In ‘Alchemy of Souls’, Jin Mu, the Gwanju of Cheonbugwan, is the antagonist. He is a power-hungry man who controlled Naksu, resulting in her and Jang Uk’s death. Jin Mu is played by Jo Jae-yoon.
In ‘Alchemy of Souls’, Jin Mu, as the Gwanju, exercises a lot of influence over the royal family. However, the man never uses his influence for the good of the people. He is a self-centered individual who is ready to go to any lengths to get what he wants.
Jin Mu desires the power of the Ice Stone, which would allow him to gain immortality. Using the Ice Stone, he could shift his soul into a stronger and younger body. He could enjoy unlimited power for as long as he wants.
Jin Mu is the head of a secret society of soul shifters. He encourages the members to make use of the alchemy of souls, which is forbidden sorcery, to lend him their power whenever he requires it.
He himself never practices soul shifting because, without the Ice Stone, there is always the risk of running wild. However, he has no qualms about risking the lives of those who trust him for his own benefit.
Jin Mu’s pursuit of power
Naksu’s father, Cho Chung, was killed by the four great families of Daeho. After witnessing his death, she was left alone without a home. She was offered help by Jin Mu.
As a gullible child, she did not know that her father was killed because he was a soul shifter who had run wild. Jin Mu promised to make her strong, and she trained day and night to become Naksu, the shadow assassin, and get her revenge.
Jin Mu plans to use her as a pawn and get the members of the four great families killed. When he figures out that she has shifted her soul into Mu-deok’s body, he uses her once again.
Using a potion that helps him control soul shifters, he drives her crazy and makes her go on a killing spree. She ends up murdering not only Jin U-tak but also Jang Uk before her own body petrifies and she is assumed dead.
He even deceives his own sister, Jin Ho-gyeong. He makes So-i pretend to be Jin Ho-gyeong’s long-lost daughter, Bu-yeon. He forces So-i to do his bidding, by putting a blood parasite in her body, till the day she dies.
Jin Mu has the king and the queen wrapped around his finger. The king blindly follows Jin Mu’s advice. He even betrays his own son for Jin Mu’s sake and is ready to bring destruction to the world, as instructed by Jin Mu, to get stronger.
The queen believes Jin Mu would help her shift into a younger and more beautiful body. Like the king, she participates in his nefarious schemes, even if that means drying out the world or causing panic among the masses with baseless rumors.
Similarly, he uses the crown prince, Go Won, and his insecurities to his own advantage. He promises to make him more powerful than Jang Uk and keep Jang Uk, who was born under the King’s Star, from going after the throne.
The puppeteer’s downfall
Go Won allows Jin Mu to do as he pleases, but not without facing his own guilty conscience. Seeing Jang Uk suffer alone after Naksu’s death bothers him, but Jang Uk’s unparalleled power scares him.
Following Bu-yeon’s advice, Go Won adopts a turtle and grows attached to it. However, Jin Mu gets rid of the turtle because he sees it as a sign of weakness. Everything that a good prince should care about is labeled as a weakness by Jin Mu.
After losing his turtle, Go Won realizes that he has lost his way by following the wrong master all along. Jin Mu was never a useful tool for Go Won, but it was the other way around. Jin Mu, the puppeteer, has been using the royal family.
Go Won goes behind Jin Mu’s back and sides with Jang Uk. He makes Jin Mu believe that he is facilitating his plan to conduct the lake’s rite when, in reality, he has been foiling his plans with Jang Uk and Songrim’s support.
He manages to attend a meeting of Jin Mu’s secret society by winning his trust. He then gets Jang Uk to kill every soul shifter in the society. Jin Mu is led to Gwido, a prison, where Naksu is waiting for him.
With Bu-yeon’s power, Naksu puts an empty Ice Stone in Jin Mu’s body. The Ice Stone would absorb his energy and give him a painful death.
Gwanju Jin Mu’s death
While everyone believes Jin Mu died in Gwido, Yun-o and the queen enter the prison to ask a dying Jin Mu about the Soul Ejector that would allow the queen to shift her soul into another body.
The queen realizes a little too late that Jin Mu was the one who had imprisoned her, shifted her soul, and used her. Jin Mu kills her to retrieve the Soul Ejector he had hidden inside her.
With the Soul Ejector, he shifts his soul into Yun-o’s body. He then gets the king and the mages of the Unanimous Assembly, with the promise of power, to aid him in unlawfully stealing the fire bird from Jinyowon, almost killing his sister in the process.
They plan to awaken the fire bird; the bird is said to burn everything in its path and turn the world to ash. It is of little consequence to them as long as they get their hands on the Ice Stone.
Jang Uk and his companions, including Go Won, force them to rush the awakening. Jang Uk burns them all, using the energy of the fire bird, to give them a glimpse of the world they wanted to create.
Jin Mu’s desire to create a world where the powerful wield even greater power led to his demise. At the moment of his death, he realizes that in a world like that, the weak would perish, but he expresses no regret with regard to his actions.