Lee Yeong (played by Park Bo-Gum)
Hong Ra-On (played by Kim Yoo-Jung)
Kim Yoon-Sung (played by Jung Jin-Young)
Second lead syndrome is strong in “Love in the Moonlight.” And although it’s obvious from the beginning who will end up with the girl, I honestly would’ve been fine with either. (Are you #TeamBoGum or #TeamJinYoung?!)
First things first: Ran-On is the daughter of a freedom fighter. Her father was killed for his actions. Later, she became separated from her mother. It’s never explained why her mom forced her to live as a boy. But it was probably to ensure Ra-On’s safety. After all, the family’s enemies knew that there was a daughter, but not a son. So she grows up as Sam-Nom and makes her living as a relationship counselor and writer. (For the purposes of this review, I’m going to refer to her character as Ra-On.)
Through a series of coincidences, Ra-On ends up at the palace working as … a eunuch. The Crown Prince finds the new eunuch to be disturbingly attractive, but also a refreshing change of pace from all the sycophants he’s surrounded by.
Of course, Ra-On makes for the tiniest, prettiest, most delicate looking man ever, which is why both the Crown Prince Lee Yeong and nobleman Kim Yoon-Sung fall for her almost immediately. To his credit, Yoon-Sung seems to be the only one in the series who saw through her charade immediately. How? Because he has eyes.
Based on Yun Yi Su’s web-novel “Moonlight Drawn by the Clouds,” “Love in the Moonlight” is a well-paced series that’s set in 19th Century Joseon. It’s an engaging K-Drama that’s full of humor, romance and friendship.
One of the things I really enjoy about Korean Dramas is that childhood friendships play a lasting role in so many storylines. Here, some of the most poignant moments occurred during flashbacks, as viewers saw the youngster versions of Yeong, Yoon-Sung and Byung-Yeon (played by Kwak Dong-Yeon) enjoying life before their familial duties made their friendship difficult to maintain. Due to the circumstances of their lineage, Yoon-Sung isn’t trusted (because his family wants to usurp the king’s court) and Byung-Yeon’s role as Yeong’s undefeatable bodyguard means it’s his duty to sacrifice his life for the prince’s without a second thought.
I’ll take a moment here to give kudos to Kwak Dong-Yeon for stealing just about every scene he’s in, which isn’t an easy feat when Jin-Young and Bo-Gum are in the same shot.
Yeong, Ra-On, Yoon-Song and Byung-Yeon are like the Four Musketeers. I enjoyed their relationships so much that I wish there could’ve been a happily ever after for everyone, but there isn’t.
Kim Yoo-Jung, who was so wonderful in “The Moon Embracing the Sun,” is adorable in her gender bender role. She celebrated her 16th birthday filming this series. Ordinarily, I’m not a fan of teenagers being paired with adults for romantic scenes, because it’s just gross. But the kissing was minimal (and relatively chaste), thank goodness, so it didn’t bother me too much here.
But as much as I love Bo-Gum (and Jin-Young), it would’ve been just as effective to cast someone more age appropriate, like Yeo Jin-Goo — who’s just two years older than her and a really talented actor. The two shared such amazing chemistry in “The Moon Embracing the Sun.”
Airdates: 18 hour-long episodes originally aired on KBS2 from August 22 to October 18, 2016.
Spoiler Alert: I’m going to fill you in soon on who dies. So, if you don’t want to know, STOP READING NOW.
First…Both of Ra-On’s parents are alive! The little family is reunited, but the threat of being captured and killed lingers over their heads. Speaking of which…remember I mentioned that one of the friends dies? It’s…Yoon-Sung. Honestly? I wasn’t happy about that at all. It seemed like a senseless ending for a character who deserved better.
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