First Impression: Alchemy of Souls

Drama Profile

Title: Alchemy of Souls
Main Cast: Lee Jae-wook, Jung So-min, Hwang Min-hyun, Yoo Jun-sang, Oh Na-ra
Writer: Hong Jung-eun and Hong Mi-ran (Hotel del Luna, Hwayugi, Master’s Sun, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho)
PD: Park Joon-hwa (Touch Your Heart, What’s Wrong With Secretary Kim, Because This Is My First Life)
Timeslot: Saturday and Sunday /
Network: tvN, Netflix
Episodes: 20
Genre: Fantasy Romance

Plot Synopsis:

A powerful sorceress in a blind woman’s body encounters a man from a prestigious family, who wants her help to change his destiny. (sourced from Netflix)

Grumpy’s First Impression

It’s an enchanted world full of magical spells for Jung So-min and Lee Jae-wook’s new drama. The Hong Sisters are known for their elaborate world-building combined with an eccentric squad and a tough heroine. It’s a tried and tested formula that never fails to capture its audience every time. Despite the fact that their work is a mixed bag, I always look forward to their dramas because they know how to create memorable characters with just the right amount of warmth and mystery.

The first two episodes of Alchemy of Souls gave a familiar vibe, similar to Chinese dramas or fantasy manhwa. At times, it felt like a fusion of Harry Potter and Doctor Strange in an ancient Korean setting. I also see a semblance of Hwayugi (maybe again because of the Chinese origin) and Hotel del Luna (because of the dark fantasy theme). Overall, Alchemy of Souls is an interesting show and definitely one of my favorites this season.

The drama has two major plotlines. First, the birth secret of the King’s son, Jang Wook (Lee Jae-wook). The story starts with an intricate depiction of soul-shifting and how it connects the drama’s major characters.

At the center of the drama lies Lake Gyeongcheondaeho, a body of water that embodies the high energy from the skies and surrounds the fictional country of Daeho. Humans who have the power to control this enormous energy are called mages. The pilot episode introduced us to the forbidden spell known as the alchemy of souls, a black magic that can make one’s soul shift to another host. It is banned by mages because a soul shifter can run wild and feed another human soul’s energy. A crack forms when the bodies clash with the souls they carry. It is a dangerous form of sorcery, and only a select number of mages can perform it.

Jang Gang, one of the most powerful mages in Daeho, was summoned by the King (cameo by Park Byung-eun) to secretly shift souls with him. While posing as Jang Gang, the childless King tricked his wife into bed, resulting in an unexpected pregnancy. I honestly don’t know how science works in this universe because, technically, it’s still Jang Gang’s human body that impregnated his wife-it is just hosting a different soul. But then again, only Gang knows what really happened and had no memory of lovemaking when Wook was conceived, which makes him accept the King’s statement that Wook is a royal. 

Twenty years later, Jang Wook is all grown up but currently lives under the curse of his mage father. Jang Gang had to close Wook’s energy gate, which means he can not learn any magical spells as long as he lives. Maybe this is because he wants to protect Wook’s identity or he just plainly hates the poor boy to deprive him of being a mage. This unprecedented measure prompts rumors about Wook being born out of his mother’s affair. It’s unfair to both mother and son, really. But this is where Wook’s angst stems from, and I can’t wait to witness his growth and reclaim his throne as the rightful King!

Now we go to the impressive female lead, Nak-su/Mu-deok. Nak-su (Go Yoon-jung) is a shadow assassin whose task is to kill mages. We have yet to see her real master, but all we know for now is that she was severely attacked by the group of Songrim leader Park Jin (Yoo Jun-sang). Before dying, Nak-su managed to soul-shift but accidentally entered the body of a blind weakling, Mu-deok (Jung So-min). The adventure begins when the once bloodthirsty serial assassin is forced to live in disguise in the frail body of a slave!

We met Mu-deok as a countryside maid sold off to a gisaeng house/bar. Here she caught the attention of Wook, who is a regular patron at the bar along with his famous friends. I love their first encounter and the near-death flirtation! Fight scene! Mu-deok/Nak-su learned that the heirs of the great mage families of Daeho are fondly called the Four Seasons: Spring fairy Jin Cho-yeon (Arin), Summer hottie Park Dang-gu (Yoo In-soo), Autumn genius Seo Yul (Hwang Minhyun), and, of course, my Winter baby Jang Wook. They will become Mu-deok/Nak-su’s path to revenge. Coincidentally, Wookie soon found out about Mu-deok’s real identity because of her eyes! Soulshifters leave a blue marble-like mark on their bodies, signifying that the soul has left their host. But in Mu-deok’s case, the blue marks are on her eyes! Is this why the blind Mu-deok can now see clearly after Nak-su possessed her? 

Aside from the main conflict brewing between Nak-su and the four families, I am also interested in the girl, Mu-deok, the host body. Where is her soul? And why was she the one possessed by Nak-su? Knowing the Hong Sisters, nothing is accidental. I’m sure the real Mu-deok plays a big part in the story; I hope she does. Because what happens after Nak-su has finished avenging?

I am also super invested in the Four Seasons! I can’t wait to watch the four friends’ interactions and how they support Wook when he’s the only one without magical power. Yul is also an interesting character, knowing his past connection with the real Nak-su. Will he realize that Nak-su is Mu-deok? Arghhh, Go Yoon-jung and Hwang Minhyun would have been a perfect couple!! Why do they have to do Nak-su dirty? Her body didn’t have to die.

So far, this is one of my must-watches every week! With the cliffhanger in Episode 2, I can already feel the chemistry between Mu-deok and Wook! Reverse role playing always gets me Looking forward to all the training sessions and love magical spells between our crazy master and pupil duo!

G Alley

🌊 Please tell me I’m not the only one shipping Park Jin and Maidservant Kim (Oh Na-ra)! Both are Wook’s dad and mom figures so it makes sense!

🌊 I can sense fun chaos with our main OTP! But since we don’t know yet where is the real Mu-deok’s soul, I am betting she’s trapped somewhere – maybe in the underwater abyss where the soulswaps take place?

🌊 Is Jang Gang dead?

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