It’s a secret already known by most people, but if you’re being out of loop (just like me) when it comes to kdrama news these days, KBS and SBS is at it again: after pitting medical dramas against each other on the Monday-Tuesday slot, they have arranged for yet another big battle, this time with historical dramas or sageuk. Although both dramas lined for the time slot are practically fusion sageuk, it is going to be a war of genre again after Doctors and Beautiful Mind. Both Moonlight Drawn By Clouds and Moon Lovers (aka Scarlet Heart: Ryeo) boast their own strengths, and I am so eager to see how everything will turn out, not just for the sake of the ratings battle.
Moonlight Drawn By Clouds gains an advantage as it is airing one week ahead of its competitor Moon Lovers next week, but it is too early to say anything yet. The drama gained attention for various reasons: it is an adaptation of a popular web novel of the same title, and the cast is just as promising. Park Bo-gum is finally gracing our small screens again after almost one year…well, technically a few months after Reply 1988 wrapped up earlier this year (Youth Over Flowers doesn’t count, at least in my book :P), this time in his first historical drama ever. He is joined by his acting senior but is actually younger than him, Kim Yoo-jung, who is not a foreign name to sageuk fans and kdrama lovers in general.
I am not that familiar with the original novel but from what I’ve read, it is a heart-fluttering piece, and the promo materials released so far are just promising. I love the soft touches on the teaser posters, and I dig the characters SO. MUCH. Have I ever told you how much I love the character posters of sageuk from KBS? I hope the mood present in the released materials will also translate into the actual drama, because it will be too much of a waste to have a promising director on board and great, youthful cast, only to be served with a lackluster end product. Come on, give us your best shot, KBS!
Ummm…back to the drama. (Sorry for the rant, guys!) Anyhow, Park Bo-gum will be portraying Yi Young, based on the historical figure Crown Prince Hyomyung. In this fictional tale of palace youth romance, he will meet a young lady who posed as a man named Ra-on (Kim Yoo-jung), and they will meet again on the courtyard as the crown prince and the young eunuch apprentice. That is surely going to raise cross-dressing drama to another level, and the teaser is already telling us so. They are entangled with the prince’s bodyguard Byung-yeon (Kwak Dong-yeon, who is, by the way, looking so darn fine in black and his mane of glory, y’all), the powerful Andong Kim’s descendant Yoon-sung (Jinyoung in his first sageuk to but looking mighty fine in his garb), and Young’s official wife Ha-yeon (Chae Soo-bin, the queen). The story is set in one of the most turbulent times in Joseon Dynasty, and one thing I am looking forward to is how they are going to deal with the historical bits and balance it with the lighthearted tones teased by the promo so far.
History spoilers, for those who want to know more: (Don’t read if you HATE being spoiled by history!)
Crown Prince Hyomyung was the eldest son of King Sunjo, which made him the grandson of King Jeongjo. He was the only son of the king who survived childhood while his younger brother died in infancy, and he would go on to be installed as the Crown Prince at the age of 11. He married his wife, later Crown Princess Jo and Queen Sinjeong, in the same year, and made Prince-Regent in 1827 when he was 19. Unfortunately, he died four years into his rule as the regent in 1830, followed by his father four years later, and the throne went to his surviving son Heonjong. Crown Princess Jo went on to become the highest ranked woman in the palace beside her young son, slowly breaking the power amassed by the Andong Kim clan against the royal family.
Besides the young main cast, another factor which makes me so excited for the drama is the supporting cast. I’m not going to spoil you, but I really, really hope it won’t disappoint~~~!
Teasers for Moonlight Drawn by Clouds:
Moon Lovers might have received some backlash earlier because of its status of being the Korean adaptation of the famous Chinese drama Bu Bu Jing Xin (which is also adapted from a novel of the same title) and the early costumes, but things are looking better, at least from the sneak peaks we have been getting so far. Instead of choosing either its working title Moon Lovers or the Korean transliterated title Scarlet Heart: (Go?)Ryeo, SBS made the decision to use both while opting for the latter as the official English title.
When the drama was first announced, people might be wondering how on Earth they were going to fit the setting of the original, with Qing Dynasty princes fighting for throne into Korean historical timeline, which were not that plausible for Joseon because no such thing really happened. Only the family of Goryeo’s founder King Taejo fit the rough story to some extent, and I was relieved that they chose his sons as the main characters for the Korean adaptation. For those few people who followed Shine or Go Crazy (count me in!), you will realize that the drama shares the same era with Moon Lovers, with some of the characters overlapping with each other. I am already having a serious deja vu looking at Wang So and Wang Wook’s names (and their fighting scene in the teaser gave me serious goosebumps), but I trust Moon to showcase itself and differentiate itself from Shine.
Staying true to its original material, Moon follows the journey of a woman who travels through time from the modern 21st century during a lunar eclipse back to Goryeo Dynasty, ending up in the body of a woman named Hae Soo. She meets the sons of the founder of the dynasty and gets embroiled in the power struggle and love fights between the brothers. Talk about complicated life. IU plays the titular character Hae Soo, while the princes are as follows: Lee Jun-ki as the 4th prince Wang So, Kang Ha-neul as the 8th prince Wang Wook, Hong Jong-hyun as the 3rd prince Wang Yo, Nam Joo-hyuk as the 13th prince Baeka, Baekhyun as the 10th prince Wang Eun, Ji Soo as the 14th prince Wang Jeong, and Yoon Seon-woo as the 9th prince Wang Won. Trust me, the names are confusing, but we will get over it….right?
As much I am really liking the male cast, I am a bit disappointed that SBS does not really promote the other female characters because they are just as interesting as the princes, at least from the storyline: Kang Han-na portrays Hwangbo Yeonhwa (8th prince’s blood sister who will marry her half-brother 4th prince); Jin Ki-joo (precious sunshine!) as Hae Soo’s loyal sidekick Chae Ryung; Seohyun as Woo Hee, Later Baekje’s last princess-turned courtesan; and Ji Hye-ra plays Park Soon-deok, the iron lady who stays true to her first love the 10th prince (awwwww~!).
The character description suggests that the drama knows where it is going by tinkering around with the details regarding the complicated family relationships between the princes and their wives, and I hope that it won’t be too crowded for the drama to introduce and utilize its arrays of characters to their full extent. Moon Lovers actually makes it simpler by simplifying the family ties using its artistic license because trust me, the family had lots (I mean it, LOTS) of marriages among the half-siblings), which made it even more complicated. I am praying so hard for this to be a pleasant treat for the eyes, though it seems to be heading towards the heart-and-gut-wrenching conclusion based on the bloody history. Go ahead, make my heart flutter and make me cry, I am ready!
Teasers for Moon Lovers:
Moonlight Drawn by Clouds is written by Kim Min-jung (Who Are You – School 2015) and Im Ye-jin, with Who Are You – School 2015‘s PD duo Kim Sung-yoon and Baek Sang-hoon helming; while Jo Yoon-young is writing Moon Lovers, with Kim Kyu-tae (It’s Okay, It’s Love, That Winter, the Wind Blows) directing. Moonlight premieres on 22nd August and Moon will follow one week later on the 29th.