I will admit River Where the Moon Rises is not perfect in its storytelling, but the actors are such gems each in their role that they keep coming for more. Lee Ji Hoon is one of those actors. I appreciate how he navigates Go Geon with his complicated allegiances and priorities but more so what he is willing to do for what he wants, even if it turns him into a villain.
I enjoy how Go Geon maneuvers his relationship with his father, the same with Mo Yong, brilliant. I knew he'd use her secret when it suited to him. And the truth or dare game was the perfect way of letting her know he knows. He is by far the most captivating character in this drama. And as much as he says he loves the Princess, he seems to be caught up in his loyalty to his father and his tribe. I wonder if he understands what it means to love.
Kang Ha Neul as General On Hyub is another. I wish he had a more substantive role, but he exudes interest and intrigue with the momentary glimpses of him even as a cameo. And so is Choi Yoo Hwa as Mo Yong. I don't pity Mo Yong; whatever situation she finds herself in now is her own doing, even her complicated relationship between Go Geon and his father. Even though she fears the father, it speaks volumes that she trusts the son. And as she finds herself falling for Go Geon, she will soon have to choose between fulfilling her duties as Silla's spy and chasing her heart. And maybe her loyalty to him will endear her to him.
And, of course, Kim So Hyun as Princess Pyeonggang, with her foresight, fairness, wittiness, strength, and will to not only defy corruption but go against it with all her power, makes her so endearing. Credit should be given where it's due, and Na In Woo has done a fantastic job portraying On Dal, not just as a fool but a man who, despite all the odds, does what is needed to protect the woman he loves, even taking up a sword. There is no disputing how perfectly both Lee Hae Young and Wang Bit Na portray their evilness as Go Won Pyo and Royal Consort Jin/Queen. Without a doubt, Go Won Pyo is far superior to anyone else in the royal court or outside it. He is mesmerizing in his role. But so is Park Sang Hoon as the Crown Prince in the limited time we have seen him on screen he has been capturing.
I cannot, of course, forget Kim Bup Rae as King Pyeongwon. Despite him having been a puppet King for a long time, I've loved his transformation as he found a strong ally in his daughter and Go Geon, even if he's doing it for his own purposes. And things only seem to get more complicated as Goguryeo's political environment grows more complex; with the many different groups and parties all converging, it's becoming hard to differentiate the allies from the foes and even harder choose the right side.