TITLE: Love in the Moonlight
IN A NUTSHELL (a slightly opinionated summary of the story):
Hong Ra-on (a. Kimm Yoo-jung) is a free spirit, an imaginative author of romance novels, and one who will do anything for money. There is just one problem. She is dressed as a man and everyone thinks she is a man, going by the name of Hong Sam-nom. She is even hired to impersonate an ardent suitor when he is invited to “meet” with his love interest. Only, the love interest turns out to be a man as well, having hijacked the letter meant for his sister so he could catch the man who dared to woo her. They each do not know what the other really is – that Sam-nom is actually a girl and that the man is actually Lee Young, the Crown Prince, but he is as uncooperative as she is uncomfortable with the whole deal.
Lee Yeong (a. Park Bo-gum) is the only son of the King and is the Crown Prince. He is also happy-go-lucky and refuses to be tied down to his studies and responsibilities, which is something the young pregnant Queen (a. Han Soo-yeon) and her father, the Prime Minister (a. Jung Hae-kyun), want to take advantage of. He often breaks the rules and escapes from the palace to walk in the town as an ordinary nobleman. Unfortunately, the King (a. Kim Seung-soo) is a useless puppet, paranoid and fears for his life as he was the subject of a murderous rebellion ten years ago. He relies heavily on the support and advice of his Prime Minister, who was a relative of his late wife, the mother of Lee Yeong (a. Seo Jeong-yeon).
To pay off her debt, Ra-on is sold to the palace to become a eunuch (a male palace servant, who must be castrated to prevent him from getting involved with the court ladies), and, as luck will have it, she, as Eunuch Hong, is assigned in the Crown Prince’s House, even though she still does not know what he looks like (she finds out in episode secret). Along the way, she meets Kim Yoon-sung (a. Jung Jin-Young), the Prime Minister’s nephew and Lee Yeong’s cousin, and Kim Byung-yeon (a. Kwak Dong-yeon), Lee Yeong’s personal bodyguard. The former discovers Eunuch Hong’s gender almost immediately and, at the same time, falls in love with her, making him her unwitting accomplice. It is not clear when the latter finds out, but because he shows undying loyalty to the Prince, we are assured that he will never divulge the secret. The three men used to be best friends when they were young.
As the King’s condition deteriorates, the Prince is forced to face his responsibilities or else the Kingdom will fall into the ambitious hands of the Prime Minister and his cohorts. Lee Yeong and Eunuch Hong get closer and he is aghast to discover that he has feelings for the servant, despite the fact that they are both “men”. The Prime Minister plays king while encouraging the Queen to be jealous over the Prince’s happiness and do everything in their power to bring him and all his loved ones down, including trying to sell Eunuch Hong to the Qing Dynasty.
As tensions escalate, Lee Young discovers that Eunuch Hong is indeed female and they share a kiss in the garden. Rumors spread that the Prince prefers men and Kim Yoon-sung challenges him for Ra-on’s love. Ra-on discovers the truth about her family, that she is the daughter of a traitor, which is why she was raised as a boy, and runs away to protect the prince. The secret to how Lee Yeong’s mother died is revealed, along with several other palace secrets, such as why Princess Yeong-eun (a. Heo Jung-eun) cannot speak.
As a result, the young man grows up into an adult who dreams of a bright and happy future for his kingdom, and a prince becomes a King who promises to make life better for his people. And a girl, who had to live as a boy for almost all her young life, could finally be free to live without fear of becoming an outcast.. and love whomever she wanted, even if it was just the King.
MORAL OF THE STORY: Loyalty is the name of the game and you are in the right if you are loyal to those who want the best for the people.
MALE LEAD(S): Park Bo-gum, Jung Jin-young, Kwak Dong-yeon
FEMALE LEAD(S): Kim Yoo-jung
GENRE: Historical, Romance, Comedy, Coming-of Age
NO. OF EPISODES: 18
MY SCORE: 10/10
WHAT LED ME TO IT?
- Who was I following? n/a
- What had I just watched? n/a
- This was my FIRST EVER KDrama.
- IF COMPLETED, how many times? ———- 5 ———-
- If I’ve watched it more than three times, chances are it’s one of my Top 10 Favorites!
WHAT DID I LIKE ABOUT IT?
- Kim Byung-yeon (a. Kwak Dong-yeon) was my favorite supporting character, with his long hair tied loosely at the back of his head, hiding his young face and creating an air of mystery. He is the Prince’s most trustworthy ally and his best friend, one who will even die for him. And even without the Prince’s order, Kim Byung-yeon’s protective instinct was extended to Eunuch Hong simply because he also liked her.
- I like stories about women who are smart and witty. Therefore, it wasn’t a surprise that I was hooked early in the first episode with the love story between the servant and the daughter of his owner, as orchestrated by Hong Sam-nom a.k.a. Hong Ra-on.
- It’s based on Korea’s royal history, which made me fascinated to know more.
- Park Bo-gum and Kim Yoo-jung make a cute couple, and the fact that you could really feel the emotions they were portraying means that they had very good chemistry and that they were very good actors.
- The ending was spread out over the last two episodes.
WHAT DID I NOT LIKE ABOUT IT?
- So much blood!
OBSERVATIONS THAT AROSE REGARDING STORY, CONTINUITY AND OTHER DETAILS:
- The dress that Kim Yoon-soong bought for Hong Ra-on kept changing throughout the series. In the market stall, the top was white and embroidered with flowers but when she wore it for the Prince (after all was revealed) it was just plain white.
- Prince Lee Yeong and his bodyguard, Kim Byung-yeon, kept getting hurt (stabbed, cut, etc.) in their many battles but would be up and about (like they were fully healed) within the next few days. Was emergency medicine so effective back then?
WILL I RECOMMEND IT? YES!!! YES!!! YES!!!
Disclaimer: I am not an expert in film or Korean culture. In fact, I only started watching KDrama in 2016 and have just 49 completed shows under my belt. My writings are my own opinion and not the opinion of the majority. I enjoy shows that a lot of people don’t seem to like, and I dislike a lot of shows that are tagged as “Must Watch”. There are exceptions, of course. My point is, don’t bash the commentator.