When we decided to switch to sageuks after watching contemporary K-dramas since last year, one of those I had been favorably considering was Hwarang. A fictional adaptation set during the reign of King Jinheung, it tells the story of how an elite group of young men rose among the existing factions of Silla to become the royal family’s fiercest ally. Throw in a love story or two and you’ve got yourself the perfect formula for a compelling K-drama. So why did the ratings reflect otherwise?
For a series that highlighted six young men in its promotional materials, the plot was heavily focused on three people only. Had they fleshed out each guy’s backstory it would have shown how effective the cast were as an ensemble. You also had unresolved plot lines (fainting spells and paternity, to name a few) which the writer failed to address as the series concluded. Simply put, there were a lot of wasted opportunities to polish what was otherwise an entertaining pre-produced K-drama.