*There are 2 versions of the drama, read the FAQ thread for more info* When a total eclipse of the sun takes place, a 21st-century woman, Go Ha Jin, is transported back in time to the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea. She wakes up in the body of 16-year-old Hae Soo, an aristocrat living with Lady Hae, her cousin who happens to be married to one of the sons of King Taejo. She soon befriends several of the princes, who find her carefree and exuberant attitude refreshing. Although she knows she should not get involved in palace intrigues over the succession to the throne, she inadvertently becomes a pawn in the struggle, as several of the Princes fall in love with her. ~~ Adapted from the Chinese novel “Bu Bu Jing Xin” by Tong Hua. Edit Translation
- Native Title: 달의 연인 - 보보경심 려
- Also Known As: Moon Lovers , Time Slip: Ryeo , Daleui Yeonin - bobogyeongsim Ryeo , Moon Lovers – Scarlet Heart: Ryeo , Scarlet Heart: Goryeo , Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
- Directors: Kim Kyu Tae
- Screenwriters: Jo Yoon Young
- Genres: Action, Historical, Romance, Drama, Melodrama, Tragedy, Political
Cast & Credits
(1) The extent to which you'll enjoy this drama depends on whether you value IDEAS or EXECUTION. If you're the second kind of viewer, this show may drive you mad. The general consensus is that Scarlet Heart: Ryeo had a great story that was screwed up by messy editing/directing/pacing etc. and not enough space to tell it (20 episodes compared to the original 35-ep C-drama). I'm very sympathetic to this assessment.
However, I'm also the kind of viewer who will forgive a lot of flubbed execution for a really good idea, which this drama has in spades.
Scarlet Heart Ryeo is above all an *ambitious* drama, probably excessively so. The upshot is that it has possibly the most uneven execution and post-production editing ever committed... but at the same time some of the most complex and compelling character arcs I've come across in kdrama. It's not for nothing that the show has drawn such an unusual amount of discussion and fannish activity, especially internationally. (MLSHR was poorly received in Korea, but it is/was a certified international sensation, the first ever kdrama to make Tumblr trends, etc.)
(2) My other "disclaimer" for MLSHR is that it has a deeply cynical and subversive approach to romance. If you're looking for a fairytale where love conquers all, this is not the show for you. If you're looking for a classic tale of star-crossed lovers foiled by evil external forces... this is still not the show for you.
If, on the other hand, you're the sort to appreciate tragic missed opportunities of love driven by bad timing and fatal ***character flaws***, then Scarlet Heart: Ryeo is the Greek tragedy of your dreams (and/or nightmares). In a market saturated with wannabe Pride & Prejudices, Scarlet Heart Ryeo is out here being a totally unapologetic Wuthering Heights, which is pretty gutsy for a YA reverse-harem premise. (To be fair, they were working off of the Chinese novel, but they *could* have made it more public-friendly.)
Here's the bottom line: This drama is an acquired taste. If you're not a fan of tragedy or bloodbaths, if you need your female characters to be ~empowered~ and save the day, if you prefer people in love to be functional and communicate well — look elsewhere.
However, if you enjoy nonstop political scheming and backstabbing, majority-villain ensembles (including both male leads, arguably), and romantic narratives that reject relationship = identity myths, Scarlet Heart Ryeo is probably up your dark and twisted alley.
So yes, saying that I was excited for Moon Lovers was putting it very mildly. I was exhilarated. Ecstatic. A lot more words with an E. And they made us wait even longer by making it a pre-produced drama and waiting a whole year before it actually came out.
But the best part? It didn't disappoint one bit. I mean, after such high expectations, it is only natural to feel a little let-down just because of all the hype you've been experiencing. But Moon Lovers actually ended up surpassing all my expectations. The drama was perfect from the beginning till the end.
Coming to the plot, it was extremely well-paced. I mean, for dramas it is rare to find such consistently well-paced dramas. Sometimes the beginning is not that good and sometimes the plot dies down after ep 12-16. But here, you never feel like there is too much or too little. It is really hard to skip anything. You just don't want to. Another important fact is that because an older version is already out there, viewers are prepared for a possibly sad/tragic ending. Even if you come without knowing anything about the parent story, the vibe of the show itself whispers the possibility of an un-fairytale-like outcome. There is an intense and gloomy feeling in the show.
The characters are the strength of the drama. I mean, can we talk about the fourth Prince? He is going down in history as one of my favorite characters ever. Firstly, he is so sexy. I mean, you simply can't get enough of him. I have never really been into Lee Jun Ki before but after this, I plan to check out all his dramas. I have seen a couple of his shows but I never realized he was THIS good. The character of Wang So is so complex and so hard to deliver. And yet, Lee Jun Ki plays him so effortlessly, becoming one with the character. What is even more surprising is that he is such a cutie in real life (lol). I really don't know anyone more perfect for this role. I mean, Kang Ha Neul's character turned to the dark side too but it was nothing compared to Wang So. Wang So was simply..addictive!
Coming for Hae Soo. IU faced a lot of flack for her poor acting skills but I felt she was good in her role. I mean, she wasn't as good as Jun Ki or Ha Neul but she did really well. You could feel her transformation from a 21st century person to Goryeo lady to a woman with a lot of scarring experiences. In her previous works she has only done cutesy roles. I really enjoyed her work in this, she showed her versatility as a serious actor. The 13th Prince. He was gentle and kind and the most perfect friend. I loved his chemistry with Woo Hee. It was surprisingly great!
Wang Eun was a big baby but he was a sweetheart too. I wouldn't say Baek Hyun is a good actor but he was given an easy role and it was handled well. Ji Soo was a delight to watch! So far I have loved him in all his roles (I think I have watched everything he has starred in). The rest of the cast was really good too. My favorite among supporting characters was General Park. His acting was so on-point even though he only starred for a few episodes. I liked his daughter too. Ji Mong was a delight to watch. And court lady Oh Sang Goong, I loved her! I can really go on and on about the characters - the good ones and the bad ones, all did well. The acting was so good here, I just couldn't get enough of it. I cried with them and laughed with them.
The music. OH MAN, the music. I love each and every song. This hasn't happened to me since Dream High (I think). I really can't pick a song that I like more than the other.
I am definitely DEFINITELY rewatching this. I know for sure.
The biggest tragedy that comes out of this drama is that the Korean audience could not fully appreciate the perfection that this drama was. The ratings were so low there. Thankfully, it did well everywhere else and made up for it.