Scarlet Heart Ryeo

A.k.a Moon Lovers or whatever the official English title. As a drama lover and fan of the original version, I admit that at the beginning I was a little mad about the drama. Mad as in crazy, then mad as in angry. Although we are only up to Episode 7, the drama has already evoked more emotion in me than some with more episodes. Part of it is due to my overspilling feelings for Bu Bu Jing Xin, which was a beautifully written piece of art.

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So when you remake something that was so popular, of course expectations are going to go through the roof. Of course people are going to compare and contrast with the original. In fact, I enjoy thinking back to the original and how the kdrama has adapted it. Some things I liked, some really drove me crazy. (Don’t read on if you don’t want to read BBJX and possible Scarlet Heart Ryeo spoilers.)

So one of the crazy things is how bimbo Hae Su is. I know, she is into makeup and the business of looking pretty, but she doesn’t have to be such a bimbo! One of Ruoxi’s most important characteristic was that she knew how history played out and how it influenced her actions and interactions with the princes. She did mess up and bumble along at the beginning, but the process was much more believable and made her very likeable right from the start. Whereas with Su, I am caught wondering how the Goryeo royalty actually put up with her nonsense. And most of the things Su did, Ruoxi did too, but it just didn’t feel as out-of-place and wince-inducing. The only difference was that I thought Ruoxi was being smart with how she was trying to fit in, and Su was purely winging it.

Later on in Episodes 6 and 7 it became more apparent when she ‘remembered’ that Gwangjong had killed all his brothers to ascend the throne and thus wondered which one of them was him. I just can’t help but think that the reason they took this away from Su’s character was to give us more interactions between her and #4. In BBJX, Ruoxi always kept him at arms length as she knew what he would end up doing. It didn’t stop history from happening and she got into the whole time travel paradox, which was a brilliant part of the story.

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As for Su, not knowing becomes her ‘excuse’ almost, of treating all the princes on the same footing from the beginning. She does swoon over #8 almost immediately, and they do look really compatible together. However, I feel nothing for Kang Ha-neul so I can’t be too excited about it. In the k-drama there is more of a barrier for Su because of her cousin, but once she passes on, it seemed as though it just disappeared. The transition from ‘no you are my cousin’s husband’ to ‘oh let’s hold hands and visit her grave together’ was hard to bear. I blame the editing mainly for not bringing out the feels, and also the director for his blatant overuse of close-ups. I know they are all pretty, but let them act properly!

#8 was always the dark horse, because he tried to hide his ambition, but unlike #4 he didn’t hide it that well. The dynamics of the royal family in Scarlet Heart Ryeo is different to BBJX, that’s for sure. Here it is #4 who has to toil for a fair chance due to his ‘disability’ (I’ll cover more about that later.) #8 has a reason for not being in favour too, although not much is disclosed yet. I never liked #8 much in BBJX but I did feel for his doomed romance.

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What’s interesting for me, was that the alliance between the princes aren’t all that clear yet. I mean, it’s obvious that snivelling douchebag #3 is up to no good and wants the throne for himself. For the young ‘uns their motivations are still unclear. #13 was one of my favourite princes but they really didn’t pay a lot of attention to him at the beginning. Some shoddy editing later, we have #13, who suddenly is friends with #4. His friendship with Su is also solidified somehow by her cousin’s passing, which was a pretty wtf moment for me. It felt so shoehorned in that I was mad at the production team, who had many other opportunities to create the bond between Su and #13. Their bond is the one that I enjoyed most in BBJX – platonic, but truly soul mates in the sense of how they viewed the world. #13 is free-spirited and way more forward in his thinking compared to everyone else in the show. I don’t really want to be ‘told’ by some other character about how similar #13 and Su are, just show me.

The best part of Scarlet Heart Ryeo so far has to be #4. So has a huge scar across his left eye, inflicted upon him by his mother. The source of all angst, contained in just one scar. Right off the bat they gave him loads of backstory, loads of angst. Which Lee Junki pulled off amazingly. In fact, if it weren’t for him I would have dropped the whole drama after 3 episodes. I have never seen a man so pretty yet exude so much…manly charisma. For lack  of better words. I dread the things that he would do, like how I dreaded #4 becoming the ruthless emperor. And I was team #4 in BBJX too, obviously. Nevertheless I believe Lee Junki would bring us on a great journey, tragic end or not.

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His scar being the main thing that sets him back is obviously one of those things to remind us of how superficial people were (and some still are) so many years ago. While I would quite readily pounce on #4 if he were to time travel here. But only if he doesn’t start killing people. Despite his mummy issues, he is shown to be quite politically astute. When he wanted to stay in the palace, he found an ally and a way to gain a bit of the king’s trust. He’s smarter than his brothers give him credit for, since they all think he’s a bit of a beast.  I think they captured the essence of #4 well and given him way more airtime in the beginning, but at the expense of some others. He’s still someone that no one expects to have a decent shot at the throne (because of that stupid scar GAH such idiocy), and he will probably shock them all.

On a side note, is there any wonder why Goryeo came to its end as such? All those generations of in-breeding must have done some harm to their bloodline, ironically. It’s no wonder that Six Flying Dragons happened. Haha. Every time I see #3 leering at Yeonhwa (and I hate the girl), I feel sorry for her. And urgh. I know these are different times but it is hard to accept. Watching Su slit her wrists to get out of marrying the king was painful. Although she is more gutsy than Ruoxi, it still makes me mad that she has to scar herself to be considered unfit to be a concubine at all.

This has been really therapeutic, good night everyone.

Images credit: SBS, dramabeans

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