* This review contains minor spoilers for the first 2 episodes of Destined With You.
Supernatural romance K-drama Destined With You is off to an intriguing start, as leads Rowoon and Jo Bo-Ah are united by a book of spells. Below is our review of episodes 1-2 of the Destined With You, produced by JTBC.
The opening scene
Destined With You starts by showing us an abandoned shrine in the woods, covered in prayer spells and police tape. We see an unconscious Lee Hong-Jo (Jo Bo-Ah) lying on the floor, slowly waking up. Just then Jang Shin-Yu (Rowoon) walked out behind a door, and Hong-Jo mistakes him for the Grim Reaper. She holds out her hand and dazedly asks if they could visit a teahouse together. A silent Shin-Yoo pulls out his phone and snaps her photo.
A deadly family curse
We later find out that Shin-Yu is the owner of the land where the shrine was built, having taken it over from his father. He is also haunted by a mysterious spirit with bloodied hands who keeps trying to hurt him. He manages to keep it away long enough to perform his job as a skilled corporate lawyer. We see him in action as he defends a construction company from a negligent death lawsuit. He wins the case, but is unhappy as the client is arrogant and abusive.
We also find out that Shin-Yu suffers from a hereditary disease that has killed most of the men in his family before their time. The disease is beginning to get worse for Shin-Yu, and he knows that his death may be imminent.
An unfortunately meeting
Hong-Jo is a low-level civil servant who is ostracized by her colleagues due to her overly helpful nature. She is transferred to City Hall and has to work under a boss who has a personal beef with her after she mistakenly accused him of taking bribes. However, she finds some joy in the form of Kwon Jae-Kyung (Ha Jun) a City Hall official whom she develops a crush on.
She volunteers to get the abandoned shrine demolished after a man falls and dies while ghost-hunting there. During her visit to the location to inspect it, she falls and meets Shin-Yu. Eventually Hong Jo asks for Shin-Yu’s permission to demolish it, but he refuses unless she can get the retired shaman who used to live there to agree.
Hong-Jo does so, and the shaman later explains to an angry Shin-Yu that Hong-Jo is really the woman with the bloody hands, and that he killed her in the past. She is also the owner of the mysterious wooden box that lies under the shrine. After the building is demolished, Shin-Yu hands the wooden box to Hong-Jo and asks her to open it.
The box and the book of spells
After a few failed attempts by Hong-Jo, the box mysteriously opens on its own to reveal a book of spells. The book was written by a shaman named Aeng-Cho, who lived during the Joseon period. Hong-Jo reads it but doesn’t believe it can work.
Meanwhile, Shin-Yu is asked by his friend Jae-Kyung to quit his law firm and work for City Hall’s legal department. He later agrees once he learns that he will be fighting against corrupt corporations like those he used to represent. His new job also puts him into closer contact with Hong-Jo.
She shows him the book and he sees a spell to cure diseases. He asks Hong-Jo to give him one spell from the book, and she agrees. However, their developing friendship hits a few bumps. We learn that Shin-Yu’s girlfriend Yoon Na-Yeon (Yura) was once Hong-Jo’s high school friend, but their friendship was ruined when Hong-Jo stole her then-boyfriend.
Hong-Jo later confesses her affection for Jae-Kyung and is rejected. Shin-Yu then hurts Hong-Jo’s feelings by accusing her of falling for anyone who shows her a little bit of kindness.
Trying out the love spell
Hong-Jo’s heartbreak over Jae-Kyung causes her to impulsively try out the love spell. The second episode ends with her making a love potion using the relevant page from the book. At the same time Shin-Yu is attacked by the spirit haunting him, leading him to crash his car.
In the preview for the next episode, we see Hong-Jo trying to give Jae-Kyung the love potion. Meanwhile Shin-Yu tries to get the book of spells from her, leading her to try and cast one for him.
What we liked
The chemistry between Rowoon and Jo Bo-Ah is excellent. Even though their characters are meant to hate each other at first, there are enough quiet moments and longing looks to indicate otherwise. Rowoon is the perfect choice to play the handsome but cold Shin-Yu, while Jo Bo-Ah does an amazing job as Hong-Jo.
The supporting cast members also help hold the story together. Ha Jun’s Jae-Kyung is so stylish and cool that it’s easy to understand why Hong-Jo would fall for him, and we’re wondering how Yura’s Na-Yeon will factor into this love quadrangle.
We will be looking forward to next week’s episodes of Destined With You with bated breath!