mirror of the witch spins a different magic

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I’m relieved to inform that Mirror of the Witch is actually pretty good. I’ve watched both episodes and can see myself following the drama until the end. Not only because I love Kim Sae Ron, but because the story is intriguing. Are cable stations using better cameras than the main networks? Because the quality of their productions is simply excellent.

I’m not going to dive deep into the whole freaky magic stuff though I’ll say a rather twisted form of surrogacy is introduced in order for the queen to produce an heir. She ends up giving birth to twins – one boy and one girl. Boy is the crown prince while girl has to be killed in order for everything to go smoothly. Our little girl grows up to be Seo Ri (who is known as “Yeon Hee” for now), the abandoned princess.

The little princess doesn’t die – since her kingly father pleaded his loyal subject, Choi Hyun Seo (HS) to save his daughter. Seventeen years pass. HS imprisons SR in a house built into a huge pit in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by talismans. SR is not allowed to step beyond the boundaries of them and lives alone – her adopted family visits her occasionally. Meanwhile, her crown prince twin brother starts to have dreams of a girl who looks like him.

The characters of KSR and YSY only meet in the second episode and it’s all light-hearted comedy with a twist of bittersweetness. Heo Jun (HJ)stumbles upon SR’s remote dwelling and is whacked unconscious by a pot cover by SR, who thinks he is a thief. Heh.

When HJ wakes up, he is all tied up and tries to argue his innocence. When he sees how pretty his assailant is, he is reminded of a tale that a ghost lives in this area who uses its beauty to lure victims with the intention of eating their hearts. HJ thinks SR may be it and starts chanting absolute rubbish to ward her off. HAHA.

SR promises to release HJ if he does her a favour. Cut to she directing him to pick all the fruit of a tree with branches hanging beyond the boundary. HJ doesn’t get why she can’t perform the task herself and SR states she can’t step out. HJ sarcastically asks whether it is because of the talismans and when her face drops, he realises that she is being very serious. To alleviate her disappointment, he does as she asks.

SR is annoyed that HJ is the cause of her lost kite (he accidentally cut it loose earlier) and he tries to make her a new one. His creation doesn’t satisfy her and they start bickering. Somehow she lands on his chest and is naively mesmerised by its sturdiness and the sound of his pounding heart (Joseon redux of High School: Love On!!!!!). HEHEHEHE. HJ is affected by their proximity and shoves her away. SR points out he is blushing and suddenly, she starts to throw adorable winks at him. KSR is such a cutie here.
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HJ is mystified while SR is nonplussed that her winks are not garnering the expected results. She pulls out a book and opens to a page that shows a young lady winking at men and comments that the men should have nosebleeds. Hahahahaha.

SR hears her name being called and quickly orders HJ to hide. Her adopted father, HS, appears and is furious to find out she stepped out a wee bit for a wee while. He does genuinely care for her, unlike his wife, who treats SR with resigned civility. He warns her again she isn’t allowed to venture beyond the boundary. HJ hears all this, feeling sorry for SR. Meanwhile, HS is adamant to find a book which will break the curse on SR.

SR’s adopted brother visits, Poong Yeon (PY) bearing flowers. He knows they are not blood siblings and is obviously in love with her. He gives her a lantern and a piece of paper to write a wish – a birthday present since it is her birthday the next day. Since she isn’t allowed to go out, he’ll be her proxy and release the lantern at the festival. A flashback shows PY with HS – the latter suspects PY has romantic feelings for SR and warns him that SR is off-limits.
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HJ finds the kite and falls off a cliff in an attempt to retrieve it.

Much better and much less creepy than I expected – with good acting all around. KSR is fab as usual and a pleasure to watch, seamlessly pulling off her first sageuk role. She plays a 17-year-old in the drama so it is YSY who is not acting his age. I found their chemistry cute and quite appropriate, and as the actors themselves proclaim, its youthful love they are channelling. YSY is charming, while KSY isn’t that far behind as the protective oppa to SR.

The storytelling and writing are tight so far, with evocative visuals and colours. Nothing, even the magic bits, is overdone or shoved down our throats, which I appreciate. Mirror of the Witch is more dark fairytale than a ghost story, centred really on an ill-fated, cursed princess and her desperate journey to seek freedom and love.

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