Webcomic / Divine Bells

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Do red camellias ring any bells?

Divine Bellsnote  is a Korean webcomic by Lee Hye. It is a Fantasy Drama with a major Quest set in a magical land divided into six countries. The titular bells choose their own masters and they determine the status, prestige, and influence of the countries their masters rule, however, they were sealed away for a long time, so the matter is rather more complicated. The presence or lack of these Bells also has great influence on the political status of each country. In particular, the political future of Myung-Joo's King, Hong-Ryung seems to be doomed without a Bell, but at equally great peril should he obtain one.

When the owner of three of the eight existing Divine Bells dies, leaving them to choose new owners, the present monarchs of the six countries gather for the bells to determine their new masters. However, these particular bells always pick the same country, except this time, and the resulting turmoil leads to a race to find the original creator of the Bells, a mysterious priestess named Ga-Bi.


This work contains examples of:

  • Adorably Precocious Child: Yu-Ha. Also Hong-Ryung, Mu-Hyang, No-Woo, Ha-Hyeon, and Jae-Sun in flashbacks to their childhood.
  • Aloof Ally: Ji-Eun. Also, Ha-Hyeon to Baek-Yeom's group.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: The Divine Bells.
  • Anti-Villain: Ha-Hyeon's goal itself is harmless, the means, not so much. She's actually not fully an Anti-Villain, because of her complex role as a mole and Reverse Mole, however, her being a good character is only revealed in the last five chapters, during which she messed up her act of heroism by failing to kill Baek-Yeom.
  • Anyone Can Die: Although few of the actual characters who aren't dead before the story beings die, the deaths of Ha-Hyeon and the Divine Bells qualify.
  • Assassination Attempt: In part due to the story revolving around monarchs and their family, there are many attempts to assassinate such people for various political ends. This is also attempted by the king of Bu-Ho on Hoa-Back for the same reasons.
  • Badass Adorable: Ha-Hyeon by virtue of her childish appearance and potent powers. Also Hoa-Back when he uses his powers, by virtue of the same.
  • Badass Princess: No-Woo is both perceptive and adept at fighting. She is capable of getting a good understanding of the situation with minimal facts, a skill she puts to use both in her insults and course of action (when she isn't being rash). Whenever she is attacked by a bunch of mooks, she is certainly capable of holding her ground. Even more impressive is her prowess on the battlefield when commanding soldiers.
  • Bastard Angst: Averted with Mu-Hyang, who is mostly grateful to Do-Ahn and Hong-Ryung, instead. You could consider his rejecting No-Woo's childhood proposal to be an example of this, however, it doesn't last for what ever the reason.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: No-Woo and Mu-Hyang's relationship is saturated with this, even when they, more or less, propose to each other.
    • Yun and Guk-Yool's relationship consists of this.
  • Berserk Button: It is a really bad idea to harm one of Hong-Ryung's subordinates or his siblings. Gang-Hui also reacts like this to evidence of Baek-Yeom. Ha-Hyeon will show this in response someone to choosing death.
  • Beware the Quiet Ones: Hong-Ryung surprises quite a few people with his behaviour once angry — namely, when his Berserk Button has been pressed or when giving a someone a tongue-lashing — although this is partially intentional on his part. Ha-Hyeon also qualifies.
  • Big Bad: Changes with several plot-twists. At first, it appears to be the current emperor of Dae-Hyun, Hyun-Joo. Afterwhich, it is revealed that Hyun-Joo is simply being manipulated by a person from one hundred-fifty years ago: Baek-Yeom, now reincarnated as his brother, the question being which one.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Hyung-Joo shows this whenever someone tries to harm Dong-Hyung. Mu-Hyang shows this for Hong-Ryung, which Hong-Ryung reciprocates (to despite being younger). Also, when Baek-Yeom tries to attack Yu-Ha, Hong-Ryung returns the favour.
  • Blow You Away: Sun-Hoa.
  • Broken Bird: Ha-Hyeon, thanks to a Dark and Troubled Past which involved two cases of Parental Abandonment, among other things. Thanks to that, Ha-Hyeon has a terror of being abandoned again, which comes into play during her Troubled Backstory Flashback.
  • Came Back Wrong: What appears to be the situation with Jin-Won. Turns out, he was Dead All Along.
  • Casting a Shadow: Ji-Eun and Baek-Yeom.
  • Chekhov's Gun/ Chekhov's Gunman: Divine Bells is riddled with this: for starters, such characters as Ha-Hyeon, Yu-Ha, and Ga-Bi are all introduced this way. Numerous other elements are likewise introduced by subtly including them earlier, in order to later pull them out as plot twists and the like, this being the primary means of Foreshadowing.
    • For example: The significance of the stone which breaks in chapter two is found out during chapter one hundred fourteen, when Yu-Ha speaks to Ha-Hyeon.
  • The Chessmaster: Beak-Yeom/ Dong-Hyung.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: No-Woo's feelings for Mu-Hyang began when they were very, very young. It's mutual and, as it turns out, has been so since childhood, but Mu-Hyang felt that she deserved someone better (he was about seven and had just discovered his illegitimacy, so it's justified).
    • If Divine Bells can be considered to have childhoods, then the eternally young Hoa-Back and Sun-Hoa also have this relationship.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Dan and Ga-Bi both have moments of this, as do Baek-Yeom's chief minions, April and Gak.
    • Ga-Bi has a particularly awful instance of this after she recovers her memory. Not wanting to worry the man she is Happily Married to, she fakes her own death (as if that wouldn't give him at least as much trouble).
  • Cultured Warrior: Hong-Ryung has this as an Informed Attribute, and it becomes something of a running gag that, to despite his education as a king, he can't draw to save his life.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ha-Hyeon, No-Woo, and Ji-Eun. Other character's sometimes take up the mantel, such as Do-Ahn to his courtiers, or Hong-Ryung when giving a "The Reason You Suck" Speech (Like Father, Like Son).
    • Ha-Hyeon doubles as a Snark Knight, neither holding expectations of others nor considering herself to be above them.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Hong-Ryung has this, since both of his parents were Good Parents. His half-brother, Mu-Hyang, likewise has this, although Do-Ahn acknowledged him as his son (rather than begot him), since Chui-Bi is alive and constantly trying to kill the younger brother Mu-Hyang is so close to.
  • Determinator: Baek-Yeom is this, starting with the fact that he reincarnated himself after his plans were thwarted the first time (ironic, since his goal is to die), and again when he is fighting Hong-Ryung, after losing an arm, he declares that he will continue fighting, even should he lose all of his limbs.
    • Hong-Ryung is this, to despite his initial apathetic appearance: he just knows where his determination is needed and also prefers to take his opponents off-guard. For example, after losing his Divine Powers, he still goes to stop Baek-Yeom's Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum, only because he possibly has a small amount of control over the power he lost.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: This is invoked no fewer than three times. This is played straight when Hoa-Back dies in No-Woo's arms after his Heroic Sacrifice and when, after Baek-Yeom runs her through, Ha-Hyeon dies in Hong-Ryung's arms. This same trope is partially inverted when Yun dies protecting Guk-Yool; he protects Guk-Yool in his arms whilst expending his powers to a fatal degree.
  • Differently Powered Individual: The Divine Bells.
  • Disguised in Drag: Hong-Ryung is forced to dress as a maid to avoid detection while under cover in chapter sixty-six.
  • Elemental Powers: The Divine Bells' powers each correspond to an element (with Ice and Water divided).
  • Faking the Dead: Happens numerous times throughout the story. First, Hong-Ryung and Gang-Hui fake their own deaths to allow themselves to escape being killed by Hyun-Joo and operate in secret. Later, Gang-Hui and Mu-Hyang use this to fool the Big Bad into exhausting his energy and have him let down his guard. Also, Ga-Bi did this because she was afraid that her being nearly immortal would cause Do-Ahn and Hong-Ryung problems.
    • Inverted for Jin-Won, whom Baek-Yeom fooled others into believing was still alive.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Dong-Hyung. He tends to affect an Adorably Precocious Child, which later results in a fair few Creepy Child moments.
  • Flashback: Divine Bells has many, many, many flashbacks. Sometimes it's a Flashback Cut, other times the Flashback Cut is a Flashback Within a Flashback. Most of the flashbacks are extensive cases of How We Got Here, telling the past of the characters (e.g. Do-Ahn's past with Ga-Bi, the incident a year before the story starts, Baek-Yeom's first life, Ha-Hyeon's past, and the rest of the major events in Ga-Bi's life. All flashbacks are in various states of desaturation, with any flashbacks during a flashback completely desaturated.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Hong-Ryung tries to be this, he doesn't always succeed. Many of the other definitely "good" characters go in this direction at one point or another.
  • Green Thumb: Hoa-Back.
  • Guile Hero: Hong-Ryung has elements of this; aside from making him a Hidden Badass, he uses his wits to deceive a chessmaster Big Bad and to make all of Chui-Bi's attempts to off him useless, he also creates the Covert Corps.
  • Happily Adopted: This is the case with Mu-Hyang (by Do-Ahn), and is implied to be case with Ga-Bi (by Baek-Yeom's father). Ha-Hyeon has this as well, the second time she is adopted, this time by Ga-Bi. In the final chapter, Yu-Ha is adopted by Hae-Woon and seems to be cheerful.
  • Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?: This is frequently the attitude people have toward men with Divine Powers and anyone whose Divine Powers are particularly strong, to the extent where they feel their very existence is problematic. Ga-Bi feels this way about herself.
  • The Heavy: Ga-Bi in a rare heroic example, mostly as a result of Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!, though not everything she does ends so badly ( sealing herself underneath Myung-Joo's palace ended well, for one).
  • Heel–Face Turn: Subverted by Mu-Hyang: he's actually a Fake Defector.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Hong-Ryung gets this whenever he finds out that his survival has resulted the death of others.' Yun also experiences this when Guk-Yool gets struck by an arrow right in front of him.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: This is pulled by several characters towards the end of the story, including Ga-Bi (for Hong-Ryung) and all of the bells; Hong-Ryung nearly does this several times, generally either being convinced to follow a different course of action for the time being or being stopped at the last minute (e.g. the last two chapters).
  • Hidden Badass: Hong-Ryung is actually something of a Guile Hero and intentionally has people see him as weak and apathetic, although he decidedly is not, mostly because this is advantageous in the palace and court. What he's hiding this way, apart from his emotions, are strength and guile.
  • Hot-Blooded: Gang-Hui, and sometimes Yun.
  • How Dare You Die on Me!: No-Woo pulls this one a lot, generally as a means of encouraging Mu-Hyang, Hong-Ryung, and Hoa-Back to survive; chapter eighty-three has a particularly good example. Ji-Eun pulls a toned down version of this at Wi-Jin for his needing to be rescued from the brink of death, considering her personality, it doesn't signify any fondness though.
  • An Ice Person: Yun.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Yun nearly does this, but is stopped by a Heroic B.S.O.D.. Ha-Hyeon does this to complete her goal. This also how Hyun-Joo feels about his more morally grey actions.
  • I Will Find You: Almost everyone is looking for Ga-Bi. The exceptions?— Those looking for Hong-Ryung, and Yu-Ha, who is searching for Ha-Hyeon; oddly enough, all three individuals mentioned specifically are Ga-Bi's children either by blood or adoption.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold/ Knight in Sour Armor: Ji-Eun; Wi-Jin at is left captive in chapter ninety-six wondering whether her personality is good or bad because of this.
  • Leave No Witnesses: Dong-Hyung pulls this when Ga-Yu sees him return to his quarters using Divine Power.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Hong-Ryung looks like a paler version of his father, Do-Ahn, with a personality akin to that of his mother, Ga-Bi. His younger sister, Yu-Ha, has the exact opposite situation, with her mother's appearance and her father's personality. Both have the emotional strength of their mother and the astuteness of their father.
  • Little Miss Badass: Ha-Hyeon, as a character who combines Adorably Precocious Child, Badass Adorable, Deadpan Snarker, and Snark Knight.
  • Love Confession: Yun gives a tear jerking Dying Declaration of Love to Guk-Yool (remarking on the Irony of his planed actions) just before preforming a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Luminescent Blush: Do-Ahn has this when proposing to Ga-Bi, as well as when she suddenly hugs him. Mu-Hyang gets one when he realizes that his Death Bed Confession to a blood-loss-induced hallucination of No-Woo was actually a Not So Final Confession to the actual person. After this, thanks to Mu-Hyang having said everything but the words themselves, No-Woo gets this when particularly embarrassed about her interactions with him.
  • Making a Splash: Ju-Hie.
  • Marry for Love: The previous king of Myung-Joo, Do-Ahn, was unwilling to marry Ga-Bi if it were using her, however, when he thinks "What if I do this because I want to?" he gives her an unusually phrased proposal. Flashbacks to their married life show them Happily Married.
    • The ending implies that No-Woo and Mu-Hyang will be this once they marry (it's a probably ever after). Their proposal is likewise unusual and not simply because they propose to propose to each other.
    • While the details are never given, Jin-Won and So-Hee had either this or a Perfectly Arranged Marriage, while the bridegroom was alive, anyway.
  • Mayfly–December Romance: Ga-Bi has this with Do-Ahn. This is also what the relationship between Yun and Guk-Yool is hinted to be.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Whilst he isn't a complete loner, Dan of Hong-Ryung's Covert Corps does qualify: when he makes a joke, it is interpreted as a threat; when he tries to help a kid who bumped into him, the kid starts crying and their mother gets angry at him for trying to harm the child.
  • The Mole/ Reverse Mole: Ha-Hyeon in a really complicated and convoluted way. She ultimately turns out to be a mole acting as a mole for Baek-Yeom. In other words, she was "good" and decided to infiltrate the Baek-Yeaom's circle, and during that infiltration was asked to infiltrate Hong-Ryung's fellowship, whom she ultimately betrays for the sake of continuing her initial infiltration and achieve her goal.
  • Mother Makes You King: What Chui-Bi is trying to achieve for Mu-Hyang, whether he wants it or not.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Ga-Bi has this when she realizes she is pregnant and that faking her own death took this second child away from Do-Ahn.
  • Mysterious Parent: Ga-Bi is this for both of her children and not entirely without cause, although it probably could have been resolved by properly communicating to her husband.
  • No Sense of Direction: Ga-Bi manages to get lost in her place of residence and wonders whether her house disappeared. Dan has this as an Informed Attribute.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Ji-Eun in spades; Hong-Ryung even uses this as a defining characteristic to describe her.
  • Princeling Rivalry: One-sidedly on the part of Hyun-Joo with his elder brother. Chui-Bi also assumes that Hong-Ryung feels this way towards Mu-Hyang.
  • Really 700 Years Old/ Older Than They Look: Humans with great amounts of Divine Power stop ageing as long as their power holds out. In chapter twenty-six, Gang-Hui mentions that Ga-Bi is practically immortal.
    • Because of the nature of this extended lifespan, usually the affected person is in their prime, however, Immortality Begins at 20 is averted by the existence of such individuals as So-Hae-Hu / Ha-Hyeon whose growth stopped earlier than that.
    • This extended lifespan is not considered a good thing, which Ga-Bi in particular is troubled by. For Ha-Hyeon, this is coupled with Not Growing Up Sucks. Because of this and her relationship to Ga-Bi, Ha-Hyeon's goal is to have Baek-Yeom take Hong-Ryung's powers and then kill the former before he can do anything with them.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Hong-Ryung gives quite a few of these when ever he is angry. The first of these is in chapter seventeen to Dong-Hyung, in reaction to Dong-Hyung's naïvety. He also gives a long rather scathing one in chapter one hundred to Hyun-Joo for the latter's refusal to acknowledge what's in front of him, stubborn pride, and confused priorities; that one is ultimately productive. In chapter one hundred twenty-seven, Hong-Ryung gives one to Baek-Yeom, addressing where he went wrong; unfortunately, Baek-Yeom's response to being called insane is "Of Course."
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Both played straight and subverted because all of Dae-Hyun's imperial family have red eyes. The Big Bad, both before and after he reincarnates has this, and this trope may also be considered to be played straight when Baek-Yeom is in a fake body (invariably, in the form of one of his brothers). Hyun-Joo also is an example, prior to realizing that he is being manipulated and faces up to that. On the other hand, both Baek-Yeom's father and Jin-Won were apparently good men, and Gang-Hui's eyes are likewise red, which ends up subverting the trope.
  • Reincarnation: Baek-Yeom at first seems to have been reincarnated as Jin-Won, the deposed crown prince of Dae-Hyun,which is ultimately a Red Herring, as he is really Dong-Hyung, Dae-Hyun's third prince.
  • Royal Harem: Hong-Ryung's father, Do-Ahn seems to have had his modest harem reluctantly, and he effectively is never married to his concubine, but for acknowledging Mu-Hyang. During Hong-Ryung's rule, Chui-Bi is still present not-so-subtlely trying to assassinate her step-son and place her own son on the throne, which causes many, many problems.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Most of the royals are very active in working to gain and maintain power. Some are just not as active as others. In particular, Hong-Ryung, No-Woo, Mu-Hyang, and Hyun-Joo.
  • Seeks Another's Resurrection: What turns out to be So-Hee's motive for following the Big Bad, and is briefly the suspected motive for Ha-Hyeon's actions.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Men with Divine Powers are treated as bad omens that will bring certain ruin to the world, purportedly because they have a lust for power which drives them insane and to kill anyone who is an obstacle to achieving said power. Baek-Yeom states that merely due to having Divine Power he was constantly shunned, suspected of all sorts of evil, and considered destined to become a murdering maniac; so he decided he might as well live up to their expectations and take them Up to Eleven. Lampshaded when Hong-Ryung points out to him that his actions only strengthened that superstition.
  • Sketchy Successor: Although there is no question of his birth, Baek-Yeom is this to his unnamed father, because after an Emperor who truly loves his country he is an emperor who hates the world for making him such as he is and sees no problem with slaughtering his own subjects to meet his ends.
  • The Spock: Ha-Hyeon and Ji-Eun.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Ji-Eun, thanks to her powers and temperament.
  • The Stoic: Ha-Hyeon and Ji-Eun.
  • Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: Baek-Yeom's ultimate goal is this, and he starts a pointless war to enable him to commit mass-murder to obtain the means of obtaining the means to do so. He doubles as an Omnicidal Maniac, because of how he goes about this.
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: To despite having a relationship with Guk-Yool entirely composed of Belligerent Sexual Tension, Yun seems to have no idea Guk-Yool is female by chapter ninety-seven. Moreover, it takes Ju-Hie's asking Yun whether he thinks Guk-Yool is a guy for Yun to even question Guk-Yool's sex, which results in a cross between an Eye Take and a Double Take on his part. However, thanks to an ambush, it is never confirmed whether Yun actually knows Guk-Yool is female. It is somewhat implied by a change in how he refers to her and how he treats her (not to mention his Dying Declaration of Love) that he does.
  • Undying Loyalty: Mu-Hyang for Hong-Ryung, and it's completely justified (not that it needed to be) considering the risks Hong-Ryung takes in keeping Mu-Hyang at the palace by keeping the latter's illegitimacy quiet. Also, Ha-Hyeon has this for Ga-Bi.
  • Wacky Marriage Proposal: Do-Ahn's proposal to Ga-Bi is phrased as a means of resolving an error he made. There's also No-Woo and Mu-Hyang proposing to propose to each other by referencing the former's proposal to the latter when they were still children; the way it's phrased, Mu-Hyang accepts No-Woo's renewal of her childhood proposal by informing her that this time he'll be the one to say it.
  • Warrior Prince: Aside from Hong-Ryung, there's Mu-Hyang and No-Woo, all three of whom have significant battle prowess. No-Woo seems to have the most battle prowess of the three prior to Hong-Ryung regaining his divine powers, that said, Hong-Ryung's best weapon is long-range and Mu-Hyang is never dragged into a serious battle (thanks to a role as palace-guardian and getting severely injured before the story's conflict really gets moving).
  • What's Up, King Dude?: Ha-Hyeon speaks informally to everyone, no exceptions. Whilst some people, such as Wi-Jin and Chui-Bi mind it very much, most of the characters think it's odd but don't mind, even Baek-Yeom only shrugs.
  • Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: Invoked several times on both sides. Ga-Bi feels that she should have killed Baek-Yeom instead of sealing his powers and memories, so that Baek-Yeom would never have reincarnated himself. Hong-Ryung asks himself this very question, realizing that either way he has to kill Baek-Yeom and that he missed several opportunities to do so. Baek-Yeom, regrets not killing Hong-Ryung after draining him of his powers, since Hong-Ryung still gets in his way without them; in his previous life, the same also wondered why he hadn't killed people to display his power and get his courtiers to shut up and obey him following his father's death. There is also an inversion, since Hyun-Joo's murder of the deposed Jin-Won on route to his place of exile was both unnecessary and ultimately gave the Big Bad the space and resources he needed to move freely ahead with his plans.
  • The Wise Prince: Hong-Ryung, definitely. No-Woo as well, as female example. Mu-Hyang does and doesn't fit this trope, because although it mostly fits, protecting his brother is among his chief priorities.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Hong-Ryung gets this from Yu-Ha and Gang-Hui in chapter one hundred twenty.
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