‘Scarlet Heart: Ryeo’ Falling In Viewership Because Primary Romance Between Lee Joon Gi And IU’s Characters Lacking?


Back in August, Korean drama fans were hyped anticipating the debut of an upcoming period K-drama airing on the Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS) titled Scarlet Heart: Ryeo. The series marked the 2016 K-drama returns for both Lee Joon Gi and Lee Ji Eun, better known by her K-pop idol stage name IU. Besides the primary main leads, other actors in the cast also associated to the hype include Baekhyun of EXO, Kang Ha Neul, and Seohyun in her second acting role. Nevertheless, the hype was so prominent that it became the most expensive K-drama sold to China so far despite their ban on Hallyu.

Initially, Scarlet Heart: Ryeo made its debut with a decent viewership despite criticisms towards IU and Baekhyun’s acting. Sadly for the series, viewership continued to drop to a point where both viewership companies in South Korea did not even bother recording a precise percentage. The question is, what is causing the lack in viewership? There are many theories, but the biggest theory has to do with the fact that almost halfway through Scarlet Heart: Ryeo, there is very little progression in the romance between Lee Joon Gi and IU’s characters.

So far, Scarlet Heart: Ryeo has concentrated mostly on the romance between Hae Soo (IU) and Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul). Very little has happened between Hae Soo and Wang So (Lee Joon Gi) which is peculiar because they are the primary main leads. [Image via Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS)]

As of the publication of this article, seven episodes (which include part one and two of the seventh episode) of Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (also known as Moon Lovers and Moon Lovers: Scarlet Heart Ryeo) have aired. Also within that span of time, there has been very little progression in the relationship between Wang So (Lee Joon Gi), the Fourth Prince, and Hae So (IU). Apparently, there seems to be more investment in building a relationship between Hae So and Wang Wook (Kang Ha Neul), the Eighth Prince. Not to mention, there is a disparaging difference in screen time between the actors Joon Gi and Ha Neul as it seems the latter is getting more time, or at least more quality screen time, over the former.

Lee Joon Gi plays the Fourth Prince Wang Wook in Scarlet Heart: Ryeo. His mask, however, is a hindrance to his acting and may be the reason why he has less screen time now despite being the primary male lead. [Image via Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS)]

To be fair, Lee Joon Gi’s lack of screen time in Scarlet Heart: Ryeo might be a circumstance of the current situation. According to a written article by DramaFever, Joon Gi was very concerned about his acting because of the mask he is wearing. Joon Gi clarifies the situation in the following statement.

“Wearing a mask while acting signifies the character’s drama within, so I was very interested and liked it. But when acting, it’s not easy to control my depth perception and there were times when I got dizzy. So I was deeply worried about what to do. Because that aspect intensifies during action scenes, I thought it was important to adjust as soon as possible.

“More than anything, the key point was figuring out how to adjust and communicate Wang So’s emotions to the viewers using my eyes. If I put too much intensity behind my eyes, it could cover Wang So’s story or his pain, and so I put effort in finding the boundaries.”

It now seems the mask will no longer be a used prop as a certain situation in the seventh episode caused Wang So to take off his mask in front of all his brothers near the end of the episode. Now that they know how Wang So looks without the mask, there probably will be no need to keep the mask on if the majority of Wang So’s scenes will be with them. This will open up Joon Gi’s acting now that he no longer has a hindrance to his depth perception.

Ultimately, Scarlet Heart: Ryeo needs to do something dramatic to increase viewership or SBS might cut the ordered number of episodes. Right now, it is way behind Moonlight Drawn by Clouds; the period K-drama by the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) passed the 20 percent viewership ceiling in the seventh episode.

Scarlet Heart: Ryeo airs on Mondays and Tuesdays at 11 p.m. KST on SBS. For those who do not have access to the channel, it can be watched for free, with ads, exclusively on DramaFever. Take note that the latest two episodes will be exclusive to premium members for one week.

[Image via Seoul Broadcasting System (SBS)]

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