Kdrama Review: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

Intro: Go Ha Jin dies and goes back in time to prevent the next king from murdering his family and becoming a tyrant in history (Gwanjong. Based on a Chinese novel based on true history). As she’s trying to survive, figuring out who the blood-thirsty king is, and adjusting to her new life as Hae Soo, the cousin to the Hae family, two princes change her life. Will she live long or will her life be caught up in misery due to the influence of the throne?

Final Thoughts below:

Firstly, the Korean audience didn’t tune in, resulting in low ratings. The reason? The fans didn’t like that their precious oppas had been involved in minor scandals. And the heroine had worn an inappropriate lolita outfit onstage once. So they didn’t support the show. 


Thank God international fans weren’t complete idiots because they got to enjoy a really good show.


Hae Soo is such a great main character. Yes, she makes mistakes because she’s not a Mary Sue but she’s likable. And she actually does shit! I’m so tired of dramas trying to show us a promising lead only for her to be all talk. Or fall apart at the end. Hae Soo remained true to herself the entire show despite the betrayals and how mistreated she was, the heartbreak, the torture, everything, she never lost herself. She respected herself.

She adapts quickly to survive and when her feelings threaten to hurt those around her, she actually thinks about it and doesn’t let her emotions sway her!


The female relationships in this show range from the typical bitchy girl to the crazy mom to true friends. Sure, I didn’t like some of the batshit crazy ones but they were given backstories to show how they got there. Not to make you forgive them, hell no, but to understand. Same for all the antagonists.


The 8th Prince, Wook, is one of the love interests who, like the other characters, completely changed throughout the course of the show. I loved him at first, but when he was faced with power things turned out a different way. I loved how Hae Soo was able to turn away from him after his lust for power twisted his character. He was still a good guy but the throne ruined him.


The 4th Prince, Wang So, tore out my <3. He only wanted his mother to care about him but she tossed him aside after horribly disfiguring him. The scar has ruined his reputation and hardened him, causing him to lash out at those who provoke him regarding his mother or his face. Hae Soo’s compassion and ability to look past all of that is what causes him to turn a new leaf. He slowly tries to become closer to his family and remains a loyal friend to Hae Soo, even when she rejects his feelings for her. She comes to love him back, but the writers took care in developing her feelings.


Sadly, like all of the characters who get the throne, he slowly goes mad. Hae Soo leaves him after several incidents that only hurt those around them. You can see that he means well but the threat of those stealing the throne from him and trying to hold onto Hae Soo is too much for him. I really hated him after he took the throne because despite all he’d been through, and while it made sense for him to act the way he did, it soured everything.

He tried to blame her for leaving him after he slept with Yeon Hwa for political reasons, for having her friend murdered because she was planning on harming Hae Soo, and more. The throne brought out the worst in him and considering his entire character was the struggle to balance the light and dark within him, it worked. I didn’t like it but it worked and that’s what matters in the end.


Thankfully, this drama took a realistic look at the events of the story and didn’t sugar-coat everything. The ending may not have been the fluff you wanted, but considering the foreshadowing in this show and how often the themes of power corrupting people, people changing, etc came up, it was only time for the ugly to come out.


Final Thoughts:


Honestly, this is one of the better kdramas I’ve seen. I’ve never been a huge fan of them because they’re long, they’re pretty superficial, and it takes sooooo damn long for the heroine to do something. Then again, most of the kdramas I’ve seen were the “popular” ones that came out. The ones that aren’t historical basically.

The heroine is great and I had her back the entire time. She was hurt and tortured, betrayed and endured so much. I really admired her inner strength and her tenacity. The romance was great and heartbreaking.


The entire drama was about how power corrupts people and that people are never steadfast. If we aren’t honest with each other, how can we expect to come out the same? As such, nearing the finale, many people were frustrated by the dark turn the characters faced but it couldn’t work any other way. The show was hinting at it from the beginning and I’m so glad they didn’t pull fluff out of their ass to give us a cliche happy ending.

It was realistic and I enjoyed every single moment. Recommended if you like action, romance, political intrigue, and hot guys ;P.

Available on Dramafever.

What did you think of Scarlet Heart? Do you have any recommendations?

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21 thoughts on “Kdrama Review: Scarlet Heart Ryeo

  1. seiuchigirl says:

    Nice review! I enjoyed this one though I have to disagree on Hae Soo… I thought she abandoned the king pretty easily towards the end even after all her claims to always support him, e.g. she was very forgiving of her murderous friend but so angry at the king for torturing the friend. :/ I may have a bit of Lee Joon-gi bias though hehe.

    If you enjoyed the historical nature, I might recommend Queen In Hyun’s man! Though it’s not as serious and historical, it has some fun time-traveling and romance mixed in with great acting. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Hi, seiuchigirl!
      I can see why you would be frustrated by her. It seemed natural that she left so early considering that she constantly told him how she felt about the events taking place and he kept telling her he wouldn’t let her go. As to her maid I think that even though she had been betrayed she couldn’t forget her as a friend and understood her feelings after reading her letter.
      I think it’s more apparent since she’s from the modern world and seeing all of this happen to someone she cares about (even tho she was betrayed) really got to her.
      Thank so much for the recommendation! Def checking it out ^^


  2. Cat says:

    I’m halfway through this, but I haven’t felt like continuing because I had a feeling they’re either going to die, she suicide, or something of the sort. Your post didn’t help in that feeling, but I’m glad it’s actually good, because I was half expecting a soap opera of drama fuelled bad endings. Definitely need to give it another chance now xD
    If only kdramas didn’t have such long episodes + huge number of them, ugh. The exact same problem I have with all tv shows, aside anime and cartoons T_T

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Of course! I prefer Jdramas anyways haha
      For a really good 10 episode romance mystery I’d highly recommend Okitegami Kyoko no Biboroku. Heroine is great, love interest is sooooo fine ;P and it’s really good.
      I’d also recommend giving the live action adaptations for Ao Haru Ride and Heroine Shikkaku a go.
      My Boss My Hero is a comedy about a dumb yakuza leader having to go back to high school and is only 10 episodes.
      Hana Yori Dango is a classic and while problematic is enjoyable.
      Siren is also good. A mystery show with a female villain and some romance. Really good ^^
      Hope you like them!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The Sassy Scribbler says:

    I marathoned this right after I repeat marathoned DOTS — because I’m crazy, that’s why 😂😂😂

    I agree with everything you said except for two things:

    (1) Like @seiuchigirl, I thought that while Hae Soo’s endurance was that of a martyr, I couldn’t quite accept how she could support Chae-ryung through everything but not have enough trust in Wang So.

    (2) I welcomed the darkness of the drama, esp in the second half. I don’t mind not having a ‘happy’ ending, the end was left too open-ended for my tastes.

    **I didn’t know that *those* were the reasons that the home crowd ditched this drama!!! 😱😱😱

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      Haha no way, Sassy Scribbler! That’s crazy!! xD
      So glad you liked it and hey, that’s cool! I;m glad to read about other’s opinions. If we all agreed on the same exact stuff this world would be pretty boring haha ^^
      And yea….so next time you see fans hating on a drama, check it out for yourself because more likely than not it’s because the fans didn’t like one of the actors or something stupid 😛

      Liked by 1 person

  4. The Sassy Scribbler says:

    Yes it was crazy. I lost several days of my life then… *black hole*

    I’m glad that you’re one of those who welcome different opinions 😊 Still, we are of the same mind and heart when we say we 💓💓💓 ‘Moonlovers’! Personally, in spite of (what I saw/felt as) the plotholes left hanging and the ‘unresolved’ ending, I loved the drama bec it made me feel so many things — happiness, anger, hope, despair, love, and so on. And I think that’s what art is about — to make you FEEL.

    As for those shallow fans… SMH. LJK and IU really gave it their all in that drama; heck, everyone there did. Someone shd really pick this up and do that S2. (Although based on what I’m reading on all the iterations of this story, it’s like there’s a ‘curse’ on this franchise… Like only the first, original Chinese version SEEMS to be universally well-received… 😢)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Leafさんの夢が。。。 says:

      ^^ Not at all! I only wish more people would accept other’s opinions. (Else we get people like Double4anime on youtube raging on people who don’t like naruto and telling them he’ll kill them rofl)
      Agreed! All creations are art and we all see them in different ways. The feels for this show were intense and it’s a shame the korean fans were so against the actors for honestly dumb reasons.
      I’ve not seen the Chinese version but would like to. The incest is strong in that one I hear rofl

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The Sassy Scribbler says:

    Wow. Raging against ppl who aren’t Naruto fans??? SMH.

    Real shame re Moonlovers. Those fans really missed out on something really beautiful 😢

    Yes!!! Been wanting to see the original live-action incarnation of this story but can’t find a source 😭

    I did recently catch the tail-end of a movie version (of sorts — ‘coz fans of the original story/book also were not too happy with it either) — ‘Time to Love’ (2015) on HBO Red. Wish I could get the chance to watch it from the beginning.


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