Alchemy of Souls is one of those K-dramas that took Netflix by storm. From powerful sorcery to love triangles to rib-tickling comedy, this Hong sisters' drama had everything to keep us entertained throughout the series. The viewership numbers and reviews are proof that a drama like Alchemy of Souls is hard to come by.
Keep reading to know some interesting facts about the hit fantasy rom-com.
1. Alchemy of Souls Faced Allegation of Plagiarism
After the release of the first two episodes of Alchemy of Souls, several Chinese netizens took to the internet to point out the similarities between Alchemy of Souls and the Chinese dramas Ever Night and Ashes of Love.
Viewers were quick to point out the similar elements between the shows like the master-servant relationship between the male and female leads, the fact that the male lead has a weakness, etc. Furthermore, the netizens marked out identical scenes between the dramas like the duel between Naksu and Park Jin on ice in Alchemy of Souls Season 1 and the duel scene in the Chinese drama Ever Night. The Korean drama also faced heat for portraying similar CGI effects to the xianxia drama "Ashes of Love".
However, as the drama progressed, the allegations subsided and the Alchemy of Souls went on to become one of the most popular K-dramas of all time.
2. Lee Jae Wook Almost Rejected The Offer For "Alchemy of Souls"
Let's admit it. No one could have been better suited for the role of Jang Uk other than Lee Jae Wook.
Be it a stubborn and picky young master or a lonely lover with nothing but the feeling of pain in his heart, the actor fit into the role of Jang Uk like a glove. But what the fans don't know is that Lee Jae Wook almost rejected the offer for the K-drama.
In an interview with Xportsnews, the actor said, "To be honest, I turned it down at first". He further commented, "It was too difficult and I wondered whether I’d be able to pull this project off well. However, I think I came to do it solely out of my desire to take on a new challenge. From an actor’s perspective, I’m incredibly satisfied with the results. Also, isn’t this a drama you don’t know when you’ll encounter again? I’m counting on the fact that I concluded well."
It's fortunate that the actor changed his mind and reconsidered the offer because we jus cannot imagine the Alchemy of Souls without him.
And we definitely agree with the actor on the fact that he did a fine job playing the role of Jang Uk.
3. Park Hye Eun Was First Cast for Mu Doek's Role
Initially, the Adamas actress was the first choice for the role of Mu Doek and even started filming for the Netflix K-drama. But later on, it was reported that the actress withdrew from the show because she felt that the role of Mu Doek was overwhelming for a rookie actress like her. Park Hye Eun gracefully stepped down from the drama while wishing it success.
On July 8, 2021, according to an article from the news outlet OSEN, the production team of Alchemy of Souls reported, "Park Hye Eun prepared hard even though she was a rookie actress, but she felt the pressure of playing the female lead in such a big drama project".
The production team then sought an experienced actress who would be able to carry out the role of Mu Doek skillfully. Jung So Min, who previously worked with the director Park Joon Hwa in the K-drama Because This Is My First Life, was offered the role which won her immense fame and appreciation.
4. Lee Jae Wook Shed Weight for "Alchemy of Souls Season 2"
Lee Jae Wook underwent a significant character transformation for Alchemy of Souls Season 2.
Season 2 takes place three years after the tragic incident that befell the people of Daeho. Jang Uk possesses the ice stone and is charged with the task of annihilating soul shifters using its power. But his duty comes with a heavy price. The wreaths of the souls that he kills haunt him, thereby, taking away his peace and sleep, which only adds to his loneliness and pain. The jovial and picky young master turns into a grief-stricken lover who lost his beloved in the most dreadful and tragic way. He distances himself from everyone, wears only black clothes, and waits - with faint hope - for his lover to return.
To fully express Jang Uk's grief to portray such a deeply-pained character, Lee Jae Wook shed a few pounds for the second season. According to a Naver article, during the filming of Alchеmy of Souls Sеason 2, Jae Wook shed an additional 9-10 pounds to better suit his role and character. Loosely translating the interview, the actor said, "I definitely lost weight because it's a character who came back from the dead after losing the woman he loved. I lost more weight because it was difficult in the middle, but I wanted to show a completely different, cold side from Part 1." He added, "I weighed 72 kg (158 pounds) in Part 1, but I lost 4-5kg (9-11 pounds) for Part 2. I think I lost a lot more because I was too busy working out."
5. Lee Jae Wook is the Youngest Cast Member in the Lead Role
Contrary to Hollywood, where the male leads are much older than the female leads, Korean cinema doesn't turn away from pairing an older female lead with a younger male lead. And it's definitely the case with the cast of Alchemy of Souls. Surprisingly, Lee Jae Wook (24) is the youngest cast member in the 'lead role', younger than even the female leads Jung So Min (33) and Go Youn Jung(26).
This may not be surprising for Koreans or avid K-drama watchers, but it is definitely an interesting fact for non-Korean viewers or first-time K-drama watchers (especially those who are used to seeing older male actors cast with younger female actresses) to know.
But despite being younger than most of the other cast members, Jae Wook carried out the complex role of Jang Uk with finesse.
6. Hwang Min Hyun Sang The OST from "Alchemy of Souls Season 2" Titled "Tree (Just Watching You 2)"
Fans of Hwang Min Hyun - whom we remember as Seo Yul in the drama - already recognize the idol-turned-actor from his boyband days. It might not come as a surprise for some to know that he sang the OST "Tree (Just Watching You 2)" from Alchemy of Souls Season 2.
Hwang Min Hyun first started out in the industry as a professional vocalist for the South Korean boy group NU'EST. And at one point in time, he also was part of "Wanna One".
Considering the actor's experience and skill, he was offered to sing the second version of "Tree (Just Watching You).
The song was sung by Jeon Sewoon in season 1. In Alchemy of Souls Season 2 the song is first played in ep 6. When the realization of Jin Bu Yeon's true identity hits Seo Yul, his eyes fill with tears and we see a touching moment between the duo. Min Hyun not only captivates the viewers with his acting chops but also with his beautiful voice in the song that plays during the scene.
The second version of the OST gave a different listening experience to the audience considering Hwang Min Hyun sang it in his style to express his character's feelings in the drama, ultimately giving us a terrible second-lead syndrome!
Though Non-Korean viewers may not understand the lyrics, the singer's melodic voice and tuneful music of the song definitely linger in our heads.
7. The Huge Production Value
From artistic and high-quality CGI to stunning costumes to an extensive casting and screenplay, Alchemy of Souls is one of those dramas that does not fall short in terms of budget. Moreover, with three production companies - Studio Dragon (Alchemy of Souls Season 1–2), High Quality (Alchemy of Souls Season 1), and TS Narincinema (Alchemy of Souls Season 2) - in charge, no wonder the fantasy K-drama is regarded as one of the most expensive dramas of all time.
According to sources, the production companies (Studio Dragon and High Quality) paid a whopping 5 billion won (approx. 4 million USD) for the construction of the filming site alone.
Also, considering the fact that the drama spanned over two seasons (with a total of 30 episodes), it's quite certain that the fantasy rom-com was indeed heavy on the pockets of producers and investors.
Bonus: Lee Jae Wook Cried During the Filming of "Alchemy of Souls Season 2"
More often than not, we see actors deeply immersed in their roles and consider their character's pain as their own. One such case is when Jang Uk's heartfelt story touched not only the audience but also the actor Lee Jae Wook himself.
In a behind-the-scenes-video of Alchemy of Souls Season 2 released by tvN, Jae Wook can be seen wiping tears during the filming of the finale scenes like the moment Jang Uk recognizes who Bu Yeon really is but cannot embrace her because of the danger she may face if her true identity is known to the world; and another scene where Master Lee marries Jang Uk and Jin Bu Yeon. Jae Wook even goes on to joke, "Why am I crying? I’m sorry..".