Alchemy of Souls Part 2 (2023)

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Drama: Alchemy of Souls: Light and Shadow (환혼: 빛과 그림자)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 10
Release Date: December 10, 2022 – January 8, 2023
Runtime: Sat. & Sun. 21:10

Plot:
Three years after Mudeok dies, Jang Uk has been on a mission to kill all soul shifters as ordered by the King. Lady Jin has been hiding the fact that she retrieved Mudeok’s body, and revived her daughter, Jin Bu Yeon’s soul, but taking on the face of Naksu. Jin Bu Yeon, who doesn’t remember anything about her past, is arranged to be married to Seo Yul’s uncle, but she got away and met Jang Uk. Will they be able to find their way back to each other and can they fight the evil forces of Jinmu once and for all?

Main Cast

Review
I liked the chemistry between Jaewook and Youn Jung more than with Jung Somin. Maybe that’s why I liked part 2 more than part 1 (although I admit without the love story in part 1, part 2 wouldn’t work that well). Mudeok and Jang Uk to me felt like Master-Student while Buyeon-Jang Uk felt like the real thing.

I missed the original Naksu shadow assassin (GYJ looked soooo different as Jin Bu Yeon – the hair, light eyebrows etc) so sometimes I had to stop and think if this was really the same actress or not. Cho Yeong’s evolution from the young girl, the teenager that Seo Yul met, to Mudeok, Jin Buyeon and back to Yeong was amazing. I’m still a little bit confused how this all happened, though it somehow made sense, but I love that she will spend the rest of her life as Cho Yeong. She may never take up the sword again, but with her powers, she and Jang Uk can fight together for good.

I also love how much Jang Uk has grown since part 1 episode 1, esp now that he is the most powerful mage in Daeho. You dont need to be the king to be the most powerful, as long as you do your job and your passion well. I hated that Go Won was always threatened by Jang Uk when he never made any intention known that he wanted to be king.

I didn’t however, like that there were a lot of flashbacks that could have been skipped. I also didnt like that Go Won had many scenes that were unnecessary and the turtle squad, trying make their scenes funny like in part 1. Good thing the turtle actually had a purpose in the story.

Park Jin and Kim Dojoo are too funny!! I miss Danggu’s blonde hair and he didnt get a lot of cute scenes with Choyeon. Of course Master Lee is always all knowing.

I also never liked Seo Yul and Soi’s “relationship” from the very start. Soi has caused so much pain to Seo Yul and almost died because of her. and Soi dying trying to save him doesn’t justify her actions or make her a better person. Even she didn’t give him the blood parasite, none of this would have happened in the first place. Plus Seo Yul is so nice and virtuous, how can the writers pair him up with Soi, plus his one sided love with Naksu! how cruel! I was hoping he gets his own love interest at the end, but i guess, his heart is with the mages. I also was so annoyed with Yun Ok. Why is she even in this drama? She was catty for no reason, and put her nose in every place she didn’t have to be.

It’s always hard to write a great ending for fantasy dramas so was very happy that this show ended with quite well!!

Overall part 1 and part 2 could have actually fit in 20 episodes if they removed some of the draggy parts at the start, but also ok that they separated part 2 to give time for people to get used to the new actress/character and the 3 yrs later part of the story.

Rating: 8.5/10

Reborn Rich (2022)

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Drama: The Chaebol’s Youngest Son (재벌집 막내아들)
Network: JTBC
Episodes: 16
Release Date: November 18 – December 25, 2022
Runtime: Friday-Sunday 22:30
Language: Korean

Plot: Yoon Hyun Woo, the right-hand man of the current Chairman of Soonyang was murdered while trying to retrieve the proceeds from a slush fund, and gets reborn as the Jin Dojun, the youngest grandson of the Soonyang family. He vows to find out who tried to murder him in his previous life and take revenge by taking down Soonyang.

Main Cast:
Song Joong Ki – Yoon Hyun Woo / Jin Dojun
Lee Sung Min – Jin Yang Cheol
Shin Hyun Bin – Seo Min Young
Yoon Je Moon – Jin Yong Ki
Kim Nam Hee – Jin Seung Jun
Park Ji Hyun – Mo Hyun Min
Jo Han Chul – Jin Dong Ki
Kim Shin Rok – Jin Hwa Young
Kim Do Hyun – Choi Chang Je
Kim Young Dae – Jin Yoon Ki
Park Hyuk Kwon – Oh Se Hyeon

Review:
I started watching this only when the current airing episodes were already in episode 14 and everyone is raving about this drama. The first few episodes were ok with me, nothing outstanding, I even kept criticising the “reborn” part which I thought didn’t make sense, but as I watched, I decided to suspend my disbelief and just follow the story, which became so exciting and thrilling that I ended up finishing the series jut at the same time that episode 16 came out.

I loved Lee Sungmin as the harabuji chairman and his complicated relationship with his grandson. They were so much alike that Harabuji can’t help but be so impressed with his grandson, even though Dojun was doing everything to block Soonyang in almost every episode. I guess when the rest of the potential heirs are too incompetent, harabuji is worried that the company he worked so hard to build will just collapse after he dies. Lee Sung Min is the best actor to play Jin Yang Cheol, but it was still weird to see that he looks so young to be the chairman esp. when the actors who played his sons were near his age to be believable. They could have added more gray hairs and wrinkles to his face (Sungmin’s face was so smooth like a baby, they just added some freckles to make him look old).

I also loved Song Joongki in this dual role, although special props to Kim Kang Hoon for playing the younger Dojun – he set the tone for the older Dojun. However, SJK has done this role many times like the perfect guy who has a plan for everything, like Vincenzo, or his thirst for revenge like in Innocent Man, that it felt like he didn’t do anything special in terms of acting. This drama also made me think if I was reborn, what would I do to change my fate? I will probably buy land in the most expensive areas while they were still nothing but grass.

I heard the original webtoon did nt have a romance angle between Dojun and Minyoung and I wished they kept the original webtoon between the romance just didn’t work for me. Minyoung was too bland and boring for a strong personality like Dojun/HW. If HW didn’t know Minyoung from his previous life, he probably wouldn’t notice her at all. Plus, Minyoung’s character only showed up when the story needed a prosecutor to arrest Dojun or help Dojun arrest the uncles/aunt. I was relieved that the present HW didn’t end up with Minyoung. I even preferred Dojun with Hyunmin or even Rachel – It would have been fun seeing Dojun and Seungjun fight over Soonyang and a girl, while Rachel was bubbly and cheerful and have more possible chances for them to fall in love since they’re always in the office together.

Not sure if I’m one of the few who actually liked the ending and was satisfied with it. For most people they prolly got attached to “Jin Dojun” rather than “Yoon Hyun Woo”. Everyone was wondering if he was reborn or time travelled, I’m glad they finally addressed it in the last episode, although don’t have to dig too much deeper or you’ll end up with more questions than answers. Plus, how no one thought HW looked like Dojun is beyond me! The difference is HW wearing glasses! I guess if Clark Kent can get away with it, HW can too!

The last episode was 1.5 hours long but I think they should have just added an extra episode so that the ending didn’t feel too rushed. I would have loved to see HW talking to his Dojun family one more time. Overall solid writing and acting from the ensemble cast.

Rating: 9/10

Fanletter, Please (2022)

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Drama: Please Send Me A Fan Letter (팬레터를 보내주세요)
Network: MBC
Episodes: 4
Release Date: November 18 – November 26, 2022
Runtime: Friday & Saturday 22:00
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot
A father writes a fake fanletter from a popular celebrity to his ill daughter in hopes to keep her happy, but ends up getting found out in public. The popular celebrity goes to find the kid and realizes it’s the daughter of her first love. Will they both find love this time around?

Main Cast
Choi Soo Young – Han Kang Hee
Yoon Park – Bang Jung Seok
Shin Yeon Woo – Bang Yoona

Review
I expected this to be a romcom but this turned out to be a melodrama. The first 2 episodes were light, and sweet, showing a little some flashbacks of Kang Hee and Jung Seok’s high school relationship and how they meet again as adults with adult issues. The second half was more serious, focusing on healing and finding love again. The story is simple, nothing new, but it worked because of the 2 leads and the cute kids. I liked the first love trope and the leads meeting again still liking each other after all these years. And how they support each other.

Being a celebrity is really tough. You just get too many haters and people can easily ruin your reputation with a lie. But it’s worse if the lies are coming from classmates and friends. I like Kanghee, I wish she had more friends who can defend her.

I also like Jungseok. Hope there’s a way he can go back to being a lawyer although I understand his kid’s welfare is more important to him. But maybe now with Kang hee beside him, he can have more helping hand.

Some might feel that the overall mood of the drama is gloomy and might find this boring, but I didn’t because it was tightly written and was only for 4 episodes.

Rating: 8.5/10

Behind Every Star (2022)

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Drama: Behind Every Star (연예인 매니저로 살아남기)
Network: tvN
Episodes: 12
Release Date: November 7 – December 13, 2022
Runtime: Monday & Tuesday 22:30
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

Plot: The story is about the daily lives of agents in Korea and how they manage the biggest Korean stars.

Main Cast
Lee Seo Jin – Ma Tae Oh
Kwak Sun Young – Chun Jane
Seo Hyun Woo – Kim Jung Don
Joo Hyun Young – Son Hyun Joo

Review:
I didn’t watch the original French drama so I’m not going to compare it with this Korean remake.

I like the episodic celebrity cameos esp Jo Yeo Jeong, Oh Nara/Park Hosan, Kim So Hyun, Lee Soon Jae, Daniel Henney (although his episode was the only one with a bad ending). I just thought that some of the stories were not as strong as the first 4 episodes.

At first I thought Ma Tae Oh is the bad guy in the office but actually he’s the one I like the most, despite his personal mistakes. And I love how much he actually dotes on Hyunjoo esp when everyone found out. I thought he was ashamed of her, but I realized he has been responsible father to me, he actually knows her and they do meet regularly. He just didn’t want anyone to know because he already has a (powerful) wife and a kid. The weird sibling romantic vibes between Hyunjoo and Eungyul need to go too. I’m a little disappointed with Hyun Joo. The actress was really funny in Atty Woo but here, I don’t know if it’s her acting or the director’s instructions but Hyun Joo (as a character) was not well-written. She was boring and flat. And how many times does she have to make a mistake to learn? She wants to be a great agent but she didn’t seem like she was good at it. She lacked the spark of a young passionate agent.

Heo Sung Tae is so fun to watch even if his character is annoying. I wouldn’t want a boss like him! Lol. I think he still likes Jane but is too shy (?) or proud to tell her, esp. since he knows Jane doesn’t like him other than his investment money.

All the other leads’ stories are also not that good. I don’t like the tax guy at all and I don’t know what Jane sees in him – he’s stalker-ish and controlling. I actually prefer Jane with Jung Don – I think they match more, I don’t like Jung Don with the receptionist/ wannabe actress although I want her to be successfull too.

The french drama has 4 seasons, while this remake’s 1st season covered 2 seasons. Not sure if they’ll be renewed for season 2 and if I’ll continue watching (maybe if they can get even better cameos).

Rating: 8/10