Hello! After days and days of thinking about it, I’m finally sitting down to write my thoughts about the much anticipated Kdrama, Bride of the Water God (Habaek), now that it has ended.
I’ve a lot to say but for those who want a quick rundown of what to expect, here it is.
- As a fantasy/ paranormal romance, it failed big time. There was hardly any magic or demonstration of powers.
- Nothing ever really happens in this drama. It’s the most anti-climactic drama I have ever come across in my life. Most of the plot is super slow and air time is wasted on scenes which don’t have much to offer. There is a slight build up (often near the end of an episode) which results in….NOTHING when the next episode starts. This quality remains consistent throughout the drama.
- The gods’ world was well presented but it suffered because of poor direction, writing and weakly developed characters.
- The stylists, makeup artists, set designers and special effects team did a great job. This is definitely one of the strong points of this drama.
- The casting was nice and the acting was pretty good too. I think every actor had their good moments and gave their best even when the direction wasn’t clear.
- The storytelling had ZERO charm and the writing was a total mess from beginning to end even though they already had a ready made plot. There were very few parts where the story telling had some power but it was mostly due to the good acting and direction in those rare parts.
- The worst editing I have ever seen in my life! The viewer will be completely lost half the time.
- The script was pretty vague. It’s very hard to understand what the characters are feeling, what their intentions are and where the story is going.
- The director wasn’t able to express the thoughts of the characters well and execute situations properly for the the most part especially during the heart to heart conversations. It was rare to catch the feeling the director was trying to project for instance every time Yoon So Ah reached out to grasp Habaek’s shirt or the aggression between various characters.
- Although it was a romance-based story, the romance between the leads didn’t have much foundation or strength.
- There are some story lines not closely connected to the main plot which come to the surface every now and then yet have no clear conclusion.
- There are A LOT of unanswered questions left at the end and the happily ever after the writers struggled so hard to create has nothing happy about it. In fact, it lacks common sense.
I don’t recommend you watch it unless you’re a fan of the cast.
My Rating: 2.5/5
The main plot revolves around Yoon So Ah, a poor psychiatrist, (played by Shin Se Kyung) and the Water God, Haebak, (played by Nam Joo Hyuk) who has been sent to the world of man to retrieve the God Stones before he can officially be crowned King of the God Country. They meet by chance but their fates are connected because Yoon So Ah is a servant of the gods because of a promise her ancestor made centuries ago to the gods. Haebak faces problems as soon as he lands on Earth. He loses the coordinates which would help him find his fellow gods and God Stones. He also loses his powers completely. He has no choice but to find the gods’ servant. He moves into Yoon So Ah’s home with his trusted servant, a lesser god named Nam Soo Ri, whom he constantly bullies. Haebak tries to get in touch with his fellow gods and childhood friends: Moo Ra, played by f(x)’s Krystal; Bi Ryeom, played by Gong Myung; and Joo Dong, played by Yang Dong Geun. Nothing goes as planned. His friends seem reluctant to help him or hand over the God Stones expressing doubts about his eligibility to rule. Then their characters do a complete 180 degrees! We find out that the God Stones and Joo Dong both are missing.
Meanwhile, we are supposed to believe that Yoon So Ah and Habaek are falling in love. Bi Ryeom nurses a life long love for Moo Ra, who in turn has been crushing on Habaek since childhood it seems. Interesting? Not really. It gets old really soon. Everyone treats each other badly and keep secrets while taking big risks. I understand that the natures of deities and humans are not the same but judging from what they say about the laws of the God Country, they’re not all that different either.
Shin Hoo Ye (played by Lim Ju Hwan) is a successful businessman, who’s around from the first episode. Slowly, Yoon So Ah and Shin Hoo Ye develop an understanding and he even hires her since she owes him money. What she doesn’t know is that he’s a demi-god who was imprisoned since birth and later cast out from the God Country. To the other gods, he’s merely a myth they fear and despise until they come face to face with him and a dangerous game begins.
Yoon So Ah’s family background was interesting but I feel like it was mostly used as an excuse for her insecurities the BIG REVEAL at the end which was linked to the main plot. The God Country scenes were very disappointing. There was a big lack of storytelling and world development which those scenes could have afforded. I know the writers wanted to keep the mystery and all but the revelations were very sloppy. I did guess most of the plot before it was revealed. The delays really weren’t necessary and left big holes for fillers which was so annoying. Yes, the comedy was funny and the romance between the leads was important but neither shined. Overall, the writers ignored the parts that should have been developed and gave lots of time and attention to filler scenes.
Let’s talk about the ending. I read way too much epic fantasy and paranormal romance so I’ve come across countless human-immortal couples. Even Twilight got this one right! How could the writers screw this up so bad? The main issue is always being together. According to the writers, Habaek will continue living on Earth with Yoon So Ah, who will age and die eventually if she doesn’t die unnaturally following which Habaek will return to the God Country and rule as king. HAPPILY EVER AFTER MERI JUTTI!!!!
I was sort of expecting this. They way they tried to show how he was before and what he would become later with the big humanity lesson but it was super sloppy. For the most part, there was nothing to like about Habaek besides his visuals and comedy. He’s supposed to be fair and his speech matter-of-fact but it just comes off as annoying. He was supposed to learn to care for and protect the ones he would rule over in the future yet he never once appreciates Nam Soo Ri, who’s not even human but a lesser god. It’s like he has bi-polar disorder. He complains about every little thing yet when Moo Ra slaps him in front of everyone, he scolds Yoon So Ah telling her Moo Ra was right and she’s the one who’s ignorant. Granted Moo Ra hates human females around him because of the past but really?! Habaek is a confused character who will confuse you all the time. Nam Joo Hyuk was a good choice for this character and he did well but there’s nothing swoon worthy about Haebak’s personality.
Yoon So Ah
I really liked Yoon So Ah but I hated her treatment in this drama. There were some emotionally demanding scenes which Shin Se Kyung handled pretty well. I don’t why the writers tried to portray her as a pessimistic introvert because she’s actually quite a positive and friendly person. Nothing goes in her favor yet she holds on to her dream of moving to Vanatu. The only time she loses it amidst all the stress is when she starts hearing voices. I don’t think being emotionally detached from her patients was a bad thing. It’s drilled into you while training to be a psychiatrist and is very important to find good solutions for your patients. However, Yoon So Ah clearly has trust issues after both her parents disappointed her so badly. The only one she seems to open up to is her best friend. Although her behavior with her assistant makes sense and he doesn’t hold a grudge against her for it, she’s not right to dismiss it like that. In one scene, she mentions how she did right in bullying the orphans her father spoiled instead of her which is totally wrong. Any decent adult would know that there’s no excuse for bullying. She never really apologizes or tries to makes up for what she did as a child and later on.
Shin Hoo Ye
One of my favorite characters in this drama. I loved his friendship with Yoon So Ah and the development of their relationship. He’s really there for her, genuinely cares about her troubles and does what he can to help. Yoon So Ah too goes beyond her professional duty to help him with his demons. Beautiful ❤ He is supposed to be evil and even seen as a murderer by the gods yet this is the one character who holds on so dearly to his humanity. He’s admirable in so many ways. In doing good, he isn’t just suppressing his dark side that he fears but it’s something he truly wants to do. No matter what he does for the world, he wants to do more and stays humble. He faced the worst kind of abuse as a child yet he grows up to be the best kind of man. Even as a child who’s never been shown what kindness looks like, he defends the woman who takes refuge in his cave. Here’s where I was angry with the writers. When you show something wrong, you’re supposed to show the right thing so that it doesn’t come across as your viewpoint. The Greedy God is portrayed as some sort of caregiver or mentor of Shin Hoo Ye yet he confesses that he took him, a newborn baby, to the cave and waited for him to die. *slow clap*
My personal favorite character of this drama. I haven’t seen Krystal act before but she was the perfect fit for Moo Ra. She’s not a difficult character to understand and highly entertaining. Just like Haebak, she’s really proud and of course, has a superiority complex. However, while she pretends that she doesn’t care about humans especially her fans, that’s not entirely true. While Moo Ra tries to be the stereotypical goddess, she’s really a lot more than that. Maybe humanity rubbed off on her because she lived on Earth for so long. Even with her pride, powers and beauty Moo Ra is unable to confess to Habaek probably because she fears rejection since he already chose a human woman over her and history is repeating itself. For all her threats and dramatic actions, Moo Ra really isn’t an extreme person and is usually the first to call another to their senses when things seen to be getting out of hand.
An extreme, unpredictable and unstoppable character. Bi Ryeom is a force of nature. He keeps things fun and I always looked forward to his scenes. He takes risks no one else would. He takes things farther than anyone and has no concept of limits. His love is extreme. His hatred is extreme. His loyalty is extreme. His jealousy is extreme. His revenge is extreme. Bi Ryeom lives by his own set of rules. What stood out most to me was his loyalty and devotion. He sees the world in black and white. You could tell there was something driving his emotions and decisions even though he appeared so carefree about everything.
Habaek & Yoon So Ah
If there wasn’t a plot that put them together, I would see no reason for them to be a couple. There’s really no connection between them as a couple. That’s entirely the fault of the writers though. While they acted well, the director failed to show their relationship’s birth and growth. There were so few times when I felt them link. The chemistry is only visible during their sexy times that too because Kdramas know how to do it right. One thing that I absolutely hate about Kdramas is the dubious consent and forced kisses. Hello!! That’s SEXUAL ASSAULT!! What’re you trying to say? THAT’S NOT ROMANTIC! Soon after they meet, Habaek feels the need to “awaken” her by kissing her out of the blue. Okay, I know it’s a trend to have the first kiss soon but still. That’s a terrible message to give to an impressionable audience. Nam Soo Ri mentions consent to him s few seconds later but Yoon So Ah does absolutely nothing to berate him. Habaek had his great human love in the past. Are you telling me the idea of consent as humans see it is totally alien to him? Give me a break! I hate this! Another issue with this couple was the division of power. It’s supposed to be equal or at least set consensually, right? It doesn’t happen here. Habaek is so selfish that there’s nothing to call love in his feelings for Yoon So Ah. He’s an immortal god. She’s a poor human. This is a fleeting moment for him yet he seizes the opportunity to consume what little human life Yoon So Ah has left. He does nothing much to improve her life. Yes. she learns to open up to him but what does it get her? Pain. Her already hard life is filled to the brim with problems and life threatening situations because of him. He even risks her life though he does save it too claiming that he’s responsible for her life as a god. He emotionally blackmails her to make sure things always go his way and she constantly suffers. The lesson he’s supposed to learn while on Earth, the forbidden love that endures all…yeah there’s nothing like that here. Thank you writers, you screwed up big time. They could have written it better to save this ship but like most things in this drama it was too little too late.
Bi Ryeom & Moo Ra
My favorite ship though it suffered from issues similar to the main romance. I asked myself why I preferred this over the main one and I think the reason was the power dynamic. Moo Ra and Bi Ryeom are both powerful gods. They are equals. At first, I didn’t understand why Bi Ryeom acted so “pitiful”, as Moo Ra called it, towards her. He always put wore his heart on his sleeve for her trying to gain her approval and affection. Near the end, I realized it’s something of a Korean thing and maybe even an Asian thing. Some men do prefer it this way in different parts of the world. He rarely showed dominance. While they were close growing up, Bi Ryeom was always trying to please Moo Ra. Then he appears to have change tactic and disappeared for 10 years which is why Moo Ra was so pissed at him at the start of the drama. Then he proceeds to interfere in the shooting of her kiss scenes (hilarious btw) and tells her how he’s available for practice. It’s not like Moo Ra doesn’t see him as an attractive male. She’s just always been hung up on Habaek. Even though he kisses her and she’s surprised, she doesn’t react immediately. I was so happy when Moo Ra tried to slap him unsuccessfully multiple times for kissing her. That’s how Yoon So Ah should have reacted at least once she found that Habaek wasn’t insane after all. Btw that actual slap..very satisfying! I was mad at the writers so giving them a vague ending after all that ring talk.
So, that wraps up my review for Bride of the Water God! I’m looking forward to other dramas featuring these actors. Let me know your thoughts too 🙂