Hwarang (2016)

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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 4,314 users
Reviews: 28 users

History is often made on the backs of truly passionate, talented young people. During the Kingdom of Silla, a group of elite youth known as Hwarang (literally "Flowering Knights") would wield great influence. These dashing, talented knights – Moo Myung, Sam Maek Jong, Soo Ho, Ban Ryu, Yeo Wool, Han Sung, and maiden Ah Ro – could outsmart and outfight anyone as they pushed for justice in Seorabeol, the capital city. One read moreof them would become King Jin Heung of Silla and change the course of history.

  • Native title:

  • Also Known as:

    Flowering Knights; Flower Knights: The Beginning; The Beautiful Knights; Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth; Hwarang: The Beginning; 화랑: 더 비기닝;

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31 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Feb 21, 2017
  • Overall 7.5
  • Story 7.0
  • Acting/Cast 7.5
  • Music 8.0
  • Rewatch Value 5.5
Hwarang began at the top of my list for most anticipated drama. It boasted a star studded cast as well as the fact that it was pre-filmed which seemed to promise a quality show that would become "the next big hit". As it turns out, the drama became a pitiful case of lost potential.

The story was lacking, to say the least. It didn't seem as if there really was one sometimes read more to be honest. The episodes were mainly made up of small conflicts that didn't seem of much importance to the central story at all. Even the the climax of the main story was resolved rather anticlimactically in the last episode. I often found myself wondering what the heck happened after an episode, not because I was shocked by the events, but because nothing really did happen. The story trudged along at a horse and buggy speed and it seemed that our lead female Ah Ro was just along for the ride. She didn't seem to have any purpose in the story, but to give our leads some angsty tension (not that it was needed because they had enough of that on their own). The main couple had no chemistry whatsoever and I even found myself bored at their scenes. And lets not even begin talking about the plot holes. There were many and they were extremely noticeable.

The acting was mediocre. This is an average amongst this large cast; some were better than others. Going back to the issue with the main couple, I believe it wasn't totally the fault of the cast. Park Seo Joon had amazing chemistry in his last drama with Hwang Jung Eum and Go Ara did well in Reply 1994. While they are not exceptional actors, they have shown good acting skills, and even they could not salvage how stale the plot was. Minho's acting became a lot more natural though and Taehyung did well with his emotional scenes.

The OST itself is pretty good and some of the songs were actually quite memorable. I did notice though that the music editing was not very good throughout the entire drama. It cut off weirdly and some of the music didn't even fit the scene, which is disappointing coming from a show that was prefilmed and edited.

Overall, it was only slightly enjoyable to watch so I will not be rewatching. I would like to give some honorable mentions though to my otp Ban Ryu and Soo Yeon, Sung Dong Il the designated ahjussi of kdramas, and Park Hyung Sik's face (it's beautiful :')).
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23 people found this review helpful
Other reviews by this user
Feb 21, 2017
  • Overall 7.0
  • Story 7.0
  • Acting/Cast 9.0
  • Music 7.0
  • Rewatch Value 5.0
I really wanted to write a review as soon as the series had ended. Since spoilers are not tolerated in a review, I decided to do a pro/contra list in the comment section containing spoilers because there were concrete things that bothered me a lot and I needed to get them off my chest.

I started watching Hwarang because it is a historical drama and I was interested in the story. I read more am not an expert when it comes to history, my knowledge on Korean history is particularly poor, and so I read some articles on Silla/Hwarang to be prepared a bit. Of course you have to keep the fact in mind that this is a drama, thus fiction. Some things had to be dropped for sure, and some things had to be (re-)invented to create this drama. I’m saying this because I do not want you to have extremely high expectations on this show being historically accurate. It is not. Personally I did not mind, it wasn't TOO bad for me. I will not compare real historical events with this drama in the next lines for several reasons; instead, I will provide summarized impressions of mine and tell you about the things I liked and disliked.

First of all, what _is_ “Hwarang” in my eyes? It is a historical drama mixed with modern elements, comedy, and romance; action, silliness und suspense included. It is partially somewhat of a high school drama embedded in an earlier century I would say, because you will recognize some types and things related to school dramas for sure. The supporting characters are likeable and enjoyable; I wished some of them were more vivid.

At first I was slightly addicted to this show, and I even stopped watching other dramas because I wanted to concentrate on “Hwarang”. The cliffhangers made me wanting to go on with the next episodes badly, Sun Woo was cool, and so were Ah Ro, Ji Dwi and the supporting characters. I was interested in Sun Woo’s development, but I fell for Ji Dwi very soon, and at some point, I was mostly interested in his fate because I started to see the major flaws. My addiction disappeared, but it still was enjoyable.

I had the feeling the makers were not sure on which aspect they should focus on more: The lives of Hwarang and their impact on society, that one love story going on, political stuff in general, Sun Woo’s story or on Park Hyung Sik’s role. I am perfectly aware of the fact that, usually, a story has several plots being connected to each other at some point. I liked nearly all the plots within this series and nearly all of the characters involved, but the plots are unbalanced. I would not go so far as to claim the first episodes not being important or to count them as dispensable fillers, because that is not what they are at all, but at some point, so many significant things happen one after another that all previous events become blurry. Besides, the characters are not given time to reflect on certain things properly, at some point stuff is thrown at you in raw form piece by piece; sometimes it did not make any sense to me. Instead of 20 episodes, the makers should have either made 15 or 30 episodes to avoid a very slow first half being followed by a very fast-paced second half. As it stands, the relationship between fast and slow is deeply unbalanced and harder to digest.

The thing that annoyed me the most is the main couple. It is hard to explain without posting spoilers, it really is. I did not feel it, maybe you will, I don’t know. They would have been off better as separated individuals and not as a couple because the developers wasted too much time on them instead moving on with things that I considered more important.

I liked the equivalences and symbolism. You will stumble upon analogous and opposite equivalences between human beings, humans and things, humans and forces of nature. To me, these things along with symbolism are important because you expand the meaning to create a huge substantial net without organizing a verbal orgy. The “meaning of something” is relevant to this drama. Two other things I liked are the writers’ ability to generate deep, emotional scenes and character development. Unfortunately, all of this has to face neglect soon; equivalences and relationships are created and then thrown overboard; adequate character development is avaliable in small amounts only. Ji Dwi and Ban Ryu’s progression were the only ones to be witnessed visibly.

I would divide this series into two parts, part A and part B. In part A you get to learn the characters, their relationship among each other and their motivations. In Part B things become… beyond good and evil, let’s put it that way. I really wish there would have been more interactions between all Hwarang in part A. I wanted them to talk to each other more; I wanted them to get to know each other better.

The acting was good. Park Hyung Sik and Do Ji Han’s acting skills impressed me the most. Park Hyung Sik’s facial expressions, his speech, his postures and movements are indeed that of a man of high importance, his face is made for this kind of dramas, and Do Ji Han’s emotions were frighteningly real. The others did well too, except for Go Ah Ra (and Park Seo Joon) in some scenes. I had the feeling that this is not her kind of drama, somehow.

Please do not assume I am here to simply bash her or her contribution to this drama, after all she is one of the main characters and I gladly “ship” her with one of the male leads. As I said before I liked nearly all of the characters, but they aren’t all perfect (putting the fact aside that we did not get to know them well enough). Ah Ro appears to be plain in some scenes, which is a shame. I haven’t watched another movie starring the actress so far, so I do not want to judge her acting skills as a whole. Ah Ro started out as an interesting and funny character, but in the further course I realized she was poorly written. Sun Woo is a rather irrational and static being, too one dimensional for too long, too much overkill towards the end. I think I do understand why they portrayed Sun Woo the way he is. I still think the developers gave him too much credit, even though Ji Dwi and some other boys deserved it as much, but the ending was legit, at least.

I am not sure whether the contemporary musical numbers were chosen on purpose to remind the viewers that “Hwarang” is still a drama and not a historical documentary or such, but I considered the music to be really off-putting sometimes. Sure, after five to six episodes you learn to ignore it/get used to it forcefully, but, eh, it should not be this way.

The last criterion here is “rewatch value”. To be honest with you: The possibility of me rewatching a series with more than five episodes or so is low. But if I were a person who likes rewatching things from time to time in general, I would probably watch this show again one day just to see the scenes that touched me the most/I liked a lot.

I was not satisfied by the final couple and the final scene, apart from that the outcome was appropriate. I had a difficult time while ruminating about a proper rating. First it was 8,5, then 6,5, finally I decided to rate it as 7/10. Episode 19 was a complete mess, and the final scene was screaming bruh, cliché right in my face, they rushed the ending and too many questions remain unanswered, although it is suggested that you will get the answers.* Nonetheless I liked many things about this show.

To sum up, “Hwarang” offers entertainment, some likeable characters; the plots within are interesting but things are solved poorly. This drama is neither extraordinary nor a must-watch (unless you want to get to see your favourite) and has obviously some major flaws. You can say the makers had reliable tools, but they didn’t know how to use them properly. Give it a try if you want to; after all you can still skip stuff or simply drop this drama if this isn’t your cup of tea. I hope this review is helpful!

*I like open ends, and usually I am fine with some things left unanswered AS LONG AS it has a function and is well presented.
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Make a Recommendation More recs (3)Recommendations

Both dramas are historical, filled with comedy, romance and royal family matters. The female leads in both of these series are very similar in my view, also caught up in a love triangle with two men + the hidden king motif.
Recommended by hardpliers
Both drama's are Time Period dramas. Both have an evil Queen. In SHR the Queen is more evil, whereas in Hwarang the Queen is more neglectful.
Recommended by ChaErica

Comments (1216)

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  • Reply
    Maze 22 hours ago - edited

    Idk about the bad rating but I've liked it so far. I just didn't liked the female lead, no chemistry with the male lead. I liked the kimchi ship tho Ban Ryu x Soo Yeon ~

  • Reply
    CallistoSangre 5 days ago
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    Mikoshimoto Park 5 days ago

    I love this kind of historical drama, so I'm obsessed with Hwarang. The presence of Choi MinHo, Park HyungSik and Kim TaeHyung just made me fall in love in a way that I couldn't scape. How about the others? Pretty boys, oh, so handsome.

  • Reply
    EstherT 9 days ago - edited

    I'm about to Start it, is it any good??

    • Reply
      zazajunior03 8 days ago - edited

      If a drama with eye-candy satisfy you and if you like bromance, well you may like it.
      But if you know anything about historical drama's I'll say DON'T WATCH IT. I dropped it I felt like I've wasted my time. It's fun (like a teen show if you don't have any expectations) but the main couple has no chemistry AND it's nothing like a real historical drama. Don't expect it to be good (like quality content) and you'll like it I guess x)

    • Reply
      EstherT 7 days ago

      I 100% feel you! I have watched 6 EPS already and I'm SUPER BORED!!!! It's a really dissapointing drama. They're cute tho, but yeah thats not gonna be enough for me.

    • Reply
      zazajunior03 7 days ago

      That's exactly what I felt! xD

  • Reply
    BeKaiLLe 11 days ago

    Question :What is Hwarang?
    Answer: A shame to all Historical drama's. It made me want to bash my head against the wall until death takes me. Horrible, horrible...EVERYTHING.
    Hahahaha i have to rant. I have seen exceptional historical drama's that are worth an oscar, Hwarang will win Teen choice awards because of the pretty boys. That's all.

  • Reply
    Dia 13 days ago

    What I can't understand is why people are only speaking about SECOND LEAD SYNDROME. Is it only me that couldn't accept Ji Dwi's (or faceless king) character? Even though I have a deep crush on Park Hyungshik now. But in Hwarang drama, I was happy that his character was the second lead.

  • Reply
    Jordan 14 days ago

    not another love triangle! tell me is this any good?

  • Reply
    ahtaena 16 days ago - edited

    i really can't stand park seo joon and i have already dropped a lot of high rated dramas like she was pretty because of him, what should i do? should i give it a try or skip it?

    • Reply
      elvirad 14 days ago - edited

      Well, I love PSJ & I like him in SWP but I don't like him in here, so I wouldn't recommended it, you might ended up having a strong SLS

  • Reply
    Kathy 17 days ago - edited

    Is this drama reall good

  • Reply

    where's taehyung?

  • Reply
    Sam-I-Am 22 days ago - edited

    The queen's voice is so annoying. I hope she doesn't have too many speaking parts after the first episode.

    • Reply
      NiNe 19 days ago

      Holy Crap, I thought I was the only one. Every time she talked, I was thinking Blaaaah just shut up. > , ,<

    • Reply
      Sam-I-Am 19 days ago

      oh no, does this mean she talks the whole time? I was hoping that maybe she lost her voice or left the country, or died. Or just wasn't part of the story. She is honestly the reason I haven't gotten past episode 1.

  • Reply
    EmmaMartin 23 days ago - edited

    This drama would have been better without the main romance to be honest. Just focusing on the 6 hwarang and their lives will have made it one of the best k-drama out there

  • Reply
    thaic 25 days ago - edited

    I feel like Hwarang is enjoyable for the eye candy and for all the bromance. You get to see a lot of dear actors/idols being hot and funny in a historical setting and that's cool and all, but the plot itself is not very satisfying. Sun Woo is the main character, but the main point of the story is about the king getting or not to come back to his throne. For most of the show, it felt like those two things were not connected enough.

    Also, Sun Woo got way too much credit and he was not really all that. I felt like the show tried to shove him on my face all the time as this amazing man, and he wasn't particularly bright or anything. He would put up a good fight and was painted as a righteous man, but it did not show on his daily interactions with the rest of the characters? It felt flat.

    And I admit I fell for Ji Dwi pretty soon, but that was mostly because he had a clear path going on: he was trying to get better to be a good king. Sun Woo? Trying to get revenge and not changing one single bit from beggining to end. He felt 1D to me.

    The main couple had no chemistry. At all. I was cringing so hard at all of their scenes. Ban Ryu and Soo Yeon didn't get a third of that screen time and were woozing chemistry all along. They were adorable and we were all cheering for them.

    I had fun either way, because the hwarang boys themselves were worth it. They had nice chemistry and I cried and worried about them. But it's not a show I'd rewatch. I'll just get my quota of Hyungsik somewhere else. Also, I have a bunch of actors to follow through new dramas now, and that's always exciting. But that was pretty much it for me.

  • Reply
    Hanatulset 27 days ago

    Is it worth binge-watching? To do or not to do..?

  • Reply
    hardpliers 29 days ago

    Just finished watching this today! Gahhhh, the feels. Definitely fell in love with Sun Woo and Ban Ryu, can't help but love these two :D


  • Country:

    South Korea
  • Type:

  • Episodes:

  • Aired:

    Dec 19, 2016 to Feb 21, 2017
  • Aired On:

    Monday, Tuesday
  • Network:

  • Duration:

    60 min.


  • Score:

    8.0 (scored by 4,314 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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