Hwarang (2016)

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Ratings: 8.0/10 from 3,728 users
Reviews: 21 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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28 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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20 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 (2)Recommendations

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 EricaBratton
Both historical drama with good blend of lightness and serious/sombre scenes. Has a main girl and many visually pretty/handsome guys. Overall it gives the same vibe but different plot.
Recommended by sharreb

Comments (1186)

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    Chii 5 days ago
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    pegah 5 days ago

    I really Enjoyed this drama & i love it <3 I gave it 10/10 .... & i love all male Cast .... <3

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    firepig71 8 days ago

    Really bad case of second lead syndrome. I was warned but did not believe in the power that man has to make me go so weak that I don't even care what the drama is about as long I get to look at that perfect face. On episode 17 and it's not the best drama but it's definitely not the worse. It's worth watching for all the male eye candy and I've got attached to the Hwarang boys!

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    Nats123 10 days ago
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    SnowGirl 16 days ago - edited

    I don't know whether to drop it or continue....stuck =_=''

  • Reply
    blackswindler 17 days ago - edited

    i'm currently watching 11th episode but I'm going to drop the show. It isn't a bad drama, but it's getting too boring and it doesn't make sence to keep watching when I have to force myself to do it.

    • Reply
      gottcha78 16 days ago

      I made it too far to quit... I ended up finishing it and regretting it. I wish that I had dropped it much earlier on.

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    HAVA-RAVA 21 days ago

    Gave it 8/10 only because I enjoyed watching it for the eye-candy and bromance.

    I liked it but plotwise it could have been 10 times better with the cast they had. There were so many things they didn't explain. And another thing that bugged me was the fact that this was historical but they didn't speak like historical drama characters.

  • Reply
    undinea 22 days ago - edited

    they fucked it up real hard at the ending
    i'm sooooo frustrated for ji dwi

    • Reply
      Carole 20 days ago
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    94loveKdrama 22 days ago - edited

    The princess is savage, I like her.

  • Reply
    94loveKdrama 23 days ago

    Me to Ah Ro, girl why are you always crying? I mean the person is just talking to you. So why cry? Waeeeee??? *Scratch head* -___________-

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    JuiceJuicidy 23 days ago - edited

    I really don't understand all the hate for this drama...when I was watching it I kept bracing myself for the moment it would become as horrible as everyone said it was...but that moment never came. I actually enjoyed it a lot. I didn't really think the main couple had any chemistry, and the romance scenes felt awkward to me, but I still enjoyed the show as a whole very much. Yes, this show is not perfect, and wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, but to me it was very enjoyable, exciting, and even relaxing to watch after a long day. If you're looking for romance that makes you ship the main couple hard, this doesn't do that. But the bromance will make you very, very happy.

    WARNING: This show may give you a bout of SERIOUS second lead syndrome. Some have told me this show gave them the worst second lead syndrome they've ever experienced.
    (I knew I would get this going in as Park Hyung Shik was already one of my biases)
    It also doesn't help that Ji Dwi actually has some chemistry with Ah Ro. *sigh*

    Anyways, I digress. This was a great show, in my opinion. If you like historicals and you like bromance, or even if you've got a bias in the cast (*cough Hyungshik cough*), I'd recommend you give it a try. :)

    • Reply
      Angelina 21 days ago

      I agree! I also really enjoyed this drama despite the lack of chemistry between the two main leads.

  • Reply
    94loveKdrama 23 days ago - edited

    8 rating? That is too high for this drama. *Pffffffffffft* 7 rating would be enough for this (me being kind over it)

    • Reply
      SnowGirl 16 days ago

      i am kinda stuck with this drama,is there anything that is really good after ep12?? The rating kinda tells me otherwise...

    • Reply
      94loveKdrama 16 days ago - edited

      Ummmm. For bromance yes.. but the story no. As for the ending it is quite OK. It took them to the last 3eps to develop the characters and the plot.

      Btw what do you think of our lovely Hyungsik here as jidwi?

    • Reply
      SnowGirl 16 days ago

      His acting is really good,but the writing does not do him any justice... I don't think I will be able to watch it if the story is not improving :( Thanks for telling me though ^^

    • Reply
      94loveKdrama 16 days ago

      Trueeeee with that!! I started loving Hyungsik eversince I started do bong soon!~~ and welcome twin❤^^

  • Reply
    Red 24 days ago

    Great drama! seriously! the story is good.. you can't help but love the characters

  • Reply
    Destati13 25 days ago - edited
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  • 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 3,728 users)
  • Ranked:

  • Popularity:


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