Moonshine has a typical story – the main characters shared a tragic past and now teamed up to get the justice their loved ones deserve. Despite its predictability, it was still a fun watch especially because its narrative is just very light and it always goes back to its comical/humorous tone. The alcohol prohibition plot was also a good attempt to make its story different from the other period dramas. It’s not a perfect or groundbreaking series but there were still things I enjoy while watching Moonshine.
Fighter Female Characters
Strong Female Characters (SFC) are now a typical thing in K-dramaland but here in Moonshine, the female lead is not the only SFC in the whole series. Almost all female characters here are “fighters.”
The lead, Kang Ro-seo (Hyeri), is a street-smart character from the beginning. She became tougher and stronger as the series progresses. She was even capable enough to lead a whole group of Moonshiners that stood up against the cruel prohibition of the palace. She doesn’t back down and is always willing to take the first step in their risky plans. The second lead, Han Ae-jin (Kang Mi-na), is as tough as Ro-seo. She may come off as a spoiled yangban but she’s armed with life knowhows too. She’s really resourceful and very strategic with her action. It wasn’t surprising that she was able to steal the Crown Prince’s heart.
Female supporting characters in Moonshine were brilliant in their roles too. Cheon-geum (Seo Ye-hwa) is Ro-seo’s trusted partner all throughout the series. This moonshiner could hold her ground even in front of the toughest and cruelest enemies out there. Meanwhile, inside the palace walls, it’s not the King that rules. Queen Yeon (Byeon Seo-yun) defends the throne against two-faced ministers and corrupt members of the royal court. I cheered hard and felt victorious when she ended becoming the Queen Regent.
Unlike the first four characters though, Woon-shim (Park Ah-in) and Dae-mo (Jung Young-joo) didn’t have a happy ending but these two fought their oppressors with all their might. They’re both femme fatale who died to protect their loved ones. Giringak Courtesan Woon-shim isn’t exactly a good-natured character but her actions – even the frustrating ones – were just motivated by her loyalty to Shim Heon (Moon Yoo-kang). Dae-mo’s motivation, on the other hand, is her son’s welfare. She’s one tough mother. Even though she and Ro-seo started on the wrong foot, she eventually took Ro-seo under her wing and ended up sacrificing her life for her.
Enemies to Bromance
Ro-seo and Nam Young (Yoo Seung-ho) always bicker but Nam Young’s petty squabbles with Crown Prince Lee Pyo (Byeon Woo-seok) were more entertaining for me. They’re different and no one wants to back down with their beliefs. But through Ro-seo, these two dashing young nobles eventually found their common ground and we ended up getting entertaining bromance scenes.
Moonshine is pretty much a light series to watch and its main plot is mostly run by the evil scheming of two-faced Royal Secretary Lee Shi-heum (Choi Won-young). He was suspicious from the start so I kind of predicted his true colors. But I didn’t expect I would get a whole villain origin story for him. Admittedly, it sometimes too felt draggy and too dark for the series’ overall tone but Choi Won-young’s portrayal is amazing that I couldn’t look away when he’s on the screen.
The Royal Romance
My favorite thing about Moonshine is Ae-jin and Lee Pyo’s romance. I enjoyed the dynamics of these two characters, especially how Ae-jin would always ended up helping Lee Pyo to organize his thoughts and be more rational about his actions. This royal romance didn’t have much screen time but I love every moment they are together. And can we have Byeon Woo-seok and Kang Mi-na work again in the series?