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Alchemy of Souls 환혼 [2022-2023]


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Just finished the pilot episode. I think this is a keeper. The special effects were just nice, not overly done. The story is intriguing, the characters are interesting, especially our FL and ML. And then there is humor too, balancing well with the element of suspense and tension. Some well done action scenes as well. Enjoying it a lot. Hope it will continue to maintain the tone throughout and not turn draggy or lose steam towards the end. 

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Currently watching: Lies // Touch // Time // Lost // Moving

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Watched the first episode, and the plot is actually pretty interesting. I had to laugh at the disclaimer up front that this is set in a world that does not exist where mages live and control the world. LOL So, hopefully no complaints about various clothing, etc, while also allowing them to do fusion stuff.


Recap of the first episode in the spoiler.


There is a mage who is a chief advisor to the king who has been developing a way to put souls in other bodies, so that the souls could live on. So far, he's been using dead bodies for these transplanted souls, but eventually these new transplants go rogue and murderous. There is a bit of a zombie vibe that the bodies eventually rebel against their soul or something, but fresh human blood can help the body stabilize for a little longer.


The king says that with his weak body, he can't do anything, and asks the mage to trade bodies with him for just 7 days. The mage, with great apprehension, agrees to do so. As soon as the souls have switched bodies, the king (in his transplant body) tells the mage that he's going to go seduce his wife and impregnate her, and when she has the baby, it will be his child and not the mage's child. The mage is upset at this, but can't seem to reverse the souls in time to prevent that from happening.


Forward 20 years to where the mages who rule the world are chasing after an assassin named Naksu. She is someone who is able to put her soul into another body as she wants to, though she leaves a blue mark on their bodies indicating that she has possessed them.


The collective of mages headed by Park Jin wound her, then try to chase her down. Naksu causes her soul to be transplanted to a new body, but for some unknown reason, the body she inhabits if a weak, blind orphan named MuDeok. For some reason, she is unable to tap into her own powers, but she finds that she has healed MuDeok of her blindness so that she can see. MD also doesn't have the telltale blue mark of a soul possession either.


MuDeok has been sold to a gisang house when her grandmother who had been taking care of her died in order to pay off her bills. At the gisang house, Mu Deok runs into Wook, who is the son of the powerful mage we had met initially.


Wook's father apparently had put a curse on Wook so that he is unable to do spells and can't even touch magical items. The rumors had it that it was because Wook's mother had an affair with another man, so that Wook was not actually his father's son. As such, Wook has been looking for a master who can release him from his curse and enable him to cast spells. 


Wook recognizes MuDeok as someone special and speculates that she is Naksu, though we don't find this out until the end of the episode. Rather, initially MD is thinking to steal something so that she can get money, but Wook tells her to take a jade ornament from his clothes since that is worth more. As MD takes it and is fleeing, she notices that Wook has a seal on him that is the seal to the mages' home.


Later on, as MD tries to sell Wook's trinket, she's arrested by the police. She wakes up to find that Wook has purchased her and made her a part of his household. She wonders if Wook has fallen for her, but instead he uses her as a personal servant, being various capricious in his demands.


Eventually, MD gets an opportunity to steal the seal and goes to the mages' place. There, she witnesses an intrusion into the mages' place, the intruders have come and stolen NS' body and affects. She thinks it was the head assassin, who had also given her her order to kill Park Jin, who probably ordered the retrieval of her last human body and things.


MD is about to be discovered on the grounds as the mages search for the intruders, but Wook saves her. When MD asks what Wook wants, he tells her that she is going to be his master and he would be her disciple. This is when we see that Wook recognized MD as someone special from their initial meet.


There is another side story about NS having a whistle carved like a bird on her. It was carved for her by Seo Yool when they were both still children. NS thinks that SY has probably forgotten her, but Yool has not forgotten her, and is surprised to see the bird whistle. I think this will set up a love triangle of some kind.


We also see a bit of NS' background where she saw her father killed when she was a child. This is presumably why NS became an assassin of mages in the first place.


I probably won't write any more recaps after this, but I was actually impressed with the amount of story telling and world building this episode accomplished even while bringing in the two leads and letting them interact.


When Jung So Min has a good role, she shines with her ability to make her character so relatable, cultivating a desire by the viewers to see and know more about her. Here, JSM is able to play the naive and silly MD, even as she keeps her inner NS in check except for those times when her rope is reached and NS comes out in full force. It's JSM's ability to go MD to NS, even if MD is mostly a facade that makes her character intriguing as well as the overall premise fun.


Lee Jae Wook is pretty fantastic as well as he is in turn the spoiled youth who grew up with everything, the shrewd judge of character which enables him to read people's intents, and the frustrated young man who is on his personal quest.


And, actually, I like the chemistry between Wook and MD as well. I think it'll be fun to watch their journey together as they both have something to prove, and perhaps they need each other as well.


This episode presented a lot of mysteries to resolve in future episodes, and with the chemistry between JSM and LJW, it feels as if it's going to be fun watch as they balance humor, makjang, and fantasy.

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Translation of the pre-release for ep 2 that @Tofu posted.



Dang Gu: Hey Wook! While you were hiding out at Jeongjingak, did you see anything suspicious?
Wook: Suspicious? No. I only saw Mu Deok.
DG: Perhaps Nak Su has taken the body of a different woman and then come back for her own body?
Wook: However, does a woman only enter the body of another woman?
Yool: There isn’t any reason why they couldn’t (take on the body of a man instead), however, in order to minimize the antagonism between soul and body, then they have to take the body of as similar a person as possible. Gender, age, physique all need to be similar, is what I’ve heard.
Wook: I guess it’s because I’ve never seen her, but does Nak Su have such short and skinny arms and legs, and is so round? Like Mu Deok?
MD: This jerk! Why does he keep being like this?
DG: If she looked like her, do you think that she would have been given the scary nickname of ‘Nak Su’? Look. Just look, she looks so cute, so how could she be?
MD: That’s true. Nak Su probably looks like a monster.
Yool: No.


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thank you for your translation 😂

The chemistry between JSM and LJW is perfect for me, their characters are different yet so compatible. I can't wait to see how their relation will grow. 


The first scene, NakSu fighting with the mages was so 🤯 The acting was so good, the visual effects... So powerful! 


I loved everything about the first ep, the tension, the introduction of the characters one by one, their looks, the action scenes, the funny lines... All the genres that I like are combined in this drama: Historical, comedy, romance, action 😌 and I'm so happy that Somin is part of it, she's doing great, interpreting 2 characters with opposite personalities. Being able to switch from the weak Mu Deok to the fierce NakSu👌 


All the cast is doing great. I also like the playfulness of LJW's character, at the same time he's so manly (not surprised) and the mysterious side and sensitivity of HMH. 

The actress playing the real NakSu is so good. 


Let's wait for tonight 🥰

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Having watched episode 2, I am really impressed. I actually liked episode 2 better than episode 1 as it builds on the world and on the stories of MD/NS and Wook.


She was more NS than MD in episode 2 and I love that she's so in character. She's a merciless assassin of mages, so even though she acknowledges that Wook has done things for her to keep her safe and thus she perhaps owes him something, she's willing to gamble with his life to get what she thinks she needs. And, it's only fitting that it's what he wants as well.


Wook, for his part, continues to show the quick thinking and determination that is a trademark of his character. He may be the arrogant, louche noble family son to his peers. but that is a veneer for the steel of his soul who is determined not to accept his powerless fate.


I think the only thing that I'm slightly confused about is whether there is supposed to be any romance between MD and Wook. The drama seems to be trying to draw a love square with NS having a past with Yool, and Wook having broken off his engagement to Jin Cho Yeon who clearly still has feelings for him. However, despite a lot of amazing chemistry and some scenes which have them in close shots, there isn't much hint of interest or even awareness of MD and Wook for each other. However, that's probably fitting as well since both MD and Wook have a lot that they're trying to figure out as it is.


Anyway, love the progress of the drama, and I think it does have me hooked despite it having a huge dose of political powerplay and probably lots of tears at some point. The light-hearted humor is just to lull us viewers and get us hooked before bringing the full weight of the makjang down on us. And it worked, for me at least.  :pandapopcorn:


Btw, the cinematography is pretty spectacular in this drama, with its blend of camera work and CGI. The shot of MD falling down into the Great Lake Gyeoncheon was really beautiful.


One last comment, the translation for the lake keep calling it Lake Gyeoncheondaeho. However "dae ho" actually means "great lake", so it's properly Great Lake Gyeoncheon. If anyone is interested, "dae" is actually a prefix that means "great" and "ho" is short for "ho-su" which means "lake".

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I keep thinking about this drama.


There's been plenty of foreshadowing already that a transplanted soul can have a difficult time in the host body. However, NS' own body has now been burned, so what does that mean for NS' soul?


Also, I can't remember if anything happened to MD's original soul? The King and Jang Gang had switched souls for awhile so they both had a body. Transplanted souls into dead people ultimately become rocks when they are killed after they go rogue. However, it doesn't really addressed what happens when a soul takes on a living body.


Also, now that we know that Jin Mu is the leader of the assassins who is trying for a power grab, it makes me wonder if JM has been Danja all along or whether Danja has transplanted his soul into JM. If it's a transplant, then he's been in the body for a long time since we see that JM is the one who takes on NS after her family is murdered and burned.


I hope the drama remains consistent and addresses these issues even via a passing remark.

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@stroppyse thank you for your explanation about meaning of Daeho. Do not hesitate to share with us your knowledge about Korean words. 


It's too early to see a glimpse of romance between MD and JW. Better this way. They just agreed to work together so if something might happen between them, hope that it will come "cheonchoni" 😊


I was wondering the same thing about MD's real soul. Where did she go? 


Anyway no need to precise that I really liked ep 2. Can't wait to see MD and JW training and working together to achieve their goals. 

The ending scene was so beautiful. 

Edited by SsomGem
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