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Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

Our heroes face their toughest challenge yet: defining what their relationship means to them. But, what’s a mage to do when his assassin master is intent on emotional self-sabotage? Meanwhile, there’s a corpse in Songrim, and it’s not going to investigate itself…

 

EPISODES 11-12 WEECAP

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

After the tenderest moment yet between our leads, the backlash is inevitable. Mu-deok recoils, urging Wook to forget about her “letter,” and how hard she would fight just to see him. She can’t exactly unsend it, though. And Wook, having learned how to read invisible writing, has gotten far too good at reading his master.

He steps close. Calls her name. To her horror, Mu-deok realizes she has fallen in love.

Frightened, she steers them back to safer metaphorical ground. It seems, she snaps, that Wook has been foolish enough to poison himself — and she is the only antidote. But, she doesn’t bank on Wook unashamedly listing his symptoms. From morning to night, he thinks about her constantly. He won’t let her make light of his feelings.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

Fast on the heels of one confession comes another. Dang-gu discovers Yul’s bird whistle in Mu-deok’s bag, and — delightful meddler that he is — uses it to engineer a rendezvous. Meeting Mu-deok at their usual spot, a place I like to call the Bridge of Romantic Longing, Yul returns the keepsake. He’s already half-convinced that Mu-deok loves Wook, but it’s now or never. He calls her usual bluff, insisting that if she really is in love with him, she ought to try harder to make him believe it.

It’s a bold move. Mu-deok dives in with an obligatory “I love you,” but Yul’s not playing around. If she truly were in love, he says, she’d struggle to say it even once. I like you. That’s what he should have told the girl he gave the whistle. As Mu-deok processes this, he tells her that if she ever needs help, she knows where to find him. It’s one heck of a mic drop.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

Meanwhile, Wook, despite his much-vaunted Mu-deok-deciphering skills, has made a translation error. Thanks to Dang-gu spilling to beans about the bird whistle, he’s convinced that his own love is unrequited. In ever-relatable Wook fashion, he drowns his sorrows in angry naps and unproductivity — much to Mu-deok’s distaste. Even fluttering her eyelashes at him — revealing a hitherto-undiscovered talent for aegyo — does nothing besides embarrass them both. Wook storms back home, taking refuge in his one true love: the bathtub.

Across town, Jin visits Ho-gyeong, concerned by her growing intimacy with Mu. Talk turns to Bu-yeon. Ho-gyeong reveals that she was pregnant for thirteen months before her daughter was born on a day the Gwanju pronounced blessed. A brief flashback tells a different story: the pregnant Ho-gyeong begged Jang Gang to save her baby’s life with the ice stone.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

It’s this devotion that Mu is determined to exploit. Experienced Bu-yeon imitator, So-yi, is exactly the bait he requires. Trouble is, he needs her to prove she can play blind.

So-yi knows failure means death. Mu sends pottery shards whistling through the air to slice at her face — even pausing, terrifyingly, before her open eye. No reaction. Finally, he wheels around and swings his sword at her neck, slicing her hair to shoulder length. So-yi remains unmoved. Having survived the audition from hell, she’s cast as Jin Bu-yeon.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

At Songrim, Mu-deok ponders what new peril she must engineer to snap Wook out of his funk. Inspiration comes in the form of Prince Won, sitting rakishly in a tree. He’s here to brag about his newfound laundry skills — turns out, rice paste is a great treatment for ink stains! — and grumble over Wook, whose poor swordsmanship remains a point of bitterness. Mu-deok, sensing opportunity, proposes a bet.

Ironically, Wook’s doing fine; after a loving pep talk from Do-joo, he’s fired up and raring to go. It’s therefore even more jarring when he walks into the Songrim training center only to be set upon by a man with a sword — and to be told he just lost his first duel. Mu-deok’s bet is devastating: if Wook fails to defeat at least one of ten mages, she’ll give Won her jade egg charm.

Wook doesn’t mind being flung into danger, but he draws the line at this cavalier treatment of his symbolic not-wedding-ring! The row that follows is their ugliest since Danhyanggok. Mu-deok insists that putting her most precious belonging — and their relationship — on the line was her only means of motivating him. Savagely, Wook says he regrets giving her the jade at all.

How the tables have turned since last week: while our heroes refuse to hear one another, Master Lee has finally found his voice with Do-joo. Scarf-clad and earnest, he surprises her with a bunch of flowers. The fact that Do-joo has a secret admirer is disturbing news for a jealous Jin, but good news for Daeho’s florists as he immediately buys up half their stock. Do-joo is left with extreme emotional whiplash, about sixty billion flowers, and still no apology for their fight.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

Nearby, Dang-gu and Cho-yeon frolic amid the stalls. When Dang-gu confesses his love, it’s refreshingly simple: he’s just a boy, standing in front of a girl to whom he’s fake-engaged, asking her to get real-engaged. She accepts! It’s so cute it ought to be forbidden.

Trouble is, as heirs to their respective families, it sort of is — and when Jin, fresh from his ludicrous flower-amassing gambit, spots them holding hands, it’s game over for Daeho’s least complicated couple. Although Cho-yeon holds out hope for her sister’s reappearance, Dang-gu gets chased out of the room when he asks if Jin has a secret child stashed away who could inherit Songrim… so, he can only assume the answer is no.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

Meanwhile, Mu oversees the small matter of building a cult. Cheonbugwan’s secret room hides a multitude of sins: Mu’s allies have achieved grim immortality via the alchemy of souls. One such follower, MASTER KANG (Kim Ik-tae), has brought his unsuspecting pupil (Jang Sung-bum) to Mu for precisely this purpose. The poor man is ripped from his own body into that of his dying master — all while So-yi watches, appalled. She must necessarily be complicit in this.

Misuse of the ice stone runs rampant throughout Daeho’s upper echelons; also complicit is Cho-yeon’s father, JIN WOO-TAK (Joo Seok-tae). The Danju’s influence only grows. Master Lee suspects that Wook, born under the King’s Star, is destined to fix this crisis.

Of course, currently, Wook’s struggling to win a single fight. Mu-deok’s scheme to help him learn from ten formidable magic users is paying dividends — but the eighth defeat is especially ignominious. Just when Wook thinks he’s got the upper hand, he’s flung unceremoniously into a pond, which is a pretty good metaphor for his life, when you think about it. As he stalks away, Mu-deok, who immediately waded into the water herself to help him — also a good metaphor — runs to fetch him a towel.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

Arriving at Wook’s room, she finds Yun-ok waiting with snacks. Mu-deok immediately recognizes her as the “egret” Do-joo mentioned — Wook’s preferred suitor. Disheartened, she leaves to find Wook.

…Who, as it turns out, isn’t disheartened at all. In fact, he’s picked up a nifty magical trick from his latest fight! He was so immersed while practicing that he’s still in sopping wet battle gear. Mu-deok beams with pride. They share a prickly, intimate moment where she alternates between doling out stern combat advice and gently toweling him down.

As Wook turns to leave, Mu-deok remembers Yun-ok, and indulges in a moment of selfishness: she grabs him by the sleeve. Wook, though mystified, finds an excuse to stay; he sits her down and sponges the mud from her shoes, fondly lecturing her about working too hard. It’s enough to make your breath catch. There’s soft eye contact! There’s tender wound touching! All may not be entirely forgiven, but they’re well on their way. Meanwhile, poor Yun-ok is left sitting alone again, with nothing but more empty peanut shells to show for her patience.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

Elsewhere, Won examines the yin jade. His master, Mu, has alerted him to the fact that it’s one of two, prompting some very enviously furrowed eyebrows. Experimentally, he tries flooding it with magic. It responds.

Pulsing softly to the beat of a heart, it leads him out onto the streets. Back in his room, Wook notices his yang jade glowing too. Rapt, both men follow the magical pull of the relics, which seem to be irresistibly leading them to… one another.

Not to be a killjoy, but I dislike the prevalence of jokes that hinge on how “hilarious” it would be if a romantic moment happened between two men. In any case, when Wook and Won come face to face on a bridge, hearts racing, it’s embarrassing for everyone involved.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

Later, news hits Songrim: Master Kang has been assassinated by a group of mysterious assailants! Or, so the story goes. Actually, it’s an excuse to get his old body out of the way — and the apprentice who dwells within it. It’s not the first time Daeho’s family heads have nearly come to blows over a corpse, but this time Jin reacts quickly. He demands that the body be preserved for investigation. Alas, he’s overridden: Ho-gyeong sides with Mu, insisting on immediate cremation.

In the aftermath, Wook overhears an urgent conversation between Jin and Master Lee. Jin has put the pieces together: disposing of soul-shifted bodies must have been Naksu’s purpose. Mu, he suspects, lured her in with the prospect of vengeance for her father — then, when she’d outlived her usefulness, aimed her at Songrim in the hopes that they’d finish her off.

Wook wastes no time. He finds Mu-deok. When she asks after his wounds, he lifts his arms up for perusal — and hugs her. No judgement. Just love, and sympathy.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12 Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

Teasingly, he tells her that he’s learned something fascinating about the yin-and-yang jade; he’ll show her when he wins hers back. Mu-deok, in a striking moment of vulnerability, asks if he intends to return it to her. He nods. As she adorably enthuses about the prospect of it being a lethal weapon, Wook grins — finally, they’re back to what passes for normal between them.

Jin attends Master Kang’s funeral armed with a scheme. He instructs Yul to examine the corpse for a soul mark, then perform the risky task of channeling his energy to make it run wild. This part proceeds without a hitch: the body is revealed to be completely petrified, much to the mourners’ horror.

Confronting the real Master Kang proves dicier. Jin orders Yul to take him in alive — while Mu, equally quick off the bat, commands that he be killed. In the end, Mu’s mooks succeed before Yul can intervene. The corpse, at least, is taken into Songrim’s custody. The only other casualty is Yul’s peace of mind — he’s tormented by the prospect of fighting a rogue Mu-deok one day.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

At the palace, the soul-shifter inhabiting the body of EUNUCH KIM (Jung Ji-soon) approaches Ha-sun with — well, not so much a request as a demand. He’s running out of energy. He wants the ice stone to heal him, but he’ll settle for a new body. This is garnished with a hint of blackmail as he reminds the snarling Queen that he knows her true identity: Shaman Choi.

The next day, Jin receives two visitors, only one of whom is welcome: Do-joo and Mu. Does it count as third-wheeling when you’re only here to stare down your nemesis? Either way, it makes for an ultra tense tea party, especially when Do-joo breaks out her homemade honey biscuits. Jin point blank refuses to let Mu eat one. For Mu, it’s a galling reminder of the drudgery he faced working for the Gwanju. For Do-joo, it’s simply rude! Later she sends Mu-deok to Cheonbugwan with another box of biscuits. Wook opts to follow.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

It’s a bad day for a field trip. Mu, incensed by Kim’s presumption — not to mention, furious on the Danju’s behalf, for being forcibly reminded of her humble beginnings as a dan’gol — has turned to his favorite solution: murder. Kim dodges a killing blow, fleeing semi-petrified.

Meanwhile, Wook, displaying characteristic sensitivity in all things Mu-deok, decides she’d appreciate a visit to the constellation-recording chamber in which her father used to work. Unfortunately, there’s little chance for nostalgia; they’re swiftly interrupted by a rampaging soul-shifter — followed by Mu himself.

Playing the bumbling student and his obsequious maid won’t work — they’ve seen too much. Mu hits Wook with a powerful spell, imprisoning him within a magical barrier that, to the captive, feels like a cliff overlooking a roiling sea.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

Mu offers Kim a lifeline: he can drain Mu-deok to replenish his energy. Afterwards, Wook’s body is his for the taking.

Mu-deok puts up an admirable fight, but she lacks the strength to fend off a rampaging soul-shifter. As Kim bleeds her of life force, she begins to lose consciousness, murmuring Wook’s name. Wook, calling upon his master for strength, marshals his confidence and leaps free of the illusion…

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

… Only to realize that Mu-deok doesn’t need help at all. He finds her gripping Kim by the forehead, suffused with eerie light as she leeches his energy away.

Mu-deok falls back, anguished. Is she running wild? She begs for Wook to stay back in case she kills him, but Wook won’t abandon her. He pulls her into a determined hug.

As she is held, Mu-deok’s hand trails into the water basin where constellations are recorded. Tendrils of mysterious light ripple through the air.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

If there’s one thing at which Alchemy of Souls excels, it’s in delivering the most emotionally devastating hugs. But, who am I kidding? You know how many things I reckon this show excels at. Here’s one: I love that nothing comes easy for our heroes. Mu-deok’s struggle with her new body is treated more respectfully than a plot gimmick; it affects her profoundly. Her journey involves finding new types of strength, and choosing to rely on someone other than herself. Meanwhile, Wook’s achievements invariably take effort: he’s smart, but he’s not a genius; he lags behind his peers, but he’s learning how tenacious he can be.

To me, this is the show’s defining theme. At the end of the day, it isn’t about being the world’s most powerful mage, or performing feats of incredible strength. It’s about doing your best when the deck’s stacked against you. Alchemy of Souls really gets what adult learning looks like! It’s messy. It’s frustrating. You’re going to spend the day in bed sometimes, taking angry naps and long, depressed baths — none of which invalidates the hard work. And learning how to be intimate with someone? To trust them with your life? That’s a minefield. Still, something tells me our leads will rise to the challenge.

Alchemy of Souls: Episodes 11-12

 
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Hong Sisters: How many hugs should Wook give Mudeok in this drama?Wook: Yes.

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Bromance Bridge Scene & all of ep 12 wiped away any misgivings I had about ep 11 :)

Likes:
-Loved the dialogues btw Wook & MD in the beginning of ep 11 - how a 'hidden' letter turned into a confession that eventually transitioned into unexpected talk of poison. The writing shines in moments like these (& almost makes me forget the low points > see below)
-Honey biscuits...it's like the madeline in Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" - a snack that sparks up all the action
-I'm surprised the writers have made MD/NS's character so consistent & remain mostly unperturbed despite Wook's confession - I'm all for it b/c girl's gotta look out for herself & care about her own survival first.
-Yul's imagining of MD slowly petrifying & how we get a teeny bit more glimpses into his inner thoughts
-Please, oh please let Yul be the final challenger with Wook!
-The last scene in ep 12, which...I can't express in words. Just go watch it (& re-watch it). JSM crying and the quivering of the lips *chef's kiss*
-Wook: "If I die, you should die too." - He's said this a few times now w/ what I took as mostly him jesting & ribbing into MD, but he sure took it literally in the end & proves that he'll live by his words & die with her if it comes to it.

I'm coming to accept the fact that the odd episodes will be less heart-thumping & are utilized mainly as a medium for setup & humor, which I'm completely down for if all the remaining even episodes are as memorable & fast-paced as ep 12 because the payoffs in that episode were oh, so sweet.

Gripes:
-I adore Kim Doju & Park Jin, & unlike popular opinion, I do think all the scenes with the side characters are necessary to dole out pertinent information & can't be classified as filler (You want to know what real filler is? Go take a peek at those 40+ episode Cdramas & then we can talk), BUT the editors must learn to stitch together all these scenes without having the main leads disappear for 20+ consecutive minutes in an episode. Either they overestimated the audience's love for the supporting arcs, or they underestimated how much the show lives and breathes between Wook & MD's interactions. When you strip this show bare of its fantastical elements & fight scenes, it's really the brilliant mixture of acting & chemistry between JSM & LJW that's carrying this drama...so at least show them napping together or snacking on honey biscuits for twenty minutes long like a muk-bang (w/ the CP inviting his grumpy self to the table) - I don't care what it is, just don't ever have them missing again onscreen for so long!

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Interestingly, I usually like the odd episodes much better than the even episodes.
The series always grabs me when the humour is in the foreground.
I also like a jealous Uk much better than a purring Uk. Besides, it's more fun when the two of them argue than when they cast amorous glances at each other.

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Oh those C-drama fillers! I think they increased the side characters' screentime here partly to lure or appease the actors for those roles. With a big ensemble-y cast, I like it when the characters interact outside of their partnered-character, so I'm hoping for more varied combinations of the supporting characters. I'm ready for some Naksu/Mudeok and Park Jin scenes, since they fought to the death in ep 1.And how funny would it be to have an awkward Yul and Cho-yeon moment because they are totally like the two people in a friends group that never hung out alone together.

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True, true - the elder actors are killing it in their roles too & I have much respect for them & their willingness to go all-in with the humor...which is why I get a bit sensitive when people classify those parts as filler since I think they're hilarious :p

If I remember correctly, Yul has only spoken to Cho-yeon once in the poop water scene where Yul blames Cho-yeon for provoking the Crown Prince, so yeah, I think Yul would have more fun chasing twenty soul shifters than hanging out with her alone, ha

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Oh man, now all I want (well, one of the many things I want) is an awkward Yul and Cho-yeon scene! They probably hung out at least a bit before the story started? Maybe? But he is definitely the only Season she hasn't been engaged to :D

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Yul is autumn and Cho-yeon is spring, so they're opposites anyway. He's mature beyond his years and has always been honest and upright to a fault; now that MD/Naksu has shaken his world, he's willing to deceive and dissemble and question what he's always believed. She's immature, fickle, and a facile liar for self-protection, until she told the truth about locking up MD/Naksu and blaming her for breaking the jade, and more recently has been open about her feelings with Dang-gu.

Damn. Now I'm shipping them. 😂

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Hahaha, dramaland does have a long and glorious history of opposites attracting! But I think Yul has already found a foil to be attracted to in Naksu. Still. Never say never!

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Oh god, I see the glorious ship potential in this. Oh no. The last thing I need from this show is more love triangles.

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I'm not a patient person by nature... so I was especially sensitive to the motive of ingratiating the older actors thus the filler dismissal other than the more apparent lack of plot progression. But seniority is a big thing in South Korea and I respect that

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@chungkingpineapples: I dig your comment so much! A wonderful parallel you’ve drawn with the madeleine in Proust’s “In search of Lost Time”. I wonder if this was an inspiration for the honey biscuits? Also, it would have been great if the honey biscuits mirrored the “madeleine moment/Proust effect” where they invoked a memory which had been previously blocked. Here, Ookie or Muksyeon remember crucial facts after eating the biecuits.

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How many times did I replay Yul’s confession. At least 10 times. I’m sold, and that soundtrack dedicated to just Yul and Mudeok…dang! I’m sold, again. Thank you Shazam 😉. Officially on your ship, Yul. Even though it’s gonna be a 99.9% chance of heartbreak at the end of the tunnel, I’m all in. I hope this sways Naksu, even if it was for a moment. I also hope that ‘Thank you’ Mudeok said wasn’t the end of the beginning before it even left moved 5 steps.

Give Master Lee of the chaste herbs an award for being a sharp guy🤤😁. This is lovely😍😍. Those pick-up lines… I’ve melted 🤤🤤. Jin needs classes from the man who saw him run around in diapers.

I don’t think Mudeok will turn into petrified stone. There’s something different about the scene where she absorbed the eunuchs energy. She emitted blue aura/flame. All the previous soul shifters emitted black smoke when sucking energy. So someway, somehow, the blue flame has to mean something different in her case. Besides, this isn’t her first injury. And she wasn’t running the risk of petrification then, so I doubt she would run the risk now.

Can someone return Naksu back to her form in episode 1. Uk is annoyingly grating at the moment. Something else has to be a Lake Gyeongchangdo for her.
I really hoped the ending sequence meant she finally found the key to unlock Naksu, and except she doesn’t know because she was afraid of becoming a monster and it clouded her thinking process and analysis. At this point, I really hope so. It’s no longer about Uk’s on and off behavior but the fact that so many things are tied to her – Jinyowon, Cheonbugwan and the likes, and this things need to move plot. Interesting things. And even if Songrim finds the truth about her, I doubt if they’ll help her find a way to tap into Naksu’s powers. So I really wish she becomes Naksu before Songrim sniffs her out.

One love angle likely potentially solved with Dang-gu*Cho-yeon, but I’m still unsettled. I hope they don’t become the next Master Seo x Jin Seolran – their love cannot be due to the family heritages. This eventuality is sure going to happen to one of the love icosahedron but I don’t want it to be them, or Yul. Cho-yeon really deserves love. I fear that if she inherits Jinyowon, she’ll become exactly what Jin Ho-gyeong is to her husband – cold , and loveless. And that is definitely not Cho-yeon. She’s a free spirited soul. And if ever she inherits Jinyowon, I’d want her to be with someone who loves her, and she loves in return. That’ll make her not turn out like her mother.

Survived an audition from hell
Well captured. Just the right words.

That bridge has seen and heard enough of confessions and connectivity, it has become a character itself…one that connects longing/yearning souls ;)

While the bromance between the CP and Uk was cool, did we all feel our hearts thumping tumbom tumbom 🤣🤣🤣 by the confession bridge😉🤣.

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I believe that Mu-deok is the lost daughter Bu-yeon of the Jin family. The original Mu-deok is blind like Bu-yeon, that's why Jin Mu is looking for any blind girl. But the best indication was when Mu-deok opened the secret door in Jinyowon - which could only be opened by those with Jin blood!

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I don't know why Jin Ho-gyeong didn't find it sketchy that Mu-deok opened the gates herself. Blindness aside, it's established that only Jin blood opens the gate. She should have researched about Mudeok right after the incident as to her roots. Someway somehow, she didn't.

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She's just thinking because Mu-deok not blind then she's not her daughter, too foolish for a great mage like her but even a great mage can be a foolish mother. I often feel bad for Cho-yeon.

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Thank you for saying this out loud.
For all the worldly wise ways she has been portrayed to be, I got to say this is for plot convenience. Didn't she also see the birds acting erratically just before seeing a so called stranger stepping into the compound? It's either lack of introspection or perception cherry picking or just gross plot convenience

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Same with Uk, why isn't he digging more into the blind girl whom he saw during soul shifting? At least after ep 12 I hope he finds it odd and start to explore.

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He had had a suspicious but he probably thought it was another side of naksu. Remember he met naksu when she covered her eyes with a band. He did ask Naksu but they were busy fighting. Mudeok went into temporary blindness when she got out from the mirror. Anyway, I don’t think he is aware that house of jin has missing blind daughter. I don’t think it has ever reached his ears since he was send a way to avoid anyone teaching him magic. The missing of jin buyeon was sort of a secret in the family for a long time. Only Danggu heard or was reminded about the missing case of jin buyeon. He passed only to Park Jin who was wondering about jin hgyeong rejection for autopsy. Park Jin does not know mudeok was blind before. Seems like buyeon purposely is trying to hide and hid well.

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I didn't think she realized MD opened the gate herself. Didn't Cho-yeon say she must have opened it by accident? I still don't think this is a totally adequate explanation, but I think it didn't seem to Ho-gyeong that there were other options to explore, especially since her daughter was right there and had just been lying her head off.

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First of all, I think mudeok is hidden identity of Jin buyeon. Jin miu is looking for her. So it makes sense she is hiding with different identity. Another clue to point out that mudeok is real jin buyeon because Doctor Seo recognised Mudeok’s ear. Mudeok/buyeon May have visited him to treat her blindness. It is one of old traditional medicine that doctors tend to do acupuncture on ears. And I don’t think mudeok lost her memories from buyeon because she is a vessel for Naksu using Nasku’s memories especially teaching jang uk. Buyeon and naksu do not mix their memories. There is possibility that buyeon is also hiding her own identity from naksu too. Going to her mom, I think her mom sense that there is a return but mudeok did not come alone. There were other female attendants along. One of the main reason is that mudeok is not blind though. Only buyeon can feel energy. The rest of Jin family doesn’t feel anything. Mudeok was blocked from buyeon’s memories but lives in Naksu’s memory. Mudeok did feel the energy but she doesn’t know. Maybe buyeon is trying to hide pushing away. Naksu May go against buyeon’s will by escaping. Nasku is trying to escape but ended up dead end. So her curiosity entered into the cave unknown. Buyeon’s mom said buyeon is the only one who can feel energy even without sight. When she met mudeok, mudeok is not blind. Mudeok didnt mention feeling energy. In Naksu soul, mudeok is looking for ways to escape and survive.

What I am suspicious is not the mom but cheyeon. She saw mudeok entering into the cave alone. Maybe she is jealous because she was still mad at mudeok. So she skipped the part in her consciousness.

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@tina288, Cho-yeon didn't hide the information. She stated it to Jin Ho-gyeong but Jin Ho-gyeong shut her up saying how will it ever be possible that Mu-deok opened Jinyowon cave herself. So she(Cho-yeon) just resigned to what her mum said, telling and convincing herself that she must have seen it wrongly. What I find more funny is the number of seasoned mages who heard her statement but also didn't think it mattered - the CP and Yul.
I wished Park Jin was in the scene when Cho-yeon made that statement though. He'd have caught on later on if not immediately.

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Of course she's Buyeon.
If Mudeok isn't Buyeon, and all the hints we've seen turns out to be red herrings, I'd be totally disappointed.

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I'm not 100% confident it's this simple. I kind of think there was an earlier soul shift between the original (not blind) MD and the original (blind) BY. This would explain why the Jin family doesn't recognize MD.

And I know drama characters rarely look like their younger selves, but it was actually made a big deal of this time, with Jin Mu comparing potential candidates to BY's portrait. This would also explain why So-i has the eye mask with the Jin family crest that only BY would have any business having.

I think the soul of BY is powerful enough to be present in a semi-dormant state in the body of MD, particularly if the ice stone itself triggered this soul shift (which could have happened by accident or something). And then that would explain why MD is able to open the Jinyowan gate, and why a blind version of MD shows up occasionally. The relics inside Jinyowon could have been responding to the latent soul inside more than the body that housed her.

I could be totally wrong, but this was the explanation that came to mind last week when we first met So-i - she seems scrappy, which she would have to be if she (or at least her soul) had grown up in MD's body and was poor and had to make it work. That and the fact that it's obvious she knows MD from some previous interaction. That interaction could have been the soul shift, and they aren't running wild (or maybe have any marks from it) because it was instigated with the unsealed ice stone before the Queen/Shaman got a hold of it.

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Who is Shaman Choi? how does he related to everyone else? Help!

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At this point, I think Shaman Choi is the man who first discovered the ice stone. And he could most likely be the reason for the crazy mage rage that went on for years years before Master Seo and Master Lee managed to end the battle 200 years ago. It seems like he survived and is currently living in Queen Seo's body.

How he relates to everyone else?
We were introduced to four seasons, I'm guessing the Choi family was also one of the seasons but were vanquished during the crazy mage war, or they lost their privilege as one of the most prestigious mage family, and as a mage family in general.
We are only aware of two Choi's - Shaman Choi, and Jin Mu. But it is plausible to say that there's more of them coming in from the shadows.
This further expands the story in a very interesting way...perhaps we will get another showdown of the battle that occured 200 years ago. We already have Jin Seolran in Buyeon, who'll be the new Master Seo?

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One of the reason is that doctor seo recognised the ear of mudeok. It does seem like her physical feature is not a stranger to songrim. That is one of the reason mudeok could just be hidden identity of jin buyeon rather than soul shifting body with so-yi. Because at the end, the writer has to explain about real mudeok. It is going to be quite weird especially for Jang uk. He is so used to Mudeok’s looks and naksu soul. Sometimes jin buyeon without knowing. Then here comes to soyi. One thing to another, it is just getting weirder and we won’t be able to see jung somin. However it is a long story to know where mudeok comes from. It would be so confusing for jang uk!

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I think they'd have to bring Bu-yeon back in order to free Cho-yeon.

She could still inherit Jinyowon and be with Dong-gu. Park Jin just needs to get together with Kim Do-joo quick and have a baby so Dong-gu doesn't have to be the Song-rim heir anymore. Cho-yeon, with Dong-gu by her side, could lead Jinyowon in a different way than her mother. In any case, I predict a pregnant Kim Do-joo by the end of the series.

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Oh Na-ra is 47, but the Hong sisters had a 50-year-old character get pregnant in Master's Sun, so, yeah. Between two highly unlikely events, I'd rather Dang-gu the inadvertent prophet be right about Park Jin having a baby stashed away somewhere. Dang-gu doesn't seem keen on inheriting the leadership of anything, including Songrim. He should be free to spend his life spreading sunshine and mischief in between swordfights and babies.

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Oh Na-ra is 47?! Excuse me I need to go reapply my sunscreen for unrelated reasons.

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47?!! Ugh, I'm so jealous of her skin! I'm guessing she plays a 40 year old in the drama since everyone plays younger than their real age.

Park Jin is totally a virgin. Maybe Park Jin and Kim Do-joo will run into a young orphaned mage and adopt him. Or just have Yul run Song-rim. He's ahead of Dong-gu in skill and do we need to do the whole bloodlines thing?

I wonder where Dong-gu's mom is. I wonder how she feels about her brother, Jin, asking her one and only son to give up on his true love just because Jin didn't go make an heir himself.

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Park Jin is totally a virgin

100% agree 😂, which is why I said "highly unlikely." And bloodlines are overrated despite their centrality to this story.

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Park Jin being a virgin is something I'm definitely sure he's guilty of. With sincerity of heart, and in master Heo's voice, what a waste of good looks ;) . Tragic. Tragic. Tragic.

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She’s 47??!? Goddamn. I think the internet too often ends up saying this for any remotely good-looking woman over the age of 25 as if we should all look like crones or something, but Oh Na-ra really does look fantastic for her age.

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Even Yoo Jun Sang (Park Jin) is 53 years old. One hella fine actor with solid six packs y'all 😬.
I am definitely into K-beauty these days (writing comments here with mask pack on face 😅)

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I'm not shocked at her ageless beauty. South Korea seems to have a lot of actors and actresses looking takeaway despite middle-aged. Park Joo-mi is likely 50 at the moment, and damn that woman could pass for something less than 40 or late 30's if you want her. Let's not even talk about Go Hyunjung or Oh Hyun Kyung.
I'm envious.

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Don't feel bad people, the skincare industry in Korea is crazy, and the amount of non-invasive and rejuvenative treatments (laser, lifting, injections, boosters, peeling, intracel, etc.) available at affordable prices can keep anyone looking much younger than their age for a long time. Nevermind the invasive ones like botox and similar (which these days has gotten crazy good if you can afford the best kind). And that's before they put on the expensive makeup, lol.

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I like the way you think 😉

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"That bridge has seen and heard enough of confessions and connectivity, it has become a character itself…one that connects longing/yearning souls ;)"

I'd retweet this if this were twitter. Love this symbolism 😘

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They are straight up trolling us with these egg charms, y’all. We get a heart-pounding, dramatic music, rushing to see each other, hidden power of love, meet-on-opposite-ends-of-the-bridge-scene, and it’s Uk and CP Won?!? When we have so many other potential couples? I laughed, I cried, and then I sighed a deep sigh. I love how Naksu was super interested when she found out later, “It could be a weapon!” hahaha!

Of course we couldn’t have our leads at full understanding right away. Of course Naksu would be the one to pull back from Uk. Of course Dang-gu would innocently make the situation worse. Uk looking back and questioning every interaction he’s had with Naksu and all of her interactions with Yul was one of the most relatable things I’ve watched since the pandemic began. Social anxiety dialed up a few notches for sure.

I know others will criticize him for his instant withdrawal after that, but I thought it was profoundly in character for Uk. We’ve seen time and time again what it takes to demotivate him, and Naksu might have learned a lot about magic and fighting in that valley, but she certainly didn’t learn about teaching. He totally just needs to pout for a bit, and then he pulls himself together and does what he needs to do. I think he would have done that independently of her this time, but (of course) she was not willing to wait that long.

I love the setting up of the contrast between Uk and Yul. They both love the same woman and they both know her secret. But Yul has been training and learning his whole life while Uk was supposed to sit still. Yul is constantly fearful of the dangers of sorcery while Uk cares more about the intention. Yul never confessed his feelings while Uk answered the letter. Yul says that we have to protect the world from the monsters while Uk thinks the monsters might need some protecting also. I wonder what Yul would have done in the situation at the end, when Naksu was afraid she might be running wild. I don’t think he would have pulled her into an embrace, but Uk did.

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Love your last paragraph. I definitely on team Wook, no matter how petulant he can be at times. Being himself is the best lesson one can learnt and not just following what others determined you to be.

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@jls943: Shouldn’t it be Muksu as it is not just Naksu there. Mudeokie is not just a physical shell due to her ostensible Jin heritage. Ohh, hang on a second. It should really be Muksyeon!

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I've decided to call people by their soul names unless I don't know other names for them. I know that Naksu's situation is more complex than that because MD is still in there somewhere, but apart from a couple of brief periods, we haven't really seen MD able to assert herself. So I'm operating under the assumption that the character we see interacting with everyone on a regular basis is Naksu, essentially in disguise. I'm excited for more reveals, more secrets unearthed, and more complexity though!

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@Unaspirated: I hear you but she has opened the Jin vault and looks like Mudeogie so…

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The alchemy of souls performed in ep 1 is different from all other alchemies done ever before and after then. We'd expect that Mu-deok/Buyeon would be transferred into Naksu's body, but as we witnessed in ep 8 with Gil-ju's death, there was no total exchange even though there was an alchemy since Buyeon/Mudeok didn't transit into Naksu's body but Naksu transferred to Mudeok's.

So while, yes, the character we deal with everyday is Naksu, we see Buyeon step up in times of need - beginning with when Master Lee wanted to banish her soul in Danhyakguk, door opening in Jinyowon, breaking out of that mirror, and now this reverse energy sucking at the end of ep 12- all these are Buyeon in action, not Naksu.

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Right, I'm just not totally convinced yet that the relationship is that simple. I kind of think that there was an earlier soul shift between Bu-yeon and Mu-deok, and that the missing piece here is So-i. Just a working theory! But it makes fitting a name to her tricky, so I'm just sticking with Naksu for now, except when it's totally obvious that it was someone else acting in that body.

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yul has been my favorite character. his constant dilemma about mudeok/naksu is a compeling storyline, even if it's also a bit cliche. while I understand how him and wook are different because of circunstances, yul is way more aware of the real dangers of everything while wook sometimes look too naive, masquaraded with raw courage. I get that his personality is a bit like that, but it's started to annoy me when he sometimes acts like he knows what's best or how things should be when, in reality, he doesn't. because of what his dad did, he has been ostracized and not in the known of ""adult"" world while yul is like #1 in everything. its like a young boy and a adult man sometimes, not just bcs of their diff personalities. yul knows the stakes are higher, while wook still sees the dangers of the whole alchemy of souls through the lenses o mudeok situation and thinks that's it.

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like the scene when wook talks about protecting the monsters was so annoying lol I was "what do you know about this world when you couldn't be part of it your whole life. shut up!" it's extra stupid when he's saying that to yul of all people. it was so condescending

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Yeah that scene was clunky and I think shown too early. And there haven't been that many monsters roaming yet since soul-shifting have only become more recently a thing they've become aware of because Naksu is out of commission and isn't out there cleaning up after Jin Mu's soulshifters.

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and monsters or not, the recent cases that are not naksu showed that they can be a real danger to normal people. so I can totally see why it such a big evil in the eyes of songrim. to me, wook is only thinking about mudeok/naksu when he thinks about soul shifters while everyone else understands that, at least for now, this thing can't get out of hand because it once did and it was a mess.

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The way I see the exchange on "monsters" between Uk and Yul:
In a way it is to express Uk's bitterness on what Yul has and he has never had - that is to go all out on his potential with the support of the people around him. But he also sees the silver lining in it that because of the same reason, Yul has the burden of expectation to act in line with mainstream morality or whatever you call it whereas Uk's absolved of that responsibility and free to act based on how he feels.

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omg I thought the same about that scene! I raised my eyebrow when Uk said that line because like...where's the justification for protecting the monsters that go wild? because so far we've only seen them kill innocent people for their energy, like ummmm they really made him sound insanely naive and dumb in that moment. The line should have been written something like 'yeah but if we can also stop people from becoming monsters, isnt it worth a try?'. His intentions would have come across much better, make him seem more heroic and it would have still made sense in his own lens about the Mudeok/Naksu situation.

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Oh I read those scenes and that contrast between them totally differently! In my mind, Uk is a bit naive, yes, but also that's what gives him a fresh perspective. He hasn't been taught about sorcery his whole life and so he doesn't think the same things about it as Yul does. Yul has loads of training, and that training comes from a great tradition of protecting people and is not to be discounted, but that doesn't mean that it's infallible or that there can't be exceptions, and I think Uk is more able to see that precisely because he is a newcomer. I love both characters, but I don't see this one particular thing as a weakness in either of them. I think you need both of them to have the right balance. Careful, traditional, safe Yul. Reckless, innovative, risky Uk. I'm hoping they will pull and tug at each other until they both end up where they need to be.

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Just reminding everyone that this is a fantasy tale and story is not finished. My take on their conversation is first they are friends, and UK is telling his point of view to someone he values as a Hyung and friend.

Yul is a strong and protective and is conflicted over what Naksu has become. He regrets that he never got to confess his love and prevent her from becoming the assassin. All of his longing is for the lost Naksu of his youth, and he worries that he will have to stop the soul shifter that she is, a monster.

Uk, on the other hand, has only known Naksu as she is now. His personality has always been to live in the present and deal with the situation at hand. He also told Yul to consider whether the monsters (instincts) could be controlled and worthy of protection. Also, MD was right there, listening. He is assuring her he will protect her.

There are only 2 ways to keep Naksu from running wild: Master Lee said if one attains Hwasu, they can control themselves. (He also mentioned that the Alchemy of Souls is not inherently evil/sorcery). The second way is to obtain the ice stone.

Of those options, only the ice stone is an option. In Naksu’s current body, there is no apparent magic/energy. Uk’s goal is to reach the palace to search for the ice stone, so MD can keep from running wild.

Uk has shown time and time again, that some of the expectations for him are illusions. Several times, when people thought he was disheartened, he’s actually trying to figure out how to apply his power. Is he petty? Yes! But he is 20 years old, full of hormones and energy, which does make one moody and unpredictable, but eventually, he buckles down and persists.

I hate to see the frustration and anger in this thread over a storyline or character. This story is about growth and how characters discover and overcome their fate. Let’s just see the final product as the writer’s envision. After the last episode, I may be raging too!

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I don't know if it came across that way, but none of my comments were intended to be hateful at all. I personally don't take dramas that seriously to be feeling hate for fictional characters. if that was the message I sent, I apologize.

and yeah. there's still a lot from the story to be told but we're commenting on a weekly basis, on what we've seen. I like wook a lot and seeing his character development is one of the things that actually keep me coming back to watch this drama every weekend.

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I didn't read your comment that way. I think it's so interesting when two people watch the same scene and come away with totally different perspectives! That's why I love talking about it so much - I feel like I notice new facets of scenes that I wouldn't if I was just watching in isolation.

And +1 to loving Uk's character development! I think he's in for some rude awakenings, but I still love his fresh hopefulness.

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Uk's demotivation annoyed me for a bit but that's because I'm the type of person who typically does what she needs to do for duty even if the motivation isn't there.

But it makes sense. I also have my moments of feeling demotivated, except it doesn't get broadcasted to millions of people. *flashback to all those times when I've procrastinated*

Also, everyone's got a different learning style. He works best with positive reinforcement while I think most of the world in ye-ancient-times followed more of a "do it or I'll whoop your ass!" tradition.

I loved how he picked himself up after a nice chat and was not discouraged by getting beat 8 times. And did not take the easy route by having Dong-gu give him the win.

Uk has always been someone to take a leap of faith and think outside of the box. And I like how it gets shown again and again. No one would have a sorcery-practicing assassin be their master. He jumped off that pillar with no clue if he was going to survive to go save Mu-deok - why not hug her with the faith that his master would be strong enough to not hurt him?

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I was surprised how hands-off the teaching is at Songrim! Maybe they are more structured when the mages are younger, but now they just let them proceed at their own pace. Maybe that's another part of the issue - maybe Uk could use a little structure, and that's why he's doing really well with these daily duels.

You're so right about his creativity and faith in his master. I'm loving that they keep giving us more examples.

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this was surprising to me too. especially because it seems like every mage had a master who taught them everything. but where is this happening? lol

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Me, I was initially annoyed that Uk went from seeing and not seeing in a matter of 2 scenes. I don't get why he need to sulk because to me, Naksu/MD has essentially acknowledged what he said was true - that she has fallen in love with him even though she did say that all she's going to do about it is to exploit it. Ok I get that he's mad cos she's just making light of their feelings for each other. Anyway I'm glad he came around in the next episode when he randomly stumbled on the conversation to remind him of Naksu's background which has prompted her dysfunctional way of responding to love.

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Yeah, but it wouldn't be the first time that someone felt confident about a social interaction in the moment, and then thought about it too much later and twisted it into something embarrassing and distorted *raises hand*

That's why I found his reaction so relatable!

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🙋🏻‍♀️ Hard ditto.😅

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I am 100% for Uk. So interesting to see the difference between him and Yul. Like you said, they both love the same woman, but I'm glad it was Uk with her in the constellation room, and not Yul. Things would have turned out very differently....

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Speaking as someone from the rat race for a bit, I would say I root for Uk because he's my escapist fantasy but in real life though, we are more often than not implored to Yul's more pragmatic, mainstream sensibilities.

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I though Wook's comment on the carrot-and-stick teaching method and getting hit too often with a stick was telling. Mu Deok knows how to motivate him in the extremes but not in the everyday teaching. It is perhaps something she will learn. Or, what I hope is that Wook takes responsibility for his learning and learns to be self-motivated. I have a feeling events will happen that will push him to this point.

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Great analysis of Yul and Uk. I love them both. Yul is a "genius" grows up with traditional value and expectation. He is learning about his emotion/love for Naksu. He tries to process and express it. He is such a lovely person in his quiet way. But Naksu is for Uk not Yul. Naksu was an orphan, grew up lonely, in physical and emotional hardship. She only has herself and amazing skill. Uk was an orphan too. He has physical comfort but lonely because he is a useless, good for nothing young master. People can be pleasant, but pity and gossip can kill a person no less than malice. He only has himself, and a will to break his fate. Naksu and Uk have deeper understanding of each other. They are soul mate, actually. May be they will find it out for themselves later.

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Yul says that we have to protect the world from the monsters while Uk thinks the monsters might need some protecting also.

Rewatching ep. 2: Wook, Yul, Dang-gu, and MD are discussing the theft of Naksu's body, and Wook dangerously teases MD about whether original Naksu was so short and cute. Dang-gu (pointing to MD) asks, "what kind of assassin looks this adorable?" MD/Naksu says flippantly “I bet she was a monster” and Yul responds gravely, “No, she was human.

Damn, I love this kind of layered foreshadowing. And poor Yul. He's in for heartbreak no matter what develops.

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우리 아랃 (our Alathe (the ‘th’ sound doesn’t exist in Korean so had to use ‘t’),
Let me count the ways in which I look forward to reading your writing every week. And, this week is no exception. You slayed me with “ Wook storms back home, taking refuge in his one true love: the bathtub”. You are so funny. Don’t ever think about leaving this job! I’ll riot and/or self-combust! Have a great day you wonderful writer you!

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Just forgot to mention for those who might be interested that ‘our’ in Korean is ‘uri (the ‘r’ sound here is more like the Spanish ‘r’) and since ‘ㄹ’ is called a liquid consonant because its sound changes between ‘r’ and ‘l’ as well as sometimes sounding different to these, here because the ‘ㄹ’ is sandwiched between two vowels, it will be pronounced as ‘Aret’!

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You made me think about how the name "Alathe" is pronounced and how to transcribe it. For me, it would be maybe 알라디 (although the friction of the th would be missing...알라지?)

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@Verzaholichee: Maybe. As there were no double ‘L’s in ‘Alathe’, I didn’t think of it and assumed the last ‘e’ was silent. I know it was an imperfect transcription!

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I'd write it like 알라트

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@yolo1986: I can see where I went wrong in the end syllable (트 makes perfect sense to me now) but don’t see why a double ‘ㄹ’ is called for here but you and verzaholicbee might be on to something!

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The double ㄹ is to make it sound like an "l" instead of like an "r".

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Hm! Thanks to you I'm now excited thinking about the language: I remember people saying Hotel del Luna should be "Hotel de la Luna" (correct), but what if they decided to treat Luna as the name of a person and omit the article, and added an ㄹ at the end of "de" so that people would pronounce "luna" instead of "runa" 🧐.
Well, motivation to study unlocked 😂, thanks!

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@verzahalicbee: I appreciate that but it changes the pronunciation too as ‘ll’ is different to a ‘l’ but it makes a bit more sense now.

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Or rather ‘Alat’ but I have thought about the point @maya68 made that in Korean, the ending would have to be ‘트’. She was right. In my limited knowledge, there are far fewer words in Korean with ‘ㅌ’ which has the ‘t’ sound in English so I had completely forgotten about it! Mea culpa! And, Korean also adds ‘ㅡ’ to the ending of some foreign words. This has a sound close to ‘mm’ if the ‘m’ sound was removed and the flattened ‘eh’ sound remained.
Re @verzaholicbee’s point, she is probably right that Alathe would have to be spelt with two ‘l’s to create a ‘l’ sound in Korean because of my above explanation even though two ‘l’s would also alter the pronunciation of ‘Alathe’. There is no perfect transcription from English to Korean but some choices get us closer to the original words than others.

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@dncingemma, you are the sweetest - you have no idea how lovely it was to read your comment! Add that to the fact that there is now an *entire thread* about spelling my username in Korean... ahh, this is delightful!!

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@alathe: 🥰🥰

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Thank you @alathe for your recap. Always looking forward everyweek 🥰. My 2cents for this week episode:

Still baffling on most of Jang Gang's decision. Jang Gang unsealing the ice stone and the King Star's born (Jang Wook birth) was the result of the sorcery. He also unsealed the ice stone for Hye Gyeong, no wonder her child is born with the ice- stone power. Somehow Jang Wook must defeat the chaos brought by the Ice Stone but that requires he sacrifice himself and also destruction of Mudeok/ Naksu then. Imagine what kind twist of fate will befall upon them soon...

How did I missed that it was Choi's shaman/mage that was reside in the Queen's body? Should have been guessing that 🤦🏻‍♀️. He is the first one who manipulated the ice stone, hence there is a high probability that he will keep his soul over 200 years span, using the Soul Ejector.

The determination and wickedness really seeping through So-i's character. While she being able to see, it can be more beneficial to Jin Mu, she can tell him what's going on in Jin house, who's coming and going. If he needs something, she can easily find in the house as she's not blind, and Jin-Mu can threaten her that he can easily make her blind anytime....great acting from Seo Hye Won.

The last scene was beautiful and magically captured. Great job cameraman and the editing team. Indeed, they always kept most interesting and putting so much info in last 30 mins of Sunday showtime to keep it hype for next week episode 😏.

P/S: love sweet Dang Gu tenacity and confession with ChoYeon. Also his straight question towards his uncle about hidden son 😆.

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Hard to reconcile Seo Hye Won's So-i with her hilarious Konglish speaking character in A Business Proposal. The way her character commits to acting blind without flinching - like crawling over the sharp pottery pieces on her hands and knees was chilling. What kind of horrors must she have experienced behind that earlier cheeky persona?

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I was today years old when I finally connected those two characters (thank you!). People were talking about "the cousin from Business Proposal" and I was wracking my brain trying to remember who they were talking about! Wow, what a contrast! Now I'm just super impressed with her. Also, totally agree, that audition scene was alarming in so many ways. You could feel her desperation.

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Thanks, @fydea - I'm really pleased you've been enjoying these recaps! :D

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Hugs are always welcome! The leads are growing on me but not enough to expect a HEA for them. A lot of things are stacked against them. But I like that the main theme of this two is to show how they adapt and overcome each of those obstacles.
That final scene got me thinking that BuYeon's power reverses the effects of soul shifting. It was revealed that while in the womb BY was revived by the ice stone which potentially gives her a protection of some sort. In turn, its the same that also protectes MD from the soul shifter eunuch that gone wild (eunuch going wild is not something I thought I would ever write down.. ha!). But also the same reason that Naksu has not turned wild but it made her able to suck energy from the evil soul shifters instead. This is amazing since it makes her one-of-a-kind and more powerful.

I got to admit though, Uk was really sweet when he still went to hug MD after she sucked energy off of the monster. So it may imply that she can only do so: (1) as self defense, (2) from a wild soul shifter, and/or (3) at will.

About other things: Park Jin should not keep Kim Do Joo in the dark about Jin Mu. She needs to know if he is already a threat to her young master. So this brings up Jin 's flaw again on keeping secrets.
* Dang Gu was so adorable offering himself as contender for Uk but only to be declined.
* I knew that Eunuch will meet his end the moment he threatened the Queen/Shaman. Its so obvs.
* Cho Yeon is growing on me but only because Dang Gu likes her.
* I wish Yun Ok has more to do than pining for Uk. Does she have any other role than a potential love interest.
* I like Yul as a character but I hope that the idol actor can emote more convincingly.
* I still can't get over the fact that Ho Gyeong can not recognize her beloved daughter BuYeon even if she was right infront of her. But I feel bad for her that she is being manipulated by Jin Mu.
* I am Team Master Lee but only because he is a man of action! I wonder what Park Jin will do when he figures out he is his love rival for Maidservant Kim's affections.
* and of course that meet cute at the bridge. I loved that it was Crown Prince and Uk!!! Those jade eggs are so wonderful!
I couldn't stop laughing the entire scene as soon as I figured out what the jade eggs was doing.

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The jade eggs finding each other was perfectly set up - all through the swelling romantic soundtrack I was laughing out loud, anticipating that record-scratch! For the moment, I'll give the show the benefit of the doubt that the embarrassment at Bromance Bridge lay not in the possibility of attraction between two men, but between these two men - rivals and suitors for MD, each secretly hoping to find her at the end of the thread. If it were Wook and Dang-gu, they'd probably have laughed it off.

Speaking of Dang-gu, his pot-stirring is delightful and I loved when it blew up in his face when Wook flatly forfeited the fake fight and noped right out of the training room.

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@elinor: I’m inclined to give them the benefit of the doubt too in this instance for the reason you noted otherwise I would be cross. But since this didn’t feel like queer-baiting or homophobic, I’ll wait and see. However, on another score, it still pisses me off that the not Joseon Daigu still has a fairly rigid class system and gender barriers for women training as mages. Why are there no women training to be mages in Songrim? This was such a telling omission by the writers/show-runners as we know that systemic gendered thinking has a long tail in every aspect of our societies.

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I hated the gender inequality as well. Aside from the Jins and Naksu, there really are no other female mages. That is why I was hoping thay Yun Ok can have a bigger role than pining for Uk. At least show us her healing mage skills or something. Naksu proved that females can be badass mages/sorceress so I do not understand why the show is not introducing more female mages.

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I made a similar comment before about the lack of female mages in Songrim, and someone mentioned JInyowon could be where female mages are trained since all the Jin family's attendants are female vs all males for Song-rim, but I would really like to see some female mages in action. Even if it's just using magic to break open a crab leg to get the meat out.

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Also jumping in to agree that it wasn't a jab at same-sex relationships. To me, it was part of the running gag between the Crown Prince and Uk that they're always pulled to one another. They supposedly despise each other, yet they somehow begrudgingly end up on the same side, with the Crown Prince helping or encouraging Uk in some way, as frienemies do. It's the constant foreshadowing that they'll end up teaming up at some point in the future against the big bad.

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Yes thats right. I would like them to be frenemies even after all is said and done. I am looking forward to them working together against the fake Queen and Jin Mu. But that would be a tough sell for him since his filial duties can be put into question since its his "mother" and teacher plus his birthright as CP. I would still want them to team up later on but the fake Queen's duplicity must be revealed first.

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Based on description on Ep 13, I guess Wook is going to use his jade to call Go Won and saving him from Jin-Mu's trap. How convenience having a safe-call method while escaping death. Lucky Wook!
My other wish is hoping Wook will start to investigate more on real Mudeok's identity after seeing her twice in peculiar scenes (please work on your witty brain, Wookie aa 😬)...

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Yes! They are too focused on Naksu soul shifting that they ignored the vessel. I feel bad for the real MD.

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"I'll give the show the benefit of the doubt that the embarrassment at Bromance Bridge lay not in the possibility of attraction between two men, but between these two men - rivals and suitors for MD, each secretly hoping to find her at the end of the thread. If it were Wook and Dang-gu, they'd probably have laughed it off."

Very well said. I think you're absolutely right in that if it was Dang-gu or even Yul on the bridge with Wook, it'd play out differently and they'd be like "Bro, did you see that. Wasn't that cool?" (LJW & HMH seem like good friends in real life so I wouldn't be surprised if they gifted each other a jade egg as a souvenir after filming ends, heh.)

While I can't see the writers promoting BL in this drama because it is still set in some (fantastical) historical time in conservative Korea, I didn't see it as homophobic in any way. Ok, off to rewatch that scene now - I just can't get enough of the Crown Prince going "Aish!" I need that made into a gif!

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The Swoon needs to turn this into a video: cast of AoS give each other gifts (Secret Santa style) at the end of shooting the first season, and explain their reasoning for what they picked for their fellow cast member!😁

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I agree that its funny because its this two. The two rivals for love and power, the latter which they are unaware yet. Their hope that its possibly MD calling them only to be thwarted by the other guy.

Awww I adore Dang Gu for his misguided pot-stirring. I felt bad for him but I can't blame Uk for declining either.

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Yeah... I think it's both though. They're embarrassed because it's the two of them AND because they're two men. If it was Yul or Dangu it would be equally embarrassing only they'd use humour to laugh it off instead of annoyance and anger that the Prince and Uk used since they aren't friends. But living in Korea, I can tell you same-sex relationships are not accepted here and are often portrayed as the butt of the joke. We have a long way to go to acceptance.

But I also think the jade egg thing has more significance than just being a love token. They didn't to this scene just to make fun of same sex couples either. I think it will be crucial for Naksu later on that she can connect to Uk and use his energy through these stones somehow.

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That was the way I read it too, it wasn't men in general, but these two guys in particular who had numerous ongoing rivalries.

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I looked up yin-yang meaning in love. The yin energy (what CP is holding) is the receiving receptacle of love. Uk’s red egg holds the Yang (male) energy! So it’s delicious that CP is holding the feminine energy!

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I also have trouble buying that Ho-gyeong didn't recognize her daughter. Like did having her eyes always covered by a cloth make it harder? *side-eye*

Only in dramaland I guess, when your older self has a completely different face from your younger self. It was funny when they cast younger Uk in those Song-rim frontyard scenes. He was likely 15 there. But in 5 years (Uk is 20 now), he ends up looking like Lee Jae Wook.

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I can't wrap my head around that at all. Her utter devotion to her daughter shouldve made her recognize MD at least. Unless MD changed her face or she is not BY, which I doubt since all signs point she is the missing daughter.

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I want to think she didn't suck the energy of the soul-shifter because he didn't have almost any left, I wanna think the soul-shifter sucked most of her energy and when her body was at a low point, it reacted (the same way we have the involuntary impulse to breath when we are running out of air) and recovered her own energy from the soul-shifter. And that would explain why she's not running while according to the drama logic: she wouldn't be actually aborving another human's energy (can the soul-shifter even be considered a human at that point?)

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(And the reason the body was actually able to get his energy back would be because Buyeon's body was able to see energies and handle them. Or sth like that.)

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* running wild

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I like ur take on that much better. She just retrieved her energy back. That would explain why she "did not go wild".

With 8 episodes left, I sure hope to meet the real BY soon to get a better understanding on how her power works. Why she is able to shelter another soul in her body? Among other things

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the info dump in these episodes reached a new level lol so much telling but not showing us.

I'm still confused about how the fake daughter will explain her lack of jin family magic. will they claim she had amnesia and bcs of that can't recall details of the past and her magic? bcs girl won't be able to open that cave.

I had written a lot to comment about these episodes, but I think I'm in the minority about this drama and don't want to sound like a sour grape in the comment section lol

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@jsourgod: Don’t think like that and hold back. It won’t be sour grapes! We can love something and still see the cracks and defects.

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just wanted to comment..... mudeok was hella manipulative with that bet. part of me loves this for the character, but I would be so mad. wook is probably a better person than I will ever be LOL I know pushing his buttons have been established as mudeok's teaching 101, but it's getting a bit boring to me, not gonna lie. I want wook to not win the jade egg so bad now

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@jsourgod: To be fair to Mudeokie, she is fairly transparent in her manipulations!😊

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At this point, how many times has she 'poisoned' Uk. I can't count. But that's the fun of it. They both acknowledge the poisoning 😉

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@jerrykuvira: Neither can I! But must say it was really bittersweet to (foolishly) characterise being loved and loving someone to being poisoned as to love genuinely not only creates vulnerability but also imbues one with a sense of sacrifice and strength.

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oh she's doing it under his nose, he's the dumb one to fall for it every time lol

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I don't think he is just dumb. I believe he's also smitten. He's dumb enough to fall for her tricks but he's smitten already that he follows through her ploy.
And as we've learned this week, the feeling is mutual. Could be varying degrees but it's mutual.

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@jerrykuvira oh not dumb in he doesn't know what she's doing, but more like he's dumb to still act the way she intends. I think this time was a bit different because it was such a special gift and girl just used it like that. I would have reached my limit. that's why I wanted him to not get it back winning the duels. for once, it would be nice to see them losing

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What I didn’t like, is she waited until #8 to start teaching, giving him the tips he needed to learn to defend and attack. Until then, he was thrown into the deep end of the pool.

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I see Mudeok's manipulation a bit differently than you. Is she trying to get a reaction out of him, yes, but she's doing it by raising the bar, challenging him and believing that he can overcome it. After all, she needs him. She doesn't want him dead. All his life he's been underestimated, told to sit down and that he doesn't have the energy or strength that others have. Finally there's someone in his life who believe he can - and is willing to stake her own life on it. I also think that her manipulation or challenges and the belief she has in him that's behind it, is what's giving him the courage to keep persisting, improving and to take the literal and metaphoric leap off his pilar of isolation.

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I agree. MD bets her most valuable asset: her life, her hope, and even Uk's love for her-- her future on this, out of desperation.

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Haha. I don’t mind her raising the bar, but she’s his teacher, and I, just saying maybe she should have been instructing him a bit sooner, say, at opponent #3 or #4. He did say he was mad at first, but as usual, he buckled down. That’s her teaching moment. I just find her and Park Jin’s lesson plan the most chaotic ever. Actually, Yul and Dang-Gu should have stepped in as friends to give him tips. Yul is so methodical and wise, and Dang-Gu would give him pointers too.

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Manipulative... yes. But that is the only way she knows how to get Uk to take action. Naksu is not familiar with positive reinforcement since I doubt Danju and Jin Mu or any of their minion is capable of such. Naksu was manipulated since she was young and need to learn these other ways to motivate people to act.

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and @sara. I totally agree with what you both said so eloquently. I think my issue is that by now I expected more from their master/pupil relationship. they know each other way more, and they care about each other way more now. it's not the same thing as when the poison thing happened. back then pushing him like that was all that she knew and had, but now she knows more about him. I know she foreshadowed what she was gonna do when she talked about love as poison, but using the present he gave, something that hold so much meaning for BOTH, at this point of their relationship hurt way more than that poison. I think I wanted to see their master/pupil dynamic developing just like their romantic feelings. less threat and more positive words, I guess.

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You make a great point, and it’s reminded me that they’re learning how to love each other whilst also navigating the roles of master/pupil and servant/master. Talk about being thrown in at the deep end for both of them!

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and I guess what would you expect from an assassin raised away from the world in the harshest environment? Uk's fortunate that he's got nurturing from Kim dojoo, so he turned out somewhat functional. But thank goodness it didn't take long for Uk to come around though it did need some prodding from conveniently eavesdropping on the elders. When she expressed that Uk's hug is warm from the Mugwart massage, I think it's also figuratively the first time in a long time that she's experiencing human warmth.

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Exactly - she’s somewhat limited in her own teaching style based on the model(s) she’s had her whole life (Jin Mu). It’s compounded by the fact that fighting and pushing (aggression) is the way she protects herself and copes in situations where she feels vulnerable.

The fact that she attempted aegyo was partly included for comedy but I also think it shows her desperation and willingness to try anything to survive and keep Uk on track (for both their sakes). I suppose I’m not surprised that she doesn’t have many soft skills yet, even though that’s the character development we’d love to see (and there are glimmers of it now).

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Yes she is learning too. Both of them are. They have 8 episodes to go for their character growth. So I hope the next time, Mudeok does not have to resort to the same tactics to get Uk to act. Uk obviously respond to positive reinforcement courtesy of Maidservant Kim and MD hopefully clues in to that.

Also I hope Uk will be less petulant and be more proactive in honing his skills soon.

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A good point that I tend to remind myself of when Naksu seems off in her behavior. She was raised as a slave in a brutal environment. Not cognizant to building social skills, which is why hers seem out of synch with everyone else's.

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I think you got the gist of her character. But I think this is her initial state because all she has known in her life hitherto is to gain power. We are on the journey with the characters as they grow in many ways. So we will see how she will change as events unfold.

Even Jang Uk starts out as a spoiled prince.

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Sour grape? Not at all. We can like something and still have our genuine reservations, reservations which we should voice out if we want to.

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This show will not let our Mu-deok have a single win. As a former master assassin you would think she would be able to solve at least some of her own problems. But every time, someone (or something) always interfere and ends up solving the problems for her. Would it really ruin the story if Mu-deok got a little win once in a while? It really doesn’t have to be anything big (just as long as it is done deliberately). Just something, so she doesn’t look completely incompetent.

I’m actually starting to doubt that the issues I’m having with this show is caused by the Hong sisters poor writing. My current best guess is that when they started shooting the show, they didn’t actually have any finished scripts for the later episodes. As such the director probably had to make up most of the story as he was shooting it. I think that could explain why the story is as messy as it is. It also explain why the director (Park Joon-hwa) is listed as having writing credits for the show even though he isn’t actually a writer. And the rumors about the season 2 recasting would also make a lot more sense if this was the case.

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@terryloganfields! Spill the tea! Are the swirling rumours that JSM decided not to come back for S2 or outrageously enough, the show-runners decided they didn’t want her midway through for S2? She has been glorious so if the latter, I am prepared (to learn) to put a hex on them. Yes I am.

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Normal setting I believe in production set. While filming, they improvised the script on the spot based on many input and feedback.
What makes difference is how editing team do on the later part. Reminds me on so many Kdrama that have many good plots but end up in bad editing 🤦🏻‍♀️

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I think the season 2 recasting is either more like Jung So-min not intending to sign on for more than 1 season (so they planned to switch actresses for s2) or it was intentional based on storyline that that they can't reveal or else it would have spoiled the ending -rather than any friction between actress and writer/director.

it is definitely curious how the director has writing credits. I think the writing is still pretty solid, but I wonder if he's making what was even better worse or is making what was worse, better. Or maybe the writers and director are vibing really well.

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I don't know how actors' contracts work in South Korea (or anywhere in the world) but I wonder if maybe the writers wanted Naksu to have her body back for the last 10 episodes, and decided to split the drama because they needed to hire Naksu's actress as a cameo for the first 20 episodes and as a lead for the remaining 10, and the opposite would happen with Mudeok's actress. I'm probably completely wrong, what do I know! I just trying to understand and predict to be ready for the future disappointment I'll feel 😅.

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My understanding in Korea, main actors (leads and secondary characters) get paid per episode. It means that if your face is shown, you get paid in full for that episode. An actor in an interview said he was once grateful to a director who used his early death scene in a series as a flashback, showing his face, getting him paid for that short shot. If no face was shown, he would not have been paid.

Networks would only pay production companies after an episode would air. Recently, there have been many cases where actors have not been paid in full because production companies fold, go bankrupt or run off with final payments.

Also, I believe extras get paid a set fee as background players. But if you say a line, you are paid more. That is why you never really hear a crowded market scene with seller's hawking their wares.