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K-drama Flashback: Reminiscing About ‘Hwarang’ and the Flowering Knights

A gripping tale about a pivotal period in Korean history, with attractive young men at its centerpiece

Debashree Dutta Apr 15, 2022

Photo: Courtesy of KBS2TV

I’m not surprised by how much I love Hwarang. In 2016, this historical coming-of-age romantic K-drama was released and rightfully deserves all the appreciation it gets to date. In the upheaval of the Silla dynasty (a kingdom from 57 BC to AD 935 in the southern and central portions of Korea), the Flowering Knights – a group of exceptionally handsome men – explore their passion, friendship, and love.

Photo: Courtesy of HanCinema

The series centers around Jiso, the over-ambitious reigning queen of Silla who plots to form Hwarang, an elite force of warriors, to undermine the powerful aristocrats, remain in power and protect her son. The young men band together. But little do they know that two men within the group – King Sammaekjong (Park Hyungsik) and Kim Sunwoo, a commoner (Park Seojoon) – are both smitten by the same woman, Kim Ahro (Go Ara).

Photo: Courtesy of KBS2TV

The show’s key selling point is the bevy of stunning actors. Alongside the leads, Kim Sooho (SHINee’s Choi Minho), Do Jihan (Park Banryu), Jo Yoonwoo (Kim Yeowool), and the most adorable Seok Hansung (Kim Taehyung aka V from BTS) are a visual delight on-screen. The premise of Hwarang is well-defined, with a perfect blend of comedy, action, adventure, love triangle, political intrigue, and everything in between. Watch this interesting video of the Hwarang boys captured candidly in a promotional photo shoot, revealing how they bonded on set, what went on behind the scenes of Hwarang, and how reel-life kinship later developed into real-life camaraderie and brotherhood. It’s a lovely interview that transports us back in time to happy memories.

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Hwarang’s narrative gained extra traction on account of its original soundtracks. The playlist covers a wide variety of songs, including BTS’s V and Jin’s “It’s Definitely You,” also known as “Even if I Die It’s You.” The theme song offers a happy vibe that represents the protagonists’ passion, while the lyrics portray the lover’s confessions, longing, and grief – “In my cracked heart / Your cold sighs/ Like a slowly withering flower/ Fall onto my heart/ This damn love, because of you/ I can’t move even if I’m hurt/ Even if I die, it’s definitely you/ Without you, tears fill up my heart/ It’s just black hell/ To me, that’s who you are.”

What renders the love ballad perfect are the vivid individual tonal qualities of the two singers. The song has a lot of refinement thanks to the mix of V’s superb baritone voice and Jin hammering out the appropriate notes. It’s a beautiful track with a refreshing sound that serves as the perfect accompaniment to Hwarang‘s stunning visuals. Enjoy the stage performance of “It’s Definitely You” by V and Jin, and also check out the other OSTs from Hwarang below.

I’m sure most K-drama lovers have already seen this series. But if you haven’t yet, I seriously encourage you do so. Hwarang is a fantastic option for weekend binge-watching. This light-hearted rom-com is a refreshing break from the complicated, serious, and tragic genre. It is entertaining, interesting, and engaging while also being informative. It outlines the origins of the Hwarang men, which can be traced back to King Jinheung’s era, a period when they joined the Silla troops to be trained as fighters to protect their kingdom with integrity and honor.

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