You have to love enough so you can let go of the person!

The voice of the sea speaks to the soul

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Title
Bride of the Water God (2017)
Also known as
   Bride of Habaek
Genre
Comedy, Fantasy, Romance
Written by
 Jung Yoon-jung
Directed by
 Kim Byung-soo
Country of Origin
 South Korea
Episodes
16

oh! … brief

Water God, Ha-baek is sent on a mission to Earth to find three stones that have the power to help him claim his rightful throne. It should be an easy mission, but he loses his superpowers, the coordinates of the stones and his ability to locate the three Gods holding the stones. He is forced to locate the descendant of a servant, So-ah, to the gods and gain assistance to complete his mission. However, So-ah is a psychiatrist and unaware that her fate is to serve the gods. She believes Ha-baek is delusional and eventually decides to treat his delusions after her persistently stalks her. When the three other gods (Bi-ryeom – God of Wind, Mu-ra – Water Goddess and Hu-ye – Semi-God) show up, matters become complicated and the mission is further threatened by Ha-baek’s growing affection towards So-ah.

oh! … talks drama

I must be in the mood for romantic kdrama’s because following swiftly on the heels of a marathon of Legend of the Blue Sea, I decided to watch another fantastical love story about a Water God and his servant.

And I found this kdrama as entertaining and as sweet as Legend of the Blue Sea. I think I preferred this one though, it seemed just a tad more mature and geared towards a more adult audience. But that’s just an opinion, not necessarily fact.

Bride of the Water God is based on a comic geared at teenage girls (sunjung manhwa) called Bride of the Water God written by Yoon Mi-kyung.

You have to remember that romantic kdramas are all about entertainment and not so much about content and substance so you have to take them at face value, and you must do this with Bride of the Water God or you’ll come away disappointed.

Never having been exposed to the original sunjung manhwa for this production, I can only surmise that scriptwriter Jung Yoon-jung did a good job. For me, the script was sound, allowing for character development, comedic narration for the characters and a good strong story and backstories for all the characters, each of them has one, and they will strip away at any bias you might have.

Jung Yoon-Jung’s script quickly establishes rapport between Ha-baek and So-ah that leads to an understanding that So-ah will help Ha-baek with his mission. I enjoyed the bickering between the two lead characters and then the transition to camaraderie and eventually affection – it felt natural.

Both lead characters mature and grow as individuals as the story develops which is encouraging as their personalities change. Starting out narcissistically, Ha-baek becomes more thoughtful and considerate of others around him, while So-ah begins to trust and rely on others to help her as she struggles with her inner demons and outer chaotic life.

I found it a little odd that the developing back stories for all the characters took so long to surface. I think

The sadness in the storyline Jung Yoon-Jung’s script would have been stronger if the reveal behind the back stories had happened earlier and not in the last few episodes. It felt a bit rushed to me. In fact, I’d go so far as to say you could have erased the three gods from the story entirely with their back stories and you will still have had a complete narrative that would work. I think Jung Yoon-jung struggled with writing of the unbalanced love between two individuals from two different worlds and focused too much attention on So-ah’s struggles to balance her finances, when he could have and should have paid more attention to developing the romance between the two leads – I wanted to see lots of love and those swoon-worthy lingering kisses. That would have created, for me anyway, a much more believable moment when the two decide to love each other for the time they have together. And the chemistry between the two leads could have been that much stronger.

I did enjoy the twist, which I won’t go into detail about here as it would spoil things for anyone who hasn’t yet watched this kdrama. He’s a handsome twist though and his back-story is perhaps the most well developed in the script, with plenty of flashbacks, again most happening far too late in the production, in my opinion.

Where the script faltered, director Kim Byung-soo stayed strong,  developing the visual narrative and this was another kdrama that was aesthetically appealing for all the beauty (background and human) captured in the lens of the cameras. The lines filled with affection were captured in equal artistry by the cameramen which furthered the lyrical exquisiteness of the story. This was further bolstered by the soundtrack which featured The Reason Why by Yang Da-il, Glass Bridge by Savina & Drones, The Day I Dream by Kassy, Pop Pop by Kim E-Z (Ggotjam Project), Reminds Me Of by Junggigo, and Without You by Lucia. The wardrobe for the cast was exceptional, all those amazing suits for the men! Nice!

Look, you’ll find many reviews that will berate the writer for this production and many others that will compare it to other kdrama out there, and that is well and good. I try hard not to compare productions because each is come to with the mindset of creating something to entertain you with. They may be similar to something else already out there and that happens a lot in kdrama land. But each body of work is unique, with its own script, its own director who chooses to do things his own way and always a cast of dedicated actors who sometimes hit the production out the ballpark (Goblin for instance) and sometimes completely miss the goal (Boys Over Flowers), but each production will appeal to people who watch and choose what to watch for numerous reasons. I liked this body of work, from the script, through to music and pretty much everything in between. It wasn’t perfect, but the flaws were so minimal that they could be entirely overlooked. And as always, reviews are based on personal opinions and bias. Had I watched this production on a different day and with a different mindset I may have formed a different opinion, but taking this at face value, I really, really enjoyed the simple story, the humour, the narration, the cinematography was appealing and captured the mood and tone of the story. The wardrobe was awesome and the music that accompanied the production was in my opinion exceptional.

The acting was a mixture of great, mediocre and flat. I think Kim Byung-soo made some exceptionally good choices for the various characters, other not so good choices, but I don’t believe that anyone cast in the production did an abysmal job in delivering their performances.

Shin Se-kyung as Yoon So-ah was a brilliant choice. She was able to genuinely become So-ah, frustrated with life and hankering after her dream while trying to accomplish some success in her field. Shin Se-kyung balanced the emotions of her character well and used skills in facial expression and voice tone to convey the feelings and frustrations well. I particularly liked watching her face visibly soften when the character Ha-baek alluded to his affections towards her. It was endearing! And the shared chemistry she had with Nam Joo-hyuk’s character was believable and crackling at times. I loved those long lingering kisses!

As Ha-baek, Nam Joo-hyuk was both amusing to watch, but also quite intense. I enjoyed watching his almost deadpan face as he tried to hide his emotions. I think Nam Joo-hyuk will grow into a fine actor, not that he isn’t one already, but he’ll refine his technique and embody the art to go onto great things. I felt Nam Joo-hyuk was one of the best of the actors because he stayed in character in both timelines. It was not the best performance I’ve ever seen, but it was a strong one nonetheless.

Im Ju-hwan (a heartthrob among the younger generation of actors) played Hoo-ye, the CEO of a fancy resort and wannabe rival of Ha-baek’s for So-ah’s affections. Man is this guy tall? And dashing? I really enjoyed the tension he created for this kdrama, it was just the right balance and not excessive or overacting. The character’s presence, almost regal like, was carried well by Im Ju-hwan’s personal stature and I really believed him to be a successful CEO. I mostly relished the moments of tenderness and think Im Ju-hwan did a fine job in conveying the softer, more vulnerable side of his character – that one scene where he breaks down entirely and bawls, wow – if it hadn’t been such a tragic and sad moment it would have been breathtaking!

Krystal Jung as the Water Goddess, Moo Ra, was an interesting choice. I personally don’t find her attractive, her features are very ‘hard’ and more chiselled. I expected a Water Goddess with soft, delicate and almost fluid features. I had a hard time watching her performance, not because it wasn’t good, but because my preconceived notion of what a Water Goddess should look and behave like kept getting in the way. I didn’t like Krystal Jung’s interpretation of her character’s anger, intensity and overall hardened dislike for everything and everyone except Ha-baek. It was a little over the top for me. We did get a glimpse of a softer character when Bi-ryeom confesses his affections for her, but it didn’t last long. I would have liked to see a different delivery of this character, it just didn’t sit as well with me.

Bi-ryeom, Wind God and friend to Ha-baek was played by Gong Myung. I was entertained by his performance and interpretation of his character. I’d have liked it even more if it had been more ruffian than playful prankster styled. But each to their own. Gong Myung delivered a performance worthy of the production, but it was hard to believe his seriousness after all the messing around and initial hijinks. I’ll look for other productions he performs in again because his smile and demeanour were just a little entrancing.

oh! … sidekicks

The only supporting character I’m going to mention is Nam Soo-ri, a God servant of Ha-baek’s that travels with him to earth. This character was played by Park Kyoo-sun and I loved, loved, loved his performance. I always manage to find a character that I just connect with, and I did connect with the leads, but I had a special affinity with Park Kyoo-sun’s character and that is because his performance was solid. I revelled in all those crazy facial expressions and looks of surprise he delivered as Nam Soo-ri. I also got a kick out of the way the character trotted around, working his butt off to get his God the things he wanted and money to use. This performance was special!

oh! … that’s a wrap

I have always enjoyed mythology so kdramas featuring mermaids, Gods, Goblins and anything closely related to mythology will appeal to me. Granted, I typically enjoy something along the lines of wars or thrillers or some such, this time around I seem to be attracted to the romantic elements of each story. Bride of the Water God is a good romantic story with the mythology twist. The script fused historical elements with a modern-day scenario and it worked. I’m really liking fusion kdramas, so if Goblin or Legend of the Blue Sea appealed to you, you might just enjoy this production too.

I’ll watch this kdrama again and I’ll add it to my collection because everyone needs entertainment that appeals to their inner-child every now and again.

oh! … soundtrack

oh! … gallery

oh! … trailers

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