Actor Lee Jae Wook Shares Why He Considered Not Taking Up “Alchemy Of Souls” Initially

He also mentioned how he first realized his popularity overseas.

Lee Jae Wook has swept into hearts across continents with his portrayal of Jang Uk in the Korean fantasy series The Alchemy Of Souls. The drama recently concluded its second season with rave reviews, and audiences greatly appreciated the cast, especially the lead actors.

But according to Lee Jae Wook himself, he initially wasn’t sure about signing up for the project. The 30-episode-long run of the show was divided into two parts. Season 1 was released in June and completed in August. Season 2 started in December and concluded in January. In a recent interview, Lee admitted that due to the length of the project, he was initially unsure whether he should take it up or not.

I was worried if I could carry out such a long project well … but in the end, as an actor, I’m pleased with the series so I’m grateful (to have been in it).

—Lee Jae Wook, The Korea Times

Apart from the time span, Lee also found the setting of the series pretty complicated. The genre of the series, which is a mix of fantasy, romance, and action, was fairly new ground for him as an actor. Jang Uk’s character was also tough to nail for its layered nature.

‘Alchemy of Souls’ is a fantasy, romance, action genre series which is not common in Korea. It was very difficult and I wasn’t sure if I could pull this series off…And because Uk is a multi-layered character, I got scared.

—Lee Jae Wook, The Korea Times

But thankfully, his ambition and creative instincts as an artist eventually made him sign up for the challenge.

But then I thought ‘when can I ever see a piece like this again?’ and decided to take the challenge.

—Lee Jae Wook, The Korea Times

He also shared that the preparation process for the same character for the two seasons differed quite a lot. He had to mindfully tweak Jang Uk’s mannerisms to make the change in his character visible yet natural.

I felt there’s a huge gap in the character from parts 1 and 2. During the table reading, the writers told me that they want me to build the character as if he’s a different person (in season 2)…So to create a completely different character, I tried to find a new tone and read the lines in a more concise, strained manner.

—Lee Jae Wook, The Korea Times

Thanks to the significant popularity of both seasons of the show, Lee Jae Wook has become a well-known global star in the past few months. The actor mentioned that he realized the global popularity of K-content recently when he went to Malaysia and received an overwhelming welcome at the airport.

Lee Jae Wook at Malaysia in 2022 | @kto_malaysia/Instagram

Surely it won’t be an exaggeration to say Alchemy of Soul fans are more than grateful that he didn’t back off from the challenge.

Alchemy of Souls