Moonlight Drawn by Clouds is a beautifully crafted, romantic 2016 South Korean historical drama series set in the 19th century Joseon era, and very loosely based on a real Prince who became King, a man who loved literature, art, music, and dancing,
but who had a short reign because he died young at only twenty years of age.
The drama was directed by Kim Sung Yoon and starred a beautiful pair of young, extremely talented actors, gorgeous Kim Yoo Jung (whom I first saw in 2006
when she was a tiny girl and played the young Su Jeong Im character in the beautiful horse film Lump Of Sugar and later in many dramas including May Queen and
The Moon Embracing the Sun), and handsome Park Bo Gum (Tomorrow’s Cantabile, Encounter, I Remember You)
who is her senior by six years. Of the two of them, however, Kim Yoo Jung is actually the senior (sunbae) of the older Park Bo Gum in regards to acting experience, by several years. Because Kim Yoo Jung was only 16-17
when she made this drama, even the love scenes were sweet and tender, more than flagrantly passionate. Apparently the Korean audience really cares about stuff like that (unlike American audiences who are used to seeing all kinds of smut thrown at them).
The ratings for this series were very high and broke over the 20% level many times, the number which makes cast and crew celebrate that they have a big hit on their hands.
My guess is that young people tuned in in droves and then their parents would sit down with them and join in watching,
then they would tell their co-workers the next day what they had watched with their families the night before — word of mouth among the generations therefore promoted the show more than any specialized promotions via trailers could ever hope to accomplish.
I’m sure it was also helped by boasting such a lovely title. Moonlight Drawn By Clouds. Sigh. It could be the title of a painting done by a classic Master Painter.
The series is based on a web novel of the same title written by Yoon Yi Soo ,
and was serialized on Naver and in a series of illustrated books.
This is definitely a coming of age story and geared more toward a younger audience, compared to many sageuk (historical dramas) which are aimed at adults and feature a lot more violence (and sexual innuendo).
The comparative cleanliness of this story will either be a turn on for some (it was for me – yay! I could avoid horrible torture scenes!), or it will bore you.
I think if you are Young At Heart you can appreciate this story,
even if you are an older person. Young love can be sweeter than old love, after all, because it is so fresh and new for the people smitten.
I rarely give end spoilers but I will say that
we do not see any death of this eventual King.
The narrative ends happily, before any tragedy will be
experienced by the characters.
So if you are a K-drama fan who stays away from dramas in which you think there will be an unhappy ending then please reconsider because you won’t find that here.
This is largely romantic fantasy for young people, and the cinematography and acting are top-notch.
The Story: Can a disguise be an obstacle to true love?
Hong Ra On (Kim Yoo Jung from May Queen) is a young woman
who, guided by her mother during the Joseon era, disguises herself
(in the beginning for mysterious circumstances that are revealed later)
as a young man named Sam Nom. He (she) supports himself (herself) by writing romantic fiction and anonymous love letter ghostwriting
where he (she) gives relationship advice to lovelorn men! What a profession for two hundred years ago!
A love letter that Ra On writes for a client brings him (her) into unexpected contact with a man named Lee Young, whom he (she) has no idea is actually the Crown Prince Hyo Myeong (Park Bo Gum), the first son of King Sunjo (Kim Seung Soo) and heir to the throne. He (she) also meets his trusted bodyguard and friend Kim Byung Yeon (Kwak Dong Yeon),
who takes a shine to him (her) pretty much right away and seems to be able to tell much earlier
what sex Ra On really is, while the Prince seems clueless (at first).