Scarlet Heart: Ryeo | Inside the K-Drama Pt.1

The epic historical K-drama, Scarlet Heart:Ryeo has us all in a tizzy, episode after episode! Who else wishes they were in IU’s shoes? Constantly being surrounded by good-looking gentleman does sound like a perk, but what else would have been going on around IU’s character during this time? Let’s learn more about everyday life in Goryeo-period Korea to help us better understand the world inside the K-drama!

Three Kingdoms of Korea

Fighting to stay alive!

Fighting to stay alive!

The king in this drama, King Taejo (formerly General Wang Kon) established his kingdom of Goryeo in 918 CE and it quickly grew in power from 935-1392 CE. During that time there were three kingdoms on the Korean peninsula, including Silla and Baekje, who surrendered to create a unified Goryeo nation. As you can imagine, things weren’t always peaceful, and there was constant threat of war from outside nations as well, which they will probably cover more as this K-drama continues!

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Lanterns and Paper

Churning glue with a smile!

Churning glue with a smile!

During this period, hanji (Korean paper) was having a golden age! Books, medical journals, Buddhist texts and money were being printed and created more than they ever had been before, and hanji was one of the reasons for it. This durable paper was used to create crafts as well, like those flower lanterns we see the super-rude Princess Yeon-Hwa making with Lady Hae. And the glue she makes IU help with? Yea, that was typically a vat of boiling hot mulberry starch…yikes…

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No wonder she thought she had died...this was heavenly!

No wonder she thought she had died…this was heavenly!

It was hard to focus on the dialogue during the bathing scene with the Princes, wasn’t it? Full body bathing, as the Princes demonstrated, was usually reserved for special occasions and sometimes did include spices and herbs in the bath water to make it more pleasant. But, because of the Confucian influence towards the end of the Goryeo dynasty, it was not considered proper to bath completely nude, so, everyone usually had a set of special “bathing clothes” to help keep modesty alive and well! Maybe the Princes just misplaced part of their costumes? But, hey, we’re not complaining!

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Apparently, makeup and beauty regimes flourished during the Goryeo period! Hae Soo must have studied ancient makeup application since she was able to completely transform Lady Have into a blushing beauty with her limited resources. Seriously though, what was really available to beauty seeking maidens during that time? Well, then, it was considered important for women to have a clear, clean complexion, (not so different from now, huh?), and in order to do that, special facial cleansers were created from honey, rice water and ground up adzuki beans, soybeans and mungbeans. There were also colored powders, rouge and eyebrow ink to help you look your best! Lotions were also created by extracting the juice from various types of plants. Hmm, kind of sounds like the essence you can find in a contemporary face mask!

Related: Life-Changing Korean Beauty Products

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Wouldn't mind getting hurt if he was our doctor!

Wouldn’t mind getting hurt if he was our doctor!

Long answer short: not that great. First off, if you were treating “common people” you didn’t even need any type of license! The only medical practitioners that needed to pass any sort of exam were those who attended to nobles and the king in the Sangyakguk (King’s pharmacy) and those who wanted to become titled officers at certain institutions. The popular medical practices of the time included herbal concoctions, acupuncture and incantations. Yes, you read that right! Buddhism still had a very strong hold on Medieval Korea, as they were influenced by China and their medical practices. So, if you got hurt in battle, we’re guessing your prescription was a bag of herbs and a prayer! Good luck!

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What Was the Rest of the World Up To? 

Just to put things in perspective, and to tickle the fancies of World History buffs, we’ve also decided to add what the rest of the world was up to during the period of Goryeo (935-1392 CE). In the West, the Mayan civilization was actually starting to decline in the mid-900’s, Vikings were attacking England, Richard the Lionheart, King of England from 1189-1199, was leading his crusades and the dreaded Spanish Inquisition was formed in 1231. This period was also when the Little Ice Age appeared and remained from 1300-1500. Pretty neat, huh?

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So what was the most interesting fact for you? What else do you want to know about? We might write a follow-up post since we had so much fun writing this one! Keep enjoying Scarlet Heart: Ryeo!

Watch Scarlet Heart: Ryeo on Dramafever!




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