Genre: Historical, Romance
Written by: Jo Jung-soo
Directed by: Kim Jung-min, Park Hyun-suk
Starring: Park Si-hoo, Moon Chae-won
Number of episodes: 24
Average rating: 17.2% (TNmS)
Original network: KBS
Finally I found the kind of drama I was looking for! Well, for instance, I was looking for a good intense romance to watch. I did not know what has gone into me, but I was just craving for it so bad. You already knew that I am more on the melodrama side than romantic-comedy unlike most of the people. Do not get me wrong, I still like to watch light-comical scenes though! But I much prefer an intense story that keeps me at the edge of the seat continuously.
Obviously, this is a Saeguk (historical drama) and I know some people do not really like Saeguk. I can totally understand though, sometimes heavy conspiracy and schemes are just not your cup of tea. Saeguk is not my favorite genre to watch, but I have watched plenty of ’em and I was never disappointed (at least from those I watched).
If I were to recommend some that I think everyone should watch, they are Jewel in the Palace, Dong Yi, and The Moon that Embraces the Sun. Those are such great dramas that I could rewatch over and over again.
Before this intro gets too long, let’s just jump into the review.
What’s it about?
It is the Korean version of the famous Romeo and Juliet tale. As people said, blood is thicker than water, this drama is about figuring out whether love can conquer vengeance and how worthy is a friendship compared to blood and flesh. However, if Romeo and Juliet ends in tragedy, for me it is not such case here.
What to expect?
- Intense, I repeat, Intense plot and romance
- Schemes and conspiracies
- Lovers turned enemy turned lovers
- Betrayal and revenge battles
- Fearless heroine
- Addicting soundtrack
- Love rivalry
What not to expect?
- Everyone got their happy ending
- Lot of palace schemes
- Women rivalry
My long review starts here
So, how do I begin?
I will tell you right off the bat that this drama has become one of my top five dramas of all time. I am someone loyal in things I love, so despite discovering new things over time, I always keep them in special places in my heart. So far, this is the first drama in 2017 that has made it to my top five. Bear that in mind.
Well, probably this has something to do with all the releases in 2017 that are like 95% romantic-comedy. Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo, Strong Woman Do Bong-soon, Suspicious Partner, Fight My Way, you name it! So maybe that is one of the reasons why this drama become so special to me.
But my favorite thing from this drama is hands down our fearless girl Moon Chae-won. I have watched two of her dramas, Good Doctor and Innocent Man which I quite like and enjoy but they did not blow my mind.
Based on these three dramas, I see three different sides of her roles. In Good Doctor, she was a mature and kind-hearted woman. In Innocent Man, she was an innocent woman with bit of attitude. And in this drama, she was a fearless woman who did not want to live as a damsel in distress all her life. I never love Moon Chae-won this much before.
This drama engaged me since the first episode. And what I like about it is that I did not really have a solid clue of where the story was going. From the review I read before watching, almost everyone said the same thing, that this is a Romeo and Juliet kind of love story. Well, I totally agree but it led me to the wrong guessing at first.
What I thought the plot is about: Seryeong and Princess Geonghye’ rivalry of one man, Lee Seung-yu. As we kinda saw the “dark side” of Princess Geonghye at the beginning, I thought she was going to be the villain by joining in conjugal ties with Seung-yu. Then Seryeong and Seung-yu whose parents were enemies, eloped to escape this marriage. And the plot went on and on with their parents constantly searching for their whereabouts.
What it really is: the sole villain which is none other than Prince Suyang (which Kim Yeong-cheol played as amazingly believable). Vengeance. Rebellion. Death. Epic. Moving. Sorrow.
The characters’ development is also a plus point for me. We see how Seryeong who used to be so cheerful and playful at the beginning slowly grown into someone with so much to worry about and needed to be strong at all cost. We barely got to see the smile blossom on her face anymore. The same goes with Seung-yu who was so charming and carefree at the beginning, became a cold-blooded man with nothing on this mind other than vengeance. Both of them were with their “new” self until the very end. After all, the events happened in your life will have big impact on your character.
I need not say more of their romance, other than it was tragic and intense. My favorite part was when Seung-yu kidnapped Seryeong. Watching him conflicted between his vengeance and deep buried feelings for her was so painful and heartbreaking. But as Seuk-jo said, maybe he kidnapped her on her wedding day because a part of him did not want to see her become another man’s woman.
Their romance being a forbidden romance led them to continuous hardships consist of death risk and parting ways. But yet, their love still conquer it all every time. Watching this drama made me think that, will I ever love as deep and passionated as them? We shall see hahaha.
Another thing I love from this drama is that it portrayed strong women who were given the opportunity to shine despite the social norms at that time. Seryeong, obviously who did not walk in Seung-yu’s shadow but rather become guidance and strength for each other. Princess Gyeonghye, who nobody (at least myself) would ever imagine to have such strength as that after being portrayed as a spoiled princess at first. Yeori and Princess Gyeonghye’ varlet whose I forgot her name, who put their lives at stake numerous times for the sake of their masters. Seryeong’s mother, Lady Yoon who become a heroine who save our Romeo and Juliet at the end. And do not forget the ladies from the Gisaeng house that were fierce!
As for the villains, I hated Shin Myeon more than anyone else. I despised his cowardice and envious character all throughout the show. It’s cruel, but I say the ending served him right.
Now on the most tricky part, the ending. I was completely bewildered by my own feelings. My initial thought upon finishing the show was utter disappointment, but as I took some time to think about it all over, I say that it was the best they could do. Despite already cutting ties with her father, how can Seryeong truly be with a man who killed her father with his own hands? As Seung-yu said, no matter it was Prince Suyang or himself who died, it would bring sorrow to Seryeong.
The question now is:
1. How do they tie everything together by making Seung-yu achieved his mission without having Prince Suyang or himself died at each other’s hands for Seryeong?
2. How should Prince Suyang end after everything?
Many people complained the fact that Prince Suyang was not defeated in the end and continue to become a ruler. However, it was what happened in the reality written in the history of Korea. The goods do not always conquer the bads right away, as most of the times it requires sacrifice from the front runners. In this case, Seung-yu believed that victory or defeat did not really matter as long as they were people who will try over and over again. So he failed, but there will be next Kim Seung-yu after Kim Seung-yu.
I was more than relieved that their tragic love did not eventually end in tragedy as well. They did not give Seryeong and Seung-yu the perfect ending, but they were given each other. Despite living as a poor commoner, they still have each other. Despite Seung-yu being blind, they still have each other. Despite they already cut ties with the past (even Seuk-jo and the Gisaengs believed that they were already dead), they still have each other. And was not that all they wanted after the solid 24 episodes?
Last but not least
So this completes this review, I hope you enjoy reading it just as I enjoy writing it. Let’s meet again at my next review, bye! 🙂