Hong Ra On disguises herself as a man and counsels men on dating. Due to a love letter she wrote for a client, she meets Crown Prince Hyo Myeong. Ra On is unaware that he is the Crown Prince and Hyo Myeong is unaware that Ra On is a woman. The Crown Prince becomes interested in Ra On. His eunuchs become aware of this and attempt to get Ra On to become one of them.
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In a nutshell, a saeguk for kids. Take a Disney film, split it into several episodes, dress the characters in hanboks and you have this drama. It mimics The Moon embracing the Sun - without ever nearing its intriguing plot or romance - in almost every aspect except for the detail of a girl dressed as a man despite the fact that she could never in a trillion years be mistaken for a man. To keep the parallel, we could say this is a fluffy rom-com dressed up as a Saeguk.
The romance is so cheesy I welcomed the politics with a sigh of relief. Everything happens too soon and... too much, depriving my otherwise romantic heart of the needed suspense and, yes, what I consider a must for romance: trepidation. I can't say I am an expert in historical dramas, but the little I know is that almost everything the two main characters do and say here is totally implausible: stroll hand in hand in the palace courts without anyone seeing them? Right. This is just one example out of dozens unlikely - no, impossible - situations. Unlike other reviewers here, I believe the second half of this drama to be a lot better than the first, with at least some plot developments, albeit rushed, at times.
The real saving grace of the show is Park Bo Goum. He clearly is talented and a pleasure to watch. His character is too good to be true, but well played out and multifaceted. On the other hand, I was a little disappointed in Kim Yoo Jung's performance. I know she's very young and has a lot of potential, but she didn't manage to make me feel a thing. By some camera angles, it was clear she wasn't looking at her partner when supposed to do so, and the result was kind of ridiculous. Her character is neither particularly brave, nor very strong or intelligent, so what's left in the end is a super nice crown prince who falls madly in love with a sweet pretty thing because she's a sweet pretty thing. I even came to prefer the appointed crown princess, she was refreshingly spunky.
The music is a collection of pop songs fit for everything and nothing. See above for the age target.
In conclusion, this drama had some real potential, even when the plot twists are predictable, but the final package is fluffy at best. Can be marathoned through for an overdose of lovey-dovey chirping.
To start off, this drama initially began as your basic gender bender. Typical. However, as you find yourself deeper into this drama you find underlying in that plot is so much more. There is a balance between your heart fluttering moments of pure fluff, moments that will make you laugh and the absolutely heart-wrenching moments-- this balance continuously plays with the viewers' heart, and it's exactly what keeps them wanting more. Since it was a romance historical drama, there was plenty of political elements to follow along with as well. I myself am a huge sucker for historical dramas, so naturally I found that this particular plot wasn't that hard to follow along with. But for someone who doesn't find much interest for them, they play a huuuuge role in the plot development - so I probably wouldn't recommend it.
The only portion I had dissatisfactions with was with how the story carried out towards the end of the drama. It dragged on for a little bit and then at the very last episodes everything felt very rushed to tie all the loose ends. There were a couple story arcs that they could have expanded on a little more which was disappointing. If they had cut the filler episodes a little short and was a little more detailed in the ending, it would've been absolutely flawless as a drama. But overall, the story was nothing short of amazing.
The general performance of the whole cast was exemplary, having both a reputation for their acting and endless eye candy! I even found myself becoming a Park Bo Gum fan in the process.
For starters, Kim Yoo Jung never fails expectation, upholding her crown as one of the best upcoming actresses with yet another hit drama to her lengthy list of filmography. Her character Ra On is a charming, optimistic and extremely outgoing. As having one of the more complex back stories in the drama, there were a few plot holes dealing with her family but nonetheless, it was carried out very well.
Park Bo Gum's presentation of the crown prince Lee Young was all in all praise worthy. I didn't feel much awkwardness from him even though he isn't nearly as experienced with historical dramas in contrast to his cast members. His tone, stance and relaying of emotions (his eyes I swoon every time), were executed in a manner that truly brought his character Lee Young to life. Not to mention, he suited the hanbok extremely well (and was very good looking in it). Although he was one of the more dull character archetypes, it was still entertaining to watch him grow from a childish troublemaker to a mature and refined crown prince.
The romance between the two was also lovely to the eyes, and although there is a bit of an age gap I didn't feel it as the chemistry between Bo Gum and Yoo Jung strongly made up for it. Although the romance did over shine the development of the friendship plot.
I definitely wish they would have shone a bit more light on the other characters Byung Yun and Yoon Sung. There was a lot of potential that the writer could of utilized to enhance the plot. These two character archetypes were definitely more on the complex side and it would've been really interesting to see more of their development and more of their story all in all.
The music in this drama was definitely really lovely to the ears, nothing really too special but they did include an OST by Park Bo Gum himself which was definitely a treat.
Another thing that I would like to make note on is the cinematography. I absolutely adooooore when producers pay respect to these aspects and I was taken by surprise at how stunning some scenes were. From the first episode until the very last, it was extremely extremely beautiful.
On the whole, this drama was definitely an exceptional coming of age drama deserving of all the hype and you should definitely give it a chance.