First Impression: Moonshine

Drama Profile

Title: Moonshine (English Title) / When Flowers Bloom, I Think of the Moon (literal title)
Main Cast: Yoo Seung-ho, Hyeri
Writer: Kim A-rok
PD: Hwang In-hyuk (Doctor Prisoner)
Timeslot: Monday and Tuesday 21:30
Network: KBS
OTT: Viu, Kocowa, Viki
Episodes: 16
Genre: Historical Romance

Plot Synopsis:

In the era of strict prohibition, a dangerous yet exciting romance of a moonshiner and an inspector begins. Nam Young is a professional inspector from Saheonbu who has left his hometown for the sake of his family honor, and he controls illegal liquor manufacturers. Meanwhile, Kang Ro-seo is a daughter of a poor noble family, and therefore she has no choice but to make liquor illegally to pay off her family debt. Unlike her classy appearance, she would do anything she could to make money. These two young people from completely different backgrounds happen to live under the same roof, and their chaotic housemate life begins. What will happen to their unpredictable crisis? (Synopsis from Viu)

Maknae’s Impression:

The first two episodes of Moonshine contain the usual character introduction of its main leads Nam Young (Yoo Seung-ho) and Kang Ro-seo (Lee Hye-ri), how they met, and the start of their frenzied adventures in the capital of Joseon.

Nam Young is an uptight scholar from a rural area. He’s a book smart and believes rules are black and white – either you follow it or you break it, there’s no in-between. This trait allowed him to top the civil servant exam that year. But upon his arrival in Joseon, he kept on crossing paths with Kang Ro-seo. Our Moonshine female lead is from a poor noble family and a street-smart girl. She’s no damsel in distress and could very much fight her own battle. Despite her toughness, she has a sad backstory that would make you instantly root for her. They are very much the opposites of each other but their fates got intertwined because of their jobs. Nam Young is an inspector while Ro-seo is a moonshiner – an illegal trader of alcohol.

The series use the cohabitation trope and I very much like that since we would see our main leads bicker and argue under one roof. But I think they will become each other’s adopted family if I’d based it to how they shared their first meal with Ro-seo’s brother Kang Hae-soo (Bae Yoo-ram) and Young’s servant Chun Gae (Kim Ki-bang). Their petty fights are hilarious and I think there would be no peaceful mealtime anytime soon.

Nam Young and Ro-seo also met other characters that would make their life in Hanyang more interesting. Ro-seo is more similar to Crown Prince Lee Pyo (Byeon Woo-seok). Both of them have sob backstories to tell and are depending on alcohol to live. The latter, however, has a rude rebellious streak that doesn’t sit right with Nam Young. But I’m hoping they’ll become, at least, friends by the end of the series. Meanwhile, Han Ae-jin (Kang Mi-na) is an eccentric noblewoman for all the wrong reasons. She craves escapades and makes one on her own because her social status won’t allow her. I would very much love her to meet the equally rebellious young prince. It would be nice to get two couples in this series instead of another love triangle.

Overall, Moonshine’s premiere was fun to watch. The main plot was easily set up in the first episode and I didn’t have to wait for the rest of the story to settle in its intended fast-paced narrative. Its characters are interesting but the story somehow felt like it was told before. The only unique thing about its plot is the alcohol prohibition but the rest could be easily predicted. There’s also a threat that the characters’ fate could soon be marred by palace politics. Since this is a pretty-much lighthearted series, I hope they won’t dwell on it too much because the comedy in this series is what makes it entertaining to watch. Nonetheless, I still look forward to watching Nam Young and Ro-seo’s adventures or their misadventures.


Chief Royal Secretary Lee Si-Heum (Choi Won-young) is a mysterious character and seems to be the main villain in the story. He’s a hardworking high official but it looks like it’s just a pretense and he could be behind the monopoly of alcohol in Joseon.

Yoo Seung-ho, Hyeri, Byeon Woo-seok, Kang Mi-na to lead KBS period drama

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