Alchemy of Souls Review

Alchemy of Souls is a Korean drama currently streaming on Netflix. As someone who enjoys Korean movies, I saw this TV show as a chance to delve into the fantasy and romantic period drama genre, similar to popular Chinese TV shows.

While this genre isn’t my personal favorite, my wife enjoys it, so I saw it as an opportunity to see if this series is worth watching.

The plot

I didn’t discover anything particularly innovative in the plot; it essentially revolves around a conflict between clans vying for power or striving to maintain balance, which isn’t groundbreaking.

What intrigued me, however, was the portrayal of Korean culture during this period and how characters and archetypes were depicted.

Naturally, I was also curious to explore the introduction of magical elements in the story since I am very foreign to it.

Amidst all this, fate, love, and power undoubtedly take center stage in the plot. Overall, the narrative is quite entertaining, blending comedy, romance, a touch of action and suspense.

The archetypes

The archetypes bear a striking resemblance to those found in Western tales. This aspect piqued my curiosity the most, prompting me to delve deeper into understanding the main character of the story.


Naksu makes her debut in the first episode as an emotionally detached, formidable assassin seeking revenge. Despite her competence and power, the character is devoid of empathy, making it the original villain of the story.

We don’t gain much insight into this iteration of Naksu, apart from the fact that she is feared by everyone and was originally created by Jin Mu.


We have limited information about the original Mu Deok, other than the fact that Naksu inhabits her body and that she was originally very poor and blind. Typically, protagonists undergo some form of dramatic fate that helps shape their qualities. However, in this story, it’s quite different as we come to realize that this body actually belongs to Ji Bu Yeon, the heiress of Jinyowon.

The Mu-deok we’ll really get to know is actually Naksu which will slowly fall in love with the protagonist Jang Uk and develop a moral.

Jang Uk

Jang Uk emerges as perhaps the most intriguing character in the series. Initially portrayed as a weak and pampered aristocrat, he embodies traits of foolishness and selfishness.

However, his character arc takes a compelling turn as he is stripped of his power and confronted with a devastating secret that jeopardizes world peace.

This setup provides him with the opportunity for character development and growth. Ultimately, he will demonstrate that despite his foolishness and laziness, he does have a compassionate heart and is capable of selflessness.

Seo Yul

Seo Yul epitomizes the ideal man. Not only is he strikingly handsome, but he also excels academically, possesses formidable strength, and upholds impeccable morals.

The problem with this Gary Stu character is that he lacks flaws, consequently hindering any potential for character development and a meaningful character arc.

What’s intriguing is that despite women being drawn to him, they struggle to establish a meaningful relationship. It’s possible that women are inclined to choose someone with flaws or less obedient in order to foster personal growth within the relationship.

Go Won

Go Won embodies the classic archetype of the king’s son, inheriting everything from his status to his power.

Typically, such characters struggle to discern between competence and privilege. However, they’ve provided depth to his character in this instance.

Despite his initial arrogance, he consistently questions himself and exhibits moral integrity. I would argue that he is the most morally upright character within his clan.

Jin Mu

Jin Mu is the vilain of the story. Obsessed with power and eternal life, he is devoid of any form of moral.

His existence revolves around scheming to acquire more power by sowing chaos around him. It’s remarkable that he has managed to survive for so long despite being caught red-handed numerous times.

Honestly, I find his manipulative tendencies quite transparent and easily identifiable. The show felt more coherent when he was collaborating with the fake Queen or Shaman Choi.

Jin Bu-yeon

Originally, Jin Bu-Yeon was the heiress of Jinyowon. However, in this version, she is the revived daughter of Jin Ho Kyung. After losing her memory, she inherits the soul and appearance of Naksu.

Portrayed by Go Young Jung, this character possesses breathtaking beauty with flawless facial features. In addition to her perfect appearance, she exudes a sweetness and kindness that was absent in the original Naksu character.

Perhaps her only shortcoming is her lack of experience, having been confined by her overbearing mother. Nonetheless, she remains an endearing character and undoubtedly embodies selflessness and moral integrity. Her affection for Jang Uk is rather difficult to explain, likely attributed to fate.

The visuals

While I wouldn’t consider this TV show among the most artistically crafted in terms of cinematography, I must acknowledge that the production design and aesthetic are truly remarkable.

The locations, lighting, and costumes are flawless, effectively transporting us into this alternate universe and time period.

I am genuinely impressed by the talent of the costume designers, hair stylists, and makeup artists. As a photography enthusiast, I would absolutely relish the opportunity to conduct a photoshoot within this captivating setting.

Every aspect, from the colors to the architecture and decorations, has been meticulously crafted to align with the personality of each character.

Despite the film having a modern appearance compared to the era it depicts, the aesthetic remains very pleasing and appropriate. The inclusion of volumetric light, achieved through the use of smoke machines, high contrast and mist filters, certainly enhances the atmosphere.

The soundtrack

The soundtrack is wonderfully contemporary, perfectly complementing the romantic adventure storyline.

Now, I can grasp the allure of Korean dramas, as I’ve attempted to explore in this article. There’s a sense of purity to them.

These dramas often prioritize symbolism and romance between characters over intimate portrayals of their relationships.

The actors

It goes without saying that the casting is flawless. Initially, my wife and I were a bit surprised that the main character, Jang Uk, didn’t strike us as stunning at first glance. However, over time, we came to appreciate the charm he exudes.

I believe Mu Deok is likely the most beloved character, as she truly embodies the essence of the true protagonist. She radiates a humble sense of familiarity, which is fitting given her role as a maid.

Nevertheless, she also exhibits a poised and innocent demeanor, complemented by a flawless smirk and a clever personality.

I appreciate how Asian actors excel in delivering nuanced performances, skillfully expressing emotions through facial expressions and body language.

Their ability to transition between serious roles and more light-hearted ones is impressive. A prime example is Jang Uk, who started off as goofy in the first season and evolved into a stoic character in the second.


8.0 out of 10.

Alchemy of Souls is undoubtedly a standout series on Netflix, offering a captivating introduction to the fantasy period drama genre.

As an avid admirer of Korean culture, I deeply appreciate the purity portrayed in their stories and characters. Exploring how archetypes are depicted in different cultures always fascinates me, and in this regard, this show certainly did not disappoint.

While it may not be the most intricately crafted or well-written series at times, and can be somewhat repetitive, its ultimate entertainment value and meaningful themes make it worthwhile.

This show has inspired me to create themed portraits for my photography portfolio.


Alchemy of Souls

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Written by dudeoi

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