After months of waiting, the highly anticipated K-Drama “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” (달의 연인 – 보보경심 려), otherwise more simply known as “Scarlet Heart”, finally premiered last night (29th August, Monday) on ONE HD.
Based on the Chinese novel “Bu Bu Jing Xin” by Tong Hua, the romance fantasy historical K-Drama is scheduled to air a total of 20 episodes before coming to a close on 31st October 2016.
The plot is as follows:
“When a total eclipse of the sun took place, a 21st century woman, Go Ha-jin (played by Lee Ji Eun aka IU) is transported back in time to the Goryeo Dynasty of Korea. She wakes up in the body of 16-year-old Hae-soo. There, she falls in love with the 4th Prince Wang So (played by Lee Joon Gi), who hides his face behind a mask and is given the derogatory label ‘dog-wolf’ by others, making other people tremble with fear. Love, rivalry, politics, and friendships ensue between the handsome princes, in a fight for the throne, friendship, and love.”
If you’re not already super excited about watching “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo”, here are some fun facts about the K-Drama to tempt you:
1. Novel -> Chinese drama -> Korean drama
Tong Hua made his debut with “Bu Bu Jing Xin” (步步驚心), a bestselling novel that was originally published online in 2005 on Jinjiang Original Network (晉江原創網). It was later published by Ocean Press (海洋出版社), National Press (民族出版社), Huashan Arts Press (花山文藝出版社), Hunan Literature and Art Publishing House (湖南文藝出版社), and Yeren Culture Publishing (野人文化出版社). In not so many words, it was a huge success.
In 2011, Chinese Entertainment Shanghai Ltd. adapted the novel into the television series “Scarlet Heart”, starring Cecilia Liu, Nicky Wu, Kevin Cheng, Lin Gengxin, and Yuan Hong. It was so successful (#1 viewership ratings in China) that a sequel titled, “Scarlet Heart 2” was ordered. The sequel began filming in March 2013 and was released in April 2014.
2. Expectations are through the roof – understandably so
Due to the success of the original Chinese novel and drama, expectations are through the roof for the Korean adaptation. On top of that, the fact that the K-Drama involves an A-list cast (Lee Joon Gi, Lee Ji Eun aka IU, Kang Ha Neul, Hong Jong Hyun, Byun Baek Hyun of EXO, Ji Soo, Nam Joo Hyuk, Seohyun of SNSD Girls’ Generation) and program director (PD) Kim Kyu Tae ( 김규태) means that it’s bound to get a lot of attention.
For those of you who are not in the know, Kim Kyu Tae is famed for his previous hit K-Dramas such as “A Love to Kill” (2005), “Iris” (2009), “That Winter, the Wind Blows” (2013), and “It’s Okay, That’s Love” (2014). He also has a couple of awards tucked in his belt such as “Best New Television Director” for “A Love to Kill” at the 42nd Baeksang Arts Awards, “Best Production Director for a Miniseries” for “Iris” at the 3rd Korea Drama Awards, “Best Television Director” for “That Winter, the Wind Blows” at the 49th Baeksang Arts Awards.
3. Lee Joon Gi lost 15kgs for his role as Wang So
34-year-old South Korean actor Lee Joon Gi (이준기), who plays the 4th son of King Taejo, had to lose 15kgs for his role. He reportedly told Chinese media outlet Sina, “The director wanted me to have a sharp vibe like an injured animal. So I went on a diet for 5-6 months and lost 15kg.” adding that the process of losing weight was a lot of hard work.
However, despite his drastic weight loss, he believed it was a good choice as he became more healthy. “I also feel like I am getting rewarded for the tough times during dieting,” he said. In “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo”, Joon Gi plays Wang So, the prince who hides his face behind a mask.
4. Entertainment powerhouse YG is an investor
South Korean entertainment juggernaut YG Entertainment (home to BIGBANG, 2NE1, WINNER, iKON, BLACKPINK, Epik High, Lee Jong Suk, Lee Sung Kyung, and more) co-produced and invested in the K-Drama. The announcement came at a time when K-entertainment companies are finding ways to diversify their revenue sources.
On 25th January 2016, the agency revealed, “YG will invest in drama series ‘Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo’ to lay the foundation for our contents, investment, distribution, and supplementary businesses.” YG also added that it is planning various business ventures related to “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” in cosmetics, media commerce, and character designs.
5. It marks EXO member Baekhyun’s first acting experience
As one of the vocalists of K-Pop idol boy group EXO, 24-year-old singer Baekhyun (변백현) may have done some acting for the group’s music videos, web series, and TV appearances. But “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” is his official small screen debut. At the K-Drama’s press conference on 24th August, Baekhyun admitted that he was anxious about the project. “This was my first time acting. I was so nervous. I couldn’t help but think how amazing all the actors are during the filming process,” he said.
“Looking at how passionate everyone was on set, it gave me the chance to reflect on myself. I looked at the script countless times to prepare for this drama. I thought a lot about my character, and because([my character’s) persona is bright and cheerful just like my actual self, I just acted like how Baekhyun would act in real life,” Baekhyun added.
6. It’s also SNSD maknae Seohyun’s first historical drama
As a singer, Seohyun (real name Seo Ju Hyun; 서주현) is a member of South Korean girl group Girls’ Generation and its sub-unit TaeTiSeo (TTS; 소녀시대-태티서). But her resume also includes a few TV appearances as well as musical acting. In “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo”, Seohyun plays Princess Woo Hee, the last Princess of Baekje. Taking on the role marks her first appearance in a historical drama series.
“Because it’s my first time taking on a traditional drama, it makes me excited but also nervous. I really like traditional dramas, but they are much harder than modern dramas. There were lots of areas that I was concerned about, so I learned a lot from the director as well as the senior actors,” she revealed during an interview.
7. IU on working with so many good-looking actors
Not only does the K-Drama involve an A-list cast, the main cast consists of mainly men – good-looking men. We don’t know about you, or anyone else for that matter, but we would have struggled to function, let alone remember our lines every single day if we had to work alongside so many good-looking actors! Not for singer-turned-actress IU though. Apparently, she handled it pretty well!
In an interview, she said that although she was aware of being surrounded by “flower boy princes” at the beginning, she forgot about it later on. “I got used to their good looks pretty quickly. Because we suffered and went through a lot together, it only insinuates that even handsome men have their down days,” she revealed.
8. Lee Joon Gi watched the final episode with fans
Known for his excellent fan service throughout the entire runtime of “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo”, Lee Joon Gi made sure that he kept close contact with the audience via SNS. As the K-Drama neared its end, he dropped a huge surprise for his adoring fans with a mini fanmeeting on 1st November where he watched the finale with them. A source from his agency, Namoo Actors, said, “We planned this event to create good memories with Lee Joon Gi and his fans. We thought that there might be many applicants, but never on this scale. We are very surprised but very grateful.”
Not only did the event receive 10,000 applicants, to follow up with an even bigger surprise, Lee Joon Gi confirmed his Asia tour soon after. His agency revealed, “We have confirmed dates for Korea, Japan and Taiwan, and we are currently negotiating dates for other countries. We will update fans as soon as they are confirmed.”
9. It’s the most expensive K-Drama ever sold
“Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” is the first K-Drama project for Universal Studios, which invested USD10 million into the project. The production company that undertook the project revealed that the K-Drama was sold to Chinese broadcast station Youku Tudou at USD400,00 per episode. That’s a total of USD8 million for the full series!
To put this into perspective, airing rights for the earlier mega-hit K-Drama “Descendants of the Sun” were sold for an USD250,000. The 16-episode drama earned the production companies USD4 million in broadcasting rights. Hence, “Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” set a new record for the most expensive K-Drama ever sold.
“Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo” aired at the same time as Korea, every Monday and Tuesday at 9pm, first and exclusively on ONE (Astro Ch 393).