazy, particularly with the time jumps, and how so many things conveniently happened offscreen. It felt like they were allowing all these things to happen offscreen to save themselves the trouble of actually figuring out how to show it ONscreen, ha. I was far from impressed, to say the least. Truly, it was LJK’s wonderful delivery that held the show together. If I couldn’t connect with anyone else on my screen, at least I bought into So and what he was feeling in the moment.

        Lol at Torture Taco, it does have a catchy sort of ring to it. I didn’t see Empire of Lust, so the brother-sister thing wasn’t a problem for me. Also, maybe that’s why I didn’t have any problems with Kang Hanna’s boobs? Lol.

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        • I have no access to DramaFever either, but I managed to get the version screening on OneTVAsia… It’s an even worse mess than the SBS version. I watched it because I mistakenly thought it would fill the blanks, but it didn’t. Only after reading comments and Reddit, I was able to piece together some semblance of coherence. I suspect the editor suffers from attention deficit disorder or was high af on speed… A film&TV student would have done much better. But yeah, I was obsessed with the show, or with LJK if I’m being honest 😝 I’m watching Scholar Who Walks the Night, suffering through possibly the most pointless, meandering plotline just because I was going through LJK withdrawal. And yes I’m fully aware it’s sad 😉 I really hope he has better luck with his next project (rumored to be some web drama funded by a duty free shop??? What???). His talents are so wasted on crappy dramas!

          As for Empire of Lust, don’t bother. I checked it out after a commenter said how depraved Korean movies can be, which is the total opposite of the squeaky clean TV dramas. It’s pretty much soft porn, and I can’t respect an actress who bares boobs (or or an actor who bares his ass like Kang Ha Neul in the same movie) gratuitously.

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          • @neve I watched Empire of Lust too! And watched it whilst i was still in the middle of Scarlet heart too. I was pretty shocked at both Kangs characters in there. Ha Neul’s character was just gross and i couldn’t unsee whatever of them i saw after that. The plot was so lame as well.
            There are quite a number of K-movies that seem like soft porn to me. Quite shocking and quite a far cry from the innocent, eyes-wide-open-when-im-getting-kissed image they show in their dramas.

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            • @Evelyn lol gross was an understatement for Kang Haneul’s character. I wish I never saw that movie. Now I think all Korean actors/actresses have done some dodgy 18+ movie for money haha… Now every time I see fish-lips kisses I just burst out laughing. The hypocrisy is shocking.

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              • @neve: yes gross is an understatement. i actually FF-ed alot of scenes cause the entire movie made me feel uncomfortable. i remembered reading an article from an english language korean daily that mentioned how the movie focused on the lust than the history. spot on! lol. hmm i do think quite a number of them have done 18+ scenes in movies. There are some that have stayed away (lee joon ki, cha seung won etc) for various reasons and somehow I respect them more for not bending to the pressure of the industry. The hypocrisy is shocking – especially since one of the more common things that SK entertainment loves to sell is this image of them being very innocent and inexperienced in love and all. but then over in the movie industry all the raunchiness is there lol. i actually find some of their 18+ movies to be more raunchy and explicit than the ones in the west. =O also i think im one of the minority that never sees the point of sexual scenes. it just seems to be inserted just to titillate the audience and rarely do i think it contributes much to the plot.

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                • @Evelyn I’m OK with sex scenes if they bring something to the plot, but the scenes have to be tastefully done and not too long. That said, I’ve not seen an example of such in a SK movie. I never recovered from seeing Kim Rae Won bare-assed and pointlessly pumping away in Gangnam Blues, and Empire of Lust just traumatized me further *shudder* I hope those who have resisted stay that way. As much as I love LJK, I really don’t want to see his butt 😱

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                  • @neve: yeah i’ve not seen such an example in an SK movie, most of their sex scenes are extremely unnecessary and gratuitous. Omg, you reminded me of Kim Rae Won, now i can’t see him the same way when i watch Doctors lol. True. I really, really hope those who have resisted stay that way, everytime some actor/actress i like does explicit scenes, i dont know why – i just lose interest in their work lol.

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          • @neve and @kfangurl : both of you are spot on! TBH, I lost interest halfway and I haven’t finish the drama and too lazy now to do so.

            I was also watching Empress Ki while watching Scarlet Heart, and thought that the latter would give me a much needed uplift since the former gave me depression with its endless story arc and problem. But I became more depressed with how the story of Scarlet Heart was written. Everything was scattered! I was convincing my self that this is a pretty neat drama. But no. JUST NO.

            You were also right that LJK was the saving grace of this drama (aside from Hong Jong Hyun and Lady Oh). Such a shame that bad writing and editing were the primary enemies of these great actors!

            I was also expecting much from IU since you know, she’s the lead. Such a letdown 😥 I don’t know if IU is really ready to take on this kind of projects.

            Overall, I now understand why the ratings for this show was really low in Korea. It could have been a great adaptation, but you know, shit happens 😥

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            • @asianslovedramas Empress Ki is at the same level as Scarlet Heart Ryeo for me; as in, they both kinda sucked. Empress Ki could’ve been slightly better with more ruthless editing, since I felt it was about 30 episodes too long. I probably wore out my FF button while watching Empress Ki. I sympathize with you 😦

              OK, maybe Scarlet Heart is teensy weensy better because I would re-watch it again for LJK. Obviously I will skip all the scenes without LJK 😉

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            • I haven’t seen Empress Ki myself, but I’ve heard that it.. leaves a fair bit to be desired as well. So I can only imagine your pain at watching this AND Empress Ki at the same time! 😝

              If you haven’t watched Moonlight Drawn By Clouds, that one’s a much better handled story. I’m still working on my review (it should come out soonish, I hope!), but I highly recommend it! It should help to wash away the disappointment of both Empress Ki and this show. 😉

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  4. Hola guapisima. Tenia ganas de volver a verte. Sabes que adoro tu blog y tus reseñas ♡.

    Estoy de acuerdo con casi todo lo que has expuesto de la serie, incluso me has hecho ver cosas de las que no me habia dado cuenta. Lo único que para mi esta serie tiene un gran suspenso.

    No me ha gustado Moon Lovers, creo que para los que no conociamos la version original, nos vendieron previamente un cuento que no se ajustó a la realidad. Durante gran parte del drama, Lee Jun Ki fue tratado como un mero personaje secundario y se suponia que era el protagonista, ¿y donde se ha visto que con el otro chico dure el amor 14 horas? Sinceramente, jamas me crei que Soo se enamorara de So, simplemente le daba refugio en un mundo cruel y la hacia olvidar que su primer gran amor le habia dado la espalda.

    No comprendo porqué hay tantos que aman este drama. A mi me pareció aburrido y decepcionante.

    Solo brilló para mi Lee Jun Ki ♡♡♡♡♡♡. Me enamoré por completo de él, y yo todavia no le conocia, y ahora estoy obsesionada con él. Siento que se le dio un trato injusto a él y a su personaje y que nunca nadie le dio amor.

    Justo los personajes que me gustaban murieron por esa asquerosa Soo, como el dulce Eun, mi querida concubina real, etc.

    Gran reseña 😘

    Like

    • Hi there mayumire, it’s great to see around here again!! I’m so pleased that you enjoyed this review, and that we agree on so many points about this show. I also didn’t think it was very wise of the production to spend as much time as they did on Soo’s loveline with Wook, even though I know that this was in line with the Chinese source material. Still, it had the very unfortunate effect of sidelining So, who was supposed to be our protagonist. I swear, there were times when I wondered why we were seeing so little of So! If he hadn’t been played by Lee Jun Ki, I might’ve been tricked into thinking that So wasn’t a very important character, we were seeing that little of him.

      I must say though, that despite all that disappointed with this show, that LJK really shone, particularly in the later episodes. If you’re new to Lee Jun Ki, that’s a pretty decent silver lining! 😉 Have you watched Arang and the Magistrate? I loved him in that too, and that show has a more.. er, positive ending than this one. He was also very good in Two Weeks, which I enjoyed very well too. 🙂

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      • No. No conocia a Lee Jun Ki antes de Moon Lovers pero ahora soy su fan. Me ha impactado mucho su gran trabajo. 😍😍😍

        Las veré y te contaré que opino.

        Nos engañaron con la presencia de LJK para que el drama tuviera mas popularidad.

        Un abrazo!!!

        Like

        • Lee Jun Ki’s done a lot of dramas indeed! Sadly, I haven’t loved all of them. But Arang and the Magistrate is a lovely one, and Two Weeks is very good. In terms of movies, I do recommend Fly, Daddy, Fly, which I found heartwarming and kickass. Also, The King and The Clown is the movie that made Lee Jun Ki famous, so you could possibly consider checking that out too! 🙂

          Hugs back! ❤

          Like

  5. Hi Fangirl!

    Thank you for taking the time to write this review and as always, I love the music blurb as it adds that special touch.

    I just read your review and let me begin by saying that I watched BBJX as well as its CSequel (that’s a ton of time invested LOL). Please note that the CSequel was painful to watch – it came nowhere near to the majesty of BBJX, So I did not expect much from this SHR as BBJX was so darn near perfection – in fact, I expected them to add some inane story lines to Ryeo.

    I had an A-Hah moment when, in reading your review, I realized how difficult it was for you to follow the wonky, disjointed Ryeo. I truly think it would have been easier to watch and approach with a different perspective if you had seen the Cversion first. Ryeo really took the story in places it should have never gone – crazy mother, roughhousing with a prince, mysterious disappearance of scar, etc. These kooky scenes took away from the dignity of the story. Also, BBKX had a lot more episodes which helped to show the years that pass which is very important. Ryeo was rushed and failed to show the character growth. I knew what happens with the two leads so I stuck it out for that and most importantly, I wanted to see LJK as he is one of my favorite actors. It is his eyes Fangirl – they are amazingly full of depth.

    Even though the Kversion was painfully wrong on a lot of levels, I have to say that I enjoyed it (remember I went in with no expectations and knowing the original and its weird sequel) and I actually liked IU’s performance in the later episodes. I cried as much at the end as I did at BBJX. In fact, I am waiting to see if they will do a sequel to Ryeo (to erase the Csequel’s bitter taste).

    I would strongly, strongly encourage you to view the Cversion as it is on par with Nirvana in Fire. I await that review LOL! As always Fangirl you dig through all the fluff and stuff and give us the meat and potatoes LOL! Thanks!

    Like

    • I’m glad you enjoyed the song I included in the review, phl! 🙂 I confess this one isn’t my favorite track off the OST, but the part-song that I do like a lot has rap sections to it, which I don’t like as much. It’s the 3rd MV which I included at the end of the review, if you’d like to know which song I’m talking about. I like the melody line and musical riff of the song, which I find has got quite a haunting sort of groove, but I don’t care for the rap part so much.

      You’re absolutely right that I found it hard to follow the storyline of this show. The thread connecting plot points for us so often seemed to be chopped off and replaced with a completely different thread that I found it extremely bemusing. Stuff happening on my screen sometimes seemed to have no causal event whatsoever (like that chase scene of Yo in the forest), and then at other times, I found myself finding out events only because characters made mention of them on my screen. I just don’t know how this script passed any kind of inspection, tbh. 😝

      I do think they tried to cram too much story into 20 episodes. Considering the length of the source material, this was just too ambitious of them, to try to fit as much story into much fewer episodes. They should’ve sliced off actual chunks of story rather than try to whittle away at everything the way that they did.

      I’m thinking that your familiarity with the C-version might have helped you ride out the bumps in the K-version, in that wherever the K-version dropped the ball with the storytelling, you had a reference point? That, and your lack of expectations of the K-version probably helped you enjoy this one more than I did, I think. On the upside, with all this positive talk about the C-version, I am finally downloading it so that I can check it out. I’d held off on it despite hearing so many good things, because I’d wanted to give the K-version a fair chance with a clear viewing lens that hadn’t been colored by another, possibly better version. I’m curious to see how I’ll respond to the C-version. I know it’s all-around better than the K-version, but it’s also true that the C-version doesn’t have LJK.. lol. LJK is 😍

      Like

      • Yes, I had a reference point and I always kept the Cversion running in my head while I was watching the Kversion. I ignored a lot of the foolishness of Ryeo as it had nothing to do with the story. I would explain but I do not want to give anything away here. You will understand this completely when you watch BBJX and I sincerely hope that you can find the time (it is long) because it is really worth it. After spending a lot of time on this site and reading your reviews, I really think you will like BBJX. However, you may get more upset over Ryeo when you realize what the Kwriters did to the story.

        I liked the Cversion so much that I sat through the sequel (and that was painful) just to see the ending I was hoping for. I think you will like BBJX for RuoXi and her character development and growth. It had its issues as well (drama kinda stalled for a few episodes) but overall I really loved the attention to detail (the costumes!), the story line and the acting.

        I got the jist of Ryeo about 10 minutes into the 1st episode and dropped all my expectations as I could see they were holding their own ‘party’. Bottom line – BBJX was a dignified love story which showed one woman’s strength and survival in an unknown environment and Ryeo was a free for all frat party.

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        • Hi Fangirl – here is some music from BBJX https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsb0_y-HCVU – beautiful, as is the drama. This may encourage you to dedicate the time to this long drama.

          Like

          • OMG. A free for all frat party!! 😆 That is perhaps the most concise, accurate description of Ryeo so far, phl! Nicely done!

            It does sound like BBJX is something that I’d like, so I do foresee myself enjoying it when I do watch it. I’m giving myself a breather from Scarlet Heart for a bit, before I venture into the C-version 🙂 The song you shared is very lovely though – that definitely helps! You sure know me well, phl! Good music is one sure way to my heart. 😉❤

            Like

            • Here’s another song from BBJX sung by Nicky Wu and Liu ShiShi, the original 4th Prince and RuoXi.^^ Season of Waiting, song starts at 2:27

              The Qing hairdo on males does no favors for anyone but I wouldn’t go so far as to call Nicky ugly (as I’ve seen many do). I was always of the opinion that his 4th was quite charismatic, looks be damned. Besides, I didn’t watch BBJX for Teh Pretteh anyway. Nicky in modern garb and hair is quite presentable, imho. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

  6. I loved the Chinese version, though it had it’s flaws too, so I had my doubts about Scarlet Heart. Sadly my doubts proved right . The first fiew epis were already so jarring in many ways that I dropped the drama without backward glance. Even though there is loads of stuff wrong with Scarlet Heart, it’s the writing that that sucked most, the odd directorial choices didn’t help any either. The biggest ire to me was how they dumbed down the heroine. Ruoxi was pretty smart and knew the history enough to get by.

    LJK hasn’t had much luck with his recent drama choices. It almost feels like he’s been jinxed. 😉

    I concur with phl1rxd – watch the c-version. It’s much better.

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    • I’d heard good things about the C-version as well, but for LJK, I decided not to check out the C-version prior, so that the K-version would have a chance to win me all on its own merit. Sadly, that didn’t happen the way I’d hoped! 😝 And YES, I found the heroine way too dumbed down to feel like rooting for her. Some of her decisions really made me wonder at how a human being with a decent level of basic intelligence could’ve made some of the decisions she did. The C-version definitely sounds better than this, so I’m downloading it as I type this, just so that I can check it out for myself. Not sure if I’ll stick with it to the end, but I’ve heard too many things about it to ignore. I am a curious cat, after all! 😉

      I know, it does almost feel like LJK’s been jinxed in his drama picks of late. Still, I’m not giving up hope – crossing all available limbs that his next drama will be the one to break this cycle of underwhelming.

      Like

      • The princes in BBJX were way more interesting than in Scarlet Heart, better acted too for the most part. Their relationships were also much more intricate with subtle nuances that often came out in veiled barbs and nicely constructed dialogue. There was quite a bit of symbolism too; objects used, gestures etc – which I liked.

        I hadn’t really thought about it before but as someone pointed out @ DB the battle for the throne had already started and the princely alliances formed when BBJX’s heroine became RuoXi, so they didn’t have to waste time in setting things up for the actual race to the throne. The longer epi count also gave TPTB time to flesh out just about every character, RuoXi’s relationship with the princes and espcially with her two suitors. It’s easier to understand her choices, e.g why she initially gave up on 8th and aligned herself with 4th. Well, in all honesty BBJX does get somewhat draggy in places due to the lenght as well.

        I’m really looking forward to your take on the C-version. 🙂

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        • Thanks to your unwavering recommendation of BBJX, I checked out the first 2 eps, and I have to say, it’s already really clear that BBJX is the better show. Everything is just better written and constructed, and it just makes sense. You’d think that that’s setting the bar really low, but seriously, the K-version was bemusing so much of the time, that just having things make sense, and being able to understand why the heroine chooses a certain course of action, felt so refreshing. It’s hilarious how much I appreciate this one basic thing, honestly! 😂 But I’m happy to be checking it out, and plan to stick with it indefinitely.

          I concur that Nicky Wu isn’t handsome per se (that’s one thing that the K-version has that cannot be compared – Lee Jun Ki! 😍😍), but Nicky is definitely coming across nicely charismatic as 4th Prince in the little that I’ve seen so far, and that’s a big plus in my books!

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          • Oh, I’m glad you’ve found at least the beginning of BBJX worth your while. I had a feeling you might but you could jjust as easily have hated it at first sight. 🙂

            Yes, that! You’d think that making sense would be self-evident when telling a story. Understanding the characters’ desicions and point of view is important, though it may not look so at first glance.

            Another small thing I just realised is how much I like that the princes actually look and act like royalty should. Love the costuming, it’s so beautiful. The attention to detail over all is also wonderful, everything looks very period proper to me, unlike the 5$ props and clothes used in Scarlet Heart. The costumes were way off the mark as the period goes.

            4th is very smart, a strategist and politically savvy, which are a big part of his charm, imho. He also has this very dry sense of humor I liked.^^ He is scolarly and reseved by nature and comes off a bit cold, but you can’t be a hothead if you want to survive in the Palace. There’s fire underneath though. 8th is the suave smooth talker and schemer, you can’t be quite sure if what you see is the whole ‘truth’. He ain’t no dummy either but his smarts are of a different kind.

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            • Oh yes, the princes actually behaving like royalty feels refreshing in BBJX, after all the odd horsing around by the younger princes in the k-version. I couldn’t understand how the younger princes could behave so childishly in the early episodes. I know they were supposed to be young, but hey, I’ve watched enough sageuks to know that even royal tiny tots are expected to have decorum and be well-versed in poetry and such. There was simply no excuse, for the princes in the k-version to behave like badly brought-up kids. 😝

              I also like how the characterization of the 8th Prince is already being fleshed out in the early eps of BBJX. Unlike the k-version, where 8th was portrayed as everything sweet until later in the show, in BBJX we already see early on that 8th is perhaps not as upright and just as most people believe him to be. I believe that will make for a more cohesive watch, where I won’t feel like Show is jerking me around with big leaps in character behavior. 😅

              Like

  7. So glad I found you!
    Lovely, insightful review. You really did nail it down.

    Let me begin by saying that I did follow through with this show, not coz I believed it was turning up to be a stellar show, but coz of two things:
    1) LJK
    2) I had invested too much of self in the show.

    I agree with you, whats up with LJK and his choices of show, I mean, really dude! Now that I have seen enough of the Kdramas, I can sincerely say that he is hands down one of the most versatile and talented actor. Not to forget, beautiful(fangirl fang alert)
    And yet, none of his shows narration have ever done justice to his amazing skill set. Ahhhh big LOSS i say!

    Coming to the Scarlet Ryeo, It took me atleast 3-4 episodes to even invest properly into the show.
    Blotchy narration with plethora of characters watered down the core build up of the only person REALLY acting and mattered here, Wang So! Biased, who me?!? Not int he world….;)

    Vulnerability knows only one garment to cover itself and that is temper. Thats our Wang So.
    I loved the build of his insecurity and hence his badassery, his depth hence his devil-may-care-attitude, his linear love hence never-gonna-give-up-on-you approach.
    But alas, the ONE thing that I was rooting for most, the OTP of the show, fell flat like a puntured tyre.
    There was so much shilly-shallying, i trust you- i trust you not, I kinda sorta like you coz you are always in line of fire for me-but love you not, from Soo’s end that I could never actually feel any true emancipation of love flying out.
    Her love always felt so unsure, so fragile, so frail and flimsy that I knew it will crumble as soon as it will be put under litmus test. Which it sure did!
    I was completely surprised that she was willing to trust every tom-dick when it came to saving Eun but not So even though he clearly stated to her that he intends to save them and take them away securely. Like wae wae wae?
    Second instance, Her wailing woes for her friend dying was another HUH & DUH moment for me coz So clearly explained to her that how the maid was the cause of Crown prince death and was a spy. Willing to give up on So for this felt so futile. I understand that it could be bad narration but here the actor(IU) could not show enough anguish and angst to make me want to believe and weep with her.
    Alas…
    As for So, he made his character believable for me. He was a human even though they showed steel running through his veins. You could see that he did get tired of always fighting back, of being strong all the time, of living life on a cliffhanger. And when he did put his armor down, letting his vulnerability show in front of Soo as he removed his mask, and allowed himself to be weak in front of her, he was hoping she would step up and take care of him. Another high sigh moment…
    I guess, for him staying strong, and his badassery was the only weapon that would keep him alive when everything else and everyone else around him wanted him dead. And did it with a At-It-Dude!
    It was a very lonely stretch of life for him.

    Wish the PDnim had given us hope in the current timeline. the ending didn’t go down well with me coz all the angst felt so wasted and unfulfilling.
    After all the rollercoaster, we all were seeking for a peaceful boat ride into the sunset…but solid alas moment.
    My sign off thoughts would be that I truly enjoyed the OTP in parts but more importantly, I LOVED LOVED LOVED LJK as Wang So.
    Manse Manse Maan Manse to LJK
    ~N~

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you found me too, N! 😀 Like you, I stayed through to the end for LJK. He really is everything in this show, minus the initial bits which I felt were a little shaky. Can’t blame him for choice of drama, though, since actors don’t get the full script when the role is offered to them. I suspect this is true even for a pre-produced drama. So essentially, all the actors have to go on, I believe, are the credentials of the writer, director, and a synopsis of the story, and possibly the script for the initial episodes. This show had a lot going for it, based on the on-paper credentials, plus it had highly successful source material as well. Just, it didn’t shake out the way it should’ve, which is disappointing for everyone involved, to say the least. At least it’s widely acknowledged that LJK is the single best thing about this show.

      I totally agree with you about Soo’s love for So. It felt unstable, for the most part. The fact that she rattled off to other people that he was dangerous based on her visions, long before he actually did anything related to the throne, made me facepalm at her, so hard. I found it really hard to root for a heroine who appeared to be so.. harebrained, for lack of a better word. 😛

      Oh! Steel running through his veins! I LOVE that! That’s so poetically apt! 😍 Sigh. For all that didn’t work in this show, I must say that LJK made his Wang So worth the watch. I disliked the ending as well – why couldn’t they have just used the present-day scenes that LJK already shot?!?? Facepalm. The material is already there. What a huge wasted opportunity, to give the audience just that little bit of hope and closure. But indeed, Manse, Manse, Man Manse to LJK. ❤

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  8. You’re totally back chingu! With this epic of a review. Will have to come back for details but I agree very much with the writing and directing. Enjoyed IU too in both dramas you mentioned as well as in Bel Ami.

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    • Heh. I did have more words to say about this show than I’d originally expected. I thought this would be a relatively quick flash review and started writing it as such, but had to upgrade it partway through because it was getting too long! 😅 Yes, the writing and directing did this show no favors, and I count the writing as the biggest culprit in causing this show to fall so far below expectations. Whatever were they thinking, writing all of that pre-produced? Did they really look at the whole thing and decide, “Ah, this totally makes sense and will appeal to audiences??” 😂

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      • Then they could have just forego of the preproduction and took time to improve the writing first. Although, I’ve read that the Chinese version was pretty patchy in writing as well. Then again, all the more reason to have had refined the story first. Hayy…….

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  9. I started watching the C-version at the same time the K-version came out and got sucked more into the former. The plot was good, and the heroine was compelling – always an important part of any show that keeps me engaged. In the k-version, the editing, writing and directing was really horrible. I rarely complain about these things, but this drama really takes the cake in how choppy the editing was, the scenes didn’t flow well. The writing for most of the characters didn’t make sense like you mentioned above. The directing – i actually really dislike the closeups. I understand the use for them but not all the time?? There were alot of scenes where a wider shot would have been better so the audience would be able to see what else is going on in the scene. Part of the reason i found alot of the scenes difficult to engage with was cause I just had no idea what was going on in the background. Like what was the reaction(s) of the other person/people being spoken to? What was the speaker’s full body language? Could not get a grasp of it cause he just focuses his camera on one person’s face all the time!!

    Re costumes. I too found them cheap and particularly ill-fitting on the princes in particular. it seems like alot of the gowns were too big for them. also re the extras. i can’t believe they are in a huge palace and only had a few extras standing around.

    Re the actors. i absolutely loved ljk in this. he was the reason i stuck on so long with the show. i think this is his best drama to date. i loved kang ha neul here. and was really surprised by hjh and njh. both tend to be pretty wooden actors to me so i was surprised to see hjh really nailing the evil character, the speech/mannerisms and all; and that njh is actually pretty suitable for sageuk!! I’m a jisoo fan but was really disappointed at his acting here. I think he needs abit of work on his sageuk speech and amongst the princes, i thought he was constantly given the worst wigs to wear, especially in the later episodes. i think they dumbed down the 14th prince way too much in the k version and i just wasnt happy they chose to develop eun’s love story with Soo than Jung’s with Soo.

    in general, i felt that the actors’ abilities were limited by the poor writing and directing. but i too felt that i didnt really enjoy iu in this role. like you, i didnt feel she was terrible but i couldnt really connect with her, especially in the later episodes when she became a court lady. after reading your review, i realised what was it about her that put me off. Instead of acting with elegance/more formality/grace, she mostly came across annoyed (that’s the word!) and very emotionless/flat and bored with the ppl she was speaking to. Combined with her limited facial expressions, i just…i dont know. i stopped caring for her ard episode 12. I also didnt like that she never made sense in her decisions and seemd like a goryeo candy instead of anything else. i had no idea why so many of the princes fell for her either. and the love story… the show set So and Soo’s love story as this epic amazing thing that will move mountains… i was waiting and waiting for all that tension to combust in my face… but it never happened. in fact post ep-11, i started getting annoyed at Soo not being able to constantly trust So and never giving him the benefit of the doubt, though she will always extend that courtesy to her friends. i felt that she was sometimes being super judgmental and unfair to him. unnecessarily so. and it always felt like she had one foot in and another foot out of the relationship, and never fully trusted him. The timeskips were jarring and didnt help the rlshp at all.

    ok i think i better stop here else this would turn into an essay! 😀

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    • Oh my, we are so on the same page with this show, Evelyn!!! Yes to everything you said, including Ji Soo. I do love Ji Soo, but he just didn’t come off too well in this drama. It didn’t make use of his strengths, and only served to show his weaknesses, which made me sad. And also made me cringe. And absolutely, they should have spent more time developing Jung’s relationship with Soo if that’s where the show was going to go with it, ultimately. That would’ve at least lent more weight to the arc of Jung asking for Soo’s hand in marriage. As it was, it felt quite random, with only a handful of private asides from Jung to hint at his feelings for Soo.

      I do wish we could’ve had a stronger, better heroine, so that we could at least buy why all the boys are in love with her. As it is, it required a serious boatload of suspension of disbelief. I kept wondering why they found her so likable and endearing and refreshing, when she.. wasn’t.

      Big yes to Hong Jong Hyun and Nam Joo Hyuk doing better than expected! 😀 I like both actors, and am happy that they did well. I was particularly surprised by Hong Jong Hyun. He’s always been more stiff in his delivery, but he really stepped out of his comfort zone to do all the evil glowering, and he ended up holding his own very well! Aw. I feel like a proud mama hen all of a sudden. 😂

      You’re so right about Soo in her relationship with So. It always felt like she wasn’t really in it, and she did consistently give other people her trust, more so than she did So. In fact, she told other people not to go near him and that he was dangerous. Argh. To do that to the man you sorta-maybe love is not cool. It’s a good thing Lee Jun Ki was so amazing – he basically made up for almost everything, all by himself. ❤ (Ok, maybe not really made up for everything, but he definitely made everything better)

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      • Jisoo is my absolute fav but yes this drama really exposed his weaknesses. He really needs to stay away from sageuk or work hard on his speech before going for it again. It really didn’t help that the writer had his character behave literally like a FOOL. (The 14th prince wasn’t so annoying in the C-version). And that entire two stooges thing with Eun, they never gave him a proper story arc as well. In the entire 20 episodes worth of scenes, he was only memorable in a few (Soo saving him in the forest, So punching him after that, Jung/baekah/so with soo’s urn and some random scenes in ep 20 when he was with soo). He also was the most unfortunate in the sense that his scenes always got cut out of the sbs version. And at least two of those scenes had him interacting with Soo. Their rlshp felt very random and very forced, like they inserted it at the end just to stay true to the original. Jung is actually my fav suitor for Soo out of all of her suitors (him, Wook, So), so it’d have been really nice to see them interact more. There aren’t even many bts pics of them both!!

        Yeah! I was wondering WHAT exactly it is that they found her so likable and like what 3 of them fell in love with her and I’m here like going…I just don’t see it.

        Same! I loved HJH’s sneering and his evil facial expressions, the sarcasm. He got it all down well.

        YESS LJK was amazing and he was the only reason really, that I stuck through it to the end. They really should have dragged out the episodes a little more. Maybe make it 35 eps like the original. I don’t know why they had to stick to the formulaic 20 for this.

        Oh there was another thing that really bothered me. How is it the director/whoever allowed almost half of the cast speak in non-sageuk tone? The only ones who were speaking in clear formal sageuk was LJK, Kang haneul, the older actors (queens, king etc) and the rest of them spoke in like modern Korean tone or something. I found it so jarring!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, everything you said about Ji Soo. I’ve enjoyed him in everything I’ve seen him in, except for this. I recently started on the C-version, and the way they treated Ji Soo’s character reminds me of 10th Prince in the C-version. The slightly dim, boisterous sort. Which was a vibe I didn’t get off Eun, who struck me as more childish and naive than dim and boisterous. I don’t know – I wonder if they decided to take that quality from 10th Prince and give it to Jung? I kind of want to believe that, so that it doesn’t seem so random that they made Ji Soo act like a fool! 😝

          I think writer-nim did a poor job of developing Soo’s character, and basically took certain behaviors from the C-version without building proper context for it in, and that’s a big reason why I found her so illogical and bemusing so much of the time. That, and IU wasn’t able to make Soo pop as a character. I didn’t find her endearing at all, and watching all the boys fawn over her so inexplicably just made the show more unbelievable. I didn’t get the inconsistent speech either – the switching between modern speech and sageuk speak was very jarring to me. It was way more obvious when I watched an episode of Moonlight, and then followed shortly after with an episode of this, since Moonlight does the sageuk speak beautifully. Which is why I even had to make a conscious decision to watch episodes of Scarlet Heart first, before episodes of Moonlight – just to give Scarlet Heart as clean a slate as possible! 😂 But – all hail the power of LJK – despite all the fails, I don’t regret watching this show, for the chance to see LJK be so magnificent. 😍

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          • Same I’ve enjoyed all of Jisoo’s work except this. True – I think they gave C-version’s 10th prince’s character to Jung and dumbed it down several notches. I mean like, 10th prince though he was very simple-minded/happy-go-lucky wasn’t as dumb as Eun/Jung in the K-version =/ Agree on Eun – I found him childish instead. And although a lot of people said Baekhyun would nail the acting cause he’s childlike irl too (don’t know how true this is), I actually only enjoyed Eun towards the end after he married Seon Deok and became more mature. I felt that his acting wasn’t too bad there.

            Agree I found IU kinda boring tbh, Liu Shi Shi really made me like Ruoxi. Like, she was cute but not in an annoying/OTT way and when she matured, she didn’t act like she was bored and annoyed with everything/everyone around her. Like I can totally see why so many of the princes would fall for Ruoxi. With Haesoo I’m like ???

            Haha I watched scarlet at the same time I was watching The flower in prison and the difference in sageuk speech was so glaringly obvious. Hmm, since Scarlet was sold as a “fusion sageuk”, so maybe that’s the reason the Director was so lax with the speech and probably even encouraged the modern speaking? Hmm.

            Yes hail LJK! I don’t regret watching this for him. He was fantastic here and I hope he gets all the fame and recognition that he deserves 😀

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            • OMG Eun. In the earlier eps, I confess that I cringed every time Eun appeared on my screen. 😝 I found the character too childish, and I couldn’t tell how much I was cringing at the character, and how much at the acting, tbh. Big yes though, to how the character just seemed to land better, after he came around to being married.

              I’m a few eps into BBJX as I type this, and I totally agree that Liu Shi Shi is very cute and likable as Ruoxi. That’s not easy to achieve, without coming off cutesy, so big props to her for that! I wonder if IU would’ve been able to do the same, if they’d written Soo to be more lovable like Ruoxi? I found IU likable and endearing in Dream High, so part of my brain says it’s possible. But the other part of my brain is skeptical, after seeing how stiff IU was. 😛

              I do wish they’d been consistent with the sageuk speak. I watched MDBC while I was watching Scarlet Heart, and MDBC was consistent with the sageuk speak all the way through, despite also being a fusion sageuk. I’m curious to know the reasoning behind that decision in Scarlet Heart – was it to make it easier for the mostly green cast of princes?

              LJK is getting a whole lotta love for Scarlet Heart, I think. I came across a headline that claimed that a recent poll put LJK as the actor most viewers wanted to see more of. That pleases me – hopefully he’ll get some seriously good roles to make up for this less than stellar show! 😉

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              • Omg wrt Eun – same!! I actually FF-ed all of his scenes. =X He’s one of the minor princes but I can’t believe the production actually dragged the Eun/Haesoo loveline longer than it should, given it more weight than it should be given. Also, in the first few epis, he tends to get more scenes and lines compared to the other minor princes. Both the character and acting was bad tbh (and baekhyun recently admitted he didn’t get formal acting training prior to his role. This is what pisses me off so much about K-drama productions in that they would favour idols over blooming actors, just cause they bring in more viewers or international appeal or whatever. I dislike it when people don’t take the time to work on their skills/craft. Another case in point is Woohee/Seohyun. Absolutely dreadful. Her character made no sense and I felt like they pushed the loveline with 13th prince way too much (how many kiss scenes did they have for instance?) and her random death was rather puzzling. Seohyun’s acting is really bad as well, she always had this bug-eyed, shocked look and in some scenes her mouth was quivering (when she wasn’t supposed to be angry) and I’m like…girl, what are you doing

                Agreed! LSS was cute in a very endearing way and not the OTT-cutesy that K-dramas like to have their females act as. When she matured and became more morose in later eps, it was also very believable and organic, unlike Haesoo’s sudden bored/flippant/cold attitude. I’m not sure if IU can do the part much justice as well, even if it were better written. I quite liked her in Bel Ami and Lee Soon Shin and thought that in some of the earlier epis of ML she was quite adorable and do think she can pull off cute quite ok. But I have doubts over her acting range too as I do think she’s pretty limited and can come off very stiff and emotionless.

                I suspected that decision was also to make it easier for the greener cast of actors in Scarlet Heart. I just wished there were vocal coaches ard to help them since it was pre-produced and they had a lot of time. So I don’t know why they allowed that to happen.

                Really! That’s great to hear. He seems to have done loads of photoshoots and is all over the place haha. I really hope he takes up a role in the future which has a better writer and cast!

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                • Evelyn! I’m so sorry this reply is coming so late – I got sidetracked with RL and with trying to write more reviews, so I’m only just now catching up on comments! Yes, to Eun – I absolutely agree that they amplified his role too much, although I can’t quite comment based on how large the role is, in the C-version, since I’m only a few eps into that. The fact that they cast Baek Hyun, who unfortunately isn’t so great at the acting, just made it worse, imo. Eun was hard to watch, and it was only towards the end of his arc that I became more able to tolerate his scenes. 😛 Sadly, I think you’re right about k-ent’s penchant for casting idols to appeal to their existing fan-base rather than for actual acting ability. I had to giggle at your comments about Seohyun. The lovey-dovey really was quite bemusing to me, especially the scene where they’re on their way back to Baekje, and Baek Ah was all, “So I can do whatever I want to, tonight?” 🙄🙄 That made so little narrative sense to me, seriously.

                  I’m puzzled by IU’s lackluster performance in this, coz I thought she actually managed some rather difficult scenes in Producer, and I was rather impressed with her delivery of them. I thought she actually did worse in this than in Producer, which is weird, since most people tend to do better as they go? I’m.. not sure what to make of it. If it was a live performance, I could say maybe she was having a bad day, but this was a long-drawn-out production. She couldn’t have been having several months’ worth of bad days? 😝

                  Yes, it’s really weird why Show couldn’t have done better in almost every area, given that it was pre-produced. Everything should’ve been better, including costuming, storyline, acting, just everything. It’s one of the mysteries of the k-universe what Show did with its pre-production advantage. But the silver lining, as I keep telling myself, is that LJK got a chance to shine, and hopefully, this leads to bigger and better things for him. He definitely deserves it! 🙂

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  10. Thank you very much for the review! I totally agree with your analysis !

    I started the C-version. Dropped it. I did not like it visually. Then started the K-version and was hooked up to the 12th episode with the Court Lady Oh death. After that what can I say …it completely derailed.
    I was still mesmerized with the acting quality of Lee Jun Ki & Kang Ha Neul, the beautiful cinematographic images … but the story direction & message (What was it at the end? You cannot change History? Or was love at the bottom of all historical problems? So do not fall in love ? Or love is eternal? huumm … mind boggling) .

    I did not want to finish the K-version not wanting to see the final debacle … but I wanted to knit without having to focus too much on my screen … Huumm so the last 4 episodes went finally like a breeze while knitting and my scarf is taking a nice form … :-p

    The last frames on Lee Jun Ki were indeed enigmatic but at the same time beautiful (Ah I am superficial indeed …) maybe the best bit of the episode 20? Arrgghh

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    • Lol! That’s funny, Ocha! Now you’ll always think of Scarlet Heart when you wear your new scarf! 😆 Or rather, you’ll always think of Lee Jun Ki – there, now that’s better, isn’t it? 😉

      I do agree that Show didn’t seem to know what message it wanted to bring across. Hmm.. If you can’t trust your lover, you’ll be eternally separated from him and cry lots of tears? 😝 I don’t know. I just didn’t like where Show left us. Although, I must concur that Lee Jun Ki looked very beautiful indeed in the last frames. 😍

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  11. That was a right on the mark review. I got hooked on it like a deer in head lights haha. So much of the show for me was how did that happen and why. You are right the lead carried it for me. There where so many times I was about to jump ship and So would really deliver and I would get hooked all over again. You are right the ending smells like 3 day old fish. If the astrologer could come back the like you said the new So could.have also. Then you could have a feeling of lived happily ever after type thing. I enjoy your reviews most of the time I don’the but I saw you liking my good news and other things so I had to come over aND say that kind you and it has been a long time sense talked. Hope all is well and Blessing to you my friend.

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    • Russ!! It’s great to see you around here! Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! 😀 Indeed, it’s been a while since we last chatted. Glad to know that things are going well for you; the latest news was pretty awesome, and I hope more people will come to appreciate your fine work! 😀

      Sounds like your experience with this show is similar to mine – every time I felt like throwing in the towel, Lee Jun Ki would work his magic, and I wouldn’t be able to look away, if only for his sake. That’s skillz, alright! You’re absolutely right – if the astrologer could appear in the modern-day timeline, they should’ve let So do the same. Apparently they got Lee Jun Ki to film some modern-day scenes, but they opted not to include them. Just, whyyy??? So near, and yet so far, seriously. 😝

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  12. thank you kfangurl for this review! I feel like I have no more suffering because I have learned to completely let go (as what Hae Soo’s BBJX counterpart Ruoxi famously said lol)

    I agree with a lot of critique on MLSHR, maybe because I watched it side-by-side with BBJX, and like some who commented, I got more hooked on the latter. I dropped the show sometime around the 15th ep but watched the finale because I really hoped they made it better/less sad than the original one. unfortunately, there was no justice for Lee Jun Ki. I felt sadder when I remembered reading online comments from a year ago when fans wrote #SaveLeeJunKi from this production because they were wary of the director and screenwriter. I so wish he’ll get a project that’s as good if not better than Arang. but damn, his beauty kept me watching regardless 😛

    anyhoo, I also tried “analyzing” the intent of the showrunners, and like others have mentioned, it seems one of the goals was to keep the important plots of BBJX intact. the downside of it was they tried too hard to translate them, as one of the more obvious flaws aside from the director’s favorite close-up shots was historical inaccuracy. what the author of the original novel did was creatively fill in the blanks, like how Rose and Jack in the Titanic was written in, but MLSHR’s screenwriter seemed to have picked out Goryeo’s Wang dynasty out of convenience (see numbers of princes). if they’re not going to follow history anyway, why didn’t they just choose a closer time period to BBJX’s, like around the Joseon era? that way Choi Ji Mong’s “inventions” would at least be useful because wheels are being used everywhere for one (or that’s what sageuks taught me lol)

    it would be sadder to think that the bad editing of each episode was hinged on the presumption that most of the audience had seen BBJX, because if you had you’d know exactly what this scene would be about or lead up to (and it made watching MLSHR less painful), which is unfair, and kind of lazy in an artistic point of view. haven’t they learned from the bad ratings of other drama remakes? I think I’m starting to get remake Kdrama fatigue, I’d probably be more wary on watching any in the near future, and pay more attention to the ones you guys have given a really good grade 😀

    I really think 20 episodes were enough to retell the wonderful story that was BBJX, and even improve on it. whatever misstep the showrunners made in MLSHR, I hope we’ll never if not rarely see in new, pre-produced titles in the future.

    more power to thefangilverdict!

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    • Oh my! #SaveLeeJunKi?? That’s so sad. And it’s even sadder than now on hindsight, that hashtag was actually warranted. 😭 Man, I completely concur, about wanting LJK to have a solidly good project like Arang was. He’s just too good for these mediocre dramas that he’s been in of late; I so feel that he deserves better. I might seem like a sucker for punishment, since I’ve hung in there for 3 LJK projects now, despite not really enjoying them, and you’d think I’d know better by now, after being bitten three times! But no, I keep hoping, coz it’s LJK, and he’s so ethereally beautiful and so wonderful, and I want only good things for him. I can so see myself watching his next drama, whatever it may be! (It better be good, k-universe! Just sayin’.)

      I think the problem with this K-remake, is that they tried to keep too much of the original, while trying to cover the same ground in less time. It’s like a poorly written summary in English class, where someone removes single words and a handful of sentences in trying to achieve the lower word count, rather than boldly rewrite the gist of the passage in their own words. The end product just feels watered down and disjointed, and it never really flows well. And yes, picking this particular time period seemed hinged mainly on the number of available princes to interact with Hae Soo. They could’ve gone with a completely fictional set of characters; that might’ve helped our story more, I think.

      I think the trouble with the remake, in this case, is that a lot of assumptions are taken from the source material, like the kind of daring and ballsy character the female lead is supposed to be. Instead of building a context that helped us understand that this was the kind of person she was, so that we could buy into that in the modern timeline first, before having her act brashly in Goryeo, the writers seemed unable to see the character with a blank slate, to see if they were doing the character-building right. They just went with what they’d come to understand the female lead character to be like, after 40 episodes of BBJX, and threw her at us willy-nilly from the get-go. That so didn’t work for me. :/

      But yes, long story short, I’m getting some remake fatigue as well, and it will take a lot more to get me to check out any kind of k-remake for a while.

      Hey Kao, have you see Nirvana in Fire? It’s a C-drama, and it’s such an amazing journey. Quality everything, literally. If you haven’t seen it and would like a palette cleanser in the form of a period drama that’s done so, SO right, I highly recommend it! 🙂

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      • “I can so see myself watching his next drama, whatever it may be! (It better be good, k-universe! Just sayin’.)” me too, and yes please!

        I so agree with your analogy on remakes, perhaps if MLSHR was delegated to a more capable screenwriter and PD, a successful though shorter remake of BBJX would’ve been produced. I mean, I think BBJX is great but it’s not perfect; it possibly has 5 or so plotlines that don’t contribute to the main storyline other than reinforce the character bonds, and the palace intrigue (10th Prince’s candied haw and lotus cake dilemma is a prime example). But since the show was done well, all those extra plots were a welcome addition. What I think wasted MLSHR’s air time were those scenes that you described as indulgent especially when the characters just stare intensely and do nothing—Queen Yoo’s bath and booze alone time, every brooding moment that don’t say what the character was thinking (i.e. Wook in his study)—just being attractive while pissed. Because after all this time, we didn’t get anything from it, just as your observation with Queen Yoo, her hatred on So was unjustified that in the end, all it triggered was his unresolved mommy issues.

        I’m also confused why MLSHR didn’t follow BBJX’s convenient intro of the heroine: Ruoxi has never met any Prince until after the accident, and that helped everyone including the audience warm up to her because her past was inconsequential. Her 21st century sensibilities aided her as she learns to adapt to the Qing period lifestyle, and like you said she was a blank slate, who eventually grew in character as the story progresses.

        I haven’t seen Nirvana in Fire but now that you’ve recommended it, I surely will, thanks!

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        • Oh yes, the scenes of Queen Yoo’s baths were quite bemusing to me too! It seemed so indulgent, and mostly, pointless as well. As for why the k-version didn’t follow the C-version when it could’ve easily done so, I suppose that’s the conundrum with remakes. You want to be somewhat faithful to the original, but you also want to put your own fresh spin on it. I guess writer-nim chose the wrong things to keep, and the wrong things to make different. I liked how the C-version allowed us to get a sense of Ruoxi’s personality in the modern-day timeline via an early flashback, so that her behavior in the Qing timeline was easier to understand. In the k-version, I never felt like I knew what kind of person Soo had been in the modern day, and so when she started behaving recklessly and boisterously in the Goryeo timeline, it just felt all kinds of strange to me.

          If you’d like to check out my quickish review of Nirvana in Fire, you can take a look at it here. I seriously consider it a masterpiece, and fair warning, it might ruin you for other dramas for a while. But, SO WORTH IT, seriously. ❤

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          • I finally watched the first episode of Nirvana in Fire and I was impressed! it was indeed very cinematic, and the costumes OMG…I just can’t watch it continually because I have other shows to finish first 😥 (so many to watch so little time…)

            about Su, I agree, even her own flashbacks weren’t enough, and which looked to me like a cosmetics ad lol. after much thought, I figured maybe MLSHR was envisioned to be darker, with an instinctive female lead, and an angrier, murderous 4th Prince. but then the show tried too hard to replicate BBJX (to a ridiculous degree, I just learned they even included the arrow plotline), which required instead an introspective female lead, and obviously that didn’t work. come to think of it, BBJX’s 4th Prince was also a scheming one, which was not Wang So in the early episodes of MLSHR because we’re made to believe he only became such after he decided to take the throne for himself. maybe, like you said it would’ve helped the story if they used fictional characters instead.

            and I’m really upset how they made Su vow to forget her own child in the finale. Ruoxi said her last words because she thought she had lost everything. this is probably the worst of the wrong choices they made with the script /endrant 😛

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            • I’m so pleased that you started on NIF, Kao! It’s gloriously cinematic, and so magnificent in every way. I loved it and even watched back-to-back episodes of it, which I rarely do these days.

              I can’t comment on the similarities and difference between this and BBJX, since I’m only about 7 eps into BBJX at the moment, but yes, I’m convinced that the writers got all muddled up between what they wanted to do, and what they ought to align with the original. In the end, what we got was a mash-up that often didn’t have effective context- or character-building, and as a result, everything felt quite random. It’s too bad that the writers seemed as confused as they came across. I never felt like they had a good handle on the story they wanted to tell, honestly.

              But I guess I will always take comfort in the fact that LJK shone as Wang So. And in your case, you can wash it all away with some NIF immersion – that will absolutely tilt your drama-watching world, it’s that good! 😉

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              • apologies for this late reply, I just finished NIF and I’m still in denial that it’s over lol thank you so much for the recommendation because I truly loved it! I dare say it’s waaay better than Game of Thrones and why is it not more popular?! I invest my TV watching time mostly on sci-fi and fantasy, but NIF didn’t need dragons to have my full attention. I’d try and watch more Cdrama next year; I grew up watching Cdrama every Sunday morning but lost interest in it after I’ve seen like 5 versions of Journey to the West and Legend of Condor Heroes (even Hu Ge starred in a 2008 version lol) NIF fortunately is a fresh take on wuxia and I hope its sequel is just as great!

                I will no longer rant on MLSHR but I hope if a sequel is in the works they do better than BBJQ; after all modern day fantasy Kdramas are usually well-produced.

                more power again to your blog!

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  13. i wished so much that the k-version would be good, i watched the c-version not long after NIF and i loved that they took the time for growth of characters and actually fleshed out a believable story ( and i love a strong female lead), it seems the k-version fell short , i have not watched it and i will probably/maybe pick it up on a rainy day when i need something “brainless”, i sincerely hope you will watch the c-version at one point (not now as the kdrama needs to fade a bit from memory ) and already looking forward to that discussion (i’m atm scouring your reviews to figure out what to watch next)

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    • Guh, I hoped so much that the k-version would be good too! With so many actors that I enjoy in it, and starring the wonderful and completely beautiful LJK, the thought of it not being good was just too painful. But, it really did turn out to be underwhelming, unfortunately. I have no regrets watching it because LJK is magnificent in especially the later episodes, but at the same time, I can’t say I recommend it either. I do think that you might be able to enjoy it better than I did, because having seen the C-version, you’d have a point of reference when things don’t make sense.

      I just started on the C-version out of curiosity, and just 2 eps in, I can already say that the C-version is clearly the better show. LJK is the more beautiful male lead, of course. 😉

      Have you shortlisted anything for your next watch yet? I’m curious – and am wondering if I might be able to add any useful 2 cents. 😁

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      • i honestly believe LJK was put on this world to balance out all the ugliness (war etc etc), to make us realize that there are gods, ethereal beauty among us, now i just wish he would have more luck with his projects :i only finished arang and the magistrate, joseon gunman somehow just didn’t do it for me, not even bothering with scholar vampire .I also believe he can pull of the bald head/brain effortlessly (allthough it would be weird) , He winds hands down as number one most ethereal like actor.

        oooh u already started? now i’m even more excited for the review, fair warning, it somehow drags a bit at one point, i don’t know how they did that since everything else was well-paced, but there was an episode or two where i was like, come on, move it along people, other that that, i believe you will love it ,

        so drama’s shortlisted : Moonlight drawn by the clouds, W, marriage contract, miss korea, six flying dragons are the top contenders and i started with …. Moonlight drawn by the clouds (cause i was going through PBG withdrawal), and loving it so far 😀
        i’m considering actually suggesting MDBC and healer to a friend of mine (i’ve been slowly trying to get her to watch asian series and she’s not averse to the idea),

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        • Eep. I just tried imagining LJK with the bald head and the long queue like the princes in BBJX, and while I think he’d be prettier than every other prince, I don’t think I want to see the bald head on him, like, ever. 😂 Gotta wonder who created that hairstyle, and why they thought it looked good!

          Thanks for the warning on BBJX.. I’m only about 5 eps in at the moment, so I don’t know how long it’d be before I finish it. I’m not watching it consistently, ie, some days I watch a little bit, and some days I skip it altogether, depending on my mood. There are just too many other dramas to watch, is why; not because BBJX isn’t a good drama. 😁

          I loved MDBC! I’m working on the review, which I hope to post sometime in the coming week (fingers crossed!). I do think it’s a good one to recommend to your friend, along with Healer. Healer is 😍😍😍. I think that Healer might be the easier sell, since it’s set in a modern context. I find that kdrama newbies mostly take a while to come around to sageuks. 🙂

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          • LJK looks the best with his “mane of glory” 🙂 some trends just elude me, i guess you had to be there to understand the why,

            😀 i get it, you just sometimes have too much on your plate already to be able take on another drama, i rarely livewatch, i tried it once and got annoyed that i had to wait for the next episode so i prefer bingewatching one drama at a time which is why i finished BBJX in a week , anyways still you will eventually finish it because good things take time 🙂

            i’m halfway through MDBC right now, hope to finish it this weekend actually, and the reason i wanted to suggest it to my friend is cause i introduced her to PBG with your post of a gazillion pictures and she kinda really digs him, (first korean actor she found hot), but yeah i think healer would be an easier watch for sure 🙂 especially since i’ve watched it 4 or 5 times by now (anytime i want something easy to watch but not in the mood for a rewatch , its either healer or NIF for me, )

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            • Heh. About the Qing trend of the male queue, my mom and I theorize that the emperor must’ve been losing his hair, and everyone must’ve decided to shave their heads too, to align themselves with his royal fashion. 😂

              I’m curious – did you introduce Healer &/or MDBC to your friend in the end, and how did that go? Do you now have one more friend to spazz over dramas with? 😉

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  14. Usually I find myself reading your reviews (a guilty work time treat) and nod my head vigorously in agreement (your review of my Love from the Stars was what brought me to your site); however I deviate from you on this one and I think I know why.

    It’s my first LGJ drama (literally, where have I been? I’ve never seen that jawline on screen before!)

    Everything you wrote is so true, I similarly had issues with the story telling, the pacing, the close-ups (there’s that particularly gruesome one when OTP went to the beach), the bare sets etc. etc. In fact, I binged watched the C-version (much more luxurious setting and pacing and also well delivered, but those darn bald heads); and read the novel (in Chinese no less) to fill in the plot holes. At the end, my own emotional angst has everything to do with LGJ; I just wanted Wang So to some shreds of happiness. If he wanted HS (though why? I don’t know sometimes) then so be it! I wanted to tear into the screen, staple HS by WS side and pet LGJ on the head and say “there there, you can have her as long as you want.

    Keep up the good work… consider upgrading LGJ to a full editorial on your site; he did some delicious print work for promotion that demand the fangirlverdict attention.

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    • Hahaha! Yes, the only reason I rooted for the OTP in any way, was because So wanted it. If So wanted it and it made him happy, then fine, I’d root for what he wanted, even if I no personal affection for Soo myself! 😂

      I guess the big silver lining in your case, is discovering Lee Jun Ki?? That jawline really is amazing, isn’t it? 😍 Since you’re new to Lee Jun Ki, might I recommend Arang and the Magistrate? I loved him in that show, and I loved the show itself too. Much better handled than this one by a long shot, and with a more positive ending as well. For a bit of modern-day LJK, I recommend Two Weeks. He did really well in that too. 🙂

      Thanks for the suggestion – I will consider updating the LJK post. That was a full-on k-love post; it’s missing the newer photoshoots because I did that post some time ago, and don’t usually go back to update posts because I’m already drowning in new posts that I want to write. 😅

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  15. Thank you for your excellent review! It’s amazing that I agree with everything you said including Lee Junki’s OTT and tryhard delivery at the start lol. I think what made his character jarring at the start for me was that it seemed that he’s in an angsty action shonen manga while IU and the other princes were in a reverse harem romance shoujo manga. He did come a little too strong at the start, but somehow as the episodes went on, Wang So became the most memorable and compelling character that I couldn’t help but root for. Lee Junki was fantastic in making a potentially groan-inducing brooding emo character with a tragic past into a multi-layered one who is now among my favorite drama characters. I loved the nuances he gave to the character and how his expressions conveyed everything. The director’s love for closeups may have driven me crazy most of the time, but I think it worked to Junki’s and also Haneul’s favor. That closeup during IU’s removal of his mask? Gahh excellent swoonworthy stuff. He really conveyed the vulnerability and attraction his character was feeling there. And it helps that he just looks so amazing in this drama with all his various manes of glory. This is my first time to see Lee Junki in a drama, and I’m deeply grateful for it despite my frustrations with the show.

    Despite my misgivings with IU, I don’t know if another actress would have done better. The problem is ultimately rooted in the writing that does its utmost in making Soo opaque in her thoughts and intentions, a terrible thing to do since she should be the POV character of the show as the modern girl time-travelling to Goryeo. I do think the chemistry was there between her and Junki, which mostly came from Junki’s intensity and how good he and IU looked together. For me, her feminine doll-like features just suited Junki who was both beautiful and very manly at the same in this show.

    I read that Hwang Jung Eum and Kang Sora who were also offered the role. At least it wasn’t Hwang Jung Eum who I think is great in melos but OTT in comedy. She also looks too old for the part as well as Kang Sora. Maybe Park Boyoung would have been the best for the role? She has the youthful look that would make her believable as both the naive 16 year old and the mature court lady Hae Soo later on. Perhaps she would have made the romance more believable on Soo’s part as well just by being able to completely convey her attraction to So and the inner conflicts that come with it. To her credit, I think IU is great at emotional and dramatic scenes (her final scenes with Court Lady Oh and the scene where she confronted So over Chaeryung’s death come to mind), but she lacks when it comes to showing nuances to her character’s thoughts and feelings.

    “Ultimately, I think this show’s problem is that it was never quite clear on what it wanted to be.”
    This is definitely true and for me, it’s more of how they weren’t sure if they’re making their own story or trying to be a faithful adaptation to BBJX. From episodes 1 to 16, it felt that they changed a lot that it might as well have been a different story altogether but from episode 17, it’s like they ran out of ideas and decided to haphazardly copy the events in BBJX. Starting from that episode, all the angst and separation felt forced to me. This may be an unpopular opinion, but I really wish they did their own thing since they already made a lot of changes anyway.

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    • Hey there 1234! So pleased that you enjoyed this review, and that we feel so similarly about this show! I was half afraid that I was imagining things when I felt LJK was being a bit too OTT and try-hard in the early eps, tbh. 😛 You’re so right – in the beginning, it totally felt like LJK’s character was in a totally different genre compared to everyone else! 😂 Happily, So turned into a wonderfully interesting and layered character, and LJK’s delivery self-adjusted to the awesome that we ended up being showered with. I love love LOVE that scene where Soo removed So’s mask, and he just let her. So much subtext, completely unspoken. So much deliberate, willing vulnerability. Love. ❤

      I do agree that IU's features were a good visual match for LJK.. Given that LJK was asked to lose weight for the drama, it makes sense that his leading lady would have to be extra delicate to match. I definitely blame the writing on Soo's character being such a disappointment. But, I do think that a better skilled actress would've been able to lift the writing to at least be less bad. Like LJK lifted the writing around So, for instance. He injected layers that the writing didn't, and if we could've had a leading lady who could've done the same, perhaps the love between Soo and So would've felt more mutual rather than So-centric. I think your pick of Park Bo Young is perfect, actually! 😀

      Yes, it did feel like the writers weren't confident of what to keep and what to change, when creating this remake. And in this case, I think their efforts to keep certain details similar to the original, hurt the show way more than helped it. I for one wish that they'd made Soo as intelligent as her C-version counterpart. That one thing would have made a big difference, I think.

      PS: If Scarlet Heart is the first time you’ve seen LJK in a drama, might I recommend Arang and the Magistrate, as well as Two Weeks? I thought he was great in both those shows, and unlike his projects in recent years, I actually really enjoyed both dramas! 🙂

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  16. I found myself nodding vigorously through this entire review, because I agree with you completely. I imprinted early on Lee Jun Ki as Wang So and so was unable to leave this drama even when it became very disjointed (and frankly stupid) towards the latter half. The failed potential in this show makes me feel so tremendously sad though. It just seemed like this show had various people as the principal writer which resulted in no proper consensus on what direction it should take, and what should be it’s main focus.

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    • Ah, I feel ya, Nini! You’re so right, this show really was very disjointed, and didn’t feel at all cohesive. But, like you, I didn’t want to abandon So either, so I stayed on even when Show felt like it was getting increasingly disjointed and messy. I know I’ve stayed through Lee Jun Ki’s last several dramas, even when I wasn’t enjoying the shows very much. I guess that’s the power of Lee Jun Ki? 😅

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  17. While I loved Lee Jun Ki, Hong Jong Hyun, Nam Joo Hyuk, Baekhyun, Zhera and show as a whole. Even by the end I didn’t feel So and Soo had a love I would be envious of and I felt there bond as a couple was still weak with Hae Soo for the most part just been So’s sanctuary and her still seeing him as Evil.I mean she never really had his back which was disappointing . Show was a bit overrated and basically saved by the cast.

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    • You summed it up quite perfectly, raspberry! I didn’t feel convinced of the OTP’s love as well. Not because of So, because LJK was magnificent, but because of Soo. Both the writing and delivery made Soo’s feelings for So feel very fragile and uncertain, and that’s just not the stuff that epic love stories are made up of. I just don’t know what writer-nim was thinking, about that. 😛

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  18. So glad I found your review Fangirl. And have loved reading the other post. Agree with all comments. Lee Jun Ki saved this drama! Kang Ha Neul was his backup player! So much potential…so much disappointment.
    I have thought and thought….why did the writer use such a lame excuse for Soo to leave So? If Soo had been in Goryeo as long as she had …. did she still not understand by now how the ‘justice system’ worked there. Even in today’s world…traitors are punished and often with their life. I think if the writer had taken the course of: Soo left the palace because she knew she was pregnant and wanted their child to NOT be raised in the Palace Of Unhappiness. Soo could use the Excuse of not understanding why So would kill Chae Ryung to leave. Such a lame excuse…So could have figured there was for sure another reason. But even when WE found out she was pregnant…it seemed to be an afterthought on the part of the writer and the weight of it was. so. very. totally. lost. What better reason to leave your great obsession than to protect his child from the evil massinations of the court? I can only say it was a great obsession because I never was sold on Soo LOVE for So! He LOVED HER WITH PASSION and I would have loved to have seen more of that! So needed what he felt he could only get from Soo….affection, trust-which she promised and could not deliver on- and love. This damaged man/child wanted desperately to be love! The scene of the mask removal was the bonding experience of So to Soo! Have to agree with Yo when he said of So….wild dogs bond for life with their mate!
    Do I need to state…..those eyes, those eyes, those eyes? And you know whose I’m talking about❗️
    Alas, writernim failed to ask me how I would like this hot mess to go! Wish she had!

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    • OMG Georgia, the writers should’ve totally consulted you on how to develop that arc of Soo leaving the palace! Your version makes SO much more sense, seriously!! I much prefer your version of events, and the character motivations. Soo’s apparent lack of understanding of the justice system also bemused me. In fact, her reaction to the entire thing rang false, to me. Normal human beings don’t behave that way, especially when they find out that their best friend in the world had been lying to them for years and years, and literally killing people. Who on earth jumps right to: “Oh, but she was simply in love, that’s all..” Seriously, who??? 😆

      All in all, I call this a big all-around fail on the part of writer-nim. The entire show could’ve been handled so much better. But yes, those eyes – and those cheekbones, and that jawline – made up for a lot! 😉

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      • Fangirl, thanks for your reply and thanks for agreeing with my observation. Perhaps this was where the writernim wanted us to go, but we needed something in between the revelation of the pregnancy after Soo left the palace and her conversation with So defending her lying BFF. This would have been an OMG moment…she lied to So. Remember their promise?
        Perhaps So’s chance meeting at the prayer towers with the child and Yang was meant to give us that OMG moment…..she lied to me about her reason for leaving the palace. I did so love how LJK played this scene. His demand that the child stay with him as he clung to her and his walking away with his hands behind his back after Yang told him Soo did not want the child in the palace. He loved her enough to respect her wishes for the child….the all powerful king rescinded the banishment for treason to be able to see his daughter.
        I hope they don’t do another season. But if they do…please don’t use that same writer or director. I liked his direction of That Winter, The Wind Blew…..Jo In Sung…be still my heart, BUT his close ups in this drama got on my nerves so bad….even if LJK is most beautiful. Did love the angles he took on LJK in the kiss scenes though….it softened his way too amazing angular jaw line and was appropriate for the scene. The way So looked down on Soo…from that position of power….yet, his eyes were soft and gentle…..and do I need to go on? ‘Cause I need a minute here!
        Thanks everyone for you observations, recommendations, and insights. And btw my intro to KDrama was with a saeguk. Moon Embracing the Sun. Healer is in the top five of my some 70+ dramas. I have had someone recommend Empire of Lust to me as a good movie. After reading your remarks on this movie…I will stay away. Like y’all I’m not over Gangham Blues yet! It was my first Kmovie and what a shock after watching all those innocent KDrama kisses and cuddles under the covers with clothes on! Watching an oldie right now….Autumn In My Heart. A very young Song Hye Kyo, Song Seung Heon and Won Bin. 👌

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        • That’s a nice way to think about the chance meeting at the prayer towers, Georgia! I don’t think the “OMG she lied to me” was emphasized, but LJK did play the scene beautifully. I doubt that another season will be done, tbh.. The ratings for this show were far from the blockbuster type ratings they’d hoped for, and good ratings would be the only reason a show would be considered for a second season.

          Autumn in my Heart! That really is a classic. Honestly, I hated it on my first watch, coz it was one of my first kdramas, and I hadn’t yet been introduced to the concept of melo in kdrama, and had foolishly hoped for some kind of happy ending. On my second watch, years later, I actually enjoyed it very well. I hope you enjoy it your first time round! 🙂

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          • There is so much in this drama that made the screen electric and they were all scenes filled with Lee Jun Ki ❗️
            Yes, fangirl, I did enjoy AIMH! Since it was not my first older KDrama melo I was prepared. So I cried each and every episode right along with our star crossed lovers. My first older melo was I’m Sorry, I Love You. So Ji Sub and his head band!

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            • True, dat. All of the best scenes in Moon Lovers featured LJK! Which makes me feel bad for all the other actors, but it’s the truth. 😛

              Aw, yay that you enjoyed AIMH! I really liked it on my second watch; there was something quite poetic about it. I did watch I’m Sorry, I Love You as well. I didn’t like it as much as AIMH, but SJS really was at his broody best there, headband and all! 😆

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  19. To those people who didnt satisfy watching this drama.truly i am pity to all of you . Still you cannot stop the big success of this film.breaking all the records of all k dramas on many streaming sites and most of all the success of this film is in the heart of its billion viewers.

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    • Ciro, you are very right about the success of this drama. And the success of this drama rest directly on the caliber of the acotors performances. It was the Lee Jun Ki Show from the moment he literally rode onto the screen! That’s why I came and that’s why I stayed. Certainly not for the writer’s story line. Props to Kang Ha Neul too. I will now go find Him in more dramas .

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  20. Thanks for your review! It was very well written.

    First off, I must admit that I am a very big fan of this drama. Probably largely because of the emotions that I have invested in it. I do acknowledge its weaknesses though, because there were so many. I personally think the show went patchy after episode 16. The things that transpired from episode 17-20 shouldn’t have been cramped into four episodes, because that was the turning point of their love story and the whole plot.

    I love how Wang So’s character was written, though. Regardless of Joon Gi’s ABSOLUTELY STELLAR performance, So was the character I believe most of the viewers loved. I would have been absolutely disappointed if he turned out to be a typical noble hero after falling in love with Soo, but instead, his underlying morality and justice prevailed. He wasn’t the typical protagonist, and some viewers were bothered by this, but it enthralled me. Moving on to LJG’s performance… Well… What can I say? It was stunning. (His face was stunning hehehehe) The plethora of emotions his eyes could do, it just made you feel things without his character needing any lines. At the end of drama, I found myself more invested in So’s journey, and that’s why I think I liked the drama, or rather, I liked So. I wanted to know him and his journey.

    This is odd though, because in the CVersion, the heroine was the focal point of the story. I didn’t feel that way in MLSHR, because there were several times I wanted to strangle Hae Soo myself. Throughout the drama, until episode 20, I also kept questioning if she did love So, or did she at least love him the way he does? The build-up of their romance was grueling, to say the least. I enjoyed the friendship, conflict, budding romance, to actual romance. But their downfall from episode 17-19 was nothing short of frustrating, and Soo’s patchy character added to that. I could see their intensity and chemistry, but let’s be honest, this was mostly brought up by So. Should we blame IU’s acting? Writing? Maybe it’s a mix of both.

    Anyway, thank you for your insights!

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    • Hi there stealthtotome, thanks for enjoying the review! 🙂

      I completely agree that LJK’s performance is nothing short of stellar in this, and he alone makes it worth the watch. Your observation about the protagonist in this version vs. the C-version is really interesting! I am only a few episodes into BBJX, but I can already see how Ruoxi is clearly the focal point of the story.

      In the k-version, this isn’t the feeling that I get. In fact, it feels like the story of the OTP, or at least, I think that’s what the writers were going for, seeing as where we end up by the end. Of course, So was the much more compelling character between the two, and I was personally much more interested in So’s journey than in Soo’s. I think the writing is largely to blame, but IU’s stiff interpretation of Soo didn’t help either. It’s too bad this show wasn’t more all-around good, but LJK totally made it worth our while! 😉

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      • Do you think IU being partnered with Joon Gi and Ha Neul was a bit of an overkill? She had really strong male actors as partners, and I think it really brought out the weakness of her acting. What do you think?

        But despite the criticism, I like how she could portray a 16 year old and a 25 year old convincingly. At least she gave justice to that aspect of Soo’s character. Maybe that’s why she was chosen.

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        • Here I am again! …stealthtotome, I believe you are very right. If you look at some of the BTS of Scarlet Heart you’ll see LJK giving her pointers on how to do the scene…in particular the kiss scene where Soo rebuffs So’s advances. AKA…the ‘forced’ kiss! Everyone has a learning curve and she is learning from experienced actors. I agree she did the 16 year old cutie Soo really well…not so much a matured Soo. She has only one direction to go and that is up. But up only if she gets some more acting lessons👍
          BTW…can you imagine being kissed by Lee Jun Ki? SUUUUEEEETTTTT❗️

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        • I think you’re right, stealthtotome.. IU’s got a relatively weaker acting range compared to LJK & KHN, and I think it was unfortunately showcased when she was sharing scenes with them. It’s too bad; I don’t think of her as a terrible actress, and have liked her in other dramas. This one just didn’t do her any favors, imo. I personally didn’t find her convincing even as a 16 year old, tbh.. I think she was probably chosen more for her delicate features and petite frame than her acting chops. 😛

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    • Me, too, I think Lee Joon-Gi was fantastic!🌟 I watched the drama because of him and I really enjoyed his character as So. Since the beginning, despite of his harsh behavior, I liked him and I also felt pity for him because of his mother who hates him. I loved the development of his behavior towards Soo, that was amazing 😲.

      But from episode 8 or 9 on (after the rain ritual), Soo became more and more terrible for me as a viewer (she has her reasons like being afraid and suffering a lot, I think she became depressed and wanted to keep her distance in order to make everyone survive, what was actually a wrong calculation in my opinion😩), so that I felt so pity for So😭: he became cuter and cuter; and all his patience and fidelity – that makes him more beautiful and precious at the same time🌸. But I feel so frustrated, it’s heart-breaking, and there are moments when I hate Soo, she’s unbearable! So cold!!😠
      She wants everyone to live, blabla, and to preserve life, but what is life about? Living like a robot? Life needs love, life is short, especially in former times, so ENJOY IT and have fun!
      Right now, I’m at episode 14.

      Yeah, I agree, LJG can express alot with his eyes; without moving much; he doesn’t need to move his face a lot😮. AND he is so beautifuuuul!!!!💗 His face (and body), wow that was a blessing to see it on a big screen. He really looks good in the character of So, with long hair and that hairstyle and these clothes.
      How can man be that beautiful??😶

      Concerning acting, EVERYONE did a great job👍🏼. The writing was sometimes good, sometimes not. Soo’s character was, as I said, frustrating, nerve-racking (not before episode 9/10) but if she’s bad luck, that’s right; she’s cruel without knowing nor intending to be. Sad life! Why does So love her? Whatever, I’m gonna see…
      I imagine being at Soo’s place. If So loved me, I would accept to do a lot of beautiful things with him and enjoy it and I would love him😊. Fanfiction, haha!

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  21. Hi kfangurl, I just finished watching ML a few days ago and I agree with what you wrote for the most part. Unfortunately the writing, directing and overall execution didn’t make it for the drama – most of the characters were underdeveloped and there were several inconsistencies. In particular I felt that the antagonists like Princess Yeon Hwa and even Yo weren’t developed to be as interesting as they could have been. There was so much potential with regards to their characters, but eventually they became almost one-dimensional villains. In a nutshell the acting was what saved the drama. It might be my LJK bias speaking here, but he always blows me away and his performance as Wang So was no exception. I think that’s why I look forward to his works every year 🙂 Hope he gets a better script though. Thanks for the awesome review hehe 😄

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    • It’s totally not just your LJK bias speaking, Jas! People have told me that they finished the show for LJK – and some of them were seeing him on their screens for the very first time and therefore had to pre-existing bias to speak of! 😉 He really is that good in this show – though I found the initial bit a little try-hard. But he more than made up for it with how amazing and wonderful he was in the later episodes. ❤

      It's a huge pity that the rest of the show didn't match up to his awesomeness, from the writing, to the directing, to other greener actors.. a lot of stuff felt messy and all over the place. The different versions of the show floating about didn't help matters. I thought it just made the entire production appear even more confused, tbh! 😝

      Still, for bringing us amazing LJK, I can't be too bitter.. Crossing my fingers for LJK, that his next project will be fantastic! 😄

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      • That is great to know, yay! I definitely have a pre-existing bias towards LJK as a longtime fan, haha! While there were a lot of people who watched this as LJK fans, I am glad that more people came to know him through Moon Lovers as well! Yeah, the close-ups worked to his advantage the most because of all the emotions he conveyed through his facial expressions 😉 His character was extreme in the early part, but I tried to understand things from his perspective – he must have been lonely and really desperate to get his mother’s attention; still, props to him to doing a really good job portraying Wang So ⭐ It really is, and considering that it was a full pre-production. I think they were never clear of what kind of drama they wanted Moon Lovers to be; I wasn’t able to tell which direction it was really headed for, even right up to the end. And yup, the editing problem really made it worse.. It was just like they were still feeling things out about how they were going to progress with the story etc.
        Yes, I am happy that I got to watch LJK, as well as KHN+HJH 😛 Hehe same here~

        Like

        • Y’know what, Jas – I’m totally going to watch that Lotte web drama when it comes out, and mainly for LJK 😉 I mean, yes, there are 6 other worthy male leads in there, but somehow I’m hoping that LJK will be crowned The One, lol. See, I have a pretty strong LJK bias too. I think it’s the Wang So Effect. 😆

          Liked by 1 person

          • Same here 😄 I hope so too, though it might go the route of none of the seven leads getting the girl. Hahaha I might just FF through the show and watch his scenes only 😆

            Like

  22. Am i the only one who likes the 14th prince? His character really moved me. He didn’t get to see his mother before he died. And his character growth was kinda enough for me to like him and root for him. I was hoping that Soo would like him too.
    He was really heartbroken, he did everything Soo wanted and gave it to her(well almost).

    I also wanted to know how you fell about the 14th prince. Please.

    Like

    • No, Jp, you are not the only one who liked Jung the 14th prince. His character had growth throughout the drama and his family loyalty was sincere and true. All be it…misplaced at times, but for him family was family. His approach to Wang So was for me honest with his position in the family as the youngest of three sons. I believe he loved So as a brother…wanting a relationship with him…..and wanted him to be loved by their mother….remember The Dinner? His question to their mother of how could she ask him to do such a thing over a family meal? How could a mother ask a son to kill his half brother? Especially when she knew So had loyalty toward this half brother king!
      I think writernim again lost a great story line when she didn’t somehow develop Jung’s affection for Soo. To find out his love for her was a bit “ok, where did that come from?” Alas, there is just so much that could be done in 20 episodes….would liked for the drama to have spent less time developing the Wook/Soo relationship (however much I loved it) and more time with the So/Soo relationship and the other princes affection for her.
      Ultimately Jung was her salvation. The two men who made great proclamations of love for So failed at protecting her. One became powerless to care for her because first of his fear…then because of his lack of action at the right time….the other because of his priorities.
      Can you tell I don’t have anyone to talk KDrama with….love this blog! If anyone disagrees or have other opinions….let me hear them.
      Looking forward to the Moon Light Drawn By Clouds review!

      Like

      • @Georgia Peach/Jp: I liked 14th Prince too. He was my fav out of all the princes, and my absolute first choice as Haesoo’s ultimate suitor (amongst him, Wook, So). The other two couldn’t really love her/be there for her for their own reasons, but 14th always loved Haesoo – albeit from a distance and respected her wishes and needs alot. He always put her needs before his and was ultimately very loyal to her. It’s just too bad she didn’t feel that way for him. I’m also glad he’s the one taking care of her daughter.

        I totally agree that the writer introduced Jung’s story arc wayyy too late in the show for it to be developed properly and for the viewers to actually care about him. His loveline with Haesoo was very random and could instead have been developed organically from the earlier epis, especially after she saved him in the forest. 14th was my fav in the C-version and I’m just disappointed he wasn’t written well here.

        Like

        • Evelyn, there are so many KDramas I want to watch right now….but I still have the feeling I want to watch the Cversion of Scarlet Heart too. I have watched about 20 minutes of the Cversion and it looks perfectly beautiful! Would this make a good first CDrama for me? Thought about watching When A Snail Falls In Love as my first one.

          Like

          • You cannot go wrong with either one. Watched Scarlet Heart Cversion and it is very well made (but long) and Snail has got me totally hooked after 12 episodes and I am really impressed with the quality – it has murder and mayhem in it and I love a murder mystery so I am really loving Snail. What can you say about Wang Kai but “More please”. Enjoy!

            Like

            • phl1rxd…..thanks for the recommendation on WASFIL! It’s my second two thumbs up. So it will be my first CDrama! My sweet contact at Viki Support was the other…that’s a fun story for later…LOL

              Like

    • 14th Prince was a true gentleman. I loved him too.

      Like

    • Hi there Jp, I’m so sorry this reply is so late, but I just wanted to say, I did like 14th prince as well. I wish Show would’ve given him more screen time to develop his arc, especially around his love for Soo, since that became key in the final episodes. I think if Show could’ve given us more build-up and context around his love for Soo, those final episode sacrifices that he made for her would’ve been that much more moving. 🙂

      Like

  23. Its a fucking real world otome drama!!!!!! That is the only way i can describe!!LOL!!!!

    Like

  24. You might want to watch the original Chinese version Scarlet Heart. It is longer and takes more time to develop the characters, however, it probably did not need all the extra episodes as well (35 episodes versus 20 episodes). I felt that the characters were more believable and I actually felt more connected to them when tragedy struck instead of feeling like, “oh you just died, okay, what’s next?” The Chinese version has its fair share of flaws as well and it’s not perfect, but if I had to choose between the two versions I would pick the Chinese version.
    Also I just wanted to point out that I agree with about Court Lady Oh. Her character and her portrayal was one of the finer moments of the show. I think I actually cried when she died. And of course, our main guy 4th Prince. I am not one of those who likes my guy to wear more makeup than me, but between his acting and his prettiness I can’t stop looking at him. Strange, but true!

    Like

    • OMG. “Oh you just died, okay, what’s next?” is totally the experience of watching the k-version!! 😂😂 Ok, I didn’t feel that way for ALL the deaths in the k-version (and definitely not for Court Lady Oh, whose death felt really sad to me), but I did feel that way often enough for me to feel the unfortunate truth of your statement! 😉

      I’ve recently started on the C-version, and I definitely agree that the characterization is much better in the C-version. It feels more organic and just makes more sense overall. I don’t foresee that I will finish watching it anytime soon, since I only watch an episode every now and again, but I definitely like it better than the k-version. Except the k-version’s got Lee Jun Ki. Who is glorious and makes up for so much. 😉

      Like

  25. I was totally upset with the drama, talking about cheese in the trap. There was so much expectations that it was totally heart braking after realizing that the drama doesn’t deliver the way you expectednit too. Sigh.

    And how i loved bbjx too. Despite the tragedy, i have rewatched the dram at least 5 times. Mostly the same reason why the disappointment was so extreme.

    I actually watched the first 3 episodes but decided to stop because my heart can’t take it anymore. The adoptation was just so blah.

    Like

    • Aw. I can see how this would be extra disappointing, if you’d already watched and loved BBJX! I’ve only just dipped my toes into that, and at just 7 eps in, I definitely feel the difference between the two shows. BBJX is just a better told story all-around, with better and more convincing characterization too. It’s probably for the better that you stopped with the k-version after 3 eps. LJK is wonderful in this (ok, maybe not in the first 3 eps, but he gets so much more nuanced and wonderful in the later eps), but I think in your case, the comparison agony would’ve been too much and killed any positives you could’ve enjoyed in this show, I think. 😝

      Liked by 1 person

  26. What I am seeing from all your comments is that you all are comparing k version with c version and that’s the problem. I haven’t watched c version so my thoughts about this drama is it is too good. All the actors done well but I don’t know why there are negative comments. I agree there are some logical mistakes but it is not entirely bad. For instance “queen you hatred towards wang so” it is clearly depicted tat she is greedy for power . when the time she found wang yo is useless she tried to outcast him, so it is obvious she hates wang so who is useless to her. Even moonlight drawn by clouds has logical mistakes. With a single glance we can say she is a girl but not everybody aware of that and she is becoming eunuch by hiding her identity which is absurd. But I think the admin gave only 2 paragraph review for that drama and it is mentioned the drama was good( but I don’t find any chemistry at all) then why bother to give such a long review for a drama that has many logical holes!!!

    Its a relief that I didn’t watch c version so that I can able to enjoy wholeheartedly and it is one of the unforgettable k drama I ever watched.

    Like

    • Hi there Geraldine, it’s great that you enjoyed Moon Lovers. I personally feel that we all have such different tastes and lenses when it comes to dramas – and life too, for that matter – that a drama that works for some, will inevitably not work for others. In this case, Moon Lovers just didn’t work for me. And I’d like to clarify that I didn’t watch the C-version before watching the k-version, which I do mention in the review. I only checked out the C-version after writing this review, since so many other viewers recommend it. Also, if you’re interested, my review for Moonlight Drawn By Clouds is about the same length as this review, which you can check out here. The 2 paragraphs that you read is probably the Short Verdict only. The rest of the review is available after the “Continue Reading” jump. 🙂

      Like

  27. I didn’t watch it, but can’t Lee Jun Ki do a cable drama? I know he said his goal was to shoot 2 dramas a year, but I’d rather him to take his time to choose a project that would be worth the trouble in the end. Most of the time, actors choose their projects with only the first 2 or 3 episodes written, so they have no control over the course of the story and it’s too late to back out when they realize it’s really not going the way they thought it would be…. STILL! With his filmography, his military service out of the way, he should be one of the TV actors at the top of the game right now. It feels like… Well, okay, I do think he wants to please his fans and that’s the reason he goes for high-scale productions b/c he wants his fans to be proud. And if there’s one thing most people would agree on is that he’s never the weakness leading to the artistic failure. However, I feel like he should focus more on what makes him happy as an ACTOR, go for roles that really challenge him. I mean, at the end of the day, I feel that’s the disappointement comes from the fact his projects now don’t do justice to his acting range improving with time. So it’s like “get that great challenging role to do justice to yourself!”. 😄 I don’t know if I’m any clear.

    And what if K-dramaland decided to remake NIF? * gasp *

    Like

    • Agree with you, SL, on the scripts Lee Jung Ki has taken. It seems the writer, director, and editor get real lazy when they know he’s the star. They want HIM to carry the show for THEM! Which he can do…but this is so unfair to him! I did read an interview of LJK’s where he says he feels he is still to find his defining role. Although I think his best so far is Two Weeks, then perhaps Arang and the Magistrate, I have to agree with him….he has yet to find that role. Until he finds that role….I will watch him as long as I have eyes ❗️

      Liked by 1 person

      • NIF = Nirvana in Fire 😀

        Like

        • Thank you, Sunny Lady, for your reply. I haven’t watched a Chinese drama as of yet. NIF may be my first😊

          Like

          • It was my first too! And I totally understood why everybody spazzed about it. The story itself is complex, but the writing makes everything clear and never feels like you missed a clue. 😀 I hope you enjoy it as much as we did.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Sunny Lady…..Hi! Just finished Nirvana In Fire. Totally fell in love with Mei Chang Su 😘 What an amazing character in an amazing drama! Hu Ge is now on my iPad wallpaper list of ‘you’re so beautiful/handsome’ !!! Thanks for the recommendation 😀

              Liked by 1 person

              • you were fast! but NIF is truly addicting, so I totally understand. I’m really glad you enjoyed it as much as I did. It was a kfangurl’s recommendation…well, pretty much everyone on my Twitter list also spazzed about it and it was my great pleasure to spazz with them once I finally watched it and figured out why they loved it so much!

                Like

                • Fast Yes, I knew if I didn’t start early in the afternoon each day I’d still be watching at Christmas. It took me several episodes to as they say…get into this drama. All the set ups for Prince Jing to take the throne took a while for me to realize what was going on and why. Oh, to be able to understand Korean and Chinese! But from episode 19/20 on I was a real cheerleader for Lin Su, Princess Mu NiHuang and Prince Jing.

                  Like

    • YES. I NEED Lee Jun Ki to do a good drama, and SOON. I’ve been burned by his last few projects; they’ve been so underwhelming, in spite of his commitment and dedication. And you’re right, he never is the weak link in those dramas, but still, it doesn’t make them GOOD dramas either. I need him to actually be in a legit good production that will help him to shine even more, rather than have him be the silver lining that drags the production from meh to meh-plus. 😝 Fingers crossed for his next project!

      OMG I don’t know if k-ent could actually do an NIF remake justice, to be honest. Most of the production companies don’t seem to have the resilience for it, nor the dedication to quality and scale. Maybe if the people who did SLA did an NIF remake, I’d allow myself to hope! 😅

      Liked by 1 person

  28. loved the beginning but the ending was some what stupid really upset about it, why did she have to die and why didn’t she tell so in her final letter that she was pregnant for him , this whole thing is a mess 😠😡😤would have loved to see them get married with beautiful kids and a happy ending.most Koreans drama always ends this way throwing off its viewers .so unhappy😡😡😡😡😡

    Like

    • I found the ending underwhelming and unsatisfying too. All the angst really felt quite unnecessary. But in this case, I think Show was trying to align itself to the source material (the Chinese version also has a sad ending, to my understanding), so perhaps it’s not just because historical kdramas tend to veer tragic. 😁

      Like

  29. Just finished the series and although I enjoyed it, I found it, yes, bemusing and patchy… and costumes honestly looked cheap. There also should have been a satisfying resolution as to why Wang So’s mother hated him so much – that would have made for some good catharsis on that negative vibe. I was not as moved as I would have wanted to be – it indeed lacked oomph. Precise review indeed. 🙂

    Like

    • Oh, we are definitely on the same page with this one, kai.. it’s unfortunate that this was as underwhelming as it turned out to be. I really wondered where all the big budget went, when I saw the cheap costumes. They just looked terrible, honestly. So ill-fitting, and such modern finishes. I couldn’t get over the awful gauze overlays – and those polka-dots! 😝 Thanks for enjoying the review nonetheless! 🙂

      Like

  30. I’m currently at ep 7 of Ryeo and omg I’m not sure if I want to continue. It’s worse since I’ve seen BBJX before this and I loved it. Ryeo just lacks so much from the original. I get that it’s an adaptation and it should try to differentiate itself from the novel and the chinese version but still, even on it’s own it’s bad. The politics were done badly, the romance was pretty sub-par thanks to the disjointed plot and the relationship between characters were pretty…undeveloped. Especially the relationship between Hae Soo and 13th prince. sigh. It felt like a very faint shadow of the Chinese version that didn’t have enough to stand on it’s own.

    Liked by 1 person

  31. I agree that the writing was terrible. However that’s the end of where I agree with you.

    I for one like that the story line started with the focus on Soo and Wook’s love and then veered off to So. Why do I say this? Because every drama is so boring and cliche where we know for sure who the female lead is going to end up with within the first episode. Real life just does not happen that way and it is way too cliche for me. I liked their attempts to veer away from this. I mean ultimately it failed because as you said Lee Jun Ki is such a big star and also he’s on the promotional poster so we knew. But I still appreciated the attempt.

    Next. No! No to your idea of how it should have ended. If that had happened I was going to just stop the drama even though it was in it’s final few minutes. We do not need that cliche “I meet you in the future” thing. Just no! it’s so cliche. But then I am assuming that people like cliche since you suggested that they hint at So and Soo’s love from the beginning which is such a cliche KDrama thing to occur.

    My problem with KDramas is that it is to unrealistic. This Drama was a bit more realistic on how life would have gone which is probably why people don’t like it, I suppose. I think the story was amazing but the story line was terrible and it wasn’t executed properly.

    I love IU and Jun Ki makes a fantastic So but trying to pretend that he was younger than Yo was just sad. Jun Ki’s age is just way too obvious to pretend that he’s 25.

    Oh! We also agree on something else. The costumes were waaaaaay too cheap looking.

    Like

  32. It’s the first kdrama I’m watching and I don’t think it’s bemusing (right now I’m at episode 14). The beginning is actually good and I like the contrast between serious and funny😄. Later there are some missing explanations, but that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem in the second part of the drama is Hae Soo: she is so frustrating!😫 Unbearable. Poor So! Soo’s behavior makes me like him even more.

    My favorite is So😊. He (LJG) is absolutely fantastic! I don’t think his initial was try-hard. It was funny, I liked it.
    But concerning killing, the characters that were not meant to be evil, had too much remorse; at least in the showing scenes (off-screen I don’t know).
    Decisions and executions went too slowly🐢. This is actually typical for modern, democratic society. I believe that it was intended to make the characters sympathic for the audience, but honestly, in my opinion they could and should have killed more and faster, without making a drama of it. Like, why is So “so good”?
    I’m surprised that the drama contains Christian values…

    Concerning acting, everyone did a good job!👍🏼 The main problem is the writing (that also concerns Hae Soo I’m mentionning above). There were very good passages: touching ones, captivating ones, funny ones and also the typical cheesy parts were good… But what was lacking were the connections; like the writers couldn’t accord or hadn’t read each others part😲 That’s bad.

    Execution was good. I loved the filming🌸. I loved the costumes (I don’t agree at all that they looked cheapy😠!), the sceneries, the persons. There is so much beauty!!

    Like

    • Angelique, if you’re now in love with LJK…watch Arang and the Magistrate, Two Week, and an earlier drama…Time Between Dog and Wolf. My personal favorites! Really all of his dramas are must sees. Check out his videos on YouTube. He is a good singer and a great dancer! The guy can cut some moves! And an all round nice guy it seems from the videos! Enjoy!

      Like

  33. I don’t understand why everyone’s always talking about I.U’s acting-.- What was wrong with it?? I thought she slayed her scenes,now yes I do agree about her expression’s….Especially when So told Soo your eyes,that look you do…..I hate it!!!! All I saw were big eyes,I didn’t get what the look was suppose to mean…..I did find out later tho xD…Anyway I.U’s acting comes from the writing it had nothing to do with the actress-___- Hae Soo couldv’e been played by the best korean actress ever,and she still would have had the same lines,and all……Like her playfulness in the beginning would have still been the same…. Blame the writer’s for portraying her the way they did,not the actress,she only did her part…..The romance between SooSo was out of this world*_* Go on twitter,youtube,kissasian or etc,and you will see lot’s of good comments about their chemistry….About that ending,I didn’t feel sorry for So I felt sorry for Soo……So was the one that let her go,because he was butthurt over SoWook’s relationship that happened over 6 years ago,6 years…Like really tho??? You never gave up on her when she friendzoned you numerous times,or when you accused her for Eun’s death!!!!!! But you let her go,because she loved Wook,years ago-.- I couldn’t take that seriously:/ Like this is seriously the ultimate break up,like wow-___- Those writer’s couldv’e came up with something better than that….

    Like

    • Actually I felt more pity for So, because Soo didn’t trust him several times. She hurt him, whereas she rationally knew which duties he was obligated to, just how things worked at that era, but still, of course, it’s difficult to control emotions, so that I also understand Soo’s reactions. So is very disappointed, he’s been waiting longer than her, he was determinated longer than her, he’s been patient first, and actually HE is the one who can’t achieve his goal at the end. Soo wanted to leave him first. Soo’s relationship to Wook is the last factor for So to break up, not the only reason. He is very shocked that she loved somebody who’s been planning for years to kill him (So).

      Like

  34. This is my first time writing a comment or let’s say a review for a kdrama I’ve watched. I do read comments and reviews but I felt the need to write for this drama. I DO AGREE WITH THE SCATTERED PLOT AND ALL! Seriously, I did enjoy the drama while I was watching it. Honestly, LJK is an eye-candy. I loved his aggressiveness when it comes to romantic scenes and all. But there are some, like you’ve all said, things that may have been done offscreen. Let me list the things I’ve observed:

    1. That black to gray then back to black with a little bit of grey hair for the Queen Mother. I mean seriously, I was really shocked when she came out of that Cheondeokjeon palace. Like what… happened? I pulled myself to believe that it’s all because of the grieving and stress but still. arg

    2. The friendship between Soo and Woo Hee (Seo Hyun). I literally had to stop watching and checked if I downloaded the episodes in correct sequence. Is it just me or there’s not really an episode where their friendship was explained? Much less, on how it started.

    3. The sudden jump of Baek Ah’s affection to Soo. One episode he’s so angry with Soo because of her love for the husband of his lady next his so close with Soo. I was very dumbfounded.

    4. The loveline between Chae Ryung and Won (9th prince). This bloomed out of nowhere. Especially when Won asked Chae Ryung if the mercury was delivered. I mean, what? What’s with the mercury? And Chae Ryung was suddenly an accomplice to all this?

    5. Hae Soo was pregnant for goodness’ sake? As stated by Georgia above, that could’ve been the reason why Soo had to left. I was also attached to the fact the she can’t get over with Chae Ryung’s death. Her sympathy that the girl was just in love, that she was sincere to her and that she’s her little sister is just plain crap to me. Even I felt that the girl should be punished. I really didn’t get the writer insisted that Soo have sympathy after all those treachery.

    6. The Queen Mother’s disgust over So. At first, I did understand that maybe because she was so guilty on what she did to her own son that she tries to push him away. But as the story goes, it showed that Queen Mother is just a b*tch.

    7. 14th Prince Jung’s sudden intervention with Soo’s letters. What’s the point of re writing the front? What’s the point of changing it so that it won’t look like the So’s handwriting? All I can say is that it’s a selfish act. Why? I mean, Soo tried to copy So’s handwriting by writing the poem in the previous episode. So, she meant to really announce that the letters are from her.

    I agree that this drama should’ve been 24 episodes long. There were so many things that I needed an explanation, really. As I’m watching the drama, I did feel the enjoyment. But after all, after reading this review as well, it was all because of LJK.

    Looking forward to sharing my sentiments on the upcoming dramas. I’ll make sure to write if I feel the need.

    Like

    • Thanks, Macon, for agreeing with me on the possible ‘real’ reason Soo left the palace. You know, I have never written a screenplay, I’m not a novelist…shoot I don’t even read much…but even I could see plot holes a train could roll through! It seems the writer/writers missed opportunity after opportunity to make this story epic. How nice would it have been for them to develop the story lines that you have mentioned. To develop relationships between her and the princes that were important to the plot and to her…..for heavens sake! Perhaps they wanted to step away from overused story lines….from the cliche. But a cliche is a cliche because it works. We as viewers needed to have connections for this drama to work….too many characters to not connect more dots for us. I have chosen to remember this drama as vinyetts of LGK doing what he does best….wooing me with his eyes and jawline! Kang Han Neul is now on my You Gotta Watch List!

      Thanks too for the synopsis of the ‘ what’s going on moments’. I think I did gather from a scene between So and his mother that she hated him because of the scar….he was no longer King Material. In the drama a nod was given to perfection of beauty…..outward appearance. Remember how Soo cut herself to keep from sleeping with the king and the crown prince having exema….it being a disqualifier for him being king. I couldn’t help but think this was a point the writer wanted the Korean public to que on….beauty is VERY important to the Korean.

      Something else…some have said they didn’t think LGK was very ‘good’ or something like that…playing Soo when he first came back to the palace. I read him as a very angry young man who needed to make an impression on the court as well as his mother. He was NOT going back into his banishment and he wanted to make sure everyone knew it! His scenes with his mother were played so very well…..the heart ache of this man child was palatable! Thanks LJK for those scenes….you can act well with a seasoned actress….do a noona drama for me😍,

      BTW….you don’t by any chance live in Macon, Georgia ?

      Like

      • The writer’s should’ve really consulted you for this drama. Seriously, there could’ve been a large potential drama if not for the bad writing and whatnot.

        I’m from the Philippines btw. A real true fanboy 🙂

        Like

  35. Glad you’re here, Macon. It will be great to have a male’s perspective on these dramas. I’m new to this site also! The Philippines….that’s a long way from Macon, Georgia!

    Like

  36. Pingback: Year In Review: 2016 | The Fangirl Verdict

  37. Pingback: Flash Review: Seven First Kisses | The Fangirl Verdict

  38. I couldn’t agree more! I d really want to know what korean fans think about it 🤔 I think they are so sticked to the “drama thing” so they dislike happy everafter endings so much!

    Like

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