Back To Top

Popular TV drama revisited onstage

Homegrown musical ‘The Moon Embracing the Sun’ offers glimpse into traditional Korean culture on top of its engaging plot

A scene from “The Moon Embracing the Sun.” (Theater Eda)
A scene from “The Moon Embracing the Sun.” (Theater Eda)
Many fell in love with Hwon, the cynical but attractive fictional Joseon king in MBC’s enormously successful TV drama series “The Moon Embracing the Sun” last year.

Its fans now have the opportunity to revisit the series, this time onstage. The TV series’ theater adaptation is currently being staged at Seoul Arts Center, featuring local musical star Kim Da-hyeon in the lead.

Based on the novel of the same title by author Jung Eun-gwol, the TV series and the musical tell the moving love story between Hwon and a beautiful female shaman ― who a daughter from a noble family ― while also dealing with the court intrigues and vying for political power in the royal household.

The musical version presents many aspects of Korea’s traditional culture, on top of its engaging narrative. A number of scenes feature Korea’s visually magnetic “gut,” or traditional shaman ceremony, combined with contemporary musical scores.

The show’s stage design features bojagi, traditional Korean patchwork. The audience members are also presented with Korean traditional dance, including buchaechum, or “fan dance,” performed by a group of female dancers using fans painted in different colors.

Such traditional qualities of the show well reflect the poetic symbolism employed in the original novel ― while Hwon is the powerful sun, his love interest Yeon-woo is the moon that balances and complements him.

In the end, “The Moon Embracing the Sun” is a tale of first love. A political conspiracy, which eventually leads to tragedy, dramatically transforms the central characters ― the happy crown prince turns into a cynical king, while Yeon-woo, who becomes a Crown Princess, ends up losing her memory and becomes a shaman.

When the two run into each other eight years later as strangers ― Hwon has been misled to think that Yeon-woo is dead, while Yeon-woo has no memory of her past ― they inevitably fall in love with each other again, against all odds. The musical offers an entertaining and visually stunning portrayal of first love as a life-changing event that is singular and unrepeatable.

Actor Kim Da-hyun and actress Jeon Mi-do, who play Hwon and Yeon-woo, also show great chemistry together. However, the musical may be hard to understand for those who have not watched the TV show as the scene transitions are often confusing.

“The Moon Embracing the Sun” runs until July 31 at Seoul Arts Center’s CJ Towol Theater. Tickets range in price from 60,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call 1588-5212.

By Claire Lee (
Korea Herald daum