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Currently streaming on Netflix.com. This Korean historical period drama fantasy TV series is extremely interesting. It’s all about soul shifters. “Soul shifting” is called “hwanhonsool”, which means the soul of the dead return to the living. By the way, this “Alchemy of Souls” or soul shifting is considered “dark magic” and should not be practiced. It is forbidden! But of course, that doesn’t stop people who have wicked evil plans from using it. “Forbidden” to them means use it and don’t get caught!
(1) Naksu, a powerful sorceress and a skilled assassin. She was being chased by others who wanted to kill her because … after all she was a skilled assassin who was taking out quite a few people. She was wounded and had to look for another body, so she shifted her soul into the body of sickly blind girl named Mu-deok.
OK! Rule Numer 1 about soul shifting: You should probably pick somebody with a strong healthy body who can see! Otherwise, you might be able to do all of those things fantastic and amazing things you used to be able to do when you were you!
Naksu/Mu-deok is played by Jung So-min.
(2) Jang Uk, the son of … ??? The question marks are because he does not know who his father is. All of his life, the man he believed was his father, turned out not to be his father. I immediately feel very sorry for an innocent who is born into this world through an act of malice or something sinister and they have to suffer while growing up, not knowing or understanding why people treat them “a certain way”. He is determined to to learn the secret, i.e. what is his true identity? He is also determined to accomplish other great things which he believes is his destiny.
Jang Uk and Mu-deok crossed paths because she is sent to work at a Gisaeng establishment. (NOTE: Per Wikipediaa “Gisaeng (Hangul: 기생, Hanja: 妓生, RR: Gisaeng), also called ginyeo (Hangul: 기녀, Hanja: 妓女), were women from outcast or slave families who were trained to be courtesans, providing artistic entertainment and conversation to men of upper class.”) Of course, she does not want to work there so she immediately tries to escape and runs into a room where Jang Uk has come to have dinner. He recognizes instantly that she is no common ordinary blind girl because there is something about her eyes. He wants to strike up with a relationship with her but all she wants to do is get away from him and everybody else.
What happened was that in the process of shifting souls she not only lost her powers as a sorceress, but she lost her sword that she used as an assassin.
Long story short, Jang Uk promises to help Naksu/Mu-deok get her sword back if she will become his master and teach him spells. He had already been a student of several masters and none of them would teach him because that was the specific instruction given by the man whom he thought was his father. That man, Jang Kang, who was the only father Jang Uk knew, was a man of influence and power. He was a mage and in this fictional country called Daeho, a mage is a master and what he says IS LAW! So, nobody would go against him, even if he wasn’t there to see to it that his order was enforced.
Of course, since it was her mission to kill all of the mages and their descendants, because she blamed them for the death of her family, Naksu/Mu-deok could care less about that instruction. She also didn’t really care what happened to Jang Uk. She just agreed to the master/pupil relationship so she could get her sword and her powers back!
That’s how their relationship began.
He was trusting and naive and believed she would act according to their agreement, and they would be loyal to each other. She, on the other hand, has other plans and Jang Uk was just going to get in the way of her accomplishing her main goal. So! She says “Yes!” but what she really meant “Yeah! Whatever! Just get me my sword!”
The combination of the special effects and the cinematography create magical and memorable scenes. All of the other supporting characters in “Alchemy of Souls” do a mighty fine acting job.
The master mages are the heads of families. There are four of them who have the power to harness the lake’s energy and to help maintain the balance of their world. The mages have to master various levels or power and control of the elements and these stages are known as Jipsu, Ryusu, Chisu, and Hwansu. They must be able to properly perform their duties because if they don’t maintain order, the soul-shifters who run wild can cause chaos, damage and destruction. They know this because it already happened once, and they are determined to no let it happen again.
Then there are the “Four Seasons” who are the children of the mages. They have special powers too! After all, they have to carry on in the footsteps of their parents. Jang Uk is one of the Four Seasons.
There is also a king, queen, and a crown prince, plus a bastard son of one of the mages who is greedy and ambitious and has wicked people who work for him and and a wicked Danju who works with him. (P.S. The queen has a "secret".)
The eldest daughter of one of the mages has been missing for about 10 years. The mother refuses to believe she drowned and has been searching for her ever since she disappeared. With each passing day, the mother becomes more and more anxious and desperate to see her daughter again.
Finally, there is Master Lee who drinks chaste tea; and that’s all I’m going to say about him.
The sub-stories of all of these characters are intricately woven around the main story line which develops the romantic relationship of Naksu/Mu-deok and Jang Uk.