Hwarang Korean Drama Review

Hwarang is about the original Hwarang warriors of Silla who are young, elite, and known for being beautiful. The warriors include a man from the lowest class of Silla (Park Seo Joon) and the hidden King Jinheung (Park Hyung Shik) who secretly joins. The men also both fall for the maiden Ah Ro (Go Ara).

Hwarang was such a wonderful historical! I was surprised at just how much I thoroughly enjoyed it. It has everything I love in a good historical. The story developed so nicely with great pacing from start to finish with a wonderful balance of lighthearted humor, romance, political scheming, action, and angsty goodness.

The initial story is set up so well by showing the deep brotherly friendship between Sun Woo and Mak Moon (Lee Kwang Soo). That bond between the two men sets everything in motion to come and had lasting effects throughout the entire story.

Park Seo Joon plays Sun Woo who comes from the lowest class of Silla. After tragedy strikes and he loses his best friend, he finds himself taking on his friend’s identity. But he is also out for revenge on the hidden King who he blames for his friend’s death.

Park Hyung Shik plays our hidden King Jinheung who goes by the name Ji Dwi. Forced to hide for his entire life, he longs to be able to claim his throne. And joining the Hwarang gives him the opportunity to be right in the middle of things.

We have Go Ara as Ah Ro. She is the sister of Sun Woo’s deceased friend, so she ends up believing that Sun Woo is really her brother. Things get a bit complicated as she finds herself developing feelings for him. She also draws the affections of Ji Dwi which creates a nice little love triangle.

 

There are so many wonderful supporting characters in Hwarang! The drama did so well at developing these characters and giving them meaningful stories. I loved all of the Hwarang boys and thoroughly enjoyed their relationships with each other.

 

Some of the memorable ones include the tense relationship between Ban Ryu (Do Ji Han) and Soo Ho (Choi Min Ho), Weo Wool (Jo Yoon Woo), and the adorable Han Sung (Kim Tae Hyung or better known as V of BTS – yea BTS!!).

 

We also have our royal ladies that include a solid performance from our Queen Dowager Ji So (Kim Jee Soo) and the icy and fierce Princess Sookmyung (Seo Ye Ji).

 

Other great performances include the leader of the Hwarang Wi Hwa (Sung Dong Il) and our weaselly bad guy Park Yeong Shil (Kim Chang Wan).

I really enjoyed the love/hate relationship between the boys. Sun Woo desires to kill the King, but he is unaware that he is Ji Dwi. But it doesn’t take long for him to become suspicous. I loved the dynamic between them as they moved between moments of dislike for each other and a growing friendship. It’s one of my favorite kinds of bromance.

I also enjoyed the complicated scenario of Sun Woo and Ah Ro falling for each other, but she believes him to be her brother. It keeps things interesting. I think I liked the set up and complex dynamic of the romance more than the actual romance itself, but it was still a very enjoyable relationship that I found myself very invested in.

 

I really loved the setting and time period of Hwarang. It was my first historical set during the Silla/Three kingdoms era. And it had many of the elements I love about my favorite Goryeo era with such lovely costumes and a less rigid structure in place.

Hwrang also has a really great soundtrack filled with so many catchy and moving songs. They are utilized very well throughout the drama and definitely set a wonderful backdrop to an already great drama.

I also thought the sort of “school” setting of where the Hwarang all come together to train was very interesting and entertaining. The whole atmosphere was wonderful with a nice mix of fun and serious.

Hwarang was just my kind of drama all around. The excellent story was rich and full as well as executed at a wonderful pace. The complicated relationships between our main three leads was always intense. The world is also populated with so many interesting supporting characters. And the way all of the elements were balanced was just fantastic. I really loved Hwarang for so many reasons.

My Rating: 8.5/10

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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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14 Responses to Hwarang Korean Drama Review

  1. priyamh21 says:

    You know I was so excited for this drama but it turned out to be a huge disappointment for me. I forced myself to finish it till half but no I eventually dropped it.I loved all the supporting cast and their stories it was great but I didn’t liked Female lead(very irritating but was okay in first two episodes.) and male lead. Director’s fault I suppose.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kay says:

      Aww, that’s too bad 😦 I was kind of the opposite where I wasn’t too excited for it and even waited a while to watch it. But then I ended up loving it. I know a lot of people really disliked the female lead so you’re not alone. Luckily, I was pretty neutral towards her and then thought the story was more about the guys anyways so it wasn’t a big problem for me. But the drama turned out to be more of a happy surprise as a whole 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  2. raistlin0903 says:

    Whoa, this is a very positive review. Honestly I had been about to skip this series alltogether, but after reading this I might at least give the first episode a try. Looking at the pictures you have included it does really look the part, especially the costumes. Thanks for sharing this one, and as always: great review! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      I really did end up loving this drama. I too was quite hesitant to start it as it hadn’t completely captured my interest, and I had read a lot of mixed reviews. But how nice it is when a drama ends up surprising you 🙂 As I mentioned, I really enjoyed pretty much everything about it. And I didn’t go into to detail in the review, but Lee Kwang Soo has an important part in the first couple episodes, and I enjoyed him so much. He helped make for a great first impression 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Sondra says:

    Great review, great drama. I loved it. I would suggest to all who didn’t watch , give it a try.
    Also if you like this time period watch “Queen Seondeok”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kay says:

      It really was such a a wonderful drama! I would encourage people to try it too. I also really want to check out Queen Seondeok. Just need to find the time 🙂

      Like

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  6. Kate says:

    How am I not surprised you liked this one! It’s one of the few period dramas I’ve watched and although I enjoyed the first 10 episodes a great deal, I found the 2nd half of the series really drawn out. The cast was great but chemistry between the leads was lacking. Unfortunately I need to add myself to the list of people who don’t like Go Ara. I really can’t put my finger on it but her facial expression never seems to change. I give all actors/actresses a chance but she’s just not very good.The many flashbacks of scenes that played only 5 minutes earlier in the 2nd half was annoying as f especially when they could have spent some of that wasted time showing how King Jinheung changed the rules and made life better for his people which was so much a part of his goal before ascending the throne. I would still highly recommend this one because the acting and costumes were great, and the fun factor and bromance were fantastic but as with so many kdramas, it’s not flawless.

    Like

    • Kay says:

      It seems you’re getting to know my drama tastes really well, lol 🙂 I remember being initially excited for Hwarang, then I saw mostly negative stuff about it so I put it off for a while. But I finally got around to it and loved it! But I know what you’re saying. It’s by no means a perfect drama, and I think liking a drama like this majorly comes down to taste. Luckily, the bromance, the fun, the costumes, and the fake brother/sister angst were all things I loved.

      I would say I have a positive view of Go Ara. She’s not one that I get all excited about when she’s cast, but I’ve honestly enjoyed her in the few dramas I’ve seen her in. But people do seem to be pretty divided on her, so I understand her not clicking with you. As far as period dramas go, there are certainly better ones. I liked that this was more a fun historical comparatively. But hopefully you find some better ones to really make the genre shine for you 🙂

      Like

      • Kate says:

        When I saw Hwarang I was relatively new to the kdrama world – it was probably in the 1st 5 kramas I ever watched – and I didn’t even know review sites existed so I was able to enjoy it as a complete innocent 🙂 I’m actually very careful about reading reviews before or during watching something because I don’t want to prejudice my enjoyment. I worry about reading negative reviews about something I like, it feels like a personal slight LOL. I’ve also found the ratings for stuff extremely opposite to many of the things I like. It’s so weird!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Kay says:

          Ah, that lovely innocent period. When it’s just you and the dramas without all the extra stuff. Definitely a good period 🙂

          Oh wow! We’re really similar in our drama watching process. I do read first episode recaps when a drama comes out to give me a feel for the drama and sometimes decide if I want to watch it, but after that I avoid any reviews or long commentary until I finish the drama. I don’t like negative reviews making me notice things that wouldn’t have bothered me otherwise. I see a lot of people who live watch and get really involved in forums that get very hung up on some very minor things. And certain issues get blown way out of proportion. Cheese in the Trap is a good example. Although there is plenty of room for criticism and debate about the last third of that drama, if people weren’t so aware of what was going on behind the scenes, it wouldn’t have been near as big of a deal as if they had just randomly watched the drama. Sometimes it’s best to stay in your bubble and then compare notes when you come out, lol

          And yes, I understand about the opposite opinion problem. A few of the bigger drama communities frequently run in contrast to what I like. But if I see them ripping a drama to pieces, it’s usually a good sign to me that I will like it, lol. Hwarang was actually like that. It took a long time for me to develop my process and learn what to read and when to read it to make my drama watching experience the best possible for me. It sounds like you’ve been developing that too 🙂

          Like

          • Kate says:

            I’d have to really trust the reviewer to read even a 1st episode recap in order to decide if I’m gonna watch something ’cause I’ve found it takes me sometimes 1-3, maybe even 5 episodes before I fall in love with something and then I’m so surprised when it becomes one of my favorites having taken so long to get into it. The one caveat was Descendants of the Sun – contrarian that I am, I only watched 1 episode and bailed, I never do that, especially with such love out there for that particular drama/ couple. Maybe some day. Similarly, I tried Royal Family when I was in my Ji Sung phase and couldn’t get past 3 episodes so if it got better, I wouldn’t know. I had no idea what people were saying about Cheese in the Trap because I was in my novice bubble but found that whole series fairly disturbing and odd. Now I have to go dig up “what was going on behind the scenes”! I love the “idea” of live watching and being part of a community but it’s way too risky. I’m the only person I know IRL watching kdramas so I am forced to turn to the online community 🙂 My daughter turned me on to kdramas in the first place then abandoned me when her high school workload took over her life – gosh darn her priorities! 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            • Kay says:

              Well, I guess to be more specific, I know ahead of time which dramas I’m watching about 80% of the time, so the first ep recaps mostly allow me to assess the overall fan reaction. But for those remaining dramas I’m unsure about, reading about the ep and seeing the response from multiple people can give me the push one way or the other 🙂

              I would say if a drama is going to end up being a 9 or 10 for me, I would be loving it in the within the first couple eps. Most dramas take a few eps to get really into though. Most of the time if I’m not feeling it by ep 4 or 5, it doesn’t look good. But there are a few that buck the trend. I remember one drama taking 7 eps to really get into. I was just about to drop it but I held on just long enough for the whole thing to click, lol.

              I did really like DOTS, but I’m a fan of the writer in general. I do think it gets better when they actually get to the fictional country though. But it’s definitely not a drama that will be to everyone’s tastes.

              Haha, yes, Cheese in the Trap is odd and disturbing for sure. I guess it had this mysterious appeal for most of us. But there was definitely a lot of behind the scenes drama. It was near impossible to avoid while watching it.

              Aww, I believe I’ve heard that story before! Someone else introduces you to kdramas and then leaves you high and dry while you’ve fallen into a black hole of drama addiction! They just can’t do that to you, lol

              Liked by 1 person

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