K-Drama Review: ‘Alchemy of Souls: Light and Shadow’ Returned with Heartfelt Romance

alchemy of souls review

Edited by Seo Hae Lan
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

(*This article contains spoilers)

alchemy of souls review
Credit: tvN

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Alchemy of Souls that dismayed the viewers in August returned after four months with part 2 titled Alchemy of Souls: Light and Shadow. The proud decision to divide the drama into two parts was finally put to the test. Part 2 has to capture the fans of part 1, all the while appealing to the new audiences – will this new project be able to satisfy everyone?

Part 1 ended as Jang Uk (Lee Jae Wook) came back to life with the power of the ice stone and as Mu Deok’s body got pulled out of Lake Gyeoncheondaeho. Three years later, Jang Uk became the greatest sorcerer and the soul-shifter hunter, enduring the pain of losing his lover and the power that a mere human can’t control. Then one day, he meets a woman locked in an annex, and that woman is none other than Jin Bu Yeon, the eldest daughter of the Jin Family who’s been missing for a long time. When she recognizes the presence of the ice stone in Jang Uk’s body, Jang Uk believes that her “great divine power” will be able to pull out the stone. Jang Uk helps Bu Yeon escape and frees her from Jin Ho Kyung (Park Eun Hye)’s clutches by announcing her as his wife. Bu Yeon tries her best to recover her memory with the help of her pretend husband, and the more she gains her memories back, the more Jang Uk feels the emotions that he’d sealed deep inside his heart start to waver.

The biggest difference between part 1 and part 2 is the change in the cast. Jung So Min, who played Nak Su/Mu Deok in part 1, exited the show and Go Youn Jung stepped into her shoes. Naturally, part 2 starts with two challenges. First question, how will they explain the change in the character’s appearance? Alchemy of Soul explains it with “energy.” Jin Ho Kyung pulls out Mu Deok’s body from Lake Gyeoncheondaeho and decides to capture Nak Su’s soul within the body to take advantage of the divine power dwelling in her daughter’s body. Master Lee (Im Chul Soo) heals the stoned body by removing Bu Yeon’s spirit and opening Nak Su’s energy, and in that process, the face changed for the body and the soul to be in sync. In other words, the character that Go Youn Jung plays is Nak Su who became Jin Bu Yeon after losing all her memory and energy. The loss of memory has turned her into a lively and candid young lady instead of an assassin.

alchemy of souls review
Credit: tvN

Second question, will Jang Uk and Mu Deok’s romance be touching and affectionate enough with the new face? Part 2 begins with a romance between Jang Uk, who can’t let go of his dead lover, with Bu Yeon, a beautiful yet eccentric woman who’s walked into his life. The two get involved through a contract marriage, but Jang Uk encourages Bu Yeon, who’s been locked up all her life after losing her memory and energy, while Bu Yeon consoles Jang Uk, who lives in the pain of losing his lover. Viewers know that Bu Yeon is Nak Su that Jang Uk dearly loved, so their story feels all the more affectionate. What choice will Bu Yeon make after she recovers all her memories? How will Jang Uk protect his love after finding out that his lover he thought was dead fell in love with him all over again?

So how will Alchemy of Souls unravel this huge love story in just ten episodes? The Alchemy of Souls worldview and the relationship between Jang Uk and Nak Su were solidified in the 20 episodes of part 1. Now that everything is explained, part 2 just rushes forward. Anyone who knows Jang Uk and Mu Deok from part 1 will find the cold Jang Uk and whimsical Bu Yeon a bit off. Also, they’ll understand why the people of Daeho don’t believe Jang Uk and Bu Yeon’s marriage to be real, welcome Bu Yeon getting to know Seo Yul (Hwang Min Hyun) and Go Won (Shin Seung Ho), and worry about Jin Moo (Jo Jae Yoon)’s scheme to take down Jang Uk. Above all, they probably can’t wait for the thrilling moment Jang Uk finds his dear lover in Bu Yeon.

Those curious about Alchemy of Souls will ask the following question: Do I have to see part 1 to enjoy part 2? You’ll understand what’s happening after watching the summary clip tvN released, but if you truly want to enjoy the characters’ growth and relationship and the heart-fluttering romance, I highly recommend you start from part 1. Actually, you’ll find yourself watching part 1 if you find yourself helplessly lost in Jang Uk and Bu Yeon’s love in part 2. Maybe the story will provide a whole new fun if you already know the ending. (8/10)


Editor Seo Hae Lan: I’m not picky and like all genres. I am in constant search of a balance between criticism and a fan’s heart.


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