The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Dropped: Hwarang

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Ordinarily, I’d be the first to agree with the age-old saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” – or, as the case may be, “Don’t judge a drama by its promos.”

After all, sometimes, the watch experience of a show really doesn’t jive with its promo material. Some shows have uninteresting promo material but turn out to be excellent watches (I mean, just think about the old-fashioned, ugly poster that belongs to the fantastic Healer), while other shows have amazing promos but turn out to be duds in the watching (Joseon Gunman comes to mind, among many others).

In this instance, though, I really should’ve paid (much more) heed to this show’s low-rent bad wigs and cheesy posters. On hindsight, I think they were trying to warn me that this show wouldn’t be worth spending hours of my life on, and – silly, foolish me – I didn’t listen. Which is how I ended up wasting 13 hours of my life trying to make the best of this show, before I realized that Show’s best really, really wasn’t doing it for me.

Behold said cheesy poster and said bad wigs.

THE SOMEWHAT PROMISING EARLY STRETCH

Those of you who read my 2016 Year In Review would know that I actually had decent hopes for this show. And truth be told, I actually even rather liked this one, in its early episodes. I mean, yes, the production values weren’t great, stuff looked cheap, and the bad wigs were really quite awful, but underneath it all, I thought I found seedlings of a heartfelt story peopled by engaging, intriguing characters.

Here’s a quick list of the things that worked for me – at least in the beginning.

1. The epically bromantic context-setting

Lee Kwang Soo made a killer of a cameo in episodes 1 & 2, and the bromantic connection between his Mak Moon and Park Seo Joon’s Moo Myung was pretty darn epic in my books. These two friends literally cared for and loved each other more than life itself, and I found that heartfelt connection stirring and quite moving indeed.

2. Both male lead characters are intriguing

From the get-go, I found both male lead characters interesting, and wanted to know more about what they were about, and where they would be going, and how they would get there. Even though part of me was eager for Show to get its band of Hwarang together, I largely wasn’t fussed about Show taking the time to build its context.

On the one hand, I found Moo Myung’s arc engaging and poignant, and rather enjoyed the more personal touch of exploring his individual story than jumping straight into Hwarang stuff. At the same time, I found our hidden king rather intriguing in his angsty hidden existence, and was curious to find out why he was hidden to begin with. Of course, it totally helped that I already had a big soft spot for Park Seo Joon, and a growing appreciation for Park Hyung Sik as well.

3. Ah Ro is promisingly spunky & strong

In the early episodes, Ah Ro (Go Ara) comes across as pretty independent, strong and resourceful, which I liked a lot. I also loved that she told stories basically made up of classic kdrama makjang tropes. I found that very amusing, and wanted to see more of how our quirky heroine’s creative mind worked.

4. The growing bond between Sun Woo & Ah Ro is rather sweet [MINOR SPOILERS]

I thought it was an interesting choice to make our leads faux-siblings, and in my head, this added an unexpected layer of conflict to their future romantic connection, which I found intriguing.

It’s true that later on, this faux-sibling thing got problematic, but in the beginning, I actually enjoyed seeing the bond grow between Sun Woo and Ah Ro. In episode 5, we see her finally opening her heart to this Orabeoni, who had risked his life to save hers. Watching that process, of her letting down her guard to embrace him, was touching.

That scene, where Sun Woo tells her that she’s not alone anymore, is one of my favorites of the episode. They are officially starting to protect and depend on each other, and since both of them feel so alone in the world, this feels extra significant. I would’ve honestly been happy to see them stay – and grow – in a sibling-esque relationship, because the idea of found family really appeals to me.

5. Hints of potential bromance

I love me a good bromance, so when Show hinted at a potential bromance between hidden king Sam Maek Jong (Park Hyung Sik) and Sun Woo, my interest was piqued. I found their reluctant partnership in episode 5 nicely amusing, and looked forward to more bromantic action between these two.

THE DOWNHILL STRETCH [MODERATE SPOILERS]

Essentially, I feel that Show is better at building its context than actually telling its story, because once Hwarang was set up, everything started slipping downhill for me.

Here’s the quick run-down, in no particular order of blame, of how things stopped working for me.

1. All the manhandling

In serving up hidden king Sam Maek Jong / Ji Dwi as a viable contender for Ah Ro’s affections, Show allows Ji Dwi to manhandle Ah Ro a whole lot. I found this really uncool. From treating her as a sleeping aid, to forcing a kiss on her, everything about the way he handles himself around Ah Ro bemuses me.

The silver lining is that Ah Ro is firmly and clearly not interested in his “romantic” advances, but I still didn’t care for the large amount of manhandling going on, on my screen.

2. All the Hwarang stuff feels random

By the middle section of the show, it became clear that there was no real logic behind the various Events at Hwarang.

The Hwarang milestones all feel very random, as if they are completely at the mercy of We Hwa’s (Sung Dong Il) whims and fancies. One moment, everyone’s fussing over an overhyped dance performance, and the next, suddenly all the Hwarang are assigned assistants. This all just worked together to make the storytelling feel clunky, and plot developments, jerky and abrupt.

At the same time, I couldn’t help wondering at all the Big Drama around each event. During the season of the dance performance, there was so much anxiety around it, that it felt disproportionate to the Bigger Things that Hwarang had been set up to accomplish. During the whole Dance Thing, I couldn’t stop thinking, “Surely there are more important things that the show can focus on..?”

3. Go Ara isn’t great in this

I really loved Go Ara in Answer Me 1994, so I am sad to say that I was disappointed by her performance in this. I found her very natural in AM1994, but she feels rather flat here, like she’s almost just going through the motions and isn’t really feeling it. For example, when Sun Woo takes Ah Ro to Mak Moon’s grave, it is his guilt and sadness that I feel; Ah Ro’s tears just don’t feel real to me, and I have to put it down to Go Ara’s delivery of the scene.

On the other hand, I also felt rather meh towards the writing around Ah Ro’s character. For example, in episode 13, I thought she jumped to conclusions in a very illogical way. When she sees Sun Woo holding a hyperventilating princess (Seo Ye Ji), instead of jumping forward as a physician, she sinks into jealousy and rejection instead. That didn’t make sense to me. Especially since the hyperventilating scene didn’t even look romantic.

Overall, I just didn’t feel Ah Ro as a character, and this was a problem.

4. I didn’t feel the OTP

For the record, I wasn’t as squicked out as some other viewers, by the fact that Ah Ro is supposed to think of Sun Woo as her brother.

I think partly because she saw and was attracted to him early on, before she was told he was her brother. Plus, she seemed really hesitant to acknowledge him as her brother at first, and I’d like to think that it had something to do with an instinct that just kept surfacing, that this guy didn’t look or feel like the brother she used to know, way back when.

Even when she’s all “Orabeoni” with him like in episode 6, I think she’s still in the process of figuring it out, but is forcing herself to accept the sibling relationship, at least on the surface, while her instinct still niggles at her. Plus, the shades of faux-cest can be pretty heady, as I’ve experienced in That Winter.  On a side note, it’s been proven that siblings separated for a long time can be attracted to each other, so on that side of things, it’s not too unbelievable either.

The thing is, though, once we move away from building a sibling-esque relationship between Sun Woo and Ah Ro, and start moving into romantic territory, the OTP connection kinda started to feel like a slowly deflating balloon, to me. The cute sibling connection was replaced by a whole lot of awkward angst, and I personally just didn’t find their romantic feelings for each other very believable.

5. There is no bromance after all

To make matters worse, I didn’t find a very believable bromance between Sun Woo and Ji Dwi either.

There are a few hints at a growing bond between the two in the middle episodes, but I didn’t find any of the hints believable nor organic. For example, the water fight between the two boys in episode 11 was cute and splashy, but felt quite random and sudden. Ji Dwi suddenly declaring that he considered Sun Woo a friend, when he’d all along treated him more as a frenemy, also felt weird. And Ji Dwi saying in episode 13, that he’d rather be Sun Woo’s friend than be king, also felt out of place.

The most important thing is, through all the episodes that I watched (since I can’t vouch for the rest of the show), it didn’t seem to me that Sun Woo reciprocated this affection in any way. And so, bromantic hopes were a bust, at least from where I was standing.

DECIDING ON GOODBYE

Overall, I wouldn’t say that this show did One Very Bad Thing, which caused me to drop it like a hot potato. Rather, it just sort of.. fizzled for me with each episode, in growing degrees.

By episode 13, it finally dawned on me that it didn’t feel like the story was going anywhere. I also realized that by this stage in the show, I no longer felt like I understood why characters were behaving the way they were. The writing also felt extremely bemusing. Just as an example, I thought the fight-to-the-death sparring thing in episode 12 was incredibly stupid and completely unbelievable.

I realized that by this point in the show, I’d lost interest in the OTP, the non-existent bromance, and the mystery around our hidden king. In addition, with the Intended Funny falling flat for me more often than not, and everything tending on the low-rent side of things to boot, I realized that there really wasn’t any compelling reason for me to spend seven more hours of my life on this show – nekkid group showers or no. (Hey! That actually rhymes! Ha.)

Goodbye, nekkid flower boys. You worked hard.

Author: kfangurl

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

56 thoughts on “Dropped: Hwarang

  1. This was a pass for me. I was already bummed by Scarlet Heart, and i wasn’t drawn to these trailers or anything. I’m sure SHR that was much better than this.

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    • Lol. You were wise to give this one a wide berth, my dear! SHR was definitely a couple of notches better than this one. Although I have to admit, that’s not saying a whole lot about SHR either! 😆

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  2. I dropped it at episode 5 because I didn’t like where it was going. Specifically, faux-sibling romance…. EEEEWWWW NO. Just no. Also, I started this because I was curious about BTS’ V first foray into acting, but he was barely in any scene so I lost interest. Also, Go Ara was BAD in this; she scowled instead of acted and I found her scowling face really unattractive. And I didn’t fancy the male leads. So, yeah, I’m glad I dropped it earlier than you.

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    • With so little appealing to you in this drama, you were wise to drop it early, neve!! And yes, Ah Ro did scowl a lot, which I didn’t enjoy either. I don’t know if the PD directed the character that way, or if it was mostly Go Ara’s interpretation of the character, but it really was hard trying to connect with her character. I’m glad I didn’t stick it out to the end, but, I’m also a little envious that you pulled the plug way earlier and therefore saved so many drama hours! 😆

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      • Yes all those important drama hours! I picked up other (much better) dramas after Hwarang: School 2015, and Oh My Ghostess so my drama hours are well spent now. Also, My Secret Romance is promising (and escalated super quickly I got whiplash!). Going to drop The Liar and His Lover though, the chemistry is just weird.

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        • Ah, I really liked S2015, yay that you liked it! 😀 Oh My Ghostess was cute too, with a couple of caveats. I’ve been recommended My Secret Romance, but haven’t checked it out yet. I’ve been hearing rather positive things about The Liar and His Lover, actually, and was thinking of checking it out. Sounds like it doesn’t work for everyone though, since you’re going to drop it! 😝

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          • Idk The Liar and His Lover started out quite well, but the male lead’s acting is really weird to me. Like, insincere and lacking chemistry with the female lead. In fact, I find the second male lead a much better actor. Maybe it’s just me. Give it a try and let me know if you like it 😉

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            • I checked out E1 of The Liar and His Lover, and I think I know what you mean about Lee Hyun Woo.. I feel like he’s not quite working out in Romantic Leading Man stuff. He was romantic leading man in Moorim School, and I felt like he was very uncomfortable in all the romantic scenes, even though he went through all the appropriate motions, from shirtless scene to kissing scenes.

              In E1 of Liar, there’s a scene of him with his girlfriend where they sit on the couch. I kid you not, I spent a few long minutes trying to figure out if the relationship between the 2 characters was supposed to be romantic, even though he had his arm around her shoulders, and was touching her knee. It actually looked platonic enough for me to believe they were just good friends. Until the dialogue confirmed the romantic situation, that is. I believed her emotion a lot more than I did his, despite the romantic dialogue. I’ve liked Lee Hyun Woo in other things, but from what I’ve seen so far, 1, he’s not quite in a place where he can be a convincing leading man, and it’s not an age thing since he’s older than Park Bo Gum and PBG has proved he can be a very swoony leading man indeed. 2, I find Lee Hyun Woo’s performance somehow a little hollow, for lack of a better word. And that extends to non romantic scenes too. I don’t know what it is, I find him hard to engage with onscreen of late.

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              • Yes, hollow is the word for it. I just have a hard time believing that he has romantic feelings towards Sorim. I’m at the second last episode now, yet I’m still contemplating dropping the show lol… Right now I’m only in it for Lee Seowon, whom I’ve never heard of before but have grown to really enjoy watching. While researching him, I found that he’s from Blossom, which was founded by Cha Taehyun and also houses Song Joongki and Park Bogum… No wonder. Blossom doesn’t pick duds 😉

                So, let’s see if I manage to finish this show. Nothing has been engaging me lately… The last drama I finished was Sassy Go Go which was really entertaining. I’m watching several others (Persevere Goo Haera, Cantabile Tomorrow, Oh My Ghostess, Let’s Fight Ghost) but have mostly stalled. I’ve also dropped Iljimae, Secret Message, Doctor Stranger, Let’s Eat. The only dramas I’m still looking forward to are Chicago Typewriter and My Secret Romance. I think I might need to stop watching dramas for a while to get out of this slump.

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          • I’m watching My Secret Romance because of Sung Hoon but try to keep in mind this is based off a manga. The budget looks like I could’ve afforded to produce it. They’ve copied so many things directly from Noble My Love down to Sung Hoon’s exact same look (hair color & style) including purple suit (at least they acknowledged it by playing a bit of Noble’s theme music) and the exact same actor playing the exact same role as Sung Hoon’s secretary. I’ll watch because I’m glad to see one of my bias in anything but from what I’ve seen so far, don’t expect this to be good…at all. If you watch, do it for the eye candy. I’d watch Noble My Love (15 minute episodes) first, if I were you just to make you want to see more of Sung Hoon and thereby tolerate My Secret Romance. Both are fluff, which is okay, but I want you to know what your in for.

            I would recommend some really, really good Sung Hoon dramas but they’re the daily or weekend stuff which means they’re verrrrry long. (New Tales of Gisaeng – interesting subject matter. Loses its way and goes completely off the rails toward the end but then finds it’s way back. Five Enough aka Five Children 54 episodes of amazing characters. Watched for Sung Hoon but he didn’t show up until episode 3. Which was fine because the other characters were the best thing I’ve ever seen in Kdrama…EVER. When Sung Hoon did show up, his romance storyline had speculation they could give DOTS a run for the money as best couple. They were just that good. So enter My Secret Romance at your own risk but I think those of us already hooked by Sung Hoon’s other, better performances will enjoy it more.

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            • I did enjoy Noble, My Love very well, and I liked Five Enough too. But I tried E1 of My Secret Romance, and somehow didn’t find much appeal in it. Maybe I’m just in a mood where I have less patience with cliches, but what felt fun in Noble (like the secretary) feels tired and overdone in MSR. I might give E2 a go, but I’m not feeling too hopeful about MSR at the moment. 😛

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              • @kfangurl – Don’t expect much from Ep2 either but by episode 4, it’s watchable. I doubt if it would be if it didn’t have Sung Swoon though.

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                • Hahaha! I was just told a while ago, that it gets better at around E5, but also, that the enjoyment mostly comes from Sung Hoon. So I’m putting it on hold for a bit, and might go back to it after I’ve gathered my Sung Hoon affection to its maximum! 😉

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  3. Apologies in advance to Go Ara and her fans, but for me, she didn’t fit in the drama, her character killed it. I tried to like her, believe me. But as I was trying my best to like her, the more her character is dragging me to hate instead. I say, they really did good in promoting this drama, but sad to say they didn’t delivered it well.

    The main reason why I didn’t dropped the drama, was because of Park Hyung Sik.

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    • Your Park Hyung Sik loyalty is strong, my friend! 😆 I love him, AND I love Park Seo Joon, and even then, I couldn’t make it to the finish line. 😛 I really wanted to like Go Ara in this too, but yeah, it just didn’t work, somehow. It felt like she wasn’t feeling her character much, either. I felt like in many of her scenes, Ah Ro appeared to just be going through the motions, and almost felt like a shell of a character. This bemused me a fair bit, since I really loved Go Ara in R94. Sigh. Guess this wasn’t one of her better projects! 😝

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      • The very first reason why I watched it was Park Seo Joon, but then Park Hyung Sik is… so charming! hahahaha…
        And may I add, Ah Ro looks constipated all the time! Whats wrong with her facial expression???

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        • Park Hyung Sik is so charming indeed! 😀 I was bothered by how much his character manhandles Ah Ro, but I can’t deny the broody pretty!! ❤ I've been flailing at him in SWDBS, he's so swoony! 😍😍😍

          I agree.. there's something about Go Ara's expressions in this show that just doesn't seem to work. She mostly seems to frown a lot, and scowl a lot. I thought that was weird. 😛

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          • Can’t wait for your review on SWDBS. My first cracktastic drama for 2017. Been swooning on CEO Ahn Min Hyuk and discovering another awesome actor Park Hyung Sik although my ultimate love is Park Bo Gum.

            For Hwarang been reading many negative reviews so not intending to touch this drama with a ten foot pole. But I need my Hyung Sik fix.

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            • I’m 2 eps away from finishing SWDBS at the moment, so hopefully that review will be up soonish.. (ish, because Real Life is set to ramp up into busy gear next week!). I do love Park Hyung Sik in it though, he’s so swoony and lovely 😍😍😍 It’s the swooniest I’ve seen of him to date, and I already found him rather appealing in High Society. Not that I’d recommend High Society though.. it’s a meh show, but he did well in it. I also don’t recommend Hwarang, unless your Park Hyung Sik love is very strong, and you just really want to see him in his mane of glory 😉

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  4. I feel you. Totally. I wished I had the wisdom of dropping it midway the way you did, but I need my healthy dose of kdrama at that moment so I stick (or stuck) with it till the very end. Which was devastatingly exhausting.

    The thing is, I felt so many potential wasted. A bunch of good-looking boys could never do any harm, would they? But it was really soul-torturing to see their on-screen presence served only to decorate your screen and made it pretty, while I believe those boys can do a lot more than that. Their potential bromance? Went down the drain and never re-surface until the end. The wig and all? Pretty much a joke because of their…errr…. inconsistent length throughout. Or perhaps they had discovered the secret of hair-extension back then at Shilla? Story-wise? A lot to tell, but I cannot comment on this because I cannot find decent words to describe it heheh.

    All in all: sloppy job. From scenario to production.

    The good thing is: I discovered Park Hyung Sik and Park Seo Joon. Leading me to watch Do Bong Soon and Witch’s Romance. And they are indeed good.

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    • Aw.. I’m sorry you ended up enduring this one the end, Widya! It totally sounds like you didn’t have a good time of it 😛 But I know what it’s like to just want to see a drama through to the end. I have a bit of a completist streak too, and used to finish any drama I started, just because. It took me quite a while to feel comfortable about dropping dramas. On the upside, you discovered Park Seo Joon and Park Hyung Sik, both of whom I think are pretty darn awesome, so that’s not too bad? 😉

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    • And along with the cheap wigs, the fabric they used for the costumes was HORRIBLE! It was super thin and while that can be forgiven because possibly it was in consideration of the weather and the actors’ comfort, but in a lot of the long shots it looked so wrinkled. And not wrinkled in a way that pressing could’ve helped. It was poor sewing construction. No excuse for it.

      It looked like high school play quality. If only the acting and the script could’ve risen above it, but it didn’t so it was just one more distracting thing to focus on.

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  5. It was different for me. I didn’t have problems with the posters. I thought the teasers were cute. And I was expecting the drama to be that way. This was also the fourth installment of the flower boy series. So I was expecting bromance and adorableness from the start. … The first half of the series, they did give me that. In fact, I love their version of the dance club and the cafe that i was so happy with the first episode. Their challenges were also a fun watch for me because I did get to see all the bromance. All the bickering/flirting between them were a hoot.

    It was the love triangle that didn’t make an impact for me. The moment they gave more importance to the love story, that’s when they lost me. I did drop the drama by Episode 13 as well (maybe 10, I don’t remember). Go Ara was horrible in this. But that also has to do with her character, which is insignificant in the drama to begin with. It would have been better if there was no romance there, unless it’s between the Hwarangs 😄😄😄

    With SHR, my expectations were thru the roof the moment they casted Lee Jun Ki and Kang Ha Neul. Those two remain in my top five actors. That drama had the PD of Padam Padam and IRIS, so I was expecting picturesque landscapes and overall beautiful cinematography. The posters and teasers were epic, so I thought this is going to be awesome. … Talk about heartbreak. SHR was such a downer. I dropped it after Episode 3. It was so bad for me.

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    • Even if you’re not curious, I’ll tell you who are in my top five in order of when I first saw them.

      Kim Bum – Boys Over Flowers
      Ji Chang Wook — Healer
      Kang Ha Neul – Misaeng
      Lee Jun Ki – Arrange and the Magistrate
      Yoo Ah In – Secret Love Affair

      Ever since SLA, Yoo Ah In became no. 1. His performance there was breathtaking. No one else comes close after that.

      I love these actors for their versality and intensity on screen. What’s more important is that they considered themselves as actors. They study their characters. And all those hardwork show on screen. And that’s something to appreciate.

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      • Oh yes, Yoo Ah In is magnificent in SLA indeed. I couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role, he was just so perfect. ❤ And I do absolutely appreciate an actor who takes his or her craft seriously, so I very much feel ya! 🙂

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    • Oh, that’s right! I forgot that Hwarang was supposed to be part of the Flower Boy series, which holds a very tender spot in my heart. Man, that really does make it more disappointing!

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    • Aw, that’s so sad, drawde, that even though this show started out working for you, it still managed to disappoint you in the end! 😝 I do agree the love triangle was a downer.. Somehow, it just didn’t work, and Go Ara’s character and her delivery of her character didn’t help matters. In the later episodes that I did watch, it felt like Show was doing stuff just to give the love triangle screen time. I’d actually forgotten that this was supposed to be part of the flower boy series – that does make the disappointment more acute. 😕

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  6. I most often wait out dramas until their run is finished for this very reason. Thank you for taking the hit of having to wade through 13 episodes of that so I didn’t have to. 😁 I admit, I was interested in Hwarang at first because of the pretty. And I’ve allowed The Pretty to keep me invested in not-great shows (I recently watched Devil Beside You and was sustained on kisses and Mike He’s perfect, perfect face for like 20 hours). But most often, even that’s not enough to hold up a bad show. I’m looking at you, Heirs!

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    • Lol. I’m glad that this post has helped you avoid wasting time on a dud, buckdawna! 😆 I find that as time passes and as I watch more dramas, my ability to be sustained purely by Pretty is diminishing. Case in point, this show, which I just couldn’t bring myself to watch to the end, despite the boys being very solidly pretty indeed. And OMG Heirs. I still can’t believe I watched all of it. I plead Woob Fangirl Loyalty – I finished it for him, and pretty much nothing else! 😝

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  7. Liaten puppy BAE ( Park Seo Joon) was in this but those wigs and premise told me it was going to be a disaster. I gave this one a hard pass and never looked back, once again my feelings were right ( you always come through Kfangurl). I’m definitely in a drama slump and the current crop is uninspiring, I may follow your lead and take up more Cdramas

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    • You were so wise to give this one a pass despite the PSJ Pretty, Shountz! 😆 In all honesty, I love PSJ, but didn’t think this drama showcased his talent very well. So if you’d watched this just for him, it probably would’ve been frustrating.

      I am enjoying my foray into C-dramas very well, actually! They feel different enough from kdramas for them to feel refreshing even when they use some similar tropes. Also, just because you venture into C-dramas doesn’t mean you’re giving up kdramas.. it just gives you more choice, is all! 😀 If you’re in the mood for epic romance, I do recommend Ten Miles of Peach Blossoms! It takes a while to ramp up, but once the OTP romance starts, it gets pretty darn cracky 😉

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  8. You made the absolute right choice. Pure drivel. I finished it but only because I don’t think I had much else going on Kdrama-wise at the time. Plus, my smidgen of OCD just won’t let me leave (I still can’t believe I wasted all those hours on The Flower in Prison – waiting…hoping for something – anything – to (pleeeeeeze) happen).

    I can’t figure it out. I drop American shows all the time and never look back. I actually have a list of incomplete Kdramas that haunt me. The dilemma is, it sometimes takes Kdrama a good 2-4 episodes to establish the characters and get good. After I’ve invested 4 hours into Kdrama, I don’t know why but I feel compelled to finish it. Maybe because you just never know – last week, I returned to Ms. Temper which I’d dropped mid-episode 5 and finishing it turned out okay. I also finished Because It’s the First Time this week, which turned out to be poignant and thought provoking and I’m so very glad I went back to it after dropping it after episode 1.

    I think I’ll start referring to my Kdrama OCD as Forrest Gump Syndrome – you never know if you’ll watch 15 amazing episodes and then have to pretend Episode 16 never happened or suffer through 5 boring episodes before magic happens. And every now and again…near perfection comes along (e.g. Chuno, Healer, Six Flying Dragons, Samsoon, Five Enough, etc.).

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    • Lol, your Forrest Gump Syndrome made me giggle, Beez! 😆 It’s so true, though – you really never know, with a drama. Sometimes it surprises you by getting exponentially better or worse at the end, and sometimes it surprises you by.. not getting better at all. I’m so glad you went back to Because It’s the First Time – I really enjoyed that one, and thought it deserved more love than it got. 🙂 You do have my sympathies for enduring this one in full though! 😝

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  9. Yup, started out somewhat ok and then went nowhere fast. I still don’t know what posessed me to finish this one, LOL!

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    • OMG, YOU, the queen of ruthlessly dropping dramas without a backward glance, actually finished this show?? 😱 I have such a hard time imagining you sitting through this one, Timescout! 😂

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      • Haha! It was a fluke, I swear! 😅 Not that I thought much of the whole thing afterwards. Just see the GrabBag post on it. 😉

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        • It MUST be a fluke, coz from what I did see of this show, this is the kind of stuff that you’d usually kick to the curb without a second look! 😂 And, I just peeked at your GrabBag post.. looks like you had issues with this show’s weird tonal shifts too! I found it really awkward myself, and it’s one of the reasons (of admittedly many reasons!) I had trouble with this one. This is possibly the one time I lost less time on a drama than you did – Historic Moment indeed! 😂

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  10. I totally agree with everything you said!! I wasn’t a big fan of this drama as well and didn’t feel much with the OTP. I mean, both Seo joon and A ra were great with their acting but their pairing didn’t work out for me. I actually loved Kwang soo and Seo joon’s bromance better. Lol! Anyway, great review.

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    • Glad you enjoyed the post, dez! And YES, I enjoyed the bromance between Lee Kwang Soo and Park Seo Joon SO much more than just about anything else in this show. It was the thing that piqued my interest in this show, come to think of it. So.. maybe it’s all Kwang Soo’s fault that I ended up spending 13 hours of my life on this?? 😆

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Although, I know a lot of people were disappointed by this drama, but I loved it. The bromance had me hooked. I definitely could not wait till this came out and this come from a person who has trouble finishing most historical kdramas. I know it has a lot to do with the length of them rather than anything else but up to date completed 9 historical dramas Hwarang being one of them. For me Kdramas are all about either the romance or the bromance, your plot can be boring if you have one of the two that is great. Historical kdramas have one more factor that draws me in which is why I keep watching historical kdramas even though I have a difficulty finishing them because of the length. They have gorgeous dresses and other clothes and beards. I even bought a Hanbok that looked like the Hanbok in Love in Moonlight because I loved it so much. For me, Hwarang, had bromance that was so awesome I had to keep watching. I do not feel like I wasted any of my time and I would watch it again.

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    • Aw, I’m glad Hwarang worked out so well for you, Rebekah. I personally didn’t enjoy it the way you did, but it’s always good to know a drama has its supporters, for the sake of the hard work that both the cast and crew have put in! 🙂

      Like

    • Oh yeah! I am really hooked on sageuk too! Perhaps because my first flirt with drama was with a sageuk, Jewel in the Palace, and it was still my favorite of all time. Or perhaps sageuk is closer to those chinese classic dramas with all those martial arts and stuff that I did enjoyed very much since childhood (we rented them in VHS haha *oh yes I am soooo very old*). May be this love for sageuk was the one factor that keep me from dropping Hwarang @kfangurl. Unfortunately, this very love was also made the disappointment with Hwarang became very painful *sob*

      But all in all, I wish I, too, have the chance to buy hanbok like you did, @Rebekah Walton. Perhaps someday, when I visit SK. Wish me luck hehe

      Like

  12. Yeah, finally you write about this drama. Unfortunately, I watch it until the end. And I must say how sick my heart & head is (yeah, my head got really dizzy when I tried to push myself watching badly written drama but have good actors in it. Plus the illogical scenes). Anyway, I feel you. Go Ara, hurm…..weird. She kinda strong in early episodes but later she just act like a pawn for the Queen to just move Sunwoo. I hoped that she would be rebellious at certain point but no. Sunwoo/Moo Myung…..I kinda have high expectations for Park Seojoon since he’s good in Witch’s Romance & She Was Pretty. In fact, I marathoned these 2 dramas before I watched Hwarang because of Hwarang teasers. I want to know what kind of actor he is. But everything went downhill. He was driven by revenge but I can’t feel it. He was so smitten in love but I can’t feel it. His chemistry with Go Ara went downhill. I thought that the early episodes was good. I don’t ship this couple. Park Hyungshik…I know he’s in ZE:A & got popular thru Real Man. I have not watch his previous drama. But here, he just nailed it. Now that I finish watching Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, I think Hyungshik will be a great artiste. The only couple I kinda find interesting is Banryu & Suyeon (correct me if I’m wrong). I’m hoping that Park Seojoon can redeemed himself in Fight For My Way. I think all these experiences, bad & good will make him a good man and eventually, a good actor & artiste.

    Please find my rant about the drama here (more towards rant rather than review):
    https://azleenaa.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/hwarang-the-poet-warrior-youth/

    Like

    • Park Seo joon was good in Kill Me, Heal Me.

      Like

    • Hey there Azleenaa, sorry to hear you endured this one to the very end! That’s some fangirl determination! I loved Park Seo Joon in Witch’s Romance and thought he was solid in She Was Pretty, so I feel you when you say that you were disappointed with his role and overall performance in this. To his credit, there were scenes where I felt for his character, even though the writing on the whole was not helpful. In fact, I think the writing’s to blame for a lot of what didn’t work in this show for me.. I felt disconnected from most of the characters most of the time. The weak link for me was definitely Go Ara and her character, which is too bad, since she is the female lead and the love triangle is a big part of the story. 😛 I definitely hope for better things for all the actors – especially Park Seo Joon and Park Hyung Sik. I do have soft spots for ’em 😉 ❤ ❤

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  13. i’ve finisihed this drama. surprise! haha. i already downloaded all the episodes so yeah i just watched it because i haven’t got any new drama back then, it was painful to watch though. i kept wondering when would this suffering end.. seriously. and to make matters worse, all Go Ara did was scowling AND crying, ugh. i fast forwarded everytime she started crying. this show totally wasted some handsome faces and talented actors, really. but i cried when V died though, couldn’t help it hehe

    but i think Hwarang is a LITTLE better than SHR, i dropped SHR in fact.

    Like

    • You’re made of steelier stuff than I, Aulia! 😂 I couldn’t make it past E13, and that’s with affection for all 3 leads. I don’t know what the deal was with Go Ara in this.. I thought she was great in AM94, and she seemed like a completely different actress in this. Her delivery was flat and uninteresting, and yes, she mostly scowled and cried a lot. 😛

      Like

  14. As much as I am a huge fan of Park So Join and Go Ara, and especially Minho and V, I had to just stop watching this drama at the 8th episode, and nothing ever convinced me to go back to it. Honestly, the only characters I liked were Minho’s and Do Ji Han’s, since they were the only ones who added a little fun to it. Park Seo Joon is one of my Kdrama faces, but this drama made me question it. Go Ara though,
    I really liked her in Reply 1994, but in Hwarang she was nothing more than a pretty, weeping face. There was no story around her that caught the audience, and the whole drama plot itself seemed pretty flat and boring,vwhich made me skip it completely, and I don’t think I can ever bring myself to watch the rest of the episodes.
    Hyung Sik quickly let me come out of the sorrow of Hwarang being a flop, with Strong Woman Do Bong Soon. He is soooo adorable, wait, everything about that drama is adorable. I’m wait for you to review it.

    Like

    • Ah, we feel so similarly about Hwarang, Anya!! If only I’d had your foresight and dropped this at E8 instead of E13! 😅 I honestly don’t think you’re missing anything by not going back to watch the remaining episodes!

      And YES, Park Hyung Sik is so very lovely and swoony and all-around melty in SWDBS.. 😍😍😍 I’m currently 2 eps away from finishing my watch of it. I don’t love the secondary arcs, but the OTP is ❤. Hopefully the review will be up soonish, but it might take a little while coz I’m traveling next week and RL will be hectic.

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  15. I watched almost all of the first episode and just had too much on my plate at the time….and then I never went back. I started hearing grumblings pretty quickly with most saying the first half was okay but not so much the second. I was a little bummed because I like historical and – here’s the thing – these warriors actually existed. They were a thing and the writer took it and pulled fauxcest and love triangle tropes and ruined it. I just think that is a crying shame. The Prince of Lan Ling with Feng Shao Feng took a pretty boy warrior who actually existed and did something pretty darn amazing with the story. I hate love triangles but this one worked. There was too much crazy lady stuff going on but it was overall solid and I like how they intertwined what actually is alleged to have happened and twisted and turned it to what could have happened. So this can be done and done quite well. I don’t care so much about production value but history gave the writers of Hwarang a gift, and they ruined it. Yeah, I’m being unreasonable about a drama I didn’t watch, but it is hard to find a satisfying historical these days.

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  16. I agree with most of your review. You never fail to write a captivating read. This is the first Kdrama I’ve watched that got me so totally furious, though. I mean, Park Hyung Sik established such a strong screen presence from the onset of ep 1 — he was so jail-bait handsome, with devastating charisma, had the coolest clothes and hairstyle, and the most interesting storyline and character development — that I actually thought he’s the main lead and will most definitely get the girl. So pardon me for feeling cheated initially. There was zero chemistry between the siblings that they really could have been true siblings for all the spark they generated on screen.

    Sorry, I don’t agree with the manhandling part. The hidden king was just responding to Ah Ro, with her racy stories and getting close to what hurt him (the paid night of story telling and the conversation leading to the kiss). Even their kiss had more feels than the siblings’.

    I nearly dropped this show after Sun Woo and Ah Ro carried on in such a mechanical way, but what kept me going was the fascinating story of how the king could ever survive the intrigues, Hwarang life, unrequited love, and claim his throne. I was completely puzzled by the time spent to write about Sun Woo and Ah Ro’s relationship, because it wasn’t really that necessary. Ah Ro could have a relationship with any of the other Hwarangs and it would have the same impact, just a mere reason why the faceless king could never have her.

    Also, because Sun Woo and Ah Ro’s relationship failed to sell, Sun Woo as a whole failed to buy me. He was all muscles and brawn and shouting and violence. His rival, the king, was more subtle — he was learned in politics and military, but he was also wise and exhibited the highest level of restraint and humility! He can stand in the shadows when someone else claims kingship. He worried about people. He had more in his plate — evading assassins, gaining the respect of his mom, surviving Hwarang, gaining respect and loyalty with a minimum of support. Ji Dwi/Sam Mek Jong was an awesome king and to me all that hype over Sun Woo was over the top. He was just violent. He just fell into the Queen’s snare because of his desire for revenge. He didn’t even exhibit much passion for Ah Ro the way the king did. He was just.. two-dimensional.

    All in all, mixed feelings for this show. I would still recommend it just because of PHS’s dreamy eyes.

    Like

  17. Because of this video, I watched Hwarang. the video showed all the scenes of Sammaekjong and how mesmerizing PHS is in his portrayal. I felt cheated because the drama as a whole is a downer. I should have just repeated this video.
    https://t.co/zmvIDD7vjN

    Like

    • Ooooooooooooowwwww…… thank you for sharing this Soad! This short FMV just did justice to PHS as Sammaekjong! Love it love it love it!!! It reminded me of how I endured the 16 episodes of this disappointing drama… Not [only] because of his look, but because we were allowed to see the inner turmoil this great king-in-the-making had gone through. And something like that can only be played out wonderfully by good actor, sloppy writing or not.

      Like

      • You are welcome. Credit to the owner…he sure is good in editing…

        Because of mixed reviews, i am hesitant to watch Hwarang, but after seeing that video, I marathoned it out of curiosity. I didn’t even know PHS before SWDBS so it kinda amazed me that this boy can act. He’s a natural in Swdbs and he got my attention. All the more that I am impressed in his performance in Hwarang because sageuk is a difficult genre even for great actors and he is even a newbie in that genre. Such a pity that the drama as whole is a letdown. I watched the drama special Sirius and he was so good there as a newbie.

        Park Seo Jun is good also but PHS really outshined him despite the writer’s incapacity. I think he fits more to modern set-up than in period drama because I am enjoying watching him in Fight my way.

        To park-Park brothers, fighting!

        Like

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