Wang Won’s father is the king of Goryeo while his mother is the Yuan emperor’s daughter. He was born with many gifts as he has good looks, the wisdom of a snake, and a magnetic personality that draws people to him. But behind his gentle, virtuous demeanor, he has ambitions to conquer other lands. He has a faithful friend named Lin, who is a royal cousin and comrade with the same ambitions as he does. Then Wang Won has an encounter with a young woman named, San. San was someone that he recalled having met when he was a child and was lodged in his mind ever since. Wang Won sees how bright and confident San is and befriends her as well. But this friendship plants the seeds of tragedy. San’s beauty mesmerizes both Won and Lin and their seemingly strong bond start to fray over one woman…
(Source: MBC America)
~~ Adapted from the novel of the same name by Kim Yi Ryung.
Cast & Credits
My major frustration is with the three leads. I loved them as a trio. Those moments were my favorite in the show for sure, and their friendship was also the source of many of the emotions I felt while watching. Still, from the very beginning the show is set up as a love triangle, and that's the part where I think this drama falls short. I'll give it credit for not being cliché, but it still didn't really work for me.
The story centers around Im Shi Wan as Wang Won. It's Won's story, so it makes sense that he was the character I liked the most. I thought Shi Wan did a great job in all aspects. He was funny, he was clever, he was stubborn, he was impulsive... and I enjoyed watching his character navigate all of the palace drama without being passive. I think he did an awesome job.
Hong Jong Hyun plays Wang Rin, his partner in bromance. Rin is the straight man, to Won's uninhibited personality, and their dynamic is awesome. I loved that we get to see the start of their friendship too. The show really explores the deepness of their friendship in a way that got me in the feels from the very beginning. It gets very complex, but their love throughout it all is the strongest story in the drama.
Then lastly there is Im Yoon Ah as Eun San. I loved her character in some ways, but she was also the reason for most of my frustration. When she was being brave, impetuous, and independent, I loved her, and her camaraderie with the guys. However, when the obligatory love triangle comes into play, she spends far too much time looking like a deer in headlights. I won't speak too much about specifics, because which guy you root for is mostly about preference, but it really bothers me that by the end all the romance was still questionable. I thought maybe it was the writing, but I honestly think it's that she had trouble pulling off the romantic parts of the story. I've seen better actresses, Ha Ji Won for example, pull complicated love stories off, but I think where Yoona shined in action, comedy, and even some emotional scenes, she left much to be desired in the romance department. Cute moments with Won worked, because their banter was funny, but anything involving serious romance fell flat. I don't think she was bad, but I do think the role was a little out of her league in that respect.
The rest of the cast was good. I loved Jang Young Nam and Oh Min Suk the most out of the supporting cast (both so good at being bad), but there were a lot of great performances. A few characters made no sense to me, but that wasn't the actor's fault, just weird writing. There are a lot of duplicitous characters to keep the story interesting. If you like ancient Joseon political drama, this story definitely has a lot of that to enjoy. If you're not a fan, you will probably get bored about halfway through.
To be clear, this show is 40 episodes, but the episodes are 30 minutes, so really it's like watching a standard 20 episode drama. I thought the show started strong, and ended strong, but somewhere in the middle I began to stop caring. Still, for some reason I just couldn't quit watching. I think that's because of curiosity, and probably because I became attached to the characters, even when the shows seemed to drag. In those times it helped that the episodes were shorter than usual.
Would I watch this again? I'm torn. If I did I would probably be tempted to skip too many scenes. There were a lot of great moments, and like the characters reminiscing, I would probably enjoy revisiting those moments again. Maybe it will feel different watching while knowing how it will all play out, but I think my main frustrations would remain.
Overall, this is a good drama for sageuk fans who want a different kind of story. It is more bittersweet than completely tragic, and there are comedic moments too to add some balance. I think it's far from perfect, and gets messy in the middle, but it all ties together for a touching ending that made me boohoo cry, and smile through my tears. I never heard of the novel before watching, so I am curious what fans of the book thought. It's not the best or worst sageuk around, but if you're in the mood for something a little less typical, this may be exactly the kind of drama you are looking for.
Well , this drama was the most I was waiting for this year - except of Criminal Minds of course ( because of LJG), and I can say I liked it from the first episode.. The acting was a little raw then, but the cinematography, the mood and the music made it for me! I wasn't really familiar with the actors before ( except Jong Hyun from ML), and I want to say three of them really impressed me!
Im Siwan - it was really my first time seeing him, and he was great, from the first moment till the last! I wasn't always agree with Won's character, but he gained my love and respect in the end!
Yoona - I've seen her in couple of episodes of Love Rain, and I've heard some bad rewies about her, but I loved her and her character so much in this drama! There's always something annoying for me in the female lead in all dramas, but I haven't felt it here! She was always adorable, cheerful and brave through all the story! And she could convince me when she started to love the one she loved..
Jong Hyun - If the 4th prince wasn't played by Lee Joon Gi in Scarlet Heart, I'd definitly have crush on this sexy villian :) I hated him there, but sometimes I also felt bad for him - that means he could deliver his character! In King in Love he was the total opposite of Wang Yo.. Maybe he was a little frozen at start, but slowly he opened up, and brought one of my favorite characters ever! Yes, I was team Rin, and I'm proud of it :)
There were very different opinions about drama's love line - some loved it, some hated it at the same line, and I want to say - that's what one of the best parts of this drama, but it's also what lowed it's rating (I think), because most people like predictable....
First of all- imho - there's no first or second lead in this drama - the three of them are main leads -and they totally deserved to be called it! Because this story is about friendship - deep and genuine, between three young people! And the actors did amazing job, showing how much these three deeply loved each other! Sometimes love story came in the middle of their frienship (of course!), but none of them didn't want to hurt another, and that what made this story such painful for them! But at the end they have learned how to understand and sacrifice for each other! The open ending was satisfing and not at the same time for both teams, but it left a little for imagination of all of us! Thank you, writers for making this story so unique!
There were a lot of scenes that I laughed and enjoyed with the characters, and closer to the end a lot that made me cry! It was lighthearted and bittersweet at the same time! One of my favorite scenes were of course Rin and San goodbye scene and the scene on the cliff... Both broke my heart! Also the last friends' jorney together - we can see how three of them have changed and grown up there..
I also want to compliment cinematography and the music - both were spectacular ( total joy for video maker :), and I wish there was this cinematography and music in Scarlet Heart - but it still the most perfect drama for me!! :)
I know, I will rewatch it! Maybe not from the first episodes, but I totally will!
I think that's it.. I guess I made it clear that I totally loved this drama, and would recommend it to everyone.. But I know, not everyone would love it...:)