Despite Hwarang’s tensed historical background, it still manages to pull off plenty of comedy gold. Especially since the flower boys in Hwarang School appear to be all adolescents or young adults. We get plenty of examples of teenage rebellions, where the coming-of-age-but-not-quite-there-yet young adult tries to push his luck. Like Ji-dwi going against Regent Queen Mummy (who in his case is both an overly protective maternal figure as well as a domineering patriarch whom he must take down), and infuriating Pa-oh, the mother hen, to tears.
Juz as Ji-dwi is the rebellious youth, Sun-woo is the hotheaded, rash one. As Hwa-kong not so subtly points out, he should look beyond the surface instead of mindlessly pursuing vengeance on the (hidden) King. I doubt he considered what will happen if he DID manage to kill the King – the entire country will be in turmoil, and likely, more innocent people (peasants like Mak-mun) will die. Obviously, he can’t see anything (at the moment) beyond his haze of anger.
But the biggest milestone in reaching the teenage year should be the individual’s search for his identity. Remember those days when you are wondering who and what you will become? Hwarang takes the teenage identity crisis to another level, and literally have identities which are kept secret. It’s amusing when Sun-woo is mistaken by the rest of the Hwarangs as the “hidden” King, on the basis that he isn’t familiar to them and he hasn’t been exactly chummy with them. Where previously they had ostracized him because of his “non-rank”, now they ostracize him cos he “outranks” them. Poor Sun-woo, it is already hard for him to befriend anyone in Hwarang. With the title of King being erroneously bestowed on him, I doubt anyone will dare wander into his vicinity.
With Sun-woo being mistaken as King, Ji-dwi has to deal with his identity being stolen. Which is ironic to say the least, cos he has taken such pains to keep himself hidden all these years. Logically, allowing the mix-up to continue will be in Ji-dwi’s best interest, as pointed out by Queen Ji-soo. But…Ji-dwi is clearly uncomfortable. Not cos Sun-woo is suddenly getting the attention he probably craved for all these years in hiding, but it looks weak to continue to hide behind a classmate, who (he thinks) is only half a noble.
While Ji-dwi and Sun-woo have to untangle the mess of who-is-who between themselves, Han-sung and Dan-se have a separate set of identity crisis. Han-sung, who is a True Bone noble, doesn’t want to be one. Unlike the more matured, learned, and martial arts skilled Dan-se, Han-sung is more of the happy-go-lucky type. He hates the responsibilities and etiquettes forced on to him, and has no affinity with all the politicking that the noble family are so fond of playing – like Ban-ryu and Su-ho, who both parrot their fathers’ political slant, juz…because.
Juz as much as Han-sung hates being tagged as a True Bone and having to bear the entire clan’s reputation on his unwilling shoulders, Dan-se is also smarting from being born a “half-blood”. Although he doesn’t resent his little brother most times, there are occasions where we see his pent-up jealousy and anger over the unfairness of the situation coming through. Such as the instance where he ruthlessly strikes down Han-sung on the pretext of “teaching” him swordplay, or his gritted teeth when he gets whipped, in Han-sung’s place, by his grandpa.
Thankfully, Hwarang School appears to be a safe, and sheltered place for the boys to sort out the issues among themselves. Cos Hwa-kong makes it quite clear that visitors, namely meddling parents, are not allowed in. (ok, with the exception of his boss, the Queen…who seems to visit quite too often)