tvN Drama Alchemy of Souls Premieres to 5.205% First Episode Ratings with an Intriguing and Steady-handed Narrative Start

So the big question mark around tvN fantasy sageuk drama Alchemy of Souls (Returning Soul) is now answered, and it’s not a definitive yes or no. The first episode premiered this Saturday and got 5.205% ratings which is the lowest of all the tvN Sat-Sun drama premieres since early 2021. The only other drama to premiere in the 5% range was The Demon Judge otherwise all other Sat-Sun dramas in the last year and a half have been starting off in the 6%-9% range. Alchemy of Souls definitely had audience interest to check it out but I don’t know how many will stay around. This drama is absolutely up my alley – it’s original and interesting with the soul swapping (or body stealing) core trick and then putting it inside a very sprawling story and characters. Episode 1 barely scratched the surface and there was so many past connections to unpeel and new relationships to form. I’m glad Jung So Min is the leading lady because she’s the center of this drama and so far she’s doing a great job of being the powerful female assassin’s soul inside a blind weak girl’s body. Lee Jae Wook and Minhyun as the two younger male leads are okay thus far, luckily no one is failing out of the gate. I’m excited for episode 2 and also glad to see the Hong Sisters back with something that appeals to my taste buds.


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tvN Drama Alchemy of Souls Premieres to 5.205% First Episode Ratings with an Intriguing and Steady-handed Narrative Start — 24 Comments

  1. This is a wuxia drama from set up to costume and even episode count (30 episodes!). The first episode was better than expected or maybe because my expectations were rock bottom. It flew by quickly and didn’t bore me surprisingly. The veteran cast were great but I enjoyed the youthful energy of the fresh faced cast even more. The 4 seasons introduction was gorgeous and very F4 inspired clearly but beautifully executed. JSM is great but I loved the original Naksu even more. Normally I hate childhood connections but I loved all the tropey connections between the leads this time and I’m sure there will be more. The child actors were great too despite their brief appearance. Overall I can see where the plot is heading but its looking fun and very Cdrama in a good way. I hope this works out and does well because we need more Wuxia inspired Kdramas and especially we need more dramas set in the 3 Kingdoms and before eras. Joseon and Goreyo has been done to death and frankly I’m bored of them. This however is right up my alley.

    • 30 epi and more for wuxia usually with 30 mins each epi, besides many cdrama release new epi everyday so it certainly holds some advantages to keep viewers around. But this one, is it even necessary for 30 hours of viewers’ time with just two epi weekly? Only time will tell.

    • The reason Joseon and Goryeo has been done to death is because Korea’s earlier time periods are shrouded in ambiguity, there are huge gaps where there isn’t any actual physical history records. Even Goryeo, there is no actual Goryeo clothing uncovered from tombs that they can refer to, so they can only gather bits and pieces of information from Chinese paintings that depict Goryeo officials, the rest is up to imagination.

    • i wrote this exactly on twitter. Alchemy of souls reminds me of wuxia from the setup, characters, tropes, setting. Im glad im not the only one. Im curious to see how the korean audience respond to this c-drama inspired story setup. Will it work? As a non korean audience, who is familiar and warched wuxia before this is very cool. Looking forward to the story revealing more.

  2. I enjoy both C and K dramas, but I always find it interesting when Cdrama uses elements from others then there is too much noise and name calling but when it’s Kdrama does the same thing no one bats an eye.

    • It’s because too many people are stuck in a “China bad” narrative. The truth is that the various East Asian countries have influenced each other a lot over the past thousands of years.

      • For the vast majority of that time, the influence has been decidedly one way. China was the cultural standard for a huge chunk of the world and Chinese influence has permeated Korean culture to such a huge degree – from names to all the Sino-Korean loan words.

      • Agree. My reply went way to the bottom. My Hakka dialect sounds similar to Korean. Some Taiwanese speak Hakka too and their hill tribes DNA been linked to Maori indigenous people in New Zealand.

    • frankly, I would call this one out for copying what I hate the most from recent wuxia C-drama/ movies: overblown VFX to portray qi based energy attacks – am kkondae enough to prefer the old school special effects that makes things look more realistic. However if you take that out of the equation, I think it’s a very good drama indeed so far.

  3. The main reason i checked this out is because of lee jaewook and jung so min. I love the first episode! Yes it does remind me of wuxia and I am not complaining at all. Surprised to know that there will be 30 episode…. But i will be checking this out weekly! Hope this doesn’t disappoint, i want this to be a hit for lee jaewook so baddd!!!

  4. The first episode was so good and the world-building worked. Even the costumes worked in the context of the first episode, when they looked messy in the stills and trailer. The trailers/teasers released before the airing were pretty bad, so I’m surprised the first episode had such good ratings.

  5. This definitely surpassed my expectations in all areas including storyline, dialogue, & special effects! I’m glad Jung Somin is finally in a solid drama where she can showcase all aspects of her spectacular acting. I love the humor and chemistry so far between the two leads & the unexpected twists at every corner. The 60+ minutes just flew by!

    • I’ve watched the first two episodes, really enjoyed them. Yes it may have been slow to begin with bit I believe that this drama is going to very good.

  6. Very true. I speak a Chinese dialect called Hakka. There are quite a few Hakka words that sound similar and mean the same as Korean words. Examples include tea-cha, ten-sib, identification card – sinfoonjin (H) sinbunjeung (K), male/man/boy-namjai (H), namja (K), three-sum (H), sarm (K), rooftop-uk dung (H), uk sang (K), journalist – keeja (H) gija (K), dormitory – suksa (H), gisugsa(K).

    Seriously I think my Hakka ancestors came from the same area as Koreans many hundred or thousand years ago. Lol.

    • I meant to reply to @Rina that Chinese culture has permeated Korean culture including linguistic influence eg Sino-Korean loan words. Therefore I don’t see the need to argue over who rip off who or who copy whose culture.

  7. I am impressed with Lee Jae Wook. This is the first series I have watched him in and his character is heartbreaking but at the same time, he is such a mischievous fellow. I have enjoyed all his scenes in the first two episodes.

  8. As a fan of Lee jae wook, I am so glad that the korean audience is digesting this series pretty well -from 5.2 viewership ratings on first ep, now rise to 5.9 for the 2nd. I am looking forward to the episodes next week as well, sneak peek on interactions between Jae wook and So min seemed pretty promising and funny!

  9. You might want to help your friends on the mydramalist alchemy of soul page fight koreaboo, who insults China and Cdrama fans with their words and has become xenophobic.

  10. FYI it’s Xianxia not wuxia coz its a fantasy drama…wuxia only involves kungfu and martial arts…People here kept saying wuxia when there’s magic involve….smh

  11. The Alchemy of Souls,reminds me of Shadowhunters with C and K historical cultures 😁 I love shadow
    assasin and Seo Yul.🔥

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