2016 was truly the year of well-loved dramas- with Descendants of the Sun, Scarlet Heart Ryeo, Goblin and of course, Moonlight Drawn by Clouds.
Moonlight, starring Park Bo Gum,
Kim Yoo Jung
and other popular young actors, received much love.
The drama had a happy ending, with Prince Lee Yeong (Park Bo Gum) surviving an assassination attempt (of poison) and eventually ending up with his lover Hong Ra On (Kim Yoo Jung)- although there was no wedding.
Much of the plot, however, is based on fiction. While Hong Kyung Rae, Ra On’s father, did actually exist, it is not known whether he had a daughter called Ra On.
Prince Lee Yeong is a character based on Prince Hyo Myeong- who, unfortunately, passed away at a young age.
Celebrating the 4 years since the drama’s hit, let’s take a look at the historical context of the drama!
Crown Prince Hyo Myeong
Born as the only son to the 23rd king of Joseon, King Sunjo in 1809, the prince became Crown Prince Hyo Myeong in 1812. The crown prince was handsome, intelligent, and talented that King Sunjo had high expectations of him.
In 1827, King Sunjo’s health had deteriorated seriously, necessitating “dae-ri-chung-jung”. (Dae-ri-chung-jung: when a crown prince takes over the king’s duties due to reasons that require the king’s absence; it was used when a king was too ill to actively go over documents, attend meetings with officials and make decisions. It was also used as a tool to test how equipped a crown prince was to become king in future, or to train a crown prince in dealing with national affairs.)
For four years, crown prince Hyo Myeong did dae-ri-chung-jung. According to historical records, when the order of dae-ri-chung-jung was first made known to all officials in the royal palace, the officials celebrated and cheered- (not really because they hated the king) they liked and had high expectations of the crown prince, and were ready to serve him as the next king in future.
Despite being only 18 at the time, the crown prince made firm, swift and meticulous decisions. When he received news that common people in a town were suffering due to the acts of a corrupt official, he made sure strict punishment was meted out. He did not hesitate to punish and go against high ranking officials, too.
Aside from being a good ruler, the crown prince was also highly regarded as a son who showed dedication and filial piety toward his parents. He successfully organized politically important parties, upholding the reputation of his father, King Sunjo. In organizing the parties, Hyo Myeong also showed talent in the arts, personally making suggestions and edits to dance moves and art works.
To the woes of many, however, the crown prince suddenly fell ill, and at the young age of 22, passed away. Certain royal officials brought up the possibility of assassination using poison, but no evidence of murder was found. Some considered that the crown prince could’ve passed due to illnesses resulting from overwork.
King Sunjo grieved terribly over the death of his son. He wrote a long essay, which expressed the terrible sadness the king suffered not only from having lost his loving son, but also over the fact that a wise and good hearted potential king of the nation was lost.
Having already lost his other children before the passing of Hyo Myeong, Sunjo passed away in 1834 from illness and great stress.