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Hwarang: Episode 20 (Final)

The future of Silla depends upon its king, and Ji-dwi and Sun-woo prepare to face off in a battle for the throne. They both dream of a Silla where the people can live freely while the king watches over them, but the decision isn’t up to them. In the end, it’s the Hwarang who will decide which man is the right king to lead their country into the future.

 
FINAL EPISODE RECAP

Ji-dwi and Sun-woo face off in the throne room, swords to each other’s throats. Sun-woo growls that he’s killed Ji-dwi many times in his mind for causing the death of his only friend, and that he can’t forgive Ji-dwi for that. Sun-woo continues that he never could kill him, because he hoped Ji-dwi wasn’t really the king.

Ji-dwi throws down his sword, and says that if Sun-woo needs to kill him for this to end, then he tells him to do it. But he asks if it really will solve anything, or if Sun-woo will just keep killing while more take the dead’s places. He says that he wants to change Silla with Sun-woo by his side and end the injustices caused by the bone rank system.

Sun-woo stands shaking, then quickly slashes his sword. But instead of cutting Ji-dwi down, the dragon-head bracelet falls to the ground, sliced in two. Ji-dwi asks if this is the end, and Sun-woo answers that they have different paths. Ji-dwi looks deeply sorrowful as he says that the next time they meet, they will be enemies.

Holding court with his royal council cronies, Minister Park says that he needs to change the king. He clarifies that instead of a king, he will put forward a sacred bone scarecrow in the form of Sun-woo. The councilors worry that the queen regent won’t allow it, so Minister Park decides they need to take away everything from her: money, power, and position. He’s unafraid of people branding it a rebellion, because he frankly doesn’t care what the people think.

Ji-dwi sits up late, contemplating his broken bracelet. He calls Pa Oh and orders him to bring Ah Ro to the palace first thing in the morning.

Minister Park is dismayed when he learns of Ji-dwi’s move to secure Ah Ro, having intended to use her as bait to force Sun-woo to go along with his plans. But it turns out that he didn’t need her, because Hwi-kyung shows up on his doorstep with Sun-woo in tow.

Minister Park looks like the cat that ate the canary as the three sit to talk, and Sun-woo says in a hard voice that they need to change the owner of Silla. He tells Minister Park that he will make it happen using the Hwarang, with Minister Park and the royal council to support him.

Ji-dwi approaches Queen Regent Jiso with a request to formally abdicate the throne to him. She agrees, but only if he marries Sookmyung first, and Ji-dwi asks if it’s that difficult for her to see him become king. The queen regent says that only an objective king can hold power — one willing to take even his friend’s life to protect his throne.

Ji-dwi rejects the idea that a king must kill to remain king. But his mother tells him that the Hwarang believe that Sun-woo deserves to be king, after watching him risk his life in Baekje. That taps right into Ji-dwi’s insecurities, but he says firmly that he will make the Hwarang his, whatever it takes.

Sun-woo goes back to Hwa-gong to remind him of his lesson that no path started as a path. He says that he plans to make his own path and refuses to be a piece on someone else’s chess board, quoting another of Hwa-gong’s lessons.

He asks Hwa-gong for his help, but Hwa-gong balks at the idea of aiding a rebellion. Sun-woo says that he needs his help keeping the Hwarang together, adding that he’s confident that Hwa-gong will help because they want the same things. He leaves a letter with Hwa-gong, saying that it outlines what he intends to do, and goes.

Still acting as Queen Regent Jiso’s bodyguard, Su-ho witnesses her attendant Mo-young adding something to the queen regent’s tea. He watches her closely as she pours a cup, but as the queen regent raises the cup to her lips, he takes it from her.

He tells her that he saw Mo-young putting something in the tea, and that he fears it’s poison. She tells her to hand it over and he pours it out, refusing to allow her to drink something unknown. She pours another cup, and this time he takes it and drinks it himself.

Queen Regent Jiso smiles at his loyalty, and tells Su-ho that it’s not a poison whose effects are seen immediately. He asks if she’s been drinking it knowing it was there, and she says she’s suspected it from the beginning.

She has a coughing fit, and there’s blood in her handkerchief, which alarms Su-ho. He offers to call a doctor, but the queen regent begs him not to, as she’s been having symptoms for a while.

Ji-dwi visits Ah Ro in her palace room, explaining that this is the only way he can keep her next to him. He asks about her arrow wound, but Ah Ro says that she’d heal faster at home.

Ji-dwi seems sorry but says she can’t leave, because she’s here as a hostage to stop Sun-woo from stealing his throne. When Ah Ro says this isn’t like him, Ji-dwi reminds her that he’s his mother’s son. He says coldly that this is her chance to find out who he really is.

Later, he stands outside the Hwarang grounds, preparing to address his former friends. He corrects Sookmyung’s assumption that he’s here to seize the Hwarang, reminding her that they were his to begin with, and says that he needs to take control now before it’s too late.

He seems so different that the Hwarang hardly recognize him, and Yeo-wool notes that he looks cruel now, like his mother. They’re ordered to kneel before their king, and Ji-dwi introduces himself as King Jinheung (and now that he’s officially come out to everyone now, we’ll switch to calling him by his royal name). He says that when he was here, he thought them lazy and weak, spoiled sons of rich families. But now, he states that they will be reborn as strong warriors under the watch of the royal family.

Sun-woo has been conspicuously absent, but he walks out now and calls out to Jinheung. He asks how he’s any different than the Hwarang, saying that he’s also weak and powerless. Jinheung tells him to be respectful, and Sun-woo just barely lowers his head.

King Jinheung announces that in four days, his mother will abdicate, and that he expects the Hwarang to fulfill their obligations as the royal guard. But Sun-woo immediately says that the Hwarang must be free, because only when they can think and act freely will they be able to become a part of Silla’s future.

Jinheung asks if Sun-woo is rebelling against him, and Sun-woo loudly announces that the Hwarang will decide for themselves whether to accept him as their king. He asks if Jinheung has no confidence that they will choose him.

Sun-woo finds Princess Sookmyung waiting for him later, and she tells him that Ah Ro is okay. He says he knows, and apologizes for not being a good man to Sookmyung. She agrees that he hasn’t, and he says that she’s a good woman who should find a man who feels the same about her as she does about him.

Su-ho tells King Jinheung about the queen regent’s poisoned tea, and Jinheung goes straight to his mother’s chambers. He finds Mo-young serving her a cup at that exact moment, and he snatches it and smashes it to the floor. He draws his sword and levels it at Mo-young’s throat, asking, “Is it Park Young-shil?”

He can tell by her frightened gasp that he’s correct, and he calls Pa Oh in and orders him to have Mo-young killed immediately. Her pleas for mercy go unheard, and Pa Oh takes her to her death.

Once they’re alone, King Jinheung drops his sword and falls to his knees in front of his mother. No longer a king, but just a lost little boy, he asks why she drank the tea when she knew it was poisoned. Queen Regent Jiso says that when she found out it was too late, and if she’d refused the tea, they would have just found another method.

Crying now, Jinheung asks why she didn’t just renounce the throne, and she says she tried, but she had something to protect. She tells her son that he needs to be strong in order to fight, and adds that he should not believe in people’s weak hearts. Jinheung breaks down sobbing with his head in his mother’s lap.

King Jinheung gives Hwa-gong his job back in leading and teaching the Hwarang. He addresses them in the lecture hall, saying that he’s heard about their latest difficult task, and adds that he think their decision will create the new shape of Silla. He also says that he believes they are qualified to make that choice.

Hwa-gong says that this could either be considered treason, or their duty. He tells them to make their own choice whether to be a Hwarang who challenges the nation, or continue being a Hwarang unable to decide anything. “Never forget that you are Hwarang. Never forget.”

Jinheung visits Ah Ro again and reminds her of the time she said that she could tell by his eyes that he never gave up on being king. He says that he hopes she was right, and notes that it’s her heart that’s never changed, though his heart is racing.

Ah Ro mentions the queen regent’s abdication later today, and Jinheung asks if she’s worried about him. Ah Ro replies that the throne seems lonely, and that she thinks she’ll sleep less there. Jinheung thanks her, saying that he became stronger because of her.

It’s time for the abdication, and Hwi-kyung stands beside the throne while the royal council wonders why he’s there. The queen regent enters the throne room next, wearing her crown, and seats herself in the smaller chair beside the throne.

Last is King Jinheung, dressed in his formal robes, and he sits on his throne. Meanwhile the Hwarang gather together and, led by Sun-woo, they approach the palace to make their choice.

Minister Kim begins to announce the abdication, but Minister Park’s voice interrupts him with a loud, “Halt!” He steps forward and points at King Jinheung, asking if he thinks that throne belongs to him. He says that the royal council chose to crown another sacred bone as king — Prince Hwi-kyung’s son, Sun-woo.

Right on cue, Sun-woo enters the throne room, followed by the entire Hwarang. They walk up to the throne, and Sun-woo stands glaring at Jinheung. Su-ho joins them, and in a strong voice, Su-ho says, “Today, we Hwarang selected the king for the future. We Hwarang pledge allegiance before His Majesty, who will be honored by his people and make Silla strong.” He drops to a knee, and behind him, the Hwarang all kneel to their king.

Still standing, Sun-woo never takes his eyes off Jinheung as he bellows, “Hwarang, pledge your allegiance for Silla, and the master of Silla with the spirit of Silla!” He draws his sword and raises it high and says, loud and strong, “Your Majesty Jinheung, manse [ten thousand years]!”

The Hwarang all chant after him, “Your Majesty Jinheung, manse!” Hwi-kyung and the queen regent both look surprised, while Minister Park looks confused and befuddled. To his credit, King Jinheung accepts his Hwarang’s tribute with dignity and grace, never betraying how worried he was.

Sun-woo isn’t finished — he suddenly whips his sword to the side, and holds it to Minister Park’s neck. He roars that Minister Park has been plotting treason to kill the king, and says it’s time to accept his punishment. He invites anyone who stands with Minister Park to step forward, but every last councilor bows to their new king.

Knowing he’s been beaten, Minister Park reluctantly lowers his head in respect, and Sun-woo removes his sword. Jinheung steps forward, remembering his plea to Sun-woo to join him in making Silla a better place, and we see the rest of their conversation from that night.

Sun-woo had asked if Jinheung could really make his lofty dreams come true, and Jinheung had said that he has to at least try. Now, Sun-woo tells Jinheung with his eyes that he can change Silla as he always dreamed. The king silently answers that to avoid disappointing Sun-woo, he will take that path to the end. Sun-woo nods, the message heard loud and clear.

Now officially crowned king, Jinheung steps outside and climbs the courtyard steps as his mother looks on proudly. He draws his sword, raises it to the sky, and vows that he, along with his Hwarang, will put the people first to create a powerful and prosperous Silla. The Hwarang roar their approval, and Pa Oh nearly cries with pride.

As Hwa-gong fishes in the Hwarang pond, he thinks back on his conversation with Sun-woo, when he’d asked what type of king he’s thinking of. Sun-woo had said he dreams of a country where the people are happy while the king suffers, where the people don’t worry about the country, but one where the king worries about the people. His words were nearly identical to Jinheung’s, and Hwa-gong chuckles to himself.

After the ceremony, Sun-woo speaks to Hwi-kyung privately to apologize for not telling him his plans sooner. Hwi-kyung says that he respects Sun-woo’s choice, and that he’s proud of him. He adds that his mother would have been proud as well, bringing tears to Sun-woo’s eyes.

King Jinheung thinks back on his time with the Hwarang, the shenanigans and the fights, and how he was always treated like one of the guys. He smiles as he remembers fighting for his people in Baekje, and Sun-woo declaring his loyalty to him as king.

His mother approaches, and says that he really did all this on his own. She says she’s glad it wasn’t too late, and he promises to bear the burden of Silla from now on. His mother asks if he thinks she hated him, and when he doesn’t answer, she smiles ruefully and turns to leave.

Jinheung asks her the same question, if she thinks he hated her. He says that he knows she was protecting both him and Silla, and he vows to protect Silla and his people too, but in his own way. She nods tearfully, finally ready to let her son make his own future.

As Su-ho walks Jiso to her quarters, she collapses, coughing up blood. He calls Ji-gong, who examines her and says she’s on the brink of death. He stands to leave, but she grabs his hand and says she has something to tell him.

Ji-gong wants to leave anyway, but Su-ho stops him. He begs Ji-gong to stay by Jiso’s side, and leaves the room to give them privacy. He sheds a tear, knowing that he’ll never see his queen alive again.

Once they’re alone, Jiso whispers to Ji-gong that she would have rather died at his hands. She asks why he didn’t tell her not to drink the tea, and when he doesn’t answer, she assumes he was worried about her. She gasps that she tried to let him go, but she couldn’t.

Ji-gong says that he tried to hate her, and he even tried to kill her, but he couldn’t. Jiso says that she’s sorry, then her eyes roll back and her hand goes limp. She’s gone.

Ah Ro paces her room through all of this, and finally, Pa Oh comes to see her. He reports that everything went well, and gives her a letter from Jinheung. It reads: “Did you resent me for locking you up here? It was the only choice I could make to protect you from Minister Park. I think I won’t be able to let you go if I see your face, because I think I’ll become greedy again. Go, don’t make him wait too long. Go to him.”

Ah Ro runs to find Sun-woo, and when they see each other, he grabs her in a tight hug. He asks if he was too late, and she shakes her head. He promises never to leave her alone again, and gives her a long, lingering kiss.

Some time later, Ah Ro is back to peddling her stories, this time to Hwa-gong’s assistant, Bu-jae. She attempts to sell him her compilation of the capital’s noblemen, and the money she gets from the sale pays off her debt to Joo-ki. He teases that she’s back in her same place after winning the love of two sacred bones, ha.

The little boy that Joo-ki adopted after his mother was killed in Baekje comes to give Ah Ro a hug, and Joo-ki jealously grabs him and tells Ah Ro to go date if she needs companionship that badly. She whines that she hasn’t seen Sun-woo in a while, even after he promised not to leave her alone, and bellows at Joo-ki in frustration.

Ban-ryu and Soo-yeon have a little clandestine meeting in her home, and Ban-ryu stammers that they shouldn’t keep sneaking around. Soo-yeon worries because Ban-ryu lost his connections when Minister Park was humiliated, so her father opposes Ban-ryu.

But she assures him that he has her love, and pulls him close for a hug — which is, of course, the moment that her father walks into the room. The two lovebirds jump apart, looking guilty as sin, and Ban-ryu actually tests the window for a possible escape route, hee.

Sun-woo reports to King Jinheung that Crown Prince Chang of Baekje is thinking of attacking one of their fortresses. Jinheung complains that they only see each other when there’s a problem these days, and Sun-woo sighs that it will cause issues if another sacred bone spends too much time at the palace.

The king taunts that if he was going to act so cool, he should just go be king then, and Sun-woo jokingly sizes up the throne as if he’s considering the idea. They both laugh, then Jinheung asks if Sun-woo has seen Ah Ro after being gone for six months. Sun-woo’s guilty face says it all.

Ah Ro is sitting outside her house, pouting that she hasn’t even gotten a note from Sun-woo. She barks that he should just end things, but he suddenly pops out of nowhere to grab her in a back hug. Still annoyed, Ah Ro pretends she doesn’t know who he is, but he completely disarms her when he caresses her face and says she’s beautiful.

Without preamble, Sun-woo asks Ah Ro, “Let’s get married.” He says this isn’t working for him because he misses her so much, and her big smile is all the answer he needs. He gives her a teeny kiss, then a long hug, saying again that he’s missed her.

King Jinheung and his loyal Hwarang ride off into their future, a better future for all of Silla.

 
COMMENTS

Surprisingly, I actually really liked the way the show wrapped up its story, particularly the way Sun-woo managed to outwit Minister Park and his nefarious schemes to take over the throne. It was genius to use Minister Park’s plan to flip things on their ear, letting him think he was in charge, because it kept Minister Park out of Sun-woo’s way while he did what he needed to do. It was entirely in keeping with Sun-woo’s established intelligence and character, to keep his cards close to the vest and use his opponents’ overconfidence against them, and I cheered out loud when Sun-woo declared himself and the entire Hwarang to be King Jinheung’s men. Well done, Show, you ended on a high note.

That said, I can’t let everything the show did terribly wrong slip by unnoticed, and the list is a long one. Part of the reason I’m so disappointed is because of episodes like the finale (and Episode 15, which I felt was the best overall), which proved that Hwarang had the ability to tell a compelling, gripping story and use its actors and settings to maximum effect. But it’s this knowledge that makes the bulk of the rest of the drama so lackluster, because when you know you can do better, why let so much time and story slip by and become forgettable?

Sadly, Hwarang was a show that allowed most of its story — the part we actually wanted to see — to happen off-screen, most notably the Hwarang training, and the boys learning to be friends and be loyal to one another rather than towing their parents’ party lines. There were so many stories partially told and then dropped, such as what happened to Dan-se after Han-sung died and how he was suddenly a Hwarang instead of a Nando, and why Han-sung had to die in the first place. Or Yeo-wool’s fascinating backstory, which was just never touched on ever again. Where did Su-ho go after the queen regent died? And then there’s Sun-woo’s illness, since we never knew where it came from and why it only happened in certain circumstances. It’s like the writer had all these great ideas, but had no idea how to tell them, so they just… didn’t. We got great setup, and no follow-through.

And don’t even get me started on the many, many plot holes that were too numerous to be accidental oversights. There were so many of them that it just came across as lazy storytelling, which, in my opinion, is inexcusable in a pre-produced drama. Why did Minister Park have no reaction whatsoever to his vast stores of medicinal herbs being stolen? I don’t even mean a half-hearted reaction — we got nothing, when the man should have been furious that his plans for great wealth were thwarted. And how did Jinheung know that Minister Park had his dragon bracelet? Why did Minister Park and Hwi-kyung get away scot-free with plotting treason? Why did everyone just forget that Sun-woo and Ah Ro were supposed to be brother and sister? We can assume that the rumors of Sun-woo’s true birth made it clear they weren’t related, but as I said before, it’s better if the show tells us clearly rather than make us create conversations that never happened to explain events in the story.

Speaking of Ah Ro, I wish we’d gotten more of the spunky self-sufficient girl we were promised, but instead she served as little more than a very pretty prop to move the boys around, and seemed to be useful for no other reason than to make Sun-woo and Jinheung dislike each other. As if they needed yet another reason. She didn’t even do anything in the final episode other than sit in a room, yet again nothing more than a prop being used to control one or the other. Such a waste of a character, and I’m not even getting into how flat and uninteresting her love line with Sun-woo was. The only reason I wanted them to get together is because Sun-woo wanted it so much, but not because I felt any great need to see them together.

Of course, the untold story I’ll miss the most is the bromance-that-wasn’t, collectively among the entire Hwarang, but specifically between Sun-woo and Jinheung. The show proved that it can do epic bromances, as we saw with Sun-woo and Mak Mun, which really set my expectations high for what was to come between the immature king and the wayward low-born boy. We even got one episode of them kind of being friends, and then it just stagnated and never went anywhere, and before we knew it, they were sniping at each other again with no explanation as to why. It’s tragic, because I know I would have felt Sun-woo’s seeming betrayal of Jinheung in the final episode much more keenly if he and Jinheung were fighting a deep love for each other to argue over who was the best man to lead Silla into the future. But again, the plot felt flat because there just wasn’t much personal emotion behind the characters’ actions. It was all political.

Still, I feel that the actors did their best with what they were given, and the show was certainly beautiful to look at (though Sun-woo’s hair length always bothered me — did they think we wouldn’t notice that putting a headband on made it grow six inches, and taking it off shortened his hair by six inches?). It’s just that by the end, it felt like little more than something pretty to look at. Though, if you can watch it without thinking too hard, it’s actually a pretty entertaining drama. It’s just that it gave us too much filler and not enough meat, which leaves me still feeling hungry even after twenty episodes. But to end things on a high note, I do feel that we saw some pretty great performances in Hwarang, particularly from the male actors, and I wish them much luck and good, strong scripts in their future.

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So many Yoo Deokhwa's in this drama, and by Yoo Deokhwa, I meant UNDERUTIZILED CHARACTERS.

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Wow. You just shot down two dramas in one go. But I agree. Though in Goblin's case, it's less frustrating. Deokhwa was just one character. In Hwarang, you'll keep on hoping for the next episode to be better for the Hwarang boys, but it never came. They're there on your screen, but that's it. They're mere decorations for this show.

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You know what I did to make up for my disappointment? I watched the 2D1N episodes with PSJ, PHS, and CMH. That made me feel much better! Otherwise I think my poor TV would've had a remote sticking out of the screen.

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I know right!
Sooho's comedic acting is on point (See "BAN RYUUUUUU!!!") but nope, his arc is focused on the queen and he doesn't even make it into the final horseriding scene, wtf.
Ban Ryu, the 'Iceman', got a pretty sweet send-off, but would it have killed the writer to give more Sooho-Ban Ryu bromance, or just general bromance amongst the Hwarang?
Yeowool's stereotypical feminine behaviour, and why is he never included in anything (football, emissary to Baekje) but somehow just as tight with the main four Hwarang?
Puppy Hansung. Such a brief character arc, that it was hard to feel something when he died. Show, you have to make us care more!!
The question of Yeowool's daddy
Sunwoo's illness
Does Jinheung end up marrying his sister or not?
There was so much the writer could have explored!

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I wish there were more Ban Ryu and Soo Yeon scenes

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all of this!

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Thanks LollyPip :) Great job^^

The ending is a relief for me. And I agree that the actors did as best as they could with what they were given, especially PSJ and PHS.

Moving on to Strong Woman Do Bong Soon, I can't wait!

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i am goign to say.. all actors did their job except for one..

THE ONE..

I appreciate that not everyone has the skills but have to earn their livelihood so they will act if an opportunity comes along (top idols or not).. but man!.. if you know you suck at acting..atleast use part of that paycheck to train yourself and improve the art..

How many years has it been since Go Ara debuted.. and if she can't do a simple sad scene without pouting like a 5 yr old in place of a 20 sthg old (where the character is actually supposed to be mature) .. as a viewer i don't want to appreciate her efforts because i don't see her putting in any effort in improving herself

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I think I understand what you mean. I didn't see any difference between Go Ara acting in this show and you are all surrounded and the old show how are you.

Yes she is very pretty and I like her but wish to see her doing different acting.

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maybe Go Ara should try a melodrama next time and she's like the villainess, maybe that would be a better role for her, who knows?

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I on the other hand think Go Ara should just take on comedic roles. She's way better at comedic scenes than emotional ones. When this drama first started, I read a lot of comments about her frowning face and I didn't understand why so many people complained about it. Halfway through the drama, I finally understand why. That was like the only expression she had on when she was sad, angry etc. I really didn't feel what she was trying to convey to the audience.

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agree. maybe other path will be better for her. Honestly I am so annoyed with her though the series that I skipped her scene just to see other

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I totally agree. I found it rather strange though, that Aro becomes much more interesting when she's around Jinheing. Then, she becomes this spunky fun sardonic girl, whereas she turns into this weepy/frowny sap around Sunwoo.

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+1 this is one of the reasons why u ended up in the second lead ship instead of rooting for the OTP. jinheung and aro could actually make it as a couple. when she's with jinheung, i am reminded about the things that i like about her. the ah ro from the start of the drama comes out to the surface when they are togethet. she in turn pushes him to be a better a person. she's the one who encouraged him about being a king when no one seems to be on his side and everyone was doubting him, even himself. i guess you can say that they bring out the best of each other.

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Go Ara simply does not look good in sageuk clothing. She is pretty today and all, but she just looks like a man/transvestite with those hard eyebrows, intense eyes and the perpetual worried scowl. I couldn't get past a full episode because of how incongruous she looks and acts and now glad I didn't try to. Bye Hwarang!!! Thanks for finally freeing up a spot for a better drama to come.

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I thought I was the only one who didnt like her acting. I just watched until ep 4 and read the recaps for the rest of the episodes here. She was really annoying

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I agree. I was frustrated whenever she's on screen. She has a permanent frown on her face all throughout the drama. I mean, Cmon! When it's her, she's either pouting, frowning, grumpy or crying like a kid. lol. She was supposed to look dreamy and cute and shining since it's a historical drama. But nah. She was like a child (but not a cute one) which affected the supposedly romantic scenes with PHS and PSJ. Somebody help her please. lol

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Hwarang could have been so much more if writer had focused on Silla-Barkje conflict then 2 possible kings vying for same lame girl.

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even without king conflict , there were so many angles to explore..

even the basic of king's coming of age..

ruined opportunity.. if this were done right, they could have easily transformed this into series/seasons

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Basically they took a premise that's full of potential and ruined it. I'm still holding out hope that someday a great team of writer-director would take this Hwarang topic and do it justice. It's not unheard of in sageuk to have stories recycled and re-interpreted as we have so many versions of Jang Hee-bin and Crown Prince Sado throughout the years.

As much as I enjoy fluffy stories and light-hearted bromance, I like my sageuk gripping, with plenty of bites and real angst. I'd take the team behind TWDR and SFD, or even the ones currently producing Rebel. I've also heard people praise Jung Ha-yeon, even though I've never watched his works, but at least Hwarang would be accurately portrayed.

Sigh, this deja vu. I remember feeling the exact same way when Moon Lovers ended.

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I agree!. The episodes where the show this were really excited and I wished more. Park Seo Joon acting really shines in these episodes.

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lol

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I was laughing at the end of the episode. Thats it? Thats all it takes to become a king? We wait 20 episode for one minute decision? What did he do to deserve to be a king, get respect from people? His mom did everything for him. His friends did everything for him. He just change his mind then thats it, its all we been waiting for?

The music is terrible. The directing is really bad. The writing is so weak.

The best actor of hwarang is...... Lee Kwang Soo. His character is the only one that make me feel, laugh and cry. Because of the directing, the acting just doesnt get where it needed to be. When they show love, I want love. When they show angry, I want to see the anger. But everything just not up there.

With pre produced drama, shouldnt they have a preview group that would give some comment about the drama because put it on tv? They just choose to gamble all the way? There is no one high up with any kind of sense to give some kind of comments before it shows on tv?

The most benefit from Hwarang is Park Hyung Sik. This drama put him in the spotlight. I feel bad for Do Ji Han and Cho Yoon Woo, this is the first time they can be in some kind of spotlight but the drama didnt give much light to them.

If there are a bunch of guys together, all you need to do is to film them fight. Thats how the guys bond. Instead they just wandering around.

All and all, what could have been.

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All you said. Yep, why can't they take extra time rework scripts and do filming? Or take time to make sure scripts make sense and then start filming!? How can preproduced dramas also suffer from the same fate that most live dramas suffer? Where the steam gets lost after first half, under developed characters, forgotten plotlines and so many so many loopholes! They don't even have live shoot schedule to blame!

I just don't understand why. What should dramaland do differently to put out solid episodes from start to end?!

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I think the big problem with kdrama is not live shooting but live writing. Even if the drama is preproduced, they still need to wait week by week for the script to be ready. When they realize the writing has some problem, they can undo what they have already filmed.

So finish the script before filming is the way to go, even if its only for few people to forsee it. Live writing is not the way to go. It kills all the good drama.

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I agree, as far as the story goes, it is the live writing that is the problem. They should have the scripts entirely done before production starts and can deal with quality then and there, before filming starts.

Regarding the below comment, even though one or two writers might get credit for a drama, it is my understanding that they do have assistant writers involved. Certainly not as many as on US shows though.

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They need more than one writer. If they do as in American drama where there is a group of writers, things will become better, I think.

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I think it was on purpose, honestly. They called this 'Hwarang: The Beginning' to milk a possible sequel out of it. And left half the plot out as a result, smh.

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I also think Lee Kwang Soo was the best actor in Hwarang. I'm glad he gets to have those scenes on his acting reel. He and his relationship with Sunwoo drew me into the story and like Sunwoo, felt the injustice of his death. His positive and warm attitude while yearning for the home he so clearly still remembered and was torn away from. :( and his love for his makeshift family. Such a big heart.

I think Do Ji Han got some recognition. And it's a nice toe dipping foray back in kdramas after being gone for some time. But Cho Yoon Woo who promoted the drama with the rest of the guys. He had less to do than V/Hansung who is an idol completely new to acting. I feel bad for Kim Hyun Joon who played Dan Se and didn't get featured on the poster.

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I don't know if it's the writer of the editor, but this drama is worse than Swiss cheese - so many holes in the storyline. Was the writer really that lazy or did the editor go crazy with the scissors cutting scenes?! I totally agree ... They had this build up about becoming king, and in the end, it was soooooo anticlimactic. This drama had some great cast members to work with too. What a waste of talent.

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I wish hyungsik was the main lead.. and There's so much untold story.. they were too busy thinking where to put the love line..

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Very true. And they spoiled his storyline also by end!

Out of all times I facepalmed throughout this episode(which was a lot), the final headgear of him as king is where I lost it. It looked so bad, lol.

I am so happy I will be able to see him in two days time!!

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^^^ This. Right here. I was looking away from my screen in my own private dissing of how the show decided to end. Fine, I'm "watching" the last episode because I'd already invested 19 hours watching this train wreck, but I won't respect it with my undivided attention! Neener neener, Show!

This, coming from a soon-to-be 38-year-old...

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I started doing a lot of fast forward for last two weeks! Only way to get through it.

And seriously, does Ah To and Sun Woo really need TWO reunion scenes!? Why do they waste such precious minutes at end. They could just show all our boys working together for Silla away from their parents generation!

Its a good thing there was that ONE scene at end where Ji Dwi was complaining how less they see each other, and sun woo joking around him. I swear am not using bad words just because of that ONE tiny scene!

See how much potential you had, show!!
Now go sit in corner and think about what you did!!! ??

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Same here. His glorious version of Ji Dwi pretty much gone after episode 12. I just want to wipe aware of the horror of slaughtering and butchering of his character in second half badly. Thank goodness I only need to wait for 2 days.

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overall this drama was disappointing.
the ending seemed utterly pointless to me. even tho that was the happy ending we all wanted, these dramas never alter history THAT significantly, so it’s not like sun woo would have ever become king!

like many people, i never felt the connection between our main couple. i also failed to see the point of king jinheung pretending he kidnapped ahro as a hostage?? like i get how he was protecting her from minister park, but he was literally alone in a room with her & trying to convince her he was evil. it was for the audience’s benefit but made no sense in the context of their characters’ interactions for 19 episodes…

one positive thing i will say is when this started, i was really disappointed that minho didn’t seem to improve in his acting at all. through the series, however, i started genuinely seeing the character of soo ho instead of choi minho in a wig. i'm rooting for you minho~

i wish they had shown us the fate of every loose end, like han sung’s family with him gone. or ban ryu/soo ho’s friendship after the relationship with soo ho’s sister continued. they couldn’t even kill minister park on screen, come on. & i don’t think they redeemed the queen regent enough to give her that “tearful” death scene.

they promised us bromance but didn’t deliver & then tried to squeeze it all into the ending. it was irritating to me that the whole point of this was for sun woo & ji dwi to “change silla” together, but they time skipped & didn’t even really show us if they were on their way to being successful.

/end rant LOL

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…and I suppose the rest is literally history.

Ok, I want to talk about the queen first. I think she was one of the most interesting characters; she knew strategy and politics and wasn’t afraid to kill in order to protect her own. Despite everything, I gotta admit that willingly drinking poison for 10 years to throw your enemies was kind of badass. I think this is what her daughter was like, too – except she came off seeming constipated and elitist with a side dose of entitled. While the queen was vicious and knew what she wanted, Ji Dwi got handed the softer edge of the stick. After this episode, I kind of admire the hell out of her.

Which brings me to the plot – which was going FINE up until episode 6. We had bromance and co-habitation hijinks and infighting between the boys. You could see it working out a la Sungkyunkwan Scandal, where the four boys/girl bought about a cultural revolution; THAT was what I wanted Hwarang to be. I wanted to see just how far the political and cultural differences between each factions would stretch before bringing the boys together like an unbreakable team.

Instead, Hwarang was a rag tag, sloppily edited, flimsily plotted blackhole (I mean wth what Sun Woo’s illness even?) that got sucked away in a trite love triangle that nobody even liked. Which brings me to the heroine…

Go Ara was the worst possible candidate to play Ah Ro. Really, she wasn’t ALL bad – maybe 80% weak character plotting and 20% bad acting? Still that is a pretty staggering ratio. The writer did her a great injustice by making her a perpetual plot device – not ONCE, was she actually made USEFUL! I even supported the uptight princess when she told that that she would never be able to protect Sun Woo; totally agree. Sigh…

Let’s talk about chemistry – I think there was more chemistry between Park Seo Joon and Park Hyung Shik than both of them had with Go Ara combined. And there was such comedic cold to have been marketed on with Ban Ryu and Seo Yeon’s hilarious love line (which is the only good thing this show ever had and did you see how he tried to flee from that window in the last scene {SO CUTE}). Also Su Oh and Ban Ryu were so cute – there should have been MORE of THAT instead of the stupid love triangle.

Which brings me to – WHO THE HELL IS YEO WOOL’S ACTUAL FATHER? That could have been such an amazing plotline! The boys could have gone Daddy Hunting together! It would have been so cool – just; I feel so cheated right now. So, so, absolutely positively CHEATED! T____T

I could ream into the writer more, but I’m too mentally exhausted. This drama had the potential to be so much MORE. It could have been a great coming of age story between 6 boys from different aspects of the same world, coming together to bring about a more justifiable world. What a letdown.

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LOL OMG i totally forgot about sun woo's illness!! THANK YOU for reminding me of another forgotten plot point...

i thought go ara was good for the outlandish ahro who was telling racy stories & secretly stalking the officials' sons. past that i agree with you~

letdown for sure!

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I wondered what went through her head in that last month of filming when she got the scripts. I can imagine the spunky, shouty angry Aro expression she uses on Hwagong and her clutching the script and struggling not to throw it. It's a step back when she was a cop in You're All Surrounded and the funny college student/daughter in Answer me 1988.

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i just read the soompi article where go ara talks about the ratings for this drama & then mentioned:
"The actress also talked about the difficulties encountered while filming because of the period-specific clothing, and the need to act Ah Ro as accurately as possible in the context of the Silla era. She explained that she was a little disappointed at how Ah Ro had to be portrayed within the restrictions of the historical time period, but understood the necessity."

i now feel like maybe ahro in the beginning was how she wanted to play the character, but she got reprimanded for not acting like "a lady of that time period"

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i feel really bad for her. so many hate being thrown her way because of the character. she's not one of the best actresses out there, true, but she's serviceable and can deliver given the right script. between go ata and lee yubi, i think that lee yubi is the better actress, but then lee yubi still wasn't able to save her character in SWWTN from being annoying.

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Interesting! I think it's more likely she struggled with a role where her character doesn't really get to do anything and is often quite subdued. She probably assumes it's because the character was mostly just a normal gal in Korea historical times where women had less freedoms, especially when they stuck her in Hwarang House and she quit her part time jobs and stopped delivering briefings. She never even got to cross dress like other ladies in fusion sageuks. But more likely, she knows the writer screwed up and is trying to express a bit of disappointment while trying her best not to sound critical of other people.

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If you are referring to Deok-sun's elder sister Bo-ra in Answer Me 1988, that character was played by Ryu Hye-Yung, not Go Ara.

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i think ar just got confused on which reply series go ara was in. go ara starred in reply 1994, not 1988. :) she only had a cameo in 1988 but was very brief.

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Yup, I got it wrong and really meant 1994

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Thanks lollypip for recapping faithfully till the end. I can feel your disappointment and I feel the same way.

The problem I had with this drama is not the plot holes or the dropped story lines (which was a shame, but I can ignore) it the fact that they didn't really know who their hero was or rather how to develop that character. From episode 4 to episode 12, Sun Woo did nothing except battle with his "I love my fake sister".
Think of what the other characters did during these 8 episodes:

1) Ban Ryu fell in love with his enemies sister, stood up to Park Young shil, backtracked because of fear.
2) Han Sung and Dan se battled with themselves because of stupid society rules and their even stupider father
3) So Hoo was being manipulated by the queen
4) Sook Myung tried to kill Ah Ro

All these characters were doing something for the few minutes (sometimes just five) they were on screen. And their conflicts are really cool.

Now Ji Dwi. As a faceless king, his backstory itself is amazing, but on top of that he battled with himself about being ousted as king, about being hated by Sun Woo when he finds out he's king, he stood up to his mother to save Ah Ro, all in those 8 episodes where Sun Woo was only worried about Ah Ro.

It's not that only the king can be the hero, Sun Woo surely shined in the last few episodes. But if they wanted Sun Woo to be the king maker, then they should have laid the foundation for that way in the beginning so we know what direction the show is taking our hero in.

We knew what every other character wanted, but we didn't really see what Sun Woo wanted.

It looked like he only wanted love, and that's a great story line too. But since Ah Ro loved Sun Woo and their father knew they weren't related, and society wasn't really against that kind of relationship, there was absolutely no conflict there.

So if it's not love, then maybe his story was about revenge against the king. but till episode 10, he didn't really take any action on finding who the king is or planning how he'd take his revenge. We didn't see any drive from him on that end. So, again, no conflict. Imagine how much better it would have been had they shown him consumed by a desire to kill the king, doing everything possible to find out who he is and where he lives, maybe sneaking out everynight being a vigilante in an effort to kill the king, all the while his friendship is growing with Ji Dwi. (What if Ji Dwi accompanies Sun Woo on one of his "hunts" and midway finds out that Sun Woo was actually trying find "him", how cool would that have been?). And then Sun Woo finds out Ji Dwi is king?

The drama didn't give me that. And this is why it failed me.

They didn't develop thier hero till about episode twelve. After which, he suddenly became front and center at the expense of other characters whose stories we had followed more closely up till that point.

But I'm still glad I watched this. PHS and PSJ were...

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wow! didn't realize I had so much to complain about this drama that I used up all 3000 characters.

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I'm still glad I watched this even after complaining so much.
This drama has a good collection of ingredients. It's like a brownie with the wrong ingredient measures, maybe a few unauthorized extra ingredients, and all the nuts sunk to the bottom on the left half of the brownie tray.

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LOL, I love the analogy! Now I want brownie batter.

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THIS. Park Seojoon is a great actor but stuck with such an awful character. Nevertheless he gave it a strong go, as evidenced by the last few episodes when he was cosplaying as king and stuff. Ah, what could have been!

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Totally feel you. From the start even until the last episode to me Son Woo didn't have any purpose at all. He just basically reacted to what life threw at him. He sneaked to the Capital cause Mak Moon kept insisting to find his sister then took his identity on Master Ahn Ji's request. He joined Hwarang due to Queen's threat and confessed as King in Bakjae all because of Ah Ro's life is on stake. He was considering the possibility of becoming King only after his father provoked him and Ah Ro was taken to the palace as Wonhwa. None of those notable actions he did were moved by his own willingness.
Just like you said other characters at least did something and at least some were driven by their own consciousness.
- Sook Myung's confronted Sun Woo for her feelings to him
- Su Hoo stayed faithful to the Queen
- Han Sung moved to 'hot boys' room, died for Sun Woo
- Master Wi Hwa encouraged Ji Dwi
and many more

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I agree with everything said in this comment!

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the drama really held ah-ro locked up during the whole thing.... they were not even pretending she's more than a pretty plot device lol

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Well they already lampshaded it a few epsiodes back when Sookmyung told Aro that she was just a pawn. And Aro was like ":( Yeah."

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¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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Haha! I seriously need to play around with how to do these emojis. Fun!

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I've looked at this dramas as Shut Up Flower Boy Band: Joseon (Silla) Edition because of the bromance's potential to be of epic proportions. Sadly, the only epic thing in this drama is the Queen's lisp. LOL.

I still enjoyed it A LOT. However, it left me wanting more (shower scenes ? ... kidding) from the boys. The reluctant bromance setups between EVERYONE were already present: Ji Dwi/Seon Woo, Su Ho/Ban Ryu, DanSe/Han Sung.

Ah Ro's character as a device plot was as blatant as Subway product placements and that makes me sad because her character could have been so much more.

That being said, I was entertained I miss the romcom side of PSJ, but it was awesome to see him in a drama of this setting. And Hyun Sik just gets better and better.

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I've always prided myself in having a particular taste in Kdramas. No matter how popular a drama is, or how "yummy" the actors are, I will (and I did, many many times)drop a drama 3-4 episodes in, if the plot is too predictable or riddled with ridiculous plotholes, or if the leads' chemistry is off. I don't have biases (save for Gong Hyo Jin) as I usually watch solely because of the plot.

But oh boy, Hwarang happened. This is the first time for me to watch a drama while cringing in dismay all the way to the end. I don't even understand why I kept at it. I mean, if you're already wishing the female lead along with everyone else to just die, then that's pretty much a sign to stop, right?
!Σ( ̄□ ̄;)

Being against powerhouses like Rebel and Defendant certainly didn't do the drama any favors as well since you can't help but compare them.

The only saving grace, aside from Park Hyun Sik looking ridiculousy good with long hair, was that the story, though bland, is forgettable. I will not agonize over what had happened in the story in the days to come. Glad it's finally over.

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There is this thing called hate-watch. And for me personally I still watched Hwarang just to read the complaints from beanies in every episode recaps. It's fun to watch after that because when I saw a frustating and a bad scene, I immediatly thought what would beanies say in the next recap? Haha. Thank god for dramabeans, at least I can get some enjoyment out of this drama.

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Why do I sound like you haha. I usually drop dramas that were 'bad' according to my taste right away if I felt something was off, but I saw this one through. All 20 episode of it. Lmao. Kudos for me.

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Do you want another 20 more?

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Hate watching! Good phrase! And no, I don't know if I can handle another 20 episodes of hate watching. Even if it does have the same actors, and Han-seung magically reincarnates.

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IKR? In case of lackluster drama, finding beanies who share same frustation is way more entertaining and relieving than watching the drama itself. It feels great and funny when you know there are people who can speak your mind precisely, albeit you know nothing of them on personal level.

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I swear 5-10% of this drama consisted of flashbacks.

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I suspect it's more than that. It felt like more.

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Definitely more like 20%, minimum.

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I've been suspecting that due to poor planning they ran out of footage. So the writer writes what she believes to be 20 episodes. No one checks. They film for months. Then, when it came down to editing, they were like...
"holy crap, there aren't enough minutes in each episode, especially the last half of the drama!"
"stick in flashbacks. It'll make the drama look thoughtful and poignant. They did in Goblin and people loved watching Kim So Hyun getting shot by an arrow like a hundred times. It's totally stylish"
"Great save!" *high five*

Admittedly, the flashbacks were surprisingly well-employed in the final episode.

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Lol, when I look back, I barely remember Goblin but that Kim So Hyun scene is definitely ingrained in my brain.

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I can't remember from which episode onwards, but I've been reading recaps and see if there's anything worthy for me to watch in the episode. I'm a HUGE Banryu-Sooyeon shipper so I jumped straight to that part (Do Jihan needs to smile more, and I hope for more projects for Lee Da-in). IT WAS SO CUTE.

"But you have my love" BYE. I'M DECEASED.

And also him checking for an escape route hahahahaah. Just let them be together Mr Kim! And what wasted opportunity for Suho to be judging Banryu every single day, chastising him for the smallest mistake. We see their awkward phase, and then them getting closer and Sooyeon being like "this isn't fair because of you I have no friends how can you guys be best buddies?!" and Suho will just let her bully him because he deserved it. That's what you get for making your sister stronger anyway.

Was also hoping for more Sooyeon-hitting-the-back-of-people's-head and "protecting my man".

WASTED. And I'm only talking about like two or three characters. THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN EVERYONEEEE. IMAGINE THAT. THE POTENTIAL. THE DRAMA IT COULD'VE BEEN. There would've been like three contenders for the best male couple award lol. Seojun-Hyunsik, Minho-Jihan and Taehyung-Yoonwoo. Maybe even between Sung Kyung-il and Kim Kwang-kyu! The only good thing this drama did to the actors was make them good friends.

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Can I say that if they were given a little more screen time it would have been AWESOME! I mean I literally watched these 20 episodes just for 10 seconds of banryu x sooyeon and I',m a little disappointed how quickly writer wrapped up their issues, where was sooho when his father walked in and busted sooyeon and banryu hahah. All in all I know this will never happen but I wish to see banryu x sooyeon in romeo juliet themed story again or even some other drama as leads , they match well and have so much chemistry on and off screen too bad the writer was focused on main romance when the side romance had much more spark,depth and chemistry compared to messy triangle. I was seriously hoping they would show a 5 years later part with sooyeon banryu married and an annoyed sooho seeing them all lovely dovey hahah guess I should just write a fanfic

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Lol imagine if Suho jumped in to pull their father away like "I'll take care of this, you two continue dating" as an act of support lol. I wish it could've had a Reply series sort of format where yes there's romance, yes there's a love triangle, but let's look at the other characters' lives. Sigh.

And I am all in for another Do Jihan and Lee Da-in drama! I hope they'll get the opportunity to act as leads someday!

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hahhaha i wish writer had gone with this scenario :D THIS is why I love Reply series there's everything like we see in a typical korean drama but it covers every aspect and every character of the show not romance only, was hoping hwarang would be like that too but oh well... Do ji han last drama was in 2013 and after that in 2016-2017 o.O

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Honestly I Am Here for the Hwarang cast being best friends, it's so cute. Minho and PSJ were so protective of Hyungshik on 1N2D lol. I am so heartbroken that V and Jin didn't perform It's Definitely You at their second concert that all the Hwarang cast attended, I would have died. V sounded really bad that day though so maybe it was for the better :(

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Hyungshik seems manly and a go getter in Hwarang and High Society (like an oppa-ish image) but the image of him outside of dramas is this sort of quiet, introverted guy that I see as a little brother or vulnerable puppy.

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I looooove the 2D1N episodes with those three! Gah, and if V had time in his schedule, that would've been even more fun! As it was, I think I need some fillings in my teeth from how sweet the three were! You know what? I'm off to watch those two 2D1N episodes again. ?

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I agree with so much of this! There were so many things I enjoyed about the last episode but it honestly felt like nothing actually happened for the first three quarters of the show. I tended to just switch my brain off and watch because I really enjoyed a lot of the small moments, especially between the Hwarangs. (Side note: the idol actors did such a great job plus they were super beautiful. Minho is forever my fave)

I kind of feel like they dragged out the brother/sister thing for too long. By the time Ah Ro found out Sun Woo wasn't her brother I just couldn't make myself care about them... I cared way more about Ban Ryu and Soo Yeon's little love story (they were seriously the cutest)!!
I loved a lot of the acting performances from the guys. There were some really great high-stakes moments that they played really well. It was so annoying that Ah Ro's character didn't end up doing much though.. wasn't she in danger most of the time and one of the two male leads had to save her??

Apart from all that I did enjoy this drama (most of the time haha). It was definitely a fun watch.
Also I just realised that my thoughts are all basically the same as LollyPip's.. I just needed to air out some of my gripes with this show haha.

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First of all, Hwarang started pretty nicely but it got lost around ep 10 and above. I only watched it because of Jidwi (lol) because Park Hyung Shik improved A LOT in his acting. Especially the scenes in the last episode when he encountered Sun Woo who wanted to kill him at the palace and his crying scenes with his mother :"( I shed some tears watching that scene.

And the writer kept on focusing on romance scenes between Aro and Sunwoo in the final episode. Like, ok I get it they love each other but please explain to us those other plotholes! Plus, the final conversation between Princess Sookmyung and Sunwoo somehow felt weird. Both of them (I mean the characters) are talking like they had been in love previously when they are obviously not? The dialogue doesn't make much sense either urgh!!

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Aaaah, love scenes like "Oh I was gone for six months... And here I come back and I seem to be your f*** brother and ZERO lover"???? That scene?????? LOL

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I had so much to say but I'm going to be like the writer and just leave this comment unfinished.

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hahahahaha best! I have like millions of questions in my mind gotta go ask the writer :p

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+1000

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Bawahaha!! /dead/

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??????? oh my gosh this comment is so perfect!

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LOL!

Perfect description of this drama. Encapsulates how brevity is the soul of wit!

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It looks like you have a future in kdrama.

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Pure gold. If anyone ever asks me how Hwarang is, I'll show them this comment. It's Hwarang in a nutshell.

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This show boasts 4 producers, 2 experienced directors but only one rookie writer (first full miniseries). They couldn't hire a seasoned co-writer to help polish and pull together this script?

Directors have a lot of power once filming begins. They can add, remove, edit scenes and dialogue to refocus the story. I blame these directors for the mess for failing to give DIRECTION.!!

As for the writing, I liked the meaty choice backdrop of Silla society and the central theme of leadership, people vs kingdom, nature vs nurture etc which the writer tried to explore. So maybe it was about leadership and not the bromance as we expected it to be. It would have been nice to see them elect dorm leaders and maybe a leader to give some structure to the hwarang and test leadership prowess.

 Historically Jinheung and Seondek are considered great for expansion of territory  but by modern standards they presided over an oppressive social system which they could not do away with, since it secured their thrones.
Jinheung was an opportunistic and wily politician so his fusion character as presented here as entitled and slightly cowardly young man was suprising but perhaps not far off the mark. After all, wars are really won by great generals.

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Too many cooks, right...? Or in some cases, not as many. Totally agree about everything. -.-

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In many youth/school dramas, they tend to have the school parallel the adult/outside world and serve as a microcosm for society at large. With Hwarang House depicted as a sort of school, it would have been awesome if the writer used your idea of dorm leaders and having that be an opportunity to test/improve leadership.

Jinheung and Sunwoo are still young here (guessing they're between 18-22 here) and idealistic. I wonder if those values change with age, experience, and disappointments.

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just to comment about their ages, jinheung is probably 20 as they held a celebration for his coming of age in one of the earlier episodes, unless the age was different back then

I'm not sure about the others though, as they could be older/younger

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to be honest i dropped this drama earlier and i started to check the recap and watch only those tiny Banryu and Sooyeon cuts. This drama could have been so much better if not for the poor writing...Except for (Banryu,Sooyeon and Suhoo) none of the main or rest characters got my attention...anyway i'm glad the show is over so i can move on :)

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Lol same, I rewatch all of Banryu and Sooyeon's scenes together, all like 10 minutes of them. Their chemistry was just so good, and I loved how it all started and the implications of their romance. Banryu and Sooyeon's loveline was one of the best parts of Hwarang.

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1/2 Bbstl asked last week to say why one kept watching to the end… Do pretty faces count? Honestly, unless I really detest the drama, I feel a level of dissatisfaction in not finishing something. And also, if I’m to analyse properly what I don’t like, what I do, and what I think went wrong, then I can do that better if I finish. Even if watching the last two eps was kinda painful.

I think the biggest issue with this drama, in my opinion, was that the writer wasn’t strong enough to tell the story that was asking to be told. She just didn’t know how to. She didn’t know how to tie in the plot intricacies or write compelling characters with depth that made you root for them, or how to weave a story that makes you feel it come alive on screen. I don’t even think anyone knew what the tone of this drama was. Political angst? Rom Com? Bro Com? I mean, that second episode was all kinds of awesome and yet… All the things we didn’t like about this were in fact a product of weak writing, and well, poor direction as well. Whoever that direction was from, it wasn’t strong enough to make this thing GO anywhere, despite all the characters having the basis of being fantastic characters, they still didn’t go anywhere. I think everything I don’t like about this can be pinned down to those things. Weak writing, and poor direction:

Ah Ro being mostly weak and 100% a plot device (every time she almost died ever).

Writing of the main leads being underdeveloped, to the point of tacky decision making in places, with badly constructed character arcs that gave us hints of what it should’ve been but never delivered > (Jinheung’s development being slow and a tad inconsistent. Where we got at the end was where I wanted him at in at least episode 15. Sun Woo was all about revenge one moment, then decided to pine after Ah Ro for almost the entirety of the middle act, and while I loved his tension with Jinheung it just came down to that I never felt that brotherly link till the last 15 minutes of the show, and that shouldn’t be happening. Also sometimes he’d make smart decisions and sometimes he’d make really stupid ones- is your character smart, writer-nim, or cookie cutter-reckless hero? Make up your mind)

Moments of power were often lost or buried in political or dramatic drivel, or sharp story changes > (Jinheung saving Ah Ro at the concert thing was awesome, too bad his character took a step down from that at times; Han Sung’s death was just completely unutilised and looks more and more like hack writing because of that; the entire last 3 episodes where our characters were supposed to be making important decisions but all I felt like doing was eyerolling- I will say though that I loved the scene in Baekje when SW stepped forward- that moment wasn’t lost, although I would’ve written it differently (no Ah Ro in my version- I can explain if you want haha) I do think it was one of the better scenes in the show.)

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All secondary characters were underdeveloped, with their side arcs not tied in well if at all with the main storyline > (Self-explanatory- Yeol Wol, Su Ho, Han Sung and Dan Se, even Ban Ryu, I liked my Hwarangs man, but they just weren’t there enough, and because they weren’t that left us feeling a lot more disappointed and bitter in the lack of ramifications and meaning behind Han Sung’s death and also everything else to do with them… tbh, but Han Sung’s death in particular for me.)

Unknown motivations by many characters at many times > (the recapper mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, and honestly I’m still trying to work out how and what was so messy in the last couple of episodes, but while I knew what Sun Woo was going to choose, I just never felt like it was shown, or that I had any reason to be compelled by his decision. And like I said I think this is just because his character wasn’t nearly as fleshed out as I hoped him to be, and so it just didn’t pack the punch at the end there)

Meandering storyline > (It wasn’t whiplash-ing, or jerky, but it was disjointed in a way that you didn’t lose the story per se, you just couldn’t really hold onto it in a way that made it enjoyable to keep watching. Partly due to some really odd choices in the story line that just didn’t make sense (because our writer-nim didn’t know what to do I think) and partly due to it no making its intent clear at the beginning- is this a show about Hwarangs or alight romantic, oh wait now it’s politics. I think you can have all those three together, but for it to be stronger, it should’ve been primarily focused on the Hwarangs and how they DEAL with those other two things. I never got mad at the pacing, I just got bored, and my overall reaction is “meh”.)

I honestly felt like Hwa Gong was the only character who’s actor made him more than enough (given the writing) to feel like you were actually going anywhere, too bad everytime you thought we were going somewhere with HIM, we weren’t or we’d muck around for 40 minutes with everyone ELSE before doing it.

I mean, I think I can talk to the cows come home about what I wish this was. An epic brothers-in-arms story line about kids really, out to change the world, to be independent, a strength and loyalty built between these young men and their kings as friends and warriors, a deeper understanding of how the world works through death and love maybe, what needs to be sacrificed, what one would sacrifice, what one should sacrifice, and at the end being a force to be reckoned with and feared by power hungry officials, because of a strength that was slowly built. That’s what I felt this should’ve been. What I only ever go slight teaser tastes of.

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Han Sung deserved better. His death should have been the catalyst for change, bring the boys together, lead them to fight for justice, get Dan Se to confront his grandfather. But no. He got one funeral speech with a vague 'remember you are Hwarang' message.

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I did laugh in places, I thought the end scenes there were cute and reminiscent of the show’s original flavour but I was ultimately unimpressed by the outcome. I am still looking for a Sageuk that really blows me away. I wasn’t expecting this to be that Sageuk, but it frustrates me that I CAN see that Saguek in its bone marrow, just that its only bone marrow, and not an actual skeleton, let alone a fully fleshed drama. Those tiny moments of its potential make me even more disappointed. I really enjoyed Hyun Shik’s acting for example, even if half his lines were flop worthy.
I was surprised when I enjoyed the first couple of episodes, expecting it to flop from the start. In retrospect those episodes seem a long way away and yet I can’t say I’m surprised to be disappointed in the end.

(shit I wrote a lot haha props to anyone who reads all that)

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Agree with all this, how much I enjoyed it in the beginning and was reminded of the cute side in the end. As for a sageuk that blows me away, I think I've only felt like that in Jumong (my first drama), Empress Ki for about half of the episodes, Queen Seon Duk, and out of the currently airing shows, Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People.

The Chinese drama Nirvana in Fire has my top spot for historical/fantasy that blew my mind in every way.

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You have put it perfectly. I think one of the wonderful things about this drama is the fact that we could all see that it had the POTENTIAL to be excellent.
"The bone marrow" (I love that analogy by the way) was perfect for a great epic story but alas we are left disappointed.

?

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I read it all, and thanks for saying so much that I also feel. I came for PSJ, stayed partly to love PHS and once we all got going nothing could have torn me away from LollyPip's recaps and everyone's hilarious comments. Wouldn't have missed it for anything, especially since Hwarang has now taken on the feel of one of those shows that we fought our way through together and came out the other side, STILL STANDING! It turns out that WE are the band of brothers who now have our own language and memories due to a shared and stressful experience ??‍♀️

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Am i the only one who think that go ara actually did a great job? Its AhRo characterization that lacking everything.

I extremely agree that everthing that really matter and interesting in the story happened off-screen.
We promised stories about "how hwarang started" and instead we got "how i met your mother/sisters/not-really-sister".

I normally love to watch the romance in sageuk and skip out the political stories, but for the first time, i did the opposite for this drama.

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I don't think she did a bad job.
I think it's very easy to blame the actor for other faults in the script or direction.
I know from experience, a bad script can make a decent actor look sloppy, or their character feel off.
I also think with a show like this it's actually hard to pinpoint if she was acting it badly ontop of bad writing, or just working with what she was given. I haven't seen her in other things so I don't know her level of skill in making the script work for her, but I know very few actors who can do that anyway.

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I juat reread my comment and adding some, and you comment on me first!

And, i know right? Poor ahro!

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Ah. Don't get me wrong. I didn't skipped out Banryu and Sooyeon scene. If the writers insist on romance, these two lovebirds that actually save the story, in my opinion.

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I think Aro did a C+/B- job given the material. If I were to give her overall acting across different projects a letter grade, she's usually a B for me. She's a good enough actress and a likable one, but she doesn't have enough skill, talent, maturity, and clout to fully rise up against months of filming bad writing and bad dialogue, but I agree few people rarely can. And even when there is a bad script for the overall drama, some characters get good subplots and good lines, and Aro wasn't one of those characters.

She recently left SM Entertainment after like a decade. I wonder if that changes the types of roles she will take.

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me too. i feel sorry for her, really. she spent years shedding off the pretty but can't act stigma and now, she's back to square one.

overall, i think she did great, considering the way her character was written.

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And my FUN comment... which isn't really fun but isn't a mile long analysis either

Things that did not happen which left plot holes:

1. Nasty Piece of Work Kang Sung never got his face smashed in or worse by Ban Ryu. Like are you seriously telling me that little shit is running around somewhere still? Seriously? Not that he’s much of a threat on his own but still… manipulative bastard. I hope Pa Oh makes him wash ALL the sheets.

2. I got my (5 second) Ban Ryu and Soo Yeon ending, but my Ban Ryu / Su Ho ending? WHERE. Also where’d Su Ho even go in that last shot? Like did we just forget he was an important Hwarang after the Queen-His-Crush died?

3. Uhm… how come Dan Se is a Hwarang now? Did he take Han Sung’s place since there is no True Bone in that family now? I MEAN COME ON GUYS I know the secondary story lines were left out to die and all but still…

4. Musician Guy went where again?

5. Sun Woo’s illness is now apparently ONLY a plot device, despite showing up in the first five minutes of the show, and not once in the last 3 episodes. Fantastic.

Aaaand last but certainly not least-

6. WHO IS YEOL WOL!!?

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YESSS, YES YES! -.-

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7. Ah Ro was made a wonhwa but had never bewn trained any martial art afterwards. Why not just take her and put in hostage like Ji Dwi did?

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Did anyone ever explain just why the Wonwha were so effing important that they would just take over the Hwarang and, by extension, the country? People quaked at the word Wonwha but we never really saw why, maybe you just have to be Korean to understand that historically. But did anyone believe that the Hwarang had any actual power, even by the end? Im pretty sure if the actual generals of the Silla armies came into the throne room behind the Hwarang and said, nope, we're for Minister Park, all the Hwarang would have been dead at the end.

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No they didn't because the Wonhwa were purely a plot device; as for the whole Hwarang thing, a product of shitty writing I'm afraid. I mentioned more about it up in my mile long rant haha ^^

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right. SMH some more ?

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I think Sunwoo's illness is because the Queen stabbed Joonjung while he was still in the womb. He could have been a preemie. Or maybe Joonjung died before An Ji Gong could cut him from her womb and the flow of oxygen to the baby was disrupted. I did wish they would have brought it up as a weakness when discussing him for kinghood, even if the medical reason was never revealed.

But seriously, Yeol Wool, who the heck are you?

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Flaws aside, I watched Hwarang from beginning to end, which is a shocker because I usually drop dramas I lose interest in (namely Goblin). Hwarang had a really strong pull, but the execution faltered halfway through (what happened to all the great development and laughs in the first half?).

I mostly felt bad for Jidwi because I felt his character was underplayed for the sake of making Sunwoo a more heroic character. That's one of the worst things a writer can do--make one character weaker for the sake of making another stronger. And the writer did the same thing to Ahro, who was such a promising character in the beginning. Jidwi and Ahro became weaker for the sake of making Sunwoo stronger, and I can't forgive this. What happened to making all the characters well-developed and nuanced?

Another loss was with the supporting characters. Banryu, Suho, Yeowool, Sooyeon, Danse (poor Hanseong), and even Princess Sookmyung . . . Their own stories were so fascinating, but the screentime was devoted to flashbacks or Sunwoo and Ahro pining for each other (seriously, why so many flashbacks?). I love Park Seojoon and Go Ara, but their romance didn't make me feel much, which is saying a lot because their screentime took up at least 70-80% of an episode, but I was so much more invested and in love with Banryu and Sooyeon's loveline, which was like 3-5% of an episode (if Sooyeon even appeared at all). The bromance and coming-of-age elements should have been the core of the story. The main romance should have been sidelined. This doesn't mean Ahro should have been a less important character. No, we still need our awesome female leads and characters. She just needed to be more than pining for and pouting over Sunwoo all the time. This is why I feel like the Wonhwa plotline should have been introduced far earlier. Not only would Ahro become independent from Sunwoo, but she could have interacted with rival-frenemy Princess Sookmyung, and, in turn, the two girls could have developed an actual budding friendship (like Sunwoo and Jidwi or Banryu and Suho) instead of fighting over Sunwoo, which was so boring. The show seriously wasted Ahro and Princess Sookmyung, and they didn't give Sooyeon enough screentime.

Sigh. So much wasted opportunity and potential in this drama, which is why the disappointment hurts a lot more. I'll try to remember you fondly, Hwarang (namely the first half), but I hope all the actors will be involved in better dramas in the future because they all deserve it.

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I think in the end Hwarang is a drama we all love to hate, so that's why came week after week hoping it would just...get better (which it didn't) but it was so much fun to make fun of! :3

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Haha lol I knew the entire drama was going bad and stale towards the second half, but I couldn't stop watching, maybe because of a little something called "hope" or "if-i-wish-hard-enough-maybe-the-writer-will-pull-a-miracle-and-save-the-drama-from-crashing" syndrome.

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It was neither a drama I loved to hate or hate to love. Just wish it was more deserving of the love and attention I gave it. like Minnie says, there's this hope that it could turn it around since it did have some great moments.

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I don;t care if a drama suck things happen and not every drama is interesting but what hurts me that hwarang had so much potential the characters were so good the story line could have been so good. I'm just annoyed that all the potential of the story and actors were ruined

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This was really well said.
Thank you for saying it.

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Thank you so much for recapping Lollypip! I agree with all your points! I am not going to rant as I think we all know what was wrong with this show, what it could have been, what it should have been! All I am going to say is that the actors really did an amazing job! I personally think there was not one actor or actress that felt out of place or terrible in their acting, every character played felt genuine in their performance! Yes Go Ara was the worst of them all, but I think she still did a good job even though by the end she was reduced to just receiving SunWoo's kisses! (Which I didn't mind cos he can really kiss!, but yeah, that was pretty much their only interactions for the last few episodes! Meet, deep kiss, next meeting, kiss...). But I really liked her at the beginning, she really was a spunkier character, the script should have been better for her, I still remember when Ahro first met SunWoo while drunk and she said that he was handsome! That was perfect! Maybe that's why I did like their loveline as from the first meeting, there were sparks and they were IT!

Park Hyungsik shined in the last episode! And throughout the drama! I agree with a lot of commenters, he is great at Sageuk, he looks amazingly good, so I hope to see him again in another Sageuk!

Park Seo Joon definitely had issues visually fitting into that era...but his performance was raw and unhibited, he really owned SunWoo! This drama really made me appreciate him a lot more, I really enjoyed his character. My perfect hero! Thank you!

All the other actors were so good! Yes, I hope they move on to other projects and get their chance to shine again!

Overall I really enjoyed this show! Yes it was frustrating, disappointing, dysfunctional, incoherent... the list goes on, but it also was very special, at least to me. I've said it before there was just Something that kept you coming back and really enjoying it still. Ok maybe it was just Park Seo Joon and Park Hyungsik, but still, I will remember Hwarang as a drama I really enjoyed watching! The music to me also played a lot in enjoying the show, it was uplifting and loved the songs that closed the episodes! Left me happy!

There are dramas that lose your interest or I just can't finish actually watching and will end up just reading the recaps to find out how it ended, but this show I wanted to watch till the end...even if somtimes I'd question what I am watching! So thank you Lollypip for sticking with this show, and thank you Show! You have a special place in my heart!

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Dramabeans please we need a like button so i can just like perfect comments like this one.

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The weakness in the love story between main couple is the lines in the scrpit itslef. Every time they met, they say to each other "I don't know what I should say". That is it!

I also enjoy the show. It is light, has many fun moments, makes me laugh, great bro-romance and Park Seo joon is enough to watch the show :)

Park Hyungsik has been added into my list of actors must see thier drama.

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I think Park Hyung Sik was great in all episodes not just the last episode. It was his character than began strong yet spiraling downward way out of control when the writer decided to 'chickenize' Ji Dwi. Of all the young casts, he was the one who gave the true sageuk performance. It's not just his look that fits the era, but his sageuk speech is on point. And he is not even my bias until I watched him in this trainwreck.

But most of all, I feel bad for Yeowool. He was tasked to do so little other than looking pretty.

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" Chickenize" LOL, I'll stole that one !!!

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+1000000000000000^^

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+10000000000000^^

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I surprised myself with actually enjoying this final episode, when the show could no longer hold back and let things happen. WAS IT SO HARD TO DO THIS BEFORE? (Ok, didn't mean to yell, I'm yelling at the director and writer).

This episode also had the single best use of flashback in this show: that conversation in the throne room. The second time we see it we find out how the conversation continued, not just a repeat of the scene.

All in all, I'm still a sucker for riding-into-the-sunset endings. I'll imagine the bromance-that-could-have been and leave it there.

ps: I do have to rant that Dan Se became a Hwarang just like that, with no sit down, no punishment. Jinheung still wasn't king and the bone-rank system is still in place: who had the power to make Dan Se a Hwarang? Rant over.

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Oh, I totally took it as (finally) the first literal manifestation of "in Hwarang there is no bone rank". But I also thought Jin Heung was King by then.
But that's one of the big problems of this show, it made us do SO much heavy lifting to explain the story to ourselves.

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I guess that works. Yet for a show that based so much of its angst on the unfairness of the bone-rank system, and the fact that Jinheung declared he wanted to do away with its evils, it was a remarkably subdued resolution.

(Of course, in history the bone-rank system prevailed, so showing a 'progressive' Jinheung would have been inaccurate too. Still, a simple scene showing how Dan Se was officially accepted into Hwarang would have helped).

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Yes, something like the grandfather showing his heartbreak at his own stupidity at causing Han Sung's death and vowing to make things right by "adjusting" Dan Se into full heir/bone status (somehow)? That would work for me!

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WHAT?!
SERIOUSLY?!
I . . .
It's . . .
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Okay, no more saeguk for two years!

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Rebel is good ^^

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I second watching Rebel.

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do watch Rebel and see if you'll like it ;)

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LOL

I can not do this. I really like saeguk. So give them another chance :)

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I know this is a drama that aired 2015-2016, but I recommend Six Flying Dragons if you haven't seen it yet. It's a long one (50 episodes), but definitely worth it, in my opinion. Great plot, on-the-edge-of-your-seat action, amazing acting, etc. And, unlike Hwarang, the plot controls the romance, not the other way around. Not to dis Hwarang, because it was pretty good in some aspects, but Six Flying Dragons goes above and beyond.

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I second the watching of Six Flying Dragons. I've just started watching it this week, and it's great to marathon so far! I'm only on episode 7, but I while I don't remember the whole plot, I do recall reading each recap in awe. I also greatly admire Yoo Ah-in in everything else I've had the privilege to watch. He's just as magnetic in SFD. Just wow.

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?? ??? ???
Or Tree with Deep Roots

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I need to watch it ! Thanks for recommendation!.

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Did Sun-woo ever find out who actually killed Mak-moon. Did he take revenge?

And... the biggest unanswered question of all - why did we watch all the way to the end so we know the other questions weren't answered?

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Bad guys got it easy. Queen abdicates and dies, crazy-eyes Hwarang spy disappears, Park Young Shil hangs his head, and that guard (who's name I never learnt) is probably still out practicing archery.

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How convenient that the Jiso dies exactly when her son steps up to the throne. Smh

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Honestly, I laughed.

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Yes! Yang Shil literally just hangs his head! A minor mention by Ban Ryu that he lost his position is all the satisfaction we get.

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It would suck if Young Shil lived when that court lady lackey was executed. Loved when Jinheung called for her execution and she was like save me when she didn't even look conflicted about poisoning the queen.

Would have been nice to get To see Ban Ryu and his real dad make up

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So ahro never got to know the king killed his brother or because of the king he died? lol

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oh, I forgot about that completely. So many dropped threads!

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This drama made me feel indifferent towards Park Seo-joon. Park Seo-joon! How awful is that? His loveline with Ah-ro was soooo bland I couldn't stand it. And Ah-ro herself... Where did that spunky and resourceful girl disappear to?
For me, the only highlight were scenes of Hwarang bromance, as few as they were, Jinheung and his struggles (Park Hyung-sik was so good when he wasn't preoccupied with Ah-ro) and of course the romance that stole the show.
Overall I was disappointed. The drama wasn't awful, but it became so draggy, repetitive, confused and just boring that it left me with a really bad feeling, especially considering the cast.

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Park Seojoon could have had better chemistry with a log than with Ahro. Their romance was so bad, I felt 0 chemistry

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He only has good chemistry with noonas. Go Ara not his type. Lol

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LollyPip and I are available, SeoJoonie ??!

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What the heck happened? Why did they not explain the ending for Banryu and Sooyeon ?????? I felt like that scene was cut pretty badly... And why was Sooho not in the final scene?? Why did they replace him with Danse?? Bad writing much??

I'm so impressed with Park Hyunsik's acting, hard to believe as an idol he outshines Go Ara. Speaking of Go Ara she fails to impress me again in this episode, she lacks character development and her acting is terrible....

All in all, I can't believe I wasted my time watching this

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Did you also see that?! I was expecting to see Kim Soo-Ho riding horses with the other men. Maybe he's heartbroken because his beloved Queen Ji-So died. He remained a Hwarang...or because he has prior commitments before the final frame shot was done, so they need to replace someone else.

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"though Sun-woo’s hair length always bothered me — did they think we wouldn’t notice that putting a headband on made it grow six inches, and taking it off shortened his hair by six inches?"

THANK YOU! I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed! And the plot holes were really bad. With 20 episodes you would think there was plenty of time to develop the different story lines. But I guess the writer preferred meandering plots to good ones.

Oh, what this show could have been. I would've preferred more bromance, more hwarang, more Ban-ryu & Soo-yeon! Ban-ryu actually testing the window to see if he could escape was the BEST! He acted all tough in the beginning, but he was putty in Soo-yeon's hand.

Oh well, it's over now. Time to wait for the next Park Seo-joon show.

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No Seriously!!!!!!! ABOUT THE HAIR THING.

how could his wig/extensions situation be so bad in the final episode. Honestly, I was embarrassed just looking at such a poorly done hair job on PSJ. It was terrible!

they should just have kept his hair up like all the other guys if they didn't know what to do with it.

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LOL. Park Seo Joon also said the hair bother him. He said he struggle with hair style and they keep changing to find which is better on him. You should watch behind the story interview.

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Someone here said that the Hwarang hair is a uniform hairpiece and their real hair is underneath, which makes some sense since civilian Ji DWi had longer hair. But given Park Seo Joon's comments, it seems like that can't be the case. They really should have tested out the hairstyles before production. The different hair lengths really bugged me. I also think Aro's hairlength changed a few times.

And not to mention the makeup that didn't make its way to their tanner necks.

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