This last weekend a few new shows began airing in Korea. I’m planning on giving Mirror of the Witch, Dear My Friends and Beautiful Gong-shim a few episodes apiece, and Mirror of the Witch is the (lucky?) first batter up. My first impressions are not meant to be recaps, but rather guides to help curious viewers decide if it’s worth their time to watch.
Poster from Dramafever, where you can watch it as well.
Mirror of the Witch’s promotional summaries mainly focused on one of our leads, Seo-ri, as a cursed princess who lives in isolation. She meets and falls in love with Heo-joon (a real figure in Korean history–a physician). The show’s take on Heo-joon is a slightly younger one, before he ever becomes a royal physician or writes his book of medicine. I wish I could say the first episode completely lived up to the premise, but as with most Saeguks I’ve tried it spends its first episode entirely in past.
I’ll be brief and blunt, as I don’t wish to waste time.
Things I liked:
- Our leads. Seo-ri and Heo-joon hit it off really well together as characters, interacting naturally and giving an immediate presence to their characters. Of the two, Seo-ri intrigues me more as a character. The impression she gave is one part Tangled’s Rapunzel and two parts Gosick’s Victorique, if either took place in historical Korea. I look forward to seeing more of both of them in future episodes.
- The world. It’s a strange mix of the fantastical, the historical and comical. I’m thinking Korean Shakespeare here, if you’ve ever read The Tempest or Midsummer Night’s Dream.
- The camerawork. Their use of the camera provided a nice subtle power to the scenes. There wasn’t anything too crazy or creative going on, just well handled to match the lightness or power of the scene.
still from Soompi
Things I didn’t Like:
- The first episode. That’s kind of a big one, I know. And I understand that Saeguks often spend their first episode(s) in the past, building up understanding of the conflict. And if they’d focused on more of the other plot areas, I’d have nothing to say. But I really didn’t need my first sixty minutes of drama to center around our barren queen and her rather harrowing night life. I’d have preferred most of that to be given as flashbacks–even just cutting it back to half the first episode would’ve been fine.
- The CGI. I’m never a huge fan of CGI’d characters in a live action piece, and they put a CGI tiger in for probably five minutes of the second episode. It was a bit much for me to handle. Well done, sure–but still not realistic. (not that I wanted our actors actually facing off to a white Bengal… but couldn’t they have dispensed with the wildcat altogether and chosen a more feasible danger?) Also, the mirror was just a bit too obvious in its special powers for my tastes, sending out the glow-y rays and all.
All in all, it’s caught my attention and successfully guaranteed itself a third episode. The second was so much better than the first, I just need to see if it can continue to improve. If it does I can just put the first episode down to a dislike of extensive backstory. If not, then I think this show is out. Which would be a pity, because I still need to find a Saeguk I can successfully finish. I’ve gotten within three episodes of an end, before… but never finished one.
Here’s hoping and God bless,
Featured image from dramabeans