Review: Move To Heaven

THE SHORT VERDICT:

Show takes the heavy, delicate topic of death, and gives it a warm, tender and hopeful sort of treatment which I personally find extremely soothing. It’s true that some of the cases are painful to watch, but Show always finds a way to bring a heartfelt, healing touch to each case, which makes the journey feel worthwhile. On top of this, we also get meaningful character and relationship development for our key characters over the course of the show, and this ties everything together in a way that feels meaningful.

Our cast is excellent, but the stand-out for me is Tang Joon Sang, who does a fantastic job of portraying Geu Ru, a character who’s on the Asperger’s spectrum. I also love that Show often makes Geu Ru our MVP, because this demonstrates so well, that Geu Ru isn’t disabled; he’s just differently abled.

It’s true that Show makes my heart ache, but even so, my heart aches so good.

THE LONG VERDICT:

Watching this show is a little like being told to eat your vegetables because they’re good for you, and then feeling surprised, on taking a reluctant first bite, that the vegetables are actually really tasty, and you’d like a second serving, please.

That’s what it was like for me, with this show.

When Show was announced, I wasn’t too taken with the premise. Trauma cleaning really doesn’t immediately sound very attractive, after all. But even before I was done watching the first episode, I already felt fully invested, and ready for more.

There’s a touch of gentle magic about this show, and it’s really very lovely.

GEU RU’S PLAYLIST: FOR YOUR LISTENING PLEASURE

Show doesn’t appear to have released an OST, but here is Geu Ru’s playlist, which added so much to the watch experience by taking us into Geu Ru’s world, as he listened to this music. I always looked forward to Geu Ru’s music choices, each time he put on his headset and started flicking through his iPod.

If I had to pick a favorite, a strong contender would be the second track on this playlist, Gymnopédie No. 1. There’s something so thoughtful and measured about it, and even in some of its more dissonant chords, there is a harmony and beauty. This makes me think of how Show brings out the beauty of Geu Ru’s character, even though he’s not considered normal by society. Here it is as well, in case you’d like to listen to it on repeat. Just right-click on the video and select “Loop.”

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS

Here are a handful of things that I think might be helpful to know, in order to maximize your enjoyment of your watch.

1. Sometimes the cases – read: deaths – can be painful to watch. However, this isn’t the point of the drama, and Show doesn’t revel in the pain. It’s worth hanging in there, to get to the healing, hopeful bits.

2. Show can lean sentimental. Depending on your sensibilities, sometimes, Show might occasionally feel a little treacly to you. I personally didn’t find Show’s level of sentimentality too much, and felt better off, for being able to roll with Show’s brand of romanticism.

3. Not all cases are wrapped up with equal amounts of closure. I personally found this organic to our drama world, and felt that this added to the sense that this story world is a reflection of real life, where not everything is resolved in an equally satisfying manner. I think it’s helpful to manage your expectations to accommodate this.

STUFF I LIKED

General writing and handling

It’s efficient and effective

I really enjoy how efficient and effective Show is, at managing its story.

Our episodes typically clock in at around 45 minutes each, which is shorter than average for kdramas, and yet, our story never feels poorer, for it. Even before the end of our first episode, my heart was in my throat and I was invested. That’s impressive.

The cinematography is excellent

Additionally, I found the cinematography very lovely, with some nicely creative touches. For example, in episode 1, there’s an introductory shot, of manta rays flying across the sky, then morphing into them swimming in water. I found this very poetic and interesting, and a pitch perfect way of showing us how things look from Geu Ru’s (Tang Joon Sang) perspective.

There’s a good balance between individual cases and character development

I’d actually been a little worried when I started this show, that it would only be episodic cases making up our story. However, that is not the case at all. Show is clearly also very interested in the trajectories of our key characters, and that, I feel, grounds our story really nicely.

The feels grow gradually

Overall, I’d say that Show does a really nice job of managing our story and the feels that go with. The feels definitely get more intense as we go, and I love that Show manages this as a gradual progression, such that the intensifying feels land as completely organic, but as I find myself coming away from each episode, completely moved, all over again, I also can’t help but marvel at how far we’ve come.

Show manages to be equal parts poignant, moving, bittersweet, and even educational, and I really like that.

Ji Jin Hee as Jeong U

I’d had no idea that Ji Jin Hee was in this, and I really do enjoy Ji Jin Hee a great deal, so I was really happy to see him on my screen.

I absolutely love the character of Jeong U; he’s so warm, patient, loving and caring. Even though he doesn’t get a whole of screen time in the overall scheme of things, I love that Show manages to weave his wisdom and gentleness into the fabric of our story, such that it always feels like he’s affecting our characters, even when he’s not physically present.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. I love Dad for having such a gentle, patient spirit, as he bears the burden of taking care of Geu Ru as a single parent, while running his Move To Heaven company. Beyond that, I love how sincerely respectful he is, to the deceased clients, whose things he’s tasked to clear out.

I am moved by the detail, that Dad not only takes the time to greet the deceased upon entering the room, but also teaches Geu Ru the art of understanding the person behind the belongings. That makes the deceased person come together as a personality, instead of just being represented by a random collection of things that need to be cleared away and disposed of.

I was so shocked, when Dad dies of a heart attack. Sob. That’s so awful; I don’t want to lose Dad as a character, he’s so warm and wonderful. And it’s so heartbreaking, that with his last shred of lucidity, Dad calls Geu Ru, to apologize. 😭

E4. We see from the flashback, that Dad had been there too, as Sang Gu’s (Lee Je Hoon) hyung, and he’d tried to intervene in order to protect their mother. 😭 I feel even more for Dad now than ever; he’d had a violent childhood too, and yet, he’d grown up to be such a kind, caring and decent man. He’s such a hero, in my eyes.

[END SPOILER]

Tang Joon Sang as Geu Ru

I have to say, I am seriously impressed by Tang Joon Sang, who plays Geu Ru.

I’d first noticed Tang Joon Sang as one of Hyun Bin‘s puppies in Crash Landing On You, and that was a completely different sort of role, compared to this one. In fact, I watched this show while also watching Racket Boys, where he plays a main character, and I found the two characters so distinct, that I could almost believe they were played by two different actors.

Because I hadn’t actually read Show’s synopsis before starting on my watch, I hadn’t realized that our key character Geu Ru, is on the Asperger’s spectrum. I’m impressed with how Tang Joon Sang inhabits Geu Ru, in that I really do believe that Geu Ru is autistic, and therefore different in the way that he processes the world around him.

Show makes Geu Ru out to be a voice of the deceased, and I rooted so hard for Geu Ru, to be a successful voice of the voiceless. Since Geu Ru himself is less than fully able, this makes him a bit of a wounded healer, in this context. And wounded healers just get me right in the heart. ❤️

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3. The more I see of this show, the more I feel like Geu Ru is quite perfect, for the job that he’s doing. His strengths really come into play, and I feel like without his involvement, this episode’s case wouldn’t have been unveiled so thoroughly. He literally peels back the layers, with painstaking effort and in meticulous detail, to get to understand the heart of the deceased. This feels like a calling, of sorts.

I know it’s an effect of his Asperger’s, that Geu Ru is as singleminded and focused as he is, but it still really gives me a thrill, to see him apply that quality of his, in unearthing the truth behind the 50,000 won bills. He’s so determined, even when everyone else around him – the deceased’s relatives, and Sang Gu – keeps tell him that it’s not important and nobody cares.

I love how, for Geu Ru, respect for the heart of the deceased takes precedence over everything and everyone else. Dad really has taught Geu Ru well, and I’m sure Dad would be proud to see the way Geu Ru makes sure that Grandma Lee Yeong Sun’s heart is shared with her son.

E3. This episode’s new case, which is a domestic violence-related death is quite gruesome, with Geu Ru having a bloodied floor to clean up. He’s such a trooper, though. He simply readies himself for it, just like he’s always done, with Dad. Dad would be so proud of him.

E4. It’s great that Geu Ru saves the day, by finding the camera that the victim had hidden in her air-con vent. (UGH. That lying, two-faced murderer! I’m glad he gets caught in his lies. 😡) I just like this idea that Geu Ru’s able to figure out things that other people don’t, because he’s differently abled.

E5. I felt sorry for Geu Ru, in that scene where Na Mu’s mom (Jung Young Joo) is all excited and chirpy to see Jun Yeong (Yang Hong Seok), and has an entire conversation with Jun Yeong and Na Mu (Hong Seung Hee), while Geu Ru just stands there on the sidelines, completely ignored. That wasn’t very nice, I thought. But, good on Geu Ru for speaking up for himself, and informing Mom that Na Mu doesn’t cook for him when she comes to his house; in fact, she just eats whatever Geu Ru cooks. Way to stun Mom and set the record straight, Geu Ru.

[END SPOILER]

Lee Je Hoon as Sang Gu

Because of how Sang Gu is introduced in our story, as a character who’s rough, crass, inconsiderate and quite sardonic, I didn’t think I would grow fond of him, no matter what Show did.

Ha. Boy, did Show prove me wrong. By taking pains to paint in Sang Gu’s context, and giving Sang Gu a nice amount of character growth, Show managed to completely change how I felt about Sang Gu. He really did manage to endear himself to me, by the time we reached our finale, and I found myself wanting good things and better days for him.

That’s quite an achievement, and kudos goes to writer-nim for teasing it out so organically, and to Lee Je Hoon, for delivering Sang Gu in such a believable manner.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. We still don’t know much about Sang Gu’s backstory, so I don’t know if there are sympathetic reasons behind his behavior, but I will say that it’s hard to watch him treat Geu Ru’s home – which is technically his new home – with such a lack of regard and respect. I mean, I get that some people are just not wired to be naturally tidy, but the way he managed to get rubbish everywhere in such a short period of time, is quite startling. Plus, the way he tends to put out his cigarettes on the floor or furniture, comes across as extremely rude.

Also, it’s clear that his intention behind agreeing to the guardian thing in the first place, has nothing to do with any good feelings for his late half-brother, and everything to do with the money &/or assets he might stand to gain. This feels harsh and cold, but again, I acknowledge that Sang Gu’s circumstances might be such that he really is desperate for any kind of income. After all, he’s just come out of prison, and doesn’t have a job.

E3. I feel like little by little, we can see Sang Gu’s sardonic attitude towards the work that Move To Heaven does, melting into something a little more appreciative. It’s not super obvious right now, but I feel that there are little hints of him coming around. For example, the tone in which he speaks to Geu Ru is a lot less harsh, and also, when Grandma Lee Yeong Sun’s son (Lee Joo Sil and Sung No Jin) raises his hand towards Geu Ru, Sang Gu immediately steps in to block him. Generally speaking, Sang Gu doesn’t come across as angry and irate anymore; just exasperated and bewildered. That’s progress!

E3. We get a little bit of Sang Gu’s backstory this episode, and it seems like he’d been some kind of MMA fighter, and had landed in jail because his opponent had gotten seriously injured in a fight. This mini arc gives me two thoughts.

1. I’m kind of thrown that Lee Je Hoon is this ripped. I’ve.. never thought of him as ripped before, for some reason, and it’s rather startling to see the hulk-like vibe from him.

2. He doesn’t seem to want to get back into fighting, at all, and yet, Madam Jung (Jung Ae Youn) seems intent on getting him back into the ring.

It seems that she has a hold over him; she appears to be the one keeping his injured opponent alive, and so Sang Gu can’t say no to her. It’s gotta be painful, the way he resignedly goes back into the ring, and then just doesn’t fight back. Clearly, he doesn’t want to fight anymore.

E4. We get some important backstory around Sang Gu’s childhood. It gives me chills to realize that his childhood had been such a violent one, and that his father had beaten his mother so brutally, as a matter of habit. What an awful way to grow up, forced to face the wall while his mother got beaten up.

I can’t help connecting Sang Gu’s violent childhood to his rough and violent tendencies in the present. Everyone responds different to traumatic events in their childhood, after all. Geu Ru’s dad might have decided to never allow his own family life to be tainted by such violence, but it’s completely possible that Sang Gu would have absorbed that violence as a way of life.

I do feel quite sorry for Sang Gu this episode. He’s had a rough life. Not only did he grow up with domestic violence, he went to jail because he’d accidentally hurt his opponent more than he’d intended, and now, he’s being blackmailed for money, which I presume has to do with the money that Madam Jung pays for his injured opponent’s long-term care.

E5. I really like the hints that Sang Gu is growing into his place, in Move To Heaven. It’s in the little things, like how he boasts to Na Mu that he could do as good of a job as Geu Ru, if he tried, and then how he and Na Mu place a bet, to see which of them will be able to figure out the identity of Jung Soo Hyun’s (Kwon Soo Hyun) lover. It’s bickery, yes, but it’s a lot milder and more genial than where we first started, which makes me feel that the relationships are settling and growing in positive ways.

I also like how Sang Gu’s generally more amiable and not rough and brusque like he used to be. Even when he’s trying to get Geu Ru to stop “pestering” Ian Park (Kim Doh Yon), he’s more gently naggy than anything else, and I like that. My favorite thing, though, is when the team finds Ian Park on the hospital rooftop, and give him the box with Soo Hyun’s things in it. Ian Park is visibly moved, and I feel like in this moment, Sang Gu is touched too. I feel like he is really beginning to get a sense of the meaning that is inherent in the work that Move To Heaven does.

E6. The way Sang Gu covers for Na Mu, when Mom comes into Move To Heaven’s storage area in a shocked rage, ready to drag Na Mu back home, is so pleasantly surprising. After all the gruffness that we’ve seen from Sang Gu, it’s quite startling to realize that he is capable of speaking politely and giving others a positive, clean-cut impression, as Geu Ru’s uncle. I got a bit of a kick out of that, I have to admit.

E6. Even though Sang Gu’s idea of stealing the funeral wreath is not a great one (as Geu Ru is quick to point out), I do think it’s worth noting that Sang Gu does this because he’s finally feeling something for the deceased. This is a big milestone for the man who’d never wanted anything to do with trauma cleaning to begin with.

E6. Sang Gu’s crush on social worker U Rim (Sooyoung) is an unexpected and rather amusing bonus, because we’ve never seen Sang Gu getting all self-conscious before, and it is cute and endearing how his ears really are pink, just like Geu Ru says.

How cute, that U Rim sends along that pot of dahlias in response, whose significance is known to be “Happy to know about your heart.” Is she talking about Sang Gu’s heart for their mutual client Kim In Su (Jeong Dong Hwan), or.. could she be talking about Sang Gu’s crush on her?

[END SPOILER]

STUFF THAT WAS OK

Hong Seung Hee as Na Mu

I have Na Mu in this section, because, while I found her pretty alright as a general rule, I also found her characterization a little flatter and less interesting when compared to our other main characters. It feels like she’s just there to fulfill Geu Ru’s need for someone to watch over the situation between him and Sang Gu, honestly.

However, I do appreciate that Hong Seung Hee is very different here, compared to her recent role in Navillera, where she plays a much more introverted character. It’s nice to see that the bubbly suits her well too.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E3. I’d already gotten a sense of Na Mu’s unwavering support for Geu Ru, but it hits home even more this episode, when she decides that she will join Move To Heaven, at least for a while, just so that she can make sure that Geu Ru’s ok. This, despite the vehement disapproval from her mom.

I mean, I do understand Mom’s concern. We find out this episode that Na Mu’s dropped out of college, which in itself would  be a cause of parental concern, and now, while she’s searching for direction in life, Na Mu’s decided to get into trauma cleaning. As a parent, particularly a parent who worries about things like financial security and pension availability, it’s easy to become anxious at the idea of Na Mu getting involved in an occupation that exists on the very periphery of society. There’s little security and definitely no pension here, and I can understand Mom’s fear that Na Mu wouldn’t just do this for a while, like she says, but develop a desire to do this long term.

Na Mu’s dad (Jung Suk Yong) is so sweetly supportive, though. He’s got such an affable, kindly air about him; I’m not at all surprised that he would keep Na Mu’s secret for her. What I hadn’t expected, is how Dad secretly creates a backup cover story for Na Mu, ready to be busted out when needed, in the form of that civil service exam preparation book that he sneaks into her backpack. Yay Dad!

[END SPOILER]

Jung Ae Youn as Madam Jung

I’ve got Madam Jung in this section because, while I actively dislike her character, I also understand that she’s a necessary evil in our story, there to provide angst and tension to spice up our plot. Overall, I guess that means she’s works out to alright?

[SPOILER ALERT]

E7. I officially actively dislike Madam Jung, more than ever before. She had clearly set it up such that Sang Gu would end up fighting Su Cheol (Lee Jae Wook), and she’d done that knowing what Su Cheol meant to Sang Gu. And, from the way Su Cheol fought so hard to keep getting back up in Round 7, despite being beaten down so much, I deduce that she’d told Su Cheol that Round 8 was critical, while telling Sang Gu to wrap things up in Round 7. UGH.

It’s awful enough on its own, but the laidback pleasure Madam Jung takes in the set-up, and then in the proceedings as they unfold before her, is just sickening. Her amusement and delight in someone’s life being destroyed before her eyes, is just mind-boggling to me.

I hate that in the present, Sang Gu still turns to her for help, because he feels like he has no one else to turn to.

E8. Madam Jung is so manipulative, using Geu Ru to force Sang Gu to agree to another fight, when all he wants to do is stop fighting. She’s an unabashed user. She doesn’t care about Sang Gu one bit; she only seems to see him as a tool that she can use to get what she wants. She is right about one thing, though; Geu Ru really is Sang Gu’s new Achilles’ heel, after Su Cheol.

[END SPOILER]

SPOTLIGHT ON RELATIONSHIPS

Dad and Geu Ru

The relationship between Dad and Geu Ru, is hands-down one of my favorite relationships in this drama world. Dad’s love for Geu Ru is so unconditional and patient, while Geu Ru’s trust in Dad is so unquestioning and complete.

Given Dad’s challenges of bringing up Geu Ru, with him being on the autism spectrum, and as a single parent, no less, Dad’s really done an admirable job of teaching Geu Ru all that he needs to know. Every time I witnessed Geu Ru doing something well, I couldn’t help but credit Dad, for having taught him so well.

I’m proud of Geu Ru for keeping all these lessons so close to his heart, and I’m also proud of Dad, for being such a model human being, and imparting that excellence of heart, to his son.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. I’m glad that Dad had managed to give Geu Ru one last hug, despite Geu Ru’s general aversion to hugs, before leaving him at that fish tank, because that turned out to be the last time Geu Ru saw Dad alive. Sob.

E2. I appreciate that we still get touches of Dad in our story, even though he’s no longer around. For example, I find it touching, when Geu Ru recites what Dad used to say about his name.

“..it means a tree. He wanted me to contribute to the world as a tree does because it gives us oxygen, fruits, firewood, and a stump we can sit on and rest. It’s the second-best living thing in the world.” … “The best living thing in the world is Han Jeong U’s son, Han Geu Ru. Dad said that.”

That’s so poignant, honestly. ❤️

E2. How poignant, that Geu Ru continues to honor Dad. The way he refuses to let Sang Gu use Dad’s cup, or sleep in Dad’s room, is so bittersweet. He really wants to keep Dad’s memory alive.

And then, the way he visualizes Dad standing next to him, as he prepares to start on cleaning the deceased’s room this episode, is so poignant as well. When he got to the part where he had to correct himself, and say only his own name, instead of his name together with Dad’s, my heart broke for him. This must have felt like reality sinking in, that Dad’s not there with him anymore. 💔

E2. I am equal parts impressed with and proud of Geu Ru, because he demonstrates that he knows the ins and outs of his job very well. He knows what to do, and when the client asks about cleaning the dirty bills, Geu Ru knows exactly what can be done, to have the bills cleaned and exchanged at the bank.

I also love how matter-of-fact Geu Ru is, even when it comes to things like confronting the difficult task of cleaning up rotten bodily fluids. When Sang Gu asks Geu Ru how he can be so calm about it, I love the compassion that is inherent in Geu Ru’s answer, “..the scenes are homes of the deceased. They request us to clean theirs because they can’t do it. So, I’m okay with it. I can make them clean for them.”

I am so sure that this is something Geu Ru learned from Dad, because this sounds just like something Dad would say. Augh. Dad. You’ve taught Geu Ru well. 😭❤️

I love that Geu Ru continues the tradition of compassion and kindness that Dad started. The way he handles the deceased’s personal belongings so carefully, says so much, about the respect and care that he gives the deceased, in carrying out the clean-up.

E5. It’s so poignant to hear Geu Ru say that he’s envious of Ian Park, because he’d gotten to hear what his loved one had wanted to tell him, whereas Geu Ru is sure that Dad had much to say to him, and yet, he’d never had a chance to hear it. Aw. Poor Geu Ru. I’m sure Dad’s told him everything, in the wonderful, caring way that he’s been brought up. I hope he comes to understand that.

E8. What a surprising reveal at the end of the episode, that Geu Ru is adopted. I hadn’t seen that coming, because Dad had doted on Geu Ru so tenderly; I’d never imagined that Geu Ru might not be his blood. However, I am also not surprised that Dad would adopt a child and love him so unconditionally. Dad’s shown himself to be such a kind and loving person; I’d totally believe that he would love Geu Ru as his own.

[END SPOILER]

Sang Gu and Geu Ru

Of the various relationships in our drama world, the relationship between Sang Gu and Geu Ru was the one that possibly surprised me the most. Considering what a difficult start they’d had to their relationship, these two certainly come to care for each other in deep and surprising ways.

I lapped up every hint that Show gave us, that Sang Gu was softening towards Geu Ru, or that Geu Ru was growing to trust Sang Gu, and I must say that overall, it was truly satisfying, to see them become family, to each other.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E1. If Sang Gu is going to be Geu Ru’s new guardian, I anticipate quite a few, er, teething issues, because where Dad had been warm, kind and welcoming, the vibe I get from Sang Gu, just from first impressions, is much more worldly and sardonic. I’m feeling a little nervous for Geu Ru, who’s almost certainly going to have adjustment issues.

E2. I feel really sorry for Geu Ru, because this is all so overwhelming for him, and he doesn’t have the tools with which to understand and adjust; at least, not very well. In fact, I’m surprised that Lawyer Oh (Im Won Hee) doesn’t appear to have briefed Sang Gu more thoroughly about Geu Ru’s challenges. I’d have expected him to have at least told Sang Gu, that Geu Ru suffers from Asperger’s, and what that means, when it comes to how Geu Ru interacts with the world.

It does feel to me, like Geu Ru is beginning to communicate with Sang Gu, in his own way. For a start, I like how he decides to put on his clean-up gear, and make the house completely spotless again, before informing Sang Gu of the house rules that he’s expected to keep. I just hope Sang Gu does take this to heart, and doesn’t take advantage of Geu Ru’s cleaning abilities.

E4. I appreciate that when Geu Ru wakes up Sang Gu in a panic about the camera, and insists that they go to the crime scene, Sang Gu actually goes with him. This little detail shows that Sang Gu is starting to trust and understand Geu Ru, and I like that.

E4. Even though Sang Gu’s intervention in that random couple’s fight where the man is physically violent with the woman, is likewise violent, I appreciate the idea that his work at Move To Heaven has changed him enough, that he’s not able to ignore the situation before him. Also, it’s endearing how Geu Ru insists on tending on the cut on Sang Gu’s arm, when he sees that Sang Gu’s hurt.

E8. I hadn’t expected Sang Gu to want to cut ties with Geu Ru, after Su Cheol’s death, actually. I’d found this surprising, because, as we’ve seen in the beginning, him being Geu Ru’s guardian does give him financial stability and other benefits. And, Sang Gu honestly doesn’t have anything else, other than this guardianship that his brother has requested of him, in his will.

The fact that Sang Gu’s first action, after Su Cheol’s death, is to leave the house and text Geu Ru to say that he’s not coming back, tells me that Sang Gu had only ever accepted the guardianship, because he’d felt that he would need the money in order to take care of Su Cheol. He’d never been greedy for the house or other benefits for himself; the moment Su Cheol’s medical bills were no longer an issue, he didn’t hesitate to leave.

But that’s not because he doesn’t care about Geu Ru. The moment he realizes that Madam Jung’s got Geu Ru, he doesn’t hesitate to go get Geu Ru. He may not want to admit it, but Geu Ru has become important to him.

I felt bad for poor Geu Ru, who went through the shock of losing Sang Gu, and then getting kidnapped for ransom, pretty much. I was very touched, though, that Geu Ru didn’t hesitate for a moment, in deciding that he needed to find Sang Gu. I mean, it’s not like Sang Gu’s been super nice to him; in fact, Sang Gu’s been mostly rough and noncommittal. I love that Geu Ru sees him as family anyway, in such a firm and irrevocable sense of the word. And, of course, we also know, from earlier, that Geu Ru does see Sang Gu as a good person, even though he’s rough and unpleasant sometimes.

Even though Sang Gu tells Geu Ru that he will never come get him again, if something like this were to happen in the future, but I don’t believe him for a second. I believe that if he knew Geu Ru were in trouble, he would step up to save Geu Ru, in spite of his own reservations. It’s because he does care, deep down.

And that’s why Sang Gu trails Geu Ru the next day, even though he’s very reluctant to do so. He knows that even though Geu Ru’s perfectly capable of taking the bus, and other basic things, Geu Ru’s not well-equipped to handle strangers or other unexpected situations. That’s why Sang Gu follows him; so that he can protect or save Geu Ru as necessary. That’s really quite caring, yes?

I love the way he steps in to save Geu Ru from those school bullies, without even showing his face. How clever of him, to play the sound of police sirens outside the restroom, so that the bullies would run away. And how heartwarming is it, to hear Sang Gu tell the bullies that Geu Ru is a genius that they ought to listen to. Aw! I loved that.

Even though I wasn’t sure what to expect, when Sang Gu made his presence known to Geu Ru, and started dragging him to take rides instead of just looking at them, I ended up loving it. What a huge step forward, for Geu Ru to start to enjoy the rides, instead of being afraid of them. I do love the little detail, that from seeing them on rides together, we also see them on rides separately. This means that Geu Ru is brave enough to go on his own now, without Sang Gu, and it also means that Sang Gu’s genuinely having fun, and not just going on the rides for Geu Ru’s sake.

[END SPOILER]

Na Mu and Geu Ru

I immediately liked Geu Ru’s friendship with Na Mu, because it’s clear to see, from the get go, that she clearly accepts him just as he is, and likes him for no other reason than that he’s himself. I think it’s great that Geu Ru has a friend who loves and accepts him unconditionally, and enjoys spending time with him.

[SPOILER ALERT]

E2. How cute, that Geu Ru’s best friend’s name is Na Mu, because both their names mean “tree.” I feel like there must a deeper meaning here, like maybe the two of them standing together in solidarity against the rest of the world?

On that note, I love how fiercely protective Na Mu is, over Geu Ru, and how she strives to look out for him, from her house across the street. I like the idea of her working for Move To Heaven, which she mentions to Sang Gu this episode. That would be pretty awesome, I feel. She already has her heart in the right place.

[END SPOILER]

Sang Gu and Su Cheol [SPOILERS]

E6. What an unexpected reveal, that Sang Gu’s comatose opponent, is actually his friend. That’s awful. That must make Sang Gu feel ten times worse, because the person whose life has been ruined, is someone that he knows and cares about. Ack. No wonder Sang Gu seems so fearful of fighting again.

E7. It is utterly heartwrenching to finally come to understand the backstory behind Sang Gu’s relationship with Su Cheol. I feel it’s extra painful to see the flashbacks, spliced in between the painful events in the present, where Su Cheol’s quickly deteriorating, and Sang Gu’s desperately trying to get the money for surgery, in hopes of saving Su Cheol. Ack.

What a way for them to have met, that Sang Gu had saved Su Cheol from bullies who had literally driven him to the brink of death. It’s chilling to think that if Sang Gu hadn’t stepped in just then, that Su Cheol would quite likely have jumped to his death, right there and then.

It really is like watching a baby duckling glom onto the first person he sees; the way Su Cheol gloms onto Sang Gu, even though Sang Gu keeps telling him to go away, is really so wide-eyed innocent and endearing. And the way Sang Gu eventually gives in, is so wholesome as well. From being a reluctant thing, where Sang Gu just put up with Su Cheol, it’s so heartwarming to see Sang Gu actually become sincerely invested in Su Cheol’s progress and future.

I loved that scene where Sang Gu watches Su Cheol’s match on TV, and cheers him on, and calls Su Cheol his kid, and gets all proud and puffed up like a mother hen, when Su Cheol wins. It’s wonderful, honestly, to see Sang Gu feel so proud of Su Cheol, and understand that Sang Gu sincerely wants bigger and better things for Su Cheol, than he ever had himself. That voiceover, where we hear Sang Gu tell Su Cheol to aim for a place in a sports university and a spot in the national championships, says everything.

It’s such a pure thing, for Sang Gu to want bigger and better things for Su Cheol, and so it’s doubly horrifying, to see what eventually happened. It’s awful for Sang Gu to realize it in the present, that Su Cheol had actually been diagnosed with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy – brain cell damage from repeated blows – before that fateful match. This must have been why Su Cheol had opted to quit such a promising boxing career, to open a store with his father. And this must have been why Su Cheol had had such a serious brain injury, from that match. He’d already been in a compromised state when he’d agreed to the match.

That’s a terrible realization for Sang Gu to have in the present, because even though it does absolve him somewhat, of having been too rough on Su Cheol, it can’t make him feel any better, to have known that he’d dealt a crippling blow to a dear friend, who’d already been in a weakened condition.

On that note, I just wanted to say that before I understood Sang Gu’s backstory with Su Cheol, I was quick to judge the way he took the house deed out of Jeong U’s drawer, because in my mind, that house is not his to do anything with. However, once I understood what Su Cheol meant to Sang Gu, I could understand why Sang Gu would be so desperate, and why he would do anything – even if it was wrong – if it meant that he had a chance to save Su Cheol.

It’s sad that Su Cheol died, and it’s hard to see Sang Gu look so grief-stricken, and.. broken, crying over Su Cheol’s body. However, it does feel like the more merciful outcome, given how much Su Cheol’s sister was suffering, and given that Su Cheol had been kept alive, but had had no quality of life whatsoever.

It’s really poignant to see Sang Gu ask permission from Su Cheol’s sister, to gather Su Cheol’s things, and to then see him carefully going through Su Cheol’s things and gathering the important mementoes into a box, in a way that is very similar to what Geu Ru’s been doing for Move To Heaven’s clients.

And how affecting, for Sang Gu to realize that Su Cheol had actually found Jeong U, and had planned to help the brothers reunite.

Guh. This accidental friendship, which had turned into an enduring brotherhood, is so deeply meaningful. It’s so tragic, how that all ended in such a heartbreaking manner. I really hope that Sang Gu won’t be too hard on himself, for what had happened. I’m sure that Su Cheol would feel the same. 😭

Dad and Sang Gu [SPOILERS]

E8. What a poignant reveal, that this whole picnic tradition that Geu Ru had had with Dad, had all been in Sang Gu’s honor. Augh. The realization really hit me right in the heart.

To think that Dad – well, Hyung, in this case – had gone to that department store, only because Sang Gu had requested real Nike sneakers for his birthday, and it was that very visit to the department store, which had then prevented Hyung from keeping his appointment with Sang Gu.

What a world-tilting realization for Sang Gu, to finally understand that he’d been mistakenly resenting Hyung all these years, when Hyung had actually gotten seriously injured because of trying to keep his promise to Sang Gu.

That tradition that Hyung had made with Geu Ru, where each year, they’d do all the things for Sang Gu on his birthday, that he’d wished for, and that cupboard, full of things that Hyung had prepared for Sang Gu, including Nike sneakers for each of his birthdays since that fateful day, speak volumes about how much Hyung has loved Sang Gu, all these years. I can only imagine the discombobulating mix of emotions that Sang Gu feels, as he breaks down in tortured sobs.

On the one hand, there must be such a sense of release, to realize that Hyung had never abandoned him, after all, and had continued to love him and care for him, in the ways that were available to him, for so many years.

On the other hand, there must also be such a sense of guilt, for having nursed such hate and anger in his heart towards Hyung all this time. Guh. My heart goes out to Sang Gu, in this moment. I am so glad, though, that he’s come to know how loved he’s been, all this time. 💔❤️

SPOTLIGHT ON MOVE TO HEAVEN’S CLIENTS [SPOILERS]

Lee Yeong Sun

E3. The entire arc, of how Grandma Lee Yeong Sun had withdrawn money from the bank every day, and visited the tailor shop every day, because she’d so dearly wanted to get a suit for her son, is so heartachingly poignant.

That flashback, to when her son had given her that gift of thermal underwear with his first paycheck (it is a tradition for Koreans to honor their parents using their first paycheck, by buying them underwear), is so bittersweet to watch.

How lovely, that Mom had marveled at her son’s gift with such joy, and how touching, that she’d treated it so preciously all these years that she’d never worn it, and how heartbreaking, to realize that somehow, somewhere along the way, the relationship between mother and son had grown so distant and so cold, that her son would have left her without care in her fading years, and even instructed Sang Gu and Geu Ru to throw her mementos away. 💔

I’m glad that Geu Ru’s determination to communicated Grandma Lee Yeong Sun’s heart pays off, and that her son comes to appreciate how dearly his mother loved him, even though she’s now gone. 😭

Jung Soo Hyun

E5. Woof. This was such an affecting episode, which I mean in the best way. It wasn’t a happy story, certainly, since death is one of our main themes in this drama, but it was a very moving one.

First of all, I feel immediately sorry for the doctor who died, even before I learned anything about his story. His death just seemed like such a needless accident; he’d been trying to diffuse a tense situation, and had gotten sliced into by a scalpel, in what had looked to be a critical vein, since he’d died, even though he’d been in the middle of a hospital, where there were doctors with equipment, who would have been in the best position to save him. So tragic.

Geu Ru is our MVP once again, this episode, with the way he pieces together what really mattered to Jung Soo Hyun, and what Jung Soo Hyun’s last wish might have been.

The moment we see Soo Hyun’s military father (Lee Ki Young) frowningly tell Mom (Park Sun A) that there will no such thing in their family, I’d had an inkling that Soo Hyun’s lover, to whom the letter is addressed, was male. However, that didn’t make the flashbacks to Soo Hyun’s past any less affecting. His story is told with such deftness and with so much emotion.

In that little detail alone, that Soo Hyun had a habit of working on Christmas Day, we already know that Soo Hyun’s been single all this time, since Christmas is traditionally a couple’s sort of holiday, in Korea. And what a fateful Christmas Day that had turned out to be, since that was the day he’d first laid eyes on his soulmate. The couple’s aspect of Christmas Day, again lends a layer of destiny to Soo Hyun’s first meeting with Ian Park.

Also, while I don’t get the musician’s passion that causes Ian to rant wildly about his cello while his leg is in need of medical attention, I do appreciate how Soo Hyun deals with him firmly, and then looks in on him gently, after he’s been treated and is settled down in his hospital room.

The attraction on Soo Hyun’s part is played very well; the look in his eyes, as he gazes at Ian playing the cello for him, is clearly that of someone who is very drawn to the person they are looking at. Largely because of how this is played, I had no trouble buying into the swift forming and building of their romantic relationship.

I really feel for Soo Hyun; he’d been on the cusp of taking his life in his hands, and taking steps to walk his truth and be courageous about being with Ian, only to have his life cut short, just two days before he was due to take his first step. That’s tragic, honestly.

I’m so glad, though, that Geu Ru’s able to piece together Soo Hyun’s heart’s desire, and identify and find Ian, so that Ian would have that chance to hear and feel Soo Hyun’s heart, even after his death. It literally feels like Geu Ru has changed Ian’s life with his dedication, and I believe that Ian’s life will never be the same. That really gives some food for thought, doesn’t it; an act that we do for someone else may be a matter of duty and diligence to us, but to that someone else, it could actually have a deep and lifelong impact. That’s deep.

I love how Show manages Ian’s performance during the concert. I love the detail (so much), that Ian’s wearing both of the couple rings that Soo Hyun had bought for them, one on each finger. And I love that we see what Ian sees: an image of Soo Hyun sitting in the audience, as Ian plays for him, and speaks his heart to him, telling him how much he appreciates him and how much he will continue to love him, always. Also, how very meaningful, that the song Ian chooses to play for Soo Hyun, is the song that he’d first played for Soo Hyun, that Christmas Day, when they’d met at the hospital. Augh. So heartfelt and moving. And, what a nice touch, that we also see Soo Hyun’s mom in the audience, smiling and nodding on her son’s behalf.

I can’t help thinking that none of this would have been possible, if not for Geu Ru.

Kim In Su

E6. This episode, it’s such a sobering, heartachey sort of experience, to witness what it’s like for someone in Kim In Su’s position.

He’s so kind and amiable to everyone he meets, even people who treat him poorly, that my heart goes out to him almost immediately. It’s hard to fathom that that resident at the apartment complex is so rude to Kim In Su, just because he’s the janitor.

I mean, that scene where Kim In Su’s struggling to lift the heavy golf bag, and the Rude Resident gets annoyed with him for being slow, is really quite aggravating to watch. He literally has no compassion for the old man who’s exerting himself to carry that golf bag. Ugh. It’s a heavy truth though; there are most certainly people in the world, who are awful in the way Rude Resident is awful.

..Which makes Kim In Su’s serene reaction and general attitude of gratitude all the more special and precious. It’s no wonder that the people who get to know him, appreciate him the way that Min Ji does. Even the way he informs Sang Gu that smoking is prohibited at the hospital, is so warm and kind, and.. grateful. It’s no wonder even a general grump like Sang Gu can’t find a reason to get angry with him, even though he’s telling Sang Gu not to smoke.

It’s heartbreaking, to realize that Kim In Su had made arrangements ahead of time, for Move To Heaven to clean up his apartment after his death. This means that he’d had a set date in mind, for his and his wife’s (Kang Ae Shim) suicide. It’s such a heartachey thing, to imagine how he and his wife must have felt, knowing that they were about to die, not because they particularly wanted to, but because circumstances were such, that death seemed like the best course of action. 😭

It is a silver lining, however, that they were such a loving couple, and that Kim In Su’s wife had been lucid, and therefore, it wasn’t a case of Kim In Su making the decision for her, as Sang Gu had originally thought.

What a bittersweet flashback, when we see them sitting together in that little garden that Kim In Su had made, watching the sunset, while Kim In Su recites this poem, for the both of them:

How beautiful it is
To look at someone from the back
Who confidently knows it’s their time to leave
My love that endured
A season of passion in spring is falling
Blossoms fall everywhere
I am surrounded by the blessings of farewell
And now it’s time to leave
Toward an exuberant forest
And to autumn when trees begin to bear fruit
My youth
Dies like a flower does

That’s so heartbreakingly poignant, isn’t it? Oof. 💔

As the story unfolds, and as we see more of Kim In Su’s life, we start to realize that there was so much more to his life, than we see on the surface. What a poignant reveal, that Kim In Su’s encounter with Sang Gu, had literally been when he’d been taking his wife home for the last time, before they’d die together. And yet, he’d been so pleasant and kind. 😭

I’m so glad that Geu Ru insists on not burning the box, even though it doesn’t appear that there is anyone left, who would know Kim In Su well enough, to want to receive it. Because of Geu Ru, the couple’s funeral wake turns into something so much more meaningful. The individual pots of flowers that Kim In Su had lovingly saved, each with its own special significance, makes the space look so personal.

And because of Geu Ru’s amazing memory, he’s able to invite people from the same company where Kim In Su had once been a manager, to come to pay their respects. It’s so moving to see the old Chairman (Yun Ju Sang) speak so fondly of Kim In Su, remembering him as a kind manager who’d always been there for him when the Chairman himself had been a newbie.

LOGIC STRETCHES / LAPSES [SPOILERS]

While I do think Show is very solid, there were a couple of occasions when I felt a bit of a gap in Show’s logic. Here they are, for the record.

E4. While I do feel sorry for the victim (Park Shin Ah) in this episode’s case, I don’t quite get the backstory that her fellow teacher shares with Geu Ru and Na Mu. She’d caught the eye of her eventual killer (Shin Soo Oh) at the wedding, but if she had been so wary of him for courting her so aggressively, why did she date him at all? That’s the part that didn’t make sense to me, because it’s not like she’d been duped by his sweet boyfriend act or something.

As far as the story goes, there was no sweet boyfriend act, and she’d been troubled by his attentions right from the beginning. I think it would have made more sense if he’d been sweet and charming to start with, and she’d fallen for those charms, only to realize later, that he was violent.

E4. With Sang Gu enquiring about selling the house at the realtor’s, I’m surprised that Na Mu doesn’t call Lawyer Oh right away. I mean, his role as Geu Ru’s guardian is still in its probationary period, isn’t it? And therefore, it shouldn’t be within his rights to sell the house that Geu Ru lives in?

I found it strange that Na Mu doesn’t call Lawyer Oh to complain about this, and I found it even stranger, that she would spy on him instead. The way she trails him to the underground fight club was difficult to watch. I wouldn’t feel at all comfortable sneaking around a deserted looking building like that, yikes.

THEMES / IDEAS

Every person and every life is worth honoring

Context is everything

Prejudice vs. Empathy

E4. This episode, we get a glimpse of the prejudice that surrounds trauma cleaning, as an industry. Even though our Move To Heaven crew is at that apartment complex to clean things up and therefore, “make it all go away,” so to speak, they are whispered about, and told to park elsewhere. It blows my mind, that parents would tell their kids that if they talked to the trauma cleaners, they’d get germs. Ugh. How awful.

And yet, Geu Ru’s so at the ready, with understanding for how the neighbors feel, thanks to Dad having taught him well. Dad really has given Geu Ru the best education, in terms of every aspect of the business. Not only does Geu Ru know the ins and outs of how to clean a crime scene of blood, he also understands that people instinctively don’t like it when death occurs in their surroundings, and he’s able to demonstrate empathy towards them, even in their prejudice.

SPOTLIGHT ON THE PENULTIMATE EPISODE [SPOILERS]

With this being Show’s penultimate episode, I’d kinda expected our story to focus more on our key characters, and therefore, I wasn’t quite expecting another client to be introduced. But, that’s exactly where we start this episode, and I felt a sense of dread, once I realized that Matthew Green (Kevin Oh) was about to die.

To Show’s credit, this client arc serves our main story well, which I’ll talk more about a little bit later.

For now, I just wanted to say how sorry I felt for Matthew Green. To think that he’d suffered so much rejection while in the US, and had come back to Korea in hopes of finding his birth mother, only to be rejected yet again. It’s heartbreaking, honestly. He’d died believing that there was no one in Korea who wanted to acknowledge him, not even his own mother. Dang, that’s harsh. And he was so very young, too. 😭

Once again, though, Geu Ru is our MVP. Because of his tenacity and his unique memory and analytical abilities, they manage to find someone who does treasure Matthew Green’s memory.

So often, with these stories around death, there is wistfulness and regret; in this case, Kang Eun Jeong (Yoo Sun) does regret not knowing who he was, when Matthew Green had gone to see her. However, more than that, it feels heartening to know that at least there is someone who sincerely treasures Matthew Green’s memory, and will honor his name and his memory, to the best of their ability.

It’s very fitting, that Kang Eun Jeong would use her platform as a news anchor, to shed light on other adoptees struggling in the same way that Matthew had struggled. Because of this, it feels like Matthew had not died in vain.

On a side note, context is, again, everything. Before the reveal that Kang Eun Jeong really isn’t Matthew’s biological mother, everyone – myself included – had felt ready to criticize her for being a heartless mother. However, as it turns out, Kang Eun Jeong isn’t Matthew’s mother after all, and was never deserving of the blame that everyone else had so casually dished out in conversation. There’s a reminder here, about not being so quick to judge, because, so often, we don’t know or understand the full context of a situation.

The way this adoptee’s arc ties in with Geu Ru’s own adoption, feels nicely organic. I mean, I’m sure Matthew’s story was introduced on purpose, so that we would have a connection to Geu Ru’s adoption, which had come to our knowledge last episode, but the way it’s handled, and the way Geu Ru’s adoption is brought up, almost as an afterthought, makes it work.

It’s quite moving, really, that Jeong U had respected Geu Ru enough, to let him know the truth about his birth. I’d kind of expected Geu Ru not to have known, because he can be quite childlike in some ways, and therefore, it would be quite understandable if his adoptive parents had felt it was too burdensome for him to know. But no. Dad had done a great job of telling Geu Ru the truth, while making sure that Geu Ru knew without a shadow of a doubt, that he was much loved, by his adoptive parents.

This episode, it was a very pleasant surprise to see Sang Gu appearing distinctly more in sync with the work at Move To Heaven. There are still traces of the old Sang Gu, of course, with his rougher manner in general, but it’s startling – in the best way possible – to see him align himself with Geu Ru, as they do the work.

The way he chimes in with his own name, while Geu Ru does his greeting to the deceased, is something I’d never thought we’d see him do, and yet, he does it so naturally here. It’s heartwarming to witness. Plus, he doesn’t even argue with Geu Ru anymore, about how they ought to treat the yellow box with respect, even when no one wants to claim it.

It’s also really nice to see Sang Gu express sympathy for the deceased, and even talk about how this work has made him see that there are people who are worse off than he is. In not so many words, Sang Gu is becoming cognizant of what he does have, instead of focusing on what he doesn’t have, and that’s a huge step in a very positive direction, I feel.

And then, of course, there are the little dorky self-conscious bits, where Sang Gu is hyper-aware of U Rim. I find it really cute that Sang Gu has a legit crush on her, and I love the idea that her kindhearted nature is having a positive rub-off effect on him.

It’s with a sense of dread that I watched Sang Gu make breakfast for Geu Ru (how cool, though, that Sang Gu makes breakfast the exact same way Dad used to make it – they really are brothers, aw!), and ask Na Mu to watch over him, as if he was never going to come back again.

What are those papers about Punch Drunk Syndrome? Are those left from when Sang Gu had cleared out Su Cheol’s room, or.. does Sang Gu himself suffer from this? Because it would almost definitely be Very Terrible for Sang Gu to fight this big game, if he’s indeed suffering from Punch Drunk Syndrome. Ack. I’m nervous.

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

This was, in many ways, quite the perfect finale for this show.

I’d thought that we’d spend a lot more time on the Big Fight that Sang Gu had been strong-armed into participating in, but that takes up a surprisingly short amount of screen time, in this finale. After all the build-up that we’d had leading up to it, it does feel a little like an anticlimax, to be honest.

However, seeing that it’s Geu Ru and Na Mu who save Sang Gu, and that they really do care about him, definitely helps to make the watch experience more satisfying. On top of that, Geu Ru’s once again our MVP, with his perfect recall abilities that allow him to not only call Prosecutor Lee, to activate the police, but also, remember where the light controls in the fight dungeon are, to switch off the lights and thus put a stop to the fight.

On hindsight, I really enjoy the fact that Show spends the bulk of its screen time on more heartfelt, emotional beats, even though it could also have easily made the Big Fight the central event of this episode.

The fact that Geu Ru can’t sleep because he’s worried about Sang Gu is very telling; over time, Sang Gu really has become very important to him. It’s so endearing how Geu Ru goes to the hospital to check on Sang Gu, and then, once his mind is set at ease by Sang Gu’s assurance that he’s not dying, asks if he can sleep at the hospital. How perfect, that Sang Gu then takes a blanket from his own bed, to drape over Geu Ru who’s already settled down on the couch.

I also love the fact that Geu Ru then proceeds to set the breakfast table at home, with a place setting for Sang Gu. Ahh. He finally sees Sang Gu as his family, and I’m so pleased that Sang Gu himself is cognizant of how big a milestone this is. It warms my heart so, to see Sang Gu react with a sense of wonder and gratitude, at Geu Ru preparing a place for him at the table. I love it.

While I felt bad for Geu Ru having to deal with the fear of having to put his father’s ashes to rest, instead of keeping the ashes with him at home, it was really important, I feel, that we got to see more of Dad and Mom, and how they had come to love Geu Ru, and how they’d come to be Geu Ru’s parents, and how they’d loved him, and been patient with him, and rejoiced over him, even though Geu Ru had his developmental challenges. The sense of gratitude and love is so clear, as we catch a glimpse of them via the flashbacks.

I’d already had a sense that Geu Ru had grown up much loved by his parents, but it’s still moving to see that love in action, played out on my screen. Dad and Mom really were made for each other; they were so in sync with each other in all the important things, particularly in wanting to adopt Geu Ru.

I’m glad that Sang Gu manages to find Geu Ru just as Geu Ru’s starting to become distressed, at losing sight of the visions of Mom and Dad, that he’d managed to conjure up with his memory, and I think it’s so perfectly fitting, that Sang Gu speaks to Geu Ru in a way that he can understand, by quoting Geu Ru’s words back to him, that even the deceased can speak.

How movingly, perfectly perfect, that Geu Ru puts Dad to rest, in the very way that Dad’s taught him to do for others. Augh. It hadn’t occurred to me before, but this really is the most fitting way for Geu Ru to honor Dad’s memory.

The way he carefully goes through Dad’s things, the way Dad had taught him to, picking out the items that express the essence of Dad as a person, is so poignant and so emotionally resonant. This is all of Dad, articulated in a box of treasures that are handpicked by Geu Ru, Dad’s most precious son. It honestly couldn’t be more perfect. ❤️

Dad’s last video to Geu Ru is so wonderfully fitting. Dad is clearly sad at the prospect of not being there for Geu Ru, but I love how warmly confident he is, that Geu Ru’s more than able to remember both of his parents well, and encourage himself the way Dad had always encouraged him, by daily telling himself in the mirror, that he’s done an excellent job. Augh. I love that Dad’s so clear on what Geu Ru needs, and is so focused on helping Geu Ru have an emotionally stable and confident future. ❤️💔❤️

I love that through it all, Geu Ru’s revisiting all the lessons that Dad’s taught him over the years. That scene, of Geu Ru rushing back to Dad’s tree, to hug it, says so much. We’d seen in episode 1 just how uncomfortable Geu Ru is, with physical contact, so much so that it’s a rare occasion that he’d let Dad hug him. And here, he’s running to give Dad a hug, and when he gets to that tree, he hugs with fervor and desperation, like he’s hugging Dad with all of his being. It’s so poignantly touching, truly.

I didn’t appreciate Lawyer Oh’s bluff of sorts, that Sang Gu’s been disqualified to be Geu Ru’s guardian, but that look of tearful relief in Sang Gu’s eyes, more than makes up for the fake-out. I love the idea of Geu Ru and Sang Gu sharing many more family meals together, over that table, and being a family, together. ❤️

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Poignant and bittersweet, while still warm and hopeful. Soothing to the soul.

FINAL GRADE: A

TEASER:

MVs:

Here is Geu Ru’s playlist again, as well as 2 very lovely fan MVs.

PATREON UPDATE!

The next drama I’ll be covering on Patreon, in place of Move To Heaven, is Hospital Playlist 2. I LOVED Season 1, and I’m so excited to see our Fabulous Five again! 🤩

If you’d like to join me on the journey, you can find my Patreon page here. You can also read more about all the whats, whys, and hows of helping this blog here. Thanks for all of your support, it really means a lot to me. ❤️

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seankfletcher
12 hours ago

Such a fitting tribute, kfangurl. It’s wonderful to be reminded of what it means to be a human being. My thoughts are, in some semblance of order, those things that really jumped out at me.

Erik Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1. particularly in episode 9 was very fitting. He is a favourite composer of mine, and it’s a piece that has been used in a number of kdramas. My favourite modern arrangement is by Blood, Sweat and Tears.

I thought it was interesting that show did take the latter arc to tell Uncle’s story. It was a beautiful way of saying he did matter and he was important to others.

Overall, Move To Heaven is a certainly a commentary on the unending challenge it is for South Korean society to break away from what is considered unpleasant or shouldn’t be talked about.

As for both dads in this show, yes they were awesome.

Once again we have a show that shows what amazing storytelling can be done with less episodes and shorter episodes. I mean look at Devil Judge by comparison. Extremely long episodes to fit the story into the 16 episode format.

As for Geu Ru, a wonderful character and performance and I have read comments by those who do have Aspergers giving TJS a big thumbs up.

I liked the way Move To Heaven ended – the start of a beautiful friendship and more…

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
12 hours ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Such a beautiful comment Sean💖

Leslie
1 day ago

What a heartfelt show this is, and, somewhat counterintuitively for stories centered on death, hopeful. I was able to deal with the poignancy introduced in each episode because of the corresponding human kindness, understanding, and growth delivered with it. And, it wasn’t all heavy themes. There is a little humor, lots of beauty, a smidge of heart fluttering, and some interesting forensic sleuthing. I think Show is tee’d up for a second season? While a complete story in itself, there were enough open plot lines in the series to make it legitimately doable. I’d be up for it! (Even though, as a rule, I love and prefer the 1-season, complete arc of kdramas.)

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
2 days ago

Fangurl – great review and as always, you are so on point. I just loved this drama! So beautiful and sensitive.

BE
BE
2 days ago

One more note on Tang Joon Sang. He plays a young Buddhist monk assisting King Se Jong in the film The King’s Letters, a very different take on the formation of Hangul, starring the inimitable Song Kang Ho. Available on Viki. Joon Sang’s role, interestingly, is that he is an adept at phonetic pronounciation, mouth, tongue, and so on.

BE
BE
2 days ago

What a terrific review K. Your inimitable style, s’like a reader is in the room watching it with you. And it made me want to go back and give show a rewatch.
I like these kinds of dramas to begin with; I like that they deal with issues that have real stakes to them; I like character studies. I like series that more than just want to entertain me, they want to move me.
My general take on Move to Heaven was comparing it to a piece of music, Tang Joon Sang’s Geu Ru provided the show’s steady rhythm, while Lee Jae Hoon’s Sang Gu provided a set of movements in the power melodic lines of the arc of his characterization. They were what allowed for the rest of the character and conceptual themes to play in their variations of the whole composition.
Tang Joon Sang is a very good young actor, and I hope he keeps getting roles that allow him to explore characterizationns. I would very much like to see him sometime in the near future be given a lead or second lead role of a man in his twenties that asks that he brings his flavor to it while also imparting something human and humane as well. That is, if/when he moves on to the big time, I kind of hope that he does not become an action star and that is all, as many of the best actors in K Drama land seem consigned to these days.
And I must say, while I quite liked him in Signal, albeit the least of the three leads, I thought Lee Jae Hoon was much better in this, and was every bit as significant a character, for me, in this as Geu Ru. Show me an actor who can grow in his role over the course of a drama, that is an actor I want to see in more shows.
The whole cast, guests and support as well as the leads were all good. And as I said it is a show I will watch again, which says more than the grade I might give it, which would be B+, as I have a handful of minor quibbles.
First, and this is not limited to this show, but I am getting to the point with K Dramas in which I would rather eccentric leads not be pigeon holed into pop psychology labels. Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer diagnosed as such but as part of a wider range of neurological disorders, the common symptomology includes high functioning intelligence, difficulty with socialization, and some obsessive behaviors, but Geu Ru is presented as someone who has an extreme form of all three. Having taught students who have been diagnosed as such, I can only say that those students had far more mild symptoms of all three; that is, they only appeared as slightly odd and a bit self conscious about it. Lately I have seen shows in which a variety of psychological disorders are used to frame the characters, but at times for me that just gets in the way. Let Geu Ru be eccentric, and that is fine for me. Or to put it another way, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia were not even terms thought of for hundreds of years yet when audiences watched Hamlet rapidly cycle between mania and despondency and Ophelia suffer an schizophrenic break with reality triggered by her lover having killed her father. I do not need the diagnosis. Geu Ru stands on his own for me.
Secondly, it seemed to me, show was putting its toe in the water for a second season in how it was structured, that is, by its string of short story episodes which was tied together by the larger story, and for its ten episode set up. I would have liked the short stories to have been more evenly developed, and just a little more development in the main story arc, and felt a greater sense of closure with a twelve episode season. I wanted more than show gave me, just not another whole season more. As I say minor quibbles.
Thanks again for the wonderful review.

beez
3 days ago

– I can’t be sure because of the ol’ noggin but I think the stalking victim in ep. 4 didn’t really date her stalker. Of course I’m only left with a foggy impression so you may be right that she did.

beez
3 days ago

Great review. 😥

learjet1
learjet1
3 days ago

I think this is my top k drama of 2021 so far. So many feels and they touched on such important issues in a way that engaged the mind, the conscience and the heart. I cried in episode one; only the second time that’s happened in episode one (the other was Melo is my Nature).

BE
BE
3 days ago

I have had a long and arduous day today K, but I am really glad you went into so much detail with this show. I do wonder how your patreon posts (and the interplay with its followers) are really allowing you to go more indepth with some of your reviews. For me, this will be especially helpful, as I finished show a few weeks ago it seems. And so tomorrow, I will take the time to review it, and comment more then.
But this: I had forgotten about Tang Joon Sang in CLOY, but given the size of his roles in this and Racquet Boys, it is not in the least difficult to imagine a year end award for best newcomer or young actor or some such. In a way, he kind of reminds me of a young version of Yoo Ah In, such a distinct flavor he carries with him, while enacting wildly different kinds of roles.

Kate
Kate
4 days ago

I can‘t tell you how glad I am that you liked this one. It was close to perfect imo, even though I felt like there were some open threads/ unfinished story lines left at the end. Your review is perfect as usual 😍 and made me burst into tears all over again, but it’s the best heart ache possible. What a little gem of a show ❤️

Timescout
4 days ago

I’m still watching this, so not going to read the review yet. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be on point, as per usual. 😁 Anyway, from what I’ve seen so far, it is beautifully acted and yes, both painful and comforting.

Joongki fanatic😁
Joongki fanatic😁
4 days ago

Move to Heaven is painful and comforting at the same time. And as usual, your review is beautifully on point!