Review: Hellbound

THE SHORT VERDICT:

This show isn’t for everyone. It’s more thematic exploration than straightforward story, and for that reason, I feel it is divisive. Some people like this one a lot, while others think it’s terrible.

If you’re open to exploring uglier themes around the human condition, and don’t mind a narrative that asks more questions than it answers, this could work for you.

If, on the other hand, you’re more interested in the telling of a story, and its characters’ journeys, and how those are meaningful, this might not be your thing – because that doesn’t appear to be where Show’s interest lies.

Not bad, overall.

THE LONG VERDICT:

I was absolutely going to give this one a wide berth when it was announced, because well, the premise sounds much too dark and disturbing for my normal drama tastes.

But then, more and more, I heard rumbles around the internet, and also, from Trent and Shahz, who both had this show on their Top Ten Lists for 2021, that this show could be really thought-provoking and interesting.. and well, that got me curious.

So I dived in, in the spirit of stepping outside of my comfort zone, and y’know, it’s really not bad. It’s not my favorite show ever, but it’s definitely better than I’d expected, from seeing the initial previews, and it’s certainly more thought-provoking than I would have originally imagined, too.

MANAGING EXPECTATIONS / THE VIEWING LENS

Here are a couple of things that I think would be helpful to keep in mind, to maximize your enjoyment of your watch:

1. There’s violence in this drama, but it’s not incessant.

So, based on the premise, there is some violence in this show, for sure, particularly around the supernatural executions. However, there are more breathing pockets without violence, than one might expect.

2. Show asks more questions than it answers.

In that sense, it’s not your typical story, where it’s expected, that you get most questions answered, by the time you hit the finish line. However, this is not by accident, but by design. Show sets out to ask those questions, in order to provoke thought. I think that’s a helpful lens to have.

3. Think thematically, rather than in terms of plot points.

I find that this helps, because Show is more interesting in the ideas that it brings up, rather than in the journeys of our characters.

4. Some suspension of disbelief is required.

There are certain plot details that don’t add up so neatly, if you were to break everything down under a microscope.

[EPISODE 1 SPOILER] For example, if the supernatural executors have been doing their thing for at least the last 10 years, why is it only coming to the attention of the general public now, as we start our story?

I mean, the way they kill the hell-bound person is so graphic and violent, surely people would have noticed before now? Especially since there appears to be a great deal of collateral damage that goes with each execution? [END SPOILER]

It’s just better to roll with it, because these details aren’t actually important to Show. Show just.. uses it as a construct, to serve up its themes and ideas.

STUFF I LIKED: A BROAD OVERVIEW

1. Show is well-made,

..in that the production values are high, and the performances by the actors, solid across the board. It feels more like a film broken into parts, than a drama.

Shout-out to Kim Shin Rok, whom I think does a fantastic job delivering her character, Park Jung Ja (above).

[EPISODE 2 SPOILER]

I am in awe of how Kim Shin Rok plays Park Jung Ja.

It makes sense that Park Jung Ja should feel a million different things, with all that’s happening to her. And, Kim Shin Rok delivers that million different things, in how she delivers Park Jung Ja’s facial expressions and body language.

She’s terrified and lonely, but she’s also relieved and grateful, but she’s still more afraid than words can actually articulate, and, shaking like a leaf, she’s forcing herself to function, for the sake of her kids. It’s profoundly poignant, and my heart really goes out to her.

[END SPOILER]

2. Show moves quickly.

It only has 6 episodes to tell its story, and therefore, it doesn’t have any time to waste.

I didn’t feel like Show slowed down or spun its wheels at any point, during my watch. The lulls felt more like breathing spaces, rather than actual slow-downs in plot movement.

3. Show has a good number of surprises up its sleeves.

I was genuinely surprised by some of the plot turns, even into the finale. This one didn’t get boring, that’s for sure.

STUFF THAT I DIDN’T LIKE SO MUCH

1. The violence, when it’s there, can be hard to watch.

I wouldn’t classify it as being gratuitous; I do think that the violence serves a narrative purpose. But when Show serves it up, it doesn’t hold back, and that might be hard for some viewers.

2. I feel less connected to characters, as a general rule.

Because of Show’s emphasis on the thematic side of things, I actually found myself feeling rather detached from our characters, most of the time.

THEMES / IDEAS 

Because Show’s approach is heavily thematic, it made sense to me, that a thematic breakdown would be a fitting way to tackle this review, instead of my more typical character and relationship analyses.

Here’s a rundown of the various themes that came to my mind, during my watch.

[SPOILERS THROUGH THE END OF THE REVIEW]

What would you do, if the world as you knew it, was coming to an end?

E1. There’s a rather interesting idea, of what would you do, if you knew the world as you knew it, was coming to an end? Those radical students from Arrowhead choose to attack that lecturer, believing that there won’t be time for them to be dealt with by the law.

This brand of rogue justice reminds me a great deal of what The Devil Judge served up, and it begs the question of where these religious fanatics see themselves, in the grand scheme of things. If divine judgment is God’s to serve, then in doing this, aren’t they undermining God’s authority..?

A scathing commentary on religious manipulators

E2. The more I see of this show, the more I feel like Show is a scathing commentary on religious people who claim to know and understand what God is doing, but their actions don’t actually match up to the spirit of what they say God is about.

One of the first things that strikes me, this episode, is how none of the members of the New Truth or the Arrowhead, seem to have any sort of sympathy or compassion for Park Jung Ja, the lady who’s received the death prophecy.

The New Truth people are only interested in using her prophesied execution to further their message, and the Arrowhead dude on livestream, seems to only care that, now, finally, after years of being misunderstood, people will start to listen to them.

Either way, this is all very self-focused. Neither the New Truth people nor the Arrowhead people seem actually interested in being God’s representatives to the people.

The fact that the New Truth people and the Arrowhead people fixate on the idea that Park Jung Ja deserves to go to hell, for presumably getting involved with married men, makes me think of the story in the Bible, where the Pharisees bring a woman caught in adultery before Jesus, and demand that He condemn her to be stoned (John 8).

The first thing that strikes me as similar, between our scenario here, and the story in John, is  that in both instances, the focus of the legalistic people, is on the woman’s sin, and how she ought to be punished for that sin.

There is no mention of the man with whom she committed adultery. Whether in Bible times or in the present, you certainly can’t commit adultery alone.

Certainly, it can be argued that perhaps the men involved with Park Jung Ja will also receive death prophecies and be executed for their sin, but what I find interesting is, neither the New Truth people nor the Arrowhead people seem to even think about the two men who had fathered Park Jung Ja’s children. They don’t even stop to wonder whether the men will receive death prophecies too.

In John 8, Jesus’s reaction is not to stone the woman, but instead, He points the Pharisees back to their own sin, saying, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

I understand that the theology in this drama world is not the same as the theology of the Bible, but I do think that the comparison is a worthy one, not only because of how the legalistic religious people only think about attacking the woman, without thought to the man who had sinned with her, or to their own sin, but also because, in both cases, there’s a clear divide between man’s understanding of a situation, and God’s understanding of it.

Do people really understand what God is doing? / Man acting as God

E2. I do think that there’s a divide here, between what the New Truth and the Arrowhead think and believe, versus what is actually going on, in the supernatural.

The Arrowhead might be positioned as the radicals here, but I see both groups as misguided and self-righteously thinking that they are doing God’s work – when it’s not even clear whether they even understand what God is doing.

I’d thought that the New Truth folks might be comparatively more “obedient” to what they think is God’s authority, but from the way that Jung Jin Soo (Yoo Ah In) executes the person who’d killed Hee Jung’s (Lee Re) mother (Park Ji Yeon), and then tries to pass it off as “God’s judgment,” it certainly feels like he’s trying to nudge God’s hand along, doesn’t it?

If he really believed that executing people is under God’s domain and authority, and that the order of things, is the death prophecy, followed by the supernatural executors, then why is he faking an execution, to help his cause?

Wouldn’t that be counted as faithless? Or, another way of looking at it, is, he thinks that he’s on par with God, and is able to make these decisions that God won’t.

This feels like a scathing dig at the Pharisees of the our modern world; people who claim to be doing God’s work, but don’t actually believe that they can put their entire trust in God, and try to pass off man-made works, as divine ones.

And then there’s how the Arrowhead people storm the police station, screaming, “You cannot investigate God!”

In essence, what they’re saying is that judgment is God’s to serve, and man cannot interfere with that. But.. ironically, in storming the police station like this, aren’t they interfering with God’s judgment too? They are, in effect, trying to take things out of God’s hands, by judging people on God’s behalf.

You just never know, with people

E2. Another thing that I found interesting, is how Detective Hong (Park Jung Pyo) turns out to be an active Arrowhead member. He looks so unassuming, and appears to be so normal and cooperative during the investigation, that it’s quite startling to realize that he’s actively leaking official information, in order to benefit Arrowhead’s cause.

Again, I feel like this is a commentary on how you just never know, with people. So often, we’ve heard of cases where the most unassuming, normal person, turns out to be a suicide bomber.

And now that he’s actively involved in the police protection given to Park Jung Ja. It makes me think that he’s likely going to do something, to prevent that protection from actually materializing as planned.

The ugliness of human nature

E3. The fascinating thing, is to see how people respond, in the wake of the execution. I get that people, scared and awed from witnessing something supernatural, would prostrate themselves in response; that’s fine. The thing that disturbs me, is the sense of judgey self-righteousness that occurs, afterwards.

The way these people attack all the people who had helped Park Jung Ja, is violent and vicious. It literally feels like they stop viewing these people as humans, in the way they attack them.

Hye Jin’s (Kim Hyun Joo) fellow attorney (Lim Hyung Guk) is beaten bloody, their law office is ripped to shreds, and they even track her down, and shockingly, break into her car, so that they can haul out her elderly, frail and ill mother (Won Mi Won), and beat her up.

ACK. Who does that? Ok, I know there are terrible and cruel people out there, but honestly, it blows my mind that these people attack a helpless old lady like this, and in the name of their religion. And they do it all so gleefully, too. 😵‍💫 GAH. It’s awful.

Worse, I don’t think they’d care, even if they knew that Hye Jin’s mother ends up dying, as a result of the beating that they give her.

I’m supposing that this is a “guilt by association” thing, but it still makes their actions difficult to understand. It’s almost as if the execution being broadcast on TV, and therefore given validity, has also given them the authority to act – at least, in their twisted minds.

People trying to makes sense of the world vs. People actively lying to manipulate others

E3. The big twist this episode, is, 1, the fact that Jung Jin Soo has himself also received a death prophecy, and 2, that he’s perfectly cognizant of the fact that everything he’s been telling the world, about what these executions mean, is a lie. WHUT. I had NOT seen that coming.

I mean, I’d guessed that there’s a discrepancy between Jung Jin Soo’s understanding of what the executions mean, and the actual divine meaning of the executions, but I’d assumed that he had at least himself believed what he was telling people.

I’m morbidly fascinated by Jung Jin Soo’s eventual decision to shape people’s worldview with a lie, when he couldn’t find any consistency or meaning behind the supernatural events like the death prophecies and the executions.

I find that interesting because he doesn’t assume that there is an answer and he just hasn’t found it yet; he believes that he’s exhausted all possible answers and theories, and there IS no truth to be found.

That’s.. presumptuous, isn’t it, for a mere human being who’s witnessed all these supernatural occurrences?

There has to be a certain (rather incredible) amount of gumption, to think that one has investigated God, and found God wanting, and that’s why he comes up with his own reasoning, because he’d found God wanting.

In the light of those Arrowhead people screaming, “You cannot investigate God!” in the last episode, I find this extremely ironic, honestly.

While Jung Jin Soo explains that he’s creating order in people’s worldviews, I feel like he’s convinced himself that he’s doing a good deed by guiding their thinking and therefore preventing them from rioting and panicking, but ultimately, this is just his way of rationalizing his sin, of passing off his own words, as God’s words.

Kinda like how he passed off the murder that he committed, as a divine act of judgment.

What’s interesting to me, is that through Jung Jin Soo’s entire explanation, he is utterly convinced that he’s sinless and blameless. But like, dude, you killed a man, and then tried to make it look like it was a divine execution. That’s murder.

This man is delusional. Now, whether living in fear for 20 years had caused him to become delusional, is questionable. I have no doubt that it was terrifying for him to be in that position, but does that really excuse how he’s made himself into an idol to the people, proclaiming a false truth, while committing murder on the side? I don’t think so?

Personal agenda shapes our actions

E3. Another theme that’s emerging this episode, I feel, is how personal agenda shapes our actions to such a strong degree.

That pastor from Future Church (Lee Dong Hee) comes across as such a genial guy, but he literally destroys evidence, and sets a group of bloodthirsty Arrowhead people on Hye Jin, to kill her, to ensure his position as the new Chairman of the New Truth.

Wow. This dude doesn’t care about spreading a truth to help people; he’d abet murder, if it gives him power and influence as the new head of New Truth.

Even Detective Jin (Yang Ik June) is swayed from his pursuit of the truth, when he realizes that exposing Jung Jin Soo’s lies, would also implicate his daughter.

In what feels like mere moments, Detective Jin’s put aside his morals, which had been burning not so long before, to help keep Jung Jin Soo’s secret, in order to protect Hee Jung from going to prison.

It’s all rather troubling stuff, about the darker corners of the human condition.

How do you know what is true and what is false?

E4. This new future feels surreal and bizarre, with the New Truth becoming a mainstream religion, and the execution places being turned into holy sites where people can visit and gawk in awe, at the details of the holy demonstration – and even the charred remains of the sinners.

This feels extra surreal, given that Show has told us that this entire “new order” is born of Jung Jin Soo’s wholly human and faked interpretation of the supernatural events. He’d died, knowing that he’d created a false narrative of what the prophecies and executions mean, and he’s.. literally changed the world. Wow.

That’s quite a strange and unsettling thought, isn’t it. It makes one wonder what in our world is built on lies, and what is built on truth. What are the things that we accept as true and real, but really.. aren’t?

And now, the New Truth is so powerful and influential, that even the TV station that’s doing a documentary on them, has to seek approval of every little scene and detail in the program, so that the way the New Truth is presented, is exactly what they are looking for.

The element of conscious manipulation definitely catches my attention. The way the deacon (Ruy Kyung Soo) specifies that the way the sinner is portrayed, cannot be too sympathetic, because the sinner still needs to look like a sinner, is as disturbing as it is thought-provoking.

Again, this brings across the idea that these people aren’t interested in sharing a truth; they are interested in pushing a narrative. And that narrative is that sinners are to be abhorred in a dehumanized fashion; they are nothing but numbers and examples, meant to shape the mindsets of non-sinners.

That narrative also includes the idea that because of the New Truth, crime rates have plummeted – when the actual truth is, there is a lot of crime and violence by the Arrowhead people themselves, that goes unreported.

The consequences a narrative can have on people

E4. We see that the New Truth and the Arrowhead have basically taken over the world, with the New Truth in a position of power and influence, and the Arrowhead as some kind of rogue organization that polices the people, according to what they believe is right. In effect, it feels like between them, they’re controlling the world.

Because of how the Arrowhead harass and punish the family members of sinners, which, notably, isn’t actually part of the New Truth’s original narrative, there’s a growing wave of stigma and shame around being connected with a sinner.

People staging their disappearances, so that their supernatural execution is kept a secret; the sprouting of the shadow organizations that help to keep those secrets; it feels like things have gone further than the New Truth had intended.

When I think about why people do this, it comes back to the idea that people desire to be in control, as far as possible, and this is the extent to which they can control their fates. They can’t help receiving the prophecies, and they can’t stop the executions from happening, but they do what they can, to control their reputation, and the reputations of their families.

E5. This episode, I’m really rather struck by how callous the New Truth people are, towards the sinners. That man who’s executed in the New Truth demonstration room, is treated so poorly, and with so much condemnation and disgust, almost as if he’s not a human being.

It’s horrible really, that his family is dragged into the room, to witness his execution, while the Chairman and every other New Truth member treats his execution with a sense of.. glee, almost.

Is Show trying to remind us of how, very often, people are reduced to statistics? That, often, in pushing the broader narrative, we forget that people are more than a number on a page? I personally feel really sorry for the guy, because he looks so terrified, and no one seems to care. 😭

Action vs. Intent

E5. The New Truth folks are fiercely guarding their narrative, by setting the Arrowhead guys on the Sodo folks, like hunting dogs sent to bring back prey.

The fact that the Chairman is so clear on the fact that his “empowering blessing” on the deacon is nothing but a show – and a show that needs a flashy upgrade, no less – is again, so dysfunctional.

Because intention counts for a lot in my books, it would land differently, if he at least believed that what he was giving was a true empowering blessing. The fact that he is cognizant that it’s for show, makes him a manipulating liar, rather than someone who put meaning to something he didn’t understand, and is simply misguided.

Given that the New Truth doctrine doesn’t provide for the possibility of original sin, or redemption, there’s something that doesn’t add up, for sure, when it comes to PD Bae’s (Park Jung Min) baby receiving the death prophecy.

In this case, Sodo’s take, that these executions are supernatural occurrences that have nothing to do with whether a person has sinned, makes more sense. Of course, we don’t actually know if Sodo is actually right; all we know is that Sodo’s take lines up more accurately, with the pattern of supernatural occurrences that we see.

It’s an intriguing situation, with Sodo asking for permission to broadcast the execution of PD Bae’s baby. I get that they want to disprove the doctrines of the New Truth, and therefore defuse their power over the world, but it’s a request that vibes eerily like Jung Jin Soo’s original request of Park Jung Ja.

I don’t know what to make of it, honestly. Are they “just like the New Truth,” like PD Bae blurts out, or is this ok, because they need to fight fire with fire?

Intent counts for a great deal with me, so I’m leaning towards it being “ok,” but I have to confess that I still feel weirded out by the idea of a baby’s execution being broadcast for the greater good.

Ohhh. Wait. Is this some kind of reference to Jesus, who was born as a baby – but destined to die, for the redemption of mankind..?

Guilt torments and destroys; People seek peace

E5. We see more deeply, the consequences that the New Truth narrative has on people, and how the fear of judgment and stigma, and the related harassment, drives people to their wits’ end.

In particular, I feel sorry for PD Bae’s wife (Won Jin Ah), who looks genuinely tormented, as she wonders what she did wrong, and as she can’t help but feel repulsed by her baby, whom she now sees as a sinner. That’s really sad.

I can see why PD Bae has second thoughts about maybe allowing Sodo to broadcast the execution. After all, that would mean embracing a different meaning to his baby’s death prophecy, and believing that their baby is innocent, is surely better than believing that their baby is a sinner.

I think that also brings up the idea that people tend to believe the thing that gives them more peace?

THOUGHTS ON THE ENDING [SPOILERS]

Well. That was an interesting finale. I’m not sure I understood it, but.. I’m intrigued by it?

I do have several takeaway thoughts, even though I’m not exactly sure what Show means with its chosen ending.

The first one is, what a difference it makes, when you’re the one who is the subject of judgment.

I honestly couldn’t recognize the guy at the apartment (Kim Do Yoon) as the Arrowhead live-streamer, until it was revealed to us (he looks completely different without his costume and makeup – which makes me think of public persona versus the real person, but that’s another kettle of fish altogether).

As an Arrowhead commentator, live-streamer dude had been very loud, very critical and very quick to judge people who had received the death prophecy. Because of this, as a viewer, I have to admit that I felt a flash of gratification, when I realized that he had fallen so hard and so unceremoniously, from his high horse.

At the same time, this made me think about what a difference context makes. It’s easy to cast the first stone, when you’re not the sinner in question, to borrow the biblical analogy I used earlier in this review.

Things look mighty different to him, now that he’s the one who’s on the receiving end of the death prophecy.

At the same time, this brings out another theme that I feel Show has been exploring; that humans are fundamentally desperate to find meaning in their existence.

The moment Arrowhead live-streamer dude is fed that story by Chairman Kim, that the reason he’d received the death prophecy, to be carried out 5 minutes after the baby’s execution, is that he’s the Messiah, and he’s destined to help cover up God’s mistakes, he immediately drops the sympathetic persona, and hatches a plan to kill everyone, in order to successfully cover up God’s mistake of giving a death prophecy to a baby.

He became not only willing to die, but gleeful to receive the demonstration, all because he now had a new way to process the idea, that worked with his pre-existing ideology. He now felt that his death would not only be meaningful, but glorious, and it didn’t require him to abandon everything he’d done as an Arrowhead member, as a mistake.

That brings me to another idea this episode, which is that, humans will do a lot, to cover up their mistakes. The more sunk cost is involved, the harder humans work, to create an alternative narrative, that will help them make it work, so to speak.

Not only does it apply to Arrowhead live-streamer dude, it applies to the New Truth core group as well. What makes them a little different, I think, is how they seem perfectly cognizant of the fact that they are dealing in lies. They actively think of way to make sense of the fact that a baby received the death prophecy, so that they won’t lose their influence and power over people.

To me, they are worse than the Arrowhead live-streamer dude, because he at least sincerely believes that he’s the Messiah, and therefore, in a twisted sort of way, he’s being true to what he believes. In contrast, the New Truth core group is actively throwing suggestions at one another, to figure out a way to “make it work.”

The third idea that I find swimming in my head, from this finale, is that love is greater than fear.

The baby’s parents are terrified, and for good reason. But in that moment when the death angels come after their baby, there is zero hesitation in either of them, as they fight to protect their child.

I’m sure that mentally, they knew that it was a losing battle. After all, they are up against very strong, very powerful supernatural beings. But that didn’t stop their instincts from kicking in, and both of them giving it everything they had, in order to protect their baby.

And in the end, their baby lived, at the cost of their lives. I’m sure they didn’t know for sure, whether shielding the baby with their bodies, would actually save his life. But they were willing to do it anyway, hoping that it would be enough.

I’m not sure what to make of the fact that the death angels allowed the baby to live. I’m assuming that they knew that the baby survived, since they are powerful supernatural beings. It’d feel rather lame, if it turns out that they didn’t know the baby survived.

Assuming that they knew the baby survived, does it then mean that Show is also saying that love is also greater than death? That, because the parents loved their baby enough to die for him, their baby could receive life?

All rather thought-provoking ideas, to be sure.

While I feel that Show is more interested in asking questions than providing answers, I can’t help but wonder what Show means, by resurrecting Park Jung Ja.

In the Bible, it was Jesus the Messiah, who had been judged, and who had then died, and been raised to life.

So.. since the New Truth people raised the idea of a Messiah in this finale, is Show suggesting that perhaps Park Jung Ja is the Messiah..? After all, she had been judged, and now she is being raised to life..?

Whether we get a Season 2 or not, I think that one final idea that Show emphasizes, with this chosen ending, is that, as humans, we don’t really know what God is thinking. All we have are our efforts to make sense of it all, and ultimately, we might be interpreting our world all wrong.

Perhaps that might be Show’s message, after all? That we shouldn’t assume that we know what we know?

I’m curious to see what Season 2 has to say, about all of this.

THE FINAL VERDICT:

Floats more questions than it provides answers, but is reasonably thought-provoking, with the right lens.

FINAL GRADE: B

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Paul Hicks
Paul Hicks
4 months ago

“I’m curious to see what Season 2 has to say, about all of this”

That will be a while:

“Since this summer, Choi and I have been discussing the story for the second season and now we have an overall picture of what it will be. So we should be able to release the comics by the latter half of next year. But in regards to the series, we have yet to discuss it,” he said.

See: https://www.koreatimes.co.kr/www/art/2021/12/688_319621.html

Though, as you can read, as compared to these six episodes, the promise is to focus more on the characters.

As you can also read, apparently never mind ever coming to know the who, what, why of those creatures, as that won’t ever be explained. Call that putting the super in supernatural.

I thought the show good enough to watch for the first part, episodes 1-3, then the show kinda lost its way for episodes 4-6.

And that even though I understand what they were trying to do. Take the decree for the baby. No original sin, was their belief, and so the belief/idea that decree is punishment for sin is now disconfirmed. What do believers do? Presumably depends on who they are. We saw the reaction of the souls living in the same building, who saw the thing, then the New Truth leadership, who proposed, hey, what about adopting the notion of original sin. Which was the road to nowhere, since we were all born and so all of us should be under a decree. Then the, let’s hide the thing, even if that means harming other humans.

Which brings us to power and control, which is of more than one kind/type. Some just get off on the subjugation. Some others do it for starting and then maintaining the cash flow. Then there’s those humans who do it well and truly believing that its for some noble purpose. Think one can safely rule out no.1 and even though money was not a subject of the show, I’d still give that the up over the last (the better ritual for endowment and the live demonstration broadcast, well, did not get the vibe that anyone was thinking, let us do this for some noble purpose)(re the demonstration, and the ratings, did not picture noble but instead the ad executive).

Re Mr. Live-streamer, is simply a moonbat. As made plain by, you leaders think you’re all that when you aren’t…hey, you’re the messiah…everything’s all good then. Bad enough that he had vision of his messiah-hood, at all, but to take on that idea from the humans you just castigated for thinking they’re all that when they aren’t = moonbat. There is no shortage of moonbats from the ROK claiming to be messiah. On that note, re trashing the lawyers’ office, not that but still the same:

https://www.donga.com/en/List/article/all/20080115/256823/1

As I wrote, no shortage of moonbats in the ROK.

Our man can say, fits the ROK but also the world at large, but given what has actually occurred in the ROK I am thinking that, to whatever extent the show resonates, does so more in the ROK.

Lastly, I am also with the one soul who commented re the creatures would have killed the baby but mom and dad got in the way, and so while trying to finish that job, moonbat’s time, so let them go handle him. Where I thought the show well and truly lost the plot, meaning, the whole messiah thing for moonbat, with 5 minutes after the baby…and to make our man’s moonbattery even more plain, does one not understand that perhaps is rather time for a new faith when your chosen Deity is posited to make mistakes? And not just any mistake, but specifically the killing of a newborn as punishment for sin. Who needs Deity for that when we’ve already got the evil one (satan)? So perhaps draw a pentagram on your palm and go the Richard Ramirez (Nightslayer) route. Would still be evil nonetheless but at least one could say, true to one’s beliefs.

Made
Made
4 months ago

Surprisingly I quite liked Hellbound, although like you said, it raised more questions than it answered. I curiously watched the first episode, prepared to drop it if I didn’t like it but I ended up watching all 6 episodes. I’ll probably watch the next season, if there is one. Hopefully it explains the origin of the beings and exactly what is going on. I do hope its not like Birdbox, where we never find out the cause of the odd occurences.

Natalia
Natalia
4 months ago

K, I sincerely think your review of the show is more well thought than the show itself. So no, I didn’t like it, and, to be honest I was also somehow irritated by it.
And, by the way, regarding the ending and the demonic gorillas letting the baby live: I suspect the reason was that they had to go get the livestreamer dude who was hellbound only 5 minutes after the baby and this whole baby / parents thing just took too long. What did you expect, so few gorillas, so many sinners! 😛

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
4 months ago
Reply to  Natalia

😅🤣😂😆

eda harris
eda harris
4 months ago

i was truly waiting for this discussion, because when i saw this, it just came out and i was eager to fully enjoy my beloved you ah in (he was the reason i wanted to see it). but first of all i must say it was some time ago and since then i saw many other productions, and so some aspects of it is already kind of foggy in my mind (also, it did not earn any place in my mind or heart, like a lot of other dramas did, where i stay attached to them it seems for ever)
so at the time i saw reviews of all kinds, but also people really seeing “the moon and the stars” in it, and i was wondering, what is wrong with me, what am i missing. i really hated it, it annoyed me and the disappointment with you ah in was more than i could take. (i did not recognize him in this, it did not fit him, the character was underdeveloped and also killed after only 3 episodes thus putting a stop to his abilities to really showcase a character how we are used to see him, the psychopath leading a cult left me unmoved). i do not remember having such an almost bizarre reaction to a drama or movie, i might not like it and move on, but this one truly irritated me, may be because my expectation was high.
the subject of religion driving people to insanity, radicalism, corruption and fanaticism within religion is an extremely important philosophical question, just as any extremism of any kind, and i would welcome a production that would lead us in this direction, would put in front of us questions, answers and serious deliberations. the malignancy and destructiveness of herd mentality, brainwashing (example; hitler’s rise to power and it’s consequences) must never be forgotten. i believe that the screenwriter and director intended to do just that, and i understand it, but in my opinion they miserably failed. what they created is a hot mess, abusing maximum violence and torture (completely unnecessary and thus even more disturbing) for cheap effects, where characters were arbitrarily thrown into this mess, and without any rhyme or reason they would just vanish into the thin air, without any character development and without even trying to create any sort of emotion in my heart – i simply did not care for any of them, none.
i also understand their intent to showcase collapse of human society due to human fear, but as soon as they introduced the plastic monsters in the images of gorillas-on-steroids or something like this , it became to me a bad children’s story, the needed effect and intent of the drama here was lost for me – i was laughing. is this a laughing matter, was i supposed to be laughing?
i watched the first 3 episodes, and when you ah in was killed, there was nothing for me to look forward to and hope for some improvements. i skipped eps,4 and 5, but decided to see what this crazy drama presented as the end, so i watched episode 6, which did not improve my digestion of this drama as a creepy, annoying, tedious production that left me with no CLOSURE. mainly, the blame is with the screen writer (a gazillion plot holes, underdeveloped characters, boring, slow moving story with no logic or sense – even when mystical or complete fantasy – it must still present some kind of logic, so we can relate to it) and the director did not make it any better, directing failed in my opinion. will i ever rewatch it, like a lot of other dramas, that i can not let go off? ha-ha. i am not a masochist.

beez
4 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

@eda – I have watched many shows all for the love of an actor/actress. I even watched zombies for Gong Yoo. I will usually go back and watch everything an actor has ever been in if I really like him/her. But despite the fact that I think Yoo Ah in has mad skills, I knew I was going to avoid Hellbound like the plague. After reading Kfangurl’s review and your comments – I’m so glad I did.

Su San
Su San
3 months ago
Reply to  beez

Don’t bother….wishing that I had my 6 hours back, ha! Watched for Yoo Ah In but he only appeared in the first episodes.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
4 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

@Eda and @Beez – I could not stop watching this. It hit a little too close to home for me which made me feel very uneasy. Regardless, I just could not stop. It is definitely not for everyone!

eda harris
eda harris
4 months ago
Reply to  phl1rxd

so glad you are back in the “circulation’! seems you are feeling better. hope you did not waste your time being sick and at least you could catch up on that long list of yours (dramas of course), so we can discuss it in the afterlife or back on earth after reincarnation (keeping my fingers crossed).
i am curious what hit close to home – the story, the intent, the meaning of all of it…? can you elaborate, but if it’s too personal, then just forget i asked.

phl1rxd
phl1rxd
4 months ago
Reply to  eda harris

@Eda – 💖 – It is not that it is personal for me, but more political. I really do try to keep politics and my view of them out of my happy place (which is here 😁). So now Eda, I have to laugh because you know that old saying – “Don’t talk politics and religion at the dinner table”. This drama is all about religion and politics. It is just that Fangurl keeps it elegant (always) and I would struggle to just be nice. So the drama made me quite uneasy and a little bit angry as well. I just could not stop watching because I was hoping to see something good come out of it. Looks like I have to wait for S2.

I have to respect YAI for attempting this role. I wonder if anyone noticed that his face (nose) looked different. Hmm, maybe it was the lack of hair style? On a lighter note Eda, I am hoping to come back as a psychic detective next go round so keep an eye out for me. You can write about my cases. 😅🤣😂😆 Think of the drama possibilities! 👮‍♀️🕵️‍♂️👮‍♀️🕵️‍♂️

seankfletcher
seankfletcher
4 months ago

I do like how you approached your thoughts regarding Hellbound, kfangurl. However, I guess I fall into the camp that didn’t particularly like it, because much of Hellbound’s premise or arguments re Old Testament vs New Testament did frustrate me somewhat (but not enough to start a petition of course😜). There were points of interest, but there were missed opportunities re a number of characters. 

Ending – Spoiler 1
The symbolism of the baby (children) is extremely important. The importance of the new born and children is explored thoroughly in both the Old and New Testaments. In Hellbound, the question is whether the baby represents the Old Testament (vengeance is mine says the Lord) or the New Testament (Turn the other cheek). I think it’s the former – in the guise of Moses. Both Moses and The Messiah were teachers. One was the old law, the other, the new law. 

Ending – Spoiler 2
As for the resurrection, perhaps it is more in keeping with how Daniel saw things: And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt – just a thought.

When I watched that final scene, I said to myself, “now we’re talking – you’ve finally caught my interest. “ 

merij1
merij1
4 months ago
Reply to  seankfletcher

Here’s how I tried to explain to my kids the sharp difference in how God is portrayed in the Old Testament verses the New Testament:

When your child is six years-old, you don’t go into all the nuances of why they shouldn’t be playing in the street. “Go in the street and you’ll get a spanking. Period.”

It’s not until they get older that nuanced discussions of right and wrong behavior begin.

The Old Testament is about rules and consequences.

The New Testament is about aspiration for a society that has already moved beyond the primitive stages of raw dog-eat-dog and cat-eat-mouse.

Mind you, I wasn’t able to hold onto my own faith, so I’m speaking intellectually. But it does puzzle me how many people of faith seem to have trouble reconciling these two books.

I doubt I’ll watch this show but, again, I think I would appreciate the unresolved ambiguity. Watching TV can be so passive — which is often what we need at the end of the day. But struggling with ambiguity makes you think!

Last edited 4 months ago by merij1
seankfletcher
seankfletcher
4 months ago
Reply to  merij1

I have been fortunate enough to discuss such musings with cardinals, archbishops, bishops etc over many years and at times over a very leisurely Sunday lunch that has seen the sun set on more than one occasion. Apparently, I used to have quite good insights back then. Mind you, we wouldn’t have discussed such things back at the time of the Inquisition(s).

Even now when discussing the life of Jesus etc around the table at home, or when watching something, I will drag in the archaeological and historical evidence. Of course, the youngest one keeps saying “are you sure you weren’t their dad, you make it sound so real.”

Yes, struggling with ambiguity does make you think, MJ. Maybe that’s why I watch too much stuff? I suspect you might find Hellbound a tad frustrating. As for Lost, boy oh boy – I didn’t particularly like it and I suspect because the answers were blah 😉

reaper
reaper
4 months ago

People taking the questions asked in this show seriously. I admire you.
I only watched the trailer and was just laughing especially at the “demons”.

merij1
merij1
4 months ago

Personally, I like stories that leave meta-questions unanswered. Ambiguity is highly underrated, in my opinion.

Consider the American TV show Lost, for example. It was great as long as we didn’t know the answers. Because the actual answers were never as interesting as the ones we imagined.

Once you know, your imagination stops participating. But if you don’t know, the mysteries continue to linger in your mind for weeks or months to come.

There’s something wide open and magical about not knowing.

Not sure if I’ll watch this particular show, however. But if I don’t, it won’t be for that reason!

Last edited 4 months ago by merij1
Trent
4 months ago

It’s kind of interesting to me how often pieces of art that seem consciously tailored toward being “controversial” and/or “thought-provoking” tend to stimulate a polarized reaction. On the one hand, you’ll find the group that is convinced it’s “deep,” “stimulating,” “profound,” “philosophically satisfying,” etc etc. And then you’ll get the group that just wants to sneer about how “stupid” it is, how it’s really “overrated trash,” asking “facile,” “shallow,” even “silly” questions that by rights wouldn’t interest or stump your average eight year old.

(To be clear, I’ve been in both camps, depending on the particular work of art we’re talking about.)

The conclusion that I’ve trended toward from observing this reaction is that… people have different things on their minds, different backgrounds, different things that they find interesting, meaningful, or important, and so of course different artistic approaches are going to hit very differently.

There’s no doubt a significant number of people who have zero interest in what Hellbound is doing, or who, having seen some or all of it, find it to be obvious, unworthy of serious discussion, misguided in the questions it poses, boring…and various other dismissive adjectives besides. That’s fine, of course.

I personally found it quite thought-provoking, and that’s even though most if not all of the questions that it poses have been discussed at great length already, in various essays and discourses and apologetics. One of the unique strengths of dramatization is that it can depict circumstances, scenarios, situations in ways that illuminate questions and issues and engage thoughts and feelings that written essays or apologetics just might not be able to reach. So I am led to ponder these things, seeing them acted out, whereas I wouldn’t spend the time to search out and read an essay or apologetic (although I have, at various times in the past).

A comment about the ending (I assume spoilers in comments on the review are okay?). Even seeing it a second time, I found the ending quite moving.

Parenthetically, I will say that I agree that one of the main themes of the show is focused around humanity’s need to impose meaning on the world; to link seemingly random events into a narrative that makes some sort of sense. And–surprise, surprise!–I think I find the ending meaningful because I am imposing my own meaning, my own sense of narrative on the events as depicted!

To me, it is not only, as you note,

Spoiler for the ending of Hellbound
the parents’ love that saves the baby, it is also their sacrifice. As the time draws close, mother first lays baby down and backs away, but when the death angels appear, she can’t leave it and in fact runs to “rescue” it. And father jumps into the scene, at the end literally binding his wrists with a stray bit of wiring so, I assume, they won’t be separated. I don’t know why they were able to succeed in shielding the baby; surely the death angels could have taken the baby as well. The meaning it conveys to me is that their love and sacrifice were a worthy exchange. Why? I don’t know…that’s me imposing my meaning on the scene, and I’ve always been a sucker for a well-earned sacrifice narrative.

Just a coda…what is the meaning of the final 20 seconds,

Spoiler for the last few seconds of Hellbound
where Park Jung-ja is resurrected? No idea, although I was indulging in some idle speculative theology: maybe the willing sacrifice of a non-condemned person to shield or save one given the decree has the effect of “throwing open the doors” to a return? Is it a one-off, or a more general change? Not sure it makes sense, but like I said, I don’t know. Right now, it’s just one last final question show is throwing out for us to chew on…

ngobee
ngobee
4 months ago
Reply to  Trent

Hi Trent,
I’m with you on this one. I really liked this one. So many pictures of totalitarian institutions, states, organisations came up while watching that all created their own cruel and self-perpetuating reality. Robespierre, ye olde inquisition, any dictatorship, and so forth?

Maybe the monsters aren’t even real but self-made? The moment at the end when people start helping each other to the point of giving their lives instead of watching each other being killed is when the monsters disappear.

I’m sure Yoo Ah In who seems to be pretty anti-dogmatic jumped at the opportunity.