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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 17

2017/02/20 | 1042 views | Permalink

The politics surrounding the throne grow more complicated as assassins lurk in the darkness, the young king Ji-dwi contemplates whether or not he's ready to assume his lifelong duty to his people, and the queen reacts to the king's newfound gumption. Along with Ji-dwi the other hwarang are starting to come into their own as their parents' politics and the state of the Silla kingdom weigh upon them. That weight will either bring them together or rip them apart.

The clearest example of the inherited burden of politics is in Ban-ryu whose adopted father pushes him to kill and trick to attain power through money and gained status. At first Ban-ryu caves, but his relationships with the hwarang and Soo-ho's sister inspire him to be a better man. This is a character who deserves more screen time. His plight is one common to man in the sageuk genre, and is interesting in that he fights his so-called destiny. His arrogance as a true bone does not overshadow his loyalty and kinder nature. Princess Sook-myeong, however, is ruled by her status. Her attitude towards all is one of annoying superiority that guides her behavior. She acts poorly towards everyone beneath her, including Seon-woo who she likes. Unlike Ban-ryu, her character is one-dimensional. Yes, she believes herself to be in love, but that isn't enough to flesh out her character. A multifaceted personality is something she distinctly lacks very much like her mother. Both women are powerful and exceedingly dull.

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Queen Ji-soo is in a constant battle of wills with her strengthening son and so she manipulates Aro, the woman he loves, to keep power over Ji-dwi. She will make Aro a wonhwa, a position similar to that of hwarang, and one that is dangerous. This episode reveals that Aro's mother was one of the original two wonhwa's who were killed. The queen blames Aro's mother for swaying her father and Aro for swaying Ji-dwi. Jealousy is a key ingredient in making the queen a horrendous person.

An even worse human being is Minister Young-shil, Ban-ryu's adopted father. The man bought all the medicine and refused to treat a deadly epidemic so he could inflate medicine prices for a steep profit. Luckily Aro and the hwarang (including secret help from Ban-ryu, yay!) steal back the medicine and get it to her father. The citizens get their treatment. Although the execution of this entire sequence in the drama is trite, the emotional impact behind it is strong. The young people prove their strength and give us hope that they can handle all of the horrible things that the adults have wrought and thrown their way.

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Although this show isn't very strong, it does have it moments of strength and that's what I'm watching for.

Written by: Lisa Espinosa AKA Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'

"Hwarang" is directed by Yoon Seong-sik, written by Park Eun-yeong-I, and features Park Seo-joon, Go Ara, Park Hyung-sik, Seo Ye-ji, Minho, and Do Ji-han.

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