Secret Healerlit or Mirror of the Witch, is a 2016 South Korean television series starring Yoon Shi-yoon, Kim Sae-ron, Lee Sung-jae, Yum Jung-ah and Kwak Si-yang.The story of the series is inspired by the book titled Dongui Bogam. It aired on cable network JTBC’s Fridays and Saturdays at 20:30 (KST) time slot from May 13 to July 16, 2016 for 20 episodes.

Queen Shim (Jang Hee-jin), is a royal queen in the palace who, unable to have a child, seeks the help of a shaman named Hong-joo (Yum Jung-ah) to give birth to a prince. Hong-joo told Queen Shim to deceive a young shaman named Hae-ran (Jung In-seon) who possessed special abilities enabling her to sleep with the king so she can become pregnant. Hong-joo then uses black magic to transfer the fetus to the Queen and plans to kill Hae-ran. Unfortunately, Hae-ran finds out everything, predicting the sad fate of the Queen’s babies before dying. Queen Shim later gives birth to twins, Crown Prince Soonhwae (Yeo Hoe-hyun) and princess Yeon-hee (Kim Sae-ron), but was forced to abandon the princess due to the curse.

With the help of Shaman Choi Hyun-seo (Lee Sung-jae), Yeon-hee grows up as a beautiful young girl, but she is forced to remain isolated and away from everyone, living in a house surrounded by talismans. Poong-yeon (Kwak Si-yang), Hyun-seo’s son, has had a crush on her since he was young. A young scholar named Heo Jun (Yoon Shi-yoon), the son of a slave and a rich master, has a chance encounter with Yeon-hee and Heo Jun ties their fate as they journey together to lift the princess’ curse which causes everyone she loves to die an awful death.

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Reveiw : by samptra (link)

I recently watched Mirror the Witch and absolutely fell in love, so much so that I am inspired to write my first ever review on the subreddit. I preface of course with the disclaimer that opinions are subjective, and we like what we like. That being said, I think this series got a bad rap, and I wanted to express what, in my opinion, makes this such a worthwhile watch.

I came across this series purely coincidentally, it looked dark, so intrigued I started the first episode on a whim and I was hooked. It’s a darker, supernatural sageuk, that comes out the gate hot. Black magic, cursed princesses, ill-fated romance, it had a compelling plot that drew the viewer in. I binged through 20 episodes in two days, and I have no regrets.

Personally, I have stopped reading the comments on MDL for shows until after I have watched them, as I, like I’m sure many others, find them somewhat negative and overly critical. Having finished this series I was surprised to see such a low rating and was curious to see what the general dissatisfaction was. From what I have gathered there are 3 general problems that audiences had with the series;

  • Age of the leads
  • Repetitiveness
  • Ending

The first point I do understand, there is a sizable real-life age gap between the lead couple, 14 years is substantial. This is not a new trend, as this is a recurring criticism in casting dramas, however in the series I did not see anything untoward. They are actors in a role, and quite frankly the romance aspect is very light. Spoilers here, but there isn’t even a kiss in the series, not that it needed one, but let’s be honest Western TV has done far worse to far younger actresses. Kim Sae Ron was a seasoned actress at the time, and I didn’t think this was anything that made the viewer uncomfortable. I didn’t even note the issue until afterwards when others pointed out the ages, but this is a business and a profession, they were working; it’s not real life. If you want to get really technical, historically during that time period it was very common for much older males to marry younger females…uncomfortably young. However, I felt both leads put in an excellent performance in this, the casting all around was great.

I personally did not see plot issues so glaring plot issues that pulled me from the story, I thought, for what it was, the plot was actually very solid throughout. I’ve seen the series lose it in the second half, but the narrative here was cohesive from beginning to end. The motivations for each character were believable, and aside from the fact it was a supernatural story, there were no major leaps in logic that begged the viewer to suspend all disbelief. I’m not saying it’s airtight, but it was far more reasonable than some of the other supernatural series that seem to lose the thread in the middle. I was invested in all of the plotlines and truthfully got fully into the story of the shamaness. I actually appreciated that the story didn’t keep adding in unnecessary characters, twists, or drama. It was nice to see such a concise developed story with understandable rationale.

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Finally the ending, I’m going to full-on spoil it here but if you have any interest at all I highly recommend at least checking out the first few episodes. Now, I completely understand that an unhappy ending it’s not for everyone, but I love a tragically beautiful ending. From the beginning, she is cursed, and ultimately one or the other will die. I am glad that they stuck to the narrative, and didn’t go for the ‘happy’ ending at the last minute route. They stayed with it, and the cursed princess sacrificed herself, she didn’t magically come back, they don’t get that happy ending. But they bring it full circle in the end, and I was bawling when he walked through the field to meet her, and they’d been waiting for each other all that time. I absolutely loved it. Also the ending between the shamaness and the priest, him holding her as they walked into the fire? Brilliant.

This series was what I wanted from a supernatural one, it didn’t have senseless filler, the narrative moved well, the acting was great, it didn’t lose focus in the middle, and the ending was beautiful. I would recommend this in a heartbeat to anyone who enjoys a supernatural story, but with a darker undertone.

5/5 - (2 votes)

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