“Bride of the Water God” just premiered this week, with a strong start in every possible genre: fantasy, comedy, and romance. Starring Nam Joo Hyuk and Shin Se Kyung as the main leads, the drama is a full package; and with the gorgeous aesthetics used to depict its mystical world, “Bride of the Water God” becomes a must-watch.
Habaek (played by Nam Joo Hyuk)
Our hero is Habaek, as he will tell you (quite a number of times): “I am the Water God, the future King of the Water Kingdom, the future emperor of the divine realm: Habaek!” Habaek certainly fits the personality you might expect of a god and a king: his lofty way of speaking and expectations that people will jump when he snaps his fingers suggests that perhaps he has a lot to learn in the human world.
However, Habaek’s ego seems to hide a softer, kinder side. Even in the first few episodes, we see him beginning to genuinely care for Soo Ah, our heroine, and his dismissive treatment of those around him seems less because of malice and more due to absentmindedness from a lot of introspective pondering. The result is that when Habaek does jump in to save the day – well, he handles it with the air of a god, and it’s pretty swoon-worthy. He’s not your snobby chaebol lead; Habaek is someone you’ll definitely be rooting for in the next few episodes.
Soo Ah (played by Shin Se Kyung)
Soo Ah is the heroine in this drama. She’s a pretty psychologist with a traumatic past, and her kindness and habit of helping others often interrupts her tough pragmatism. She also has no idea that she is Habaek’s destined human servant, due to a promise from her ancestor generations ago.
When Habaek approaches her for help, she assumes he’s mentally ill (leading to a number of comedic situations), and although swayed by his handsomeness, she has no intention of acting as his servant. Both Habaek and Soo Ah’s frustration at the other, coupled with their attraction towards each other, establishes a push-and-pull relationship that is adorably cute to watch.
Habaek’s deer-in-the-headlights reaction to Soo Ah’s hug
According to the monks, there are three kingdoms beyond the human world: Water, Earth, and Air. The kings of these lands are forces of nature fated to rule, and over all of them, the Water King presides as the divine emperor. Habaek is one such water god, and the time has come for him to take the seat of power as king. However, he must fulfill one traditional task before his coronation: find three stones, held by the other god rulers somewhere in the human world, which form a royal seal.
Habaek considers this an easy and distasteful task, and takes his servant along with him as an extra guide in the human world (which he is wholly unfamiliar with). However, the situation takes a turn for the worse when a strange disaster causes Habaek to lose the map of the stones and his abilities as a god. The only god-like power he has left is his unnaturally quick aptitude for learning new things (such as driving or skateboarding). Habaek’s goal now is to find a way to convince Soo Ah to help him while blindly searching for the other gods and stones in such an unfamiliar world.
I always love K-dramas with characters who have strong convictions and good hearts; it’s easy to tell from the first and second episode that the majority of our characters in “Bride of the Water God” have these strong traits. Habaek and Soo Ah are easy to root for, and I already find myself beginning to care for them. This may come back to haunt me later on when all the strife and disaster hits, but for now it creates a compelling watch. I even find myself invested in and liking other characters, too, such as Namsuri (Park Kyu Sun), Habaek’s devoted servant; and Hu Ye (Im Joo Hwan), a CEO who we will supposedly learn in the future is a half-god. I’m also looking forward to meeting the other gods, including Bi Ryum (Gong Myung), who (judging from the previews) seems to have a playful and sweet personality that I often like in male leads – similar to Eun Hyuk in “Suspicious Partner.”
I expected “Bride of the Water God” to be a strong fantasy drama, like “Goblin” or “The Legend of the Blue Sea,” but it’s much more than that. Habaek’s unfamiliarity of the human world creates a strong comedic undertone, and Namsuri’s lack of useful help only adds to it. The chemistry between Habaek and Soo Ah is strong, so fans of romance will have a lot to look out for in this drama.
My only complaint is that I want to see more of the powerful world that apparently underlies the human world – such as the other hidden gods and Habaek’s powers. While watching him meditate in a blow-up pool toy castle is fun, I want to see some of the really cool things Habaek can do. We’ve gotten some tantalizing teasers on that for the future; for example, Habaek’s failed attempt to give Soo Ah a divine blessing seems to have possibly resulted in some mind-reading abilities. In the meantime, however, I’ll be holding out for such a cool show.
All in all, Habaek is a unique drama with an unexpected storyline that you probably won’t be able to predict. The storyline is beautiful, the depictions of the magical world are gorgeous, and the faces of this drama are pretty, too. If you’re looking for a new K-drama to contribute to your growing addictions, then this one is definitely it.
Hey Soompiers, what are your thoughts on the drama so far? Let us know in the comments below!
Ariana K. Welsh is a college student who spends most of her time obsessing over K-dramas with her sister, dancing to loud music, and writing into the wee hours of the night. Her current fave things in life are: snow, Waldeinsamkeit by R.W. Emerson, and Butterbeer.