What’s Killing ‘Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo’?

Moon Lovers Scarlet Heart Ryeo

Time travel, betrayals, sibling rivalry, star-crossed lovers… SBS’s latest pre-produced drama Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo has it all. Except the South Korean viewers. Those all went to KBS2’s Moonlight Drawn By the Clouds, which managed to garner more than double the amount of viewers of its rival historical K-drama before ending earlier this week. International fans are clearly watching, but Moon Lovers is not really as popular as expected based on the fact that NBC Universal and YG Entertainment co-produced the show. But it’s more than just one show is better than another; Moon Lovers is struggling from immense flaws and the cute, safer (aka banal) drama is winning over Korean television audiences, with Moonlight dominating with more than double the amount of viewers that Moon Lovers retains in the same time slot.

So what’s going on with Moon Lovers exactly that’s making it bomb at home and causing international fans to stop watching?

Lacking Proper Direction and Editing

It’s not uncommon to get frustrated with a fantastic drama, but Moon Lovers took things to another level and truly well-done episode or scene is paired with a dozen less exciting alternatives. Because the show is spanning such a long time, it seems that the plot has been edited to speed things up rather than actually, you know, develop. Notably, we’re more than 15 episodes in and I doubt the titular lovers (played by IU and Lee Joonki) have had an hour of on-screen time together. There’s also a lot of focus on certain things, such as taking too long with determining Kang Haneul’s relationship with IU, and then rushing key moments of IU and Lee Joonki’s relationship. Some subplots, like a marriage of a prince, gets too much of a focus in order to highlight a key moment of the plot… Four episodes later. Can someone please fire the production team and replace the show so that we get the full story in a timely manner, please and thank you?

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It’s Too Short

The development is completely hindered by the length of the show. Most historical dramas are typically at least 50 episodes long, or don’t really address major lengths of time. But attempting to gloss over time… It doesn’t really work. Moonlight took place over a few months, but Moon Lovers has skipped years at a time and left characters in just about the same spot they were or, even worse, with major changes that the audience is supposed to simply… guess? There have been some lovely scenes to portray the passing of time and some just gave the characters new clothes.

Idol Stigma

Aside from the production issues, the show was hurt early on because of IU and EXO’s Baekhyun. Both singers were announced as key roles and many people, particularly the Korean media and audience, appear to have shunned the show initially because of it. And, to be honest, neither of them are solid enough actors to take lead characters in a drama produced in part by NBC Universal. A pre-produced, well-funded show should have great actors. IU and Baekhyun have each shown their potential, but they’re relative amateurs and often rely on other actors to pick up the emotional brunt of the moment. With that said, the stigma is ridiculous since the show still manages to have some of the most intriguing plots of the year despite its flaws.  Moon Lovers has such a great story with so much potential, it seems kind of silly at the end of the day that there are this many blatant flaws with it.

(And shout out to singer Z.Hera for doing a phenomenal role as the cute, yet fierce, Soon Deok.)

Pandering to International (Female) Audiences

Lee Joonki, Kang Haneul, Baekhyun, Hong Jong Hyun, Nam Joo Hyuk, and Ji Soo each play a prince, and each of them are fairly well-known and attractive young actors. While the show doesn’t lack extraordinary female characters (Woo Hee Jin deserves an award for her final scene as Lady Oh), Moon Lovers appears to be nothing but eye candy at first glance. While Korean audiences enjoy a good love story, Moon Lovers looks like the historic, updated version of the juvenile romance Boys Over Flowers. Which is a good thing to some people but also a deterrent for others hoping for a more serious show. Moon Lovers is more of a tragedy than a comedy, but it’s certainly more lighthearted than other famous Korean historical dramas, like Queen Seondeok or Daejanggeum, but it truly looked off putting at first glance.

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Improper Distribution

Hands down, the worst thing to happen to Moon Lovers is the fact that foreign fans aren’t getting the same version as the Korean ones are. If you are watching the show and don’t know what I’m talking about, you need to start googling “Moon Lovers Korean version eng sub” or something similar, because you’re going to understand so much more of the show right now. That terrifying assault of a kiss? Still horrific, but there was actually something leading up to that which put it in perspective. But because Korea edited the pre-produced show and shipped it overseas before the air date, when the production team decided to re-edit the plot (aka LIVE PRODUCE) they weren’t able to send the updated versions. I reached out to DramaFever to see why that was the case, but unfortunately, never heard back.

So essentially, instead of pre-production ensuring the quality of the drama, it led to fans around the globe getting different versions of the show. Obviously pre-production has its positives, but it seems like it hindered Moon Lovers’ international distribution.

It’s Not Necessarily A Romance

Thanks Anna and Leah for making me realize this one. As much as a lot of South Korean dramas do well locally that aren’t melodramas or romantic comedies, those are mostly relegated to cable television and never garner incredibly high ratings. Like saccharine ballads replacing K-pop on Korean music charts, romantic shows like Moonlight will always do better than more politically driven shows like Moon Lovers. (Kind of like how Signal is acknowledged as the best drama Korea’s put out this year but more mainstream-friendly ones with straightforward plots, like Descendants of the Sun and W, pick up all of the awards).

At the end of the day, most people in South Korea don’t appear to want to watch a show about a long ago dynasty’s struggles, and that’s what Moon Lovers is at the end of the day: a succession story. The romance comes secondary, to the degree that many viewers (myself included) want there to be more time spent on the lead couple’s romance. But this show isn’t necessarily about the titular lovers. Rather, Moon Lovers about the foundation of Korea’s Goryeo dynasty.

What are your thoughts on Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo? Share your opinions in the comment section below. Be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

5 Sentimental K-Drama OSTs Which Give Us Autumn Feels

Sentimental OSTs

The season marked by the fall of colourful leaves and the creeping of the chill in the air, Autumn is a good time for recollection and reflection of the past year. To celebrate the arrival of this wonderful season, here are five sentimental K-Drama OSTs (soundtracks) from the year so far that will definitely evoke them feels (and possibly get you hooked on some of these dramas).

1. Sunhae Im- “Will Be Back” (Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo)

Currently airing sageuk (historical drama) Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo may have been receiving a lot of criticism at the moment for its awkward directing and editing but there is one thing that the drama nailed perfectly: its OST. To pick one out of the amazing collection available was a near impossible feat but Sunhae Im’s “Will Be Back” is a song that brought me to tears every time I heard it. Maybe it’s because the song was played during two extremely heart-wrenching events in the show, or maybe it’s because Im’s operatic voice blends perfectly with the wonderful instrumentals of the track.Either way, this addition to the OST is by far one of the most moving I’ve ever heard in a K-drama. The song evokes emotion in a way that Moon Lovers sometimes fails to do and is a great asset to the drama (as with the other songs included on the show’s soundtrack).

2. Insooni- “Gift” (Memory)

“Memory” is an underrated gem of 2016, one which never garnered much public attention but satisfied the viewers who stayed with it to the end. Much like the drama Memory, the OSTs were mostly understated and quiet but extremely touching and memorable. “Gift” is a beautiful track from one of Korea’s most celebrated female vocalists, Insooni, and it perfectly translates the deep emotions evident in this well-written drama. The bittersweet and reflective song speaks of the sadness, loss, and regret we are bound to feel as we grow older and experience change. More than that however, the song also describes the peaceful contentment we can feel when we remember the kinship, friendships, and small miracles that made up our past. It’s a song that’s definitely worth listening to this season.

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3. Beige- “I Miss You” (Moonlight Drawn By Clouds)

For the most part, youth sageuk “Moonlight Drawn By Clouds” is lighthearted and adorable, if a little cliche at times. However, the drama also does manage to carry some pretty emotional beats , especially in the moving portrayal of Lee Yeong’s relationship with his deceased mother as well as the unexpectedly sweet romance between a eunuch and a court lady. Beige’s “I Miss You” was stuck in my head as soon as I saw Ra-On’s dance scene and the song did not disappoint. Soft but dripping with emotion, Beige’s voice flowed as one with the gentle string instrumentals backing up the track, creating a sentimental OST for the drama.

4. Roy Kim – “Maybe I” (Oh Haeyoung Again)

Roy Kim’s warm and melodious voice works well with the simple background instrumentals to create this relaxing OST which is at once subtle but also very comforting. It’s worth a listen, especially if you are feeling nostalgic or melancholic due to the weather. The track also suits well with the overall theme and mood of Oh Haeyoung Again, which turned out to be an unexpected hit due to its meaningful storyline and uplifting message.

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5. 2NB – “Fall’s Winds” (Fantastic)

Fantastic is a melodrama through and through what with one of the drama’s main characters having a terminal illness and having only six months left to live. There is thus no shortage of heart-wrenching and tragic scenes in the drama which is why I was quite surprised to chance upon 2NB’s “Fall’s Winds”. The song is cheerful but also has a pensive feel to it, made clear through the beautiful and emotional voices of the two singers. I could really go on listening to their harmonies for days.

What songs are on your own Autumn playlist? Share your thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Weekly K-pop faves: October 3- 9

K-pop Playlist Sunday: October 3-9

One week into the whirlwind of October, we’ve seen just a hint of the oncoming storm that we’ll see later this month. For this beginning of the month playlist, we have a list for you featuring a few of our writers recent faves. Jersey girl Ailee returned with her new “Home,” and K-pop legends SechsKies returned the promise of their “Three Words” to both old and new fans. And, of course, fans of the drama Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryo should check out Jung Seung Hwan‘s addition to the soundtrack.

“Three Words” by SechsKies (Released Oct. 7)

If you talk about the early beginnings of K-pop, there are a few names that come up. SechsKies, the six member group from the company now known as DSP Media highlighted for their intense popularity in the late ‘90s and their sudden breakup in 2000. So when they released their first single in over a decade earlier this week, it was something I definitely had to check out. Up until this point, my knowledge of SechsKies was primarily thanks to the drama Answer Me 1997 (sorry!) and the individual members, particularly Eun Ji Won. But then I was floored by how heartfelt ”Three Words” felt to me, a brand new fan. Combining the melodic ballad-rock sound we’ve been seeing from YG Entertainment — SechsKies’ new company– lately (particularly with WINNER) with an old school rap would have been enough for me, but I absolutely love how the song and music video begin with the group’s final farewell from more than a decade ago since the song is the fulfillment of their three-word promise: Here, Now, Us that they reassured fans with, promising that SechsKies would have a second wind. This little splice of K-pop history resonates with me, so I definitely suggest everyone should check it out even if they’re not necessarily a big fan of ballads.


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“Home” by Ailee feat. Yoon Mirae (Released Oct. 5)

What’s fall without an Ailee comeback? This song is much different than the rest of her music — it’s not as slow as the ballad singles she frequently drops, but certainly slower than her usual power-packed (Beyoncé-esque) sound. And it works brilliantly. The delivery of her vocals is especially fantastic on this song, mixing her lower and higher registers to make the track both powerful and emotionally evocative. I totally applaud Ailee for managing to both maintain and differentiate her sound with this release.


”Wind” by Jung Seung Hwan (Released Oct. 4)

I’ve been in love with Jung Seung Hwan’s voice ever since I heard it on K-pop Star 4 and I’m more than happy to hear the numerous releases he’s had over the years, mostly consisting of OSTs for various successful dramas. His latest OST, for the currently airing Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo is one that I’m extremely addicted to this week. His strong vocals flow perfectly with the rich instrumentals in this track and perfectly expresses the sadness of this drama as a whole. Among the numerous stunning OSTs released for this drama, “Wind” stands out because of Jung’s emotional and distinctive voice, especially when the OST is used effectively in scenes featuring our tragic fourth prince Wang So.

What was your fave K-pop release this week? Share your picks and thoughts in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.

Which “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” prince are you? [Quiz]


scarlet heart

It’s been a few weeks since “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” premiered, but the K-drama is still making waves internationally with each new episode that is released. The hype is understandable, of course, since the show is a remake of an extremely popular Chinese drama series, but the strength of this adaptation definitely lies in its gorgeous cast. Full of familiar K-drama hotties such as Lee Jun Ki, Kang Haneul and EXO’s Baekhyun, the Goryeo princes never fail to charm viewers with their various antics, which mostly alternate between downright swoony and laugh out loud dorky. If you’ve ever wanted to find out which prince you would have been had you been born in fantasy Goryeo, you can find out right now through our quiz!

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[qzzr quiz=”267246″ width=”100%” height=”auto” redirect=”true” offset=”0″]

Which prince did you get? Are you enjoying this drama? Share your results in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe to the site and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to keep up with all of our posts.