Last weekend’s start to tvN new Sat-Sun drama Alchemy of Souls was probably as good as it gets. The drama is headlined by a younger cast with two idol-actors in the mix and looked like a hodge podge of elements in the promos. That it’s actually fun and interesting was all I could have hoped for, which is what makes the unexpected angst set up so nicely a bonus. I also realized that the leads are basically channeling F4 in Hana Yori Dango or more accurately the K-version in Boys Before Flowers. The female lead is the outsider and the four rich and powerful kids with their own little secret passage way reached forest and palace domain is the high school F4 as sageuk princelings with an added twist and one is a girl. Lee Jae Wook is doing his best Domyouji impression coming from an emotionally abusive dad and constrained life dreams while Jung So Min is totally the kickass Tsukushi with her shit together and trying to survive the F4 world that has no place for an assassin like her. Minhyun embodies Rui from looks to personality and aura perfectly. The HanaDan F4 dynamic has been used and re-used and adapted by many dramas and novels and other mangas even so it’s basically a trope of its own at this point but this time it’s really a fresh use of it. It’s funny, a decade ago when Jung So Min got her big break in another famous manga adaptation as the K-drama version of Kotoko (so stupid yet so earnest), I never would have thought she would be great as a K-drama version of Tsukushi and yet here we are and she’s just nailing it.