Alchemy of Souls
Starring: Lee Jae Wook, Jung So Min, Hwang Min Hyun, Shin Seung Ho, Yoo Joon Sang, Oh Na Ra
Year Released: 2022
Number of Episodes: Drama, Action, Fantasy, Historical, Romance
Country: South Korea
Director: Park Joon Hwa
Screenwriter: Hong Jung Eun, Hong Mi Ran
Where I Watched It: Netflix
Recommended By: Therese
Who I Watched It For: Go Yoon Jung
Set in a fictional country called Daeho that does not exist in history or on maps, it is about the love and growth of young mages as they overcome their twisted fates due to a forbidden magic spell known as the “alchemy of souls”, which allows souls to switch bodies.
It follows the story of an elite assassin named Naksu, whose soul is accidentally trapped inside the weak body of Mu Deok, Jang Uk’s servant, from a powerful and noble mage family in the country. The young master of the Jang Family, Jang Uk, holds a dark secret about his scandalous birth. He wants the formidable assassin to help change his destiny.
I almost didn’t watch this show because I wasn’t that interested in the premise but then my best friend told me that she was watching it and enjoying it so I took one more look and saw that my girl, Go Yoon Jung from Law School was in this one and I was immediately in. I’m so glad that I started it too because this is hands down my favorite drama of 2022. Therese and I have been obsessed wth this show since we started it. I was on pins and needles every single week and every single week, I was left wanting more. I adored the chemistry between Jang Uk and Mudeok, but I also enjoyed the story being told, and the other characters, and I just had a blast watching this.
The story follows Naksu, a trained assassin, as she tries to carry out her lifelong vengeance against every family that had a hand in the killing of her father. When she gets in over her head, she uses her magic to shift her soul into a random woman, in the village she was in so that she can save herself and figure out a way to come back from this setback. When Jang Uk asks her for her help in exchange for his silence about who she is and what she’s done, they enter into a mutual working relationship. She, as Mudeok, is maidservant to Jang Uk, a mage with no magic from one of the powerful families in Daeho.
He needs her help in unlocking his magic and she needs his help in keeping her soul-shifting secret while she figures a way out of the mess she’s in. Seeing these two battle their own individual struggles and then fall in love with each other and then battle everything together made for a very interesting drama. One that I’m very glad that I watched from beginning to end.
Jang Uk was my absolute favorite part of this show. There’s a lot to unpack with his character. When we first meet him, he’s down on his luck, trying to unlock his magic with the help of different teachers but so far, nobody has been able to help him. He’s the laughingstock of Daeho and yet, he’s got a stubborn streak a mile wide and he doesn’t know the meaning of give up. When he comes across the assassin Naksu, he asks her to help him unlock his magic and he’ll keep her secret. Seeing him work his ass off to unlock his magic, fall on his ass from trying all day and all night, and getting back up to try again made me soft for him. Like, all over soft for him. He was an amazing hero that I loved cheering for. He made cheering for him with each passing episode worth it and him being fine as hell didn’t hurt.
The love that blossomed between him and Mudeok (Naksu) had me hooked to my seat every single week. I am a sucker for a good romance and Jang Uk’s love for Mudeok was everything that I hoped it would and more. I loved Jang Uk in love. His character arc was interesting, it was fun, and I absolutely loved it and him.
I’ve only watched Jung So Min in one drama and I hated that drama so much that I never watched her in much of anything else. I’m glad that I was re-introduced to her again because I really liked her character in this drama. She played Mudeok really well and I rooted for her like crazy. She was a hard nut to crack but Jang Uk cracked it.
She was smart and she was savvy, but she was also a bit soft on the inside. Sure, her softness was hidden so deep that it was hard to see right off the bat but you could totally see Jang Uk’s influence over her and it was just so stinkin’ great. I loved that she grew close to him and that knowing him, changed her for the better. She really holds her own against pretty everything and everyone and you can’t help but respect the hell out of her. Often times, everyone loves the female lead but you don’t really know why (hello, Bella Swan) but it’s not hard to see why everyone loved and wanted Mudeok. She was that bitch and even though I started this show for the real Naksu, I still really liked Mudeok.
From Yul to the Crown Prince, to Dang Gu to the brothel woman and the granddaughter, Maidserveant Kim, there are a lot of wonderful characters. Each and every single character brought their own charms to the story and made me a fan of them all. There wasn’t a weak link amongst this cast and for every character that I loved, there was a character that I hated just as much but even the characters that I hated had me interested in what they were up to and how my favorite characters were going to take them down.
There were a lot of familiar faces in this cast and I had a fantastic time watching them every week. The story, the cast, the romance, all of it made for a great tv viewing experience and I’m just the happiest camper that right now, the second season is under way and I’m enjoying these characters all over again.
I think what really set this drama apart from all of the other dramas that I watched this year was the chemistry between Jang Uk and Mudeok. They worked really well together and they really sold the roles that they played. They were a lot of fun to get to know and their individual stories, along with their shared story was one for the books. You start off rooting for Jang Uk to unlock his gate of energy and then you start rooting for Mudeok to find her jade stone, for them to finally be able to happy and in love, but in the end, you’re left shocked to your core that their story isn’t done and you have to wait months to find out how their story officially wraps up.
Along with some other pretty fantastic and colorful characters that carried the show well when Jang Uk and Mudeok weren’t at the center, the story is so well written and brought to life that I can’t find fault with anything, not even the way that the show ended. I’m good and well hooked on this show, the characters, and the main romance. While I didn’t like every single character in this show (hello, Jin Mu and well, all of the Jin’s along with the fake blind girl can all take a hike), there was too much substance and so much great storytelling that I loved this show to death. So, so much.
5 out of 5