Drama Recaps
Hwarang: Episode 1
by | December 20, 2016 | 152 Comments

The newest installation from the Oh Boy Project (makers of the Flower Boy franchise) takes us all the way back to ancient Silla, when a nervous queen regent hatched a plan to build a loyal force of soldiers to protect a young king. The premiere sets the stage for a fun yet nerve-wracking adventure, as our heroes and heroine attempt to navigate a world where social status is everything. There’s a lot of information to cover and a lot of characters to introduce, so let’s jump right in!


Our story takes place about 1,500 years ago, during the twelfth year of the reign of King Jinheung. Modern-day Korea was once three kingdoms, of which Silla was the smallest and weakest. The young, insecure king went into hiding, and his mother reigned as regent. It was her idea to gather together a group of beautiful young men in order to empower the throne.

A series of manhwa-like images flash across the screen, giving us glimpses of what’s to come. They stop on a disheveled young man whom we’ll get to know as our hero, MOO-MYUNG (Park Seo-joon), who complains that he’s busy and urges a trio of equally filthy men to go away.

The leader of the trio says that the town can only have one leader, but Moo-myung is perfectly fine letting him have the title. He says that way nobody has to get beat up, and he won’t get in trouble with his father.

But as he turns to go, the oddly coifed loudmouth taunts that his mother didn’t even name him before abandoning him (moo-myung means “nameless”). Moo-myung sighs that he’ll get too relaxed if this keeps up, and he pulls out a many-sided die (used to decide drinking penalties). Moo-myung tosses the die, and shows the trio the result: “Hit the nose.”

Just as the guys start to worry for their faces, Moo-myung suddenly grows dizzy and mutters that they got lucky. He passes out, but just as the guys start to celebrate their victory, they hear a noise and turn to see a man running (and tripping, and falling) towards them.

The attacker, Moo-myung’s buddy MAK MUN (cameo by Lee Kwang-soo) challenges the three to a fight, which he proceeds to lose spectacularly. At some point Moo-myung rouses, and the bullies are worried all over again to see Moo-myung awake.

When he hears they hurt his buddy, all it takes is a loud, “Run!” to send them fleeing. Moo-myung and Mak Mun give chase, following the trio through the woods and to a stream. The three make it across and push the bridge into the water, and bravely dare Moo-myung to come at them.

One of them calls him by his nickname, “Dog-bird,” which sounds very close to the phrase “son of a bitch.” Moo-myung shows the bullies exactly why he’s said to be like a bird, by jumping and flyyying through the air, across the chasm to their side. Whoa.

We move to the palace, where QUEEN REGENT JISO (Kim Ji-soo), King Jinheung’s mother, is being dressed for the day. She goes to the jailhouse, where a man sits in a cell, looking as though he’s been there quite some time.

The prisoner is WI HWA-GONG (Sung Dong-il), who was the late king’s close friend. He chuckles that he and the king didn’t end on good terms — he ended up in jail because of his inappropriate relationship with one of the king’s concubines.

The queen asks if he’s unhappy with the country of Silla, and Hwa-gong agrees that he’s not happy in a place where the queen kicked out her own son, and is so greedy she refuses to give up her regency, even after ten years.

Queen Regent Jiso asks if he’s considered her offer, and Hwa-gong actually yawns in her face. She explains that she wants to create a group of royal bodyguards, and Hwa-gong lazily agrees that it’s a good idea, since all the private soldiers have been snapped up by the officials.

He asks where she plans to get these guards, and she says that her plan is to recruit the children of the officials. She wants Hwa-gong to train them, so that they will be loyal to the king and Silla.

Hwa-gong laughs again, refusing to do anything for the queen. That is, until she asks, “Do you not want me to give up the regency?” Queen Regent Jiso says that if he performs the duty successfully, she will give up the throne.

Moo-myung and Mak Mun sit overlooking the city, making plans to enter the capital. It’s a dangerous prospect — people like them, being from the lowest-born class, aren’t exactly welcome in the city, and face death of they’re caught. But Mak Mun explains that his family all lived there together once, he and his parents and sister.

He shows Moo-myung his necklace, which is wooden with a small engraved teardrop, and says that the necklace will help him identify himself once he finds his father. Moo-myung thinks it sounds silly but offers to help his friend, adding that he wants to go to the capital city anyway.

Mak Mun is impressed with Moo-myung’s bravado, but Moo-myung says that when you have nothing, there’s nothing to fear. Then he remembers something and runs off, with Mak Mun right on his heels.

They end up at a nearby house, relieved to find the owner away from home. They stop for a drink, but just as Moo-myung raises the gourd to his lips, an arrow thunks into the post right beside his face. He screams that the shooter nearly killed him, and the shooter says that it’s his fate to live and die here, where his mother abandoned him.

He lets fly another arrow at Moo-myung, and complains that he’s not paying his taxes. Moo-myung screams that he has a good reason, but the shooter just loads up another arrow, and Moo-myung leaps high into the air to avoid being hit. He’s struck anyway, but fortunately it’s a blunt arrow and Moo-myung is only knocked out.

Over at the palace, a secret message from someone named Pa Oh is brought to Queen Regent Jiso. It states that he will be arriving late that night, and she’s furious that he would dare without her permission. Her bodyguard Hyun Chu meets him at the gate that night, allowing Pa Oh and his masked companion onto the grounds.

As the new arrivals pass into the palace silently, the guard with Hyun Chu asks in an awed voice if the masked man is really the king. Hyun Chu simply kills the guard with a single stroke of his sword.

At the same time, Moo-myung and Mak Mun are busily scaling the city wall. Moo-myung makes it over first, and nearly has a heart attack when he sees pikes displaying the heads of those who tried to sneak into the city. Mak Mun’s reaction is louder, and Moo-myung claps a hand over his mouth and reminds him that he wants to live to see his sister.

They steal some clothes to better fit in with the townsfolk, though they’re lucky their open-mouthed gaping at the sights (and pretty ladies) goes unnoticed. They wonder what to do first, and Moo-myung says that of course they should look for Mak Mun’s family.

Elsewhere in the city, a young woman entertains a crowd of fascinated townspeople with a story about a woman who changed her entire appearance just by drawing a mole on her face. HA. The girl, AH RO (Go Ara), holds her audience in thrall with her dramatic murder tale, as nearby a handsome young man listens in.

The young man falls asleep at some point, and wakes later to find the girl and her crowd gone. He asks a passerby where he can find her.

Moo-myung and Mak Mun find their way to a gambling house, and sidle up to a table where a game is in progress. Mak Mun asks if anyone recognizes his necklace, and his confusion when someone mentions other shop names has a scarred gambler pegging him as an out-of-towner.

The game continues, and Moo-myung watches closely as the man handling the dice rigs the game in favor of Scarface. When his opponent begs for another chance, Scarface reveals that a box on the table holds a severed head, and says he’d be happy to take the man’s tiny daughter’s head as payment.

Moo-myung lowers his straw hat to hide his face, and offers to take that bet, with his own neck as payment. Scarface is so delighted that he offers Moo-myung his entire day’s winnings if he loses, but Moo-myung says that his neck will suffice.

They sit to play, and the dice are rolled. Moo-myung makes his call, but when the cheater lifts the cup to move the dice, Moo-myung’s hand whips out and slams the cup back down. He starts to reveal the results, but Scarface holds it down this time, and asks, “Who are you?”

Moo-myung answers him with a sly grin, “Me? I’m Dog-bird.” Scarface knows the nickname and tips Moo-myung’s hat up to see his face, and seems to recognize him. Mak Mun speaks up, demanding the dice be shown, and the gambler offers to let Moo-myung go if he gives up now.

Moo-myung declines and tries to lift the cup again, but the gambler stops him. Moo-myung asks why he’s so nervous to see the dice, asking if perhaps he knows the results. The gambler tips over the table, and Moo-myung and Mak Mun run.

They split up and Moo-myung leads the gamblers through the city streets, showing off his incredible jumping ability again. Finally he loses the gamblers, infuriating the scarred man, who vows to find them no matter what.

Things are much more civilized at a local teahouse, where the owner brews fancy teas for his patrons. He notices a man beckoning him over — it’s Hwa-gong, out of prison and all cleaned up.

Hwa-gong asks merchant Pi Joo-ki about his business, and learns that this shop is just a branch of a larger business. Hwa-gong says that he’s looking for something special, and Joo-ki leers, thinking he wants a woman. But Hwa-gong clarifies that he’s looking for young, beautiful men.

Merchant Joo-ki takes Hwa-gong to a place called Daiseo, one of the trendiest shops in town (and one of the places the gambler directed Mak Mun to look for his family). Joo-ki shows Hwa-gong a room with a hidden peephole in the wall, where he can watch all the goings-on at Daiseo without being seen.

Ah Ro has several jobs, and she asks one of her employers for her overdue pay. He severely underpays her, accusing her of drinking the alcohol she was supposed to be selling. She objects, and he tells her that no matter how high-ranking her father may be, if her mother is low-born, then so is she.

He tells her to leave, but Ah Ro decides that if she’s going to be accused, she may as well be guilty. She drinks an entire jar of expensive alcohol in one go, and she’s instantly drunk, and slurs that she’ll take three pots total, one for each month she wasn’t paid.

Ah Ro staggers down the street, yelling at the ground to stop being so close, hee. She spots a couple of children stealing from a vendor and tries to chase them, but ends up going more sideways than forward, and bumps right into Moo-myung. He grabs her in his arms as she goes down, and her shoe goes flying as they end up in an accidentally romantic pose.

Moo-myung and Ah Ro look at each other curiously for a long moment… and then Moo-myung dumps Ah Ro in the dirt. HAHA. He starts to walk away, but Ah Ro grabs his pants and begs him to get her shoe. He tries to refuse, but she latches on and starts wailing about how it’s her only pair of shoes, and she can’t walk without them, but just as he looks like he’s going to cave, he sees riders approaching and wrenches his foot away.

Ah Ro drunkenly manages to stand, and something compels Moo-myung to stop and turn back. He sees Ah Ro right in the path of the riders, and runs back to swing her out of the way. They land in that exact same romantic pose again, Ah Ro in Moo-myung’s arms, and Ah Ro wonders if she’s seeing things because she drank on an empty stomach.

Moo-myung asks if she’s okay, and Ah Ro breathes that he’s handsome. She gives him a big loopy smile, and he looks nervous and says that he can’t help it if she’s not okay. And then he drops her on the ground again. PFFT. Ah Ro sits up, grumbling that it’s not that big a deal to hand her her shoe, and then Moo-myung tosses it and accidentally whacks her in the head. HAHAHA, whoops.

Ah Ro goes on her wobbly way, finally collapsing outside a healer’s home. The healer, AHN JI-GONG (Choi Won-young) is inside patching up a wounded homeless man. He asks the homeless man about “that child,” but the homeless man says that it wasn’t him. Ji-gong tries not to look too upset, and the homeless man assures him that after ten years of searching, he’s sure to find the person he’s looking for soon.

We rejoin the young man who was listening to Ah Ro’s story, now dressed in royal robes as he enters the throne room. He’s King Jinheung, given name SAMMAEKJONG (Park Hyung-shik), just come back from his decade-long exile.

He stares at his throne, and hears his mother’s voice behind him, asking why he came here. We flash back to eleven years prior, when his uncle, King Beopheung, had been killed while defending his palace against invaders. Now-Queen Regent Jiso had wielded a sword herself, intent on protecting her small son Sammaekjong. She’d called for Pa Oh, then begged him to protect the dowager queen no matter what.

But now she seems cold and suspicious, and she asks Sammaekjong if he came because he doesn’t trust her, calling it strange that he’s here. He says that it’s more strange if he’s not here, but his mother retorts that there are still many people who want to kill him.

Sammaekjong says dryly that he’s spent a lot of time around the wrong people, and now he’s growing suspicious of everyone. Queen Regent Jiso asks if he’s suspecting her of trying to steal his throne, but he says that trust isn’t important — he’s just here to see if his throne is doing well.

Queen Regent Jiso spits that she’s the one who’ll decide when he comes back (to reclaim his throne). Until then, he’s to live as if he’s dead.

A pair of high-ranking officials discuss the fact that the palace was unguarded the previous night, and that someone entered during that time. One is sure it’s the young king, while the other says that he’ll have the guards be on the lookout for an assassin.

That night, the young king sits alone in a room outside the palace, staring morosely at the dragon-head bracelet he wears on his wrist. Outside, Mak Mun waits for Moo-myung, and happens to spot a black-clad figure sneaking into the building.

The man in black finds the king’s bedroom, and plunges his sword into the body lying on the bed. Thank goodness it was a decoy — Sammaekjong was hiding behind a screen, and he easily neutralizes the assassin with lightning-fast punches, all the while noting that he’s not good with his beat-up sword, and that he had to drink to garner courage for this job.

He asks the assassin how much his life is worth, and the assassin squeaks out that he was offered three bags of rice. Sammaekjong laughs at that, and calls out to Pa Oh. But it’s the queen’s man Hyun Chu who appears, and he quickly cuts down the assassin.

Sammaekjong isn’t happy that Hyun Chu killed the man, who didn’t even know who he was. Hyun Chu says that it’s the queen regent’s command that anyone who sees Sammaekjong’s face must die, and Sammaekjong storms out angrily.

He steps outside, and ends up face-to-face with a very surprised Mak Mun. Unfortunately, Hyun Chu follows him and calls him “Your Majesty,” but Sammaekjong throws up an arm to stop Chu from killing Mak Mun for knowing who he is. Mak Mun runs, and Hyun Chu follows him on horseback.

It looks like Mak Mun is done for, but a hand reaches out and grabs him to crouch behind a wall — it’s Moo-myung. Hyun Chu rides off in the wrong direction, and Mak Mun stammers that he just saw the king.

Moo-myung thinks it’s ridiculous that the king would stay outside the palace, and suggests that maybe what Mak Mun heard wasn’t Your Majesty, but should I hit you? (The words sound similar.) He smacks Mak Mun, then tells him to hand over his necklace — his height makes him stand out, so Moo-myung offers to find out more about it.

Moo-myung spends the next day asking local vendors about the necklace, with no luck. At one point he realizes he’s in the same spot where he caught the drunk Ah Ro, and smiles when he remembers her calling him handsome.

That evening, Mak Mun stands open-mouthed in front of what appears to be a nightclub. As he gapes at all the pretty people, he spots Ah Ro walking past him, but it’s not her face that fixates him — it’s the wooden necklace peeking out of her collar. He tries to follow Ah Ro into the nightclub, but the bouncers stop him at the door.

This club is obviously The Place To Be, with music and entertainment and gorgeous clubbers dressed to the nines. One man makes a stir when he enters the room with his entourage… he’s BAN-RYU (Do Ji-han), and the ladies swoon just to see him walk by.

But he’s eclipsed by another grand entrance, this time by SU-HO (Min-ho), who elicits a similar swoony response in the females in the room. Su-ho complains when he spots Ban-ryu here, then preens when one girl comments that he’s much better-looking than the other guy.

A group of ladies are brought to a storeroom, and squeal excitedly when Ah Ro is revealed, here to tell them a dramatic story. Sammaekjong is also in the building, though he’s alone in a private room, brooding into his wine. He listens in as Ah Ro recites her torrid romance, and we see that in another room, Su-ho and his buddies are also listening intently.

Ban-ryu’s friends can also hear her from their private room, though he’s distinctly uninterested. He sends the loudest of them to get more alcohol, reminding him loftily that his father is the lowest-ranked of the four of them. It makes the guy seethe, but he goes to get the drinks.

Moo-myung, meanwhile, has found his way to the merchant Joo-ki, and asks him about Mak Mun’s necklace. Joo-ki thinks it looks familiar, and he wonders to himself whether Moo-myung is ugly, the way he hides his face under his hat.

He’s proven quite wrong when he tells Moo-myung to leave the necklace with him, and Moo-myung tips up his hat to reveal the pretty. Moo-myung says he can’t leave the necklace since it’s not his, and holds it up for Joo-ki to take a close look.

Determined to talk to Ah Ro about her necklace, Mak Mun sneaks in the back way and finds her still in the middle of her story. When he sees the necklace, he’s even more sure that it’s a match to his own. He tries to wave to Ah Ro to get her attention, and accidentally knocks the tray of alcohol out of someone’s hand as he walks past.

It’s the guy sent by haughty Ban-ryu, who demands to see Mak Mun’s identification, since he’s clearly not from around here. Mak Mun tries to push his way out, but his antagonist escalates the fight.

Ah Ro reaches the naughty part of her story (and HA, her heroine is named Na-jung), entertaining both her female and unseen male audiences. In the main room, Mak Mun gets beaten to a pulp, and Su-ho runs out, annoyed at the disturbance.

Both groups come out — Ban-ryu’s and Su-ho’s — and tempers flare, and everyone rushes out to see the impending fight. Ah Ro loses her audience, and a door opens behind her. Sammaekjong walks in and the candles go out, and Ah Ro turns to see him standing very close. She slams her eyes shut and asks nervously who he is, then clutches herself as if she’s afraid he’s going to attack her.

Sammaekjong sighs that it’s only been four days, and tells Ah Ro to open her eyes. She asks why, and he says, “Because it’s dark. And no one is here. And I like you.” Well, hello then.

Then he reaches out to grab her waist and pull her closer. Ah Ro’s eyes fly open, and he asks what happens next. According to her story, this is the point where the hero rips open the heroine’s bodice.

In the main room, Mak Mun is on the ground, his attacker’s foot on his head. The guy crows that it’s not a crime to beat up peasants without passes, “So it’s okay to kill him, right?”

He pulls out his sword to strike, just as something flies through the air and whacks him in the face — it’s Moo-myung’s die, and the crowd parts to allow Moo-myung to make his timely heroic entrance.

He looks mysterious with his face still half-hidden by his hat, and he intones that he thinks life is all about luck. As he raises his hat to show his face, he adds, “But today, you are not lucky.”

The instigator angrily asks who he is, but Moo-myung says he doesn’t need to know and asks Mak Mun if he’s okay. Mak Mun says he is, and Moo-myung replies, “But I’m not okay.”

The attacker swings his sword, while Moo-myung sidesteps and quickly disarms him. Su-ho voices his admiration, and even Ban-ryu looks a little impressed at Moo-myung’s skill.

Moo-myung uses the sword to carve a circle in the floor around himself. He says that if killing low-borns who sneak into the city is his law, then Moo-myung’s law is to beat up any aristocrats who cross this line. He invites him to step across: “I will fight you.”


I’m just going to go ahead and admit, right here at the beginning, that I’m going into this drama incredibly biased to like it. Between my loves for Park Seo-joon and Go Ara, and my extreme fondness for the entire Flower Boy franchise, I had high hopes and high expectations of Hwarang to be at least fun and entertaining. So, I’m happy to report that the first episode didn’t let me down, and I can’t wait to see more.

A lot happened in this premiere, as it set up the backdrop of a shaky kingdom in need of protection for its young, inexperienced king. I felt that was accomplished well, with the gravitas of a sageuk giving the show some weight and heft, without sacrificing the sense of rollicking fun we’ve come to expect from this series. I found the two sides to be well-balanced, without too much of either taking over. And much like the other dramas in the Flower Boy series, Hwarang brings its own unique flavor to the table, and so far I find it to be adventurous and exciting.

One thing the show seems to have done very right so far is the casting — everyone seems well-suited to their roles. I’m already invested in the characters and their struggles, and look forward to learning more about them and watching them as they come together to form the Hwarang. I particularly love how Go Ara seems to have thrown herself fully into the role of Ah Ro, imbuing her with an aura of spunk that gives an edge to the typical Candy characterization and thus making her much more interesting. She doesn’t strike me as your everyday damsel in distress — this is a girl who will handle her own problems, thankyouverymuch, though she’s not above appreciating a handsome face when she sees one.

The men are also intriguing, and I love that they each seem to have their own mystery — Sammaekjong’s true identity, Moo-myung’s parentage, who Ban-ryu and Su-ho are exactly, and why they hate each other so much. Even Mak Mun’s search for his family fascinates me, and I wonder if the kind doctor we caught a glimpse of might be his lost father, especially since Ah Ro seemed pretty comfortable at his place. At this point I’m assuming that Ah Ro is Mak Mun’s sister and the doctor is his father, given that this series usually doesn’t offer too much in the way of serious plot twists — it generally tends to give the audience all the information up front, and the fun is in the character’s journey to discover their own truths. But I’m worried, given that Lee Kwang-soo’s appearance is only a cameo… is something going to happen to him, leaving Moo-myung to solve his friend’s mystery alone?

We didn’t get to see much of Moo-myung and Ah Ro together in this first episode, but I thought their meet-cute was adorably hilarious, and that they had some pretty good chemistry despite the short scene. The problem — if you can even call it a problem — is that I felt that same crackling chemistry between Ah Ro and the prince there at the end. It makes for a much more interesting love triangle if there are sparks with both contenders, and in that sense I think we’re in for some great conflict as Ah Ro tries to decide between her two suitors. Given that both men are flat-out gorgeous and heroically swoony, I’m not sure I envy Ah Ro her choice between the broody prince and the mysterious stranger.

So far, the show gets an optimistic thumbs-up from me. I love the characters, and I’m fascinated by the prevalent class ranking system, and how it informs everyone’s attitudes and actions. I’m guessing this will turn out to be a huge factor once the boys are recruited into the Hwarang, where they’ll be expected to work together despite being from vastly different castes. I’m almost looking forward to the conflict as much as the eventual dropping of prejudice as boys can form a cohesive fighting cadre, because I have a feeling that the conflict among the budding Hwarang is where we’re going to find all the fun.


152 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. Gelai

    I enjoyed the first episode. My favorite scene was the club. I have always wondered how young adult entertained themselves during those times.

    True to the flower boy series, this is character driven. That is its strength along with bromance and growing up. So, I’m definitely tuning in for the next few episodes.

    Cinematography though is not the best. It doesn’t have the beautiful landscapes and sweeping visuals I expect from a fully pre-prodcued drama.

    • 1.1 hades.red

      This definitely does not feel like a high budget show, and cinematography is no MLSHR, but I actually like the landscapes thus far. The only jarring aspect thus far for me is the club.

    • 1.2 Sancheezy

      On the other hand I actually think the directing is really good,
      the camera work and the setting is full of life,
      the people and the cameo looked like a real place,
      the building is full of people,
      the color of their garment and clothes is good,

      It more down to earth than flashy looked and I think it looked better,
      but then I agree the scene transition is what makes it looked a choppy,

      • 1.2.1 Cody

        +1 to everything you said!!

      • 1.2.2 Gelai

        For a low budget drama, I’m quite surprised they used so many extras walking, talking, dancing I’m the background. That costs money and lots of man-hours. But your right, it does feel more real because of the people doing their own thing in the background. I give them big credit for that. (I only saw few episodes of Bridals Mask, and I believe that PD also used lots of people. So, it must be his thing.)

        I feel the placement of camera should be better and color should be more sharp. I need certain scenes to be memorable. Sometimes framing and color can be a big help for that to happen. But maybe I am spoiled with the beautiful lighting and visuals that Moonlight Drawn By Clouds provided. And that drama wasn’t fully pre-produced.

      • 1.2.3 nmaxx

        Yeah I think one of the problems MLSHR had is that it had some gorgeous landscape scenes but the settings in the close-up scenes looked empty. I’m glad this drama managed to avoid that, it really does look full of life.

  2. Kay

    I literally only went into this for the beauty and the glory manes (superficial, yes..so sue me) HOWEVER I actually really enjoyed it all and laughed out loud way too many times haha

    The drama doesn’t feel pre-produced however, but it could just be budget thing – it doesn’t feel low budget, but doesn’t have the feel of something “rich” …or maybe I was just spoiled with the visuals of Moon Lovers.

    Anyway, off to watch episode 2!

    • 2.1 Lespoir48

      I second “doesn’t feel pre-produced” impression here.

      I think we are going to get a lot of bromance and great moments with characters later on, BUT again the montage of first episodes was somewhat weird to me. I had the same problem with Moon Lovers at the beginning. My point is first episodes have to grasp your attention and ideally make you invested in the show. But they just started introducing hell bunch of characters in last 15 minutes without probably explaining who is onscreen and etc.

      And I’m sorry, but I have problems with Go Ara’s acting in this drama. I suppose her character has look quirky, but all I see is just over-acting.

      • 2.1.1 laila

        I saw teasers, trailers and clips about this Drama.
        Go Ara’s character looked fun and exciting and I was really looking forward to it.

        I agree with you on her acting.
        After the first and second episode I can’t quite like her I don’t know why. I even want to skip past her story telling which I feel isn’t exciting and a little too long.

        I love Park Seo-joon his character is cool, skillful and loyal.

      • 2.1.2 panshel

        My point is first episodes have to grasp your attention and ideally make you invested in the show.

        She Was Pretty will forever be my epitome of first episodes done right. First episodes that make me cry always hold a soft spot in my heart.

        I know Hwarang is a fusion sageuk, but I cannot disassociate Go Ara from modern. She just doesn’t look or act like she belongs in Silla.

        • Sancheezy

          If this is a fusion saeguk then the comparison if gonna be with Hong Gil Dong,
          so if that’s true then we have a good one for the genre here

        • irmar

          I hated the first few episodes of She Was Pretty. Her acting was overboard, like a clown, and they went for belly-laughs. Then it started slowly getting better and better.

          • panshel

            She wasn’t flailing and he wasn’t an ass yet in the first episode. It was a contemplative episode centered around the best friends’ reunion. I especially loved the sentimental childhood flashbacks.

  3. 미미

    Thanks for the recap, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and i’ve been waiting for it since i’ve seen the episode. I had high hopes for it and so I’m not disappointed and I’m liking the humor – so I’m expecting more moments like these. I’m extremely pleased with Go Ara’s acting, and even more with the way the characters portray their roles – the most important thing for me is that I like the main leads. Can’t wait for more.

    • 3.1 hades.red

      I agree. I very rarely like both leads in a series, so fingers crossed for this one.

  4. pinkfluff99

    Anybody else REALLY liking Park Hyungsik’s character? I like his straightforward nature and the way his eyes convey so many emotions…

    • 4.1 Yellow Swallow

      Yes, ME. I went into this drama mainly because of PSJ but Hyungshik has captivated me completely after watching both episodes. And you’re right, his eyes convey so much. Really looking forward to next week.

    • 4.2 Mal

      I second this! I haven’t seen PHS in anything before, I was going into this for PSJ and Minho actually, but PHS has really surprised me!

    • 4.3 gadis

      Me, me, me.

      I went into this drama mainly because of Park Seo-joon, but Hyung-sik totally captivated me. I love the way he potray his young king character.

    • 4.4 Elena

      Me too, haha!! PHS has been a surprise here, never watched anything from him. But he seems not bad at acting (or maybe it’s the good script, dunno) and apart from his obviously handsome face, he gives off a seductive feel with his soft manners and even his voice… as much as I love PSJ I think here I’m set up for 2nd lead syndrome, let’s see what happens 😀

    • 4.5 ferily

      Oh bby, yes yes yes! I came here to watch this drama because of Park Hyung sik and he sure is doing a dang good job playing his character. He has not yet my expectations down and is exceeding them~

    • 4.6 Mae_ash

      I like both main and second male lead equally but Hyungshik’s character is indeed more interesting. His characters makes me more curious about him and want to know him more. His past, his history and what he did during his exile and how come he don’t seem the scared, weak and useless king they claim he is. While I love PSJ character and find him loyal, awesome in fighting, funny and cool his character do not generate my curiousity that much. I love him but he does not interest me yet. I am even more interested in Kwang Soo’s character and his background more than him.

      Hopefully I grow more interested in him in future episodes. Although on the positive side even though I am more interested in Hyungshik’s character. I am on PSJ & Go Ara team up 100%. I find their first meeting super cute and the way he let her fall twice!!! LOL I would be happier if there is no love triangle and they just let the King focus on reclaiming his throne and learning to be a good King through PSJ and other Hwarangs.

  5. ys

    The hair. It’s so bad. I can’t focus on story, dialog, sweeping scenery, any of it. All II see are the wigs. Bad wigs.

    • 5.1 hysterically

      Lol it was revealed in the special episode that they kept changing Park Seo Joon’s hairstyle in this drama because they were trying to find a look that fit too

    • 5.2 juliesean

      I can’t take the characters seriously cos I’m also distracted by their very bad hairstyles. Why is it so difficult to get suitable wigs for the cast?

    • 5.3 Mal

      Yup, Park Seo-joon’s hair is a bit distracting, as is Minho’s. I don’t think Park Hyun-shik’s looks that bad, but the hair in the show IS noticeable when hair should not stand out more than the person it’s attached to.

      • 5.3.1 panshel

        MinHo’s dangling earrings were more distracting.

        • namedx

          Lol, they were seriously distracting!

    • 5.4 Del

      Park Seo Joon is a good actor but not all actors are cut out for sageuk.

      He probably would have looked better in Joseon sageuk. The rest of the boys also did not have the convincing sageuk looks and that is referring to Park Hyung Shik and Min Ho. It’s like they were recruited for some lousy shampoo advertisements or extreme conditioner gone wrong.

    • 5.5 Sancheezy

      I watched behind the scene and even the boys said that the Silla era hairstyle is not for everyone to pull off,
      it more influence by Tang dynasty as I remember,

      the good side is that I really believe that they all a commoner now, like Park Seo Joon,
      it’s totally fit

    • 5.6 ET

      The wigs are bad but for me, not all the guys qualify to be called beautiful as the name Hwarang implies.

      On appearance alone, I find that only Park Hyung Sik and Do Ji Han have the looks and aura to be elite flower knights. Min Ho just doesn’t fit saeguk and neither does Park Seo Joon. However, if PSJ stay as some vagabond vigilante, I think he could actually be much more convincing.

      Normally, I don’t care much about how an actor looks in a drama though I’d admit bad wigs or hairstyle can be distracting. But since this is a drama about beautiful young men, the least they can do is live up to the title. So, it’s a pity that they got the styling wrong even if they couldn’t do anything about the casting.

      • 5.6.1 irmar

        Exactly. I saw those faces and none looked really good to me, except for the the king (but too feminine) and the haughty and serious long-faced prince, Ra something, the one who was about to fight with the other prince (Soo Ho something?)

      • 5.6.2 Katie

        I’m not distracted with the wigs, or long hair. After watching Queen Seon Duk, which is Silla as well (a bit later in the time-line of Hwarang), I’m not to shocked with their hair/wigs. Queen Seon Duk had similar styles as well. I think I got used to it.

        For women hairstyles I love Silla and Goryeo the most, and I love the clothes of them as well. Joseon is so unique that when I first started watching sageuk, it was difficult for me to get used to it, both with hairstyle of women, the hanboks and even the “weird” hat that men wore (I don’t think it’s weird anymore, to many sageuks on my watch list now, but at first it was ridiculous)

    • 5.7 E

      Ha! We all thought ever-expanding sideburns added *one* more complaint to ML… It wasn’t just the promos set that anti-fans managed to sneak into, they took over the entire production.

    • 5.8 agree

      Rich have straight hair and poor have messed up hair.. conditioner & comb must be expensive in silla…😄

  6. blnmom

    Huh, I’m liking this a lot! All the leads seem solid and the writing too. I somehow missed that it’s from the showrunners of the Flower Boy series. I expected a hot mess from the posters and trailers. I didn’t know Kim Kwangkyu was going to be in it, I used to see him in every drama I watched, but he disappeared for a while, I missed him. Also Choi Wonyoung was a nice surprise. The only iffy thing was the 80s mullets, but I guess I’ll survive that, lol.

    Thanks for the recap, LollyPip!

    • 6.1 Mal

      I know, I was so surprised to see Choi Won-young! I love the guy, I hope he sticks around through the whole show.

  7. JennyAny

    I hope this turns out to be a great series! I need something light-hearted and fun to watch during the cold winter nights. I just hope it doesn’t turn into a cringe/face-palming mess.

    • 7.1 hades.red

      I think the promo for this series might be a bit misleading on the overall light hearted nature of the show. Here’s hoping its no MLSHR.

  8. Callie

    I feel like I just watched an episode of Power Rangers. Is this a kids program?

    The second half of the episode was better than the first, but still…

    • 8.1 Lord Cobol

      I’ve seen it described as a youth drama, and it seems to me like it’s targeted at young people — or at least young compared to me, which many people are. But the version I saw says at the beginning

      “The following content may not be suitable for viewers under 15
      Viewer discretion is advised”

      Nope, backwards, not suitable for over 15 🙂

      • 8.1.1 irmar

        15 if they are particularly dumb. Otherwise I’d say it’s okay for under 12.

    • 8.2 Del

      Kind of agree.

      Yes, I understand that it is geared to be a youth sageuk but the comedy element really went overboard at times especially when comes to Go Ara’s scenes.

      • 8.2.1 nchoe

        Go Ara looks like trying too hard to be funny, makes me feel bad if I don’t laugh, but I don’t want to no matter how I try.

    • 8.3 dr

      kids program?
      come one, kids don’t play with death or hanging a head over the gate of a city,
      don’t run to find their real parents,
      don’t have that much of a loyalty for others,
      and not working their butt off in the market,

      if this is a power rangers, I don’t think we watched the same power rangers,
      such a short attention span will not make a good deal for conclusion maker,

      • 8.3.1 Even

        I don’t think we watched the same power rangers either.

        Since when do the power rangers not have constant run-ins with death? Since when are the power rangers not loyal? And I’m sure that in at least one series(Dino thunder?) someone needed to find their parents. (Making an argument for power rangers on DB is definitely a first for me lol.)

        • dr

          I just want to point out that power ranger and this series is way different,
          you said the look-alike power ranger make it looks like a cheap cut out to happy end of every day with “questionable life-death” story line as in you watch it all,
          you can find summary in 1 ep of power ranger and you can’t do that here so such a conclusion couldn’t be made and I find it too harsh for people who make the series,

          Many characters can be loyal and power ranger is not a bad series for kids, but to compare it to this series which is a continuation is far off reaching conclusion after 1 episode,

          • Callie

            The episode came across as immature. That’s my opinion. Don’t take it so seriously.

    • 8.4 agree

      PSJ flying from one rock to other was definitely power rangerish..

    • 8.5 Nursejackie

      Really? My husband and I got more of a Monty Python or Princess Bride vibe from this one. (So much so that we spent the rest of the night discussing the migratory patterns of coconuts and randomly yelling out “No one expects _____!”) A lot of the humor seemed to have that over the top, borderline self aware quality to it.

  9. Lord Cobol

    Sung Dong-Il must be a good guy this time. It’s a saeguk and his teeth aren’t horrid 🙂

    • 9.1 Mal

      Exactly! I do like that I get to watch him be bad in Legend of the Blue Sea and now (hopefully) good in Hwarang. I also started Reply 1997 and couldn’t believe that he plays the father in all the show’s iterations!

    • 9.2 nchoe

      Are those horrid teeth his idea? He has already used that look for 2 dramas now.

      I just can’t stand looking at his face whenever he’s on screen with those horrid teeth. I always try to focus my gaze on something else, like tv channel logo at the top-right corner of the video.

      • 9.2.1 agree

        I was counting too..
        Knowing its a cameo my expectations were solid..😏

        • agree

          Opps wrong thread😣

      • 9.2.2 bbstl

        I think about those teeth. I look closely to see if they’re the same ones in different shows (and believe they are). I’ve come to wonder if they were so expensive to make that their cost has to be amortized over multiple productions? Seriously.
        Is this finally the sign that I’m too into kdramas? 😬

  10. 10 panshel

    The whole episode I was waiting for Kwang Soo to die:
    Moo Myung busts the gambling cheaters. Kwang Soo’s going die.
    Mak Mun accidentally sees the king’s face. Now Kwang Soo’s going die.
    Mak Mun becomes the victim of Rich Kid’s displaced anger. Surely now Kwang Soo’s going die.

    I found the premiere to be rather disjointed. Frankly, for inexplicable reasons, I anticipate Hwarang would be a hot mess. 😓 (The best way to avoid disappointment is by having no expectations.) The first episode hasn’t pulled me in so far, but Moo Myung was really hot when he stood up for the man against the gamblers.

    Thanks for the recap, LollyPip!

    • 10.1 Rose

      I felt the same, I just fast-forwarded to the scenes with Go ara ( I love that she is a story-teller!) and Hyun-shik ( who I did not exepct would be the sole pulling force to watch episode 2).

      There is something wrong with the pacing and the music. It really felt like the editing was rushed and not thought out although it is a pre-produced drama…

      last-half of episode 2 being quite good, I am not losing hope, I think that it could turn good once, you know, they become Hwarangs.

    • 10.2 eva

      Ha! I was kind of waiting for the same thing, because it’s crystal clear that he’s pretty much a plot device here to get Moo-myung moving in certain direction.
      Still, I like they’re close-knit’ relationship, so I don’t WANT him to die, but you can play that is-he-won’t-he card only that many times.

  11. 11 Tres

    YASSS. Finally! Patience has paid off (Even if twas just two days. Heh.) coz here I was having a mini crisis when I thought there was no recap for Hwarang. How could I doubt u, Dramabeans. My apologies. Thanks for this! *blows BTS Jin kisses*

    • 11.1 UmbrellaMan

      I was kinda worrying it wasn’t gonna get recapped too. I was refreshing all day long waiting for it. Big sigh of relief.

      Hahaha. Jin kisses. I luf him. And I love love love the ending song sung by him and V. ARMY’s approve.

      • 11.1.1 Tres

        Right?! That near panic attack… Haha~ I was gonna get ready to have a mini-rant in the Open Thread. Coz I’m petty that way. LOL

        The song perfectly showcased Jin & V’s voices. V’s baritone and Jin’s high notes. Yasss. #TaeJin

    • 11.2 rentenmann *SWAG*

      Aaaarrrgh, I really need to catch up.on my dramas!!! I wanna watch this, but I’m so far behind. Damn these real-world time constraints! Looking forward to reading recaps in the meantime. Thanks Lollypip! Also, Jin kisses, haha, awesome.

    • 11.3 Dee Em

      OMG YES, fellow ARMYs :”)
      There’s really less of Taehyung’s appearance in the first two episodes, but here’s to hoping he won’t suck lol.

      • 11.3.1 UmbrellaMan

        I had a feeling he wouldn’t be featured heavily, if at all, for the first few episodes. Also, from what I have understood, his role is relatively small by comparison, so he might not be in it as much as we would like. I can never get enough TaeTae though!!!

  12. 12 Lisa_wackycashew

    Thanks for the recap, LP! Just got caught up with the first two eps. XD

    I’m really enjoying it since I love the cast. Everyone seems suited for his/her role and I can already see the potential conflicts that will arise between MM, AR, and the king. I loved the main leads’ first encounter and can’t wait till MM learns of her identity. LKS’s cameo is great and I love his camaraderie with MM. (Their names are both MM at this point. =P)

    AR is a storyteller as a hobby?? I thought claiming the alcohol as payment was great. The fact that she thought MM was totally handsome was cute.

    I wonder what is causing MM to go dizzy and faint when his vision blurs. Seems like it can happen randomly.

    SH vs. BR at the club – so funny to see them with their lackeys, especially once MM comes to his friend’s rescue and both seeming to appreciate his skills.

    I’m very intrigued by Jong already. He must hide his face and if anyone sees it, that person must be killed? Man, that’s so harsh, but I supposed the queen regent is not taking any chances. I like Jong’s guard; I recall seeing him in another drama.

    Been seeing a lot of SDI in various dramas lately. Heehee… Looks like he’s gonna be a good guy and head up Hwarang.

    Anyway, I like the plot so far and I’ve liked the other Flower Boy shows in this past. Definitely gonna keep watching since I really enjoy the intense moments mixed with humour here and there.

    • 12.1 Kay

      I think MM has narcolepsy….or some issues with blood sugar perhaps, though I’m leaning more towards narcolepsy

      • 12.1.1 Lala

        The two episodes were really enjoyable and funny I like Moon Myung’s character the most so far and of course Aro as well. I don’t know what to think of the queen though she’s one of those characters that are neither good or bad I’m looking forward to what she will do in the future.

        • Lala

          This was meant to be a comment not a reply….

      • 12.1.2 Lisa_wackycashew

        Interesting theory! Can’t wait to find out!

  13. 13 Cocoboo

    Good, fast-paced premiere. Definitely a youthful sageuk. It’s been more funny and light with some underlying seriousness. This first episode showed both sides pretty well.

    We got to meet most of the characters already. I’m curious to see more of tension between Ban Ryu and Su Ho along with the rest of the guys’ personal stories.

    Lee Kwang Soo!! He acted just like himself when he was so funny and bumbling. I like watching him act, but since this is a cameo, I’m prepared for the worst.

    Park Hyung Shik was gorgeous in his posters, but man, he is ethereally beautifu!! Like a character from Final Fantasy or anime…. *__*

  14. 14 hades.red

    I think the best way to describe this drama from the first episode is ridiculous, but in a good way. It’s a mix of funny and serious, and has great action thus far. I went in to this for Park Seo Joon, but I think I might leave with Park Hyung Sik.

    The only thing I’m worried about is a potential love quadrangle, or maybe greater. Please, no. That and the typical aristocracy crap in period pieces.

    BTW, what year is this supposed to be taking place in again? That club seems way beyond its time. The owner is a visionary.

    • 14.1 SLVR

      I must say I loved the Club! including the outer architecture, and the whole VIP Room setup.

      It somehow felt very disney-ish to me, I dont know why. 🙂 Pretty fun.

    • 14.2 rentenmann *SWAG*

      Since it appears that this show doesn’t take itself seriously, I’m excited to leave seriousness at the door. Yay!

      • 14.2.1 hades.red

        I hope I can do the same.

  15. 15 hawoojinruinedme

    As much a I love Park Seo-joon, I have to admit that this is a mess of a first episode. Too much ground covered, too many characters introduced, and too many haphazard jumps and cuts between story threads. You’d think you could expect a much more polished work with the drama being pre-produced.

    • 15.1 dr

      the only character introduce is more of 3 and it’s distinguishable,
      Idk how that’s a lot?
      you have the hero, the girl, the king, the 2 noble born and that’s it,

      all others have text to explain themselves and it just a queen and the gonna be hwarang chief.

  16. 16 vere

    The cinematography and editing are subpar. Maybe Goblin has spoiled my expectations.

    And the hair! Cheap ass wigs. Drag queens would not approve.

    And Go Ara…damn, girl. Not a convincing storyteller. I cannot believe anyone would hang on her every word. At all. Park Eun-Bin from Age of Youth would have been the best for that role. I hope Go Ara can go beyond making a series of uncomfortable faces and actually emote naturally as the show continues. A constipated rage emoji would express her acting face perfectly.

    Overall, the show seems like an excuse to get a bunch of hot guys together to distract from the shoddy story and production value. I may end up skipping this.

    • 16.1 Sancheezy

      tbvh the real deal about the story Aro told is not about the story but a parody of temptation of wife (popular makjang drama) with the OST lyric in a saeguk tone,

      ofc it gonna sounds not as smooth as normal speaking tone but the hilariously of the story is really engaging,

      • 16.1.1 gadis

        Yeah, actually almost all the lines used in her storytelling are parody from popular dramas. The way she delivered it with such serious face, and how everyone were totally into it was just hilarious. Hyung-shik’s reaction was perfectly similar with mine, snorting in disbelief. That was a fun scene.

        • dr

          what drama is at the end of episode one?
          the one ara told to the girls?

      • 16.1.2 vere

        I understand—but she lacks a certain comedic charisma and presence that I’d expect from someone who goes around telling lewd stories for a living. I get that it’s meta and absurd. I guess I just don’t respond to her as a comedic actress.

        • Sancheezy

          I don’t see her as comedic either, it’s what she said and the reaction is what comedic.
          It’s like seeing people 1st reaction to something you are familiar with but it looks funny because they are so into it as it is the reality while your brain translate it as “Min So Hee”

    • 16.2 dr

      Goblin set in modern day about supernatural flashy element to blinding and distract people from the plot,
      what a good way of cinematography

      • 16.2.1 vere

        The difference is quite large in the quality of writing and acting between the two shows. Hwarang’s storyline is not very novel, and I find it fairly predictable so far. Goblin is refreshing because it has its own unique world and rules. So I don’t quite agree with your point. But you are entitled to your opinion.

        • dr

          what I mean is that saying this lack than goblin has no substances as if Goblin has any substances in the 6 episode of repeating the same question over and ovr again with georgeous male leas to blind the fans.

          ____Overall, the show seems like an excuse to get a bunch of hot guys together to distract from the shoddy story and production value____
          From what I see, the story is not shoddy,
          it literally called hwarang the beginning and it’s all about the 1st generation of hwarang.
          Production value? Yeah they probably don’t spend it on lingering rain over and over again just to rake a screen time but don’t overplayed how the setting and the costume they shown.
          It’s one episode and they freaking have a city, a club, a store and gazilion of clothes, there is their focus.
          One episode and dismissed like it unworthy, probably need to make this drama more than an hour long and repetitive flashback so we can always praise the “money”

    • 16.3 Sera The Ms Temper

      We will see three Parks if Park Eun Bin is in this drama too.

      Oh no now i am imagining her in Go Ara’s role.

  17. 17 meowingme

    Off to watch the next ep, yeay. Glad LollyPip is recapping this, somehow ends up watching most of her recap.

  18. 18 JesO

    I haven’t watched any of the flower boy franchise and wasn’t planning on watching this.
    But alas, I was up last night with my newborn and was looking to try to stay awake while she nursed and I happen upon this show.
    It reminds me a little of A Knight’s Tale, with it’s modern music, historal irreverence and silly humor. I found the show lighthearted, fun and zippy. The first episode flew by as did the second. I’m sure this show won’t be for everyone, but the first two episodes were a total win for me.

    • 18.1 Midnight

      Thank you! Giving A Knight’s Tale vibes is the best recommendation for me to watch this drama! I LOVE that movie. And I agree that it’s not for everyone.

    • 18.2 Kaybee

      The fact that the wigs are as bad as in the promos made me hesitant to start watching, at least right this moment.

      But A Knight’s Tale comparison? This drama is officially back on my list.

    • 18.3 Cozybooks

      I just watched it, and it totally gave me a Knight’s Tale vibes.

  19. 19 gadis

    Now, I’m even more sure that the team behind this drama really didn’t have staff who is good at poster&teaser making. Because the drama itself is surprisingly good.

    I appreciated how they take their time to present the characters one by one rather than dump us in the middle of all of them. It made me care more about them and their individual struggle.

    I also love the fact that they are the very first group of Hwarang. Now, all those tussle and hijink from teasers suddenly make sense. I can’t wait to get over the setup, so that we can finally dive right into all the fun stuff. Now, bring me moaarr..

  20. 20 Bero

    Did anyone else get Hunger Game vibes with the setting- an exclusive ‘capital’, the class system, the extravagance of the upper class… and I definitely can’t trust the Queen Regent seeing her portrayal!

    The first episode oozed youth drama and perhaps wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea- but I recommend watching the second episode before deciding whether to continue or not because ooof *avoids spoiling*

    • 20.1 Sancheezy

      I agree, the 2nd episode give so much feels,
      I like the opening week, doesn’t show too much but I feel like I can understand the character lives before they get entangled to one another

  21. 21 Cozybooks

    Aaand I think this might be the winner for “what to finish out 2016” with. I just skimmed the recap, but it had me giggling (thanks, LollyPip!). And another stab at a Saeguk is always a good thing for me, even if it’s not one of the super-historical serious ones. Ease myself in, that’s the spirit!

  22. 22 Martin J Simwaba

    Wow! I never anticipated this, it’s a great premiere.
    Iam all in.

  23. 23 Pollyanna

    I cringed my way through most of GAR’s scenes …. and only managed to make it out the other end after putting the speakers on “mute”.

    So, our Candy is a smutty Ted(dy)?

    Thanks a lot, writer-nim.

    • 23.1 SLVR

      She is like a Silla-Era Mills and Boon audiobook. (Although melikes Bodice rippers. 😛 They’re so corny yet addictive.)

  24. 24 siesta

    allow me to be shallow because park hyung shik is just So Damn Pretty.
    i mean everyone’s pretty of course but he’s so stunning i cant keep my eyes of him

    endlessly amused that ara’s char is making money out of acting out harlequin-style porn stories lol

    • 24.1 Grapes

      He’s so pretty and attractive, i also couldn’t take my eyes of him, he’s the prettiest among them.
      How can’t Ara’s character fall for him?.

  25. 25 Xxvxx

    I haven’t watched this episode but I just want to say Ko Ara is stunning. Those eyes are so captivating and lovely. Hoping to like Hwarang!

  26. 26 Del

    It’s not that bad and entertaining in a way. I don’t enjoy the over the top comedic tones at times which appear rather slapstick. Aside from Park Seo Joon, the rest could barely convince me that they are the warriors, not even potential warriors. The characters introduction are all over the place and the editing a bit messy. Everyone seems to put a decent acting except Min Ho (he is so miscasted here) but none stood out to captivate me, unlike MLSHR where LJK was captivating right from the get go despite the limited screentime. I do commend Hwarang for having a story worth enough to tell instead of some other dramas that all about being flashy. On to the next episode.

  27. 27 MIN

    i know Go ara’s character was referencing a popular drama in which a mole was a character’s disguise but i cant remember which drama it was… someone please help out this curious beanie… please😉

    • 27.1 Sancheezy

      temptation of wife

  28. 28 Sancheezy

    so 1st of all, I find it’s funny
    I like how they all introduced differently with different goal, job and mindset,
    they have their life that will come together when the hwarang happens,

    The King story is already fleshed out so I think that’s why he is more interesting at this point,
    but I also grow to love Seo Joon and his loyalty and Ara with her speech ability (ofc the mole make everything different)
    *cue temptation of wife OST

    It reminds me of Hong Gil Dong and I like the camera work,
    the way it shot is good,

    if I have a complaint, it probably the queen acting and the BGM that sometimes too loud with some scene transition.
    definitely gonna check the next episode,
    and this drama sounds like a misfit that gonna make an army together

  29. 29 Sweet&Sour

    I enjoyed the first episode! I guess going into this drama with really low expectations (because of the bad posters) helped when the first episode turned out good. I am interested to watch more. It is good that the 3 leads PSJ, Go Ara, and HS all have chemistry already.

  30. 30 Irishrah

    I don’t get why the men of Hwarang must be “beautiful” ?! They are to be bodyguards of the King.. future of Silla..etc.. then shouldnt strength, brains count? Or in those days “beautiful = all good qualities? Or is Just fan service?

    • 30.1 SLVR

      From what snippets I read up on Hwarang while watching Queen Seondeok, I believe the Hwarang traditionally prized beauty and were selected on both strength and physical beauty (even wearing make-up so that they looked pretty when they went into battle with a mindset to die).

      Though the show may be a bit too focused on the prettiness (and fan-service of course).

    • 30.2 Sancheezy

      It because they need to be superficial in looked and quality and get the recognition from people as fast as possible,
      the queen wants to build a warrior that will guard the king but also get support and rank in the society,
      we all see how handsome man treated in the club and that’s a reflection on the society

      We all know people regard beauty highly, before and even now to gain attention, support and recognition,
      People then can somehow be proud of the nation’s guard if they succeed since they don’t lack anything,
      doesn’t lack skill, status or even looked

    • 30.3 Rovi

      Hwarang’s requirements were a reflection of its meaning: “flower knights”

      They have to be beautiful in apperance (they even used make-up, which was not shocking to pre-Confucian mindsets, as pre-Ming China also practiced it), brains, & battle-ready, since there’s 2 rival kingdoms.

      Korean traditional dramas wouldn’t readily sacrifice history with fan service especially if the drama’s foundation is history first and foremost.

      A notrious example would be “Queen Seondeok”, who consequently suffered being ruled out as “plagiarised content”

    • 30.4 Kiara

      Only sons of Shilla nobles were hand picked to join the Hwarangs so maybe they were physically beautiful (according to the beauty standard of their days).

      In reality they were born into luxury, dressed in fine elaborate attire, well educated, talented, rooted in Buddhism etc makes them stand out.

      One of the most well know Hwarang was Kim Yushin so there is evidence that they were also taught martial arts and led the Shilla army on the battlefield. Most were in their teen.

      Kim Busik (of Goryeo) who wrote Samguk Sagi centuries later. He was a Shilla descent. Historians often criticized his writing as being biased towards Shilla so who knows if they were as elite as he made them out to be.

      • 30.4.1 Kiara

        *well known* *He* Sigh, way too early to be typing lol.

  31. 31 Tara

    Ban Ryu is the only thing that’s keeping me watching onto episode 2. Do Ji Han better have more screentime in upcoming episodes.

    I am confused about episode one. It’s really cheesy, but it tries so hard to be serious. I really hope upcoming episodes and the drama as a whole find its identity. Since its pre-produced, I guess there’s nothing they can do to about it now….

    I’m getting Warrior Baek Dong Soo vibes (it’s the hair. Dong Soo and Yeo Un’s wigs are being reused in this drama).

    Anyway even though this drama is only a guilty pleasure, I really hope it surprises me. But episode 1 gives a very mediocre impression. The ending was good though.

  32. 32 SLVR

    Hello everyone!

    I thought it was a fairly cute first episode, and was decently done. A few thoughts.

    – I bet everyone is going to ship the flower boys together instead of with the heroine. This is like an anime series with a male harem full of Bishounen. I already ship Goblin/Reaper, imagine what this is going to do to me?

    – I don’t think the first episode was badly edited. Yes, the production value was a bit lower than what I expected, but it requires major investment, both in experienced people and technology. A lot of iconic dramas this year had really big stars and strong PD’s and big budgets. Pre-production may not necessarily mean they have that big a budget.

    – The second episode, however, was badly edited. (no spoilers) Certain scenes were long, the pace was slow, and 60% of things shown in the preview did not happen in the 2nd episode. I hope Hwarang keeps the pace 3rd episode onwards.

    – I think the tone of cuteness, lightness, mixed with modern references and the usual political intrigue/angst is very reminiscent of MDBC. Although MDBC was somehow more endearing and heartwarming. I dont know about purists, but this seems like a John Hughes movie, with it’s young, pretty yet conflicted characters set in Korean Silla.

    – I like both male leads. Park Seo Joon always delivers on his characters, and somehow Moo-Myong is much more young and sweet compared to his previous ones. I think he will do a good job. Park Hyung Shik is surprisingly interesting, and his chemistry with the lead heroine is pretty sparkling. the only thing I do not like is his voice. I don’t know, I somehow feel one needs a commanding voice as a king, and his voice is very nasal. But that’s just my personal preference, doesnt take away from his acting or story.

    – Go Ara is super cute, but I feel her character can be more interesting. I am very very tired of Candy characters now- there have been way too many this year. However, I am glad that there are some cool elements to her, such as her being a Silla Bodice-ripper storyteller, or doing detective work. I am also intrigued by the King’s sudden interest in her (there’s no explanation why is he suddenly so attarcted to her).

    – The adults/ senior actors are also adorable (Sung Dong Il, Choi won Young, Kim Kwang Yu)! A couple of my favourites in there. But I can’t get past the Queen. The actress’ face and eyes look dead (the only remotely emotive scene was when she was protecting young Jinheung). I dont know if its her character brief, but it bugs.me.so.much.

    – Still can’t get past the hair (except Do Ji Han- it looks hot on him). Someone give them properly distressed manes of glory!God Byung yeon and Wang So’s stylist are needed here!

    – I am super curious about Moo-Myong’s fainting and disease. Is it hypoglycemia, narcolepsy or some brain affliction? And what about his parentage?

    – Also, my beloved Minho as a Silla-era Eric Finch? (especially when Stifler’s mom is so ice-cold?) :P…

    • 32.1 oosiee

      I think the the king’s sudden interest on her has something to do with him falling asleep while hearing her story-telling. Maybe he suffers from insomnia or just doesn’t sleep much because he’s surprised by himself when he didcovers that he fell asleep in broad daylight, in the middle of a market! So he must be curious why and hence he’s following her and you know what happens in the 2nd episode!

      • 32.1.1 oosiee


      • 32.1.2 siesta

        yeah i think he has severe insomnia since he has to be on his guard at all times due to the assassination attempts

  33. 33 Aiwille Carreon

    I was prepared for negative reactions, even lowering my own expectations so I was relieved and pleasantly surprised that the recap felt positive.

    The music and especially the club scene all felt too modern, that, or I haven’t really seen enough fusion sageuks.

    What I don’t understand though is that the scene where Moo-Myung saw the heads seemed to be played as comedy. Maybe I’m not paying enough attention. Moo-myung seemed to be surrounded by death. People kept mentioning that to him during the first part.

    I thought Mak-mun will die in this episode. I was thinking that his death would somehow be a catalyst for Moo-myung’s being a Hwarang.

    And the scene where the blue-robed minion beat up Mak-mun felt sad and ironic.

    Anyway, I never thought that the color of the robes had any significance until now.

  34. 34 oosiee

    I’m quite baffled by most responses for this calling it ridiculous or disjointed because I thought it was rather well paced and provided just enough information for the 1st episode. From the political struggle of Silla and the reason for Hwarang’s formation to the introduction to our plot driving characters, everything was done right and there was not a single dull moment. Plus there’s a club in Silla!! Now that club looked stylish and Dope!! Also I must say that for me, this 1st episode already tops MLSHR’s by high range as many were already comparing Hwarang to MLSHR. I mean if you call this ridiculous then what would you call ML’s huh??
    The only time I face-palmed for ridiculousness was when He…Flew! Like literally…right middle in the air! 😀
    So Yes, I’m in love Hwarang and its characters and after watching the 2nd episode [which was heartbreaking :'( ],I’m going crazy for it!
    Now looking forward to the whole Hwarang’s assemblement and my baby TaeTae’s more screentime!! 🙂
    ♡♡Hwarang hwaiting!!

    • 34.1 Sancheezy

      tbh I don’t think this drama even has the similarity with Moon Lovers.

      I agree that the introduction for the characters is nice.
      We got to see almost all of then before they join hwarang.
      We got a nice protagonist who is loyal, fun , have thought and good at fighting,
      the kings that nobody know and the girl that probably kwangsoo sister, then the royal born rivalry.

      I think I am quite surprise that I know quite a lot from the 1st episode

      • 34.1.1 gadis

        I think people compared it to MLSHR because of the amount of flower boys cast in it.

        I agree with you about the introduction part. It’s done well. And it’s a surprising bonus to have two nice boys as the leads. Who needs jerk male lead if you can have a nice one, anyway?? 😉

        • Sancheezy

          Right, they are both nice to her,
          and I also like that PSJ character act okay with her,
          he didn’t get lovestruck and Hyung Shik lovestruck also didn’t due to how he meets her but because he observe her and feel intrigued by her,
          It’s like it’s not all about romance type of story

  35. 35 Chi

    Can I ask which drama belong to Flower Boy Franchise?

    • 35.1 oosiee

      They’d be:
      1. Shut up flower boy band
      2. Flower boys ramyun shop
      3. Flower boys next door

      • 35.1.1 panshel

        4. Dating Agency: Cyrano

  36. 36 Small Birdy

    Suprisingly I felt that it was in the second episode that the drama started in earnest. I don’t know if the comedy and melodrama can be balanced out nicely because it’s not easy to take the whole thing seriously with the hair and outfits.

    Hopefully by the time they get to the training school, the wigs would have calmed down a tad, LOL! They are not THAT bad, I’ve seen far worst ones in TVB/Mainland shows. I think I was more disturbed by the strangely modern teaware (crystal clear teapots and cups) and that art-deco “club” facade.

    Having said that though, the acting can surpass a character’s styling and in this case, luckily, all of them are doing a decent job.

    I’m still zipping through some of the palace politics though cause that’s just costume drama 101 plot. Let’s see how it goes from here.

  37. 37 HandsUp

    Love PSJ, but I’m really surprised (and glad) that Hyungsik fits his role perfectly. He really looks like a young King, his “Royalness” is so subtle but very clear, he’s handsome too with the hair.
    Then Park Seo joon is the pretty who’s not pretty. I love that we have a “man” among the flower boys. PSJ is not that pretty and not that “bulky” manly too, he’s just… perfect XD

  38. 38 berries

    Cant wait for more bromance!! The hwarang interviews were hilarious!!

  39. 39 Amber

    Watching this bc of Hyung-sik oppa but I can’t stomach Go Ara’s acting. She always overreacts and her expression of fear and surprise look constipated. I cringe. Bless her. Her facial gestures are out-of-place for a historical setting. It would be okay for modern day but for a traditional drama set in Silla, it raises eyebrows.

    • 39.1 Amber

      Also, I’d take IU’s O.O acting over Go Ara’s cringey, out-of-place, and exaggerated acting anytime.

  40. 40 potatodrama

    Wasn’t expecting too much, and I was really surprised.

    It will be fun watching this drama.

  41. 41 Rovi

    Some notes tho, on whoever wrote this summary as well as for future epsodes.

    Main bone of contention: Silla people generally have no surnames unless they’re members of the bone ranks.

    Wi Hwa-gong -> Lord Wihwa.

    Gong is a nobility title equivalent to “Duke” today, but in Silla era was equivalent to “Lord”.
    Wihwa later becomes Wihwa-rang, where the name “hwarang” comes from. So expect his name & title change around ep.2 or 3.
    (Also, future grandfather of (among others) Seolwon & Sadaham, members of Mishil’s future harem of guys if “Hwarang Segi” is to be believed)

    So regarding Mu-myeong’s other name, once he’s in the Hwarang he’ll be Seonwoo-rang.

    Sammaekjong will be Jidwi-rang.

    Ah-ro’s 1st tale: deffo “Temptation of Wives”.
    Besides the infamous “mole context”, the 1st half of the chorus of the theme song (as narration) gave it away kkk

    The CCTV was aptly named “part-time work (alba)” in modern terms kkk

    (Will this be as punny as early episodes of LITM ???)

    Ahn Ji-gong -> Lord Anji

    Jinheung’s other name is “Sammaekbu”.
    And yes, historically the Hwarang corps was formed during his reign.

    This drama is pushing it with the “fusion” title, tho.
    The “nightclub” set was so over the top, even in terms of fusion-y saeguk
    …like the last time any drama did that was “Hong Gil-dong” (Kang Ji-hwan & Seo Yuri)

    Ah-ro’s 2nd tale: …Reply 1994?
    “Najeong” is not the character, but is a place, and if believing Suho, was near where Silla founder Park Hyeokgeose hatched out of his egg.

    TBH there were times the drama bored me tho…testosterone match-off

    • 41.1 panshel

      Thanks, Rovi, for the character name clarifications! Lord Wi Hwa and Lord Ahn Ji is what I found to be consistent across wiki.

    • 41.2 mary

      That’s fascinating (about the names)…

      And here I thought I already got Korean names figured out! (Well, after the shock that Namgoong is Namgoong Min’s last name.)

  42. 42 irmar

    After so many good Korean dramas we saw this year, including Jackpot, I had come to expect certain standards. I was really not prepared for the ridiculous slapstick, over the top or wooden acting and jarring modern music, slipshod, yawn-enducing cliché writing and direction. Ugh!
    A good, serious actor like Park Seo-joon surely deserves better and I’m sure he didn’t know what he was into when he signed for this sorry excuse for a series.
    Which, unfortunately, I’ll have to watch in its entirety because I’m on the translating team. Who could have guessed?
    And yes, I also watched the 2nd episode, which was less funny, more serious, but still not remotely interesting.
    I remember myself at 12, 13, 15. I did watch comedies, even costume comedies. I think that the ridiculous Zorro movies and the Terence Hill spaghetti westerns were Bergman compared to this.

    • 42.1 Reds

      The negativity in your comment though…. Well good luck translating this “sorry excuse of a series”.

    • 42.2 oosiee

      You Are Pissed!!
      Stay Strong!!!

  43. 43 TJ

    I’m watching for the cute boys. Nuff said.

  44. 44 Zah

    I have to ask this question. Are we in for a lot of deaths? Since this is basically a drama about an impending war, are the Silla warriors all going to die?

    Have to know what I’m getting myself into since I wasn’t prepared for all the deaths in the last sageuk I watched.

  45. 45 Emme

    This is my first time posting here. I have to say that I am very happy Dramabeans is here to provide a clearer picture of the dramas. Dramabeans does a great job of putting the pieces together. I love that the awesome women of Dramabeans are able to offer not only their own thoughts, but insights and meanings that are lost to (most) foreigners. Dramabeans definitely completes the kdrama-watching experience.
    That said, after I watched the first episode of Hwarang, there were so many parts that didn’t make sense to me – dialogues that confused me. I knew I could turn to Dramabeans to fill the gaps! And as usual, Dramabeans did not disappoint. Thank you!

  46. 46 Omomo

    That was fun! Please do remain relatively light-hearted until the end, show. Don’t want another “fun, youthful sageuk” to turn full-out melo and ramp up the suffering in its second half again. Looking at you, MBDC. My poor darlings. 🙁

    Also, it should be illegal for Park Hyung-sik to be that ridiculously pretty. No, beautiful is the word. Ethereal, even. What the hell. Why’s he so pretty?

  47. 47 Jipsy

    Thanks for the recap, Lollypip! You are a busy recapper!

    I really liked the first episode. Some of the slapstick comedy beats didn’t quite stick for me – but I like the overall fusion tone. I have to echo some of the others, I spent the whole episode waiting for Kwang Soo to die, and I thought Park Hyung Sik stole the show (he looks like an elf prince, er, king). Park Seo Joon is doing a good job, but his character has been so all the place that it’s hard to get a read on him yet. His hair is a mess 🙂

    Looking forward to watching the next episode!

  48. 48 Cheliwel

    The wigs are really distracting. So far Go Ara doesn’t seem to fit in this drama. Maybe it will change …

    Too bad LKS is only cameo in Hwarang. He has a better role here than on Entourage.

  49. 49 moochie

    The best gem I have found for this drama is Park Hyung Sik’s Mane of Pretty. Like my gaaaaahd! at times he looked like a doll! especially those scenes when he was sleeping.. can I siddle up to him and lay my head on His Highness’ lap? XD

    Not really sold yet to the whole universe but I’ll continue to watch for the Mane of Pretty and the other Pretties.

  50. 50 bbstl

    as someone who has been chanting “pleasebegoodpleasebegood” about this show for months, I’m neither elated nor crushed. This first episode felt uneven to me, with Kwang Soo too slapstick, Go Ara rather flat and just a lot of stuff squeezed into an hour. The wacky fusion feel (and modern music) reminds me of Three Musketeers, and I’d call that a good thing! In fact, I think the club interior may be the same set. PSJ is swoony as always and looks to be staking out his place as a man among (very pretty) boys, be still my heart! I have a feeling I’ll be leaving this show with more crushes than I came in with 😍

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