Thoughts December 28, 2016

‘The Legend of the Blue Sea’ Fascinates With Cute Rom-Com, Fantasy Story

The new Korean drama, The Legend of the Blue Sea, marks the return of two big stars to the small screen, Jun Ji-Hyun and Lee Min-Ho. Viewers are in for a treat as the script is written by Park Ji-Eun of You Who Came From the Stars fame.

Sim Cheong and Joon-Jae. Photo © SBS

At first, I had no idea this would be a rom-com judging by the title. The story begins in the Joseon era of Korea with a forbidden romance. Then, it fast forwards to modern day, adding a touch of lightheartedness. It seems there’s a deeper connection between the past and present. Continue reading for my first impression of The Legend of the Blue Sea.

Sometime during August, 1598, newly appointed governor Dam Ryung stays for a night at an inn run by Mr. Yang. During that evening, Mr. Yang shows Dam Ryung a captured mermaid. Later that night, Dam Ryung releases her back into the ocean and, before she swims away, she reaches out her hand to him which he briefly holds.

In the present day, Joon-Jae is a smooth-talking conman with magician-like abilities. He works with Nam-Doo and Tae-Oh. For their next score, Joon-Jae impersonates a prosecutor and swindles a large amount of money from a wealthy suspect’s mother. Joon-Jae then travels abroad and stays at an oceanside resort. Meanwhile, a mermaid is swept up in a tidal wave and washed ashore near the oceanside resort. She sees Joon-Jae.


First Impression

After only two episodes, I’m already captivated by the mermaid. The first episode is basically a Korean version of Splash showing the mermaid’s curiosity of the human world. I like how they tried to stay away from that by offering a deeper back story behind the characters. The male lead, Joon-Jae, is a conman and the type the average person would avoid. But just like the mermaid, the viewers are drawn in to Joon-Jae and finds out he’s not what he seems.

Dam Ryung and Se-Hwa. Photo © SBS

The back story, revealed through small flashbacks in each episode, takes place in the Joseon era. It raises many questions about how it’s connected to the present timeline. The main characters look the same in two different eras but are they related? The flashbacks are more interesting to me since that plot line seems more serious. But it’s a genius way to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats to find out what happens next.

This was a pretty good start and I will definitely keep watching.

The Acting

Lee Min-Ho plays the conman Joon-Jae. Despite the character’s sketchy morals and underhanded tactics, the viewers are led to believe that deep down, he might not be such a bad guy. I attribute that to Lee Min-Ho’s acting allowing the viewers to connect with his character.

And then there is Jun Ji-Hyun who already captivated me in episode one with merely two to three lines of dialogue! Her gaze, her actions, and her body language are already enough for me to fall in love with her character. I especially like all the bits with her first day in the human world. I was originally a bit apprehensive about how she can top her previous role in You Who Came From the Stars. Cheon Song Yi became an icon with her comedic antics. But Jun Ji-Hyun continues to amaze — the mermaid is a breath of fresh air.

Jun Ji-Hyun as the mermaid. Photo © SBS

Spoiler alert! Click and read at your own risk.

As of episode 13, it seems like the present characters are reincarnations of the past characters. Despite being totally different characters, I felt the actors did a great job in that you can sense the essence of each character no matter their past/present form. They don’t differ too much that you cannot recognize that they’re connected, yet they’re not exactly identical in personality, either.

The Symbolism

Another aspect that I like is the underlying theme of “don’t judge a book by its cover.” In The Legend of the Blue Sea, the forbidden romance between a human and a mermaid causes much prejudice because they look different from each other. There’s also a scene in which the mermaid ponders how she can fit in with human society without revealing her true self to the public. This really hits home because I see a parallel in our society today. In light of recent world events, it’s important that we all overcome our differences whether it’s appearances or personalities. It was just interesting to see this metaphor play out in this drama.

Currently On-Air

I highly recommend The Legend of the Blue Sea if you’re a rom-com fan. There are bits of mystery and suspense as the series inch closer to the end. The mermaid scenes are magical and Jun Ji-Hyun did an amazing job as did all the other actors. It’s currently still on-air with seven episodes left (20 total episodes).

This article is purely of my own thoughts and opinions. Your opinions may differ. Any offense caused by my rants and ramblings is unintentional. Thank you for understanding.

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