Drama Review: Moon Embracing The Sun

Kim Do Hoon, PD of Moon embracing the Sun, has confirmed that he will be joining in the MBC  labor union’s strike. The drama, previously scheduled to end on March 8th with 20 episodes, will now end later than expected. I’ve taken this opportunity to watch this extremely popular drama and see what all the fuss has been about. So is it worth watching?


Wikipedia and many drama sites (that probably quote from wiki) had this:

“The story of the secret love between Lee Hwon, a fictional king of Joseon, and Wol, a female shaman. Wol was born from a noble family and became the crown princess, but she was entrapped and faced execution. Finally, she lived as a shaman.”‘

I have to admit, this summary wasn’t well written. What’s with the Finally? How can anyone know of the finale if it hasn’t even been filmed?

This is my summary. But be forewarned, it may contain spoilers.

This historical fiction drama tells the love story between the young King Lee Hwon and daughter of a High Official, Yeon Woo. In their teenage years, the two met by an act of fate and fell deeply in love. They attempted to unify through marriage and through many tribulations, Yeon Woo became the Crown Princess. However, politics intercepted their innocent love and Yeon Woo was assassinated.

 Luckily, a shaman aids Yeon Woo. Instead of dying, the young lady pulls a Juliet. She dies … only to live again … unknown to Lee Hwon. The only twist is that Yeon also loses her memory and begins a new life as a lowly shaman, a sort of fortune teller/priest. Will they meet again?


Han Ga In (Bad guy) is Yeon Woo and Kim Soo Hyun (Dream High) is Lee Hwon. Jung Il Woo (49 days) plays Prince Yang Myung, Lee Hwon’s older half brother who is also in love with Yeon Woo.

Yeo Jin Goo (Honorable Baek Dong Soo) plays 15 year old Crown Prince Lee Hwon. Kim Yoo Jung (Flames of Ambition) is 12 year old Yeon Woo. Lee Min Ho is Prince Yang Myung.

Review …

I find that recent Korean dramas usually fall into three categories. They either have a horrid beginning but develop into works of art (Women of the Sun), great beginnings and then lose momentum (IRIS) or was just bad overall (Don’t want to be killed). There is the rare perfect drama, but recently they’re getting harder to come by, especially since I’m so familiar with the conventions of the genre.

Sorry to disappoint, but Moon & Sun falls into the second category. The talented child actors and actresses that set the plot were absolutely superb! Yeo Jin Goo & Kim Yoo Jung had excellent chemistry and made me wonder why god didn’t gifted me with any outstanding talents. While the child and teen actors only appeared in the first 6 episodes, they had me crying, feeling fuzzy, laughing like a madman and ultimately, believing in love again.

The drama starts to become disappointing when the characters grow up and main cast changes. Because I was so engrossed by the child actors, I found myself not enjoying the new cast but looking for resemblances to the old one. Though I found many, I became even more displeased. After 8 years, hardly any of the characters have matured and continue to remain in the shadows of their child counterparts. Here are some photographic evidence.

Princess Min Hwa, Lee Hwon’s sister, wearing the same hanbok after eight years.

Jan Sil’s hair sure grows slowly.

I’m going straight to the point and saying that Ha Ga In was the wrong choice for the female lead. Yes, she is indeed beautiful and extremely youthful, but she can’t act innocent. Skipping over the fact that she’s six years older than Kim Yoo Yung and married to actor Yeon Hung Hoon … skipping over that … her surprised, angry, sad and innocent face all make her look like a deer in headlights. Considering that her eyes are very big already, i constantly fear that her eyeballs might just roll out. Also, her deep voice and blunt speech does not reflect the refined ladylike character she portrays.

Kim Soo Hyun surpassed my expectations and was the only reason I was able to continue watching. I was able to visualize the young Crown Prince while his growth as the nation’s King was also evident. Appearance wise, I was very happy that the director noted that there wasn’t double eyelid surgery in the Josean period.


The storyline is quite simple to follow and lacks suspense. I would recommend watching the first six episodes and the last three. Episode 18 definitely deserves a watch with the confrontation between Lee Hwon as a child and as an adult. While the constant reappearances of child characters were welcome, one does wonder if the director is hinting at schizophrenia. There is also a repetition of the question “Are you an illusion?”

But since real time rating for episode 16 have reached 46% and a rare $10 million won bonus was delivered to the crew, I believe this drama will be much talked about for years to come. Might as well watch it and be in the loop. Also, Yeo Jin Goo is going to be BIG.

Something extra…

I was wondering why the chemistry was so good between the Yeo Jin Goo & Kim Yoo Jung, so i did a little research. Alas, four years ago the pair were in Iljimae together! How quickly children grow.

This is their acceptance speech for an award [Iljimae 2008]. Looks like Yeo Jin Goo had a little crush on Kim Yoo Jung back then! Notice the hand movement?

Lee Min Ho who plays the younger version of Lee Hwon’s half-brother and love rival needn’t to forge his jealousy either. Kim Yoo Jung stole his first kiss in Grudge: The Revolt of the Gumiho and he openly admitted his jealousy here.

For those that are still interested, check out this English subbed interview of the child actors.

What were your thoughts on the drama? Is it living up to the hype? Let us know below!



One thought on “Drama Review: Moon Embracing The Sun

  1. The young actors STOLE the show, hands down. It’s thanks to them that I was still able to finish the show, but, alas! already emotionally detach. TBH, when I read comments or articles stating that HGI was able to pull off YW’s character, my reaction’s this O.O (same bug eye reaction as hers). She’s pretty and I didn’t mind the age gap, but she just doesn’t have the (acting) range to pull it off (YW/Wol is suppose to be emotionally conflicted, different emotions in 1 scene). When I read the PDs interview, he totally praised KSH and JIW’s acting, with HGI, he just said she was able to pull off those angry scenes. My guess, they scaled down YWs scenes on the end, maybe partly due to acting. Chemistry wise, kids had it in the bag. I agree with you, first 6 episodes were just awesome. The story was well-paced, characters were well-developed and acting and chemistry was superb (KYJ, YJG and LMH). But, Thanks to this series I found new young talents to look forward too.^^

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