Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Goryeo Drama Review

Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart Goryeo poster

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Goryeo- A Heartbreaking love story

Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Goryeo tells the story of a modern-day woman (IU) who travels back in time to the Goryeo period. She gets romantically involved with several princes and finds herself in the middle of their battle for the thrones.

Moon Lovers is an intense ride! It has everything you could ask for a historical drama including action, romance, handsome princes, drama, and lots of intensity. It’s an epic journey of a woman who must navigate her new life in the past surrounded by princes vying for her affections. Goryeo is also a very dangerous place, and when she is caught in the middle of their battle for the throne, her life becomes seriously complicated.

I really love the Goryeo era and this drama did not let me down in that regard. The costumes are gorgeous for both men and women.  I also love the long flowing hair on the guys and the more intricate styles on the girls. The sets are completely beautiful, and they easily transported me right into the drama.

The main characters in Moon Lovers

Lee Joon Gi is absolutely phenomenal as the 4th prince, Wang So. (Personally, my favorite of Lee Joon Gi‘s performances is Two Weeks (2013), where he played a father struggle to save her daughter). Wang So is dark and has a very tortured past. He is known for his violence and is feared by most people. A tragic incident as a child left a permanent scar on his face so he had to wear a mask to hide it from everyone.

Lee Joon Gi is an amazingly talented actor. There are so many different sides to Wang So’s character and he really brings each of them to life. And his ability to convey so much emotion through his eyes and the subtle changes in his face really amazes me.

Lee Joon Gi as Wang So

He also transitions between emotions perfectly. There was one scene in particular that made him go from shock, shame, pain, anger in just a few seconds. It was truly emotional and just a small display of Lee Joon Gi’s talent. He really gives me goosebumps! And when he’s sad, he totally devastating. He just pulls you into his experience. Lee Joon Gi alone is worth watching this movie, but there are so many other great reasons to watch it.

Lee Ji Eun aka I.U (beautiful CEO Jang Man Wol in Hotel Del Luna) is amazing as Hae Soo. Hae Soo faces many challenges throughout the series including adjusting to life in Goryeo, attracting the affections of many princes, and trying to prevent the bloody history that she has learned from in the future. That’s a lot of pressure for a normal girl and it all really affects her throughout the drama.

I.U as Hae Soo

Kang Ha Neul (Angel Eyes, Missing Noir M) plays the 8th prince, Wang Wook. He is a sincere and level-headed man amidst the madness of the palace. But even the most steadfast will have trouble keeping it together, and he’s bound to face his own moral dilemmas in the battle for the throne.

I was absolutely thrilled with Ji Soo as the 14th prince, Wang Jung. At first, he had a much smaller role as the free-spirited younger brother who liked to leave the palace and get into fights. But as the drama progresses, his part gets much larger. As he matured, he became a very potential character in the drama that I really enjoyed all the way through. He also has a very sweet relationship with Hae Soo.

Hong Jong Hyun plays the villainous 3rd prince, Wang Yo. He easily portrays the heartless prince who will do any length to secure his future as king. He wears some great costumes throughout the drama, and he really rocks the guy-liner too.

Moon Lovers Kang Ha Neul as Wang Wook and Hong Jong Hyun as Wang Yo and Ji Soo as Wang Jung
8th prince, 3rd prince, and 14th prince

We have Nam Joo Hyuk as the 13th prince, Baek Ah. He is kind and intelligent with an open mind. He is also the closest brother to Wang So. He gives Wang So a much-needed friend and ally in a world full of mistrust and betrayal.

Baekhyun is quite interesting as the 10th prince, Wang Eun. He is an irresponsible and fun brother. He’s a bit naive and has a lot of growing up to do. But his love for Hae Soo gives him a chance to do just that. He’s definitely a fun character.

We also have the upright Crown Prince, Wang Mu (Kim San Ho), who just wants to do what’s good for the kingdom and live in peace with his brothers. We round out our prince with the sneaky 9th prince, Wang Won (Yoon Sun Woo), who often causes trouble behind the scenes.

Moon Lovers Nam Joo Hyuk as Baek Ah and Baekhyun as Wang Eun and Yoon Sun Woo as Wang Won
13rd prince, 10th prince, and 9th prince

The romance story in Moon Lovers

Let’s take a look at Hae Soo’s main relationships. Hae Soo and Wang Wook have this very sweet and tender relationship. He was interested in her when she first arrived in Goryeo, so she naturally felt attracted to him. Their relationship feels more normal and healthy with sweetness. But of course, they end up facing some serious challenges.

Stills in Moon Lovers

Hae Soo and Wang So’s relationship is much more turbulent. In the beginning, he treated her coldly like everyone else and repeatedly threatened to kill her. Not the best start to a relationship. But her kindness towards him quickly softens him. But even then, he was very controlling and possessive.

But Hae Soo can give Wang So a source of comfort, trust, and most importantly, confidence. The two lovers share a lot of very tender and caring moments, and there is never any doubt about Wang So’s passion for Hae Soo. Their relationship is filled with joy and heartbreak.

The main negative of the drama would be the somewhat boring editing throughout. Transitions between scenes were sometimes awkward, the camera would quickly pan from one object to another rather than cutting, and many facial shots were way too close a lot of the time. Even so, some of these issues are still improving. That’s certainly disappointing, but it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the movie at all. Many people probably won’t even notice it.

On the other hand, Moon Lovers used an old motif. How many times can characters (in this case played by I.U.) fall into the water and suddenly be in a different historical era in Kdramas? (Yawn. It’s getting really, really OLD and CONTRIVED, folks! Korean drama writers need to start exploring unique stories than just time travel plots). This drama is suitable for K-dramas newbies but when you’ve done hundreds of movies like me you’re looking for something unique and original, something you’ve never seen before.

I also really wish the drama was longer. It would be nice to have more time to flesh out each prince and their story. With such a large main cast, there isn’t enough time to dig into some of the princes (especially the 9th prince, who is often left out of the story). And with such an interesting world and engaging characters, I would love to go deeper and spend more time with them.

Moon Lovers is truly an epic story about the harsh world that lies within the palace walls. It is full of danger, betrayal, and murder. It was a place where one had to kill or be killed in order to survive.

A family of brothers is forced to become enemies to secure their place on the throne. If you just sit back and let someone else become the King, you risk being killed so the King can protect himself from you.

But when someone becomes King, defending the throne becomes a full-time job. There’s always someone willing to take you out so they can step into your role. It was a really scary place. And that’s what makes for a great and exciting story filled with drama, fear, and betrayal.

Princes in Moon Lovers

It’s sad to see new Kings come to power one by one. There is only one moment of glory when they reach their goal before the realistic happens. Paranoia quickly took over each of them as the former allies turned against them.

We lost some of our characters throughout the drama. One death that was felt especially hard was that of Eun. Although still a boy in many ways, he has finally begun to mature and is ready to stand up for those around him. His death broke the hearts of many who loved him, but it was absolutely devastating for Wang So. It was a heartbreaking scene.

Moon Lovers is a beautiful tragedy in general. The way it ends up totally highlights that. When Wang So finally ascended the throne, he began to follow the path of those before him. The wedge between him and Hae Soo only grew wider.

Hae Soo fell deeply in love with Wang So, but she never agreed to his harsh ways. And the stronger he became, the more he seemed to disobey her. The stress of the palace took a toll on her mind and body.

Lee Joon Gi and IU

When she reached her breaking point, she found Jung and left to be his wife. Although reluctant at first, in anger, Wang So let Hae Soo go. Part of me wished that Hae Soo could really live a happy life with Jung. Fortunately, it was a peace to be with him, and he was a good husband, always there to take care of her to the end.

But she always longed for Wang So. While lying on her deathbed, she reached out to him, but a misunderstanding prevented her from seeing him before she died. She passed away resting in Jung’s arms. Wang So is devastated and heartbroken to lose her only love. Lee Joon Gi continues to deliver emotions throughout the ending.

The ending is very moving. After her death, Hae Soo wakes up in the modern-day with no memory of what happened in Goryeo. But the memories kept coming back slowly until she remembered everything. As she read through the history, her heart broke because Wang So and she left him alone. So sad!

Back in the past, even though Wang So was alone, he still remembered Hae Soo talking about how good it would be if they met in another life. He then proclaimed that if there is a way to find her, he will do it. And I believe him!

Moon Lovers ending

I think the film missed an opportunity to insert at least a glimpse into the modern-day of Wang So reincarnated. It can only sweeten it. But there are many hints that Wang So will reunite with Hae Soo in the future, so I’m very happy with that.

Overall, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Goryeo is very epic and tragic. It has extremely high stakes all the way through that kept things intense. The film is certainly not perfect and very rough around the edges, but it got so much right and gives a lot of feels.

Lee Joon Gi is as fantastic as he can be, and he’s surrounded by an interesting cast, each of whom brings something different to the drama. The atmosphere, the costumes, the setting, the music, and the story are absolutely engaging. Scarlet Heart is unique in so many ways and I’m delighted to enjoy such a wonderful story.

Let watch Moon Lovers and share your feeling with us!