“I Remember You”: Uncanny Monsters (Thoughts with Spoilers)

After a summer without K-dramas, I caught up in a binge this week. And against my better judgment—does the world need another serial-killer-romantic-comedy?—I watched I Remember You (aka Hello Monster).

Turns out I was wrong. The world totally needed this serial-killer-romantic-comedy. I Remember You is a giant step up from the last serial-killer-romantic-comedy (just a few months ago), the lightweight Girl Who Sees Smells with Shin Se-Kyung and Yoochun. In I Remember You, Jang Na-Ra plays a police detective heroine who never makes me yell, “No! Don’t open that door!”, and leading man Seo In-Gook alters his facial expressions on a regular basis. (Sorry, Yoochun.)

Hello_Monster-i remember you poster web

Even better, this series has a consistent style and themes. It has something to say. And because it’s a K-drama, it doesn’t get bogged down in its message—its primary mission is to tell a good story. The message is a cool bonus.

Not many K-dramas succeed in having a coherent style, and even fewer have coherent themes. In most shows, two opposing themes fight it out in the confined space of sixteen episodes—a K-drama cage fight, like the recently-concluded High Society. That show sometimes criticized socio-economic hierarchy but sometimes glamorized it, sometimes gave us clear “good guys” but sometimes had its “good guys” do terrible things. At the end, what was moral and what was immoral? The director and writer answered the question with a big old shrug of the shoulders.

A coherent theme is even harder to achieve than a coherent plot. And take note: a coherent theme doesn’t always coincide with plot logic. The 2014 Pride and Prejudice didn’t always make sense plot-wise, but it stuck to its guns regarding the everyday nature of evil. And a show with a perfectly constructed plot might not have a clear theme. (Admittedly, I can’t think of an example of a show like this, because what K-drama has a perfectly constructed plot?)

i remember you seo in gook jang na ra web

I’m still trying to figure out if I Remember You‘s narrative makes sense. Frankly, that vengeance-seeking murderer who showed up in episode 12 was implausibly convenient for the plot advancement. But unless the final two episodes August 10 and 11 take a radical departure, I won’t remember the infrequent plot holes. Instead I’ll remember I Remember You’s weird brand of creepiness, and how it’s touching as well as horrifying.

But how can you combine horror with heart-warming? How does the writer (Kwon Ki-Young, better known for light fare like Protect the Boss and All About My Romance)  get away with this?

The commentary over at DramaBeans has pointed out some successful aspects of the show: the nuanced characters, the humor, the plausible emotions between our opposite personality hero and heroine. But there’s one more feature of this show that I want to write about: I Remember You works because it does one thing very, very well: it establishes an atmosphere of the uncanny—a particular kind of creepiness.

(From here on out, I’ll include a few spoilers, though nothing earth-shattering.)

hello monster episode 11 choi won young web

The uncanny is the strange territory between the mysterious and the commonplace—the sense of unease we get when something is unsettling but also somehow familiar. Freud tried to define it in his frequently-quoted 1919 essay, “The Uncanny.” Writing in German, he called it the unheimlich, the opposite of the word heimlich. Heimlich has two meanings. Freud wrote “on the one hand it means what is familiar and agreeable, and on the other, what is concealed and kept out of sight.”

Its opposite, the unheimlich, thus means both “unfamiliar” and “un-secret.” It’s new and strange, but it also feels like something that was always there, just out of sight. Deja vu and identical twins are everyday examples of the uncanny—phenomena where our eyes seem to deceive us.

In stories, an example is Frankenstein’s monster, who is scary because he’s neither human, nor non-human. Frankenstein is neither and both. He’s beyond our ken, but at the same time, he could be made from the bodies of people we know.

hello monster episode 1 creepy art web

I Remember You takes place in an uncanny world. We see the uncanny in Min’s weird childhood drawings of two-headed children, and in the two-headed portrait hanging at the first murder site (above). We see it in the idea that Lee Joon-Young is a “monster,” a person without humanity who nevertheless looks and acts very human, desperate for human contact (below). The uncanny is there, too, in Lee Hyeon’s uncertainty about whether Min is dead or alive, and Cha Ji An’s uncertainty about whether her father is dead or alive.

The writer emphasizes this not-knowing. One scene is particularly weird. We see the death of the senior attorney through Lee Hyeon’s eyes: he’s talking to the former prosecutor but he’s knocked unconscious and wakes up to find the prosecutor missing.

“No one saw him again,” Lee Hyeon says in a voiceover. He doesn’t seem shocked, though, and he doesn’t run to the police station to report a crime.

i remember you episode 2 do as lee joon young web

It’s weird that Lee Hyeon is so philosophical about it, and weird that when he does later find the attorney’s corpse, he wasn’t actually looking for it. I Remember You is a procedural show organized around solving murders, so how can this death fade into the background? Because something uncanny happens that doesn’t fit into the realistic framework of police work: the attorney died without leaving behind a body or a crime scene—an uncanny death.

Similarly, it’s weird that Lee Joon-Young can engineer such complex crimes so effortlessly. When the “ghost girl” recounts the murder of his family, it sounds almost like the corpses appeared magically. How else does one boy kill thirteen people and destroy all evidence of the crime?

This uncanniness might even be there in the relationship between Lee Hyeon and Cha Ji An. How have they made it this far in the series without a real kiss? The pace of the romance is emotionally plausible, but unusually slow for a K-drama. Their relationship belongs in the no-man’s-land of the uncanny—sometimes they’re best friends and at other moments they’re still mysterious to each other. We think we’re watching a romance, but are we really?

hello monster seo in gook jang ha na closet web

One of the alternate titles for I Remember You is Hello, Monster, a title that evokes Naoki Urasawa’s manga Monster (and the faithful anime version). Monster is one of the best uncanny stories of the late twentieth century. (I’m not making this up: Pulitzer Prize winning novelist Junot Diaz has praised the series and award-winning horror director Guillermo del Toro has optioned it for a possible HBO series.)

It’s the tale of Johan, a mysterious serial killer linked to countless grisly, unsolved crimes in post-Cold War Germany. Yet Johan, like Min and Lee Joon-Young, has a beautiful, gentle face that belies his brutality. He also has seemingly magical powers to cause chaos and then disappear like a ghost. And he also has a childhood of abandonment and fear.

Monster anime poster

Urasawa’s narrative follows several people looking across Eastern Europe for Johan. The central character, Dr. Tenma, once saved Johan’s life, not knowing he was a killer. Another key character is Johan’s twin sister, who has no memories of her childhood. As she remembers, she fears her brother—and misses him. Johan is spooky because we see him through the memories of this compassionate doctor and twin sister—through the eyes of love.

Serial killer stories usually bore me. Too often their goal is simply to shock. Even one of the first serial killer blockbusters, Silence of the Lambs, sinks into campy horror (“I’m having an old friend for dinner”). And when these stories are well-told and serious, I like them even less. I survived reading one James Ellroy novel, but only because there was no other reading material to be found one very hot summer day in the pre-Internet era. I wish I hadn’t read it. I still feel ill when I think about that novel a decade later.

But I Remember You, like Monster, draws me in by focusing on a killer’s childhood and family. It makes me care whether Lee Hyeon and Cha Ji-An can uncover the truth. And in turn, I find myself caring about the killers themselves.

hello monster episode 12 park bo gum web

And it presents killers with flower boy faces. I have trouble believing someone who looks as young and innocent as Park Bo-Geum (who plays Attorney Jeong) can be evil, even though he’s shown the lawyer’s cold, slimy side from the beginning. That goes double for Do Kyung-Soo (D.O.), who plays the young Lee Joon-Young. He doesn’t look like the same young man who played Kang-Woo in That’s Okay, It’s Love a year ago, but he still looks heartbreakingly vulnerable. I want to protect him, not run away from him. And as an adult, Lee Joon-Young is played by the sweet, sad-eyed Choi Min-Young, a veteran at playing loyal, good-natured supporting characters (most recently, Cha Do-Hyun’s invaluable right-hand man Secretary Ahn on Kill Me, Heal Me).

I know these guys are guilty. And yet I still find it hard to believe.

I Remember You doesn’t set out to absolve anyone. When we learn that Lee Joon-Young was a child of rape despised by his family, it doesn’t make that house full of thirteen corpses any less horrifying. But it does put its characters and audience in a creepy place where we aren’t sure what to do with what we’ve learned. How much sympathy are we allowed to feel for someone who has committed terrible crimes?

i remember you episode 10 choi won young seo in gook park bo geum

But the coolest thing about I Remember You is that it brings to mind even bigger questions. The separation and misunderstanding of Min and Lee Hyeon calls to mind the great skeleton in the closet of all K-dramas: the North.

When Naoki Urasawa started writing Monster in 1994, he set it in the tumult of German reunification. As much as anything, his serial killer Johan was a product of Germany’s dark divided history. And because I Remember You reminds me of Monster, it got me thinking about Korea’s North and South, all those families divided decades ago—like in Cold War Berlin—and never reunited.

North Korea itself is an uncanny place, lying right there on the border, but utterly sealed off from the South. If Korean history were a K-drama, the North would be the oddball brother kidnapped by a serial killer and raised to believe his hyung doesn’t care. He would be strangely beautiful but maybe also just plain strange.

I remember you episode 13 brothers web

And if Korean history were a K-drama, the South would be the brother with mysterious memory gaps, the brother who misses his dongsaeng, but trusts the official story that his brother is gone forever. Don’t bother looking for him. Learn English, get a job in the States, turn your back on the past. (Wait, does this mean Lee Joon-Young is the Soviet Union? Clearly, this metaphor is limited.)

K-dramas rarely acknowledge the North, except when it makes a good plot device like in Iris or Spy. It’s easy to watch Korean television and forget that just 55 km from Seoul lies the world’s most heavily militarized border. But I doubt Koreans forget the border, or the heavy US military presence in Seoul and the DMZ.

A story like I Remember You resonates weirdly with Korea’s national story, as if even a writer of comedies subconsciously wonders what happened to those long-lost brothers and sisters. Are they doing well? Do they believe what they’re told? When will we see them again, and will they resent us?

web hello monster episode 2 jang na ra looks tough

Thinking about these themes, I Remember You seems deadly serious, but thankfully it’s also funny. Cha Ji-An makes me laugh, as well as cheer for her.

I didn’t think I could get this wrapped up in a show about a serial killer—much less a show about serial killers, plural. And I definitely didn’t think a show about serial killers could include this much humor and romance, much less get me thinking about Korea’s tragic history. Not bad, I Remember You. ♥

Has anyone else seen Urasawa’s Monster and see creepy parallels or parallel creepiness?

42 thoughts on ““I Remember You”: Uncanny Monsters (Thoughts with Spoilers)

  1. Been awhile unni :).

    Im watching this too and its good. Its much more solid than i expected tho some of the earlier eps had some draggy eps personally. I’m really digging the bromance in IRY. And I love the performances given by Sec Ahn – Choi Won Young and Park Bo Guem. I think these two are the show’s strongest assets, along with Seo In Guk and Jang Na Ra ofc. I hope it ends well (it has to RIGHT??!). Anyway, take care unni!

  2. I did the same as you – stopped by to see what this show was about and ended up binge-watching all the episodes up until the 2 final ones this week. I have to say that I believe ALL the actors, right down to the most minor, are giving strong nuanced performances, which is why this show is so watchable. Also, the moments of humor (especially the social occasions among the murderers and our heroes) are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The ending of tonight’s 2nd to last episode seems to be an indication that we are going to be off-balance and surprised by this delightful show up until the very last minute. I both don’t want it to end and can’t wait to get the final story. Bravo to everyone involved in “I Remember You”.

  3. This is the first crime based show to pull me in after Pride and Prejudice! And yet this is so criminally under-rated. Like you and Jane, I binge-watched this in a weekend! The broadcast channel was very brave to select this show, since the subject matter seems more niche-cable category. I think that is reflected in its low rating numbers.

    I was drawing parallels while watching this show, mainly with similar shows on American TV. Such as mentalist and criminal minds. Both shows deal with psychopathic and sociopathic criminals. But thats where the similarities ended. American crime shows de-humanize the criminal. The people in Criminal minds call them “unsubs”. They are almost always portrayed as people who gleefully rape and murder innocents. Even have elaborate murder rituals. Monsters in the truest sense. This narrative is followed in the news media as well when reporting about mass-shootings. Once a person is labelled a monster, it precludes us from trying to make sense of his actions. He just becomes someone who is better off killed or locked away for life.

    On the other hand, this show is humanizing 2 serial killers. We have the cops and criminals sitting together at a dinner table. They work in criminal justice system perhaps to dole out their own brand of justice to those who they think are in the wrong. They are cold-blooded killers, yet they also need to eat and work for a living, just like the rest of us. The show doesn’t condone their actions, yet I want to find a world where they might find their peace, be it behind bars.

    I don’t know which view to endorse. The American jaded view or the Korean disneyfied view. Is there truly nothing that can be salvaged from the mind of a serial killer?

    PS: I find Park Bo Geum’s character to be the only confusing character, but he just has to make those puppy eyes, and I want to wish him all the happiness in the world, nine murders be damned!

  4. I’m so glad you guys are watching this too! I gave it a try because Pranx was watching it…and it definitely caught me off guard. Last night’s episode got me again. I’m turning into the main character myself–like Hyeon, I’m always watching Park Bo-Geum’s face carefully to see, wait, is he kinda normal right now, or wait, is he about to say something creepy and cold-blooded? Who IS this guy?

    Hi Camille! I didn’t expect Seo In-Gook to put in such a solid performance. The main thing I know him from is Master’s Sun, where he was cute as a button but didn’t have to do a lot. I keep cheering for him while I’m watching IRY, because he’s turning out to be awesome. The funny thing about Choi Won-Young here is that in the first few episodes I didn’t even recognize him. How could I not recognized Sec. Ahn?!? Nicely done, CWY.

    I love everything Pranx just said about the two views of serial killers. I’m attracted to the IRY view, partly because the American version is so hopeless, but also because in the real world people are so complicated. I suspect there’s truth in both versions. Something I particularly like about IRY is that it asks us to empathize with killers while still condemning the crimes. Totally different from the America show Dexter, with its superficially similar premise–a “born” killer works for law enforcement and secretly murders other killers who have slipped through the justice system (while, of course, slipping through the justice system himself). IRY is definitely against vigilante justice.

    Jane–it’s those domestic moments that get me the most in this show. They’re horrifying and funny at the same time, like when the Big Bad shows up at the hero’s door with a casserole dish looking like a small town church lady neighbor. In ep 15, I loved that small moment when Hyeon comes home and finds LJY cooking in his kitchen. He makes an annoyed face at his brother and his brother shrugs. It’s such a normal family moment, except all three of them are lost souls.

    I’m so curious how they’ll resolve everything with only one episode remaining. The “reveal” at the end of ep 15 was one they’ve been preparing for a long time, but it’s still a shock to our boy Hyeon. And what to do with the brother and LJY? Aargh!

    My dilemma is that I’m leaving town in a couple hours to visit a friend without good internet. So I won’t see the final ep until Thursday night!

  5. I haven’t watch the final episode but I had to comment about the parallel with Monster, I didn’t realize it as much even though I Love Monster but it struck me when all about Lee Joon Young is a past stories, just like how I remember Yohan. Perhaps both of their greatest strength lies in the depth of its characters. Thinking back on it, it’s kind of ironic that what initially kicked off the chain of events in the series is a choice made on the “moral grounds ” that doctors should treat all lives as equals in Monster and how Min&Hyeon Fathers tries to shaped his son to not be monster,as he think while thinking Lee Joon Young is monster, both make us realize that the monster in the series is not always a monster at the times, it’s strange and captivating.

    I remember you is great at the awkwardness, the tense feeling that just lies behind the small conversation. It’s like they knew what they after, we knew what they mean, they just didn’t address it but still, it is there.
    The surprise is Cha Ji An character, I loved her way of thinking, she is strong, intelligent and well round cute at the moment. The police also did their job well.
    The love story is the sweetest things ever, there’s a spark, flowers everywhere, they acknowledge it but just let it flows… these kind of love stories is what lack from Western detective shows in my opinion.
    The episode when Ji an father was found really broke my heart and I still don’t know why since it is the things we all already know, already hinting many times but then it still struck me like reality, it happened and we need to deal with it.
    I think this show do a good job about telling the criminal and the police stories without judge them as good and evil as many kdramas. We’re the judge, we don’t need to dehumanize or humanize someone but after all, it is all human who has feeling and their understanding.

    Then the cast is spot on, it is perfect, the nuisance of sadness inside Park Bo Gum, Kyungsoo and Choi min young is real , just as real as their anger at some moment.
    Maybe it is in their voice, their way of speaking and telling a stories, maybe it is in their eyes and hand movement or maybe the way it shot. The simple gestures of Hyeon patting Ji An’s head is lovely, the daddy son of chief is kinda funny while I can’t believe there’s someone called Elena shilivashinova.

    This drama is beautiful for me, It is beautiful because they present everything as feeling, it has some holes in some occasion like how LJY murder people in van , in his house or how he moved the body, but I think maybe the director think it take too much time to explained when it’s not that important, (the result is what we need), Lee Joon Young special ability is kinda questionable also some plot driven events but the feeling remains the same. I hope there’ll be season 2 cause this drama need more popularity (in SK) and how to conduct a better police in drama-land.

    Sorry for long essay, I just really enjoyed this series after falling for Innocence since I drop both Mask and High Society ( I just get tired of both),
    suggestion : Oh My Ghostess is really good too

    • Ooo, I love your long essay, Anastasya! I’m SO glad someone else has seen Monster and can see a small echo of Johan here. There’s so much nuance in these characters, and like in Monster, I end up feeling it doesn’t matter if the crimes themselves appear impossible and implausible. The story convinced me completely anyway, like a weird fairy tale. Fairy tales might not be true, but they FEEL true. IRY feels true. And I’m going to miss all these characters so much.

      • I still remember what Johan said: Death is a normal thing. So why live?
        It silent me…

        but right IRY feel true and I hope they can get S2, come on.. I mean, seriously?
        I hope Tv ing can be view outside Korean so I can stream (get count) and shows that this drama have me as audience.

  6. WARNING: spoilers!

    I like the open ending. The acting was spot on. The story too, I think the writer did the best he/she could do. Had this been a 20 episode drama, they would have had more time to resolve the issues. But there were many things I didn’t like about this episode.
    1. Ji An confronting LJY in his house. What purpose did it serve? I don’t have any respect for law enforcement characters who allow their guns to be swatted away. Exactly what stopped her from shooting him in the leg and running away? And how did Kang know to arrive there just in time to save her?
    2. The backstory about LH, Min, their father and now their mother. So young Lee Hyun knew there was a gun in his dad’s office bag and knew how to use it. Dad apparently has a habit of keeping a loaded gun (with safety off) within easy reach of his children. Sorry, if you don’t practice responsible parenting, you cannot then pass judgements on your children’s characters. You also don’t attempt to counsel your children who have had the most traumatic experience of their young lives, instead start pondering if they are monsters? Hello?
    3. Min as a born or made monster. I am firmly of the belief that he is a made monster. The show didn’t explain why Lee Hyun thought his brother was a monster. Did he enjoy killing animals? That certainly was insinuated. Did he start killing because his brother had killed (in self defense) and he just wanted to do everything his brother did? I remember a scene from early episodes where Min tells Dad not to trust Hyun. So he is a manipulator too. Why did he suddenly do an about face when he grew up? Suddenly it was all about this lost boy with abandonment issues. They conveniently forgot the part where he enjoyed killing. Maybe because bromance sells and Park Bo Geum is too cute.
    4. The lady, LJY’s sidekick. I assume she is the only one who holds power over LJY. The show should have explored that part more.
    5. Its funny how many people entered LJY’s house uninvited at just the right moment. Kang, when Ji An was being choked; Hyun, when Min was stabbed; that lady when LJY was being choked. something in that house must be emitting SOS brainwaves.

    That being said, I still enjoyed this show for the bigger themes it brought forth. A below average finale should not take away from the rest of a brilliant show.

    • Thank goodness you commented on the finale, pranx, because I just finished it and I felt emotionally devastated at the end, in a good way. So it succeeded in the most important respects.

      But the thing that puzzled me most was a variation on your #2: The thing in the past with Hyeon’s mother wasn’t what I expected at all. From all the hints dropped since the beginning, I expected to learn that either Hyeon or Min had accidentally killed their mother with that loaded gun lying around the house. (I actually knew a woman who was killed by her five-year old son in an accident like that.) And it made sense to me that an accident would have turned the father into a nervous wreck (quite rightly, since it was his gun). I don’t believe Hyeon killing an intruder would have changed the emotional balance in the family so dramatically.

      In the story I imagine, Min was curious about violence as a child, which is probably why he and Hyeon were playing with a loaded gun in the first place. Maybe Min accidentally shot his mother and then blamed his hyung, setting in motion all kinds of tragedy and misunderstanding. Or Min accidentally shot his mother and hyung took responsibility for some reason, like his fear that Min was a monster and would be taken away from him. Or something. I don’t know. Explain it to us, writer-nim! Did the producers tell you matricide would be too grim?

      About points 1, 4 and 5: in the absence of a couple more episodes, these things were silly but didn’t disrupt the flow for me. I wish we had more time, especially for the sub-plot about the orphan the team tracks down. The orphan who stabs LJY for revenge was a brilliant scene, but wasted. It deserved to be part of a small story arc of its own.

      The two best things about the finale:

      1. AWESOME that it’s inconclusive. So spooky and horrifying, but so RIGHT. I WANTED a happy ending, but it wouldn’t have made sense. Violence is what made sense. And the openness regarding Min’s choice, and LJY’s future, it’s great. It’s sad and horrifying, but fits the logic of the story. (And in passing, it was another strong echo of Urasawa’s Monster.)

      2. Thank you, Cha Ji An, for being angry at the hero when he shows up at the end. With all the loose threads flapping around, the narrative needed a “one year later.” But I hate K-dramas that act like everyone’s going to be the same at the end of that year. A year is a long time. This show handled it better than most. I was relieved that Ji-An was angry and that Hyeon understood why she was angry. I still don’t totally forgive him for going away, though, especially since one reason he went away was probably to avoid sharing any info about his brother with the police. The author had to pull a fast one on us here. What will Hyeon tell Ji-An?

      I hate it when a show backs off on its themes at the end, and IRY did back off, by making that story about the mother’s death and Min’s “monstrousness” so unsatisfying. But on the other hand, IRY did wait until the final episode to soft-pedal. So it remains a very good show, but could have been even better with more explanation of Min’s origins. Or did the author deliberately try to keep the “born” versus “made” question unanswered?

      • Your version of the backstory makes so much more sense! It ties all aspects of the story together. The father being scared to reveal it, Hyun turning ultra-responsible and Min getting a bit more un-balanced. Yes that’s what I will tell myself actually happened. You know, like Hyun regained his memory but its faulty, and your version is what actually happened. Maybe matricide is too much to show on broadcast television?

        My take on the disappearance was that Hyun spent the year looking for his brother, dead or alive. He probably had an inkling that his brother was not dead and so did not want Ji An involved, since she would have to arrest him immediately. The hospital, I assume was for Min’s therapy. This ties into LJY’s theory of a “critical period” in a person’s development. Hyun wanted to change Min to be a better person and thus prove LJY wrong. I don’t think its wrong on his part to prioritize Min over Ji An. Hyun was Min’s emotional crutch for 20 long years. For Min to stand on his feet and stop being so dependent on Hyun will take some time.

        At the same time, I completely side with Ji An being angry at Hyun. Also it fits well with her character. She won’t allow anyone to trample over her, even if its Hyun. While I was initially angry at LJY’s female sidekick for clubbing Hyun, I now think she saved him from turning into a monster like the other two. Murder, once committed, cannot be undone. There was a nice line in some drama which which said, “Once you commit murder, all reasons vanish, you just turn into a murderer”.

        Still, a great show. Its just my habit to nitpick on inconsistencies. I should know better after seeing so many KDramas 🙂

        I will try to catch up with Monster, the premise sounds interesting. Japanese writers don’t shy away from going totally dark, thats why I approach their works with caution 🙂

        • Both of your explanation makes me loved this drama more than before.
          If they produce S2, perhaps they could add up the closure we need,
          this 16 for feel so long but also so fast, I miss them but I can’t see them in pain and confuses anymore. And just like you said, I loved Cha Ji an as character and Jang Nara, beside her cute face did a very good job.

          Anyway just want to said that Monster has 74 episodes, 24 minutes each and has manga too.
          Monster is focused on telling a story, it takes a good look at the human condition, particularly on the subject of the Monster that every individual carries within.
          I don’t think Monster is a series for everyone, but if you try it, please don’t toss it away if the first few episodes failed to please you. The pacing may seem somewhat slow at times, but I think it’s worth it. ^^

        • I forgot to say this before, pranx, but your version of what happened during the “time jump” year is good, and helps me make sense of it.

          Monster is a genuine work of genius, but comes with a couple caveats: the anime basically shows the manga shot for shot, so it’s on the slow side as anime go. You feel the slowness at a few story arcs in the middle. Also, though I sometimes watch manga with dubs, Monster is much better in subs, because the subbed version contains the original theme music and closing credits. They are really, really, really spooky and awesome.

          You’re right about it going into the dark, like many Japanese things, but it’s less dark than many American things these days, because Dr. Tenma is a really awesome hero. He’s totally Harrison Ford in The Fugitive. And the series has fun references to Hitchcock, David Lynch’s Twin Peaks, and other spooky homages.

  7. Thank you, Odessa for the insightful post. I was late to this series as well…I blame it on the Heirs hysteria. I’m running away from mass obsession ever since but I was wrong this time.
    I agree and (slightly) disagree with all of you, guys. I didn’t know there was a similar manga and now it makes absolutely sense. The time period of the manga’s story is in early ’90s which leads me to the conclusion that the drama’s writer chooses the same period to set his overture for the same reasons: Both countries entered that decade while hiding lots of social phenomena under the carpet. Germany had its nazi-Stasi past to deal with and SK its junta(s) past. Urban environment crushes people and, at the same time, both countries have to adjust into this totally new universe. I don’t want to mention those epic battles between behaviourists and psychonalysis (unless you want to, lol!) but the drama and , I guess, the manga both try to answer the “two wolves” internal question.

    I’m ready to write a thesis on IRY and yet everything has been said. Low ratings left a few questions behind – the scene where LJY is being stabbed by one of “his children” was a hint on what it might happen to him, the “one year later” trope did work but not as much as we wanted etc. Ah, the writer gave us a beautiful special named “The Ahjumma Next Door” in which his skills were obvious! The semi-open ending and the whole “unkorean” point of view ( not the plot, though) was astonishing. A flair of BBC!

  8. First off – thank you Odessa. I read the first paragraph of your post and decided to stop reading and watch the show. I just finished tonight. I really enjoyed it and agree with so much that has been said already. And secondly thanks to the rest of the gang. I always love to read your thoughts too. Makes me feel less alone in my appreciation and irritations.

    @pranx – love your list. I too was a bit irritated by the final episode. #1 – I thought Ji An’s reason for going alone to LJY house was a feeble excuse. And I did not for one second believe she would be so unprofessional as to allow her gun to be removed. #2 – Like Odessa I was (and am) certain the writer was leading us to wonder which of the 2 brothers killed the mother. As soon as we saw the intruder I was convinced some executive decided that was not to be, much to the detriment of the story. #3-#5 – yep! And like you I still loved this show.

    @Anastasya “…there’s a spark, flowers everywhere, they acknowledge it but just let it flows…” This is a perfect description of why I adored their romance. Like the rest of you I was pleased she was mad at him and told him so. I was however disappointed in the kiss. After a year apart and her willingness to accept him back even though she is mad I think a wee bit more passion is in order.

    One thing that has bothered me is the still photo on viki. I assume it is the standard publicity photo. Both of them in black and Ji An’s shoulders showing. This has zero appeal for me and every time I went to go watch the show I skimmed right past that picture. I think they were marketing to the wrong crowd.

  9. Thank you so much for commenting! I get really, really excited when I read your thoughtful responses to this show!

    @ haria: I love your suggestion that maybe the writer originally wanted to set IRY in the nineties. South Korea has had so much tough history with the junta. The crazy, fascinating thing for me about Urasawa’s “Monster” (and I bet this is why Guillermo del Toro is drawn to it) is that it’s one of the few works in recent decades to address what it means to live in a seemingly happy, democratic society with a very dark recent past that no one wants to talk about (as if you can recover from living with the Stasi just like that).

    @ Erin: Darn that executive who put the kibosh on matricide! Despite my recent complaints about TvN, now I wish this show had been on cable. I’m dying to learn what the original ending was.

    I forgot about that publicity photo! It might win awards for Most Misleading, though there’s some really tough competition. This is why my friends think I’m nuts for watching K-dramas–they never get past the publicity photos on Hulu!

    I’m not hooked on anything right now, but I’m working on a few posts, so stay tuned. Thanks for sharing your ideas! You guys make me feel like I’m the New York Times.

    • It makes me giggle that we are all pro-matricide in this discussion. truthfully I doubt it would have changed the ending that much. I think it fits in quite well and I wonder if that could have been an issue. “you mean X killed his mother and the brother and him just get over that fact when it is revealed?!?!?!”

      I thought of you twice yesterday Odessa. Firstly because I read a blog post that broke down the different funny hats. And secondly because the next episode of Running Man I have in the queue has Ji Sung as a guest. (I really am rather embarrassed to find RM hilarious but there you have it)

      My summer of travel is at a close and so that means a slower pace of watching k-dramas. I have a few older shows I am considering watching but nothing that is really catching my interest so suggestions welcome. I can’t recall who here was planning on watching “The Time I’ve Loved You”. It was pleasant enough if not stellar, but I really enjoy watching Lee Jin Wook. And the kiss scene had a hint of tongue!! Did I mention “Warm and Cozy” before? – the kiss scene was hot, the story was not. I finally managed to finish “What Happened in Bali”. For me it was like archaeology. A lot of hard work but interesting academically. Because I like Lee Jin Wook and especially love love love time travel stories I watched “Nine”. Loved it. But I am not objective. You could have a whole time travel post and put me into a swoon. I really love time travel. But I do think it was good for people who are not quite as hopeless about time travel as me.

      • That would be me, but even LJW’s crinkly eyes could not save this show for me. I kind of get the quandary of a person friendzoned for a very long time, but in this show it was her rather than him who was forcefully friendzoned. I started and gave up on a number of shows, like this one and “Heard it though the grapevine”. But glad that you loved Nine. That is one heck of a show, they bothered to frame the rules of time travel and stick with it. A rare one that I have watched multiple times.
        Another one I caught up with again was “Innocent Man”. Its one of those inexplicable shows I just can’t get enough of. There are some gaping plot holes, but forgiven for a good redemption tale. There is a lot of symbolism in that show which I didn’t catch on the first time around, which I am noticing now. Maybe because this time I kind of know the dialogue so I am looking at the scene rather than the bottom of the scene.

        What goes on your all time fav list?

        PS: Is anyone catching up with Yongpal?

        • Rarely do I get to yell at the screen, come on, the hero must have killed his mother! You have an interesting point that such an ending might not have changed how satisfying the ending feels. A terrible discovery would just make it even more impossible to wrap up everyone’s healing and redemption in the last 60 minutes. I wonder if that’s also a reason they soft-pedaled the ending after foreshadowing something darker. Or maybe killing someone in self-defense is really that horrendous?!? Very puzzling.

          Erin, I missed the hats post! Please send a link! I’ve collected some great screenshots of funny hats… Ji Sung is in many of them. I can never get through an episode of Running Man, but he might be able to do it for me. Please do another drama soon, JS!

          I didn’t get into “The Time I’ve Loved You,” and “Warm and Cozy” lost me early on. “Nine” and “Innocent Man” are pretty high on my list to watch. I’ve been watching “Heard it Through the Grapevine,” but I’m not sure if I’ll keep watching. It’s good, but I find it easy to put down for a week here and there, not one that draws me through. Maybe it’s time to put it down again and do some time travel!

          I haven’t tried “Yongpal” yet, mainly because I have so much trouble believing Joo Won as an adult. He’s a good actor, but somehow he’s just not a grown up. Anyone watching it?

        • “Rarely do I get to yell at the screen, come on, the hero must have killed his mother!”

          You crack me up. Of course it is only funny because it is true and I recognize myself.

          “Or maybe killing someone in self-defense is really that horrendous?!? Very puzzling.”

          Very puzzling indeed. I really shook my head at this.

          Hat blogs: (you really should do one – the more Ji Sung the better)

          http://reviewasianseries.com/articles/traditional-korean-clothing-part-1-hats/
          http://thetalkingcupboard.com/2013/04/17/a-guide-to-joseon-hairstyles-and-headgears/

          I have no idea how accurate they are and the pictures in the first are pretty bad. I am sure there must be others.

          HTH

        • I can completely understand giving up on TTILY. I am not normally a person who gives up on stories although k-dramas are changing that a bit for me. I watch a lot of things and enjoy them on their own level normally. But then I eject it from my brain pretty quickly. Very few things in my life have I watched twice. My trouble is that now that I have started to understand the k-drama rules and cultural differences I kind of want to rewatch some but 20 hours is a long time.

          “Innocent Man” is on my watch list and with your recommendation I started it for the second time last week. I only got part way through episode 1. I had this sinking feeling I was going to feel so horrible for the main character that I might be in pain watching it. “What Happened in Bali” nearly killed me for this reason. Sometimes I could only get through 10 minutes. Will IM be super painful? And if so for how many episodes?

          I am curious about Yongpal but have not taken the plunge.

        • All time Favourite list:

          I have not been watching k-dramas for very long. That added to my poor recollection skills made answering this difficult.

          Without the need to rewatch I can say “Liar Game” makes the cut. I suspect “Nine” is there too but it is a bit early for me to say for sure.

          I have been rewatching “Coffee Prince” with my mother and I am enjoying it more than the first time. I think that gives it a place on my list.

          Prompted by your question I decided to rewatch “A Word from Warm Heart”. It definitely makes the list. First episode had me wondering as it is a bit stilted but it gets better and better. If any of you watch it keep an eye out in the final episode for when one of the characters says “it is already in my heart”. It seems like a throw away scene but this one sentence made my heart ache and changed my view of the story. I know people very similar to three of the main characters and I found the emotions in the story very believable even if it was wrapped up in k-drama oddities at times. And as a parent of adult children I personally related to Go Do-Shim’s character. Plus this time I really noticed Lee Sang Woo’s performance. Nasty mother in law and precocious child were annoying characters but served purposes. For anyone thinking of watching this I have 3 random thoughts for you 1) Ji Jin Hee was distractingly good looking, 2) It probably helps to have a rudimentary knowledge of “Love in the Time of Cholera” (there is always wikipedia) 3) If you have been hurt by infidelity and will be upset by characters making different choices than the ones you feel are “right” then don’t watch it. But don’t worry it does not celebrate extra-marital affairs.

          “My Name is Kim Sam Soon”, “Kill Me, heal Me”, “the Moon Embracing the Sun” are possibly on the list but would need to rewatch.

          “The Great Doctor/Faith”, “City Hunter”, “Healer” and “Personal Taste” are probably not on the list but each have managed to stay in my brain so they must be close. The latter failing for my Canadian sensibilites which might not be fair.

          (thanks for the question pranx – it made me think)

  10. Hello Erin,

    My pleasure. I have these lulls between drama marathons where nothing airing compares favorably to what I’ve already seen. If I have to make my all time list, it would be City Hunter, Nine, Queen In Hyun’s man, Innocent Man. Mind you, this list is not a reflection of the quality of these dramas objectively 🙂 Those would be Punch and whatever I’ve seen of “Heard it though the grapevine”

    I will give word from a warm heart a try. Innocent Man is a melodrama so the lead has to be in pain right? 🙂 But its a revenge story so its good kind of pain. But yes you will have to sit through episode 1. At least till the part where SJK is done playing cute med student. I think give first 4 episodes a try and see if you like it. Haven’t watched Bali so can’t compare. But what I liked about this show is that the female character can stand up to the shit going on around her. And SJK and MCW make an excellent lead pair! This made me a bonafide fan of SJK. I even watched the much more painful Werewolf Boy after this.

    I plunged directly into episode 5 and 6 of Yongpal. Its kind of addictive, but the medical voodoo is all too outlandish. Its like Mask in its first half, upping the ante which each episode. The story will fall apart if you give it some thought, but if you marathon it, you will be too caught up in knowing what happens next to think about all the plot holes.

    • “Queen In Hyun’s man”: On pranx’s list *and* has time travel! Clearly I must watch this.

      “Those would be Punch and whatever I’ve seen of ‘Heard it though the grapevine’ ”

      – why do you say this?

      (mild spoilers) Bali is interesting because it is an early-ish role for Jo In Sung and So Ji Sub. Both were compelling to watch. But 20 hours of watching people have any moment of happiness ripped away from them. All decisions being the wrong one and everyone suffering. I can hardly recommend it.

      I would like to see SJK in something. He is such a pretty boy it is hard to imagine him in a serious role. But I have seen IM mentioned many times hence my desire to give it a try.

      Korean dramas seem to have the worst accuracy for medical things. I think it is one place where they really suffer. I can usually ignore it so yong pal may be in my future. Keep us posted.

      • Punch was a really good series. I usually avoid tragedies like plague. That is one reason I haven’t seen Bali. I knew they die in the end and that was enough to keep me miles away from it. With Punch, the fact that the lead is terminal is front and center. But rather than make a human melodrama out of it, the writer wrote a political thriller around it! But its not something I will rewatch on a rainy day.

        I love political thrillers, revenge stories and quirky rom coms more than traditional melodramas and rom coms. Thats the reason I could not sustain grapevine or misaeng.

        I very much understand your trepidation about IM. If you want a spoiler, there are no forced separations and unnecessary misunderstandings. Give 4 episodes a try, and if it doesn’t suit your palette, at least you have seen SJK’s bad boy act 😀

    • I love it, pranx! Since I was hijacked by Real Life this week, it’s so much fun to come back to KDT and find that someone is posting great commentary, even if it isn’t me!

      @ Erin: I have always been curious re Bali, because it’s one of those “archeological projects”–I’m curious about how dramas have changed in ten years since then. And how can I not want to see that cast? But my curiosity has never extended to actually wanting to watch it, because I know it’s a Misery Melo. I want to pick your brain and find out more about it! The only other show I’ve watched from that era is Samsoon, and it feels pretty dated at times (because it was the origin point for some cliches that stuck around).

      @ Pranx: The question of favorites is such torture, because as you say, there are shows that are high quality (that you might not watch again) and shows that are sentimental favorites. I’m not even going to try right now. But Queen In-Hyun’s man has been on my To Watch list for awhile, so you’ve inspired me to move it to the top of the queue.

      I still haven’t watched Innocent Man (well, I got bogged down in the first episode cute med students) so I’ll also watch more of that one. I want to see more of this SJK you keep talking about! I promise to let you know what I think.

      I have a billion shows that I want to write posts about right now and I don’t even know where to start. Let me see…

      • @Odessa

        I was looking forward to your favourites list. darn. But I totally understand. I can never list my favourite movies. I put down Rebecca and then I am stumped. I am glad you enjoyed are ramblings. It is hard to have these conversations because the format does not lend itself to free form nattering. We have wandered pretty far from “I Remember You”. It has almost become the August general topic thread. oops.

        we should both be strong and do the first 4 episodes of IM. I mean 4 episodes is not that many and my money is on us being won over by then. But I also think your time is best spent writing some of these one billion posts for my reading pleasure 😉

        re Bali: Well you are welcome to pick my brain though I am not sure what good I might be. I am so forgetful. So ask away. It does have a bit of the feel of Samsoon in film quality. No sure if that was the original broadcast quality or the way in which it was gathered for internet viewing. Certainly the feel is dated. The same piece of music used for the entire 20 hours which gets grating even when it is good, and this is not particularly. One early scene where 3 of the characters are given sarongs and at every shot they have switched colours had me giggling. I found it interesting to see how far the production quality has improved. So from that standpoint I was glad to watch it. I was also watching “The Time I’ve loved You” at the same time. HJW was pulling faces back then as well. But it is much toned down now. Perhaps just a better director. She made them in “Secret Garden” too. But many of the actors were doing the weird faces, just not as much as her. She was the least interesting for me to watch in Bali. SJS and JIS were both truly compelling. I came away wanting to watch more SJS but I can’t find one I actually am interested in. Perhaps you could just watch a few episodes to ge tthe feel. It is not a complicated story and wikipedia has a pretty comprehensive summary. It is mostly accurate.

        • @ Erin: Don’t give up hope–I’ll definitely post a favorites list sometime. But when you see my post today, you’ll understand why I haven’t had time. The technical side of blogging has been giving me fits lately. If I had unlimited time and server space, I’d put up a forum on K-Drama Today to make plenty of room for “open threads”! But then I’d be spending even more time on the technical details. Sigh.

          You guys have convinced me with IM. Going to watch the first episode today! We can do four, right?

          I love, love, love seeing how much production values have changed in K-dramas since 2005. It’s only a decade ago, but the improvement is huge. Watching Samsoon, every aspect of the show reveals how much they’ve learned about lighting, continuity, editing, camera work, etc. It shouldn’t surprise me, because that’s the trajectory Korea has been following the past two decades: from “third world” to first at lightspeed. But it does surprise me, because there’s such a contrast. I notice it when I rewatch Coffee Prince too (it’s 2007). The technical improvements on TV might not get talked about in the Wall Street Journal, but they’re every bit as impressive as turning Hyundai into a company that makes reliable cars that can compete with Toyota.

          Thanks for the feedback on Bali. I figure a big reason Bali still gets talked about is because SJS and JIS did their jobs right. Those guys have ridiculous heaps of charisma. (And to be fair, I like HJW well enough too, though I only know her from Secret Garden.) So Ji-Sub is a tricky one to follow, but it’s not all bad. I discovered him in “Master’s Sun,” which is the only “light” thing he’s ever done, I think. “Master’s Sun” is one of those shows I almost didn’t watch because of the silly poster. But it turned out, I really love that show. It’s the only Hong Sisters show that I’ve watched all the way to the end. I get a kick out of the “monster of the week” formula, and I like Gong Hyo-Jin. But 80% of the reason I enjoyed it so much was because of SJS. He really puts his own stamp on the formulaic K-drama character he’s given. On paper, his character is exactly the same as the male lead in Greatest Love, the Hong Sisters previous show. But on the screen: hoo boy! (It doesn’t hurt that Master’s Sun also has Seo In-Gook playing a total sweetheart second lead.)

          He’s also excellent in the movie “Always,” which despite the schmaltzy poster images and a makjang plot, has a nice independent feel to the acting and directing. If you’re looking for more SJS, I recommend giving Master’s Sun or Always a try, just to sample what he’s been doing more recently. And of course let me know what you think! 🙂

        • I have seen SJS in one movie “A Company Man”. Even my son thought he was good in that. I might try the two you suggested. Though for now I am on a mission to watch my 4 episodes of IM.

          Don’t get me wrong. Other than the outdated production quality Bali is reasonably good. I don’t know what dramas were like in 2004 but it certainly is different than the formula for current ones. And while it is a melodrama it is not filled with birth secrets and car accidents although we do get a cinderella shopping trip. But I am an utter wimp when it comes to watching characters make embarrassingly bad decisions. The Philip Seymour Hoffman character in “Owning Mahowny” was nearly impossible for me to watch. It is a good movie but I hurt for him so much I was nearly ill. Normal people should be able to manage. The 4 leads give strong performances and at least 3 of the characters are internally consistent. I am undecided about HJWs character but perhaps if I viewed it again I would be able to figure out what she was thinking. But mostly I think she wanted to eat and that is a pretty big motivator. JIS is baby faced in this. He is good but does not have that “Oh I’m looking at a famous person” quality he has now. The ending makes sense and is actually over mercifully quickly. SJS has soooo much screen presence though. I know that JIS is supposed to have outshone him but not so for me. He has less dialogue to work with and he makes even his silence meaningful. I am glad I did not marathon it though. Some days I did do 2 episodes but usually that was enough for me. The first episode is easy to watch. Nothing out of the k-drama norm occurs and you will learn who the characters are. Then pick some middle episodes if you don’t think you can do the whole series.

        • Sweet advice–I think I’ll have to watch a couple episodes at some point to get the feel. (Maybe I can lobby Elle at Worth the Drama to cover this one someday? 🙂

          It’s so funny seeing some of these thirty-something actors when they were younger. Seeing Ji Sung in “All In” is like watching a totally different actor. It reminds me of George Clooney: he looked like a total movie idol when he appeared in the first season of ER and it seemed like this gorgeous person appeared out of nowhere. But he’d been all over the place as a working actor for over a decade. But he looked goofy in his twenties and played goofy parts, like the annoying boss on Roseanne. Who knew he just needed a few more years on him?

          I watched the first ep of IM and I did wince a few times at the bad decision-making. Really painful first half hour. I know what you mean about watching people make bad decisions: I was one of those kids who thought “I Love Lucy” was terrifying because it’s about adults making mistakes. But then it suddenly shift scenes, hits a groove, and got me totally, totally hooked. (It helped that Lee Kwang-Soo suddenly appears, which is a reassuring universal sign: as dark as things get in this plot, there will always be Lee Kwang-Soo.) Glad I started it and now I’m fighting the urge to binge watch the rest.

        • @Erin,
          I watched 4 episodes of Bali and can’t peel my eyes of SJS! At the same time I cannot cannot stand HJW’s character. I wish the story was just about the JIS, SJS and that other chaebol lady. Right now I’m debating if I should continue for SJS or drop due to HJW.
          Also I second Odessa on SJS’s movie Always. SJS’s face and style of acting work really well with reticent characters.

        • Forgive me if this does not end up in the proper spot. I’ll blame wordpress though 🙂

          @Odessa

          I loved I love Lucy as a child but could not actually watch a whole episode. I would get up and leave the room and sort of half listen until I could return. Truth be told I still have shows I do that for. Hard to do when one has to read subtitles.

          Thanks for pointing me in the direction of “worth the drama”. It looks like an interesting site.

          @pranx
          totally agree with everything you’ve said about Bali. HJW’s character is annoying but some people really are annoying. What bothered me was I was not sure she was internally consistent. That is something I find important in a story. I am pretty open to believing people can feel and do a wide variety of things that I might not approve of or do myself. But when I don’t believe the character would behave in the way given I am annoyed. The other three characters are quite good. The other chaebol lady changes her mind and does things I would never do but I understand why she does them. she makes sense to me.

          I wrote more about Bali when I realised that my comment about SJS and JIS being compelling had been drowned out in my personal whinging about not being able to watch. I completely relate to you not being able to take your eyes off of him. It is a stellar performance and I understand why he is quoted in wikipedia as saying it is still a favourite of his.

    • Oh I think you are not the only one hijacking the thread. I’m glad Odessa tolerates us but I hope we have not scared off others. Jane was going to come back and give thoughts but sadly has not done so yet.

      I tried that link but it is a site I don’t subscribe to so no luck for me. But I take your word for it that it is good. I do plan to watch it. honest 🙂

  11. @pranx Since this was the thread where we discussed some other shows I thought I would come back and thank you for the show suggestions. I finished both Innocent Man and Queen In-hyun’s Man. After a few episodes I was able to stop seeing Song Joong-Ki and enjoy his performance. He is quite good and i suspect that pretty boy face works against him in getting really gritty roles. Other than the ending this was a very gripping drama and I am glad i watched it. I will definitely give a few more of his shows a try. For Queen In-hyun’s man I can only say that it was sweet, had time travel and characters I liked. perfect for me.

    • @ erin: I’ve been wondering how the Innocent Man project went! I thought it was good, too, and once I got past the first half hour it was hard to stop watching. I felt like it had about five drama scenarios piled into one series. Though at points it made me so sad I don’t know if I can ever rewatch, it made me look forward to seeing more SJK.

      • I too kept wondering but never found the time to post. I was totally sucked in and finished it in a weekend. I was very irritated at the ending. very! But even with that in mind I thought it was excellent. his good looks are needed for the story so I was able to get over the fact he looks like a child, but it took longer for me to see him as his character and not as Song Joong-Ki. He was my favourite Running Man member for the time he was there so I have seen enough of him on screen to have it interrupt my ability to suspend reality and enjoy the show. To get over the left over misery feelings I immediately watched Penny Pinchers.

        Did you watch any of Bali? I wonder how much more pranx was able to take.

        • The ending! SJK! So much to talk about that I need to start a discussion forum just for us. I did end up watching Innocent Man in the space of a few days, it was that compelling. The ending…wasn’t what I expected. But it worked for me. Like the ending of Pride and Prejudice, it didn’t give me the reassurance I wanted that life is okay, but it did stick to its guns and deliver an ending that made sense. (In a very K-drama, Buddeo-Confucian way.) It helps that I’ve never been able to watch more than 5 minutes of Running Man and don’t associate SJK with it. That would be a problem! I got used to his baby face. It reminded me of watching Jon Cusack in the Grifters. He can’t be a morally dubious con man, he’s too cute!

          Bali!! I watched the first couple episodes. JIS doesn’t look like JIS–I literally didn’t recognize him the first five minutes he was on the screen–but it’s still fun to watch him playing such a skunk. And SJS already has that intensity. I realized I’ve absorbed more Korean than I thought–it kept freaking me out that SJS was using formal speech with JIS in those early episodes. I’ve internalized Korean formality norms! Yikes! What next? Will I start craving kimchi jjigae and barbecued cow?

    • My pleasure Erin! I myself discovered Innocent Man 2 years late, so its nice to have folks to discuss it with now 🙂 Not made much progress with Bali, real life caught up with me. So far, the only show I’m watching is YongPal. Its has all the elements I like, yet brought together in such an outrageous way, that I’m watching it with my mouth hanging open most of the time 😀 Really crazy!

      @Odessa, will you be covering IM in this blog? Would love to read it and contribute to it.

      As for the ending of Innocent Man, I came around to liking it. Was it the time jump that bothered you?

      • “As for the ending of Innocent Man, I came around to liking it. Was it the time jump that bothered you?”

        clearly this answer will have spoilers.

        Everything from after he got stabbed bothered me.
        1)He wants to live so badly and yet he does not want to hurry along to the hospital? Seriously? Ok he is a genius doctor and maybe he knows he is not that badly off, he wants her to not know so that she does not go after the fellow on her own. But if he is that much of a genius then why is he so badly off as soon as she leaves. And why is wandering up that quiet street when they were right across from the busy street and hospital.

        2) Amnesia again? *rolls eyes*. Oh but wait not really he has the rings. Oh but then that doesn’t quite make sense either. If you are going to have a clunky time jump then at least go all the way and fill in the details. Don’t try and make me guess what it is you wanted the end to be.

        little known fact about me – I have (had??) amnesia. It was bad enough for me to be hospitalised but as it was only one lost day hardly earth shattering. But it was very upsetting and disorienting at the time. I became more irritable and was told by the docs that was quite normal. Funny that our heroine went from irritable to nice 🙂

        • @Erin, that must have been scary! Dramas tend to use amnesia as a plot device (I think that has been superseded by early-onset alzhimers now) which doesn’t really do justice to the way it affects people in real life. I think here the aim was to show Eun Gi reverting to who she really is, without that prickly coat she started wearing due to her upbringing.

          Ah THAT STABBING SCENE. I went WTF at the whole part. The sharp Eun Gi could not see that he was stabbed?? He wasn’t making it any less obvious. I tried to understand why that scene was even there. Maru’s fate was already hanging in a balance. Why add a knife wound to it? And Eun Gi had to be really dumbed down (with zero peripheral vision) for it to work.
          I have now chalked it up to discrepancies in the writer’s vision and the director’s execution. The stabbing closed the door on Jae Hee’s lawyer lackey and Jae Hee. For all the evils that she did, she would never have killed Kang Maru or sided with anyone who tried to. And for Maru, he proved that he would still protect Eun Gi to the bitter end even after proclaiming earlier that she was capable of handling anything thrown at her. All though out the second half, he had lost his will to live (for himself). I think till the point of the last kiss by the taxi, he really had not thought that the real Eun Gi could ever like him, after everything. Maybe thats why the scene in the deserted alley, to amplify his loneliness after pushing everyone away.

          I guess fates were really kind to him, to deny his request to die the second time too.

          If i have to fill in the blanks, I would say they went to a garden near the hospital where it was dark and quiet. The whole stabbing scene would have worked better if he was stabbed in the back, then no need for Eun Gi to be suddenly afflicted with blindness.

          Now the darned amnesia. To be fair, it was shown to be prosopagnosia. So that would mean he remembered everything, just not the faces of the people involved. And I personally don’t fault him for taking time off to discover himself. Poor guy spent most of his adult life fixing other people’s problems. I do have a problem with the 7 year gap and Eun Gi randomly at a sandwich shop. But i guess they ran out of time to show it all. Its similar to the City hunter ending, which also made me go huh?

  12. I think the trauma of killing an intruder who just killed your mother is sufficient to send two little boys off on a psychological damaging trajectory. While an adult can process the concept of justifiable homicide and self defense, small children do not have the capacity to reason sufficiently. Hyeon’s amnesia probably precluded consulting and gave the impression of being emotionless or impervious to his actions. A “normal person” would feel something (shame, guilt, fear?) after killing someone. Min may have come away from the experience believing that killing a wrong doer was an acceptable thing to do. It was what his brother, whom he looked up to, did to protect him with seeming ease and without direct punishment. Adult Min’s lack of understanding that what he was doing was wrong showed arrested development of right and wrong that was continually reinforced by his “uncle”. There is the school of thought that we are born with some genetic switches (for instances mental illness or substance abuse) and life experiences, specifically bad experiences can activate a switch and change the course of your life. Born vs Made is too black and white to explain something as complex as the human mind.

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