Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth TV Series Overview


Introduction

Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth (Korean: 화랑; Hanja: 花郞; lit. Hwarang) is a South Korean television series starring Park Seo-joon, Go A-ra, and Park Hyung-sik.

It revolves around an elite group of young men called “Hwarang”, who discover their passion, friendship and love in the turmoil of the Silla Kingdom (57 BC to AD 935). The series aired every Monday and Tuesday at 22:00 (KST) on KBS2, from 19 December 2016 to 21 February 2017.

Outline

Queen Ji So has been ruling the Kingdom of Silla as regent since King Beopheung died, keeping her young son Sam maek jong hidden outside of the capital Seorabeol and safe from enemies and assassins. As Sam maek jong comes of age, nobles, citizens, officials and Sam maek jong himself, have all grown impatient for her to cede power. However, the powerful nobles that tried to usurp power in the Kingdom continue to eye the throne and Ji So fears the consequences of her ceding it.

In order to break the power of the nobles, who have grown accustomed to their privileges under the bone rank system, Ji So plans to create a new elite group, the Hwarang, that will cut across the existing power factions, and to bind them to protect Sam maek jong and the throne. As this new elite group of male youths bond and grow, they are unaware that within their number is their future king, Sam maek jong, and Kim Seon-u, a commoner with a secret even he is not aware of.

Cast

  • Main:
    • Park Seo-joon as Moo-myung 무명/ Kim Seon-u 김선우/ Kim Isabu / Dog-Bird:
    • A young man of low birth who rises above his situation in life to become a legendary hwarang warrior.
      • He assumes the identity of his best friend Kim Seon-u, Ah-ro’s biological brother, after he is killed by one of the Queen Dowager’s men.
    • Go Ara as Kim Ah-ro 김아로 :
      • A “half-breed” (derogative term for aristocrat (jin-gol) – lower class offspring) with a cheerful and straightforward personality, whose father is of jin-gol birth while her mother a servant.
      • She works multiple part-time jobs to support her family; in particular as physician to the Hwarang. She easily make friends.
      • Later she fell in love with Seon-u.
    • Park Hyung-sik as Sammaekjong / Kim Ji-dwi 김지뒤 / King Jinheung:
      • A young and distrustful king who goes into hiding due to assassination attempts and secretly becomes a hwarang warrior, gaining strength and leadership ability in the process.
      • He joins the hwarang under the assumed identity Kim “Ji-dwi” as the Hwarang Chief Kim Wi-hwa’s fake “nephew.”
  • Supporting (Hwarangs):
    • Sung Dong-il as Lord Kim Wi-hwa 김위화:
      • The first Chief (pungwolju) of the hwarang who acts as a fatherly figure towards the boys. Secret adviser of Ji-dwi.
    • Choi Min-ho as Kim Soo-ho 김수호:
      • A jin-gol aristocrat born with a silver spoon in his mouth.
      • Hot-blooded and chivalrous, he aces in swordplay and is seen as a shameless playboy but is devoted in love.
      • Kim Soo-yeon’s overprotective brother.
    • Do Ji-han as Park Ban-ryu 박반류:
      • Having been taught politics (by his two fathers – Park Young-shil and Park Ho as his adoptive and biological fathers respectively) from an early age, he is a cold-blooded jin-gol, who is competitive and seeks for more power.
      • He takes interest in Soo-ho’s younger sister, Soo-yeon.
    • Jo Yoon-woo as Kim Yeo-wool 김여울:
      • A man who “has a gender-neutral charm and loves dressing up more than most women,” but is also extremely thoughtful and caring.
      • Hence, beautiful and mysterious, he possesses a sharp tongue.
      • His mother is the sister of the previous king while his jin-gol father’s identity still remains as a mystery, which makes him a half seong-gol, but he takes no interest in the throne.
      • He is often seen carrying a fan.
    • Kim Tae-hyung as Suk Han-sung 석한성:
      • The youngest hwarang of the lot who has a warm personality and gets along well with everyone.
      • He is a bright and innocent boy who carries a heavy burden as the last jin-gol of his clan, Wolseong.
      • Dan-se’s younger half brother.
      • He treats Sun-woo as his brother.
    • Jin Ju-hyung as Jang Hyun:
      • Part of Soo-ho’s clique.
    • Jun Bum-soo as Kim Shin:
      • Part of Ban-ryu’s clique.
    • Ooon as Kim Ki-bo:
      • Part of Ban-ryu’s clique.
    • Park Ki-hoon as Joo Ki.
    • Lee Do-hoon.
    • Kim Hyeon-jun as Suk Dan-se 석단세:
      • 22 years old, part of Soo-ho’s clique.
      • He is Han-sung’s elder half-brother of the same father but different mothers, who is powerless due to his “half-breed” status and is always looked down by their grandfather.
      • Assigned as Sun-woo’s trainee.
    • Yoo Jae-myung as Pa-oh:
      • Sammaekjong’s personal bodyguard who cares for him like a father, as well as “Ji-dwi”‘s assigned trainee.
    • Jang Se-hyun as Kang Sung:
      • Part of Ban-ryu’s clique. Originally one of the hwarang rejects, scouted by Park Young-shil to undermine the Hwarang.
      • Assigned as Ban-ryu’s trainee.
  • Supporting (Royal Family):
    • Kim Ji-soo as Queen Mother Ji-so:
      • Silla’s acting Queen Regent for 10 years in the name of her son Sammaekjong, whom she has hidden ever since the death of her father the previous king 11 years ago.
      • She is the founder of the Hwarang and has many dark secrets within.
    • Seo Ye-ji as Princess Sook-myung [ko]:
      • Sammaekjong’s maternal half-sister, as well as future consort. She is interested in Seon-u.
      • Momentarily residing with the hwarang under the Queen Mother’s orders.
    • Song Young-kyu as Lord Kim Hwi-kyung:
      • The Queen Mother’s elder brother and originally the Crown Prince of Silla, his name was removed from the royal family records due to polio.
      • Seon-u (Moo-myung)’s biological father.
  • Supporting (Royal Capital citizens):
    • Choi Won-young as Lord Kim Ahn-ji:
      • A jin-gol who was driven to poverty and was separated from his only son Sun-woo 12 years prior.
      • Works as a physician aided by his daughter Ah-ro dispensing free aid to the people.
    • Kim Kwang-kyu as Pi Joo-ki:
      • Owner of the store Dayiseo, as well as its subsidiary tea house Sutabaksu.
    • Lee Da-in as Kim Soo-yeon:
      • Younger sister of Soo-ho; Ah-ro’s only friend; In love with Ban-ryu.
  • Supporting (Makmangchon People):
    • Lee Kwang-soo as Mak-moon / Kim Sun-woo (Ep. 1-2):
      • Moo-myung’s best friend. Originally named “Sun-woo”, he was separated from his family for 12 years by the Queen Mother’s men and ended up at Makmangchon.
      • Killed because he saw the King’s face; even before he was even reunited with his family.
    • Kim Won-hae as Woo Reuk (Ep. 1-3, 6, 8-10):
      • Refugee from the conquered Daegaya.
      • Renowned musician and inventor as well as master of the gayageum, he becomes the music and dance teacher of the hwarang.
      • Mak-moon & Moo-myung’s care-taker/foster father in Makmangchon, who (along with Kim Hwi-kyung) holds the secret to Moo-myung’s true identity.
  • Supporting (Ministers of Silla):
    • Kim Chang-wan as Park Young-shil:
      • Ban-ryu’s adoptive father.
      • A cruel and cunning leader of the opposition who yearns for more power, and would do anything to overthrow and kill the king.
    • Lee Byung-joon as Lord Ho:
      • Ban-ryu’s biological father.
      • Member of the opposition due to indebtedness to Park Young-shil.
    • Ko In-bum as Kim Seup:
      • Soo-ho and Soo-yeon’s father.
      • Main supporter of the royal family.
    • Kim Jong-goo as Suk Hyun-jae:
      • Han-sung and Dan-se’s grandfather.
      • Member of the opposition.
  • Extended Cast:
    • Kang Dong-woo as Mu-cheol.
    • Kim Dae-hoon.
    • Yoon Jin-ho.
    • Song Min-hyung as Kim Hyung-won.
    • Baek Jae-jin as Yang Jo-jang.
    • Ban Min-jung as Mi Roo-hyang.
    • Lee Kwan-hoon as A-chu.
    • Song Bo-eun.
    • Lee Kyu-hyung as Do-go.
    • Cha Oh-bin.
    • Lee Min-ho as So-gam.
    • Park Ha-yan as Yoo-ji.
    • Jang Yoo-tae.
    • Oh Eun-ho as Mo-yeong.
    • Han Jeong-hun.
  • Special Appearance:
    • Kim Min-joon as Crown Prince Chang (later, Wideok of Baekje) (Ep. 14, 15).

Production

Development

The series reunited Sung Dong-il and Go Ara who previously worked together as father and daughter in tvN’s Reply 1994 (2013) as well as Sung and Yoo Jae-myung who both starred in the hit series Reply 1988. It also serves as a reunion to Park Hyung-sik and Choi Won-young who worked together in the 2013 SBS hit drama The Heirs. It also reunited Park and Kim Won-hae who worked together on Nine: Nine Time Travels.

The first script reading took place in March 2016. Filming began on 31 March and finished on 01 September 2016.

Trivia

  • Despite being fully pre-produced with an ensemble cast, the series was a commercial failure and averaged single-digit audience rating of 8.4% in its run.
  • It was criticised for its distracted storytelling, inappropriate use of background music and unnatural acting of lead actors.
  • The romantic pairing between the characters of Ah-ro and Seon-u was also criticised by certain audience members due to Ah-ro falling in love with Seon-u under the pretense that he was her brother, and of Ah-ro’s character being seen as weak.

Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth Series

  • Specials:
    • Special 01.
      • Aired on 16 December 2016.
    • Special 02.
      • Aired on 26 December 2016.
    • Special 03, Part 01.
    • Special 03, Part 02.
      • On 30 January 2017 at 12:35 (KST), KBS2 aired a ‘Lunar New Year’ two special episodes condensing the first 12 episodes of the drama into 150 minutes.

Production & Filming Details

  • Creator(s): Han Suk-won and Park Sung-hye.
  • Director(s): Sung-Shik Yoon.
  • Producer(s): Jung Hae-ryong, Kim Sang-hee, Kim Hyung-suk, and Lee Yeong-bum.
  • Writer(s): Park Eun-yeong.
  • Music: Oh Joon-sung.
  • Cinematography: Jang Byung-wook and Choi Ki-ha.
  • Editor(s): Kim Tae-yeong and Song Eun-jung.
  • Production: Hwarang SPC and Oh!Boy Project.
  • Distributor(s): KBS and KBS Media (worldwide).
  • Original Network: KBS2 (South Korea).
  • Release Date: 16 December 2016 to 21 February 2017.
  • Running Time: 60 minutes (per episode).
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

YouTube Link

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