DRAMA OF THE MONTH: Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

SBS promo poster for Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

I don’t usually recommend a drama to someone until after the entire thing has aired. That way if the drama falls apart mid-way through or has a crappy, disappointing ending, I can steer people in another direction and hopefully, save them the pain of enduring a drama that turns out to be a complete waste of time.

That being the case, I tried really hard to pick a drama for this month’s article, that had recently ended its run but I couldn’t. Why? Well, to be perfectly honest, it’s because Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (Moon Lovers, 달의 연인 – 보보경심 려) has me completely entranced. As in this stinking drama has captured my heart and soul and mind and sanity and all I can do is devour each episode as soon as it comes out and then wait (rather impatiently) for the next episode to be released. It’s almost sad, really, how desperately caught up in this drama I am. But I just can’t help myself. There’s something about this one that strikes me in such a way that no matter how hard I try, I just can’t get enough.

Screencap from Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
Screencap from Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

Being set in Goryeo, there’s a lot of scope for the imagination and I think maybe that’s part of why I love this drama as much as I do. There’s something about this particular period in ancient Korean history that just lends itself to the wildest parts of our imagination. It was such a dangerous time and yet that danger lent to it’s inhabitants a level of passion that we don’t get to see much in the later period dramas. When you take that passion and place it within the context of a love story that is complicated and messy and heart-breaking and beautiful all at the same time, it’s easy to see how a person could be swept away.

But that’s not all that Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (Moon Lovers, 달의 연인 – 보보경심 려) offers. Oh no! Combining all of that with breathtaking scenery, beautiful costumes, a soul-stirring orchestral score and an OST you just can’t get enough of, you have something powerful enough to capture the hearts of drama-lovers the world-over. Which is exactly what this drama has done.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many conversations I have with both friends and strangers, over the course of a week, all of which revolve around this single drama. It’s as if the entire world has become obsessed with the weekly adventures of Hae Soo (IU, Lee Ji Eun, 이지은) and her plethora of adoring princes. And why shouldn’t they be? When an adorable, feisty, and surprisingly strong female lead finds herself mysteriously transported to a time as dangerous as Goryeo, you expect things to be interesting. But when we find her world is filled with handsome princes, more than one of which become a love interest, things get infinitely more interesting.

Screencap from Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
Screencap from Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

As amazing as it is to have 13,000 princes fall in love with the female lead, there’s so much more to the story than this. Being the dangerous time that it is, there’s plenty of action to keep viewers entertained and more than enough political shenanigans to keep the story moving. Watching this drama (and any other historical drama, really), I seriously have to wonder why anyone would actually want the throne. I get the desire for power and such but the stress that comes with holding that seat seems to be far more intense than any one human should have to deal with.

Because I don’t want to spoil anything for those of you who haven’t watched this drama yet (or for those of you who have started but aren’t up to the current episodes) I can’t really say much about the way the story is moving. I will say that each episode up to this point has been interesting enough to keep me coming back for more. Of course it’s only fair for me to admit that a lot of my love of this drama stems from my fangirly love of Lee Joon Ki (이준기), who plays the beautifully scarred, wounded, misunderstood, rough-on-the-outside-but-harbors-a-heart-of-gold-on-the-inside Prince So. He is actually the reason I started watching this drama however he’s not the sole reason why I’ve stayed. Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (Moon Lovers, 달의 연인 – 보보경심 려) has done an incredibly good job of sucking me in with all its majestic grandeur and intriguing story, I just can’t deny that I’ve immensely enjoyed the scenery along the way. Of course fans of Kang Ha Neul (강하늘), Hong Jong Hyun (홍종현), Nam Joo Hyuk (남주혁), Ji Soo (지수) and EXO’s Baekhyun (Byun Baek Hyun, 변백현) will have a lot of scenery to appreciate as well.

Screencap from Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
Screencap from Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

I will admit that having such a varied cast of seasoned and not-quite-as-seasoned actors has some drawbacks. There are moments when the less experienced cast members don’t quite live up to the expectations you’d have for a drama of this scope; but most of the time they’re so darn cute, you can easily overlook their shortcomings. That being said, I do think this is part of the reason why Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (Moon Lovers, 달의 연인 – 보보경심 려) isn’t performing as well in Korea as a lot of international fans think it should. Is this the only reason? No. But I do think it’s harder for viewers to take a drama seriously when it boasts such an idol-filled cast and even harder to accept when such a crucial character is played by one so young and inexperienced as IU (Lee Ji Eun, 이지은). And yes, it pains me to say that because I really do admire IU (Lee Ji Eun, 이지은) and the effort she’s putting into this drama but even I have to admit there are times when I feel a stronger actor would suit the role of Hae Soo better.

Even with its shortcomings, I’m still utterly obsessed with this drama. There’s just something about it that pulls me back every week. It’s become my drama crack and I can honestly say that I can’t live without it. My weekly fix is what makes life the rest of the week possible; which I suppose is a very sad thing to admit but there it is. What I’m going to do with myself after this drama ends, I’m not really sure. I have a feeling I’m going to suffer some serious post-drama withdrawals come the end of October but by then I’ll have Seo Kang Jun (서강준) to swoon over in his new drama, Entourage (안투라지), so maybe I’ll be okay.

Screencap from Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

I know a lot of people are watching Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (Moon Lovers, 달의 연인 – 보보경심 려) at the moment, which means there are a lot of people out there with things they want to say. We all have moments we want to re-live, characters we want to swoon over (or cry over, or punch in the nose), there are plots we need to discuss and a whole lot of emotions that just need to be let out so here’s your chance. All you have to do is leave me a comment below!

One thought on “DRAMA OF THE MONTH: Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

  • October 13, 2016 at 11:26 am

    While saeguk aren’t normally my favourite Korean shows to watch, having Lee Joon Ki in one will definitely draw me in to watch. And I’m certainly glad I started to watch this one! Lee Joon Ki continues to impress both with his looks and, more importantly, with his wonderful acting skills. While he’s what drew me to the show, I’ve been totally sucked in by the plot. I’ve found myself in turns both rooting for and wanting to throttle the various princes. I’m finding I’m both impatiently awaiting and simultaneously dreading each new episode. I’m excited to see what happens as the story is so compelling, but I’m dreading each episode that brings it closer to the end! I’m going to have a big drama void to fill once this one is over.

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