Hatin’ on Hae Soo in Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

IU as Hae Soo in Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

There are many aspects of Scarlet Heart: Ryeo that make it a worthwhile K-drama to watch, but there is one that is quite annoying.  Hae Soo (IU) is the female lead that drags this K-drama down. This is not a criticism of IU, who is supercute and an expert in the wide-eye closeup. This is also not an indictment of any of the actors who play the princes (Oh, I see you Wang So (Lee Jun Ki); there’s another post coming with your name on it). I know this is a remake of a very popular Chinese drama, but the female lead character was pushing all of the wrong buttons!

I’m always willing to suspend my disbelief for a K-drama, but Hae Soo pushes this to the limit. I can understand that, like any character who gets sent back to the past, there is a period of adjustment. After all, you are in an unfamiliar environment. But at some point, you just have to suck it up. You are not going back to your time period any time soon. Very often, you have two choices: either lay low or get in the middle of things. Hae Soo’s problem is that she does a poor job of laying low, and her actions repeatedly put her in the middle of things. She acts like she doesn’t know how things are going down in the palace. Girl, this is Goryeo! Get it together!

Once in the past, Hae Soo takes no responsibility for the way her actions cause harm to other people. She blames others, mostly Wang So. For example, she admits early that her grasp of ancient Korean history is spotty, yet she does not question the glimpses of “the future” she gets. She immediately believes that Wang So is going to be a villain, despite the  character of the man who is actually before her. In the end, it is actually HER actions that cause a lot of the tragedy in the K-drama. It’s Hae Soo’s fault that So doesn’t just get rid of Wang Yo (Hong Jong-hyun) when he had the opportunity, which would have prevented later tragedy. She constantly tells Wang So not to kill his brothers. Guess what? Some of them gotta go. It’s Hae Soo’s fault that Wang Eun (Baekhyun) and Soon Deok (Z. Hera), aka. The Baby Couple, are killed. She just leaves all kinds of evidence out in the Damiwon for Yeon Hwa (Kang Han-na) to find.  It’s Hae Soo’s fault that the Crown Prince (Kim San-ho) also meets an untimely end as a result of Hae Soo being the world’s worst supervisor. For Hae Soo, everything that goes wrong is all Wang So’s fault. Wang So is literally the only person who pretty much doesn’t kill anyone for the wrong reasons, but gets all of Hae Soo negative judgement. He, may I remind her, never killed his brothers in the way she assumed he would.

What is worse, she lets other people off.  She never corrects Wang Jung (Ji Soo) for his ungrounded negative attitude towards Wang So.  They were all standing there when The Baby Couple met their end, but Jung decided not to focus on the fact that Yo’s men kill Soon Deok and Wang Yo himself shoots Wang Eun with two arrows. He also seems to repress Wang Eun’s death request. His takeaway is that So caused all the bloodshed, just by showing up way back at the beginning of the K-drama. Hae Soo never tells Jung that he’s wrong.  Wang Wook (Kang Ha-neul) is part of an attempted coup and is the mastermind behind the death of the Crown Prince, working in villainy with Wang Yo. Yet, Hae Soo never criticizes Wang Wook the way she criticizes Wang So.  When she leaves the palace, it’s a warm hug and smiles for Wook, like they are good buddies.

On the other hand, it’s always the side-eye for Wang So.  I’m not saying that he should have rolled ChaeRyung up in a rug, but I understand. And he outlines all the ways ChaeRyung has proven not to be a friend to Hae Soo, but she’s not trying to hear it. She seems to buy ChaeRyung’s “I did it for love” excuses and blames Wang So for ChaeRyung being used as a pawn by Wang Wook and Wang Won.

Others have suggested that the Korean version of this drama is pretty true to the Chinese original. There’s an online petition to get a second season. Nooooooooooo, not if the writers don’t tweak Hae Soo’s character. It’s not like Korean writers haven’t done it before when doing remakes (Boys Over Flowers, anyone?). I need Hae Soo to be “ride or die” with Wang So or Wang Wook or somebody other than herself. One true thing that Jung told her is that she needed to pick a side. She could have been an advisor to “the good brothers.” She could have been more like Ji Mong (Kim Sung-kyun). Instead of trying to be neutral (which never worked), she should have picked a side, or at least more actively tried to keep the brothers brotherly if she knew bloodshed was in their future. Instead, she’s too busy trying to kindle a romance with Wang Wook (as his wife is dying, REALLY?!!! Did we actually think that would end well?) and overlooking his opportunistic tendencies (he was shady from the start). While Wang Wook breaks promises, So is doing the heavily lifting, showing her that he likes her, being at her side and getting exiled for it.  In addition, she did nothing to help Soon Deok with her relationship with Wang Eun, because, sadly, Hae Soo is all about Hae Soo if you’re not a prince.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked Scarlet Heart: Ryeo, but Hae Soo has just hit number one on my Most Despised Female Character List!

Image: 1

7 thoughts on “Hatin’ on Hae Soo in Scarlet Heart: Ryeo

  1. You clearly did not understand the character. She is HUMAN. She made the wrong choices, okay, but that is because she wanted to save the princes because she really cared about them. Would you do nothing if you know that someone is gonna kill everyone? No! Besides, how could Hae Soo trust in So despites everything he has done? He was mean to her in the beggining, he had killed persons before. When he became king he LIED to her, showed her aside because his ambitions blinded him. Hae Soo didn’t deserve the fate she had. Even if her actions were “foolish”, they were to protect herself and to protect the others of a terrible fate she KNEW, because she did know that Wang So was going to become Wangjong*
    She was sensitive, reckless, but she fighted back when she needed and she had clear what she wanted.

    Honestly, Chae-ryung was truly her friend but her love for the prince blinded her. I’m not saying that she was innocent, because it was HER fault the crown prince died. Not Haesoo.
    Also, she thanked Wang Wook in the end because despiste everything he did, he helped her to finally get out of the palace, the place she could never be happy at Wang So’s side.

    1. Perhaps you are unaware that many viewers of the K-drama had problems with the character. She was frustrating. Hae Soo never seemed to learn from her choices, and her lack of knowledge of history didn’t help. She didn’t know what to do, but kept doing the wrong thing. She didn’t stop to learn her environment and kept putting herself in a position to be saved. Given that we’ve seen better characterization in female-centered K-dramas, Hae Soo was a disappointment. Just sayin’. Don’t get me started on Chat-ryung and female friendship.

  2. You totally spoke my heart. I felt that Hae Soo was too judgmental towards Wang So. Even after being useless, she was being nice to Wang Wook. I can understand the responsibilities Wang Wook had. But at least he could have done something to stop Hae Soo’s execution. He did nothing! When she left the palace, he did not come towards her even after knowing what a shitty life she is having as a water maid. For that kind of self-centered person, Hae Soo still kindled her hope (She was asking him ‘did you ever miss me? That’s all I need! I wanted to scream, you stupid girl!). My heart melted when Wang So came to meet after his punishment (due to standing with her in rain) and his first sentence was, I missed you! I felt Hae Soo loved him back but never really trusted him. Wang So’s anger was justified because Hae Soo made Prince Eun to die. I do not want go into the details for the last three episodes. I felt Hae Soo was too tired and bored in the relationship. She never tried to solve the misunderstanding Jung had towards Wang So. Her scapegoat was Wang So every freaking time! And yes, she abandoned him after everything! What does she expect after getting married to Jung. She did not even felt it was important to let Wang So know that they have a baby. I felt Jung got everything at the end, his mother’s love, Hae Soo’s last days, and HaeSoo and wang So’s baby. I felt really miserable for Wang So as he had to be a loner at the end. I liked that at least at the ending, she was crying for Wang So saying that she is sorry to leave him alone. I knew they are not going to end up together but at least the story writers could have given better character development to Hae Soo. I hated her character the most in last three episodes.

  3. Thank you so much for speaking my mind because all of those made me so frustrated!!! I can’t get over it, especially the part where you mentioned that Hae Soo and Wang Wook hugged and smiled when she was leaving the palace. How could she get mad and Wang So for punishing people who killed his brothers and for continuing to try to hurt him? So whatever is in the past doesn’t count and she just forgives a cunning person like that while judging Wang So for protecting the kingdom? That part really makes me think that she loves Wang Wook so much more more than Wang So. The whole drama made me feel that way actually and I really really have no words to describe my frustration. I think Hae Soo owes Wang So a big apology for keep not trusting him and misunderstanding his situation, and therefore not being able to protect him because of how she was pushing him to not kill his brothers. It doesn’t seem like she loves him very much to me.

  4. Literally all you said can be justified because the context of the show, the character and the period.

    She is fine.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.