Mane of Glory #15: Hwarang Update & Ep 1-4 Rebel Hong Gil Dong


Rebel Hong Gil Dong started which means we have to chat about whether we love or hate it….Spoiler… WE LOVE IT!  And since there are a few of us still eking our way to the Hwarang finish line, we take a moment to check in and share our thoughts.  So join us as we chat about good and bad writing and how it really does make a drama worth watching.


We have not been doing a weekly recap on this one, but I think it is the perfect time to give a mini update on what we like, what we hate, and what we are unsure about since we are so busy fast forwarding the leading lady scenes.  So join us as we chat a bit about Hwarang.

Hwarang … What went wrong?


KMUSE: I think we can blame 89% of all the show’s issues in one direction… and that is the writer.  Sure the female actresses are falling flat in this drama but I don’t totally blame them (although maybe some different casting could have made a very slight difference.)  The main girl has been kidnapped or arrested how many times now?  Pretty much if there is a need to have the men shift directions with their character development our durpy leading lady gets abducted.  And after being abducted does nothing to actually get herself out of the situations.  Every time she just twiddles her thumbs looking anxious til a man arrives to save her.

Drama Geek: She literally waits around for the boys to show up. That’s all she does. She has zero purpose in this story but to make the boys make certain choices when the writer wants them to. This is my absolute least favorite type of heroine. I love Go Ara when she’s quirky and fiery but this role is doing nothing to play to her strengths as an actress.


KMUSE: The other issue I have is the romance between our leading lady and her, as far as the whole world is aware, brother.  What the heck?  How do they assume their public displays of affection on the school grounds are not going to come back and bite them in the butt?  I will admit some of my issues revolve around my dislike of the leading lady, but still, their PDA is super annoying and illogical.

Drama Geek: Um… I’m clueless since I FF these scenes. 🙂

The Highlights

KMUSE: The biggest highlight by far is the relationship between the various men.  Drama Geek and I were actually talking about how the men’s characters are not really developed more than the lady’s but somehow the talent of the actor’s and their chemistry pulls more emotions from the viewer.  Thank goodness because if everyone sucked as bad as our leading ladies then I would have to just call it quits for good.

Drama Geek: The various boys relationships is the only thing keeping me coming back. It’s not the overall story or the OTP (One True Pairing). Both of our leads are bringing their own talent and heart to their characters and have really great chemistry and the whole group of guys also have a really great rapport.


KMUSE: Taehyung will always be a highlight regardless of how much the rest of the show sucks.

Drama Geek: This boy is green, yes, but he still has a very natural charisma that was evident in BTS’s MVs and on stage. I’m just glad it translates well to his acting.  And that he ended up in the mix with actors he bounces off well. I’m super excited for whatever project he does next. That is after he shakes his booty off with this new release.

KMUSE: I really am enjoying this Romeo and Juliet style side romance.  In my opinion, they are a million times more interesting than the main OTP.

Drama Geek: I love them as a couple and I find Ban Ryu’s dilemma very intriguing and his character development one of the best of the show.

Overall thoughts so far

KMUSE: I will finish the drama.  Mostly by using the fast forward button any time the leading lady begins to cry or become too annoying.  Never have I wished I could just pixelate a character out of a drama as much as I do right now.  I would rather just have a hazy blob of pixels than watching Go Ara pout and cry for the thousandth time.

Drama Geek: I will finish too, but I see a lot more FF in my future when the main couple becomes center stage. Is it too much to ask for the King to take the throne, have his faithful Hwarang by his side, and send Ah Ro off to the countryside where she can no longer be kidnapped at random. Or at least if she does, our guys will never find out about it. 😉

Rebel Hong Gil Dong

The Backstory


KMUSE: I think first things first. We need to give kudos to the actor that plays the young Hong Gil Dong.  He is equal parts adorable and cranky and I could watch him stomp around for hours on end.  I rarely have enjoyed a young actor as much as I have him.

KdramaJen: I agree about this little actor. He is completely adorable as a grumpy little dumpling.  I just want to squeeze him!

Drama Geek: I usually get all itchy when the kids are onscreen waiting for their adult counterparts, but this little guy stole my heart. I am sad that he won’t be in it anymore. You rock, Little Hong Gil Dong.


KMUSE: This backstory was a work of art.  Not only is it completely different from the usual doom, gloom, everyone is dead in the most tragic way possible origin story that we viewers are used too.  But it all had a purpose and point to the creation of our future freedom fighter.

KdramaJen:  Rarely have I watched a drama with such an engaging backstory.  Maybe Moon Embracing the Sun sucked me in like this, but it is certainly not the norm.  Every character is memorable.  The side characters help give depth to the plot and the development of our leads. I am definitely not just counting down the episodes until we get the adult cast.

Drama Geek: Ridiculously tragic backstories are one of the reasons I shy away from sageuks. I almost had KMUSE just recap what happened in the past, but I decided to at least watch the first episode. I’m so glad I did. I’m not sure the present day would have the depth and feeling it does without watching Gil Dong’s childhood. Not only was I delighted that they focused on the everyday life a servant but also those layers that exist when you are born a possession and how that translates down to your own children.


KMUSE: One of the things that surprised me the most is that rather than forcing his children into prestigious positions, Hong Gil Dong’s father actually listens to his kid’s dreams and encourages them.  I can’t even recall the last time that actually happened in a drama, let alone a sageuk.  Yay for awesome dads and well-adjusted heroes.

Drama Geek: The dad had faults but everything he did was for his wife and his children. And he was smart enough to change his situation and create a better life for his children. Then gave them the one thing he never had. Choice. Major props to dad.

Yoon Kyun Sang


KMUSE: SQUEEE!  YKS is officially on my TV screen again.  I am one happy fangirl.

KdramaJen: I love him.  He caught my attention in Pinocchio and he stole my heart in Six Flying Dragons.  I am ready for him to shine as the lead!

Drama Geek: I’m very excited to see him in this role. I think this character plays to his strengths to a tee. It’ll be awesome to see him as a larger than life character.

Overall thoughts so far


KMUSE: I love every minute of this drama and can’t wait for new episodes.  Especially when those new episodes will have an always gorgeous Yoon Kyun Sang playing a magic peddler. Is it Monday yet?

KdramaJen: This is my favorite currently airing drama.  I have had a Goblin-sized hole in my life, so it it great to have a drama to look forward to again!

Drama Geek: I loved every minute of the backstory and I’m trusting this writer will bring the same depth to his present day characters. Especially with the women. Please drama gods give us some women who have purpose and a central role in the main story. If the peek we got of them in episode one is any indicator, I think we have some very strong women on our hands. Now I’m just going to cross my fingers and wait until Monday.

Thanks for joining us as we chat the current airing sagueks.  We are still undecided if Rebel Hong Gil Dong will be a weekly recap for us.  We might just show up every couple of weeks to chat our favorite moments.  But if the drama remains as strong as the first four episodes I am sure we will be back sooner than later.

Til next time,

The Fangirls

0 thoughts on “Mane of Glory #15: Hwarang Update & Ep 1-4 Rebel Hong Gil Dong

  1. Rebel Hong Gil Dong is a must watch, good strategy to intro the backstory with veteran actor Kim Sang Joong giving a fine performance as HGD’s dad. We’ll hv YKS in ep 5 as the all grown up HGD. Is there any way for his two cats to make a cameo? Do they even hv cats in that era?😬

    Everytime Go Ara is on the screen, my eyes are watching but my mind is somewhere else, like what’s for dinner? Or I just concentrate on the subs. I rolled my eyes everytime they kiss, as to why, when I don’t need to see it. Go Ara should’ve been the princess and vice versa. I think there’s more chemi between Park Seo Joon and Seo Ye Ji. Ban Ryu and SuHo’s sister saves the day with their side romance.

  2. I am a sucker for a well done sageuk. And Rebel Hong Gil Dong is (so far) well done.
    (I can’t say the same for Hwarang. I will have to go back and watch The Great Queen Seoduk to appease my desire for pretty Hwarang warriors. (And I might rewatch Bedam until he goes crazy.)

  3. I agree with you guys on all points. Especially frustrated with writers of Hwarang, since it is a great period in history to develop and instead they sort of make them like a kpop boys group, especially the dance routine they did, and those gamble halls that were kind of like discos.

    Hong Gil Dong, so true that usually sagueks have heart-wrenching back stories, so much so that I would ff to the end of each episode so far, in order to prepare myself psychologically for the worst! and then go back to watch it, since it is really very very good. I also thought that the actress who played the mother was wonderful too. Very good acting cast.

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