Hwarang (2016)

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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 5,813 users
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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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40 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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26 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 (4)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 Halsyeon

Comments (1257)

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    ponnu 6 days ago

    i watched this after swdbs so obviously i was going to have 2nd lead syndrome.. but after watching i realized even if i didnt watch swdbs i was going to have sls.. the chemistry b/w the leads were zero and the female lead was a waste of screen time.. the lead actor's acting wasnt that impressive which gave the 2nd lead an upper hand..
    i saw 4-5 episodes of fight for my way and the lead guy was good in it.. i guess he just didnt suit the role in hwarang..
    they should have given more importance to the 6 guys than wasting time on the love story..
    the guys had amazing chemistry with each other and some scenes were really hilarious..

  • Reply
    Lavendova 15 days ago - edited
    Reveal Spoiler »
  • Reply
    LinLi Jul 12, 2017

    This drama was really thought out and fun to watch. There were many things that kinda irritated me like how thick the princess's eyebrows were compared to the others and how short Ban Ryu's love story was. Overall the costumes, music, and details were spectacular. This wasn't like really emotional and melodramatic like many other dramas. Which is a good thing for your eyes but kinda sad how it didn't reach into you. But overall the drama is good and I recommend anyone who is currently wondering to watch it.

  • Reply
    Jacelyn Jul 2, 2017 - edited

    I expected too much I guess. I was so eager to watch it, but the whole time I felt like something was lacking. Nevertheless, the OST was amazing!

  • Reply
    Brownie Jul 1, 2017

    Friend wanted to watch this with me since it has Hyungsik. This drama is in my opinion extremely slow to start. Normally I don't watch historical but this one was only my second one and the trailer looked interesting so I thought why not. My friend dropped this early on but since I didn't think it was too bad I continued. The main girl was annoying, there was no need for the forced romance. The thing that made me continue watching this apart from the eye candy was the bromance.

  • Reply
    LPA Jun 27, 2017 - edited

    I put off watching this drama because of several negative comments, but tbh--this was a really good drama! I'm so glad I watched it finally. The first episode, I was put off a bit by what seemed like current-day gangs/rebels and Disney-like music, but it started settling into the story and characters and it just got better--with a perfect ending. It wasn't a traditional historical drama (some of my favorites of all time) and had a few minor plot holes as well as modern music which didn't quite fit sometimes. The actors were all great and this is a drama I could watch again. I rated it 8.5 out of 10. (I even thought it was better than "Scarlet Heart (Ryeo)" although I have to admit I am a bit biased because it was impossible to beat the Chinese original ("Bu Bu Jing Xin" A+) for that one.) If you're looking for your next drama to watch, don't wait. I would start right now! Enjoy and take care.

  • Reply
    sayaraohara Jun 19, 2017 - edited

    I'm I the only one who thought this drama was one of the best ever!

  • Reply
    iambulletproof Jun 16, 2017 - edited

    done! i might get a lot of hate on what i was about to say but i have to say it. I expected too much from this and i was not that happy about it. I think this drama were over-hyped. I did enjoyed the first five episode, and then it just continue to fall flat story/plot wise towards the end. Those eye candies help a little bit for me to endure finishing this and thats it. Those who are just after the cast might enjoy this very much, but for me i have different expectation for a sageuk. 7.5/10 for enjoyment

    • Reply
      dearD4NI Jun 16, 2017

      it's not that it was overhyped it's that the content of the drama was not what they hyped :/ they focused too much on the badly written romance imo

  • Reply

    very good drama~!

  • Reply
    Cinnamon Jun 8, 2017 - edited

    Felt more like a Kpop Fan girls wet dream than a historical coming of age drama with a focus on friendship.


  • Reply
    ShinGray Jun 7, 2017

    Off-course most people tuned into this kdrama because Kim Taehyung starred in it. Personally, it's the reason I watched it as well. And, due to this matter, I feel like not everybody will be willing to express their true opinions towards it. So here is a short review.

    The storyline is well plotted and the characters are portrayed greatly by the actors - so credit to them. However, I find there is an issue. There is so much repetition in the scenes. I struggle to finish watching the episodes because of this reason. I make little bets with myself before watching an episode to decipher if the main female lead is going to cry. And most of the time, she does.

    Overall, it is an interesting drama, and I do recommend you watch it.

  • Reply
    Kanga May 31, 2017

    10 boring eps and 10 flash back eps yikes but will give 7 for the pretty boys with thick bb cream lol.

  • Reply
    Mayuh May 29, 2017

    I will never rewatch it. The female lead spent every god damn episode crying. The story was soso. Wished for more bromance. Because the romance was... oh well..

  • Reply
    sternchen May 19, 2017 - edited

    Ah, so I have mixed feelings about this one. I just binged watched 20 running hours and felt like I was on a bad roller coaster ride:
    Originally I wasn't going to watch this drama as it felt a bit too much like exploiting the flowerboy theme w/o much plot to recommend it. But since I am still waiting for the next ep of Chicago Typewriter I needed something that has already finished to eliviate the suspense sickness. (Yes I just created that term)
    Though the plot is as crude as expected and half the time what is happening makes no sense (or feels awfully forced) they manage to establish the characters and their roles and it all comes together with the Hwarang. Their little elite school is quite fun to watch - playing on all the school tropes: dorms, fractions, competitions etc.
    Though, I have still no idea what our fem lead was doing in the drama. She was random, did not contribute to the plot and generally was a bit of a pushover.
    So safe to say I could have spent 20 episodes watching our 2 male leads getting into scrapes and fighting their way out again. But somewhere in the middle the writers decided to take the only thing that made this whole thing watchable and tear it apart. And from then on the dream team is only developed alongside each other not together. And the rest of the affair is spent waiting for them to come together again. And once you realise this the ending is no longer surprising, if rather short and underwhelming.
    So big cheers for Do Ji Han, who should have had much more screen time (bc his internal conflict was actually interesting)!
    Unsure about what I think about the semi-modern setting. It seemed deliberate but with what intention?
    And now I realise my comment is long enough to be a review. Oh well. Sorry about that.

  • Reply
    Nana May 14, 2017

    I liked this drama and enjoyed every episode till the end. One of the best historical dramas i have watched so far. fell in love with Ban Ryu x Soo Yeon they're really cute together :)


  • 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 5,813 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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