A twisted fairytale about misconceived individuals and destined love comes to life in this new series.
Moon Kang Tae (Kim Soo Hyun) is a Caregiver who works at Psychiatric hospitals for a living, juggling the strain of professional work and looking after his intellectually disabled older brother. His life is turned into shambles when he comes across Go Moon Young (Seo Ye Ji) a highly successful children’s storybook author whose suffered from antisocial personality disorder her entire life. A man who would rather console trauma from afar and leave the past behind him, meets the one woman hell bent on confronting emotional pain head on, neither one of them believing in love or forming deep bonds.
I can shamelessly declare that I’ve been anticipating this series for what feels like eternity since it was announced that this drama would be Kim Soo Hyun’s return to the small screen and even more excited once Seo Ye Ji confirmed her casting! It’s a fresh new take on psychology with fairytale elements and an atypical approach to romance and childhood connections. What makes the drama unusual yet so vividly appealing is the simple fact that children’s literature is generally based on the foundations of trauma or emotional turmoil to create morals and lessons learned and the drama uniquely ties that in with the psychology of its characters and cinematic elements. From giving off a Tim Burton feel in regards to childhood romance gone awry and in association with an eeriness to form a large part of Moon Young’s antisocial behaviour to embedding other literature motifs and themes like Hans Christian Anderson’s The Red Shoes to propel the drama’s inventive story.
Although marking a Hallyu star’s return to Korean dramas, Moon Kang Tae is the eye of the storm where things remain calm amidst a raging nightmare that can only be defined as Moon Young. Moreover, he keeps a low profile and seems quite unassuming, his own desires and fears residing in the background as he tries to focus his worries on his older brother’s terrors. Despite this, there is so much emotional vulnerability underneath the surface and once his calming exterior cracks, it’s the rare moments of feeling that make Kang Tae an endearing character. It’s the idea that his own pain comes secondary to others appears captivating at first, yet is in fact somewhat of a personal flaw, and this notion only grows and becomes blurred with complexity as the story progresses; there are imperfections to be found in a character so fixated on taking care of others that it becomes a gruelling journey to shift his attention onto himself and reflect on his own emotions once he encounters Moon Young.
The raging storm that is Moon Young on the other hand, seems alluringly heartless as a cynical woman whose allowed fame and success to go to her head but her antisocial personality disorder which is kept hidden from the public explains her nature. She has a significant disregard for the feelings of other human beings, an indifference to principles, as well as a negligence in maintaining her social image. Her negligence and reckless behaviour are actually symptoms of her disorder, stemming so far as to not caring for the consequences her actions may produce to others around her or even to herself. Praise and applause to both the Screenwriter and Seo Ye Ji as they’ve managed to encapsulate a vast majority of the defining characteristics and signs of someone suffering from antisocial personality disorder. From moments of lashing out violently with a sense of annoyance to placing herself in dangerous situations, Moon Young is an excellent illustration of an individual suffering from ASPD. Her yearning for happiness despite all her trauma is attached to her fascination with Kang Tae and overcoming the pains of a childhood nightmare which she refuses to part with and instead, addresses directly.
Out of the two characters, I’d say she’s more intriguing as a headstrong figure who knows what she wants and identifies with a certain sense of malevolence. If I had to draw a good comparison, she resembles Jang Man Wol from Hotel Del Luna in terms of the intensity and mannerisms she brings to the screen which is then juxtaposed with Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride as a result of butterfly imagery and a childhood love that turns askew as well as her infatuation with Kang Tae.
Besides my appreciation for the characters, the transitions within the episodes have been flawless and really add a layer of allurement to the fairytale approach of the series so the cinematography is really pulling its weight to add to the psychological effect of the show. There’s a “to and fro” feeling as the drama goes between Kang Tae to Moon Young and then builds on this constant movement to focus on their confrontations to create a certain standstill and add more depth when they’re together. So on the one hand, we’re getting drama components that are lending themselves to establish psychology but on the other, to solidify the romance.
Overall, I’d say the drama is off to a positive start and I’ve personally waited far too long for this! As far as the premiere goes, the leads have really pulled their weight and have given us great performances in a drama that holds a lot of potential as it addresses emotional healing and unconventionally discovering love along the way.
Release Date: June 20, 2020 (Eng Sub available on Netflix)