K-Drama Review: ‘Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo’ Seven Handsome Princes in One Frame with Different Stories

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A Little Thing About Goryeo

Goryeo dynasty was a dynasty that was built in 918 by Wang Geon (King Geon) in Songdo and collapsed in 1392. The Goryeo dynasty combines the three final kingdoms of Korea, by mastering Silla kingdom and overthrowing the kingdom of Baekje (Hubaekje) in 935. Goryeo is actually an abbreviation of the Korean Kingdom name, Goguryeo. The Goryeo dynasty was ended by the revolt of General Yi Seong-gye, or Taejo, from Joseon, in 1392, and was also taken by the Kingdom of Joseon. This great kingdom had to end due to a coup of an official who wasn’t a descendant of the previous king of the dynasty.

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo’s Review Between Love and The Throne

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This television series aired from August 29th to November 1st, 2016, which coincided with the airing of the television drama Hwarang where the two dramas starred K-Pop idols from the boy bands EXO and BTS.

The drama tells the story of a girl, named Go Ha-jin, who lives in the 21st century, but she gets trapped in the Goryeo Dynasty. At the time of her entrapment, she is trying to calm down from the shock of being dumped by both her boyfriend and her friend. She then meets a strange man who calls himself ahjussi, they start talking to each other and Ha-jin ends up grabbing his soju. As she leaves she sees a little boy drowning in the pond in the park and she rushes to help the boy because there seems to be no one there to help him. Suddenly, she gets thrown into the Goryeo Dynasty, or 1.100 years ago in the reign of King Taejo (The first king of Goryeo).

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In that era, Go Ha-jin lives as Hae-soo, who is Wang Wook’s cousin-in-law, or a cousin of the 8th prince’s wife named Lady Myung-hee. Hae-soo is a very cheerful and kind person, which is why every one of the princes, and especially her brother-in-law, have fallen in love with her. However, Wang Wook remembers that he is married to Lady Myung-hee.

Lady Myung-hee knows about her husband’s feeling for her cousin, Hae-soo. Actually, their marriage took place for political purposes, because at the time, Wang Wook’s family had been expelled from the palace due to a charge. However, soon, Lady Myung-hee dies from an illness.

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After his wife’s death, Wang Wook approaches Hae-soo and tells her his feelings. Hae-soo is also secretly in love with Wang Wook. The start a relationship, without telling anybody, in secret. Unfortunately, their relationship doesn’t go as well as they want.

At one point, Hae-soo helped the 4th prince, Wang So, to cover the wound on his face with makeup. Wang So is known for his cold and fierce attitude, but only Hae-soo can make him smile every day. After this incident, Wang So falls in love with her, but Hae-soo still loves Wang Wook and is secretly dating him. Hae-soo warns Wang So many times that she loves someone else, but Wang So keeps approaching her as long as the person she loves is not Prince Baek-ah/Wang Uk.

To make things worse, Hae-soo gets slandered as the perpetrator who tried to kill Crown prince Wang Mu, using poison. However, at that time, the poison was drunk by Wang So and Wang Wook’s younger sister. Hae-soo gets incarcerated but is then set free because concubine Oh Sang-goong takes her place and is sentenced to execution.

Actually, Oh Sang-goong isn’t the culprit but, she volunteers to help Hae-soo, whom she considers as a daughter. Hae-soo begs King Taejo to cancel the punishment and she even asks for Wang Wook’s help. Wang Wook doesn’t dare to take a step in helping Hae-soo, and at that time, the only one who stands up for Hae-soo is Wang So. Because of her disappointment with Prince Wook, her love for Wook is eventually fading away and she begins to fall in love with Wang So.

Her relationship with Wang So also doesn’t go as well as they want: many souls have to be sacrificed, the princes battle over seizing the throne because King Taejo is dying and the crown prince is sick. The reason why the princes want to seize the throne so much is that they are afraid that the next one on the throne would be Wang So, even though he isn’t at all interested in the throne and the honor and he only wants love from his mother.

There were many rebellions in the palace, starting from Wang So’s older brother Wang Yo (3rd prince), and even their own mother too. Not only them, but Princess Hwang Bo Yeon-hwa, or Wang Wook’s younger sister, also participates in the rebellion. At first, Princess Yeon-hwa has an ambition of making her brother become the king of Goryeo, but Wook refuses, because, at that time, all he needs is to live peacefully with his family and Hae-soo. Because of that, Yeon-hwa has ambitions to marry Wang So and support him as the successor to the throne.

Hae-soo tells Wang So that if he becomes the King, Wang Wook will just let him be. Actually, the reason Hae-soo warns Wook is because she has already seen the cruel incident in the future and doesn’t want the person she loves to be killed by Wang So someday. However, Wook misinterprets Hae-soo’s warning. Wook thinks that he doesn’t deserve to be a king and thinks that he will have Hae-soo and comfort for his family by simply becoming the king. And Wang Wook as the brain behind the big rebellion.

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In addition, the love stories of the other princes are also very interesting and touching. The love story of Prince Eun (10th Prince), who loves Hae-soo as well, but he must be paired with Park Soon-deok. At first, Eun doesn’t love his wife, but as time goes by their marriage starts to get filled with happiness and lots of love. However, their happiness doesn’t last for a long time, because Eun’s family makes a rebellion in order to make Eun the king, and eventually, all of his family gets killed and him and his wife as well.

Beside Prince Eun, Prince Baek-ah also has a love story that ends tragically. Baek-ah loves Gisaeng Woo-Hee, a princess of the Baekje Kingdom that has been conquered by Goryeo. Princess Woo-hee actually wants to revenge the death of her family because of King Taejo. However, she turns out to have feelings for Baek-ah. When they decide to live together suddenly Woo-hee chooses to commit suicide because of one thing.

Some Photos of Scarlet Heart Ryeo Scenes!

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In the picture above, we can see Hae-soo and Wang Wook meeting at their usual place. Because they have to meet in secret, their rendezvous take place in the cave that connects the baths of the princes. At that time, Wook promises to Hae-soo that he will always protect her and would marry her, they would live together outside at the palace.

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Lady Myung-hee is carried by her husband Wang Wook and if we look behind there is Hae-soo. This is the moment when Lady Myung-hee exhaled for the last time.

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The moment when Wang Eun entertains Hae-soo with his dolls after she gets abandoned by Lady Myung-hee.

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A touching scene, when Wang Eun had to see his wife Soon-deok killed on King Yo’s order. At the time of the incident, Wang Eun and Soon-deok are running away because they are being accused of being traitors and their plan is helped by Hae-soo. Unfortunately, when they try to escape, Princess Yeon-hwa reveals the whereabouts of Wang Eun and his wife, so they are caught.

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The scene above depicts a moment in the drama when all the princes are cleaning, or taking a bath in the pool, except the 4th Prince, Wang So. At that time, Wang Eun tells his brothers that he saw a girl (Hae-soo) appear on the surface of the water.

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Above we can see the scene where Hae-soo is asking for a cancelation of the punishment for Oh, and also asks for help from Wang Wook, but he doesn’t help her. Wang So comes to her rescue without fear of the risk of helping her, and accompanies Hae-soo for a few days.

 

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The photo above is of when Baek-ah witnesses his girlfriend Gisaeng Woo-hee committing suicide because the state of the palace was chaotic.

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This is the last episode where Hae-soo suffers from a disease that eventually kills her. Hae-soo dies on Wang Jung’s shoulder, who at that time was her husband.

The Cast

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1. IU as Go Ha-jin (Hae-soo)

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Go Ha-jin is Hae-soo’s incarnation in the 21st century. While she was trying to save a little boy drowning in the lake, she herself fell into the bottom of the lake and when she wakes up, she finds herself in the body of a 16-year-old girl named Hae-soo, living in the Goryeo era. Hae-soo has a unique personality because she comes from the future. She is very cheerful, never giving up, and doesn’t like to be managed by anyone else. She is very sociable, but that is until the princes of Goryeo fall in love with her.

2. Lee Joon-gi as Wang So/Gwangjeong

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Wang So is the 4th prince of Goryeo. He is King Taejo’s son with Queen Yo. Wang So is referred to as the ‘wolf dog’ because he is rough, brave, good at fighting, and cold. One of his eyes is always covered with a patch, because he has a scar that was made by his mother. Even though Wang So is a biological child of Queen Yo, but he doesn’t receive any love from his mother and his mother even regards him as something embarrassing, catastrophe and ridiculous. Therefore, Wang So was banished from his childhood and made prisoner and appointed as a child by concubines. And he is the one who will become the King of Goryeo and be known for his ruthlessness and called Gwangjong.

3. Kang Ha-neul as Wang Wook

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Wang Wook is the 8th Prince of Goryeo and the biological son of King Taejo born from Queen Hwangbo and he is Yeon-hwa’s brother. The Hwangbo family was once legally banned, but then he married Lady Myung-hee and was able to return to the palace and live there. Among all the princes, Wang Wook is the perfect prince with the gentleness, wisdom, cleverness and avoiding to fight.

4. Hong Jung-hyun as Wang Yo

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Wang Yo is the 3rd Prince of Goryeo and first son from Queen Yo, he is Wang So’s and Wang Jung’s oldest brother. Wang Yo was loved by his mother and she wanted to make Wang Yo be the next King after King Taejo. He is a greedy, grumpy, and justifies all ways and ambitious enough to get the throne even he has to kill his own brother to do so.

5. Yoon Sun-woo as Wang Won

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Wang Won is the 9th Prince of Goryeo. His role is not that big, but he can make the audience annoyed. He is so cunning, greedy, and justifies everything to rebel. He is a trouble maker, because he was the one who liked to incite his siblings, and even Wang Wook had become greedy because of his incitement. The way to incite is very unique, he acts like a fool so, no one would think that he really is crafty.

6. Byun Baekhyun as Wang Eun

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Wang Eun is the 10th prince and is everyone’s beloved prince. He is a cheerful, kind person, and his hobby is playing. He is not interested in the throne, but he wants to build the biggest toy factory in Songgak. Eun and Hae-soo are enemies and often fight, but as times goes by they become best friends and Eun falls in love with Hae-soo. However, Hae-soo only considers him as a little brother. And eventually, Eun gets married with Park Soon-deok, the daughter of Grand General Park Soo-kyung. His wife is in every aspect the opposite of Eun.

7. Nam Joo-hyuk as Wang Wook/Baek-ah

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Baek-ah/Wang Wook is the 13th Prince, who is the only one Prince Silla descendant, where at that time Silla was the biggest Kingdom and submitted to Goryeo. Baek-ah is often insulted by Wang Yo, but Wang So defends him and eventually, Baek-ah is always beside and supports Wang So. Among all the princes, Baek-ah is the most handsome prince and many women love him. He really loves art, is good-hearted, and often wanders on the market. He falls in love with the Princess from Baekje, Woo-hee, but unfortunately, he is abandoned by Woo-hee because she commits suicide.

8. Kim Jisoo as Wang Jung

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Wang Jung or the 14th prince is the son of Queen Yo and he is the last prince of Goryeo. His hobby is martial arts, he always secretly goes to the market and fights with thugs. Once, he gets beaten by thugs and Hae-soo comes and helps him. After that, he considers Hae-soo as his first love.

9. Kim San-ho as Wang Moo

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He is the crown prince and he really loves his younger brothers. He will do anything to take care of them and keep them close to him, but Wang Moo’s kindness is not properly returned with kindness. He is often getting ill, so his condition is being abused by his brothers. He gets killed by Wang Yo, and Wang Won, on the idea from Wang Wook, also helped by Chae Ryung.

10. Kang Han-na as Hwangbo Yeon-hwa 

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Princess Yeon-hwa is the only daughter among the princes. She is Wook’s younger sister. Her role is an antagonist or protagonist. Because indeed, from the beginning Yeon-hwa’s desire is to raise her family’s status. She doesn’t choose the means to achieve this purpose until she finally marries Wang So and becomes the Queen of Goryeo.

11. Seohyun (ex SNSD) as Gisaeng Woo-hee/Princess Woo-hae

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Princess Woo-hee is the only Princess left from the Baekjee Kingdom. Woo-hee is played by Soehyun, a former member of the girl group SNSD. Woo-hee is a brave and kind woman, she is considered as the mother of her people. She meets Baek-ah and they have a relationship, but she knows that their love may not be possible because of the differences of their ancestors. They promise to get married, but Woo-hee betrays Baek-ah and decides to suicide.

12. Z. Hera as Park Soon-deok

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Soon-deuk is the great general daughter Park Soo-kyung who is a friend of King Taejo. She is the wife of Prince Eun, she is very brave and struggles to draw her husband’s attention. Until finally, their love becomes long lasting and they both die together.