This little 4-episode drama special really gives you everything you’d want in a drama – just in a small, compact serving, where you only need to invest 4 hours of your time, instead of 12, 16 or more hours.
We get a winsome protagonist, a main conflict, a cute love interest, and a growth arc. Plus, our story even manages to arrive at a conclusion that feels satisfying. What’s not to love, right?
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
So Hyun (Kim Hwan Hee) is a 19-year-old runaway, who has a plan to take revenge on the people whom she believes are responsible for how miserably her life has turned out. However, to her surprise, things don’t quite go as she plans.
MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS
I think there are only 2 main things I’d like to mention, for this section.
1. This is mainly a story of personal journey, so even though there is a loveline for our protagonist So Hyun, in effect, the loveline itself plays more of a supporting role than the loveline in a more romance-centric drama.
2. Show does get a little dark, in its second half. Hang in there, though, because Show makes a pretty solid recovery, in the end.
Edited to add:
3. I didn’t realize this until pickleddragon commented that she’d found the storytelling rather weird and out of whack. I realize on hindsight that I probably had an automatic manhwa lens on which watching this, due to Show’s daring sort of flair, and I think this likely helped the weirdness that pickleddragon felt, land better for me.
STUFF I LIKED
General writing and handling
Honestly, Show doesn’t actually feel like a drama special on a free-to-air network. There’s a solidness and tightness to it that makes it feel purposeful, and there’s enough of a daring flair to it, that makes me feel like this could plausibly be on cable.
[SPOILER] Also, what an interesting twist, revealed so casually towards the end of episode 1, that this entire story is being told by So Hyun (Kim Hwan Hee) in retrospect, after she’s apparently been caught for doing whatever it is that she intends to do. This did lend an interesting tension to the narrative, because after this point, I was constantly just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Slightly sneaky, but smart. [END SPOILER]
Kim Hwan Hee as So Hyun
Kim Hwan Hee was THE reason that I put this drama special on my list, the moment I heard about it.
I’d found her so winsomely precocious in When The Weather Is Fine, that I wanted to see more of her. That turned out to be a very good decision indeed, because Kim Hwan Hee serves up the same levels of winsome sass in this; just in a very different shade, and through a different character.
I thought Kim Hwan Hee was great as So Hyun, and her personal charm goes a long way, to make me want to root for So Hyun as a character, even when I know in my head, that some of the stuff she’s doing, it questionable.
So Hyun makes an interesting protagonist, because she lands in the antihero space, not only with her choice of livelihood (pickpocketing) at the beginning of our story, but also, with her decision to wreak vengeance on someone whom she believes to be her father.
On paper, those are both morally dubious things, because, 1, when we meet her, she’s breaking the law and getting away with it, and as far as we know so far, continues to get away with it, and 2, the person on whom she’s decided she wants revenge, seems like a really nice, decent dude.
Yet, I can’t help feeling sympathetic towards So Hyun. I do think it has a lot to do with Kim Hwan Hee’s personal charm, but I also think that it has a lot to do with what we’ve seen of So Hyun’s family life. She’s had a hard time with her mother (Lee Young Jin) being an alcoholic, and even though it’s debatable whether her decision to run away is a good one, I can understand why she would feel the need to get away from the family life that she has; it’s toxic and unhelpful, and I’d imagine it forces her to be more of an adult that she might actually be prepared to be.
The layers of poignance that Show layers on, usually via flashbacks, really make my heart go out to So Hyun. Like in episode 2, when we see that So Hyun had been bullied in school, I can understand why she’d decide to teach Do Joon Sik (Lee Si Woo) a lesson, for bullying others.
On top of this, we do get glimpses that So Hyun’s a more decent person than she’d like to believe. For example, the way So Hyun tells Bok Hee (Lee Jin Hee) to tell her daughter (Kim Yeo Na) how she feels sorry for her, says something, I feel. In her own way, So Hyun’s trying to prevent another young girl from growing up feeling neglected, like she herself had.
So Hyun makes some very misguided decisions during our story, but I couldn’t stop rooting for her to realize her mistakes, and find her way in life.
Kim Do Hoon as Yoon Ho
This was my introduction to Kim Do Hoon, and I really enjoyed him as Yoon Ho. There’s a very earnest, clean-cut charm about him that I thought was perfect for the role.
I liked Yoon Ho right away, from the moment that we meet him; he just really strikes me as a really decent, goodhearted guy.
From the way he steps in to save that boy from bullies – and then gets beaten up himself – to the way he gets over his disgruntlement at So Hyun enough, to suggest that she apply for a job at the chicken shop, even though he’s just met her, and is still halfway sore at her, for not calling the police when she saw him getting beaten up, Yoon Ho’s just a really good guy.
Plus, there’s how he is patient with his grandmother (Park Seung Tae) and cares for her, even though it must be really challenging, since she’s suffering from dementia.
I found it charming and sad-cute, the way Yoon Ho continues to carry So Hyun all the way home in episode 1, even though he realizes, part of the way there, that she’s not actually passed out from the soju that she’s drunk. I’d have imagined that he’d make her walk the rest of way, especially since his arm is still not quite healed from that beating, but he only puts her down when he gets her into her apartment, and to her bed. This really endeared him to me extra, I have to say.
I have to admit that I was a little afraid that So Hyun would end up breaking his heart, so I also felt rather protective of him, during my watch.
So Hyun and Yoon Ho together
Even though this loveline isn’t the Main Event of our story, I really enjoyed what Show did with it.
The romance between So Hyun and Yoon Ho is pretty low-key in general, and even has some rather dubious beginnings. I think the low-key vibe works well with the youthfulness of our characters, and I feel Show does a good job of working through said dubious beginnings, while keeping the low-key tone of their interactions in the organic space, rather than a boring one.
Essentially, I like how So Hyun and Yoon Ho become important to each other, pretty much in spite of themselves.
I like the touch of honest conversation that we get between them, as early as episode 1, even though these two had basically promised not to ask each other any questions from the outset.
I really like the way Yoon Ho actually stops to give So Hyun an honest answer, when she asks if he’s happy. It’s quite a big deal, I think, for him to admit that even though life is challenging, he just doesn’t want to be alone. I also like how honest he is, when he tells So Hyun that the reason he’d gone to eat with her that first day, was because she’d looked lonely when she’d smiled. Aw. That’s the kind of observation that I’d expect only from a kindhearted person.
I like the idea of Yoon Ho giving So Hyun an umbrella, which happens in episode 2. It’s such a mundane, everyday sort of thing, that she doesn’t even think to get one for herself. But later, when she uses it, I love that the umbrella’s printed with a clear blue sky. It’s like Yoon Ho’s sheltering her from the rain in her life, with a clear blue sky.
I know that So Hyun doesn’t start getting close to Yoon Ho with sincere intentions, but I can see how his general sweet nature and sense of decency might get under her skin, and therefore, I don’t even question it, when she starts to show concern for him, like in how she instinctively stays with him at the end of episode 2, instead of running away.
What touches me most, is that Yoon Ho’s care and regard for So Hyun doesn’t change, even when the ugly truth comes out. Somehow, he instinctively just stays with her, even when she tries to push him away, and there’s something very moving and swoony about that. He’s right; reaching out your hand to someone else first, really can make a difference.
Ryu Soo Young as Jae Young
I do enjoy Ryu Soo Young quite well, so I found it a nice plus, that he’s in this, playing So Hyun’s Maybe-Dad. Although, it is admittedly a bit of a rude shock, to realize that enough time has passed, that Ryu Soo Young is legitimately old enough to play a character with a 19-year-old daughter. Yikes. 😱
Generally speaking, I just found Jae Young very likable.
[SPOILER ALERT] After just one episode, Lee Jae Young already seems like a really decent chap, particularly in the way he cares for his employees. When Yoon Ho gets beaten up in that fight, and the chicken shop’s scooter gets damaged in the process, he doesn’t even seem to care that the scooter’s damaged, even though that’s going to affect his business; he only seems concerned with Yoon Ho’s wellbeing, so much so that So Hyun – and we as an audience – would believe that he could quite possibly be Yoon Ho’s father.
I really appreciated Jae Young for how caring, generous and patient he turns out to be, especially in relation to So Hyun. [END SPOILER]
Park Seung Tae as Yoon Ho’s Gran
I just wanted to give Yoon Ho’s gran a quick shout-out. Gran doesn’t have a whole lot of screen time, but I found myself growing rather fond of her anyway. And, I thought it was a nice touch, that Gran’s dementia-laced musings were sometimes a source of wisdom for our various characters.
STUFF THAT WAS OK
Sometimes Show leans a bit dark
Given that our protagonist is on a mission for vengeance, I was expecting some dark elements in our story. It’s just that I hadn’t been prepared for how dark things sometimes got.
Like I mentioned earlier, Show does absolutely recover well from this. I just thought I’d mention it here, though, for the record.
Mainly, I did find it rather disturbing that So Hyun would entertain the idea of getting rid of Bok Hee for real in episode 2, and even starts to creep up on her then and there, putting her hands up to push Bok Hee over the edge of the building.
However, what I found even more disturbing, is that So Hyun continues with her plan of killing Bok Hee, so methodically. This is not a crime of passion; this is premeditated murder. And Bok Hee herself hasn’t even done anything wrong, really. So Hyun just wants to punish Jae Young, whom she believes to be her father.
What shocked me most, was episode 3’s ending, because the way Show played it, it really does seem like Bok Hee dies in that explosion. This disturbed me enough, that I wondered whether to even finish this show.
Happily, it does turn out to be something of a fake-out, and nobody dies, and So Hyun does very much come to regret her actions. It’s just.. Show really had me going for a while there, y’know? 😅
STUFF I LIKED LESS
Lee Young Jin as So Hyun’s Mom
Even though Mom’s arc is an important part of our story, and even though Mom’s sad sack characterization is on purpose, I just.. did not enjoy Mom very much.
After Show fills in the details in terms of what’s led Mom to be the way she is, I did feel sorry for her, but at the same time, I also felt sorry for So Hyun, who’d suffered the consequences of Mom’s decisions, even though she herself had been completely innocent.
I’m glad though, that by the time we end our story, Mom’s a little less wretched, and a little more healed, than when we met her.
Lee Si Woo as Do Joon Sik
Well, Lee Si Woo is pretty pitch-perfect as our resident bully, with his cocky persona and self-righteous vibe. He was a bully I loved to hate, basically, which means Lee Si Woo did a good job, heh.
THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]
Honestly, with the way our story was going, I was getting concerned, in Show’s final lap, whether we’d manage to have a wrap-up that feels satisfying. I’m so happy to say that Show pulls it off, and quite nicely, at that.
Our finale basically does two things.
One, it fleshes out what had really happened in So Hyun’s childhood, and it is horrifying to realize that Mom had set fire to their apartment, then prepared to kill herself and little So Hyun, by lighting a coal briquette in the car. What a thing to remember, that your own mother had tried to kill you.
I have to say, I was quite stunned, that Mom’s first instinct, when So Hyun confronted her, was to say that she’d already paid for her sin, instead of apologize to So Hyun. I mean, it’s true that she’s served time for her crime, but it’s also true that she’s never made her remorse known to So Hyun, and So Hyun’s the one who could have died at her hands. I found the confrontation scene pretty hard to watch; So Hyun’s fury and pain are so palpable. 💔
The other thing our finale does, is show us how So Hyun works through her healing. And the thing that strikes me the most about this process, is how both Jae Young and Yoon Ho refuse to let So Hyun go, through it all.
I love this scene above, when, in the aftermath of So Hyun’s confrontation with Mom, Yoon Ho just stays with her, even though she tells him to go. In fact, when she ekes out the words, telling him that Mom had tried to take her own life, and So Hyun’s too, Yoon Ho wordlessly climbs into the bed with So Hyun, and just holds her, so that she won’t feel so alone, when she cries. This feels so profoundly moving to me, and this remains one of my favorites moments of this whole show.
I like how Show deals with So Hyun’s healing in the end. There’s no magic formula, and her healing isn’t fast in coming, nor anywhere near complete, when we finish our story. However, we see that that healing process is under way, and So Hyun is getting therapy, and is well supported, and Mom’s getting help too.
Most importantly, So Hyun’s learning to see the positives in her life, and is determined to live her life to the fullest, among the people whom she loves, and who love her. What a heartening, buoyant note on which to say goodbye. ❤️
THE FINAL VERDICT:
Leans a little dark in spots, but is ultimately charming and hopeful.
FINAL GRADE: B++
WHERE TO WATCH:
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