I’m still in no mood for historial sageuks — you know, the sageuk-sageuk — but am easily drawn to the fusion or fantasy ones. So much so that in the past year, i’ve watched three of them: two-episode cute mini series Splish Splash Love, 20-episode fairy-tale romance streaked with dark magic Mirror of the Witch, and now crossdressing rom-com Moonlight Drawn by Clouds. Also known as Love in the Moonlight, because Koreans love to have alternate title(s).
I just checked the drama’s info and it’s supposed to run for 18 episodes. Hmm. I frankly don’t see a need for a youth sageuk (or any series, really) to be that long unless they’re gonna spend some time dwelling in palace intrigue and power struggle. Which i’m not enthused about but is inevitable given the drama’s realm. However, it’s an interesting piece to know that the potential scheme to takeover the throne isn’t fueled (simply) by non-royal’s greed for power but because Crown Prince Hyomyeong (Park Bo-gum) is read to die young and someone from his circle possesses great aura for a future king. That person is Kim Yoon-sung (B1A4’s Jin-young) who happens to be the grandson of Premier Kim (Chun Ho-jin), the king’s father-in-law.
The family tree looks complicated already, especially since Premier’s daughter and grandson is only 5 years apart. Once-buddies Yeong and Yoon-sung have grown cold in the last eight years, i wonder if that’s also the cause of his distant relationship with King and Queen. Despite the cold demeanor directed at the higher-ups and this one ex-playmate, Yeong has this cheeky disposition toward everybody else which effectively won me over in the first 10 minutes of the show.
The same goes for Hong Ra-on (Kim Yoo-jung), the expert love counselor forced to eschew her sexuality at a young age by her own mother. We’ve yet to know why, but she’s so used to dress and act as a man (named Sam-nom) now even if her foster father is against it. A high-spirited fellow albeit the circumstances, she entertains the idea of becoming a eunuch to pay off her debt but quickly realizes she can disguise as a man all right yet can’t pass off as one. She’s eventually sent to the palace by her debtors, and soon faces the first nightmare: castration. Thankfully(?), her underground surgeon is too drunk to recall if the procedure was done properly though she does suffer some injuries in the process. Ouch.
Getting castrated doesn’t automatically qualify her as a eunuch as there are physical and written exams to appoint the best suitors. For better or worse, odds continue to be in her favor; she miraculously passes the physical check sans inspection and then the written test due to Yeong’s help. The former was downright unnerving while the latter called for a fun sequence, like the two’s any other interaction. Hee. It’s rare for me to enjoy a pairing’s bickering this early in the game, and the chemistry between Park Bo-gum and Kim Yoo-jung is already crackling from the get-go. I like them separately and love them together.
I’m therefore quite surprised to see Yeong’s cover blown at the end of episode 2. Ra-on taking a dig at the crown prince before the very person was so amusing to watch (and re-watch) i’d prefer the oblivion to last a bit longer. Nevertheless, the reveal came at the perfect timing; right before Ra-on is about to lose her head for ghostwriting for a fellow eunuch wannabe, and more gravely for the princess’ (Jung Hye-sung) secret
lover penpal. I still can’t get over how smug Yeong looks, though. Heh.
If anything, i hope the reveal won’t affect the two’s amazing dynamics too much although Ra-on will probably be more self-conscious around Yeong after this. He’s the crown prince after all. I expected the hijinks to last until her cover is blown, or he starts questioning her or his own sexuality, or they are in the thick of palace politics, whichever occurs earlier. By this point, at least one person can already tell that Ra-on is a girl — yup! It’s none other than the observant second male lead — and make her flustered. I bet no one has ever complimented her beauty before.
But let’s save her first! And make her Yeong’s personal eunuch while we’re at it, yes?
To be honest, the first week didn’t blow me away — the pacing is expectedly slower, particularly compared to the zippy scenes between crown prince and his puppy — but i’m liking the characters and most of the cast. I only watched Park Bo-gum in I Remember You prior to this. He was decent there, though i did wonder if he was ready for leading man role. I could see Min in his serious scenes here, especially whenever he drops his face. I’m still not 100% sold yet, but he’s carrying his role just fine.
On the other hand, i’ve watched Kim Yoo-jung in many projects dated back to as old as Dong Yi. I’ve always liked her acting (better than her peers such as Kim So-hyun or Kim Sae-ron. There, i said it!). Ra-on may be her bubbliest role yet, and she portrays it well. During the comedic bits, her acting was obviously exaggerated, but never to a point of being uncomfortable to watch. It in fact felt natural and in line with her robust personality. Both her and Bo-gum’s micro-expressions are quite spot-on too, which is always a plus.
I need to see more of the other characters to comment on them, but aforementioned i’m pretty pleased with the extended cast. I keep seeing familiar faces: i spotted the unexpectedly funny commander from Descendants of the Sun, the antic secretary from Fated to Love You, two fathers from Signal, and Do-kkoo from God of Noodles, among others. While unsure whether they are just cameos or will appear semi-regularly, i’m most thrilled to see Jo Hee-bong here, albeit the vastly different characters: imagine a badass protector turning into an effeminate eunuch. LOL.
Moonlight Drawn by Clouds got off to a rather slow but good start, eh?