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New period drama takes fusion genre step farther

All Headlines 09:00 August 20, 2016

By Lee Haye-ah

SEOUL, Aug. 20 (Yonhap) -- When a prince on a horse sweeps the heroine off her feet, the last thing you'd expect as the camera zooms in on the two protagonists looking deep into each other's eyes is to see the man pushing her off to the ground moments later.

But in the upcoming drama "Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo," that's just the beginning of a series of awkward chance encounters between the resentful 10th century prince Wang So (Lee Joon-gi) and the time-slipping 21st century office worker Go Ha-jin (IU).

Set during the early years of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), the series walks a fine line between a romantic comedy and a historical drama, creating a blend that has gained increasing popularity in recent years.

"Viewers have grown to enjoy the fusion genre, and I tried to add a more modern touch to that genre," Kim Kyu-tae, the drama's director, told reporters at SBS TV headquarters in western Seoul after a screening of the first two episodes on Friday. "It's hard to define, but I think we'll able to create a genre that's different in style from the existing one."

From the first two episodes at least, it was clear that the producers had focused on appealing to the young and trendy, with electric music playing in the background as eyeliner-wearing men showed off their chiseled bodies.

The story is based on the popular Chinese novel Bu Bu Jing Xin and revolves around the love triangle among the 4th prince Wang, Go, and the 8th prince Wang Wook (Kang Ha-neul).

Go time slips to Goryeo during a total eclipse of the sun, where she finds herself inside the body of a teenage girl named Hae-soo. Aware of the historical events that have yet to unfold, she helps Wang So come out of his shell and finds her own place in the "new" world.

"It's the coming-of-age story of Hae-soo as she goes from being a teenager to a woman in her 20s during a 10-year period in Goryeo," Kim said. "It's about a woman with modern values adjusting to the values of the past and living at the heart of history."

K-pop diva IU was perfect in her role to the extent that she hardly needed any direction, according to Kim.

"For IU, I think this may be a big step forward to becoming a true actress," he said. "She's a bit of a prodigy in terms of her artistic feel and ability to analyze the work."

Lee, who rose to stardom through the period film "King and the Clown" in 2005, proved himself worthy of his name, Kim added. The "hallyu" star's acting prowess shone through especially in the mix of sadness and anger he revealed around his estranged family members in the drama.

"He's someone who acts as if he's possessed," the director said. "He had an immense and instantaneous level of concentration and immersion."

Hallyu refers to the rising popularity of Korean pop culture worldwide.

The series is the first Asian soap opera to be part financed and produced by NBCUniversal. It also features idol stars such as Baek-hyun of the boy band EXO and Seohyun of the girl group Girls' Generation.

Having been entirely pre-filmed, the drama is set to air simultaneously in South Korea and China. In South Korea, it will premiere on SBS TV at 10 p.m. on Aug. 29.

hague@yna.co.kr
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