Alchemy of Souls – K-Drama Episode 3 Recap & Review

Breathing Techniques

Episode 3 of Alchemy of Souls picks up in the past with Jang Gang deciding to turn away from his child. Despite risking his life to save Uk, Jang Gang decides the boy should have his energy sealed away. Given how important he is, this is a way of keeping him subdued. He claims Uk’s father is a “dead man” and that Uk’s birth never should have happened.

In the present, Uk takes Mu-Deok back to the palace and takes responsibility for the poisoning. He tells Park Jin that it was all his idea.

Jang Uk also refuses to get treatment until Mu-Deok does too, which certainly angers his father. However, when Uk gets on his knees and pleads with him to help, Park Jin concedes and allows them both to get patched up at Sejukwon.

Of course, Uk takes full advantage of that, gaining an impromptu taxi service from Yul who carries him on his back! However, Yul is convinced that there’s something up with Uk’s maid. Given they’ve only just met, he’s curious as to why Uk has risked his life for her. He knows the guy is hiding something and remains dead-set on finding out what.

Meanwhile, Park Jin speaks to Heo Yeom about Uk’s powers. The shaman is pretty confident that Uk won’t be able to access his true powers until he’s at least 60, even with training. Still, his gate of energy has now been open and that’s a risk Park Jin is not willing to take. He tells the old man to retrieve the power.

Speaking of power, Jin realizes all of his alcohol is gone; his remedy for curing insomnia. It turns out Dang-Gu has been stashing some for himself…and that goes down about as well as you’d expect when he finds out!

Uk speaks to Mu-Deok when she recovers and admits that he’s never had anyone help him out like she has. He allows himself to fully submit to her as his true master and kneels before the woman, and allowing himself to be trained by her.

Mu-Deok immediately lays down the rules, pointing out that as soon as she gets her energy back and becomes Naksu again, their ties will be severed. Oh, and Uk is not to tell anyone about their training either.

Jin-Mu continues to stir in the shadows, learning that Naksu’s body has been disposed. Now, Jin-Mu is well aware that one can lose their energy and power during soul switching, given he actually witnessed this between the King and Jang Gang all those years ago.

Jin-Mu deduces that Naksu – wherever she is – could well be hiding in plain sight. Kil Joo heads off to find the Spirit Plaque.

Training begins with Uk, and he learns from Mu-Deok that he has a lot to learn. First up, he needs to learn Jipsu, which is the ability to gather the energy of water. Ryusu and Chisu come next, and when mastered correctly allows one to control water.

Hilariously, as Mu-Deok runs around to show her stamina, she suddenly collapses with cramps, out of breath. She bemoans her luck, given the body she’s adopted, but decides to take her frustrations out on Uk.

Despite her lack of stamina, Mu-Deok hasn’t lost the ability to fight and demonstrates that against Uk, realizing he’s not a particularly skilled fighter. So much for those 12 previous teachers!

Uk is convinced that he can learn things quickly, promising Mu-Deok that it’ll only take him 3 months to achieve what Jang Gang learned in a year (which is still 4 years quicker than the average!). Mu-Deok is not so sure, although she does get back to her usual maid routine between lessons.

After a quick exchange with Heo-Yeom outside, Mu-Deok soon realizes that young master Uk has a great source of energy inside him. But how to harness it?

They realize the key could be learning from someone within Heo Yeom’s family in how to master that breathing technique. And who better than Yul?

When they show up at the study and playfully tease one another, Dang-Gu jumps in and tels Uk to stop picking on Mu-Deok given she’s still weak. Of course she completely plays up to this, feigning that Uk is taking advantage of her.

Anyway, Mu-Deok does get her chance with Yul some time later, following him to the sacred area where the monks get changed. Mu-Deok seizes her chance and touches Yuk’s chest, trying to get a feel for his breathing. She needs 6 breaths but he stops her at 5, pushing him off.

Mu-Deok suddenly tells him she’s in love, hence the close touching, but Yul blasts her back down with his magic.

He’s not going to fall for her honeytrap lure and realizes she’s trying to learn  his breathing techniques. Yul urges her to stop, but when they discuss his whistle- the trinket binding Yul and Mu-Deok together when she was Maksu – he concedes to her.

Meanwhile, Heo organizes a meeting with Uk. The latter pretends to be ill and claims he’s been fainting a lot. Uk does manage to sway Heo, getting him blind drunk and eventually carrying him back. In doing so, the old man drunkenly blurts out that the key to the technique lies in how much one inhales and exhales.

When Uk and Mu-Deok eventually reconvene, Uk is clearly jealous of how close she’s got to Yul. As they walk away, we cut back to Jin-Mu, who’s concerned about Uk’s potential given he’s been asking about Naksu’s sword. Jin-Mu manipulates his associate into believing he needs to crush Jang Uk.

Speaking of which, Jang-Uk is actually banished from Songrim when he sees his father again. Even worse, as he’s lost the spirit plaque, he’s also to take 100 floggings too.

Uk bears it all, as everyone can only watch on helplessly. As he’s banished, told never to return, Uk refuses to until he’s given his final flogging by his father himself. Park Jin does just this.

Park Jin wants Uk to go quietly but given his gate of energy has been open now, chaos is bound to reign down when Uk inevitably returns. For now though, Mu-Deok and Uk leave.


The Episode Review

Poor Jang Uk has been banished from the kingdom but it’s immediately clear that this is a way of trying to “protect” him given what Jang Gang mentioned in the past about chaos. However, these bites of tense drama nestle nicely around the story that dabbles in humour, romance and fantasy.

I can’t remember the last K-drama that actually tackled magic like this and any comparisons to Bulgasal or Goblin are long gone. As I mentioned last week, this show feels very similar to C-dramas and you can see that influence with the way the show has ben presented.

The magic wielding is an interesting take, while the character ties are just starting to deepen now. Most notably Yul and Dang-Gu who play a far more prominent role in this chapter.

With all that in mind, Alchemy of Souls delivers a rather subdued episode on the whole, one that slows down a bit after a breathless start but sets up what should be an interesting set of episodes depicting Uk training.

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3.5

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