The Fangirl Verdict

Completely biased reviews and fangirling

Review: Are You Human Too?

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THE SHORT VERDICT:

Show is tightly paced, pretty well-written, and manages solid cliffhangers and some good plot twists, through its run. Just be prepared for a fantastical set-up (robots, after all), with melo lashings in somewhat substantial measure. With the right lens, though, this show is highly enjoyable. I found myself looking forward to new episodes of this one, more than I did with most other shows on my drama plate at the time.

Seo Kang Joon is absolutely fantastic in this, demonstrating acting chops that I never knew he had. Show is worth the watch just to see him in action.

A ride more rollicking than I first expected or imagined.

Are You Human Too OST – Is It Love?

THE LONG VERDICT:

Never say never, y’know.

If you’d told me before this show, that I – the person who’d said that I hadn’t been too thrilled with the robot trend descending on dramaland – would end up getting good-and-proper sucked into this good-and-proper robot drama complete with good-and-proper robot romancin’, I wouldn’t have believed you.

And if you’d told me that I – the person who’d said that I hadn’t been super impressed with Seo Kang Joon’s acting in Cunning Single Lady and Beauty Inside – would be quite thoroughly blown away by his delivery in this show, I would’ve been skeptical too.

Well whaddya know. Now that I’ve finished this show, I can honestly say that both those statements are, in fact, emphatically true. I enjoyed this show a lot, and Seo Kang Joon in it. What a happy surprise, I say. ❤

ADJUSTING THE VIEWING LENS

When finding the most enjoyable viewing lens for this one, I feel like there are a couple of things to adjust for. Here are the things I personally adjusted for, and I really feel like this upped my enjoyment of my watch, and by quite a lot too.

Note: In this review I’ll be referring to robot Shin as Namshin, and human Shin as Shin. I tried using RoboShin and HumanShin instead, but that just didn’t sit right with me. So Namshin and Shin it is. 😉

1. It’s dramatic and fantastical

First of all, it’s important to keep in mind that this drama world is definitely fantastical. The set-up is futuristic and leans OTT, and there’s a melo backstory on top of it, to boot.

So, it’s pointless wondering if such technology could actually exist, and whether it makes any sense at all that [SPOILER] a mom, who also happens to be the Einstein of Artificial Intelligence, would create a robot version of her son to comfort herself, when her real son is taken from her. [END SPOILER]

With my lens adjusted to accommodate the absurd and incredible – as well as a good helping of melo angst – I found that I was pleasantly surprised by Show’s first episode. In fact, I liked it enough to want to watch the second episode, and soon. That doesn’t often happen for me with dramas these days, so I counted this a big plus.

2. Suspension of disbelief required

Given Show’s fantasy premise, it should come as no surprise that suspension of disbelief is required. Sometimes it was required in larger measure than at other times, but basically, I found it necessary to close one eye – and occasionally both eyes – at Show’s leaps in logic.

Here’s a sampling of some of ’em:

[SPOILER ALERT]

E4. Disaster Mode Namshin (Seo Kang Joon) wouldn’t just stand there in the middle of a burning building, he’d get So Bong (Gong Seung Yeon) out of there. And given that she’s been trapped and terrified, sincerely fearing for her life, she wouldn’t have time to feel flutters either, seriously.

E5. The whole thing with ambushing the ambulance, ambushing Namshin, and then passing him off as a human patient undergoing surgery is quite fantastical.

E5. I feel like maybe there’s an oversight this episode, when Namshin is discharged and recognizes the girls that he rescued, and is even able to repeat the line that he’d said to the girl, while rescuing her. I thought he wasn’t supposed to be able to remember what he does while in Disaster Mode? I rationalize that he was able to understand a lot of what went on by searching all the articles, and they probably interviewed the girls that he rescued. Yeah, let’s go with that.

E6. It doesn’t seem reasonable to me that they would give So Bong the bodyguard position just because she begged for it. Surely there isn’t only the option of yes or no. They could’ve given her a job as a guard rather than Shin’s personal bodyguard, if they didn’t trust her completely.

E18. How did the driverless car get itself down from its display upstairs to the basement carpark? That’s quite a stretch.

[END SPOILER]

3. Lean in and embrace the weird

Those of you who follow me on Twitter would likely already know this, but I stumbled on this thread in the early days of my watch, and even though it contained some spoilers for the show, I was utterly delighted by it. Put in such absurd, funny perspective, I couldn’t help but find everything on my screen even more amusing and entertaining.

Long story short, I really think that if you just lean in and embrace the weird, you’d likely have a pretty good time with this one.

STUFF I LIKED

Pacing and general execution

The first thing that I noticed about this show, is how everything looks shiny and polished, even with the burden of having to showcase a whole lot of technology. All the CGI looks legit, and I liked how cohesive everything appeared; I never once felt pulled out of my watch because something looked cheap or not well done.

The writing also feels like one cohesive whole, which is something that I’ve come to prize a whole lot – mostly because many of the live-shoot dramas don’t manage to achieve this. I didn’t suffer any sort of narrative whiplash with this one; it felt like writer-nim knew the story she wanted to tell, and got to tell it. I do believe that the fact that Show is completely pre-produced is a big contributing factor.

I was also very pleasantly surprised by Show’s pacing. Stuff happened quickly as a general rule, and I don’t remember ever feeling like Show was cycling in place to buy time; a thing that many dramas tend to do. Instead, Show cracks on at a brisk pace, and often, stuff happened sooner than I expected. [SPOILER] For example, I was surprised at how quickly Namshin’s existence was discovered by So Bong. I’d thought that she would be kept in the dark for longer, but by episode 7 (basically after just over 3 hours of screen time), she was in the know. [END SPOILER] That definitely helped to keep me engaged; I just didn’t have time to get bored.

Another thing that I really liked, is Show’s handling of its episode cuts. Quite a few kdramas have switched over to the half-hour episode format, but one thing I’ve noticed is that most kdramas don’t actually craft cliffhangers for the end of the half-hour episodes. Not this show. Here, I often felt like there were proper cliffhangers crafted even for the middle of the hour (ie the odd-numbered episodes), which made it possible for me to actually enjoy watching the half-hour episodes separately, if I needed to, rather than feeling like I’d stopped in the middle of a scene. I liked that a lot.

Additionally, I gotta give props to writer-nim. Show pulls a few plot twists out of its sleeves, and I thoroughly enjoyed them. They weren’t obvious twists that you could see a mile away, neither were they the far-fetched kind of plot twist that doesn’t match with information served up prior. I personally found the plot twists in this show very well done, and I enjoyed the thrill of being surprised.

[PRETTY BIG SPOILERS]

Here are 3 of my favorite plot twists in this show:

E12. Grandpa (Park Young Kyu) only pretending to have dementia. I totally didn’t see that coming, but I must say, it absolutely fits the character.

E19. Grandpa not only being the sponsor who’s been funding all the AI that goes into Namshin, but is also secretly housing Namshin’s entire brain in his company’s premises. Woah.

E23. The twist that Shin’s been awake for some time now, and therefore in good enough shape to actually pull off the switcheroo at the end of episode 22. Well-played, Show. Well-played.

[END SPOILERS]

Are You Human Too OST – Heart

Seo Kang Joon as both human and robot

I am officially thoroughly impressed by Seo Kang Joon, you guys.

Like I said in the beginning of this review, I hadn’t thought all that much of his outings in Cunning Single Lady and Beauty Inside. And even though I found him solid in Cheese In The Trap, it wasn’t a performance that I’d wax lyrical over, y’know?

WELL. Let the record show that I think Seo Kang Joon is FANTASTIC in this. He’s just so very effective, portraying the two different Shins. In his gaze, micro-expressions, body language and general vibe, he makes it easy for me to distinguish between human and robot, from as early as episode 1.

Not only is he very good at portraying the two different characters, he’s impressively good at switching between Shin mode and Namshin mode in a manner so instantaneous that I found myself feeling impressed every single time. One moment he’s all broody-smirky as Shin, and literally the next moment, he’s completely wide-eyed innocent as Namshin. Plus, I found that I could easily tell when he was Shin and when he was Namshin too; it all felt effortless and unforced to me. That’s skillz.

On top of it all, I am very impressed with Seo Kang Joon for managing to inspire such a wide range of emotions in me. When he’s being Hateful Shin, I feel thoroughly repulsed by him. And then two seconds later, when he’s being Sweet Namshin, my heart surges with melty affection. Seriously, that’s really good, any way you slice it.

For a while, I wondered if the very different personalities of the two Shins made it easier for Seo Kang Joon to play the two characters so effectively. Well. Show put that thought to rest in episode 35, where, in a fantasy sequence, we see both Shins sitting across from each other at a table, and both are happy, clear-eyed and smiling. AND STILL. I could instantly tell which Shin was which, from the looks in their eyes, and the minor differences between their expressions. SO FREAKING GOOD, I say.

Namshin’s growth journey

Aside from Seo Kang Joon’s fantastic performance, Namshin’s growth journey was my absolute favorite thing in this show. I was much more interested in Namshin’s development and his various milestones of independence and personal agency, than in the swelling loveline between him and So Bong, though that was cute too (we’ll talk more about that later).

In terms of breaking down the whys of my affection for Namshin, I thought I’d first talk about the initial things that tickled my fancy, before diving into his various independence milestones, which were the things that really stole my heart.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Early captivators

If you’ve been reading my reviews for a bit, you might’ve noticed that I tend to have a soft spot for male leads who are smart and capable. Extra points if they have some kind of superhuman ability. So even though I’d have never picked a robot male lead as something that I would actually enjoy, I found that Namshin checked a lot of the right boxes for me.

1. He’s smart

From early on, I found that I liked that fact that Namshin is consistently quick on the uptake. Yes, it’s true that he has the advantage of being able to mind-google everything that he needs, but (a) I count that as part of his superhuman abilities and (b) he does a better job at being a chaebol heir than the actual human Shin.

2. He’s kinda like a superhero

Sometimes Namshin steps up to be the hero, and I gotta admit, Hero Namshin is pretty cool indeed.

In episodes 4 and 5, he literally walks into a burning building in order to save everyone, and walks out with So Bong in a princess-carry – until he shuts down from the damage he’s suffered. So cool. And then in episode 8, I love the way he leaps between cars and even gets dragged on the ground by the runaway car, all in service of saving the day.

I mean, I knew in my head that Namshin is a robot and therefore was programmed to act in a certain way in the event of an emergency, and I also knew that as a robot he doesn’t feel pain, but I cheered for Hero Namshin, and had stars in my eyes anyway.

3. He’s friendly and earnest

One of my favorite things about Namshin, is how friendly and earnest he is.

Even though he’s a robot and therefore one would assume that this is all just part of his programming, it’s also true that Namshin starts to show personality very early on in the show. Like in episode 7, when he’s already practiced with Young Hoon (Lee Joon Hyuk) how to wait for the car door to be opened for him, and forgets to do so. I’d have expected a robot to have this learned information flawlessly committed to memory, but Namshin just doesn’t quite behave the way one would expect a robot to.

He shows personality, and moods, like how he goes into the room in episode 6, for no other reason than to play with the IOI. Also, I do love how friendly and earnest Namshin is. I loved it when he makes friends with the robot cleaner, in the same episode. So cute.

Plus, consistently through the show, Namshin brightens up visibly when he thinks he’s done well. In that way, he’s kind of like a cute toddler. And who can resist a cute toddler, right?

4. There’s something poignant and plaintive about him

Perhaps the biggest emotional hook for me, is my reflex desire to root for the underdog, and here, Namshin is clearly the underdog, even though he’s also the robot with superhuman abilities.

There’s a moment in episode 10, when Namshin freezes in the middle of the crossing, just because So Bong told him not to move. That scene when he just stays there, not moving, in the middle of all the honking from backed up traffic, is quite melancholic. It feels like Namshin really is all alone, that no one understands him, and it feels like he’s been abandoned; I couldn’t help but feel for him.

Later, the help that he asks for, of So Bong, is so much more than avoiding detection by Director Seo (Yoo Oh Sung). It’s to help others not be scared by him. Aw. To see such earnest purity, even in the context of his alone-ness, really just got me right in the heart. I was a goner, to say the least. I was always going to be on Namshin’s side.

Favorite milestones

There are so many times that Namshin’s growth journey pleased me greatly, that I wasn’t sure how to break it down in this section. In the end, I decided to split it all into categories, if you will, of the kinds of moments that I found especially delightful.

1. He shows that he’s smarter than the humans

Every time Namshin demonstrated that he was smarter than the humans around him, I got a bit of a thrill. It’s that thing about wanting to root for the underdog, y’know?

The looks on the humans’ faces are almost always priceless, like the time in episode 8, when Young Hoon realizes that Namshin did the wiser thing in not listening to the instructions that Young Hoon had specifically given him about not leaving the house. I loved, too, the time in episode 13, when Namshin hatches a plan that effectively turns the tables on Director Seo. How cool is that?

I love that throughout our story, Namshin shows himself to be smarter and smarter – and later even makes decisions that are so shrewd that his genius mom (Kim Sung Ryung) can’t keep up with ’em. I love it.

2. He shows that he’s growing feelings

Even though Namshin is programmed not to have feelings, and even though he and the humans around him keep emphasizing that he doesn’t have feelings, we see that Namshin develops them anyway, over the course of the show.

For one thing, every time Namshin looks wistfully at Mom when she’s with Shin, it feels so poignant. As I got deeper in Show’s episodes, it became clear to me as the viewer, that Namshin was always created as a replacement, and was intended to be enjoyed as a replacement. He wasn’t created in and for himself, nor was he ever enjoyed for himself. That’s sad. And it’s even sadder that Namshin seems to understand that, and feels yearning around wanting Mom to like him for himself.

Of course, the other major outlet for us to observe Namshin’s growing feelings, is his loveline with So Bong. I’ll talk more about the loveline in a bit. But for now, let me just say that Namshin’s nuances of expression – the way he smiles, the way his gaze flickers – say so much about how he responds to So Bong. Whenever he would respond to So Bong like that, I couldn’t help but feel that he had feelings, never mind what Genius Mom was saying.

I think So Bong put it best when she explained it to Namshin; that he’s learning about his feelings, just like many people need to learn about their feelings too.

3. He shows discernment

One of the most impressive milestones that Namshin achieves, in my opinion, is the ability to discern.

In episode 24, Mom puts on a cruel show and tells Namshin to leave and never come back, or she’ll die. Instead of taking her words at face value, which is what one would expect of a robot, Namshin is able to tell that Mom is lying, despite all the harsh words and despite the cruel front she puts on. I found this remarkable. He’s essentially more discerning than the average human.

And then in episode 25, Namshin shows signs of being more thoughtful and considerate than the average human too, noticing that Mom’s got a headache and buying her meds without being asked. I found that very endearing indeed.

Every time Namshin demonstrated that he’s more discerning than the average human, I couldn’t help but feel proud of him for it.

4. He shows that he’s developing personal agency and a whole lotta savvy

Perhaps THE most important thing in Namshin’s journey, is how he develops personal agency. After all, this is the thing that liberates him from having to depend on his human minders for everything. Of course, he still needs their intervention when it he gets hurt and needs fixing, but really, that’s when humans need other humans too, so I don’t count his inability to fix himself against him.

When Namshin starts making new rules for himself – such as protecting So Bong, in episodes 15 & 16 – it means that he’s essentially changing his own programming, and breaking through what’s been designed into his operating system. That’s huge.

On top of developing personal agency, Namshin also gets impressively savvy in dealing with situations and with people, and I enjoyed watching him set things – and people – in place as he deemed fit.

Here’s a handful of times when I found myself very taken with Namshin and his brand of savvy:

E15-16. Namshin getting upset that So Bong is ill-treated, is already something. But Namshin being able to devise a way to make things right, without blurting out the truth, and while putting the self-righteous sales attendant in her place, is really impressive.

E17. I do love that Namshin’s showing more savvy in how to react against humans, without giving away his identity. The way he responded to the sleazy guy who wanted So Bong’s number is so believably human Shin.

E20. I do love how Namshin is handling himself. Mom might be upset that he’s not obeying her every word, but he handles himself really well. In meeting up with Seo Jong Gil, he’s completely unfazed, and he fields Seo’s questions perfectly; he’s confident, vague when it suits him, and utterly infuriating, from Seo’s point of view.

E28. Also, I’m impressed with how Namshin talks with David (Choi Duk Moon) about the whole Gramps knows thing. He is so firm, and even tells David that he doesn’t need a Dad who lies to his family. I mean. That’s so human!

In episode 31, I felt sorry for Namshin coz he seems scared after having been used to hurt people. But on the upside, he shows that he’s able to question his programming and his rules. And he even demonstrates that he would be willing to throw himself off a building – and destroy himself – in order to stop hurting people.

First of all, that’s basically putting his values into action, which is more than most humans are able to do. And second of all, AUGH. Oh Namshin.. oh my heart. How pure is he?

I just could not help but serve my heart up to this bot, on a platter. ❤

[END SPOILERS]

Are You Human Too OST – LOVE

The burgeoning human-robot romance

I think this loveline needs some rationalizing, coz it is, after all, a loveline between a human and a robot. I mean, I even saw several tweets about this show maybe being a very extended commercial for sexbots.

And while I can see why some people might say that, I don’t feel that way myself. I admit to having to take a moment or two at points, to figure it out in my head, but overall, I was most definitely on board with Show, on this loveline.

I like how writer-nim handled this arc, in terms of building the connection between Namshin and So Bong. From the initial revulsion, to acceptance, to friendship, and then eventually romance; I found this progression a very reasonable and acceptable one. In particular, I liked how Show built the friendship between Namshin and So Bong, before really exploring the idea of romance. That was definitely something that helped to take away the shades of sexbot, in my mind.

Another important factor for me, is the fact that Show takes pains to show us that Namshin does indeed have consciousness and personal agency, by Show’s later stretch. He’s not showing care for So Bong because he’s been instructed to; he decides to do that, all on his own.

Because of Namshin’s clearly shown personal agency, I found that it really wasn’t hard to root for this loveline. Coz she is able to care about him, and he is able to care about her too.

Yes, there were small occasions when my brain wondered what their future would look like. [SPOILER] And, when So Bong’s dad refers to Namshin as his future son-in-law in episode 34, I found myself doing a bit of a double take as well. [END SPOILER] In the end, though, I decided that since this is a fantasy story anyway, that I didn’t have to think too hard about these things. So I just buckled in and enjoyed the ride.

[SPOILER ALERT]

Here’s a handful of OTP moments that I enjoyed:

E10. The lie detector test, where So Bong gets called out for watching Namshin take off his clothes. Tee hee.

E10. Namshin’s way of rejecting Ye Na is priceless. Grabbing So Bong for a kiss. Muahaha. Yes, that sure escalated quickly.

E10. Namshin being so happy that So Bong has a steel rod in her leg and is therefore a cyborg and therefore a kind of robot – just like him. So cute.

E14. Namshin being so loyal towards So Bong that he won’t easily listen to someone else, unless she gives the go-ahead. Aw. And So Bong is growing more and more protective of him too.

E16. Namshin becoming cognizant of why he created a rule for So Bong – because she’s the only one who sees him for himself. He doesn’t even count Mom in that equation. Aww.

E17. Namshin experiencing errors in that he keeps seeing So Bong around him, after she’s left “for good.” So sad-cute.

E18. Namshin coming out in all his badass glory to save So Bong. Eee!

E19. The connection between Namshin and So Bong feels real and earned. I like it a lot. The way he rushes out to save her – taking off the manual mode no less – and the way she cries with relief to see him, and sinks into his embrace. That feels momentous. Plus, I very much enjoyed the friendly yet close tone of their interactions, as he’s caring for her in the hospital. The banter is easy and familiar, and the smiles, bright and unguarded. Likey.

E22. Namshin becoming more attuned to So Bong’s emotional needs, and giving her a hug because he can tell that she’s about to cry. And then So Bong at the end, declaring that she likes him. I do admire So Bong for owning her feelings for Namshin, and even telling him that it’s ok that he doesn’t feel anything, because she doesn’t expect anything in return for her feelings. That feels so pure and unconditional, and honest.

E24. Namshin completely focused on getting So Bong away from Shin. He’s feeling jealousy!! Eee! I do love jealous and protective Namshin. He doesn’t understand the emotions, but he’s definitely acting on the emotions that he doesn’t think he has. Hee.

[END SPOILER]

STUFF I LIKED LESS

So Bong’s characterization

One of the reasons I don’t watch much k-variety (or much variety at all, really), is because if I see too much of an actor’s personality, it might mess with my ability to buy into a character that they might play on my screen.

Even though I haven’t seen much of Gong Seung Yeon in anything prior to this (I saw a little of her in Six Flying Dragons, which I never finished), I did watch a handful of episodes of We Got Married, while Gong Seung Yeon was paired with Lee Jong Hyun on the show. My impression of her then, was that she was super girly and perhaps even a little delicate.

Which means that right from the beginning of my watch, I had some difficulty coming to terms with her delivery of So Bong. To my eyes, Gong Seung Yeon’s efforts to play a character who’s immediately introduced as strong and rough, seemed a little try-hard. It all looked rather unnatural and forced, to me.

[VAGUE SPOILERS] This became a lot less of an issue as I got deeper into Show’s episodes, because So Bong softens a lot as a character and therefore is a lot less brusque and rough. I think some viewers found her transition from hardened cheat to sincere robot protector unnatural, but I found that I didn’t have the same struggle. Given the circumstances under which her career as a professional fighter ended, I could believe that she became jaded and cynical as a result, and that her interactions with Namshin eventually melted away the sting of the past, and brought her better nature back to the forefront.

What I did notice, though, is that by the second half of the show, So Bong shows a lot less physical strength, and is given a lot less to do. As the drama around the two Shins and the political war within PK Group heats up, So Bong gets relegated to not much more than being a pawn in the games. Her main contribution is in accepting and supporting Namshin, which is important, of course, but I couldn’t help but wonder at what happened to her ability to kick actual butt, as a retired professional fighter. That was pretty disappointing. [END SPOILERS]

Ye Na as a character

I kind of got the idea right away in Show’s set-up episodes, that Ye Na (Park Hwan Hee) would be the clingy second female lead type of character. Clearly, she was way more into Shin than he was into her. I found that quite sad, and for the most part, I thought of her as delusional but rather harmless.

[SPOILERS] That all changed once she found out about Namshin, though. She basically turns into the most awful brat and treats Namshin and So Bong like they are literal dirt. I actively disliked her from this point onwards. To be fair, Show does give Ye Na a late-game redemption, which helps. But I did spend most of my watch not enjoying Ye Na very much at all. [END SPOILER]

Are You Human Too OST – Who You Are

STUFF THAT’S NEUTRAL THAT I JUST WANTED TO TALK ABOUT A LITTLE BIT

Mom [SPOILERS]

Overall, Mom (Kim Sung Ryung) goes through an interesting trajectory, to say the least. From being the woman whose young son is snatched from her arms, she becomes the benevolent creator of her son’s robot likeness, and loves him as her other son. And then, partway through the show, she puts a kill switch in Namshin and seems determined to destroy him. She becomes irrational and unpleasant towards Namshin, while becoming weepy and desperate around Shin. And then, she dies while saving the robot son she’d been trying to destroy.

If you’ve seen the show, you’d know that I’m not making any of this up.

At first, I found it all very strange too. But on further thought, I realized that Mom deserved to be cut some slack. She’d had her son snatched from her, and had spent years trying to replace him with a robot, and when she’d been finally reunited with her son, he’d been unconscious and lying in a pool of blood. Then, they’d said he might never wake up. When he did eventually wake up, he was violently hostile towards her. Anyone in that position would go a little crazy, I’d think.

For the record, I was really upset that Mom would put a kill switch in Namshin in episode 10. My reaction was literally:

“OMG. MOMMM. Why did you put a kill switch inside Namshin?!??? Just because the real Shin wakes up, Namshin doesn’t have to dieee. They co-existed all this time, and you call him your other son, and you’re going to kill him?!?? What kind of mother ARE you?!?”

As I got further into the show though, I began to realize that Mom felt extremely guilty towards Shin for replacing him with a robot. In her desperation to make it up to Shin, she was prepared to destroy Namshin, if it would make Shin feel a little better. I didn’t approve of this, certainly, but I could understand where the woman was coming from.

Eventually, when she dies while protecting Namshin, I feel like she makes up for everything, in her own very tragic way.

[END SPOILERS]

Lee Joon Hyuk as Young Hoon

I’ve always thought that Lee Joon Hyuk excels at playing strait-laced types, so I felt like his role as Shin’s right-hand man was perfect for him. I also thought his role as Namshin’s stressed-out minder was even more perfect, ha.

[SPOILERS] Over the course of the show, I liked Young Hoon’s arc in that I was curious to know why he willingly put up with so much abuse as Shin’s secretary, and why he was so loyal to Shin, and Show does a solid job showing us how Young Hoon and Shin have been protecting each other in their own ways, over the years.

Young Hoon’s guilt towards Shin for allowing Namshin to take his place is very damaging, however, and I just wanted Young Hoon to do the right thing and prevent Shin from hurting people, and Namshin too. Therefore, I was very pleased with Young Hoon in episode 31, when he finally punches Shin in the face instead of quietly enabling Shin while Shin runs amok.

Most of all, I liked seeing that even stick-in-the-mud Young Hoon eventually melts in the face of Namshin’s earnest purity, and starts to defend Namshin too. That turnaround feels hard-won, since Young Hoon has such deep-seated loyalty towards Shin, and I cheered to know that Namshin had won over another supporter.

On another note, there’s a scene in episode 15 where Young Hoon, instead of pretending he never heard about what Chairman said (about him being like Seo Jong Gil because they were both orphans who received scholarships from PK Group), and dealing with his feelings by himself, he talks to Chairman without flinching, and assures him that he doesn’t need to worry. I found that steely and pretty badass; that was the moment when I started to admire Young Hoon, at least a little bit. [END SPOILERS]

Yoo Oh Sung as Seo Jong Gil

I just wanted to say, Yoo Oh Sung is very good at playing the villain. In this show, he is exactly the kind of villain you’d love to hate; he’s basically the baddie who would stab you while wearing an infuriatingly pleasant smile. Yes, Seo Jong Gil does come across as rather OTT at times, but I felt that this worked pretty well in the context of our hyper-dramatic world.

THEMES / IDEAS [MODERATE SPOILERS]

I feel like there are several interesting ideas being lobbed around in this show.

1. Shin is clearly a product of his experiences and environment. His terrible personality and his awful attitude is pretty much because he was snatched from his mother as a child, threatened and blackmailed, also as a child, to stay away from his mother or else, and then spent the rest of his life in bitterness and resentment. For almost the whole show, everyone is more taken with Namshin, but Namshin has an unfair advantage of being a robot and therefore being easily smarter and stronger in various areas. For a while, I wondered if Show was saying that broken people aren’t worth fixing.

2. Just as family doesn’t have to be dictated by blood, perhaps human-hood and relationships can cross those biological borders too. David genuinely thinks of Namshin as his son. Therefore, why can’t So Bong genuinely think of Namshin as her beloved?

3. Namshin manages to break through his programming and divorce himself from Shin’s control despite the technical impossibility of it all, since he’s not supposed to have free will, and yet, Young Hoon, who does have free will and has no computer programming to enslave him, remains, for the longest time, unable to break free from Shin’s control. That’s ironic. I do like the idea that if Namshin can break through his programming to be the kind of person / robot that he wants to be, we can, too.

4. Namshin being able to be himself, without having to pretend to be what he’s not. The idea of not hiding; of holding your head up and being who you are, without feeling the need to pretend or wear a mask.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILER ALERT]

Not gonna lie; I was a little sad to get to the end of this show. Even amid the late-show heavy-handed drama, I found myself having a pretty good time. To me, best of all was the fact that Show understood its main appeal, and remembered to keep on giving Namshin opportunities to keep on growing more and more independent and human-like, and time to demonstrate that he does have feelings, even if it’s against his operating system settings.

Overall, I found most of the character trajectories and turnarounds (if any) reasonably acceptable.

Shin’s turnaround is big, but I also felt like the events that contributed to his turnaround were big enough to warrant his eventual change in outlook and attitude. I felt rather sorry that Mom died, but it’s one of the key things that shakes Shin into halfway waking up out of his self-focused, angry and violent pity party. Thereafter, his own near-death experience, and Namshin’s unwavering sacrifice for his sake, are the final push to reset the levers in Shin’s heart.

Ye Na’s decision to turn her dad in isn’t quite a turnaround in my eyes; she’s always cared deeply for Shin, and I never doubted that she would go to great lengths to protect him. But this time her actions felt different, because in deciding to finally not turn a blind eye to her dad’s misdeeds, she’s finally making a courageous stand for what she believes is right. Ultimately she also gives up the one thing that she’s adamantly clung onto for the entire show: being able to be next to Shin. With this, Ye Na finally won my respect; she chose to do what was right, even though she knew that she would not be able to stay near the man that she saves with her decision.

The one turnaround I couldn’t get behind, is how Seo Jong Gil becomes so jovial in prison. Um. The guy’s been plotting for decades – literally, for most of his life – to get his hands on PK Group, and in this last hour, literally becomes a mustache-twirling villain (albeit without the mustache). And, one-year time-skip later, he’s cheerfully serving his prison sentence, saying that the time he spent with Namshin was the most thrilling in his life? And he doesn’t look like he’s lost his mind either. Sorry. I don’t buy that.

What I liked most of all, is that Namshin stays true to himself all the way to the end. He grieves Mom’s death so much that he cannot bear to allow another human to get hurt, if he can help it. And so, despite So Bong’s pleas to get the kill switch properly deactivated before he runs out of time, he chooses to do what he deems right, despite the risk to himself.

At the beach reunion, as Show was rolling into its final minutes, I found that all I could think about was, whether Show would explain Namshin’s resurrection. I mean, I’ve seen enough kdramas cop out with a happy ending reunion without any explanation whatsoever, for how one half of the OTP is undead, and I dreaded the thought that this show would do the same.

Happily, Show gives us an explanation that I can buy; Shin finally put his money and power to good use, and together with Young Hoon and David, worked to find Namshin and restore him, which took the duration of our one-year time skip. Hey now. That’s a resurrection explanation that I can buy.

In the end, I was happy that So Bong got her Namshin back. More than that, though, I was glad that Namshin gets the chance to keep on growing, developing and becoming – or perhaps more accurately, being – exactly the kind of robo-human that he wants to be.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

A surprisingly engaging and enjoyable ride.

FINAL GRADE: B+

TEASER:

MVs:

Author: kfangurl

Proud to be a k-fangirl since 2007. Main diet of kdramas with movies and kpop on the side.

56 thoughts on “Review: Are You Human Too?

  1. Hi Kfangurl! I like your review so much. Basically I agree with everything. 🙂 I found this series not perfect but very engaging and with a lot of heart. It addressed interesting topics, and it gave a heartwarming perspective to them, about love overcoming the obstacles and helping the characters to be better. Also the acceptance theme was great, how Namshin is accepted as individual and it is stressed that he doesn’t need to change, and all this is said to him by So Bong (I love that she is so forthcoming with him). Also the production values were good, I loved the cinematography and the music. And there is Seo Kang Joon who was absolutely fantastic. I also marvel at how much I hated human Shin and loved Namshin at the same time, I always forgot they were the same actor. And the way you could tell them apart just looking at his eyes or the way he curls his lips, those small details. It was a pleasure to watch Seo Kang Joon and pay attention to the nuances. Ah, Gong Seung Yeon was also a nice surprise here, she did very well and I can’t imagine anyone else as So Bong. She managed to feel jaded and despicable at the beginning, but later her transformation after the exposure to Namshin’s sweetness felt so natural.
    As for the romance, I fully supported it. In this fantasy world, why not? Namshin is the one that So Bong wants, and So Bong is Namshin’s most precious person. Let’s give them our blessings and allow them to live happily. In a way, their love is the most pure and inconditional, since they love each other despite all the obstacles. I have no doubt that they lived happily ever after and never stopped loving each other ❤
    And finally, to be honest, I was sad to see this end, but at the same time I finally got to rest because I was suffering for Namshin3. I guess he is the ultimate puppy character, so innocent and pure, loving his Mom despite she's neglecting him, and growing and learning how to be an adult…and with all the winking and the hugs. Who wouldn't fall for him and wish to protect him from the evil humans around? Haha!!

    Liked by 3 people

    • Aw, thanks for enjoying the review, Mary! ❤ And hi5, that we feel so similarly about this show! 🙂

      Yes, I very much loved the theme of acceptance as well. It's great that they emphasized that Namshin didn't have to become human in order to be accepted; he was accepted, and he was loved, just as he was. So sweet, and so uplifting. Love it. You are SO right; Namshin really is the ultimate puppy character. A character who only knows how to love, not hate – even when he doesn't know that he has feelings. Aw. ❤ I was rooting for him all the way through. And Seo Kang Joon as Namshin is just 😍😍😍

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  2. Like you, I really was happy with the pacing and some fun surprises in this drama but for me, the last 4 hours were a tad bit of a chore. Chaebol politics is generally pretty boring for me and I’ve seen it so many times before, but – for the most part – it was a fun journey and I just never took the romance all that seriously. It’s a robot drama so I just went with it.

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    • Glad you enjoyed this one too, Kat! Yes, the last few episodes were less compelling for me too, but I forgave Show the drag because there was meaningful development for Namshin that came out of it. Overall, a very fun and entertaining journey indeed. And Namshin is ❤

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  3. Hi Fangurl – I found myself laughing laughing out loud while reading your review. I wondered what you would think about the show while I was watching and was looking forward to hearing your opinion.

    I agree – Seo Kang Joon was seriously good in this drama. The moments when Shin (pretending to be NamShin) switched characters mid sentence was kinda like a whoof! moment. I also viewed them as completely different and unique in the scenes where they were together.

    I also have a very soft and mushy spot in my heart for Kim Won-Hae – just love, love, love him – and I enjoyed all his scenes.

    At one point in this show I stopped for a moment and asked myself “Who would think I was nuts if I described the show I was watching?”

    Great review as always! Really glad you watched this and shared your thoughts with us.

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    • Hey there phl! ❤ Aw, thanks for thinking of me during your watch! Makes me feel super special and all. 😘 Yes, Seo Kang Joon is fantastic in this. Those moments when he suddenly switched between characters were so believable! So good. 😍😍 Kim Won Hae was great in this, I have to agree. Sometimes dramas make him do too much of the OTT physical gag thing which is SO not my thing, but this was a nice change, to have him be Caring Dad – with the occasional comic scene. 😉

      Haha, YES, this show does sound fantastical when you describe it, which is why I love that Twitter thread that I linked. Did you check it out? I laughed so much, it was glorious. 😆😆

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      • I just read the thread – LOL – love the names – “Hot Secretary” being my favorite. How did I miss this? Thanks fangurl – got a good laugh out of this!

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        • Isn’t it hilarious?!? 😍😂 I LOVED it. I also loved all the comments that came in after her initial thread (she wrote the thread in 3 different sittings, from what I can tell, building on the existing tweets each time).. most of the comments were along the lines of “Wow, what ARE you watching?? It sounds incredible!” 😆😆

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    • Just got around to watching this and finished in one stretch. My most memorable scene is still from when they went to the movies and he teared up. When I saw him tear up, I flinched so hard. Damn, I was fooled too T^T

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      • Aw. To be fair, Shin only did the switcheroo after Namshin went out to get the tissues and not before. So it was easy for ALLL of us to be fooled. 😉 Glad you enjoyed this one, Miss Ruby – I found myself liking this one very well too! 🙂

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  4. My sci-fi brain has been out to lunch of late, so imagine my delight when I started to watch Are You Human? I was also curious as to how Kdrama land would treat such a premise. Clearly, it was going to be vastly different to I am Not A Robot (which I thoroughly enjoyed).

    I found Show to be both fascinating and frustrating at the same time. Why? Well, I was initially excited by the reference to, and the events portrayed in, the Czech Republic. Isaac Asimov (the father of robotics, if you will and the author of some 200 books), pointed out many years ago that the word robot is Czech meaning compulsory labour. “Ta-dah”, I thought. “Let’s see if the Show’s writer also references Asimov’s four laws of robotics (initially three laws) and the four levels of artificial intelligence or AI (well five as 4 is 4a and 4b)”. The end result: a very big yes. The writer not only did their homework, but could they be a sci-fi fan?

    Then, when Show introduced the concept of Smart Cities (M-City) I went “wow”. I’m really in my element now. Smart Cities are a very real proposition. At last year’s Local Government national congress we decided to change the term from Smart Cities to Smart Communities (because it’s not always about Cities folks!). Over here we have a local university down the road (well across the river and to the left) which has set up a “Smart Suburb” or street that is fully technologically interactive and updating day by day. There is a quote by R.Daneel Olivaw (R = Robot) in Asimov’s book The Caves of Steel:

    “people sometimes mistake their own shortcomings for those of society and want to fix the Cities because they don’t know how to fix themselves.”

    Ooooh, there we have it – M-City (and grandfather) to a tee!

    The frustrating part was due to my enjoying the first five episodes (every one likes a super hero), through to grinding my teeth until the end of episode 14, then thoroughly enjoying Show until the last handful of episodes where I felt the writer started to jump at their own shadow due to Kdrama pressures (also, Asimov is eventually mentioned by reporters towards the end). However, the final scene of the whole show was beautiful, and once again, I found myself forgiving the writer for the earlier transgressions.

    Now to the question of whether NSIII can love So Bong? Absolutely! Both Asimov’s laws and the four levels of AI bear this out. Essentially, Asimov’s laws protect humans and humanity. In short, robots will become human regarding the level of sentience required – whether by design, or ultimately through their own self development. Stephen Hawking had a negative view on this (robots will be the end of humans), but that’s okay. What we see portrayed really well in Are You Human are the four levels of AI (L1 = Robot Vacuum cleaner; L2 = Driverless Car; L3 = C3PO & R2D2, the driverless car with medi-health built in, Aiji3 and pre-sentient NSlll, L4 – sentient NSlll). Once emotions are understood by robots, the universe changes. R.Daneel also went onto say in Caves of Steel (human) “sin (Shin) no more!” 😜- sorry, couldn’t help it.

    It could have been amazing. It should have been. Parts of it were. I thought So Bong was great. I felt very sorry for Ye Na. Young Hoon was so so for me. The baddies were fab. NS needed dropping from a great height. I felt Laura as a character was let down by the writer. Yes, Kang Joon was marvellous (in the final episodes, NS had NSlll expressions at times). I liked David and even So Bong’s dad (Kim Won Hae seems marvellous in whatever show he is in, and it’s a lot of shows).

    So, perhaps for me the lens became Alice Through The Looking Glass, and the mirror cracked ever so slightly. Anyway, love trumps all (and did)!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi seankfletcher – I do not know much about robots. But when I watched this show, I found the concept of Shin III, M Car, M City and the whole robot concept to be extremely clever and some thing that’s never been done before in kdrama (even I’m not a robot was not like this). So, I am glad to learn that it is based on real life ideas. Great work to the writer for doing their homework. Very clever!!

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      • Hello D. When you look at what is happening right now with robotics and the use of artificial intelligence, Are You Human is extremely clever in how it portrayed this material. If you have the time to look up Sophia an “awakening” robot developed by Hanson Robotics, you will be even more amazed by what is going on.

        I look forward to when Kdramas start dealing with future concepts other than through the use of time travel (However, I appreciate such things are limited from happening due to cost).

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        • Thanks will do. Cheers

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          • I wonder if instead of Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” is more relevant for reference when analyzing this KDrama… Is Robot Shin a more likable and engaging (and therefore dangerous) version of HAL 9000? They counted HAL, but saved Robot Shin — is this a warning from our friends the writers?

            DTF

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            • Sorry — they countered HAL… (no edit feature here…). 🙂

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            • DTF – we can rely on the Clarke-Asimov Treaty for this one. In the spirit of Treaty, Clarke would say Asimov’s rationality regarding laws to regulate Robot Shin’s behaviour would be correct and Asimov would say that Clarke’s concerns re the pitfalls of Hal like technology would prevail 😎

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              • I would buy that — if we take it from the creator Mother and Robot Shin’s perspective. She certainly wanted to make a safe and even cuddly toy, not a danger to humans — and Robot Shin wants that too. My reservation would be that Robot Shin is not entirely self-controlled; he can be weaponized (and almost became a “hit robot” in the hands of Real Shin; if that can happen, he is not really safe, though he saved the day on that occasion). His real handler could be the chaebol, if he has the robot’s entire brain bank in his keeping. But whether that is correct or not, the bigger point concerning the danger of Robot Shin is that he is so likable he is readily accepted by people — and even preferred over his face-sake by many.

                Another thing I thought about, while considering that Robot Shin was the smiling salesman of the “smart city” was that robots are (to again use “Brave New World’s: definition of this term) a form of Soma for the people in this society. This makes him dangerous even if he is not physically a threat to humans. With such delightful toys, people are easily and deeply seduced (literally, in the case of the girlfriend — but arguably also in Mother’s case) — and thus do not engage in the human world in a healthy way, but instead learn only to be comforted by the machine (which — like smart phones — are marketed for profit by chaebols like the grandfather). The robot is a sort of drug that humans fall for and cannot live without, and it causes them to neglect human attachments and responsibilities.

                Consider: When Mother was upset and could have attacked chaebol grandfather, she is quieted and comforted by toy boys that evolve into the fully developed (and irresistible) adult Robot Shin. He becomes her doll, and eventually she cannot destroy him even for her real son — and dies protecting the robot. The girlfriend (kick-boxer) must have her mechanized lover or she cannot cope with life. The young child with the heart condition is also comforted with a toy robot — offered by Robot Shin. (And the child has another toy — a second species of material Soma: the smart phone; but be careful, my child, and do not hold it too close to your heart — or it will be the end of you…). Message: robots and smart machines are ultimately bad for humans, or at least are designed to seduce them and addict them, so that they question not the provider (who profits greatly) and cannot live happily without these toys and life-aids, though reliance onthem is not healthy. (Robot Shin’s vacuum “pet” is also interesting — this too is Soma; it does not function for a human as a real pet — a living animal — would; living animals are comforters to humans on a deep level and so are used in nursing homes, hospitals, for therapy, etc. — but robots do not suffice in that way. So, craving one — because it is cute and cleaner, is the same as desiring a robot boyfriend or son; no mess and you only need to be sure it is powered up, but never have to really feed it or worry that it may die… because someone can always make another one exactly like it, or close enough — as they did with Robot Shin in the end.)

                I think I still see this as subtle social criticism with a warning; but that is my interpretation and may not be the writers’. I will admit that.

                Last thought: Why did Real Shin join in the end with his two betrayers (David and the assistant at work)? The answer for me lies in the parable of The Madman. (The king was thought to be mad, until he drunk from the common well that all his subjects used and which had made them mad; then the king [Real Shin] became “sane”… The Madman is by Kahlil Gibran.) And this ending for Real Shin, along with the girlfriend getting her Robot lover again (her Soma boy), is the most chilling part of this cautionary tale, with the possible exception of Mother dying for Robot Shin. It is the dystopia triumphant, as the one human objector has become one of the leaders of this frightful new world. (Very different from the end of Norman Jewison’s “Rollerball” 1975!)

                Sorry to be so long winded — this show got me wound up, as you can see!

                Thanks so much FanGurl for providing this forum, and for your patience with my long argument-interpretations!

                DTF

                Liked by 1 person

    • See, THIS is why I say you know all kinds of cool things, Sean! 😀 I confess I don’t know much at all about sci-fi (my only claim to sci-fi exposure proper, is the fact that I read the first Dune book when I was 14. Loved it, but didn’t go on to read the other books in the series, unfortunately), so reading your comment was educational and rather enlightening. 🙂 That’s so interesting, that several of the ideas floating around in this drama, are actual Things in sci-fi! I’m not surprised that writer-nim didn’t take the ideas as far as they could’ve gone, since that rarely happens in kdrama, but I’m duly impressed that writer-nim did some serious homework, and worked to weave all these existing sci-fi ideas into our story. 😀

      I’m sorry you went through some frustration while watching this show (perhaps a side effect of knowing TOO many cool things? 😉) but I’m glad you still managed to enjoy the ending. I agree the last few episodes dragged and felt a lot less engaging to watch, but the ending saved it for me as well. Yay that love trumps all, after all. ❤

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      • Dune is a great book and one of my personal favourites. It’s considered the greatest sci-fi novel ever written, equivalent in stature to Lord of the Rings re fantasy. It’s also the highest selling sci-fi novel of all time and thought to be the most influential in terms of other sci-fi stories, films etc. However, I found the subsequent books in the series to be disappointing. My favourite sci-fi reading is still the Foundation series by Asimov. In terms of its non-fiction influence, it’s impressive e.g. inspired Elon Musk to do what he now does, has formed the basis of predictive sociology, influenced Nobel Laurettes re economics and was admired by Carl Sagan. Apple has just this month commissioned a made to order tv series. So that’s a big smile from me 😁

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Kfangirl! Can you recommend a kdrama for someone bored like me? Haha

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    • I’ve loved My Mister…Fangirl loved it too. Beez would recommend Chuno with Jang Hyuk. I’d recommend Money Flower with him. An older drama I loved…It’s Okay, That’s Love. If you like noona romances and can stand the heat of Yoo Ah In for 16 hours…Secret Love Affair. Time travel? Tunnel with Choi Jin Hyuk. Or Nine Times Nine with Lee Jin Wook. Cheese In A Trap…didn’t think I’d like it much, but really did. Six Flying Dragons…if you like a superior sageuk. Certainly, Goblin, the Great and Lonely God. Shopping King Louie for Seo In Guks great eye smiles and fabulous KKisses! And not to be forgotten…Flower Boy Ramen Shop with Jung Il Woo…still my most favorite KKiss of all time in this one!!! I’m Sorry, I Love You…oldie but a goodie for a good cry with So Ji Sub. I could go on….. hope this helps.

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    • Hi there Gabrielle, it’s kind of hard to guess what you’re in the mood for (or what you’ve seen so far), but lately I’ve been enjoying Thirty But Seventeen very well. It’s endearing and sweet. Aside from Prison Playbook (which I guess you’ve probably seen, since you’re a Jung Kyung Ho fan) and My Mister which Georgia Peach mentioned, I also really loved Money Flower this year. I highly recommend it – I was kept on the edge of my seat and didn’t have a chance to feel bored. 😉

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  6. For all of your and others reasons I too thoroughly enjoy this drama. With a screen full of Seo Jang Joon playing not one, but two characters so very well…what’s not to enjoy. Putting the fan girl aside…this drama did speak on many different levels. For me…NamShin III spoke to the “better angels of our nature”. (Quote from Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address…3 months before the American Civil War was over.). NamShin III was pure in all his interactions with the human and not so human people around him. His purity brought out the best in each person he interacted with…well, perhaps not evil Director Seo, but I do think even he was given pause.
    So looking forward to what SKJ has for us next.

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    • That’s a lovely way to put it, Georgia Peach 🙂 I love – and agree with – the idea that Namshin brought out the best in the people around him, with his purity. And Seo Kang Joon portrayed all of that so very well too. ❤ I saw that he'll be starring opposite Esom next, in The Third Charm, and it seems like he's gonna rock the dorky-geeky look, at least in the 20s timeline. 😆

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      • Had not seen where our newest boy crush is in a upcoming drama production! Can we wait? No. I fell hard
        for those amber eyes when he was on Roomates! I’m very happy for this talented young man…he has a very bright future!

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        • I guess that’s the upside of this show being pre-produced? He’s had time to sign on to something else in the meantime, heh. And the stills are already starting to come out. It premieres on JTBC in September! 😀

          Also, YES, those eyes are so startlingly light! In that respect, I thought he and Gong Seung Yeon were a perfect eye match; her eyes are just as unusually light! 🙂

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          • Thought the pairing of GSY and SKJ…eye wise and other wise…was a stroke of genius ! And the cameraperson didn’t loose any prime shots highlighting their eyes with the side lighting. Beautifully done, Mr. Cameraperson!

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  7. Hi kfangurl – glad you liked this show. I thoroughly enjoyed this show too and agree with everything you have said. It has been a long while where I actually wait every week to watch another episode of a kdrama. I loved it (except maybe the very last scene). And Seo Kang Joon – definitely WOW!! Really would love to see more of him.

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    • Hi there D! Yes, I found myself looking forward to new episodes of this one too, and these days, I don’t often find myself feeling that way about a show. So that’s definitely something! And oh my, YES, Seo Kang Joon definitely wowed in this, and I’m curious to see how he does in his project. I saw a still recently, and he looks completely dorky and different in that one. Room for him to show more range, I say! 🙂

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  8. Hey thanks for your review and I agree with most of the points and the should have been even better the last few episodes have plot holes anyway will you review mister sunshine when it’s done

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    • Glad you enjoyed this review, Rajesh. 🙂 And yes, I would have liked the last few episodes to have been stronger as well. As for Mr. Sunshine, I’m currently watching it, and am in the early episodes still. But I do plan to write about it eventually. 🙂

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  9. Are you human too is a good drama and if we don’t take logic into consideration and the way Seo Kang Joon portrayed human nam shin and nam shin iii remarkably his acting is very good and I got surprised that how come this guy never got lead role in his earlier dramas and the production values are good but not good as recent dramas like Mr sunshine and goblin anyway the drama is awesome and loved your review this is the only site that has detailed reviews.

    Sorry for my bad English

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    • Mr Sunshine is a brilliant show. The production values are amazing. It is breathtaking with its wide shots of the scenery, stunning regarding those jigsaw moments and then mesmerising in its attention to detail. Not one thing is out of place. As for the relationship between our lead pair – it’s a wow. The friendships are delightful and the owner of the Grand Hotel deserves a special mention. Each episode is so beautifully crafted it’s like watching chapter after chapter from a classic novel on the big screen. It should take the world by storm.

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    • Hey there Flaming D! 🙂 Yes, this drama does require some suspension of disbelief and some stretching of logic. Overall, though, I felt it was very well done. And yes, Seo Kang Joon’s portrayal of both robot and human is quite remarkable. This is literally the best I’ve seen from him. I feel like he’s on a very good acting trajectory, he seems better every time I see him.

      As for the production values, this drama had a very decent budget if memory serves, and it shows in the way they deal with the hi-tech requirements of our story. As for Mr. Sunshine and Goblin, those dramas had exceptional budgets – kinda like Rolls Royce type budgets – compared to the average kdramas, which have more like.. Toyota type budgets..? 😆 What I’m trying to say is, it’s not fair to compare those 2 dramas to the average kdrama, coz without the same budget, no other kdrama would be able to achieve the same kinds of production values, I think..

      PS: I’m so pleased you’re enjoying the site! 😀
      PPS: No need to apologize at all, I understood you perfectly fine!

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  10. “WELL. Let the record show that I think Seo Kang Joon is FANTASTIC in this. He’s just so very effective, portraying the two different Shins. In his gaze, micro-expressions, body language and general vibe, he makes it easy for me to distinguish between human and robot, from as early as episode 1.”

    The reason I claimed he deserves an award. You could identify the difference even in stills.
    I thought too that the production was polished until the killer got hit. I had an editing issue there where the phone was thrown away and in a blink he was holding it. I find it harder to believe than how M car went down, there car elevators you know. But killer couldn’t even move. Hahaha!
    I don’t like as well how mother is written. Scientists are one of the most rational beings. I can buy her making NamShin but her decisions when Shin awoke are totally senseless. And lastly, having accepted NamShin gone, I’d like the ending for Shin being a good person and falling for SoBong and her to him.😊

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    • Yes, I do think Seo Kang Joon should be considered for an award. He did so very well in this!

      I rationalized that Mom felt guilty towards Shin for trying to replace him with Namshin. And Shin was extremely antagonistic and cruel towards her, when he woke up. I can buy that a mother desperate for her son to accept her, would do anything to appease him. And his demand was that she destroy Namshin, after all. In that sense I feel like I can understand why she behaved the way she did, although quite often I only felt able to understand her actions on hindsight. 😉

      As for the ending.. I think that’s a tough one. Namshin was the one that So Bong fell in love with, so it would have felt like a brand new romance if she had eventually fallen for a turned-over-new-leaf Shin. Show would’ve had to do a lot to rehabilitate Shin in the eyes of viewers, in order to make that palatable in any way, I think. Plus, given that Show spent so much time emphasizing that Namshin had real feelings and real consciousness, I would’ve been heartbroken if they’d let Namshin die in the end. 😭

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  11. Wow, hadn’t even considered the sexbot angle; honestly, I was wondering how they would manage to engage in further intimacy…I mean, would his mother think to give him EVERYTHING?

    But maybe I should be on a purer plane like Shin and stop wondering these useless things.

    There’s a lot to criticize about this drama. I, for one, thought it inconceivable that the brilliant scientist would just allow her son to be taken–not to mention, not questioning the suicide–without a fight. I get that the chaebols have tremendous power and everything, but, there are laws in Korea, aren’t there?

    But there’s also a lot of love about this show…Seo Kang Joo’s performance being front and center. Even the smallest details…Shin walking…Namshin walking…Namshin pretending to be Shin walking…I’m telling you, the boy can strut!

    I watched this until the (somewhat lackluster) ending. (I tend to drop a lot of dramas before getting to the end, truthfully.) I never thought I would be so taken with the robot premise, but I was rooting for Namshing all the way.

    Btw, Fangur, I am having the same experience with “Gangnam Beauty.” I’m kind of creeped out by the amount of plastic surgery I (presumably) see on screen, so I almost didn’t start watching. But I am actually enjoying it so far. It’s not what I thought it would be.

    Thanks for your review!

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    • Heh. I wasn’t thinking the sexbot thing either, but the several tweets I saw made me pause and think about it, just to see what my own take on it was. To me, the whole thing is, a sexbot is a machine without feelings. Namshin is clearly shown to have feelings, and for me, that was the pivotal difference.

      As for the chaebol thing, I don’t know about Real Life, but in the dramas at least, we are led to believe that in many ways, chaebols are above the law because they have connections in high places, and are often able to bail themselves out of a tight situation by using their power, influence and money. In a show as fantastical as this, I found it pretty easy to believe that the chaebols in this story were exactly that kind of powerful.

      Yes, Seo Kang Joon’s performance in this is outstanding. I truly didn’t think he had it in him – and I think that’s part of the reason I felt pretty indifferent to news about this drama. I wasn’t super into the robot premise, and I thought it’d be hard to pull it off. AND, I didn’t think Seo Kang Joon’s acting ability would be able to support the premise either. I am so happy to have been proven wrong on both counts; this was a fun ride and a half, and Seo Kang Joon has proven that he’s got way more acting chops than I originally gave him credit for! 🙂

      Happy to hear that you’re enjoying Gangnam Beauty. I’ve got it on my list, but haven’t gotten around to checking it out yet. Fingers crossed that I’ll like it as much as you do! 🙂

      Like

  12. Your review is on point. Surprisingly engaging and enjoyable, you call it. For me it was thought-provoking as well. I agree with you in everything but the rating. I would rather give it an A+. The ending was what i truly wanted. I am a sucker for romance, you see… and even love between human and a robot is possible; especially if it has all the qualities of Namshin3. 😍

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  13. Thank you for a very detailed and comprehensive review. I enjoyed watching the show and was really happy on the review you made. It made me love the show more.
    I like everything about the show except the actress who played So Bong. The actor playing Nam Shin however is perfect.

    Like

    • Aw, thanks for enjoying the review, Aj! 😀 I’m so pleased that this helped to fan your love for the show! I thought Gong Seung Yeon was pretty alright, despite her taking a while to settle for me, as So Bong. But of course, my affection for Seo Kang Joon as Namshin is much greater 😉 He was fantastic! 😍

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  14. Pingback: 75. ARE YOU HUMAN TOO? (2018) – KDrama Feels

  15. Well, I can see I am in the minority here regarding this drama. But I thought I would throw out a few thoughts for fun. No offense to anyone who liked this show — I did too, as a fun throw-away few hours. And the acting was fine too. But my wife really disliked it, and I found her reasons compelling. Our gripes have to do almost entirely with the storyline, themes which no one seemed to get or care about (maybe because of their understatement), and reinforcement of negative stereotypes for women (so typical in many K-Dramas, alas). Here goes… [spoilers ahead].

    Problems: [Open for debate!]

    1.) A female Korean robotics scientist-genius, of the class of genius and ability that she would be sought out by the world’s great governments from the time she was in Grad School, is allowed without comment to retire to a Frankenstein-like castle in Eastern Europe to create impossible robots (with no regard for where her financing is coming from) that serve no other purpose than to replace her hostage son — again,and again, and again. Very unrealistic, very creepy, and very sad — an so much effort is spent by her for a cause that makes no sense, when she could hire herself out to a foreign government and make enough money to send an army (or use diplomatic pressure) to get her real son back. Did she really not want a real son? [More on this below.] At the least, this shows how incapable she really is as a mother and a woman capable of logical thought — and it gets worse.

    2.) A boyfriend, semi-partner for the mother character who is actually a spy and double-agent for the chaebol. He is below human in his treatment of her, no excuses allowed. [Humanity fail two, of many, many to come.]

    3.) The kick-boxer girl who becomes the lover of a robot is first stubborn, disrespectful of her father (through-out the show), and self-interested enough to become a traitor to her employers (she sells photos of the man she was hired to guard and protect — is caught, and has the gall to argue that he was mean?) and madly in-love with a robot rather than a real human being. [Human fail three — more coming.] She also descends from strong female lead (even if disreputable in every moral and ethical sense — she even agrees to spy again after being fired once for the same error), and to a weakling girl who is so mal-adjusted to life that she [repeat] falls madly in love with a robot rather than seeking a real human lover (with whom she could maybe raise a family for her father and her society). Why not fall for a video-game and sex-toy? [Granted, this is not a sexbot — it is Korean TV drama; but it will have to be one day, if she has any sexual desires at all.] At the end, she is pitiful, lost, and alone — and only the robot (non-human) can make her happy. What does this say about Korean society and its future??? [Here, an aside — this is NOT Bladerunner, where robots are superior to humans; the world here is our world, with promise and real caring people in it, all of which is rejected by the heroine, who goes not for humanity, but for mechanics. This is NOT because all humans are inferior — she just won’t see anything but her own fantasy world as capable of making her happy. Kickboxing, BTW, is no job for a woman in SKorea either, whatever it may be in other countries.]

    4. The real Shin has been taken from his mother (already lost his father), and is held captive for most of his life, being forced to live as another wishes. When he finally escapes to desperately seek his mother, he finds he has been replaced — and someone tries to kill him. No wonder he is unpleasant when he wakes up and wishes harm to the robot. Take his side for a moment and imagine your reaction to his situation. Why is Shin the enemy? Everything he does is a cry to value humans and family members, and everyone ignores him — even his mother, who finally sacrifices herself FOR THE ROBOT. [Big human fail.]

    5.) [Last, though I could go on…] The robot is recreated in the end, to be nothing more than a gift to the main female (who seems lost in her world without the robot). So much effort is wasted on automation and advanced “smart”‘cities, cars, phones, and robots, when the well-being (social and psychological) of real people in the show is set aside, or made to look criminal or unfeeling.

    The sympathetic character in this show is the real Shin — not the robot and his demented girlfriend (or the mother — she has lost the right to be sympathetic when she chose to the robot over her own son, twice).

    So sad for the future of Korea if this is the way people want to go — with robots instead of real family members, bosses, and lovers. But pretty with polite behavior trumps consideration of all else, it seems. (He probably never leaves the toilet seat up either.)

    DTF

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    • Well, I did have to think about the above for a little bit, so, here are some of my thoughts for what they are worth.

      One Kdrama that I have been working my way through is God’s Quiz (or Quiz From God). It runs for four seasons. This is interesting in itself because only the occasional Kdrama goes for two seasons and now we have Voice which is going to go on for a third season (which would want to be better than Voice 2). The other amazing thing with God’s Quiz is that it is now getting a new season – a reboot with the original stars. So, God’s Quiz is about a group of investigators who are an extension of the NFS (kfangurl would find the dissection of the bodies in this show a bit gruesome – they tend to show a bit more of the body parts than in other shows). However, it’s great strength is the running commentary on what is happening in South Korean society and where it is heading. The characters in this show regularly analyse and ask questions of each other regarding the human condition e.g, we need to love, interact with each other, be understanding etc. otherwise something else may very well creep into our genes and we could all end up as psychopaths 😊

      On the matter of reclusive geniuses, they do exist, and are left to their own devices. Others work in very humble environments and are also left alone. As for David, well I thought his motivations were genuine 😎 I think with Kang So Bong, the story highlights that a person will interact and relate emotionally with another object, especially if it shows some level of empathy e.g. Sophia 🤔 I must confess I didn’t have a lot of sympathy for the real Shin. He was raised to have his humanity stripped away from him, despite his struggle against this. Yes, people can get bitter and twisted very easily and quickly due to a sudden incident. He was a good jerk 😱 Some great observations and comments, keep them coming…

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      • Hi Sean,

        Thanks for the reflections. I cannot agree concerning David, unless we regard his genuineness as genuine self-interest to profit from acting as a long term manipulator of the mother and a spy for the chaebol, and also a profiteer (by hopefully capitalizing himself on the technology that she builds using the funding he transferred for her projects from the chaebol — whom she hates; this is why, apart from David’s paycheck from the chaebol, he does not want the robot to be damaged). He is not the mother’s friend, nor real Shin’s friend.

        Concerning the real Shin, yes — he is depicted as nasty, but given that his entire life has been one of being controlled, knowing only lack of freedom and self-will (though he is kept within a golden cage), being deprived of his beloved parents, and forced to accept a career and marriage that he does not want, his rebellions and attempted escape are more than understandable. Then for all his pains, real Shin finds himself brought right back to where he started again, and his own mother and assistant/best friend in the company have replaced him with a “more likable and capable” ersatz replica of himself. His only thought must be, “I have been betrayed again — and no one is on my side save for the fiancee” (whom he never liked because, among her other oddities, she is the daughter of another enemy). He is the one we should all be rooting for in this contest.

        BUT — the writers made the robot Shin more likable. Why? The secret here is in the sugar-coating (white-washing) and heroizing of this opponent to fool the audience into supporting the wrong side. Let’s take another example, and this may be more clear. In the film “Dr. Strangelove,” you have basically two sides competing in a thrilling ride that goes until the end of the film (I will try not to give away spoilers — go watch this wonderful film everyone; it is fantastic!). Ask yourself at the end which side you are rooting for (as Kubrick intended), and see why you chose that side. That is the whole point here too — you are being lured to root for the wrong people. When you realize it, the joke is on you — and it will be too late to save the situation. The real Shin is the good guy here (the representative of humanness and the struggle to preserve himself in the face of daunting opposition from even his closest family), and he is the one we should hope wins (i.e., the robot should/must be destroyed, and never rebuilt — at not in the likeness of Shin). If we save the ersatz Shin, even to give to the unbalanced girlfriend at the end, we all lose. Mother almost redeemed herself, but she blew it, and the girlfriend at the end (whom all the blind romantics hoped would regain her prince toy) is so far gone that apparently even her own father has finally given up hope for her. And rightly so.

        My three cents. DTF

        Liked by 1 person

        • Correction: …the robot should/must be destroyed, and never rebuilt — at LEAST not in the likeness of Shin).

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        • Hello DTF

          On reflecting on the points you have made in your wonderful discourse throughout the above and in a couple of other spots in kfangurl’s blog, I am reminded of what Aldous Huxley once said: “The propagandist’s purpose is to make one set of people forget that certain other sets of people are human.” There we have it: Kdramas in a nutshell. Who would have thought that he had so many years before posed the question “Are you human, too?”🤗🤗🤗

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          • Thanks Sean! I love your inputs too. A parting thought — in “Invasion of the Body Snatchers,” the humans were horrified to learn that they were being replaced. But I wonder how many of the people in this Show would be bothered by living in a world heavily populated by robots like Robot Shin. Or whether humans would like to become substantially cyborgized to be more like them (even when it is not necessary for medical health reasons — rather, for fashion, prestige among peers, and the joy of “fitting in” with the robot crowd). Maybe in the envisioned “smart city,” human visitors in the future will prefer the company of the robots too… for as long as humans remain around, that is.

            Beeeeep… Oops — I need to go charge my battery now. 🙂

            DTF

            Liked by 1 person

  16. Correction: Please allow me to withdraw the kickboxing comment in #3 (above) — however, I would be interested to know how many mothers and fathers in South Korea would consider such a career respectable and desirable for a daughter today.

    DTF

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    • As usual, you have a perspective that is both very different and very intriguing – thank you for sharing! I don’t have a defense for the characters; the various failings you pointed out of each character have at least some degree of truth to each one. I can only say that because I watched it through a more absurd sort of lens, I was able to look past or ignore completely the various failings you pointed out.

      On the point regarding kickboxing as a career, I don’t know the answer exactly, but I do recall that actress Lee Si Young is an amateur boxer, aside from being an actress. Despite her boxing career, I notice that her image as an actress has stayed on the feminine side of things; ie, she hasn’t been boxed in as an action star, for example. I think that at least gives us a clue as to how Korean society responds to boxing – and perhaps by extension, kickboxing – as an acceptable path for a woman. 🙂

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  17. I will just briefly reiterate a few points, to be sure I am clear in my message:

    I do not dislike this show (though my wife did,as she believes the messages were straightforward and objectionable). I see it (charitably?) as social commentary — and what troubles me is that not many seem to care about the themes. Here they are again, in summary:

    1. It is okay to be ethically and morally defunct, and to betray close friends and family members 9and employers), even repeatedly — and to the point of utterly abandoning them. [Message: People, clean up your act. Get you minds right to better our society.]

    2. It is better to love things and be absorbed in materialism because the human world is unpleasant and messy and people are hard to deal with (whereas expensive toys and lots of money make you feel better). [Message: we need to start being better to real people and more interactive/understanding, and reject personal isolationism amid material Soma (definition as used in ‘Brave New World.’]

    3. Women are incapable of handling practical affairs or even thinking along logical lines to support themselves; men are the only people who can capably lead society, and no matter what you do, they always do lead society. [Message: Women — wake up and force Korea to recognize your real and abundant talents and claim your rights.]

    When measuring some of these social critiques, I tried to think like a Korean in 2018: some big issues (bring ignored there by many people) are lack of social responsibility (and sometimes family cohesion), super-materialism (at the expense of human betterment), and continuing neglect of women’s equality in all aspects of life and work.One more is the low birthrate — and an aging population problem (which loving robots will not solve — unless we suggest that robots will care for the elderly until the nation goes extinct).

    I like those kinds of social messages — but find it curious that fantasy is more compelling and attractive. Dream on into oblivion?

    DTF

    Liked by 1 person

    • Last thought — “smart” cities (and related gadgets) are NOT a good thing, folks; they are deep pits in a scary future. The ultimate end in cities (and automated “smart” systems) that begin to think for you is that the mechanism will eventually decide what is best for you, will increasingly monitor and “correct” and limit you, and finally will decide that you are only messing up the clean and orderly operation of the city (or vehicle, etc.). So you will be eliminated as that is the most efficient and safest solution (for the machine). That is a cleverly dressed but clearly dystopian vision which the robot Shin (who would be at home there) smilingly lays out for greedy and morally/ethically vacant, money-loving, and irresponsible business investors and mindless (i.e., with no thought of consequences) technical engineers.

      Now I will rest my case. DTF

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  18. Apologies for the typos in the long posts… DTF

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