Netflix’s Original Korean dramas have been amazing. Spanning genre and subject, the streaming platform has been bringing K-Dramas that range from pure romance to horror and action. With The Sound of Magic, the platform welcomes a mix of fantasy and whimsy with a dramatic coming-of-age story. The series is directed by Kim Sung-youn and written by Kim Min-jung.
The Sound of Music follows Yoon Ah-yi (Choi Sung-eun), a teenage girl forced to grow up too fast thanks to her father’s gambling and her mother’s abandonment. A social outcast, Ah-yi is alone in the world, outside of her sister who she must take care of. Then, Ah-yi meets a mysterious magician named Lee Yeul (Ji Chang-wook). Living in an abandoned theme park, Rieul is a grown man with a penchant for a childlike love of magic and fantasy. As Ah-yi’s world closes in around her, she leans Lee Eul in an attempt to escape from her life, but she can’t.
There is a fantasy being pushed by The Sound of Magic that always feels like a dreamy fairytale. That said, the undercurrent of the series’ theme grounds the whimsy in emotional storytelling. While the magic of the series is real, the fear and vulnerability is too. Magic may seem like an escape but Ah-yi’s story is about survival and resiliency in the face of your parent’s transgressions.
Despite the dramatic and fantastic musical numbers with a production value that is simply stunning, The Sound of Magic is somehow firmly rooted in its drama as much as its humor and camp. Ah-yi is alone, the weight of her father’s debt weighing on her as she attempts to provide for herself and her sister. She tries in school despite knowing that her path doesn’t lead to college because of her family’s debt. She attempts to form a meaningful relationship while being relentlessly bullied. And all of it dances on a razor’s edge, ready to fall apart at any moment.
There is fear and mystery throughout the series. Debt collectors hover over Ah-yi’s and as the people around her aim to take advantage of her situation, Ah-yi perseveres somehow, throughout it all. But there isn’t just sadness, there is also love and hope as well. While the world aims to shake Ah-yi, some rise to help her. There is evil in the world, but there is also kindness, even if you have to learn not to trust the adults who should protect you to find it.
The series’ stars are responsible for taking the material and building on it. Choi Sung-eun as Ah-yi is both fearful and stoic while she tries to move through life. While she hides her emotions from view, you can see it all moving under the surface, her guilt and shame, but more importantly her cavernous loneliness. For his part, Hwang In-youp as Il-deung carries expectations on his shoulders that leave him one small step away from collapse. His care and love for Ah-yi are apparent, but the pressure to succeed clouds his want for a deeper relationship at every turn.
But it’s Ji Chang-wook’s role as Lee Yeul as the series’ deus ex machine and mysterious magician that steals the show. Le Yeul is as charismatic as he is intimidating. He’s tall, brooding, and handsome which all serve as covers for a motive and dark past we don’t see revealed until the end of the series. His performance is at times unsettling and at others comforting. A duality that helps push the series’ blend of heavy subject matter and fairytale beauty.
The Sound of Magic is fantastically emotive in every way. The whimsy and beauty serve as a counterbalance to the rich narrative of one young girl trying to move past her circumstance. The Sound of Magic has everything you could want from a series and at just six episodes it makes for a great weekend binge.
The Sound of Magic is streaming now, exclusively on Netflix.
The Sound of Magic
- Rating - 9/109/10
The Sound of Magic is fantastically emotive in every way. The whimsy and beauty serve as a counterbalance to the rich narrative of one young girl trying to move past her circumstance.
Kate is co-founder, EIC, and CCO of BWT. She’s also a Certified Rotten Tomatoes Critic, host, and creator of our flagship podcast, But Why Tho? and Did You Have To?. She also manages all PR relationships for comics, manga, film, TV, and anime. She has an MA in Cultural Anthropology and Religious Studies focusing on how pop culture impacts society.