"Hwarang" is a light adventure tale that is intermingled with fauxcest, pretty boys, and lots of epic battles. It's a cross between a 2000s American rom-com film and manga reverse harem stories. Unfortunately these aspects of the drama detracted from the character development. Rather than growth, the drama focused on sensationalism. It's makes for an entertaining hour, but one without much substance.
An air of the fraternity permeated this episode as the Hwarang boys went through hazing instigated by the Hwarang master, Wi Hwa. Through battling each other, Wi Hwa surmises, will the boys grow closer. The same mentality is forced upon the hostile relationship between Seon-woo and Ji-dwi who have to work together to escape cronies sent by vengeful ministers. They dislike each other a little less after working with each other. And once part of the Hwarang, they join other beautiful boys in a roommate situation sure to be full of audience-pleasing antics.
The strongest plot point in the episode was that which revolved around Ji-dwi's mental battle with his mother, Queen Ji-so. His presence in Hwarang gives him the power to hide in plain site and reveal his identity of Silla. It's his first step towards reclaiming his throne from the controlling Queen. Mother and son surely will battle with fury as the episodes pass. Mingled in the familial fight is another antagonistic relationship, that between the queen and the ministers who wish to usurp her power. The Hwarang will be treated as chess pieces between the two raging forces, but my guess is that the pieces will eventually stand on their own against the powers that be.
One of the most uncomfortable aspects of the show is the romance. Despite the fact that Aro believe that she and Seon-woo are siblings, there is a distinct undercurrent of sexual tension, which is icky. Fauxcest was a huge thing back in the early 2000s and "Hwarang" brings it back.
Written by: Lisa Espinosa AKA Raine from 'Raine's Dichotomy'
Note : due to licensing, videos may not be available in your country
Journalist, drama lover, and foodie, Lisa enjoys exploring Korea, speaking the language, and soaking in all that dramaland has to offer. Her Korean husband laughs that she knows more than he ever will about dramas and K-pop. Lisa Espinosa can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Hwarang" Episode 5"
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