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Average user rating 4.5
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Rookie Historian Gu Hae-ryung: Episodes 1-4 (Review)

In a month packed with drama premieres, Rookie Historian Gu Hae-ryung wasn’t even really on my radar, but this delightful, smart, and surprisingly funny fusion sageuk has unexpectedly captured my heart. This unconventional tale of a female scholar who for once doesn’t need to cross-dress to display her mental prowess, and the squishiest prince in all of Joseon has me completely captivated already. (Not to mention that as both a writer and a historian, this premise is catnip to me.)

 
EPISODES 1-4 REVIEW

Shin Se-kyung plays the titular GU HAE-RYUNG, an intelligent woman from a well-off family, who lives with her older brother and earns her own money as a book-reader for wealthy ladies—although her choice of reading material tends to get her thrown out without pay. Hae-ryung prefers depressing foreign literature to the novels of romance sensation “Maehwa”, whose bestselling love stories make every lady swoon.

Unbeknownst to the people, however, Maehwa is actually the pen name of LEE RIM (Cha Eun-woo), a disgraced prince whom the king has put under house arrest. Rim spends his days writing romance novels, gaining inspiration from the illicit love affairs of eunuchs and court maidens. Disbelieving the gushing praise of his loyal staff, one day he ventures out to see for himself if people really love his books that much.

At first Rim is gratified to see his latest novel in every hand. He stops dead when he sees Hae-ryung reading it, struck by her beauty—until she yawns with boredom. When Rim asks her why on earth she doesn’t like the great Maehwa’s work, she matter-of-factly tells him that it’s insidious garbage not worth the expensive paper it’s written on, and corrects his superior way of addressing her, as well.

Ironically, however, Hae-ryung finds herself drawn into a scheme to pretend to be Maehwa at a book-reading in exchange for the freedom of an abused young slave. Rim finds out and confronts her publicly, but royal guards suddenly arrive to arrest the elusive Maehwa, and Rim ends up in jail. Maehwa’s books have fallen victim to a political scheme: the establishment of an Office of Banned Books in order to hide one particular volume damaging to the king and his closest minister. The book seems to have something to do with the king’s bloody seizure of the throne twenty years ago, although now Crown Prince LEE JIN (Park Ki-woong) sits as regent.

The royal historians, whose job it is to record the goings-on of the court, are co-opted for the confiscation and burning of books, including Hae-ryung’s collection of Qing and European novels. Devastated and angry, Hae-ryung asks historian MIN WOO-WON (Lee Ji-hoon) why these books have become contraband without warning or notice; he tells her that the king believes these lowly books are disturbing moral principles. Hae-ryung points out rightly that the unjust class hierarchy is what’s really causing chaos, going so far as to say that the king is wrong.

All of this means that Hae-ryung’s older brother hurries his plans to find a match for her; he knows that she prefers her books and mathematical instruments to marriage, but it’s the only way that he can think of to protect her. Despite her unhappiness, the date is soon set and wedding preparations underway.

Meanwhile, the atmosphere is tense at court. Rim is released from jail, but the king finds out that Rim is Maehwa and has all of Rim’s books and writing materials destroyed, forbidding him to write. Shady Minister proposes the addition of a female historian (in order to spy on the dowager queen), and although he’s suspicious, Jin agrees—on the condition that she pass the civil service exam, which serendipitously takes place on Hae-ryung’s wedding day.

I’m sure it’s no spoiler to say: Reader, she doesn’t marry him.

These first two episodes (or four, depending on where you’re watching) are a delightful breath of fresh air. I don’t know if it’s because I rarely watch sageuks, but I find Hae-ryung an unusual leading lady for a historical. I’ve often seen women of her class as the second female lead that the high-ranking hero rejects in favor of his cross-dressing eunuch (or his unnervingly gorgeous classmate, also secretly a commoner girl).

This heroine is privileged and wealthy, and bound by a set of rules that chafe in a different way than those of commoners or slaves, and which tend to get less exploration in dramas. I loved seeing the details of Hae-ryung’s daily life: the bridal lessons which are a waste of her brilliant mind; society’s expectations for women that are especially miserable for someone as principled and outspoken as her (“Don’t be bad, and don’t be great”); her complicated relationship with her Orabeoni, who loves her but still forces her to marry, because at least this way he can choose someone who will treat her with kindness and give her a modicum of freedom.

And I love all the little moments when she rebels against these limitations. Not only does she have a strong sense of right and wrong and a killer talent for winning an argument, she’s fearless. I wanted to cheer when she refused to back down from defending the slave-boy, even at the threat of violence. She isn’t too prim to use all the resources available to her in the service of what she feels is just, as in the case of her impersonation of Maehwa to save the boy. Nor has she allowed the people around her to make her feel ashamed of her intellect; she isn’t conceited, but she’s rightly proud of her knowledge and she uses it. It’s especially satisfying when she calls Rim to the carpet for his disrespectful address of her—and I was highly entertained when she continuously trashed his book to his face. Hae-ryung is aspirational, but never boring.

Speaking of Rim, he’s the darlingest royal puppy I’ve ever had the pleasure of rooting for, and I love him already. His idealism and love for words are so relatable given that he’s been confined in this lonely corner of the palace for years, with only books and his staff for company; it makes sense that stories would become his world, and that he would live vicariously by writing about the romance he’s unable to experience himself.

Especially in the face of a father who hates him so virulently that he has nightmares about him stabbing him in the chest, it’s no wonder that Rim feels like he has no escape but his writing. And yet he’s soft-hearted enough that he still obeys the king’s commands, seeing it as the only way to keep from completely breaking the parent-child connection. I’m glad he has Jin to look out for him, and tell him that he’s proud to have such a talented little brother.

That’s part of what makes it so interesting to watch Rim lock metaphorical swords with Hae-ryung. They both have a deep love for literature, but it manifests in such different ways according to their personalities and circumstances. I enjoy seeing her unsentimental pragmatism come up against his imaginative romanticism. Perhaps, as they spend more time together, Hae-ryung will discover that reading romance can bring a person much-needed comfort and joy, and Rim will find the courage to stand up to his father. And maybe both of them can finally experience real love outside of a book. (I also need her to come down from her high horse of thinking tragic European novels about angsty, doomed love are high-minded literature.)

What really surprised me about this show is how funny it is. The dialogue crackles, the ensemble cast has great chemistry, dramatic and comedic, and the drama has a tonal balance of serious emotion and silly antics that feels just right. I think a lot of this is down to skillful directing and writing, although the cast are also bringing their all—especially Shin Se-kyung. I’ll admit to having found her bland and rather stiff in the past, but she positively glows with life, spirit and charm here. It’s the best performance I’ve ever seen from her.

Take her hilarious portrayal of the death at the end of The Sorrows of Young Werther, enthusiastically acting out the gunshot to Werther’s head and earnestly explaining how the blood spurted from his body, oblivious to her audience’s growing consternation. The scene perfectly encapsulates Hae-ryung’s straightforward character, and Shin plays her wonderfully.

The romance looks cute and the comedy is pitch perfect, but I’m most looking forward to Hae-ryung’s intellectual and emotional journey once she enters the castle. She’s already made a deep impression on Woo-won, who will soon become her sunbae, with only one conversation. I can’t wait to see how else she stirs up the court!

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Thank you for this, Laica! We've been wanting for a place to discuss this drama and resorted to using the first posters article to do so.

I've been waiting for this drama since it got announced but to be honest, I did not expect much. That's why I'm positively surprised at how much I enjoy watching it. I've fallen for Haeryung as soon as she appeared on screen and been rooting for her right from the start. She's smart yet flawed, has so much to say and so much to learn. It's not hard to love her and feel for her plight.

I thought I've poured out all my thoughts on our discussion campsite so I can't believe that I've never talked about Jaegyeong. He's very interesting. Based on what we've seen of him, he seems like a supportive and loving brother. Him and Haeryung are close enough to talk about dreams and hopes to each other. He seems genuinely concerned for Haeryung but in a curious way. What happened to them? Where are their parents? Why is he affiliated with the bad guy? Is he not exactly the kind supportive brother we see him as? So many questions!

Anyway, one thing is for sure. I'll be watching! Hopefully this gets regularly recapped here. Thanks again, Laica!

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Finally, I was waiting for someone to review Rookie. I am loving this show. Both leads are so different from other saguek dramas. Female is intelligent & strongheaded & male is innocent & kind hearted.

I am totally against ppl who are judging the male lead's acting. I think he is doing a fine job. He is playing a childlike character with same innocence & curiosity. In fact episode 8, at the end scene, I could see what he could do once his character becomes more wordly.

On the other hand, female lead is simply amazing. She has brain & she use it. I love her take on life as well & could relate & I love her bickering with ML.

Also, I am loving historian & crown prince. So, far so god.

PS- I am in love with male lead & his relationship ship with enunch & crown prince. And I love female lead & her relationship with her servant & brother..

Waiting for more recaps... Thanks

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@shine21

...."She has brain & she use it"...

It is sad how many of these women are disappeared from our histories. Margaret MacDonald and Marion Mahony are 2 such women who shook my world.

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Shin Se-kyung is doing a fantastic job as Hae-ryung! I never liked saeguk characters this much just by watching them on a first-episode basis but Shin Se-kyung's sageuk magic worked well in this show! You guys should just watch this show to know how lovable Hae-ryung is because I can't list all her characteristics because all of it is likeable.

I also really like the female historians this show has given us! They all have their quirk and charms and seeing them work together feels empowering. Love the fact that they are not just side characters because they are their own characters.

Rim and Jin's brotherly love for each other are the rarest and the cutest! I rarely see royal puppies be cute and loving with each other but these two are just fantastic together! I hope they stay good friends and good brothers as this show progresses. Cha Eun-woo might be a bit green, but I am enjoying his portrayal of Rim so I hope he gets to improve his performance as the show progresses!

Overall, I am really liking the lighter tone of this show and I hope it stays that way. I also like that the romance is not that much highlighted in the first few episodes and that the show takes its time to showcase us our leads.

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Shin Sekyung is perfect for sageuk! Her voice tone and pronunciation are just perfect. It's really hard to do dialogue for sageuk because they tend to be long and unfamiliar words but she makes it sound so easy. I can all her dialogue clearly.

She's been amazing as serious characters in sageuk but this spunky character is definitely her best!

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@earthna
..."this spunky character is definitely her best!"...

THIS.

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Blessed and highly favored to read this review. Rookie Historian is the perfect blend of societal issues and romcom for me, and it's making me love Shin Sekyung more than ever before. Not that I didn't love her before, but I think I let people's inexplicable hatred of her get in my now. Now I can unabashedly say she's doing a stellar job, and it doesn't hurt that Haeryung is a layered heroine who doesn't resort to simply being cheeky/cute/clumsy. She's strong-willed but not dangerously obstinate, she's kind but not a doormat, and she's brave but falls back on polite society rules when backed into a corner. I LOVE HER.

*Ahem* Anyway, Eunwoo's Prince Lee Rim is beyond adorable. He's slowly developing layers after being more comedic relief alongside his bestie the Eunuch, but your review actually dug more into him that I thought. His chemistry with Haeryung already has me giggling with glee, because enemies to friends to lovers is my jam. Also, th brotherly bond with Lee Jin is heartwarming, and rather different than the usual saeguks with their betrayal and bloodshed.

Speaking of Lee Jin, the entire supporting cast is filled with colorful characters who are all passionately striving for something and could lead their own drama. Long story short: I'm already obsessed!

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she is not a doormat.. exactly.
all female leads be in saeguk or not have this doormat tendency once in a while but she is not like that and i just impressed by GHR being that powerful girl

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I liked that the prince Lee Rim was used as comedic relief. It helped to highlight how cut off from everything he’s been.

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WOW> The sound / music design is just so good in this drama. Even just listening to this is a pleasure - at times it is so cinematic.

I wasn't expecting too much and it took several aborted goes to start...but once you allow, this drama takes you and suddenly the hybrid world of Sageuk and modern values is such an interesting place.

It is also the most comfortable and interesting I have seen Shin Se-Kyung since Tree with Deep Roots.

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The music reminds me of Sungkyunkwan Scandal--which is not a bad thing at all.

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My favourite thing about this drama is we're finally having an Upper class lady with uppity values but who's not a snob NOR a princess, as our heroine in a decent setup.
Too often we get rag-to-riches or rags-to-badass heroines in Sageuks, and posh ladies are always wicked.
Join the ranks with Jang-geum and Shin Chae-kyung, Hae-ryung (that rhymed!😝), you are a breath of fresh air.

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Amen to this. She is already a badass. Drinking that historian fool under the table? Profesh.

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I really like light and funny sageuks like that! Even if I know it will surely become more serious, I like the ton, the colours, the humour. I really loved Moonlight Drawn by Clouds.

My only issue for now it's I don't really care about the ML. He's cute and has nice relationships with his eunuch and his brother. But they kinda exagerated the suprise look with eyes wide open...

I'm more curious about the Crown Prince, I love Park Ki Woong in this role, and Min Woo Won whose father is the villain of the story.

Goo Hae Ryung is a nice character! She's smart and strong! She's pretty funny too. Poor Seo Young Joo who was rejected by her :p

I'm really rooting for this 4 women!

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I’m not so fond of the exaggerated and over the top acting either. But I suppose they need some characters for that to keep the show light and fluffy.

I’m more drawn towards the Crown Prince and Min Woo Won. I love their interactions with the FL. And Park Ki Woong is so charismatic it’s a shame he doesn’t have many screen time.

I’m all for smart and sassy heroines and what the theme of this show represents so I will stick around for that.

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am with you on ML part and have similar feelings. am least bothered abt what happens to him and his love story with GHR. Rather am looking forward to GHR and her interaction/chemistry with MWW cause his affection towards her is more captivating for me.
While Crown Prince.. i want him to be that badass and no nonsense prince to punish all bad ministers

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Ditto on Historian Min. Though I do wonder if Prince Rim is being set up to go through some pretty decent character development - he's clearly got some past trauma we've only just scratched the surface on.

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I know Eunwoo said his character starts off childlike but turns into a cool person. I'm most looking forward to his character development, I think well start to see it in these upcoming episodes because of the last scene of episode 8.

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I enjoyed the brothers relationship so much in the first two episodes I dread to watch any further for fear they will end up on opposing sides due to misunderstandings or manipulation’s of others in court. Can they please remain besties till the end? Please no fight for the throne yadda yadda... even worse. Please no death like king 2 hearts. Omg omg.... why did I even think that. Ward off the evil eye 🧿

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If it helps, they remain adorable together in the next two episodes! Fingers crossed it stays that way.

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Thanks! It actually does!! Off to watch.

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@dramamad

I am happy to let it run as I can see it going either way i.e the 3 Musketeers or Shakespearian.
Given what we have seen I am happy to trust the writer atm. if one of the princes dies, the groundwork has already been laid for full on serving of ethos, pathos, and logos...we will again learn there is no justice in politics...we have to start asking different questions for that (Episode 2 anyone :D)

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I knew I would check out this drama because of Shin Se-kyung. But I was nervous, because the writer is a rookie. After the first two weeks, my fears have been completely alleviated. This show is smart with fleshed out characters and relationships. *spoilers of episodes 3 & 4* I love the hijinks at the historical bureau and the trying-to-get-used-to-a-new-job storyline. It has the qualities of a whacky work place comedy with nice emotional moments. The directing is also great. Everything is gorgeous. The locations don't even look like sets, they look like real buildings and places. That does so much for me in terms of believability. I am so sticking with this show!

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I keep getting distracted by the location as it looks like the one used in Scholar Who Walks the Night.

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first thing first... Shin Se Kyung is on fire with her acting. just like you i found her bland, stiff, lifeless, cold in all her past dramas and i had no thought to watch this drama just cause she was in the cast.....BUT she blew me away with her on point acting. As GHR she is just perfect, be it arguing with her brother or having tussles with the younger girls in marriage school. and now am happy to find one more female actress to look forward too.

next I LOVE this drama for the fact that first time a female character in saeguk is shown as fierce character not with strength but with her intellect. she never takes a single bad argument without giving back double as response. Her question to her brother "isnt it possible to not get married but live a content life reading and drinking just like this". she is (am sure) every girl out there even in today's time who wants to live life on her and knows ways to do so, she just needs an affirmation from the people around to let her be.

Crown Prince and Politics... first time ever i am not bored by the palace politics cause everything is so well connected with the theme of the drama of Gender Disparity that i pay even more attention to all the politics.

am not looking forward to romance between leads as i am preparing my heart for upcoming SLS cause MWW has caught my eyes with those melo eyes everytime he looks ar GHR.

Lastly... am soooooooo happy to have this drama and so excited for future episodes.

thanks for this post.

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It seems that actors wander around for a bit trying to find THAT role. I've always liked Shin Sekyung but I understand the sentiments towards her acting. Hopefully, GHR would be that role for her and people will start appreciating her more.

I had the same problem with Lee Yoobi and I was convinced the girl can't act and I avoided dramas with her in it. Then she became Woo Boyoung and now, she's up there with my favorite kdrama actresses.

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i agree completely... and also i can see SSK's hard work behind every scene she is acting on screen as hv seen her being so bad in similar scenes in past dramas.... and am really really very happy that she is getting all the praises and appreciation for the work....

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Thank your for your glowing report on ROOKIE HISTORIAN GU HAE-RYUNG, @laica. I'm still in NOKDU FLOWER mode, and don't want to get out of it, quite frankly, as I gear up for a rewatch. However, I'm glad to know that the premise and execution of this fusion sageuk are done well, and that it is off to a flying start. I've been burned by enough shows in the genre (does MY SASSY [JOSEON] GIRL ring a bell?) that it wasn't initially on my radar. And I still have a festering wound from HIGH KICK! 2's ending, so I'm wary. I realize this is all very irrational, especially given Shin Se-kyung's performance in SIX FLYING DRAGONS. That said, I'm intrigued with your first impressions report, which has done its job. I'm willing to give it a go when I'm in the mood for lighter fare. I recently watched SUNGKYUNKWAN SCANDAL and loved it, so this should be up my alley. But I'll let it unfold more episodes before rushing in. ;-)

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I have similar issues: first, that I’m still in NOKDU FLOWER mode! And second, that I’ve been disappointed by fluffy fusion sageuks before, most recently MY SASSY JOSEON GIRL and 100 DAYS MY PRINCE. But reviews are overwhelmingly positive, so I think I’ll binge this one later when I want something light.

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@pakalanapikake
I will be interested to hear your take on this following NOKDU FLOWER.

For me this drama definitely knows where it sits and I think its strength is that it stays in that lane and plays the rest straight.

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@SadKDramaLama,

That's very encouraging. Sometimes I think that dramas throw in unnecessary subplots to fill the time, and end up losing sight of the main premise. Or they mix genres that are incompatible -- and I end up with whiplash.

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@pakalanapikake
Its early days, but after 4 episodes there are a serious number of plots already laid into the story. That is a good sign as I think we can all tell by now when a drama has enough plot threads embedded in the early setup to fill its 16ep. Those dramas that don't nearly always become a backend of contrived tropes and hollow story lines....and give rise to an epidemic of viewer "whiplash". :D

Still we KDrama viewers should know by now there are no guarantees it won't give that good work all up.

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If I am to add my opinion, don't worry this is not going to burn you like SASSY GIRL and 100 DAYS MY PRINCE.
At least that's the vibe I got from the first two weeks.
From the very 1st start it's not showing any sort of weakness with the potential of blowing up later. Even the villain is likable(because the actor looks like a good Minster 😂).
After you get out from the post-NOKDU FLOWER haze, give it a try?

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@peony, @SadKdramaLama, @wishfultoki,
Many thanks, good buddies, for sharing your considered opinions and quality indicators for ROOKIE HISTORIAN GU HAE-RYUNG. In combination with Laica's first impression report, it really does sound as if this drama has been well-crafted from the start. Just as nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition, no one can foresee whether a Kdrama will go off the rails and end up a smoking train wreck. Thus, I'm always a bit wary. I am particularly heartened to learn that in this show even the villain is likeable. Considering some of the baddies I've had to contend with in recent dramas, I really need a break from the evil incarnate ones. ;-)

Thanks for your recommendations and encouragement. I've duly entered it in my official to-watch list. ;-)

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Well it's still too early decide yet whether he's pure evil, but considering Sageuk sorta-tradition of giving their "evil minister" actors a sinister makeover, Minister Min (Choi Deok-moon) doesn't look like one hehe. He looks very wise. I know he has played shady characters before, but here I actually thought he was one of the good guys at 1st.😅

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@peony
Such a good observation about the "antagonist".

I suspect there is more to the back story of the king and the reoccurring dreams that may reveal if he is in fact a/the real villain

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Am I the only one who DID NOT enjoy the first 2 eps but absolutely loved the next 2 episodes? XD😆😂

Like honestly if I had not gone back to it after being disappointed by the first two eps I would have not found out how wonderful the next 2 were. Now I can be assured that my Wed-Thurs will be fun again after the beloved WWW ending T^T🎉🎉

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I liked the premiere but week 2 episodes are definitely better than the first two.

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@kittychan
I think Wk1 was essential for this drama to ground modern values in a Sageuk world before it unwraps the Sageuk machinations . Without it we would get that all too familiar incongruity that just leaves so many dramas hollow.

This show clearly sets out where we need to suspend disbelief - and I have been almost surprised at how strongly it has moved into the political plot and the potential darkness. I think the writer has been clever here as that one "suspended disbelief" gives it quite a wide remit to take us along for the ride.

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hmmm, I will take your word for it. However, I don't believe you need to make a story 'less engaging' or boring if you are world-building.
The best of the writers don't devote entire episodes just for world-building or grounding 'normal values', rather it is done as the story progresses.

My issue was that the first week is crucial to get as many people to watch your show and if the first two eps are boring then fewer people will want to watch the whole thing 😳

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Yes me too. I wasn't exactly dissapointed with the 1st 2, but next week was definitely better.

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I only on Ep 2 so I had to avert my eyes to avoid spoilers.
Shin Se-kyung really surprised me, I haven’t seen her in much outside of TWDR. She’s bright and full of energy here, looking forward to catching up.

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This one took my by surprise. I wanted something lighter to watch, so I gave it a try, but I didn't think I'd like it much. Now I look forward to it each week. The plot is way more well-thought out than I had anticipated; it's not just fluffy rom-com fare in sageuk dressing. I loved Hae-ryung from the start, and the first week was cute. But it's the second week's episodes that really solidified my interest. The female historians' story line, as well as the Crown Prince's, give the show more emotional resonance and depth. I'm looking forward to seeing where this goes.

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I was just looking for anything to watch and this gem was gifted to me. I love her historian colleagues too. They are all level headed upper class ladies that I am seeing first in kdramaland

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So nice that you're recapping this, Laica! I had no expectations about this drama, but I loved it from the get go. I find Hae Ryung so relatable and interesting, she still needs to learn a lot about life and is having some humbling experiences. But she's smart and doesn't see the need to hide it, which I find so refreshing.
Hae Ryung is the heart of the show, but the princes are also interesting. Lee Rim is so naive, but thinking how isolated and protected he has grown up, it makes sense. The crown prince has to be the 1st one I see in kdramas who's not conspiring to kill his siblings, haha!
I'm glad that this show seems to be in capable hands, the writing, acting and production values are good so far. The cinematography is beautiful...but with all those colorful hanboks and pretty faces it shouldn't be too difficult to deliver 😁

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I've only watched episodes 1 and 2, so I didn't read the recap yet. Nor am I reading any of the comments. (I save the show for Monday when I do laundry and fold clothes. It is how I watched Mr. Sunshine, too.) But so far I am loving this drama. I am a sucker for historical dramas. I know some people don't like them, but my first Korean drama was Jewel of the Palace. And Queen Senduk was my second. Loved them both.

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Awww...this looks like a great drama but I watched a couple of clips but Cha Eunwoo's acting really turns me off. He's really the male version of Kim Tae-hee with regards to acting. It's such a shame.

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I don't see anything wrong with his acting. He's playing an innocent, naive, childish character at the beginning, he matures as the series continues, and his character is more for comic relief in the beginning so to me it makes sense his acting is over the top and facial expressions are exaggerated. As a westerner I don't understand why people are turned off by nostrils, it just doesn't make sense. Honestly is acting really is spot on for his chatacter. But I guess we have different likes and dislikes.

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Thanks for this review. I've been on kdrama hiatus since Haechi ended, and found my way back to dramaland with RHGHR. I've been anxious of this drama because I'm a fan of EunWoo as an idol since MIIGB. I like him as DoKyungsuk, but wary of him tackling sageuk. He is still new into acting and sageuk is not an easy genre to handle.

But I put my faith into the director's hands, who gave me Solomon's Perjuru, and SSK's experience with Tree With Deep Roots and Six Flying Dragons. I prayed that they will guide EunWoo well.

The first week of airing put me into edge. Eunwoo's inexperience showed, but I found the plot starting solidly. SSK delivered what I expected of her.

The 2nd week is another story. The increase in ratings shows how the the narrative is picking a lot of interest from the viewers. Eunwoo is still a working progress, but the plot is driving me to read more about Prince Dowan/LeeRim.

Even as a fusion-sageuk, I hope this drama will not veer away from the solid narrative it started, and instead give us more meaty plotlines and arcs.

Thank you @laica for writing this recap. Hope you will continue to provide us this venue to talk about RHGHR

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I thought Eunwoo was better in the second week. I mean since he's new to this genre he's not going to be like veterans which probably makes him look more inexperienced. But I did see progress and I think his best acting is ahead of us and I'm excited to see him go from this comic refielf that's been cut off from the world to fully maturing and becoming fully immersed in the plot.

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Since becoming an Aroha (EunWoo's idol group Astro's fandom), I learned a lot about EunWoo, which made me appreciate him more as an idol, actor and as a person. I watched MIIGB not knowing who he is. I followed MIIGB because of the plot. But his portrayal of Kyungsuk reminded me to much of my HS onesided crush to a popular boy. That's how I am able to relate to Mirae's insecurities and how I appreciate EunWoo's portrayal of DKS.

But now that I know more about him, I am conscious of his every acting nuances. EunWoo takes everything seriously. He studies every line, every nuances of the character to the very T. So I always watch out for his every little details. First week... His facial expression shows a lot to work on. It's but as if.. he can't keep up with the sudden change of the emotion that quick. But this week improved a lot. The last scene.... surprised me.

But he promised a character growth.. and I know he will do his best to nail it. Just kind of surprised on how fast the reveals are unfolding. The writer is not playong around with the storyline. Making me love her more :)

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You're an Aroha? So am I.

I never thought he was terrible the first week, like some people did. But he did show a lot he could improve on but I still thought he got through the essence of the character. The second week though he seemed more at ease. I'm sure working on the previous episodes helped him. I also think it helps that his character is getting more depth. Before he was that prince that read and wrote, he really didn't have an idenity like the other characters. I mean this series is about finding himself. One thing I did notice about him is how good he is at expressing emotions with his eyes, he showed that in MIIGB as well. Yes that last scene-I mean he went from a shocked little boy to someone who looks capable of murder in a split second.

I saw the preview for next week and his acting looks even better, hes really acting with his eyes there. Im really excited for to see where his character growth takes us.

Yes I'm surprised at these quick reveals but what I like is that they're not adding more plots and they're not overwhelming the audience.

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His eyes are his acting tool. He just need to learn to muster how powerful they could be. The switch of emotions is still a work-in-progress. He is working on it tho. The first week has some over the top scenes. But maybe the director asked for it.

I like it when he blurts out some wisdom when he spats with HyeRyung. These are moments that makes me wish the character growth would be sooner than later. The politics of the court will eat him alive, once the birth secret gets revealed. It makes me anxious on how the writer will spin it.

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I was intrigued by the female rookie historian angle and thought at least it would be easy on the eye with all the beautiful hanboks.

So far I’m really enjoying the whole thing. There’s been a nice balance between the plot lines and I’m looking forward to things getting more complicated.

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Ok I've got to ask this. So I read this in an article, but apparently there were netizens that were bashing Cha Eun Woo for his overacting and reactions. Does anyone else agree?

And let me point out here, PLEASE be nice in this comment thread!!

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They may seem a bit over the top, but they didn't really bother me. I find that they a) make sense for his character - he seems very sheltered and naive and would react strongly to things he's never encountered/experiences before, and b) they make sense with the tone of the show - which is light and fluffy and loaded with hijinks.

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He got bashed for MIIGB as well. Same bashing he received prior and start of RHGHR. Any lead role he will accept, will equate to bashing.

SSK got bashed prior to the premier. I defended nonstop, coz I watched her in TWDR and 6FD. Even with Girl Who Sees Smell.

Some bashing have a point, others are just hate. EunWoo explained his character in an interview. Maybe I watched it, that's why his acting doesnt bother me. It has some parts that confused me (as I have some acting workshops million yrs before). Other than that... haters gonna hate. The drama will prove them something again, just how MIIGB slayed them.

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In my view, we haven't seen enough of him to judge yet. Some people are quick to jump on the hate train when it comes to pretty young actors, the prettier they are the more hate they use to get.
CEW might be a bit green, but I have seen him in previous roles and how he made an effort to give a different flavor every time. Here he's been wide eyed and exaggerated but I think that's what he's been asked to do. And he has good chemistry with SSK and the other actors too. So far I'm fine with him. If he was more subtle people would complain about him being stiff...

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I think there are two things. First, the character. And for now for me he's the least interesting. He's nice and has good relationships with his eunuch and his brother, there are funny scenes too but he sleeps and dreams a lot and we can't understand his dreams now.

Second thing, the actor. Cha Eun Woo was pretty good in My ID Is Gangnam Beauty because his character didn't show a lot but at the end I would have liked that he opened more and showed more but he stayed pretty stiff. In this drama, I think there is too much wide open eyes, it's always the same expression. So it's funny sometimes but becomes overused. Honestly, Cha Eun Woo would be a female idole, I think he will be more bashed for his acting...

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In my opinion, he is a little distracting with his acting in this drama, but I liked him in My ID is Gangnam Beauty, since the character in that drama (in my opinion) would be a little easier to portray since he has less emotions there compared to this one. So hopefully, there might be some improvement!

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The stranger who sutured up the survivor at the house printing The Story of Ho Dam... looks like a new character, or did I miss something? According to the reports, he used a foreign medical technique ... that can’t be a big pool of candidates?

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I think she is a she. Same character Prince Dowon's eunuch received middle of the night. Question is, does she stay there at Nokseodang? Eunuch Sambo knows more than we think? Who is she to Prince Dowon?

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Same thought occurred to me. But I’m not good with faces - posted snaps on my fan wall...

I think the eunuch called her his 부인 which means wife???

Certainly looks like she stays with him, but not sure exactly where that is. It *should* be in the quarters for those supporting Nokseodang.

She may be the Dowager Queen’s person, but Her behavior is somewhat ambiguous. She saves his life but leaves him to be captured by the “police”? The “law” of that time weren’t big on medical treatment for criminals ... so Why?

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Maybe to send a message. Also, they are questioning the method of the treatment. Something about not many medical practitioner in joseon uses it (western?).

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Yes eunuch called her wife. I think eunuchs could get married even though they couldn't produce a child because they could afford financially(some were rich and powerful too). My assumption here is that she has some hidden purpose (like loyal to the late king) and got married to eunuch (maybe because he is close to the prince- who I think legitimate heir of late king)- all my imagination.

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I picked this drama again after dropping it after first episode tempted by all the fan posts, and I like how the story develops, the 4 rookie historians are cute and sassy (and is there some history between the noble daughter and Crown Prince?), I hope the story focus on them the most, I don't usually like fusion sageuk, but I like world setting for this one so far and all actors are very capable, SSK is truly made for historical drama, shame that CEW acting is still god-awful,I decided to FF his scenes as much as possible.

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I wasn't really in a mood for sageuk, so thanks @mary for the recommendation!

Shin Se-kyung is marvelous in this role! Sageuk really suits here, well, I've only seen her in sageuks so I don't know how she is in modern world. This is my first time watching Cha Eun-woo so I'm yet sure what to make of his acting.

As usual, in sageuk world, these officials really boil my blood and I just want to punch my screen! I wonder what Officer Min and Crown Prince will do once they will know the truth about their fathers. And what role will Oraboni have or is he currently part of the distributor of the books?

Rooting for the awesome four historian ladies! I felt proud when they passed the exams and whenever they stood up against the Officers (Apprentice Heo *clap clap clap*).

Looks like there's a romance coming between the Crown Prince and Suhi (Sahee)!

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I’m thrilled to find out the beanies’ review on Rookie!!!!!! I really enjoy this drama. It banlanced the comedy, mystery and romance very well. Will you write recaps or review for later episodes? Episode 7 and 8 are especially hilarious.

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I don't like that when they try portray Hae Ryung as "intelectual" who is above such a "low brow" entertainemnt as romance novels, her criticism of such novels is never about novel itself but very ad personam, this whole scene of her making fun of him being eunuch was not cute, drama writers, not cute at all.

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Thank you for your wonderful recap!!
I have always been waiting for this drama since I heard about it and I'm glad that your review has definitely made many more follow this drama!!
CEW was the main reason I waited for this drama and even I thought his acting still needs improvement!! And he actually improved by next episodes itself!! Though the first week was a little slow, the second week was definitely better and at the end I became so curious for next episodes already!!
Like many have already said it, I'm absolutely loving the FL character!! She's very strong FL and I hope she remains so till the end. Apart from this I liked many new setup in this historical drama!! Hope it becomes even more better and doesn't disappoint us much!!

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Thanks for this review that echoes my thoughts on this drama so far. I have decided to check it out this weekend, because I have been missing sageuks in gl, but especially fusion sageuks that aren't that "serious". I binge-watched the first 4 episodes this past weekend and I hardly can wait for the next couple of episodes. I love the heroine! I like to call myself a feminist, and while watching this, especially the part where she was taking bridal lessons and she was told she should not be pretentious about her knowledge, I felt so emotional because, though that was Joseon, at least some hundred yrd ago, I feel like women, especially in my part of the World, are still held down and given those types of messages: "you can be this but not not too much, you can do that but not too much, so that you don't disturb men's ego, so you'll be liked". It saddens me. But, seeing Hae Ryung standing her ground for what she knows and believes in gives me hope.

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Yay! I heard from @mary this was recap coming! I LOVE ❤️ this show after the first few episodes. The heroine has me hooked and the supporting male leads are just there to support her journey. This show is about Hye-ryung and her only and I hope that doesn’t change. She’s like Nancy Drew to me, and I’m pretty sure she’s going to solve the mystery!

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I won’t lie, I went into this show with low expectations (in lieu of Shin Se-kyung’s previous performances and my bias against some idol actors), it was something I picked up to pass the time. Boy was I in for a ‘royal’ surprise! Not only did Shin Se-kyung perform brilliantly in her role as the noble lady who won’t fit the mold, she had good chemistry with other actors. Her conversations with the Princes and her colleagues her done so well. I found myself also crying at her frustrations at the end of Episode 10. Cha Eun-woo also did well in his role as the blissfully ignorant prince locked up in his ivory tower. Of course Park Ki-woong never disappoints. I was honestly surprised at the direction the drama took, I was expecting a light and fluffy drama based on the teasers I saw, but this show did a good job in showing the struggles of being female at the time, being an official at the time, and being a female-official. This show is unique and I love it!

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Well, to be honest "the sorrows of young werther" IS high-minded literature, there is countless secondary literature written about it and I, for instance, had to read it in school.
So there definitely is a distinction between that book and romance novels meant to be swooned over (for the record, I do like both :))

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