The Keys to the Kingdom: book review

Happy 2019, everyone! I think it’s going to be a great year! Ok, I think that about every year, but every year does turn out to be great in its own ways. Even the hard years–and 2018 was a very hard year for me–have their own greatness. Difficult times challenge us and help us learn so much about ourselves–and, boy, did I learn a lot!

One of the biggest things I have learned in 2019 so far is that if I’m not ready to hear something or learn something or really see something, I won’t. It’s quite literally, impossible. 2018 was a struggle because I finally admitted to myself just how bad I was at relationships, especially romantic ones. This is hard to admit because–and maybe it’s a woman thing–but I also thought “there’s no way I can change. It would be too difficult and I just am who I am.”

It’s funny, though, how God works. We say these things to ourselves and then He puts a person or people in our way as if to say, “You can’t change for the better? You can’t do it? Not even for this person?” It’s a friendly test, if you will. So that’s what happened to me and why I was in such distress. You meet a person that is so special that you want to change for them. You would do anything for them, but you just don’t know how to begin, and then your brain becomes open to new information, like: “Am I actually seeing things or people as they are? If not, that means I may be the problem.” But now that thought isn’t so scary because perspective is something we can change, totally change.

This past weekend I read two books. (Don’t be too shocked, they’re not very long and I read quickly when I’m interested). I often enjoy reading comments on blog and articles on the internet. People often share video links, music, and books that inspired them. Well, someone mentioned this amazing book about women understanding men called Keys to the Kingdom by Alison Armstrong. Something about the enthusiasm of the commenter nudged me to give it a chance.

Keys to the Kingdom is primarily written for women, but I think men can get a lot out of it, too. With most self-help or relationship advice books, the information is written in a nonfiction, rather bland way. Although we may agree with what the writer is saying, we often struggle in how to apply that in real life. This book (and its sequel, The Queen’s Code) are different. While they are still instruction manuals, they are told completely in story format, with somewhat cringey dialogue at times and goofy people to boot. At first, I was irritated–“just give me the information, already!”–but then I started reading, and I couldn’t put it down for two reasons:

  • 1) Much of the information resonated as being true about both men and women. It seemed so true that I was surprised I didn’t know it already–but the reason I didn’t know or haven’t known was because I wasn’t ready to see it, to register it, and to act on it.
  • 2) I love stories. They are both the joy of my life and the bane of my existence. If I get obsessed with a story I often lose track of everything and everyone else. Want to win my heart? Tell me awesome stories! (Yikes, that’s scary to learn about oneself, right?) By the second chapter I realized that I was understanding the information and thinking how it applied to real life because it was given to me in a story. A list of bullet points, or notes like were listed at the end of each lesson really did nothing for me, as I was still focused on the story and eager to read what happens next.

The biggest takeaway of the story for me was that as women we are continually not giving men the “benefit of the doubt,” that is, we automatically assume the worst about them and their intentions instead of the best. In fact, we probably do this a lot with women, too, and people in general. Our modern society has a great disdain for the two sexes, but especially for men. The fight for more equality of opportunities for women is and has often been accomplished by denigrating and pushing men down. We all know this, but it’s quite different to finally see it in action, especially if you’re suddenly given new information about men, what they think, how they act, and what their intentions towards women truly are. Oh, also women really suck at communication. We are so wordy yet don’t say the important things, like what we need, or what we need even looks like.

Well, I don’t want to give too many details of either book as it’s much more fun to discover the information for yourself, but I recommend reading Keys to the Kingdom first and then The Queen’s Code. Although they can be read separately or out of order, you won’t get the full “story.” I can tell you these books made me laugh and cry, and the crying came mostly because: They give women hope. Men, too, but mostly women. Men don’t have to be women and women don’t have to be men and we can still be partners in life. It’s a great, breathtaking, life-altering thing. After reading Keys, the next day at church I was glowing and grinning from ear to ear. I felt different and I wanted to tell all the women I know to read this book. And I can tell you people noticed and some even asked what was up. It’s amazing what hope does to the soul.

As a Christian, one of the most exciting things I took away from the books were that God said He created man in his “own image.” After reading all the positive, amazing things about men, it struck me that God is this way, too. And in the same way that women often misunderstand men or think the worst of them, this is how we, too, often misunderstand and think the worst of God. “Life-changing” doesn’t even begin to adequately describe the difference. It a time when we are now quite literally trying to turn men into women and women into men, these books and ideas are truly revolutionary. What a great gift it can be to see people as they truly are. How exciting life can be when we really see and get people. What an impact we can have on another’s life and also appreciate and be thankful for their impact on our lives.

In her work, Alison Armstrong has tapped into something wonderful. You can tell by how enthusiastic the reviews for her books are that they resonate with women in a way other books of this topic do not and have not. The jaw dropping thing is that Armstrong herself was once the harshest of man haters and transformed into one of their biggest advocates, truly loving and understanding men in a way few other women bother to do. Armstrong has a few of her talks on Youtube, and I highly recommend watching them if you can, especially about asking for what you need. She says she feels she would cry out this information from the street corners if that was the only way to tell people. When people feel like that, I think they have truly tapped into the truth. Good news is something you automatically want to share with everyone around you.

Happy reading!

Tidings of Comfort and Joy

Merry Christmas everyone! It’s the time of year when Christians celebrate the miracle of Jesus Christ, our Savior. He paid the punishment for our sins and suffered hell so we don’t have to. Someday we will live eternally with Him in heavenly bliss.

But the angel said to them [the shepherds], “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrap in cloths and lying in a manger.”

Luke 2:10-12

God be with you in your travels and bless your time together with family and friends. May His gift of life for us give you comfort and joy this Christmas season and always!

House of Silk: book review

If you are a Sherlock Holmes fan, I highly recommend House of Silk by Anthony Horowitz. I am a little over halfway and am enjoying immensely–much, much more than his disappointing Moriarty. In fact, I am enjoying it so much that I want to go back and read all of Doyle’s original stories again, and the two Sherlock Holmes movies starring Robert Downey Jr., as well as the fun BBC Sherlock series with Benedict Cumberbatch (still the best name ever). Holmes and Watson are simply the best detective duo ever written. Although I adore Agatha Christie’s Poirot, there’s something about these two characters. They are such men of action and really funny as well. House of Silk has a seal of approve from the Conan Doyle Estate, so Horowitz is certainly on the right track with this tale as far as they are concerned. Can’t wait to see how the story turns out.

Additional review: Kdrama Encounter (Boyfriend) is a unique Noona (older woman, younger man) romance starting out in Cuba of all places, and then, of course continuing back in Seoul. Not sure what to make of all these Noona romances they seem to be making lately. Here, Park Bo Gum’s Jin Hyeok is very sweet and naive, but is supposed to be twenty-nine or thirty, and because the actor himself is only twenty-five or so, he just comes across as very young. Add to that Jin Hyeok’s place as–shall we say not a chaebol (rich elite)–and you have a recipe for him simply bringing his older lady love (played by the beautiful Song Hye Kyo) more stress and trouble than she has already, as she will have to protect him continually. Now, the writers probably have something in store for him or the couple together to outwit the bad guys, but so far I’m skeptical. Loved the Cuba setting, though, and kinda hope they escape back there or something.

Happy reading and watching! –Pixie

3 Quick review: These Shallow Graves, The Man in the Brown Suit, Isaiah

Three quick reviews for today. 

These Shallow Graves

Curiosity from seeing Jennifer Donnelly’s books on the YA shelf at the library finally prompted me to actually read one of them. These Shallow Graves is a bit more conventional than the title would suggest, but that’s what I like about it. Set during the Gilded Age in a time when feminism was actually necessary, at least in the view of some, the story is about society girl Josephine Montfort finding the life that she wants to live. 

Yes, the plot is a mystery involving her family’s company, but the point of novel is to show a young girl trying to break free from the expectations of those around her–and succeeding. This is something anyone can relate to, for we often, man or woman, young or old, chafe under the burdens placed upon by our stations in life. Sometimes our resentment is warranted, sometimes not. In this case, Jo’s wish to flee to a different simpler life is best, for the life she has is stewed in lies, her families riches built upon harming others. 

Largely atmospheric, the book is a quick read and carries Jo from one weird New York City world to the next. Many of the characters are Dickensian in nature, and much time is spent detailing just how unfortunate the “unfortunates” and poor of that time were. It’s also set in a time when some journalists were actually doing what journalists should do: hold the rich and powerful’s feet to the fire, root out corruption, and plead the case of those same unfortunates to have a chance in life. Jo’s ambition is to be just such a reporter, and by the end of the story, we’ve no doubt she’ll succeed. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this story and was pleased that the feminism did not, as is does today, involve the hating of men. In fact, Donnelly, is kind to all of her male characters, even the despicable ones, even the ones who don’t get the girl. Donnelly hints that they are just as trapped in society as the women are, and it is to her credit. Life is so much better if people can live in truth (even if it’s bitter) and freedom. At the end, Jo doesn’t quite get her man, but it’s clear she probably will in the future. Even couples in love have to find their way though misunderstandings and uncertainties, but I suppose that’s what makes the dance of romance something exciting and worth doing. I plan to read more of Donnelly’s work, and look forward to her future well-researched and well-crafted stories. 

The Man in the Brown Suit

My second reading of this fine novel of Agatha Christie’s left me feeling torn. I thought it was my favorite of hers, but now I’m not sure. I love the adventure of the story and the determination of Anne (with an ‘e’!) Beddingfeld to solve the mystery even if it means taking a huge risk to journey on an ocean liner to Africa at a time when she is nearly penniless. That takes guts and the certainty that one will figure things out, that one is smart enough and wily enough to do so. Few in this life have that confidence, and many of those who do find they have to “call a friend,” for they find their gamble does not pay off. I love that it takes place on a ship and I love the characters on that ship. By the time they got to South Africa, though, the story seemed to drag, and the romance was instalove that relied heavily on coincidence, especially in one key part after which Anne ends up on an island with her lover. It seemed a move unworthy of Christie, but this was written before the Poirot stories, I think, and many of her even better mysteries to come. Even Agatha Christie wasn’t Agatha Christie right away. 

The first time I read the story, the mystery part seemed a lot more intriguing; this time not as much. However, I still like the romance a lot. It is “instalove” or love at first sight, but in Christie’s defense she doesn’t pretend it’s anything else. Does this kind of love exist, we ask ourselves from time to time? How could it be possible? Doesn’t one have to know another person very well, both their flaws and their brilliance, to say that you actually love them for all of them? If we’re honest, we’d have to say no. Most of the time, sure, especially in romance, it’s good to get to know your partner thoroughly before declaring your love, but it’s completely possible that there are couples who have the ability to know each other through and through almost instantly. It doesn’t make sense and almost seems like magic, but all love is a sort of magic, really. That love should exist alongside all of the bad in the world doesn’t truly make sense–but it doesn’t have to. 

Does the instant love that parents have upon seeing their newborn child really make sense? What do they know of their baby after all and what he or she will become? Children love their parents while actually knowing very little about them as people–their hopes, dreams, desires, past wrongs and faults, and yet we don’t declare their love as being false in some way, do we? Love at first sight for another person is something we all will likely experience at least once in our lifetimes, but it’s scary, so many people run away from it–thinking it can’t possibly be true–rather than embracing it as Anne does here. Her lover is dumbfounded by her and at first fiercely pushes her and her instalove away. When they actually do get time together, he is uneasy. This love is something that is rapidly overwhelming his world. Here is a woman who with no guile declares her love for him and that she will fight for him. And, because of that love, she’s asking for the same in return, that he declare his love for her, and that he fight for her as well. For any man, I think this would be a scary situation. It’s maybe easier on men when women don’t declare their intentions quite so openly. Openness leaves no way out: A man either rises to the occasion or he does not. In this case, as a man probably would, he warns Anne that there will be no turning back, no getting out of this relationship once he’s all in. As if that would scare her. She passes all of his tests, every single one, but is no small task to accept a man’s love. His warning is a strong one that we women should take to heart, for men, once they are in, they are all in. Such love is precious and should be treated as such. 

Is this instant love realistic? For most people, no, but a few willing to take the leap find that the blessings of it far outweigh the risks. Christie muses a lot on the fact that all most women want is a man who will fight for them, who will want them and who will not say “the choice is yours,” but rather, “I want you, and I’m keeping you no matter what.” To our modern ears this sounds a bit caveman like, but it is true that there’s a bit of a turn off if the person you love tells you it doesn’t matter whether you are with them or not. They mean to be kind in giving the other person the choice, but, oh, what a blow to the soul. God’s love is never like this: He loves us and wants us completely and will always fight for us. His love is both instant and eternal. Earthly romance is supposed to be a mirror of this quality of God, but we so often lack the courage to manifest it. It’s wonderful and comforting to be able to look to a Being who has perfect love when we so often don’t. We see it is possible, that everything can be possible with Him. 

Anyway, The Man in the Brown Suit is an adequate adventure story with much food for thought on the nature of romantic love, and largely amusing even if the story doesn’t seem fully formed as Christie’s latter works do. 

Isaiah

The book of Isaiah in the Bible is one of my go-to Advent reads. At 66 chapters, it’s a bit long, but is well worth the yearly read. Handel’s Messiah uses text from it, and though it details the gravity of God’s judgement against man’s sins, it is also a beautiful declaration of the Gospel, of God’s promise to send a Savior, Jesus Christ, and His plan to save the world. (Sorry, Q, you’ve got nothing on God, and if your plans are succeeding it’s only because God wishes it at this time.) We are wholly unworthy of God’s holy love, yet we possess it in spades. He sent his Son, born as a babe, to live perfectly for us, to suffer all of our sins once and for all on the cross, and, in the ultimate pinnacle of that suffering, to die for us in our place. There can be no greater love than that. There will never be any greater love than that. 

Advent in the Christian church is a time when we look forward to remembering Christ’s birth and how God sent us the perfect gift of salvation. I look forward to reading the promises in Isaiah once again.

“Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.”

Isaiah 1:18 NIV

I encourage you to read through Isaiah this Advent and contemplate just how much God loves you and all the world. With Him there is true hope, love, and peace, ultimate peace between God and humanity. From that springs forth the waters of forgiveness, kindness, patience, and compassion, and the real possibility of peace among all men, women, and children in the world. 

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Ep. 16 Review (final)

It has taken me so long to final getting around to writing this review, because this ending is just so sad, that I just didn’t know if I’d have anything positive to say.  After thinking it over, though, the show has a lot of positive aspects. 

Let’s start with the bad: Yes, Moo Young and Jin Kang are indeed star-crossed lovers and both die at the end. Episode 16 was largely just a continual fall from the climax of the revelations in episode 15. We don’t learn a lot that we didn’t know before, and the episode felt a half hour too long. Poor Moo Young just never had a chance. He, thankfully, finds out from Officer Yoo that, no, Jin Kang is not his sister, but now he’s messed everything up by murdering CEO Jang. Moo Young’s focus, now, is making sure Jin Kang can live happily (without him), and then he’ll go off into the woods and shoot himself. 

Jin Kang snaps Moo Young out of this by confronting him and telling him she’ll shoot herself instead, as she can’t live without him. This sentiment is a bit more normal with teenagers (i.e. Romeo and Juliet), and it’s a bit hard to believe it’s coming from the almost thirty year old, Jin Kang.  I mean Moo Young has his appeal, certainly, but it just seems a bit much. To both Moo Young’s and the audience’s relief, Jin Kang is just testing him and she gets him to admit that he really doesn’t want to die, either. He wants to live. For her. Aww. 

The tragedy comes in the form of the secretary who works for the Jang company–now it’s the President or Papa Jang who’s the CEO and he’s enraged that both of his children are now dead, both due to Moo Young–and is on an assassination mission. President Jang has deemed that Moo Young must die, and so the secretary shows up at the house in the woods where Moo Young and Jin Kang have just decided that they both want to live for each other and promptly kills them both. Jin Kang gets shot first as she tries to protect Moo Young with her body, much like he did when they were kids and drenched in boiling hot water from a kettle. 

Two minutes too late, Officer Yoo shows up and finds the both of them dead by gunshot. He wails with grief, specifically over Jin Kang. One wonders what he’s thinking, if his detective skills can analyze the evidence showing that someone else shot them, or if he’s figuring Moo Young shot them both or maybe that they shot each other? In any case, it’s going to take Officer Yoo the rest of his life to get over the guilt he will surely feel over this tragedy that had EVERYTHING to do with him.

Now, the positive. Despite the troubling events of the plot, the story was generally told in a positive, sunny way. It wasn’t overly pessimistic and depressing. If it had been an American show, cynicism would have permeated everything, especially the romance. Not so here. We get a pure romance. We get a man on a journey to redemption through the love of a good woman. The acting from all three leads, but especially Seo In Guk and Jung So Min was outstanding, and their chemistry was off the charts. They became their characters so much I forgot about the actors, and that’s a good thing. There’s no inkling of any of their other characters in Moo Young and Jin Kang, either. If that’s not talent, I don’t know what is. 

On to cults. I am a Christian and I really don’t understand how there are so many cults based on Christianity and that people fall for them continually. There are probably many cults that are tangentially connected to other religions, but the cults represented most often in movies and television have a Christian base. The Smile Has Left Your Eyes is a warning to those who fall for false prophets. In episode 16 we find out that Jung So Min’s parents convinced Moo Young’s mother to take her son, leave her husband and join the cult. We find that Moo Young remembered Jin Kang as a little sister because he had to care for her. Their parents did not remember to feed them as they were too busy praying, babbling away feverishly as if God, or whomever they were praying to, would hear them due to their many words. Moo Young’s father took an axe to all three of these people. We don’t have a lot of information on the cult, but it seemed to have made everyone rather insane. What the two families were like before the cult (were they happy and sound in mind and body?) is also information we don’t have, but in Moo Young’s family his father must have been absent enough for his mother to become brainwashed and leave without his knowledge. We now have an explanation for why Moo Young held himself aloft from religion, even at the Catholic orphanage where he grew up. He somehow knew that religion can sometimes be dangerous and went the opposite direction of his mother, thinking God must not really exist. 

Jin Kang and Moo Young have a lot of conversations throughout the show on what it means to be a good person. With the truth revealed, we find that Moo Young does fit the show’s definition: a good person has a lot of love. Moo Young had a lot of love as a child for his parents and especially for Jin Kang, but, due to tragedy he just didn’t remember. Although Jin Kang is a good person with love as well, partway through the show, she ceased to be an adult for me, especially as the other characters treated her like the child they remembered her as. She was the one everyone catered to and took care of, and not really allowed to grow up. Only at the end, putting a gun to her own head did she seem to be her own agent, and yet she did it claiming that she couldn’t live without Moo Young. This statement was part ruse, but partly the truth. In considering cults and the history of their parents, I have to wonder if the two had lived if their love would have become a cult unto itself: a two-person cult in which no other person would matter. Some romantic love can be too much, the pair can be too desperate for each other, each person too unable to do things on their own. Our partner shouldn’t be our god, but people can make idols out of anything.

The true tragedy of this show, though, is Officer Yoo. On the one hand he has a good, but very sensitive heart. This sensitive heart led him to conceal much information that would have been far better off in sunlight. He held secrets that weren’t really his in order to keep Jin Kang safe, but she herself would have rather lived with the truth. His protective love smothered her and indirectly caused her death, and certainly caused much mental and emotional stress for both Moo Young and Jin Kang by the end. Officer Yoo also took on guilt unnecessarily. He was unable to accept that it wasn’t his fault he had to shoot Moo Young’s dad, and he let that shadow hang over him for twenty-five years. Fortunately, this show has a few Christian elements which make it shine, and one of those is forgiveness.

In his last will and testament, Moo Young writes to Officer Yoo that he forgives him and holds no ill will against him. He also writes, “If being heartless is being a devil, then I was a devil, like you said.” Moo Young admits to largely seeing people from a distance as if everything were a game. He urges Officer Yoo to let his guilt go and says that he has found peace with the love of Jin Kang. Once Officer Yoo gets over the shock of both their deaths, I have to hope Moo Young’s letter will comfort him much in the years to come. There is no better miracle than the power of forgiveness. Maybe Officer Yoo will finally find extra room in his heart for, say, Deputy Tak. 

Wrapping up, I liked the show as a whole. It was shot, directed, and written more like a movie than a Kdrama, and so it’s little unique because of that. The cinematography is amazing, every shot a joy to look at. I had hoped we’d get a bit more murder mystery and cat and mouse games, but it wasn’t to be. I wish they hadn’t dropped Moo Young’s photographic memory, as it was a cool device. And the bracelet that Moo Young gave the Damsel. I was certain we were going to find out that was Jin Kang’s bracelet as a child or something. Oh well. The romance really ended up taking over most everything. The minor characters did well with what little screen time they had. The big relief, was, of course, that the leads were not siblings, and Moo Young got his wish that Jin Kang would never know of the mistake he made in that regard. 

This show was such an emotional roller coaster, I don’t if I’ll ever watch it again. If I do, it would be largely due to the great acting by the leads, but even with that, I don’t know if I’d make it to the end a second time. The beauty of Moo Young’s breakdown in episode 15 was the high point, and probably the most heartbreaking scene in the show. In episode 1 we are introduced to three seemingly healthy and relatively happy people, but by the end, we know that they are all tortured souls unable to escape from the past and unable to avoid their fate. I think the fate thing is what turns me off about tragedies as a genre. As a Christian, I don’t believe in fate and I think that God always gives us a way out, that we can always choose to face the truth, not kill people, and not kill ourselves. The big winner in this show is Tattoo girl, Im Yoo Ri. She turned herself in and is serving the time for her crime. She will not live like Officer Yoo in mental torture, and as she’s trying to get off her meds, will not live like Moo Young, plagued by what she does not know. The last scene of her in the show as she’s talking to Jin Kang really showcases the quite beautiful tattoo on her neck. Im Yoo Ri will be ok, and Officer Yoo and the doctor will likely continue to visit her, giving her friends, comfort, and hope.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Ep 15 Review

This story is breaking my heart, but then, that’s what good stories sometimes do.  Kim Moo Young’s memories of his little sister, Jin Kang, coming rushing to him. Instead of returning to her with the medicine for her burn, he runs all the way to CEO Jang’s house, demanding for her to tell him all that she knows.  Jang tells him she can see the truth of it in his eyes: he didn’t have a little brother, but a sister, a sister that Officer Yoo’s family adopted: Jin Kang. 

Moo young leaves, devastated. Seo In Guk pulls out all of his acting stops as the young man feels the full impact of the information. As he breaks down crying, the beautiful music is strangely upbeat, hopeful, almost. Moo Young is buckets of tears and definitely has his emotions back. This information seem as if it will break him completely.

When at last Moo Young returns to a concerned Jin Kang, he asks her for his keys back and breaks up with her. This is the Moo Young of the Damsel days, and he even mentions her, that he’s dropping Jin Kang just like he dropped the Damsel. Jin Kang believes he is lying and asks to know what is wrong. Like any man on a mission to protect someone he loves, Moo Young doesn’t budge and Jin Kang leaves in distress. (Why is it that so often liars look one straight in the eye when lying? They don’t look all over the room–some liars do that, but the best ones don’t.) Quickly, Moo Young gets to work at ridding his house of everything related to her. 

The next day Moo Young goes straight away to CEO Jang to reaccept her offer to manage the nightclub Angel’s Tear. She seems delighted and intrigued by this, even telling her assistant that she has found a trump card to use against Moo Young: Jin Kang is his sister. Originally, the CEO just made that up for kicks, but she says the look in Moo Young’s eyes confirmed it. Argh! So, is she his sister or not? Moo Young’s memories seem to seal the deal, but the show makers are obviously playing with this. Whether or not Jin Kang actually is his biological sister, that is now what Moo Young believes. 

When Moo Young returns home he find Jin Kang waiting there. She has been waiting all day and is freezing. Forgetting himself, Moo Young almost pulls off his coat to drop over her, but quickly remembers. She pleads with him to tell her what’s wrong, but he pull his arm away, goes inside, and slams the door. Like a desperate, little child, Jin Kang bangs on the door, continually pleading with him as he sits on the couch and covers his ears. It’s a heart-wrenching, pathetic scene and when Moo Young can’t take any more of her crying, he calls Officer Yoo to come take his sister home. Officer Yoo immediately complies and piggybacks a despondent Jin Kang home. It’s no surprise the next day Officer Yoo is visiting the pharmacy for cold medicine for her. 

Officer Yoo crosses paths with Moo Young and tells him he did a good job breaking up with Jin Kang. Moo Young tells the officer it wasn’t because of him, it was that he just got tired of Jin Kang. Not sure if Officer Yoo believes that, but I think he’s just relieved and probably isn’t going to analyze it too much. Later, Officer Yoo is surprised to find that Jin Kang has Moo Young’s childhood drawing in her possession. He remembers clearly finding it on the day he killed Moo Young’s father.  At that time, he took it and slipped it in Moo Young’s gown at the hospital, thinking the kid maybe would want to save that last image of a happy family. He remembers visiting not only Moo Young in the hospital, but also Jin Kang. 

CEO Jang is busy securing Moo Young as her pet. She’s given him a new job, new clothes, and now a new car. Moo Young accepts the keys and she asks him, why not get a new house, too? He replies that he should at least keep his real house, right? 

“Does that mean everything else is fake?” she scoffs.

“Don’t you have those times, too, when are more desperate for the fake?” he says.

After Jin Kang recovers from her cold, she’s still not quite her happy self, but she refuses to think bad of Moo Young. She knows she just doesn’t have all the information yet. Moo Young is looking like he’s going to break his vow of staying away from her as he keeps tabs on her to make sure she’s really okay. Jin Kang calls up Deputy Tak for a meeting and finds out from her that Officer Yoo killed Moo Young’s axe murder father. For some reason I thought that Jin Kang knew this information, but with shows like this, it’s sometimes hard to keep up. In exchange, Tak finds out that Jin Kang knows she’s not really Officer Yoo’s sister. 

Jin Kang visits Moo Young at Angel’s Tear as well, but he refuses to talk alone with her, and CEO Jang stresses him out by acting like she’s going to spill the fact that he and Jin Kang are brother and sister at any moment. Not surprisingly, then, when he drives Jang home later that night, he agrees to go up to her apartment in the hope of finding out what she has already told Jin Kang. Oblivious as perhaps only a super wealthy person can be, CEO Jang pushes all of Moo Young’s buttons that she can. Moo Young asks her if she has any intention of stopping and she laughs and asks him if he wants to stop the game.

“This isn’t a game.” Moo Young is incredulous, and in that moment we as the audience can tell that although the two do have similarities, they really are nothing alike in substance. Moo Young has the clear capacity for good and for love. Moo Young decides this game is definitely over, turning in his car keys to the CEO, bidding her goodbye, and telling her not to mess with him. But Jang just can’t give it up and keeps taunting him, threatening him that she’ll tell Jin Kang everything. As she sees his expression, she says she can’t believe it. He really loves Jin Kang. CEO Jang is obviously jealous, but why she would want a man supposedly in love with his sister…well, these characters all have their problems. Power is the most important thing to her, I think, even more important than self-preservation. Seemingly oblivious to the fact that her words are sparking a cold rage in Moo Young, she doesn’t even stopping talking and taunting as he goes to the bureau where she placed the gun he borrowed earlier, pulls it out, and shoots her three times. Maybe Jang secretly wanted to die, to have her endless games ended.  Who knows? In any case, Moo Young is now definitely a murderer. 

The news of the murder breaks quickly, especially as Moo Young has been caught on camera, though has eluded capture. Jin Kang is devastated yet again and convinced he is innocent. Officer Yoo is less sure and even though Deputy Tak cautions him that Moo Young is wandering around with a gun and will probably shoot him next, Yoo isn’t worried about his own safety. He readily goes to meet Moo Young at the temple when Moo Young calls. 

Generally, episode 15 was a downer, but this show is a tragedy. It seems more and more likely that Moo Young will end up dead somehow, and there will likely be some kind of big reveal at the end, making things even worse. Tragedies always seem to me like the writers needlessly torturing their characters. Isn’t there something sadistic about that? Anyhow, it’s definitely an emotional roller coaster. Maybe Officer Yoo will somehow save the day.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Ep. 14 Review

In this episode the audience finally gets the news we’ve been waiting for. Are we to be grossed out by brother-sister love or not? I was hoping for a thrilling cat and mouse game, and it started that way, but The Smile Has Left Your Eyes is now more a series of character pieces, Kim Moo Young being the primary one. The writer and director are going for profound more than anything else. Is it possible to survive one’s past, to separate from it completely and be a new person?

Moo Young doesn’t shoot Officer Yoo. He asks the detective, “so you knew who I was, right? Is that why you hated me so much?” He also demands to know why Yoo killed his father, but Yoo won’t give a reason (he later says it was an accident). “People like you are the most repulsive,” Moo Young says. He remembers his dad as loving and smiling and struggles with there being no apparent reason he was shot.

They are interrupted by Deputy Tak at the door and she’s shocked to find Moo Young in the Yoo house and freaks out even more after she finds out Moo Young had a gun aimed at Officer Yoo and even shot out his flowerpot.

Ever helpful, CEO Jang sends Moo Young an article about his father and Moo Young gets a sudden, shocking education about his family. It seems his mother was involved in some kind of cult and his father was upset by it and murdered her and two others with an axe. Moo Young is the son of a killer and things are clicking into place for him especially Officer’s Yoo’s attitude. Seo In Guk does a masterful job portraying a nonemotional man who finds his emotions suddenly pouring back in. Although the truth is ugly, knowing it will likely be the first steps of Moo Young’s ability to finally heal.

He doesn’t run to Jin Kang for comfort, but to the psychiatrist, basically asking, “Dude, why didn’t you stop me?” Moo Young is also fixated on how Officer Yoo views him: as a devil. Instead of saying “I told you so,” the doctor reveals that he, too, is the son of a murderer, and he was hoping in letting Moo Young leave the hospital as a child that he might escape ever knowing that about himself. The doctor says it’s only now that he’s older that he understands that the sins of the father are the father’s, not the child’s to bear. He tells Moo Young that his past doesn’t define him. The present is what makes him. The doctor implores him not to let this knowledge hurt him or anyone else.

Meanwhile, CEO Jang is still on the hunt for information and brings in Officer Yoo’s old teammate, the current leader of the detective team, for questioning. She gives the recording of the interview to Moo Young and also offers to take out Officer Yoo for him. Moo Young says not to harm a hair on Yoo’s head and for the second time states that he can’t believe Jang thinks that he and her are the same kind of people.

Moo Young now has both his mother and father’s names. After listening to the recording he calls out Officer Yoo for a talk. He is wondering why Officer Yoo was looking for him as a child. Who would care about the son of a murderer? Officer Yoo says it was that he killed his father and lost him at the scene. He is surprised to learn that Moo Young now knows what his father did. Even though Yoo was justified in shooting Moo Young’s dad, he still feels bad because he took a life. Moo Young’s father was trying to hide the bloody axe from his son’s sight when Officer Yoo felt he had no choice but to shoot the armed, still dangerous man.  Moo Young tells Officer Yoo that he wishes he hadn’t looked for him because he grew up thinking his dad was good, that his dad was a police officer.

“Don’t mistake me not shooting you for forgiving you. I’ll never forgive you,” Moo Young says, sounding like his old self. Officer Yoo responds by telling him the temple where he can visit his dead parents.

Despite talking like he won’t go, Moo Young does eventually go to the temple and cry over his parents. Thoroughly over revenge, he brings CEO Jang back the gun. She says she’s disappointed he brought it back and he can borrow it again whenever he wants. She also has news about his younger brother’s whereabouts.

“There is no younger brother,” she tells him. Through a flashback, we learn she has discovered that it wasn’t a younger brother, but a younger sister who was adopted by Officer Yoo’s mother. Jin Kang is Moo Young’s sister. Since Moo Young’s not treating her particularly nice, however, the CEO is in the mood to make him wait for the information and gives him a job to do first.

Moo Young comes back to a restless Jin Kang, to whom he has finally told the truth about his axe murderer father.

“Are you really ok with me as I am?” Moo Young asks her. Jin Kang’s answer is “of course,” and to give him a hug. This girl truly does have hope and believes in redemption and goodness. Following an underlying biblical theme of the show, Moo Young says that he wants to be born again. It seems that he may really be on the way to healing and peace. Jin Kang says he needs love, home, family, and ramen! So much cuteness with this couple.

They stand in sleeveless shirts in front of the mirror, Moo Young hugging Jin Kang from above, and they marvel how their burn scars are so similar. Jin Kang even calls it a map. As the audience, we perhaps guess that Moo Young tried to protect his sister from the boiling kettle as it fell and that’s why their scars look as if they could be joined.  But it’s frustrating that for fairly smart characters they never once consider the possibility that their accidents are not two different accidents, but the same accident.

Fate refuses to leave them in the dark any longer. When heating water in a kettle, probably for more ramen, Jin Kang gets burned. Moo Young rushes to the pharmacy to get some ointment and on the way home more memories come flooding in, the incident having triggered it. He remembers the moment his dad was shot and the boiling kettle fell. He was standing there and his little sister behind him. He remembers what she looked like–exactly like Jin Kang as a child and from a previous episode he conveniently has a photo of her to pull out of his wallet.

Jin Kang is Moo Young’s sister. This will set any progress he’s made at healing, way, way back. He will now feel more a monster than ever and is really not going to want to tell her this information. He’s also going to be seriously ticked off that Officer Yoo kept this information to himself instead of coming clean. Letting someone commit incest–Moo Young’s kind of right, people like him are the worst, putting all of their sins on other people. First how Jin Kang had to grow up, feeling burdened and guilty, how Moo Young had to grow up anchorless, and now this. Yikes.

Ultimately, I’m finding the story more tragic than gross, but I really hope there aren’t anymore love scenes unless they decide to do another flip and reveal that Jin Kang is actually a childhood friend or something. What is Moo Young going to do?  How’s he going to form any sort of life after this? His one true love is his sister, thus explaining their uncanny comfortableness with each other. Smiles will be nowhere to be found for quite awhile.