Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Goryeo Korean Drama Review


Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Goryeo tells the story of a modern day woman (IU) who travels back in time to the Goryeo era.  She gets romantically involved with several princes
and finds herself in the middle of their battle for the throne.

Moon Lovers was one intense ride! It has everything you could ask for including action, romance, handsome princes, drama, and so much intensity. It’s an epic journey of one woman who must navigate her new life in the past surrounded by princes vying for her affections. Goryeo is also a very dangerous place, and when she gets caught in the middle of their battle for the throne, her life gets seriously complicated.


I absolutely love the Goryeo era, and this drama didn’t disappoint in that regards. The costumes are so gorgeous for both the men and women. I also love the long flowing hair on the guys and the more intricate styles on the girls. The sets are completely beautiful, and they easily transported me right into the drama.


Lee Joon Gi is absolutely phenomenal as the 4th prince, Wang So. Wang So is a dark and very tortured man. He has a reputation for violence and is feared by almost everyone. A tragic incident as a child left his face permanently scarred so he wears a mask to hide it from everyone.

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Lee Joon Gi is such an amazingly talented actor. There are so many different sides to Wang So’s character, and he really brings each of them to life. And his ability to convey so much emotion through his eyes and subtle changes in his face has always left me in awe.

He also transitions between emotions flawlessly. One scene in particular had him go from shock, to embarrassment, to hurt, to anger in a matter of seconds. It was truly moving, and gave just a small display of Lee Joon Gi’s talent.

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I almost couldn’t handle many of his scenes purely because he was so intense in his delivery. He really gave me goosebumps! And when he’s sad, he is completely devastating. He just pulls you right into his experience. Lee Joon Gi alone is worth watching this drama, but there are plenty of other great reasons to check it out.


IU was great as the spirited Hae Soo. Hae Soo faces so many challenges during the drama including adjusting to life in Goryeo, drawing the affections of multiple princes, and attempting to prevent the bloody history she learned about in the future. It’s a lot of pressure for an average girl, and it all really takes a toll on her throughout the drama.


Kang Ha Neul plays the 8th prince, Wang Wook. He’s a sincere and level-headed man in the midst of the craziness of the palace. But even the most steadfast person would have a hard time keeping it together, and he certainly faces his share of moral dilemmas in the battle for the throne.


I was absolutely thrilled with Ji Soo as the 14th prince, Wang Jung. At first, he has a much smaller role as the free-spirited brother who liked to leave the palace and get into fights. But as the drama progressed, his part grew much larger. As he matured, he became a very prominent figure in the drama that I really enjoyed all the way through. He also has a very sweet relationship with Hae Soo.


Hong Jong Hyun plays the villainous 3rd prince, Wang Yo. He easily portrayed the callous prince who would go to any lengths to ensure his future as king. He wears some fantastic costumes throughout the drama, and he really rocks the guy-liner too.


We have Nam Joo Hyuk at the 13th prince, Baek Ah. He is kind and intelligent with an open mind. He is also the brother who is closest to Wang So. He gives Wang So a much needed friend and ally in a world full of mistrust and betrayal.


Baek Hyun was quite entertaining as the 10th prince, Wang Eun. He is the irresponsible and fun brother. He’s a bit naive and has a lot of growing up to do. But his crush on Hae Soo gives him a chance to do that. He was definitely a fun character.

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We also have the upright Crown Prince, Wang Mu (Kim San Ho), who just wants to do what’s right for the kingdom and live peacefully with his brothers.  We round out our princes with the sneaky 9th prince, Wang Won (Yoon Sun Woo), who frequently causes trouble behind the scenes.

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We also have very memorable performance from Jo Min Ki as King Tae Jo and Park Ji Young as Empress Dowager Yoo. They each bring a strong presence and a lot of intensity to their roles.


Let’s take a look at the main relationships of Hae Soo. Hae Soo and Wang Wook have this very sweet and tender relationship. He cares for her when she first arrives in Goryeo, so she naturally feels drawn to him. Their relationship feels more normal and healthy with a sweetness to it. But of course, they eventually face some serious challenges.


Hae Soo and Wang So’s relationship is much more turbulent. In the beginning, he treats her coldly like he does everyone else and repeatedly threatens to kill her. Not the best start to a relationship. But her kindness to him does quickly soften him. But even then, he is still very controlling and possessive.

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It takes half the series to even truly get to the real romance between Wang So and Hae Soo. And even then it isn’t all sun and roses. Their relationship faces many obstacles from many different sources.

Wang So truly loves Hae Soo, but he still does many things she finds deplorable. It makes her feelings for him very complicated. She frequently loves him, but hates what he does. It definitely makes for an interesting relationship.


But Hae Soo is able to provide Wang So with a source of comfort, trust, and most importantly, confidence. The two lovers do share plenty of very tender and caring moments, and there is never any doubt about Wang So’s passion for Hae Soo. Their relationship is filled with much joy and heartbreak.

Okay, the main negative for the drama would be that the editing was somewhat iffy throughout. Transitions between scenes were sometimes awkward, the camera would quickly pan from one object to another rather than cutting, and many facial shots were way too close a lot of the time. Some of these issues do improve though. It’s disappointing for sure, but it in no way affected my enjoyment of the drama. Many people probably wouldn’t even notice it.


I also actually wish the drama had been longer. It would have been nice to have more time to flesh out each prince and their story. With such a large main cast, there just wasn’t adequate time to dig super deep with some of the princes (especially the 9th prince who was frequently left out of the narrative). And with such an interesting world and intriguing characters, I would have enjoyed going more in depth and spending more time them.

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Scarlet Heart really is an epic tale of the harsh world that lies within the palace walls. It is full of danger, betrayal, and murder. It is a place where one must kill or be killed in order to survive.

A family of brothers is forced to become enemies in order to secure their place on the throne. If you just sit back and let someone else become King, you run the risk of being killed so that the King can protect himself from you.


But when someone does become King, protecting the throne becomes a full time job. There is always someone ready to take you out so they can step into your role. It is a truly scary place to be. And that is what sets up a wonderful and exciting story filled with drama, fear, and betrayal.


It was so sad to watch as each new King rose to power. There was only a moment of glory for reaching their goal before reality set in. Paranoia quickly took over each of them as their previous allies turned against them.


We lost several of our characters throughout the drama. One death that was felt particularly hard was that of Eun. While still a boy in many ways, he had finally begun to mature and was ready to stand up for those around him. His death broke the hearts of so many who loved him, but it was completely devastating for Wang So. What a heartbreaking scene.


Scarlet Heart as a whole was beautifully tragic. The way it ended perfectly highlighted that. When Wang So finally rises to the throne, he begins to follow the path of those before him. The wedge between him and Hae Soo only grows wider.

Hae Soo did love Wang So dearly, but she never agreed with his harsh ways. And the more powerful he became the less he seemed to listen to her. The stress of the palace took its toll on her mind and body.


When she reached her breaking point, she sought out Jung and left to be his wife. Although reluctant at first, in his anger, Wang So let Hae Soo go. Part of me wished that Hae Soo could actually live a happy life with Jung. Luckily, it was peaceful being with him, and he was a good husband who was always there to take care of her all the way to the end.


But she always longed for Wang So. As she lay on her deathbed, she reached out to him, but a misunderstanding prevented her from seeing him before she died. She passed away while resting in Jung’s arms. Wang So was left devastated and heartbroken at the loss of his only love. Lee Joon Gi continued to deliver the emotions all the way through the end.

The ending was very moving. After her death, Hae Soo wakes up back in the modern times with no memory of what happened in Goryeo. But the memories slowly come back until she remembers it all. As she reads through history, her heart breaks for Wang So and that she left him all alone. It was so sad!


Back in the past, even though Wang So was alone, he remembered Hae Soo talking about how nice it would be if they had met in another life. He then proclaimed if there was a way to find her, he would do it. And I believe him!

I do think the drama missed an opportunity to insert at least a brief glimpse in the modern time of the reincarnated Wang So. It just would have sweetened it. But it was heavily hinted at that Wang So would be reunited with Hae Soo in the future, so I was more than happy with it.


Overall, Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Goreyo was epic and tragic. It had extremely high stakes all the way through that kept things intense. The drama definitely wasn’t perfect and was very rough around the edges, but it got so much right and delivered so many feels.

Lee Joon Gi was as fantastic as can be, and he was surrounded by an interesting cast that each brought something different to the table. The atmosphere, costumes, sets, music, and story were completely engaging. Scarlet Heart is unique in many ways, and I’m thrilled to have enjoyed such a fantastic story.

My Rating: 10/10

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About Kay

Greetings! I’m Kay, creator and author of Kdrama Kisses. Kdrama Kisses is dedicated to bringing you the latest in kdrama casting news, drama trailers, reviews, and more. Happy drama watching to everyone!
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38 Responses to Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Goryeo Korean Drama Review

  1. joybran says:

    I was bothered by the editing through at least the first half of the drama because it seemed such a shame to undermine all the great work by the rest of the cast and crew through subpar editing. However, now that it is over, I love the whole drama even more. I can’t even express how wonderful Lee Joon Gi’s portrayal of Wang So was. I could watch all his scenes over and over again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      I can definitely understand why you found the editing bothersome. I certainly noticed it, but luckily everything else was really working for me. But yes, it really is a shame in this case that they had so much time to really get it right, and they didn’t. I’m really glad you love it even more now though. Lee Joon Gi was absolutely phenomenal, and I too could watch his scenes over and over again 🙂


  2. raistlin0903 says:

    I ofcourse skipped the spoilers, seeing as I have still yet to watch this show, but I am actually wondering if I should watch this first now, or Bridal Mask. Both have pretty appealing storylines to me, and this was a very cool review. Well…I am going to watch them both for sure, just not sure yet in which order 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Oooh, that’s a tough one! They are such different dramas from each other and each have a distinct appeal. I absolutely loved Moon Lovers, but it is rough around the edges and has certain elements some people are more likely to see as negatives. But it received a lot of love and has so many things that made it great.

      I genuinely have nothing negative to say about Bridal Mask. It is polished, epic, and intense. And it is completely unique from anything else I have seen. That one gets a 10/10 and it is in my top 5 favorite kdramas ever.

      I’m hopeful you’ll like them both, but I guess it just depends on what kind of mood you’re in 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • raistlin0903 says:

        Well….this comment actually has made the decision for me a lot easier actually. A 10/10 and in your personal top 5? I don’t even have to think about it anymore. Thank you for making this a lot easier now. But first Heartless City: 7 episodes to go of this amazing series 😀

        Liked by 1 person

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  8. leiram says:

    hello. may i know what is your top 5 kdrama? please let me know.. i already finished this and looking for a great kdrama to watch

    Liked by 1 person

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  10. Kathy says:

    After watching this drama i just can’t move on from every single moment I’ve watched, that gave my heart the joy plus so much of aches and that it triggered me to endure being sleepless and cry more and more in the middle of the night. It was one week ago til I ought to read this review and I myself got back all the emotions I had while watching this drama. I so loved this drama that I longed for Season 2 (As rumored that will out) with Hae Soo followed by Wang so in the modern world. But over all, I really loved it from the beginning to the end. After reading this one, I ought to understand why the ending had to be like that and not of what I want. Thank you so much! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      It really was such an amazing drama! So I completely understand why you can’t move on from it. You’re right, it was filled with a mixture of joy and pain that was so moving. A truly wonderful drama from start to finish! I’m glad you enjoyed the review too. I loved writing it though it doesn’t even begin to describe my feelings for this amazing drama 🙂


  11. leehana2494 says:

    i’m planning on watching this recently, but when i’m looking for the rating, it’s quite low, so i doubt. but when i read your review, i wanna try to watch this. thanks, keep writing😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Yeah, it’s ratings were really low in Korea. But it was super popular internationally, especially in China, and a lot of people really loved it. Like anything, it comes down to your preferences. I think the drama is wonderful if you like angsty and dramatic period pieces with more of an anti-hero, a complicated romance, and palace intrigue. But there’s also humor to balance things out. I would definitely say give it a few eps to see what you think 🙂


      • leehana2494 says:

        oh yes, i’ve seen it. the ending is so tragic. my heart couldnt accept it, so sad😭
        the close up shoot was really bothered me so much. and seohyun’s acting made me cringe.
        but i’m so glad it was popular internationally, they deserved it. one of ma favorite seaguk drama😆
        is it true that will be season 2 for this?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kay says:

          Oh yes, the close up shots were by far the biggest negative to the drama. Very disappointing considering how beautifully it was shot.

          But everything else was pretty great for me. And I cried so much during the ending!! I do think they reunited in the modern world though 🙂

          From what I’ve heard, a season 2 is probably not going to happen. It’s always difficult to get the cast back together anyways, and since the drama was rated low in Korea combined with current difficulties with licensing dramas to China, it would be hard to make any money off of the production 😦


  12. Fred says:

    When you say tragic, does it have a sad ending? I might watch this next week IF it does not have a sad ending. I am hoping this will save me from my kdrama slump. I’m just rewatching a few dramas after dropping one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Well…it kind of depends how you look at it, lol. In the simplest sense, I would say, yes, it has a sad ending. But it is one of those that leaves open the possibility for future happiness. It gives you a little something extra. But yeah, it just depends how you see it. I cried like the whole last episode. But it was worth it! Scarlet Heart is an emotional ride, but I loved every minute, including the second time I watched it 🙂


      • Fred says:

        Oh no. I’m not yet ready for this. I’ll just watch one of your Top Ten then. Either I Miss You or Rooftop Prince. I’ll save this one for next time when I can handle some sadness HAHA. Thanks.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kay says:

          Haha, yes it is quite emotional. Heads up though…I Miss You is quite angsty and has lots of sad parts. It does have a happy ending though 🙂 I like it more than Rooftop Prince, but Rooftop Prince has more rom-com elements.


  13. Bi says:

    This drama was fully packed no doubt it is my number one kdrama ever. Though it wasn’t a happy ever after ending. I loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Yasmin says:

    This drama triggers the hell out of me. I spent months in mourning after finishing it. Honestly nothing will compare to this. It made me cry like a BABY

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Haha, I can definitely understand that! Scarlet Heart is an amazing and special drama. It will rip your heart out and you’ll be happy it did, lol


  15. Fred says:

    *slow clap* *standing ovation*

    Hi Kaye. I remember you saying this was a sad drama. But why am I smiling right now? LOL.

    I cannot think of a better drama when it comes to character development and plot. This drama is amazing! It is so amazing it is very hard for me to explain!
    They really developed all the characters and not just the main ones. This makes it more believable and realistic compared to mainstream Kdramas (sorry). Though I still love Kdramas HAHAHA.

    I also love it because it shows viewers what life should and should not be about. A lot of people live life trying to “beat everyone to the throne”. They then realize too late that it is lonely at the top and they have to give up so much – sometimes including what makes them happy – just to keep that “throne”. This throne can be power, money, etc. Anyways, enough about that.

    I consider this drama to be perfect. I just do not know where to place this since this is not what I usually look for in a Kdrama. My Top 3 remains the same but this drama is the best in a list that only it occupies. It is so amazing Kaye! A different type of amazing!

    I’m so happy. You failed in making me sad. HAHA.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      Woohoo!! You liked it!! I was really hoping you would since I thought it perfectly fits for being an incredibly emotionally engaging drama and just all around solid in characters and story. It seems that it hit all of those right spots for you just as it did for me 🙂

      Haha, I guess it’s good that it didn’t make you too sad! I definitely cried a few times towards the end of the drama as there were some very sad events that went down. So did you like the ending? A lot of people thought it was sad and were a bit disappointed since it wasn’t a traditional happy ending. I personally really liked the end. Although I wouldn’t have minded a little modern day glimpse of Wang So, I thought the more tragic ending in the past combined with the heavy implication that they would be reunited in the present made it an overall happy ending. So I was very pleased 🙂

      Oooh, and Scarlet Heart looks like it made it high on you favs list. It’s really high on my overall list and even higher on my favorite historical list. It’s just an amazing drama. I’ve watched it three times and loved it every time. So happy you were able to enjoy it this beautiful drama too 🙂


      • Fred says:

        I personally would want to see them reunite in the future setting. But I also think that type of scene would be somewhat out of place. It would be there mainly to please the fans. So the drama ended perfectly and true to its overall theme. It was the only way.

        Now that I think about it at times, it becomes a bit painful. More painful than watching HAHA. There is really that craving to see them meet in the future and be happy. But I just have to accept. Such is life. C’est la vie!

        My favorite scene is the end of Episode 19. The moment she went our of the palace. That I believe was the happiest scene in the drama. Though not giving up her love, she let go of everything that made her unhappy.

        I need to move on Kaye. I can’t keep talking about this. It’s getting painful. HAHAHAHA.
        Need a happy drama right now. Any recommendations?

        P.S. I still don’t understand why she is called IU. LOL.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kay says:

          Umm, a Gumiho rewatch maybe? lol That’s always happy 😉 Go Back Couple is mostly fun, but it does have some very emotional stories in it too. I would watch it if I wanted something happy though. Have you seen High School King of Savvy? It’s similar to something like Weightlifting Fairy. Super cute couple, mostly fun, easy story. If neither of those sound appealing, I can rattle off some more ideas for you 🙂


          • Fred says:

            I like both your recommendations. Seo In Guk and Jang Na Ra. I love them both. Tough decision. 🙂

            I’ll rewatch Weightlifting first then watch one of your recommended dramas once I am not anymore super busy.

            Thanks Kaye. 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Kay says:

              Yep, each has their unique appeal 🙂 And I think they usually choose pretty good projects. Enjoy your rewatch of Weightlifting Fairy and best of luck with whichever you choose next 🙂


  16. Marjorie G. says:

    This is the series that made me a fan of Lee Joon Gi. I have never seen such a mesmerizing actor who is so good at conveying emotions, not to mention the fact that he is absolutely gorgeous.

    Before I watched this I have read some reviews and most of them said that the ending was truly heartbreaking and hard to move on from. Sure enough, it took me days before I have come to terms with the fact that it ended the way it did. I just couldn’t accept it for quite some time and I had been wishing it would have a part 2.

    I heard that this series didn’t do well in the ratings and I honestly don’t know why when this is easily one of the best kdramas there is.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      I can definitely see why this drama made you an Lee Joon Gi fan! I agree with you 100%. He is just phenomenal in every way. And Moon Lovers was an emotional roller coaster with a heartbreaking ending.

      It did struggle some in ratings in Korea. It was bad timing that it went up against the hit drama Moonlight Drawn By Clouds. Once Moonlight was over, Moon Lovers saw a nice ratings rise the last couple weeks of its run. And luckily, it was a hit internationally, especially in China. I’m glad there were a lot of people that recognized how good it was. I think it is also one of the best kdramas there is. It’s wonderful! 🙂


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