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A Must Watch: Alchemy of Souls

A Korean high fantasy about love, politics, and dark magic.

ᜌᜓᜃᜒ (雪亮 | 스노 | Yuki)

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Alchemy of Souls (환혼) premiered last week on tvN and Netflix. This is the latest project by the renowned Hong sisters (《Hotel del Luna》 review, My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho, Hong Gil Dong).

Here is a short rundown and quick feedback about the premier of this live-action Korean pantasya (ᜉᜈ᜔ᜆᜐ᜔ᜌ).

Synopsis

Daeho is a country of magic users hidden from the world. There are four powerful clans of mages—the Jang, Seo/Heo, Park, and Jin. It is a country not in any historical records nor in any maps.

Jang Uk grew up with his magic sealed by his father. He continually searches for a master powerful enough to break the seal and teach him magic, magic that is rightfully his, until his path crossed with Mu Deok.

Alchemy of Souls (환혼): King's Court

Alchemy of Souls (환혼)

King’s Court

The work shown above is Copyrighted to Netflix.

Alchemy of Souls (환혼): Mu Deok empowered

Alchemy of Souls (환혼)

Mu Deok empowered

The work shown above is Copyrighted to Netflix.

Mu Deok is Jang Uk’s new personal maid who has a deep secret, her body was taken over by Nak Su, the most feared mage assassin, after performing the alchemy of souls—the most forbidden of all dark art spells.

Together, they embark on a fantastical journey of magic, romance, and survival in a country filled with politics, dark magic, and martial arts.

What is Alchemy of Souls (환혼)

Alchemy of Souls (환혼) is a Korean pantasya (ᜉᜈ᜔ᜆᜐ᜔ᜌ) about magic, love, politics, and martial arts. It was penned by the popular duo, the Hong sisters. It tells the story about two souls who were wronged in their childhood and is looking for justice and revenge. Yet there are forces greater than them that may spell doom to the nation of Daeho, and possibly the magic users and magic itself.

Mu Deok is played by Jung So Min (정소민), a personal maid of Jang Uk. She is actually Nak Su, the most feared mage assassin and who is seeking revenge for the murder of her clan. However, after performing the alchemy of souls, she inadvertedly taken over the body of Mu Deok, who is weak and seemingly have no pathways to magic.

Alchemy of Souls (환혼): Nak Su

Alchemy of Souls (환혼)

Go Yoon Jung (고윤정) as Nak Su

The work shown above is Copyrighted to Netflix.

Alchemy of Souls (환혼): Mu Deok

Alchemy of Souls (환혼)

Jung So Min (정소민) as Mu Deok

The work shown above is Copyrighted to Netflix.

Meanwhile her master, Jang Uk (played by Lee Jae Wook (이재욱)) is the son of the most powerful mage in Daeho. His magic was sealed by his father for his lineage has a dark secret. He is training under his personal maid Mu Deok—whose soul is Nak Su the assassin.

Show details

  • Native title: 환혼
  • English title: Alchemy of Souls
  • Episodes: 20
  • Length: 80 min. per episode
  • Network: tvN and Netflix
  • Screenwriters: Hong sisters
  • Director: Park Joon Hwa (박준화)
Alchemy of Souls (환혼) is Dungeons & Dragons meets East Asian high fantasy.

The Four Clans

There are four powerful mage clans in Daeho. Each have promising young mages who may one day become very powerful and rule the nation, they are also known as the Four Seasons of Daeho for their unmatched beauty.

Jang clan

Alchemy of Souls (환혼): Jang Uk

Alchemy of Souls (환혼)

Lee Jae Wook (이재욱) as Jang Uk

The work shown above is Copyrighted to Netflix.

  1. Jang Kang
    • The current head of Cheonbugwan (천부관).
    • The father of Jang Uk.
    • Highly respected and powerful mage.
    • Secretly knows the forbidden dark magic spell alchemy of souls.
    • Left the nation to study after sealing his son’s magic.
  2. Jang Uk
    • Actor: Lee Jae Wook (이재욱)
    • One of the Four Seasons of Daeho.
      • As dazzling as the Winter snow.
    • Secretly training under Mu Deok (Nak Su the assassin).
    • Successor of Jang Kang if he can unsheath his father’s mage sword.

Seo/Heo clan

Alchemy of Souls (환혼): Sejukwon (세주원)

Alchemy of Souls (환혼)

Sejukwon (세주원)

The work shown above is Copyrighted to Netflix.

  1. Heo Yeom
    • The current head of Sejukwon (세주원).
  2. Queen Seo Ha Sun
    • The aunt of Seo Yul.
  3. Seo Yul
    • Actor: Hwang Min Hyun (황민현)
    • One of the Four Seasons of Daeho.
      • As noble as the sunset in Fall.
    • The crush of Nak Su (Mu Deok).
    • Cousin of Crown Prince Go Won (played by Shin Seung Ho (신승호)).

Park clan

  1. Park Jin
    • The current head of Songrim (송림).
    • The uncle of Park Dang Gu.
  2. Park Dang Gu
    • Actor: Yoo In Soo (유인수)
    • One of the Four Seasons of Daeho.
      • The energy of a hot Summer.
    • Successor of Park Jin.

Jin clan

Alchemy of Souls (환혼): Cheonbugwan (천부관)

Alchemy of Souls (환혼)

Cheonbugwan (천부관)

The work shown above is Copyrighted to Netflix.

  1. Jin Ho Kyung
    • The current head of Jinyowon (진여원).
    • Mother of Jin Cho Yeon.
    • Half-sister of Jin Moo.
  2. Jin Moo
    • Temporary head of Cheonbugwan (천부관) in the absence of Jang Kang.
    • Was trained to cast the dark magic spell alchemy of souls by Jang Kang.
    • Former student of Jang Kang.
    • Leader of the assassins.
    • Trained Nak Su (Mu Deok) to be an assassin.
    • Planning to take over Cheonbugwan (천부관).
  3. Jin Cho Yeon
    • Actor: Choi Ye Won (최예원)
    • One of the Four Seasons of Daeho.
      • The vitality of Spring.
    • Was betrothed to Jang Uk but he cancelled the wedding.

Production

Alchemy of Souls (환혼): Mu Deok

Alchemy of Souls (환혼)

Mu Deok

The work shown above is Copyrighted to Netflix.

In the first two episodes, the production team and the cast has proven that Alchemy of Souls (환혼) is not an ordinary East Asian fantasy live-action show. The performance of the actors was above and beyond, surpassing all fantasy and period dramas in any country. The background music was chosen perfectly to bring in the spirit of a fantasy adventure usually seen only in video games. The set is also amazing. They brought out the best of East Asian art without sacrificing the feeling of how grand and majestic this secret nation of magic users.

Alchemy of Souls (환혼) is Dungeons & Dragons meets East Asian high fantasy. What is a grand city with huge walls, busy scenes, and CGI effects if the characters are shallow and the story is all over the place? This Asian high fantasy is a live-action show with depth of story, character development, solid background/history, simplicity in design yet with strong visuals, qualities missing in many Western high fantasy live-action films and TV series.

Looking for a true live-action high fantasy? Look no further, Alchemy of Souls (환혼) is what fans all over the world are waiting for.

Official trailer

Alchemy of Souls | Official Trailer | Netflix [ENG SUB]

A fearless warrior is trapped in the body of a young woman… who happens to be a lowly house servant to a mischievous nobleman. Will she be the one to tame him, or will he drive her up the wall with his antics?

ALCHEMY OF SOULS is the latest fantasy romance drama from the Hong Sisters (HOTEL DEL LUNA) and stars Lee Jae-wook (EXTRAORDINARY YOU), Jung So-min (BECAUSE THIS IS MY FIRST LIFE), and Hwang Min-hyun (LIVE ON).

The work shown above is Copyrighted to The Swoon.


・ Cover image: The cover image used in this article is Copyrighted to Netflix.

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