Also known as Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo
It's a 2016 Korean adaptation of the 2011 Chinese Drama, Bu Bu Jing Xin or Scarlet Heart. The story follows a 25 year old woman, Go Ha Jin, who drowns after saving a little kid and who wakes up in the body of 16 year old Hae Soo in the times of Goryeo. After some consideration, she decides to live as Hae Soo, trying to start over.
She gets tangled up in the lives of the princes, thanks to her cousin being married to one of them, forming strong bonds with most of them and, unfortunately, getting in the middle of several incidents and schemes as well as a love triangle that will bring her the greatest of pains and joys.
The drama aired from August to November, with 20 episodes released and 2 specials that are yet to be announced formally when will they air.
Moon Lovers contains examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Wang So was a victim of it, and later continued the vicious cycle being a horrible father to his own children
- Anyone Can Die: Yeap, by the end Hae Soo passes away and half of the princes have been killed along with several other relevant characters
- Ambition Is Evil: A lot of the heartbreak that occurs in the drama takes place partly in thanks to the greed of several characters that leads them to have little to no consideration of the damage they could cause to others on their quest for power, such as Yo, Queen Yoo, Won, Wook, Yeon Hwa and So who all end up regretting something in the end.
- Arranged Marriage: Lots of them, first you have one between Hae Soo and the King (that she managed to get out of), then the one between Soon Deok and the 10th prince, then there are several mentions of the King arranging his children's marriages and how important these are to keep and gain political power.
- Betty and Veronica: Hae Soo and Yeon-Hwa, respectively, for So's Archie.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Oh boy, where to start. Mommy Issues, Parental Favoritism, Royal Inbreeding, fratricide... you name it, they have it
- Break the Cutie: Goryeo is definitely not a gentle or kind place, especially for people who have little to no ambition for power. Hae Soo learns this the hard way.
- BrotherSister Incest: The Wangs are a-okay with incest to say the least. Yeon-Hwa was not-so-secretly involved with Yo, later married So. Both are her half-brothers. Also there's this seemingly innocent scene where Baek Ah meets his little niece in the garden. It's a foreshadowing - when the girl grows up they'll become lovers and have a son.
- Crapsack World: The setting is Goryeo in the 10th century so you can be damn sure that a lot of the characters will suffer from the views and constrictions of the era, especially if they're not Genre Savvy enough.
- Chekhov's Skill: Ha Jin was something of a make-up expert, working as a saleswoman. Then she ended up in Goryeo, where it wasn't all that easy to make. In the first episodes, where she made her own concoctions from scratch, it was viewed more of a hobby, an activity to pass the time, but later on it becomes instrumental when she uses her skills to cover the scar on Wang So's face, giving him the strength to perform an important ritual that would boost his status as prince.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: More than once is mentioned that killing is a perfectly logical and necessary choice one has to make in order to survive in that time
- Downer Ending: Very much. By the end, only 4 of the 8 princes are alive and the friction between the ones that survived has separated them almost completely. Hae Soo passed away and So is married to Yeon Hwa but he doesn't trust her or even their own son. In the present, Ha Jin has managed to get back on her feet after a year in a coma, blissfully unaware of the heartbreak she lived as Hae Soo only for a chance encounter to reawaken her memories and it ends with her remembering all that happened and crying brokenhearted over the fact that she no longer can be by So's side
- The Evil Prince: A few of them qualify, especially Yo who makes little effort to hide his manipulative side and how much he wants the throne for himself.
- Fish out of Temporal Water: After her accident, Hae Soo speaks and acts in a manner that contrasts sharply with how a lady is expected to behave. Many believe is due to the incident affecting both her memory and mind but is actually because she's Ha Jin.
- Generation Xerox: King Taejo/Queen Yoo/Lady Oh and Gwanjong/Queen Daemok/Hae Soo. The same story basically played out twice.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Queen Yoo doesn't shy herself from using manipulation or underhanded tricks to get her way
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Played With. While at that time it wasn't rare for a person to have scars on their bodies, especially if they were warriors, Wang So was ostracized because of the scar on his face and he actively tried to hide it away, afraid of other people's reaction. There's also the fact that while in a man it wouldn't be considered strange, if a woman had a scar then she would probably be cast aside, this is best exemplified when Hae Soo scars herself in a desperate attempt to avoid an arranged marriage with King Taejo, because it was believed that a future queen should not have any on her body, even though the King admits that he himself has several on his.
- Ill Girl: Several of the female characters, namely Lady Hae, Court Lady Oh and Hae Soo, suffer some kind of ailment that influence greatly their decisions.]]
- Incest Is Relative: Yeon Hwa was into Wang So, who is her half-brother. Hae Soo is understandably Squick out by this while everyone is okay with it. This is Truth in Television (as inbreeding among the royal family was acceptable and common in Goryeo Dynasty, and that includes marriage among siblings and uncle/aunt and niece/nephew).
- Love Dodecahedron: Oh Dear Lord. Let's see, the 4th, 8th, 10th and 14th princes were all in love with Hae Soo. The 8th prince was the only one she loved back at the beginning, however, he was married to her beloved cousin, Lady Hae, who was actually supportive of their relationship because she was dying. In turn, the 13th prince had been in love with Lady Hae but could do nothing because he was of a lower status and she truly loved her husband. Meanwhile, the 8th prince's full sister, Yeon Hwa, was courted by the 3rd prince but she was more interested in the 4th prince, with whom Hae Soo will later fall in love. Then, the 10th prince had to marry Soon Deok, the General's daughter, who had been in love with him since childhood but he was still a bit heartbroken over the fact that Hae Soo always saw him as a brother and nothing else. Finally, after the 8th prince fell in disgrace with the 3rd dying and 4th having to marry Yeon Hwa as a political move, the 14th prince marries Hae Soo but even though he loved her and she cared for him greatly, she never stopped loving the 4th prince so, even though he "won" her hand, he never had her heart In short, it was a mess.
- Love Hurts: And how. The drama could easily change it's name to this.
- Narnia Time: While Ha Jin lived as Hae Soo for almost 20 years, in the present she was in a coma following her accident for only a year
- Never My Fault: Several of the characters fail to own up to their mistakes, or blame others for it.
- Our Time Travel Is Different: There's no clear explanation about how or why Ha Jin's soul traveled to the past and entered the body of Hae Soo, but it's implied that they both "died" roughly at the same time in similar circumstances
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: King Taejo, Crown Prince Moo, Wang So, Woo Hee, heck even Wang Yo, they all have plans and don't sit idly waiting for them to happen, actively pursuing their goals. Now, whether these are good or bad plans...
- Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Heartbreakingly so. Hae Soo knows of the painful end some of the princes will have, including the one who will cause it, and while she tries to prevent it, she ends up setting in motion the events that would lead to that tragedy
- Star-Crossed Lovers: Not only the case of Hae Soo and Wang So, but also that of Baek Ah and Woo Hee and of King Taejo with Court Lady Oh
- Sibling Rivalry: Sometimes Played for Laughs with some of the antics involving the youngest of princes but, other times, the rivalry wasn't all that lighthearted as was the case of Yo with the Crown Prince and with So.
- Sibling Team: So got along better with Moo and Baek Ah, being the ones he would help the most and in turn they supported him. Yo, on the other hand, worked closely with Wook and Won, helping him in his schemes.
- Time Travel: As stated before, Go Ha Jin, a woman of the 21st century ends up living in Goryeo in the last decades of the 10th century
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Some of the characters were more than willing to sacrifice their happiness (and even their lives) to protect their loved ones, this refers mainly to Lady Hae and Court Lady Oh who gave up everything.
- We Can Rule Together: Yo offers this to Yeon Hwa in hopes that she accepts his marriage proposal
- Your Cheating Heart: This is mainly between Hae Soo and Wook, though it's more in the emotional sense and it was actually encouraged by his wife.