Review: Hwarang

This drama began airing in mid December 2016 and with an amazingly handsome cast, had all the makings of a great drama.  Truth be told, it was a bit all over the place.  Let me explain.

As in my post on not so historical dramas, some period dramas adapt the period and then go a bit wild with the story.  This drama was based on actual historical figures, namely King Jin Heung and his Hwarang.  The Hwarang (meaning flower boys) were the original group of handsome young lads associated with the royal family in the Silla dynasty.  They came from elite families and had no military background to speak of.  They were preceded by a group of lovely ladies of the court, named the Won Hwa (original flowers) who were destroyed when the two leaders of the group became jealous and one killed the other.

King Jin Heung was quite young when he was crowned, so his mother was regent in his stead.   Because there was a woman in power, because historically the three kingdoms were quite often in conflict (each trying to grab a bit more to stabilize their kingdoms and feed their people while trying to deal with the Chinese) and because historically there was nearly always an attempt for the couriers to gain favor and power, I figured that this drama would have all of that goodness to propel this drama.  It did… but…

The story of the Hwarang seems like it would be pretty cool, but it seemed to be glossed over in favor of romance.  Hey, don’t get me wrong.  I love a good romance.  But the chemistry of the leads, both of whom I love as actors, seemed not quite there for me.  One pair it was there, the others, well…  I will leave that up to you.

This drama did pay homage to the Won Hwa as well but the information on it was all over the place and the introduction felt very sudden.  Bits and pieces were introduced making it hard to grasp the real “drama” of the title and role in court.  Court intrigue was also present in the drama but of all of the courtiers in historical dramas, this group left me not hating them.  Honestly, there wasn’t a really, really bad guy for me to hang my hat on.

When watching the drama, you could tell that they were not going for the full on period feel- beautiful clothing and sets, but not the formal language of the times (at least it didn’t seem that way- I am NOT a Korean expert) and introduction of what seemed more modern concepts, including a pinky swear now and then.  Honestly, I expected some high fives.  There was LOTS of skinship and some nice solid kisses between non-married couples.  Also not so much period.  Appealing, not period.

That’s all fine and good- a nice light weight period drama is always wonderful.  Then they added a really, seemingly out of place heavy scene…  typically really bloody.  Also not out of place for a historical piece… but wow, they didn’t quite jive with the overall light-hearted feel of the drama.

Overall, Hwarang is an enjoyable watch.  You have to watch with a bit of suspended disbelief and take it for what it is.  Accurate historical drama?  Not so much.  The general introduction of a few historical figures, sure. For a more historical look at this time, you might want to check out Queen Seondeok.  King Jin Heong is also in that drama, so you might get a more historical perspective… in a much heavier drama.  (I have started it a couple of times, don’t think I ever finished… hmmmm…)

If you watch Hwarang, I would love to hear what you think.  Be sure to leave a comment.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

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