Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart: Ryeo
달의 연인 - 보보경심 려
SBS (2016) 20 Episodes & 2 Specials, Grade: B
Historical Fantasy / Time Travel / Based on Chinese Drama
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

I have to say up front that I'm old enough to be someone's grandmother, so I probably wasn't the ideal audience member this writer and production team were aiming their drama at. They filled Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (2016) with popular idol type actors in an attempt to grab a young audience. I haven't been young in a long, long time! ;)

I started and stopped this drama several times, over several months, until I finally finished it, and the reason I kept trying was because I've always enjoyed actor Jun Ki Lee's performances, in films and dramas, since 2004. However the drama itself just wasn't that inspiring ... how many times in K-dramas can characters (in this case played by I.U.) fall into bodies of water and suddenly be in a different historical era? Yawn. It's getting really, really OLD and CONTRIVED, folks! Korean drama writers need to start exploring more unique stories than just time travel plots. This drama is fine for someone new to K-dramas but once you've finished hundreds of them like I have you're looking for something unique and original, something that you haven't seen before.

Personally, my favorite of Jun Ki Lee's performances is Two Weeks (2013) where he played a modern guy who discovers to his chagrin that he fathered a daughter years earlier with an old girlfriend, and now the child has leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant, so he decides to dedicate his life to saving her life. I think Jun Ki is way overdue for more modern dramas now -- give it a rest, please, with all the sageuk (historical dramas). At least for a couple of years. I'd love to see him play a family man, maybe a cop or detective, or how about a politician, engineer, teacher? there are LOTS of possibilities for him! Look how beautiful his performance as a modern character was in
Two Weeks! Sniff! Wipe away tears! Apparently he was so into this role that he sought therapy to come out of his character and return to "normal" after the show was over.

Scarlet Heart: Ryeo Story

While trying to rescue a drowning child, a 25-year-old 21st century woman, Go Ha Jin (Lee Ji Eun aka I.U. - who was MUCH better in the masterpiece My Mister), goes underwater and is transported back in time to the Goryeo Dynasty. She wakes up in the year 941 AD, in the body of a maiden named Hae Soo, and there she encounters the many royal princes (all of them handsome, of course) of the ruling Wang family. (You haven't lived until you've seen them all take their shirts off in the first episode, another Korean drama cliche that really needs to bite the dust for its predictability). 

She initially falls "in like" with the gentle and warmly charming 8th Prince Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul, Angel Eyes, Missing Noir M), but he turns out not to be such a trustworthy fellow after all, and later she becomes smitten with Wang So (Jun Ki Lee), the fearsome 4th Prince, who hides his face behind a partial mask and is given the derogatory label "Wolf Dog" by the people. He proceeds to sweep her off her feet, literally, shades of Phantom of the Opera!

Meanwhile, rivalry and politics ensue among the various princes in a fight for the throne, as Hae Soo finds herself unwittingly caught between all their games and strategies for gaining royal power for themselves. The show has a rather sad ending, which supposedly matches the original Chinese drama, but I wouldn't know because I've never seen it (and have no desire to watch, either). So if you are a teen or twenties something you'll probably love this drama, but if you're Grandma age you'll probably be bored. ;)