Audiences Preferring Joseon Era Romance to Modern Day Slapstick in Legend of the Blue Sea


It’s week two for Legend of the Blue Sea, with ratings to come in episodes 3 and 4 to show whether this drama is on the upswing or slowing down. I enjoyed the first two episodes but that was despite the seriously distracting elements of the modern day narrative. It was indeed too slapsticky for me, focusing too much on Jeon Ji Hyun‘s mermaid out of water situations and too little on establishing the modern day backstory.

The Joseon era story appears to connect with viewers and I like it more as well, the world building is nicely paced and the melancholy more fitting to the mood I expect with ocean-to-land-crossed lovers. The new stills from the drama are right up my alley, with Joseon era Lee Min Ho fighting off baddies. I do love the beauty of the mermaid scenes, the costuming of Jeon Ji Hyun’s mermaid is exquisite and the swimming scenes enchanting. Maybe I’m just more into seeing her in the water being a mermaid than out of the water being all sorts of random.


Audiences Preferring Joseon Era Romance to Modern Day Slapstick in Legend of the Blue Sea — 26 Comments

  1. Exactly how I feel. I love the Joseon backstory. There’s something melancholy and bittersweet about it. The present day story with the OTT antics of the mermaid totally not refreshing at all especially that we have seen too much of those from JJH. Since this is not a pre-produced drama, they still have room to improve and accommodate viewers’ preference. And with no strong competition, I predict LOTBS has no worry as it will stay on top during its entire run.

  2. It seems the majority of your readers here agree with you based on prior blogs, Ms. Koala. LMH looks so dang fine in the historical setting and JJH less predictable too. OK, I’m repeating this again and again and again and hope my wishful whisper will miraculously tickle the writer’s and the PD’s ear buds. Just curious. Is JJH a bigger star than LMH in S. Korea? Why I feel that whichever drama (oh well only two I’ve watched so far LOL) she is in, they always downplay the presence of her costar. That’s how I felt about MLfAS. KSH’s star power in that show was heavily overshadowed by her presence. Tbh, I don’t really like it.

    • JJH is definetly the bigger star than LMH and also KSH, she’s been an It star since the 90s in S. Korea . I think LMH and KSH held their own pretty well but it just can’t be helped that JJH just has that star aura that makes everyone shine a little less in comparison

    • Cheon Song Yi was an iconic character and JJH really killed it which was why there was such a huge focus on her in general. But KSH’s Do Min Joon was a huge huge trend in itself. I remember back when YFAS was airing, it was DMJ that was trending on naver everyday constantly. I think more than overshadowing her costars, she just picks great roles. Here though, I’m not so sure because tbh, there’s nothing I love about the drama other than “Oh! JJH is gorgeous!”

    • JJH is an A-list actress, of the same level as acting legend like Song Kang Ho and Ha Jung Woo. These A-listers rarely do dramas and when they do, it’s always a really big thing.
      On the other hand, KSH and LMH are popular and A-listers in dramaland but not in Chungmuro.
      So yes, JJH is a bigger star than both LMH and KSH.

      • She is very popular but I wouldn’t go as far as put her in the same level of raw talents and critically acclaimed actors like Song Kang-ho and Ha Jung-woo. The one actress who can rival them on the big screen is Jeon Do-yeon. The only actress who compete worldwide in Cannes and brought home the first best acting award for Korea.
        If we are talking iconic/legendary actors, that would be for the likes of Kim Hey-ja, Yun Jung-hee, Park Geun-hyung etc with performance that can compete in the best foreign films in the Academy awards.

        There are a lot of movie actresses who are much more talented but not as popular. She is one of the most popular at least to drama fans.

      • She is not on that level. She’s a very popular star, but until just recently she was more known for CFs than hits. She’s not critically acclaimed as those people you mentioned are. KSH’s box office success should also not be downplayed, and I’m not really a fan of his. But to say he’s just a drama star is wrong imo.

      • Thanks guys. May be I overestimated her but she seems everywhere and read somewhere that she is definitely an A-list actress and a Chungmuro’s darling. LMH and KSH at least not up to her level yet.

      • Like others, I also think putting JJH in Song Kangho and Ha Jungwoo’s level is pushing it a bit too far. She’s a good actress obviously, but she didn’t have a string of successful projects before Thieves/You From Another Star. She benefitted for YFAS massive success and rightfully so, but to believe she’s waaaay up there is a reach.

        As for LMH, I agree he is definitely no A-lister in Chungmuro. But KSH hasn’t had a flop movie (or project) yet. In fact, his only two movies are amongst the biggest hit Korean movie this decade – those being Thieves and Secretly, Greatly. He’s also no A-lister in Chungmuro, but he’s also not a no body. His records reveal that, despite me feeling he’s too overrated in general.

    • She’s the bigger star. I agree somewhat with what you are saying. I like when roles are even more so when one part of the pair is the only standout. When it’s a pair that works well together and everyone gets to shine is what I enjoy. I do think she’s a skilled actor, but I don’t buy she’s so awesome she can’t help but overshadow everyone. There are other much more skilled actors out there who also allow their co-stars to shine.

    • Why did I say that? I watched all KSH’s dramas/films except for perhaps just part of Dream High. I have to say I’m very impressed by his acting range and love him on screen. He seemed able to effortlessly breathe life into his character and make it nuanced except for this one particular MLfAS. I do think the writer of MLfAS gave JJH’s character more emphasis and layers and by comparison KSH’s alien professor appeared 1-D and ho hum. I personally feel that LMH’s presence in this drama is stronger than KSH in MLfAS, acting skills aside. I hope this kinda onscreen balance will continue, be it in the Joeson setting or the modern counterpart. It’s just so boring to watch a one-lady show (given that I watched dramas mainly to see hot guys like LMH and KSH LOL). That’s part of the reasons I did not follow MLfAS ep by ep but quit in the midway and went back later on to marathon through the end.

  3. Ms koala you said “audiences” then used yourself as an example.

    You showed no statistics that most “audiences” preferred the Joseon Era.

    The scenes with them in modern Era gets higher live ratings than the scenes in Joseon Era. Check tv-cast never.

    Maybe you should rename this entry as “I” instead of “audiences”

    • She’s not a reporter, and this is not a newspaper. This is HER blog, she doesn’t need to show statistics. Do you ask for statistics to every blogger who write things you don’t like? And she can name her entries the way she likes it. I preferred the Joseon Era too, so I’m part of the “audiences”.

      • I never said she was a reporter, she said “audiences” without showing where she got that information from.
        I was just pointing out that her statement is misleading(also wrong if you look at the live ratings)

        I also prefer the Joseon Era, so this not me asking for sources because i don’t like her statement.

        You sound very hostile, if the show is making you this hostile maybe you should drop it. Just a suggestion

    • do Korean netizens count as audiences? I’ve seen comments in Korean saying they prefer the historical parts to the modern one, it’s not only Koala who thinks so.

    • I’m not hostile because I don’t like this drama, what I don’t like is your post asking for statistics or sources. Again, bloggers doesn’t need to write their sources to every word they write, all they need is to write what they think. And, for your information, the one who sounds hostile is you.

      • “bloggers don’t need to write their sources to EVERY WORD they write”

        I never said that they do, stop putting words in my mouth.

        I was just pointing out the title and theme she based this write-up about is misleading(or even factually wrong)

  4. I’m out. I normally give 3-4 episodes a drama, and this has “something” that doesn’t connect with me, I find it too “forced”? I don’t know how to define it. And seriously, I’m not nitpicky, I watch Thai, Taiwanese, Chinese, Japanese, Korean… and all kind of arguments. Sorry, no offense.

  5. I think JJH is an extremly talented actress. she has this aura that makes her stand out among her peers. I think it’s a shame that she choose her career direction based on popularity rather than critical acclaim. she is an A-list actress, but its because of popular/ iconic roles, rather than truly award wining performance. it’s unfortuante because she truly has the potential to be one of the best. I’m not trying to bash her, just expressing my opinion. regardless of what i think, she is way more successful than i would ever be, and laughing her way to the bank.

  6. Jun Ji Hyun is good actress. But her outstanding appearance overshadowed her talents in people’s eyes. In Korea, actors that has just average appearance will be always easy to be claimed as good actors than the beautiful one since people are focus on their face only while they actually talented.

  7. I agree with Koala on this one.
    The ratings not improving much, so I don’t see that it is likely to surpass DOTS. Even Romantic Doctor Teacher Kim performed better.
    Watched the 3rd episode and I feel somewhat disconnected. Although Moon Lovers is qualitatively less superior, at least I can feel emotionally connected to the characters by episode 3 (that’s LJK and KHN). There’s nothing wrong with the acting or editing but I just could feel the gap there, some kind of detachment.
    3 episodes along, the plot is still floating being neither here nor there. I am still holding on but I hope they will tone down the comedic side which feel kinda outdated.

  8. Not watching this drama but the idea of the Joseon story appealing more than the modern day hijinks reminds me of when I watched Rooftop Prince. Similarly, I was much more intrigued by the tiny Joseon bits than the modern day story and it was because of the same perception of the Joseph storyline being much more established and melancholy.

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