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K-drama Flashback: Five Iconic Songs from ‘The Legend of the Blue Sea’

‘The Legend of the Blue Sea’ is a classic example of a fantasy romance K-drama series that questions the viability of a Joseon-era mermaid in contemporary Seoul

Debashree Dutta Oct 01, 2022

Photo: Courtesy of SBS

A Korean fantasy drama may be the most effective way to invigorate your mind and soul if you value the power of imagination. The narrative’s make-believe premise, together with its exquisite storytelling, could suddenly make the prospects you and I dream about seem tangible. And that, my friend, is the most profound joy to experience – the anticipation of the unimaginable.

A flight of fancy, very unlikely to be true though, clearly provides a mental escape, a coping mechanism, and might even act as a retreat from the pangs of reality. Speaking of which reminds me of The Legend of the Blue Sea, a classic example of a fantasy romance K-drama series that questions the viability of a Joseon-era mermaid in contemporary Seoul.

Jun Ji-hyun as the mystical mermaid in The Legend of the Blue Sea. Photo courtesy of SBS

Come to think of it, it’s a unique saga, maybe like no other. As I ponder more, I immerse myself (all over again) in an extraordinary, timeless tale. And no matter how absurd things look, you know, why we fall in love with the scenario. It justifies the drama’s phenomenal success and excellent ratings during its run in 2016.

My tryst with the drama also stems from how eloquently director Jin Hyuk narrates the love story of Shim Cheong (Jun Ji-hyun), a mermaid, and Heo Joon-jae (Lee Min-ho), a fraudster. Focusing on myth, unrequited love, and reincarnation, the plot is adeptly interwoven with the flashback sequences of their Joseon-era avatars, Se Hwa (the mermaid) and Kim Dam-ryeong (the town leader).

The mermaid kisses Joon Jae to erase his memories while promising to follow him. Photo courtesy of SBS

It’s worth noting that the series’ gorgeous aesthetics are primarily the product of shooting in locales like Spain and the Pacific island of Palau. Lee and Jun caused quite a stir with their smoldering chemistry, and Jun’s performance gained added notoriety for her potent portrayal of the mystical mermaid. As nostalgic as I feel right now, writing about this cult fiction elates me even more. Perhaps a smidge more in terms of re-imagining scenes and ruminating warmly on the story, the visuals, and some of its most beautiful moments through five of its iconic love ballads.

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“Wind Flower” by Lee Sun-hee

As a child during the Joseon period, Se Hwa falls in love with Dam Ryeong. She eliminates his memories owing to his prearranged marriage and Se Hwa’s incapability to morph her tail into legs at the time. The two cross paths again, only to suffer a terrible fate, kicking off the story that will eventually bring them together. “Wind Flower” is a treat to hear as the epitome of Lee Sun-hee’s sweeping vocal technique, swelling softly and reiterating the drama’s capacity to convey reams of passion in a beautiful voice.

“You Are My World” by Yoon Mi-rae

Joon Jae takes a vacation to Spain with the money he earned through his exploits. He encounters a peculiar woman with unusual mannerisms who sneaks into his hotel room. When Joon notices a jadeite bangle on her hand, he becomes suspicious and summons the cops, who detain her as a suspect in a series of burglaries in the vicinity. Once Joon sends a photo of the woman with the jadeite to his confidant, Jo Nam-doo (Lee Jee-hoon), Jo confirms that the jadeite is authentic and worth a lot of money.

Simultaneously, assassins employed by a rich businesswoman who succumbed to Joon Jae’s ruse are on the hunt for him. Throughout the chase, he drags the mysterious woman with him until they are stuck on a ledge overlooking the sea. The two jump into the water and the woman (a mermaid in reality) kisses Joon Jae to erase his memories while promising to follow him.

Singer Yoon Mi-rae delivers a sensitive yet intense love song in “You Are My World” that best expresses the happenings above. It is a romantic yearning enhanced by an incredible solo.

“Love Story” by Lyn

In real time, the mermaid pursues Joon Jae in Seoul. He names her Shim Cheong, meaning “exceedingly dumb,” due to her utter ignorance of daily life. But, like her Joseon-era counterpart, she possesses magical powers. “Love Story” aches with Shim Cheong’s searing sentiments for Joon Jae, the man she has loved through time: “This is love story/ I can’t hide it/ My eyes that only stare at you/ I can’t close them/ This is amazing/ Even if I get everything in the world/ I can’t exchange it for you, my love.” The lyrics and Lyn’s crossover appeal flawlessly reflect restrained emotions and meshes well with the mood in sync with the narrative’s flow.

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“Somewhere Someday” by Sung Si-kyung

Joon Jae permits Shim Cheong to reside at his place as he tries to reclaim his memories of her, but when she fails to assist him, he compels her to leave. She is struck by a car that evening, and Joon Jae chooses to take her back. The equations begin to shift after this tragic incident, as emotions begin to emerge between them.

Graced with apt words, perfect melody, and the impassioned singing of Sung Si-kyung, this OST propels the course of events with feelings teeming with the power of love. “Somewhere, someday/ I met you and fell in love/ When I look at you as if you’re someone going far away/ Something inside of me keeps hurting/ Somewhere, someday, what if we get far apart again/ What if I have to forget you/ That scares me/ Even during this moment when I’m holding your hand.”

“If Only” by Se Jeong

Through dreams and puzzling relics like the jadeite bangle, a vase with an image of a mermaid kissing a man in modern attire, and a portrait of Dam Ryeong with the epitaph “Everything is repeating itself,” Joon Jae learns about history and accepts the fact that he and Shim Cheong are doppelgangers of Dam Ryeong and Se Hwa.

Despite tensions and anxiety over their accursed fate, Joon Jae and Shim Cheong become more at ease with one another as feelings deepen and shadows of the past increasingly come to light. Se Jeong’s “If Only” integrates these crucial moments from their blossoming romance, culminating in a musical memoir.

The Legend of the Blue Sea comes full circle with the lovers reuniting and Joon Jae escaping the bleak prophecy that had been awaiting him the entire time.

If reading this article inspires you to re-watch this K-drama, my purpose is served. Besides, if you want to reminisce all the more about an immersive experience, then listen to its amazing songs yet again. The compiled playlist is enclosed below.

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