Review: The Legend of the Blue Sea

This Kdrama warmed up my heart 🙂


•Information•

Drama: The Legend of The Blue Sea (literal title)
Revised romanization: Pooreun Badaui Junsul
Hangul: 푸른 바다의 전설
Director: Jin Hyeok
Writer: Park Ji-Eun
Network: SBS
Episodes: 20
Release Date: November 16, 2016 – January 25, 2017
Runtime: Wed. & Thu. 22:00
Language: Korean
Country: South Korea

•Synopsis•

Inspired by the AsianWiki Staff’s Synopsis

During the Joseon Period, ending of the 1500s, there was a storm that brought to shore a mermaid. Discovered by Humans, she was captured by Mr Yang’s men, owner of a local Inn. Meanwhile, the newly appointed governor Dam Ryung stayed the night in the same Inn, and, in celebration of the new leader, Mr Yang showed the imprisoned mermaid to Dam Ryung, who blackmailed him to release her into the ocean. Vengeful, Mr Yang undid his doing, promising to revenge against the governor and get back the mermaid.

From that moment, the mermaid and Dam Ryung were bound by fate, falling for each other.

In the present time, Joon-Jae is a smooth-talking conman, specialized in magic and hypnosis. Working by Nam-Doo and Tae-Oh’s side, they make an unstoppable, consistent and loyal trio. For their next score, Joon-Jae impersonates a prosecutor and swindles a large amount of money from a wealthy suspect’s mother. After, the trio separates and go to their own private vacations overseas. Joon-Jae travels to Spain and stays at an oceanside resort, where he is surprised by a strange girl, hidden in his wardrobe.

•Plot•

⚠Beware Spoilers⚠

“The Legend of the Blue Sea”’s Plot is engaging, interesting, unexpectable and dramatic, filled with the most overwhelming moments and rich protagonists’ backstory and “powers”.

The storytelling is captivating connecting the past with the present.

The past tells the Legend of the Blue Sea, a romance between a Human and Mermaid. In the present, their story repeats as their reincarnations, the mermaid and the governor, in the present Shim Cheong and Heo Joon Jae, meet each other and other characters, other reincarnations from the Joseon Period.

The best part is that none of this is a coincidence, in truth, the present repeats the past because the characters are bound by fate, so strongly, their appearances are the same from the past and have a feeling of familiarity between characters like they “met in a parallel universe” or “I recognize this moment”. Through dreams, their fates were linked as it would tell a small bit of the story from the past. Discovering each past character’s ending through dreams or hypnosis, the present characters were determined to change it.

“The past repeats itself”

I really enjoy how the characters are diverse and useful, I loved the mermaids’ concept and powers, it turned the plot dynamic and unpredictable, and the background of each character, what’s their story, jobs and behaviour.

The romance is beautiful. Forbidden relationships are always so dramatic and suspenseful, especially between Mermaids and Humans, although is not the only thing I find amusing. Shim Cheong and Heo Joon-Jae are a very cute couple, perfect for each other. Bond by fate, something greater than lifespan and beyond religion and facts, an impossible coincidence reunited these individuals. Shim Cheong, the mermaid, didn’t know anything of the rules of the human society and the consequences of a mermaid out of her natural habitat. So clueless of her actions, a storm and curiosity brought her to Heo Joon-Jae’s room. At first, their relationship was sparkled by annoyance and pure materialism interest from Joon-Jae but then as they became friends and fell in love, Joon-Jae grew protective and preoccupied with Shim Cheong. Being naive, Cheong was always straightforward and honest with people around her, especially Joon-Jae, while Joon-Jae took care of her without knowing really why his fixation with her besides the desire to know what happened in Spain, when he first met her.

The romance became adorable and platonic almost when both started dating and Joon-Jae started listening to her thoughts. Protecting her from water or any other form of danger, they were almost inseparable. Their interacts are so cute and romantic. They are made for each other. Fate made it beautiful.

I also enjoyed the competence between rivals, Cha Si ah and Shim Cheong had a cat and dog relationship, direct and “threatening”. While male rivalry wasn’t strong since it was faked, it did some effect on Joon-Jae. Shim Cheong always loved Joon-Jae, she never questioned it.

Besides the romance and the connection between the past and the present, the plot is rich by the crimes and police, that as well as being linked to the past of those characters, is organized and interesting how it develops, according to their story.

Despite these thoughts, I was very confused at the beginning of the drama, even though it was clarified later, and it was very questionable some of Shim Cheong’s powers and actions. Her super strength, her ability to erase memories and she could’ve done and what she did instead was just a motive to cause more unwanted drama. And, finally, the drama. It can be so much, so much, you just want people to discover it already to be done with it. I mean It’s good there is suspense and that the emotions are growing but I wanted so much to not be late- a reference to episode 17. While they were happy, having fun, on the other hand, people were suffering, and even if the protagonists didn’t know, I was hoping so much that it wasn’t too late to save them.

It was a long journey, this kdrama’s plot (20 episodes = 20 hours). Filled with drama, romance, “mystery”, fantasy and placed between the present and past, it created a beautiful, mythical and engaging story. Even if there were too much drama and questionable choices, I was happy with “The Legend of the Blue Sea”’s Plot.

•Cast•

  • Shim Cheong (present)/ Se-Hwa (past)• Gianna Jun/ Wang Ji-Hyun
  • Heo Joon-Jae (present)/ Kim Da Ryung (past)• Lee Min-ho
  • Jo Nam-Doo• Lee Hee-Joon
  • Tae-Oh •Shin Won-Ho
  • Cha Si A •Shin Hye-Sun
  • Ma Da Young (present) Mr Yang (past)• Sung Dong-Il
  • Yoo-Na• Shin Rin-Ah
  • Heo Chi-Hyun• Lee Ji-Hoon
  • Mo Yoo-Ran (Hae Joon-Hae’s Mother)• Na Young-Hee
  • Kang Seo-Hee (Hae Joon.Hae’s Stepmother)• Hwang Shin Hye

•Characters•

⚠Spoilers⚠

~~Shim Cheong~~

Was interpreted by Gianna Jun. Unlike other actresses, she was a deeper voice, more subtle than the usual female voice. I was surprised at first and then seduced by it. Like an enchanting melody, she performed the protagonist’s role of Shim Cheong, the beautiful mermaid that fell in love with the Man who saved her life.

The most recent, starting her role as Shim Cheong in  “Legend of the Blue Sea”, she was rewarded for her efforts as “Teen Star” and part of the “Best Couple”, recognized by SBS Drama Awards in 2016. In 2015, she received the “Best Actress Award” from her work in the movie “Assassination” and in 2014, SBS Drama Awards, her work in “My Love from the Star” gained three awards, “Grand Prize”, “Best Actor or Actress selected by Directors” and “Best Couple”.

Shim Cheong is an enchanting, selfless and beautiful mermaid, who reincarnates from Se-Hwa, the mermaid from the Joseon Period.

With no knowledge of humans, the surface and the rules of society, she was pushed to this scarred world. Her first human encounter was Hae Joon-Jae, the owner of the room she broke in. She didn’t know how to talk his language and, threatened by his behaviour, she used her super strength against him and he tied her up, calling the cops. She is curious, amazed by that new world, and, happily, she followed Joon-Jae around when he grabbed her back from the police.

He taught her some etiquette rules, bought her new clothes, gave her food and a home. She became happy by his side so easily, falling in love for Hae Joon-Jae. Meanwhile, he was mostly interested in her source and the bracelet but, after trying to abandoning her, he grew worried and protective of her.

As a mermaid, she has a lot of powers. She is super intelligent, she quickly learned the language and the rules through dramas and conversations. By touching a human, she can erase the person’s memories of her, by kissing she can choose to delete all of her memories of her from that person, she has controlled super strength- I don’t understand how-, as a very efficient immune system and, when hurt, her body heals super fast and her tears turn into valuable pearls. When she controlled those powers, she was able to focus and see someone’s memories through direct touch.
Also, If the person she loves, loves her back, he can read her thoughts- I don’t understand why- making a tone of comedic and emotional moments.
Between mermaids, they can recognize themselves through thoughts and touch and are very sensitive to the surface: if the person the mermaid loves doesn’t love her back, his/ her heart will die slowly unless it returns to the ocean or the person loves the mermaid back.

I really like the mermaid’s concept and powers. It makes Shim Cheong independent from rescue, although there are some situations she is the damsel in distress. She is very helpful throughout the drama.

Besides that, she learned quite a lot from every character, excluding Joon-Jae, and developed many exclusive friendships, a little girl she tried to mug- funny story-, a beggar, who helped Shim Cheong live on the streets, and Hae Joon-Jae’s lost mother.

I liked how she was clueless and, after a night, she learned how to speak Korean through dramas. I wished I could do the same. That includes how she learns about love, money and how to live “normally”, like a human.

~~Heo Joon-Jae~~

The first reason I was interested in “The Legend of the Blue Sea” was the mermaids’ theme. I love mermaids and if you have recommendations of anything with “good” mermaids, comment please. And the second reason I was interested was Lee Min-Ho, Heo Joon-Jae’s actor. I loved his performance in “Boys Over Flowers” and, when I discovered he was on this drama, I needed to watch it, sooner or later.

Lee Min-Ho, Heo Joon-Jae’s actor, is very popular from several dramas and movies, that received many awards such as “City Hunter”, “The Heirs”, “Gangnam Blues” and “Legend of Blue Sea”. He also sings. He is wonderful.

As Heo Joon-Jae, he is a conman with his partners in crime, Jo Nam Doo and Tae-Oh. He is very capable. Expert in hypnosis and magic, first he locks the victim’s attention’s, distracted in his magic, and then steals away his/her goods, and with hypnosis, he can persuade through a different reality created by him while playing with his metal lighter.

He is cold and insensitive to Shim Cheong until he discovers she has 6 million won worth bracelet. Interested in its value, he steals it and tries to abandon her. He returns, justifying he has manners and that he never leaves without saying goodbye.

Heo Joon-Jae starts to worry for Shim Cheong, protecting her against his pursuers. He doesn’t actually know he is the one protected by her.

After his vacations in Spain, he regresses to Seoul, his home city, and he doesn’t remember anything about Shim Cheong. He only has her Jadeite bracelet, she gave before leaving him. He feels something is lacking from him and, when she arrived in Seoul to meet him, he is intrigued and bothered by her presence, how she doesn’t say what happened between them in Spain and who was she.

Eventually, they became closer due to Shim Cheong’s stubbornness. He was the one who gave her present name, and the first one in the drama to remember about Dam Ryung’s history, as his reincarnation.

Besides that, his character suffers quite a development when he met and fell in love with Shim Cheong. To a cold and distant character, he became kind and understanding around her, giving up on schemes.

His backstory was traumatic. With a young age, he was abandoned by his mother and started living with his father, stepmother and stepbrother, who didn’t acknowledge his struggles and pain from losing his mother. He runs from home and hires a “detective” to find his mother, who scams him. From that moment, after encountering Jo Nam Doo, the supposed detective, he entered in his current line of work, finding Tae Oh later, and became a conman against rich people with “dirty” money.

~~Jo Nam Doo~~

Responsible for Jo Nam-Doo’s role was Lee Hee-Joon. With a lot of experience from TV movies, Drama Series and Movies, he was recognized by his work in “Drama Special Series: Perfect Spy” as “Short Drama Actor (2011), and “Best New Actor” and “Best Couple Award” in “My Husband Got a Family” in 2012 and 2013.

Jo Nam Doo, part of the trio, is fundamental to know all of the data behind any gigs, searching about people and learning their schedules to create a plan. He is a very loyal character, proud of his skills and partners, with a lot of self-rules to prioritize his interests: manners, respect, money and friendship. He can be very straightforward, a bit arrogant and convinced. In the end, it’s created a misunderstanding that betrayed my trust but it was easily restored.

~~Tae-Oh~~

The baby-faced hacker Tae-Oh is performed by Shin Won-Ho. Besides “The Legend of the Blue Sea”, he worked in other Drama Series, for example, “Risky Romance”, “20th Century Boy and Girl” and “Big”.

Tae-Oh is part of the unstoppable trio, as the hacker, and thanks to him, they are able to access the most secure spots and make the digital proof disappear as he deletes surveillance camera’s footage after the score. With no proof of their involvement, they run free without suffering any consequences.

He is often playing games on his phone or computer, or listening to music and, besides eyeing characters surprised or flushed, he is very quiet, only talking in difficult situations.
During of one of their gigs, Cha Si-Ah, Heo Joon-Jae’s friend and Shim Cheong’s rival, almost caught the trio fooling her family, thanks to Tae-Oh, who dropped in, stressed, lied to Cha Si-Ah, confessing to her. Surprised/ shocked, Cha Si-Ah started hanging out with him, calling him to clubs and karaoke when she was feeling sad, thinking he would relate to her pain, although he actually liked Shim Cheong.

There were a lot of funny moments surrounding him and Cha Si-Ah, mostly misunderstandings, that evolved in something romantic. They are super cute.

~~Cha Si-A~~

Awarded for her participation in “My Golden Life” (2017), “Excellent Actress (Long-Length Drama” and “Best Couple”, and in “Still 17”( 2018), “Best Actress (Monday-Tuesday Drama)”, Shin Hye Sun was responsible for Cha Si-Ah role, Shim Cheong’s Rival and archaeologist in a cultural museum.

At first, Cha Si-A l is defensive towards Shim Cheong and tries to make her jealous as she interacts with her friend and crush Heo Joon-Jae.
Cha Si- Ah is important to the story to develop Hae Joon-Jae’s intel on his former “predecessor”, Dam Ryung. She was the one responsible to show Dam Ryung’s portrait, confirming his suspicions about his dreams. She was a very comedic character since she was confessed by Tae-Oh.
As well as other characters, Cha Si-Ah develops a lot through the drama.

•Performance•

I have no complaints. I loved the cast selected for each role and their performances.

I was very emotional through the drama, they were amazing, playing their roles correctly. Shim Cheong a mysterious yet charming character who knows nothing and, one day, she turns to a genius. She is kind but, not knowing anything how the Humans’ world works, she repeats what she sees. Gianna Jun interprets her so well. I was very surprised by her performance and I would love to see her again. “My Love from the Star” sounds a good start.

From Lee Min-ho, it’s my second time watching him acting. Goo Jun-Pyo to Hae Joon-Jae I kept comparing both, which was a bad thing, but both of them do share some resemblances. Anyways, I was amazed by his performance as well, his expressions are different and captivating, it really glues my eyes to the screen. To be honest, his appearance is also very pleasing and “distracting”.

I loved the wardrobe of the Joseon Period, it was really intriguing and eye-catching. Their performances during the past’s memories and dreams were amazing, it gave of a mythical, romantic and historical feeling to it, a princess in distress and the prince, the hero, vibes. I was always impressed by those moments.

The supporting cast was also very good and professional, focussed on playing their roles. Their efforts were definitely repaid with an amazing drama.

Overall, I am really happy about the cast’s performance.

•Scenario•

“The Legend of the Blue Sea”’s scenarios are very beautiful and diverse.

The scenes placed between the Joseon Period, the past, and the present time of the drama, in the Modern’s Era, and, of course, there are a lot of scenes in the sea, water associated.

During the Joseon Period, most of the scenes were wore in traditional Korean clothes on beautiful scenarios as the Pocheon Art Valley and the Boseong Green Tea Plantation.

Outside Seoul, Spain was like a mirage, so beautiful and “romantic”, it felt like it never happened when the protagonists return to Seoul. In Spain, the views were amazing. The opening shows some of those scenes and they felt almost mythical.

Heo Joon-Jae at first stayed at the oceanside resort in Girona. After meeting Shim Cheong and running away with her, they stayed in a luxurious castle, the Castell de Santa Florentinaand he passed by many other spots in Barcelona.

The Tower of Hercules is one of the spots in Spain, Corunna, the Drama took place, as described by Heo Joon-Jae, “where the world ends”.

The shopping center filmed supposedly in Spain is actually in South Korea, Starfield Hanam, where he, Joon-Jae, bought Shim Cheong’s first clothes.

In Seoul, those vacations are nothing but lost memories Heo Joon-Jae is trying to gather back and meeting Shim Cheong in his birthday on the Aquarium (Aqua Planet, Yeosu, 63 Building), made him keep her close by, to discover what happened between them.

From his luxurious house, where she starts living with him and his partners, Jo Nam Doo and Tae Oh, to the streets of Seoul, the city, Namsam Tower (N Seoul Tower), we can see from his house’s patio, the Daemyung Vivaldi Park Ski World, the Yeouido Hangang Park, where they saw the fireworks, and Myeongdong.

Besides Seoul, “The Legend of the Blue Sea” was filmed in other parts of South Korea as Incheon, Paju, Donghae, Sam Cheok, Gangneung and Jeju.

With a diverse set of sceneries, it’s impossible to not wander through the drama, where they were, where those scenes took place and how they changed for the drama. After searching more about the scenarios, I was fascinated by the resemblance, I really wondered what it felt to be in those places where Lee Min-ho and Gianna Jun played their roles as Se Hwa and Dam Ryung or Shim Cheong and Heo Joon-Jae.

I really enjoyed the drama and the scenarios made it more culturally and visually distinguished. I loved its relationship with the ocean and how magic it demonstrated the past.

•Soundtrack•

The soundtrack is sad and romantic. Some more cringy than other- reference to “My Love Story”- but all of them in the perfect moment.

“This is a Love Story (…)
“This is amazing”

"Love story" by Lyn

Listening to the soundtrack with the drama finished brings some tears. If only they turned into pearls.

“I owe you I miss you
I need you I love you”

"You are my World" by Tasha Reid

I recall the most romantic moments around Shim Cheong and Joon-Jae with these tunes, innocent and sweet, dedicated to their love for each other.

Others grab the excitement in action sequels or just pure sadness… It was so well placed in each moment, with so many feelings linked, I can’t properly think.

Besides the soundtrack of the plot in the present time, I was amazed by the songs played during the Joseon scenes, the tragic scenes, “WindFlower” and “One in Ten Thousand”, and the scenes they are together.

Sound of the Ocean” makes the opening and brings anyone to the fantastic world of mermaids and the sea, with flying whales and her tail in the background, giving off heavenly vibes to the opening sequence and any moment occurring. “The Last Time” is one of those songs that boost your heart as tension increases. “Hidden Story”, “My Name”, as the mermaid appears and stays for him, for love, and “At this time”, priceless in funny moments.
The soundtrack of “The Legend of the Blue Sea” is very beautiful, romantic and matching better some moments than others, they leave a lot of darling memories to me.

•Final Thoughts•

To some people, the show was considered overrated. In my opinion, I was expecting less from what I read but the drama surprised and left me engaged until the end. I love mermaids and I liked Lee Min-Ho’s performance, both which didn’t disappoint me, I got to know actresses I didn’t know anything of, as Gianna Jun and Cha Si-Ah, who had amazing performances and left me excited to see another of their works.

The storytelling was engaging, connecting the past and the present between dreams, and the plot complex and interesting, with a new theme and, yeah, a part or so felt dragging because there is too much drama but in overall, it’s very well organized and is unique as it develops.

The characters are also compelling and curious, as we discover their backgrounds, and how the mermaid is presented, It was intriguing and versatile, becoming more than a “fishwoman” that seduces the sailormen through their voice and pulls them to the sea, so deep in to eat his flesh or something.

The cast was a surprise, I didn’t know them, except Lee Min-ho, and from their performance, I would love to watch from them again, especially Gianna Jun. The soundtrack matches the drama and the sceneries were beautiful and diversified, having the sea as one of the “protagonists”.

Overall, “The Legend of the Blue Sea” is a drama I would recommend to fans of several genres: romance; drama, comedy, fantasy and “mystery”; with a funny love triangle, mermaids and their fantastic powers and nature, a emotional plot, so overwhelming characters, with particular sceneries outside Seoul.


Sources:

5 thoughts on “Review: The Legend of the Blue Sea

  1. I was excited for this drama as I liked Lee Min ho and this was his last drawn before joining military. I remember watching the first episode raw because I just couldn’t wait. After 9-10 episodes I kept this one on hold and then binge watched rest of the episodes when it ended. I liked it again. Overall, I liked it. But there was one more drama airing at the same day as this which is weightlifting fairy Kim Bok Joo and when I checked the first two episodes I was hooked and I enjoyed it more than LOTBS. I re-watched WFKBJ last month. I will probably rewatch LOTBS soon too.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. To re-watch so many times you must really love drama +.+ and organize your time amazingly!
      What did you like the most in LOTBS?
      Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bo Joo! I’ve seen a lot about it. I hope you enjoy your binge once again!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I do think remember much now but that mermaid music that was the first thing I loved. Also the concept and Lee min Ho and that cute actor with Lee min Ho (forgot his name) historical setting was good too. Also most of all loved everything about Lee Min Ho and his character in the drama.

        Liked by 1 person

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