Archive | October 2018

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Ep 8 Review

Things are heating up on the show. Lots to be revealed yet, but this episode gave us a lot to consider.

Episode 8 starts with the car crash from episode 7 and the thing to notice as the Damsel and Moo Young are tumbling down the cliff is the material bouncing around inside the car. It is the charms from the bracelet that Moo Young gave Seung Ah the night they met, the one he put together perfectly after it was broken. Not sure if I mentioned it back then, but the the bracelet is a bit girly, especially for a tough guy like Moo Young. So, why did he have the bracelet in the first place? Whose bracelet is it? A long long sister’s perhaps?

The end of the storyline has seemingly finally come for the Damsel and her fiancee Jang Woo Sang, who sadly both die in this episode, but off screen. Seung Ah’s mother seems sincerely mourning her state, even calling in Jin Kang for a hug, forgetting the hard slap she gave her a few episodes ago. In fact, everyone, even Jin Kang’s brother, Officer Yoo, is deep stricken by Seung Ah’s death. They cry real tears, especially Jin Kang, and that doesn’t happen often, even in dramaland.

However, we learn there is a possibility that some of Jin Kang’s tears are guilty ones. She tells Kim Moo Young she never really thought the Damsel would die, that her focus was on him, as he is missing for a time after the accident. Jin Kang tells him this and pushes him away again, still denying her feelings, and, again, rightly so. Moo Young really seems to have no feelings or emotions, and shows no remorse for the fact that he agitated Jang Woo Sang, the rich fiancee, and pretty much set in motion the likelihood of a disastrous end to the affair. Moo Young even takes a bribe from Woo Sang’s sister, which is interestingly only one million dollars, not the two million that Seung Ah gave him.

No one is more upset about this than Officer Yoo, and he goes to confront Moo Young. At first, Moo Young shrugs off his accusations. Who could have known what would happen, after all? Yoo Jin Kook even says himself that Moo Young probably didn’t mean this game to go that far. But as the officer gets angrier and angrier at him, Moo Young snaps into defiance mode, declaring that he would have done everything just the same, even knowing the outcome of two deaths. For that, he receives a punch in the face, and I have a feeling that Moo Young’s taken quite a few punches his whole life. Jin Kook tells Jin Kang to stay away from Moo Young because he only cares about playing games with people.

The highlight of the episode for most was probably the kiss. Seo In Guk, who plays Moo Young is known as the “king of kisses,” and this is largely due to the fact that he delivers actual kisses on screen, not the weird motionless kisses so many drama actors do. This wasn’t a super kiss, as Jin Kang (Jung So Min) pushes him away, but it does show that the actors and especially the characters do indeed have romantic chemistry. Will they fall in love and make it to the end of the show only to find out they are siblings?

Officer Yoo probably knows the answer to this, as he now knows who Moo Young is. He’s a kid who went missing many years ago when Officer Yoo shot someone, got his detective team disbanded, and made Jin Kang his pretend little sister. A member of his old team is the traffic officer for the car accident, and Yoo visits him, searching for information. The traffic officer brings up that kid from long ago who came looking for him at the Haesan precinct. Officer Yoo is shocked. He’s had no idea that this happened, and it’s been about 20 years since. He angrily confronts the other old team member, the snide Lee Kyung Cheol, who is his current superior on the detective team. Lee says it happened long ago and doesn’t matter anymore.

On the murder mystery side of things, Eom Cho Rong is on the case, perhaps to avoid thinking how terrible his progress is in dating Jin Kang. He finally figures out that Officer Yoo has been keeping information from him regarding Moo Young. Some of this is due to the fact that Officer Yoo now thinks Tattoo girl did it. Im Yoo Ri does not confess and claims to not remember what happened that night, though we find she was in the murdered girl’s apartment and witnessed her fighting with her now exonerated boyfriend. Officer Yoo has the idea that Moo Young showed her how to go from her house to her friend’s without being observed by CCTVs in the area, and that he even told her the code to get in the apartment (speaking of that, let’s not forget he now knows the code to Officer Yoo and Jin Kang’s house).

Eom Cho Rong follows a lead regarding Arts Brewery beer glasses and learns from Moo Young’s old coworker No Hee Joon, that the murdered girl was a nasty drunk while at the Arts Bar, and that Moo Young took her home. The episode ends with Eom Cho Rong and his detective team going to arrest Moo Young. They catch him as he’s follows a distraught Jin Kang home from his place. She is so sad that he doesn’t show remorse or feelings about the death of Seung Ah. The only person he does care about is Jin Kang, though the reason is still a secret. Is it that she is his sister? Is it fate that’s drawing him, or is it just that he has genuinely fallen for her despite his emotional handicap? Whatever the reason, Eom Cho Rong is clearly wondering what he’s doing hanging around Jin Kang.

Overall, this episode wasn’t as awesome as I thought it would be. I really didn’t expect Seung Ah and her fiancee to die and am not sure what will fill the space for their storyline. I’m also hoping the murder mystery wraps up soon or they get a new interesting case to follow, as I fear it’s dragging on now. Perhaps the murderer is really Im Yoo Ri, and perhaps she will turn herself in so they’ll release Moo Young. Good thing is, there’s definitely going to be an all out war between Officer Yoo and Moo Young, with Jin Kang caught in between. Will she fall for Moo Young’s manipulation? Will she forgive Officer Yoo for whoever he killed back in the day and raising her as his sister? Will she be able to save Moo Young from himself and his stupid games?

Until next time.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Ep. 7 Review

Episode 7 is mostly setup for episode 8. The biggest thing that came to light for me was that Eom Cho Rong (Jin Kang’s boyfriend she’s holding at arm’s length) really does not know Kim Moo Young. Poor guy, I berated him for not recognizing the jerk when he really hasn’t actually met him.

This episode solidified the fact that Jin Kang does indeed have feelings for Moo Young. She uses the woman screaming super power to stop a bunch of thugs from beating him up and stays with him in the hospital. Even so, she’s still in denial of her feelings herself, probably because the pendulum is constantly shifting back and forth on Moo Young being decent (not sure we could ever call him good) or a royal bastard of the first order.

Moo Young follows this second nature, seeking revenge on the Damsel’s fiancee for sending gangsters to beat him up. The only time he appears to be second guessing this plan of action is when Jang Woo Sang (the rich fiancee) threatens Jin Kang’s safety in response to Moo Young’s confrontation at an Arts Brewery event. Moo Young even goes so far as to tell Jin Kang to leave the party, as she’s throwing him off his game.

The show producers and writers aren’t going to give the audience any easy answers regarding Moo Young. He’s quick to manipulate the Damsel’s emotions once again to get back at her fiancee, and risks three lives in this process. He tells Woo Sang that Baek Seung Ah knows he’s trash, that’s she knows it, but will still run to him over Woo Sang. My guess is Moo Young is just the easiest way to escape the prison of her life, and he gives her a foothold to openly defy Woo Sang. Or maybe she just likes pretending to be a bad girl. Moo Young tells him he wouldn’t have bothered with Seung Ah if he saw her by herself. Rich girls are a dime a dozen. What interested him in playing this game was that once he saw Woo Sang, he knew right away how easy it would be to take her away from him, and that was the true temptation. He did it all just because he could, and without much effort. The episode ends with a spectacular car crash involving the three of them, and one has to wonder why Moo Young seems to have a death wish, as he’s generally so entertained with his games of manipulation it seems he wouldn’t want to give them up. Maybe it is just that he can’t escape his stated philosophy of taking “eye for eye and tooth for tooth,” as he tells Officer Yoo.

Speaking of Officer Yoo, not a lot regarding the murder mystery this time, but it appears as if Tattoo girl, Im Yoo Ri, is going to turn herself in for it. She’s a bit angry with Moo Young for not liking her in a romantic way and thinks he sees her the same as the stray cat he’s adopted. This is probably accurate, as Moo Young doesn’t seem to have any genuine feelings for anyone except for Jin Kang.

Officer Yoo and his friend Tak keep doing that will-they-or-won’t-they friends vs. lovers dance. Men and women can’t be BFFs, and they should both be sat down to watch When Harry Met Sally. At some point their friendship will end, either because they will become lovers, or because they won’t become lovers and thus can’t be friends anymore. One of the two, either man or woman, will have romantic feelings and either ruin the friendship or make it something more. It’s as inevitable as the sun rising in the east.

I wanted to note one more thing: This show makes use of a lot of great overhead shots, and I think this is for the following reasons: One, this is a tragic story, so the shots remind us to look at everyone and everything objectively. Don’t get too invested. Two, it’s a signal that the characters in a sense are just following their fate. Three, it’s reflecting the nonemotional state of Moo Young who in his rooftop house is almost a god overlooking his kingdom. So many of the other characters come to him, and he’s happy to receive them if they amuse him. Their hurt feelings are not his concern. Well, only Jin Kang, who throws him off his game. Will he come to resent her for this? We will see.

Book Review: The Decagon House Murders

The Decagon House Murders by Yukito Ayatsuji is a locked room murder mystery in the tradition of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None. Originally published in the 1980’s, it is about a group of university students who are in a mystery club and who go to stay on an island for a week. The appeal of the island is that four people were murdered there previously and the main residence burned to the ground. Rumors circulate that the ghost of the original owner haunts the island.

Strangely enough, I found the parts of the story that happened off-island more interesting than the one-by-one murders happening on the  island. Ayatsuji’s writing in this is purposefully simple, making each character fit their role and nothing more. There is also no speculation on the heart of man, the state of the world, and larger themes that Christie in particular often speculates on in her stories, and there’s little to no romance. Decagon is about the mystery alone. In the off-island scenes, Ayatsuji introduces an amateur detective only incidentally related to the other characters, and he was the main intrigue for me in the story. I thought if I followed his thinking I would solve the mystery. Even so, I didn’t guess who the murder was.

With this book, Ayatsuji reinvigorated the Japanese mystery tradition called honkaku, a tradition in which the focus of the story is the mystery only and in which the characters have a blankness much like characters in a video game. Fellow mystery writer Soji Shimada writes a great introduction explaining this, and it’s well worth the read. The honkaku style is supposed to be a true game for the reader, using fair play rules and clues so that he has a chance at guessing the culprit before the story ends. Again, I wasn’t able to guess, but at some point I do plan to read it again to determine what I missed that I should have picked up on.

It is also possible translation could be an issue here. At times it didn’t seem like the English really matched the story well, and Ayatsuji’s word play is probably a lot more fun in Japanese. Many times I wasn’t sure who was speaking, and also wasn’t sure if that was purposefully confusing. That all being said, once we get the full explanation for the murders, I’m not so sure literary trickery and devices weren’t used. It didn’t seem like something a reader could glean from the information given, but I maybe just didn’t pay enough attention.  There were likely a lot of clues that I just didn’t pick up on.

The best part of The Decagon House Murders is the house on the island and the fact that all of the characters go by their mystery club names, not their actual names. The mystery club names are taken after English mystery writers: Christie, Poe, Ellery, etc. There are also a lot of good discussions not unlike those in the movie Scream in which the characters talk about the tropes and devices in horror stories, only here it’s with mysteries, specifically locked room mysteries. As in And Then There Were None the “locked room,” in this isn’t a room, but the whole island, and the Decagon house in itself is a snare both to the characters and to the reader as we are constantly focusing on it as the locked room.

I plan to read more honkaku mysteries in the future and find this idea of a more literal puzzle story for readers to figure out, a good one. My family and I are really into playing Escape Room these days, and those are also locked room mysteries. I missed having a Poirot or Sherlock or main quirky detective to follow, though.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Episode 6 Review

A lot was going on in this episode, so I’m just going to touch on a few things I noticed or am wondering about.

Officer Yoo finally gets a view of Kim Moo Young’s burn scar that is similar to Yoo Jin Kang’s. Immediately, Officer Yoo rushes to his car to process this and consider that Jin Kang told him Moo Young is also from the same town they are from. Officer Yoo suspects Moo Young is actually a missing child from back whenever the accident happened, and we conclude that Jin Kang and Moo Young were part of the same accident and that perhaps Officer Yoo saved Jin Kang and also tried to save Moo Young, but we really don’t know. Officer Yoo appears to be a good guy, but things aren’t often what they seem.

There is also the discovery that Tattoo girl is also left-handed. Officer Yoo is now like us considering the possibility that Moo Young was at the scene and perhaps helped Im Yoo Ri cover up the fact that she killed her friend. Im Yoo Ri has often been on medication in which she can’t remember things.

Missing child. On the hunt for a missing child in his neighborhood, Officer Yoo hears people talking about someone going to jump from a building. He finds it is Im Yoo Ri who is preparing to jump off the building where Moo Young lives. This is presumably because Moo Young is not home and is not answering her calls, etc. He can’t or won’t give her the attention and love that she wants. Officer Yoo is clearly on the side of good hear as he valiantly tries to save the life of someone who tried to take his sister’s life not too long ago. The missing child is later found and Moo Young witnesses the reunion with the parents, perhaps thinking of his own story in which he was never reunited with his.

Eom Cho Rong. Jin Kang’s would be suitor continue to seem ill-suited for her. Most often he behaves like a bumbling child or a sidekick. Two things stuck out with him in this episode. First, he is in the scene where Im Yoo Ri is going to commit suicide. It is not explained why he is there, if he arrived with the police to help or because he heard Officer Yoo was there. In, I think it was, episode two, Cho Rong comes across Im Yoo Ri at the movie theater with Jin Kang and makes an offhand comment about her tattoo. That he can’t stand it or thinks she is rude, etc. He probably just remembers interviewing her for the murder case, but I keep thinking he has some connection to her we don’t know about yet. The second thing involves Cho Rong’s mom. Mom is super anxious to have him solidify things with Jin Kang. Later on in the episode we find that Mom has been severely burned. It’s mention a few times, and I think will be important in the future. Could Kim Moo Young be involved in this at all? The connection of burns and also that he is jealous of Cho Rong? We will see. Let me also say that Eom Cho Rong appears to be the most unobservant detective ever. He fails to notice Moo Young stalking him and Jin Kang and even doesn’t appear to recognize him when he’s bending down to tie his shoe.

The Damsel and her fiancee. These two are rather one-note characters and don’t seem to be necessary to the story anymore, yet they keep popping up. Officer Yoo tells Moo Young that he appears to be playing a game for his own amusement, just skating close enough to danger to make things exciting. We see Moo Young boldly delivering the fiancee’s requested wedding beer to the front desk of his company well after the wedding has been called off and Moo Young has broken things off with Seung Ah, or the Damsel. Is this all really a game in which the fiancee, Jang Woo Sang, is Moo Young’s real target? Why would anyone purposefully try to antagonize someone so rich and quick to feel insulted? The episode ends with Moo Young getting the crap beat out of him by Jang Woo Sang’s goons.

Moo Young and Jin Kang. Speaking of games that Moo Young has going on. He mentions something striking to Jin Kang (assuming the translation is accurate): Aren’t you so happy we met by chance? She says no as she’s answering no to everything he asks her, refusing to give him the confession of love or affection that he wants. When a person like that asks a question like that, one immediately wonders, but was it just chance how they met? Isn’t it possible that Moo Young, at least, has seen Jin Kang before? He remembers everything. The Arts Brewery is both connected to her friend, the Damsel, and also her work, and it could be that a day or two before the plot of the series started in which Moo Young happened to see Jin Kang and become interested in her.

Furthering this thought, let us consider that Moo Young clearly likes Jin Kang, but doesn’t have or show feelings in the normal way. It is entirely possible that his real goal is to get the Damsel and her world, her mother, her fiancee, as far away from Jin Kang as possible, because it’s becoming evident that whatever Moo Young’s wrong doings, these people are toxic and selfish. The Damsel is drowning herself in drink due to being rejected by Moo Young and has now also become jealous of Jin Kang. With good reason, of course, but Jin Kang has certainly tried to be a good and loyal friend and although she is perhaps unwillingly attracted to Moo Young, she clearly wishes not to be and she is also trying her best to appeal to the best of both their natures.

Jin Kang has told Moo Young that she pities him because he has no heart and doesn’t care for the hearts and feelings of others. This bothers him because he senses her pity is sincere, and he doesn’t get why she should pity him so for this. Jin Kang also calls him “good,” because it seems to her that although he pretends to be a bad boy he always ends up doing the right thing. For example, he comes to pick up a drunken Damsel to clean her up and get her home safely. We have seen that he saved Im Yoo Ri from a previous suicide attempt. He quite obviously protects Jin Kang from the wrath of the Damsel’s mother, pretending it was he alone who brought her home, not the both of them together. Moo Young shrugs the compliment off, saying that some days one does these things even if they are annoying, and some days one doesn’t. Jin Kang says again that that’s being “good,” but as it’s become obvious she does like Moo Young, we, like him, are thinking she not seeing things as they actually are.

Near the end of the episode, the fact that Jin Kang pity’s Moo Young is brought up by him again. This is because Jin Kang is very angry with him for telling the Damsel that he likes Jin Kang. This declaration is of course ruining the friendship she has with the Damsel, but we are seeing more and more that their friendship may really not be that deep. In any case, Moo Young seems to think Jin Kang should be happy he’s telling the truth. He’s being very open about liking Jin Kang and not wanting her to be with Eom Cho Rong. And he’s frustrated that Jin Kang doesn’t get why she’s so angry. It’s not because of the Damsel knowing, it’s because he’s telling the truth and because Jin Kang, despite her better judgement, likes him back. But she stubbornly refuses to acknowledge this fact. Moo Young asks who is more to be pitied, someone without feelings or someone who has feelings but ignores them? He never says it, but we know that he is also silently holding up before her the fact that she knows Eom Cho Rong cares about her, but that romantic feelings on her side are pretty much nonexistent. She is stringing him along just like Moo Young was stringing along the Damsel. Two peas in a pod, but in different ways.

The only other thing I wanted to mention was that Moo Young tells Officer Yoo that Im Yoo Ri can’t lie. This is interesting because we are shown a few times that Moo Young often tells the truth, but in roundabout ways. Both of these things are likely to figure largely in future episodes, as well as the fact that both Yoo Jin Kook and Yoo Jin Kang are the “good” ones, but often conceal or ignore the truth about things.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Ep. 5 Review

The writing on this show makes use a lot of the “catch up” device. The audience is given information on many things ahead of time, but we follow the characters as they make their own discoveries of the same things. However, with the great acting and engrossing story and how everything unfolds keeps the show fresh and interesting.

Showing perhaps how kind they are, pretend brother and sister Yoo Jin Kook and Yoo Jin Kang rush Im Yoo Ri (Tattoo girl) to the hospital when she passes out after trying to kill Jin Kang. Both are baffled as to why Yoo Ri should do such a thing, and at first Officer Yoo assumes he was her original target due to his questioning her about her friend’s death. The audience knows her target was actually Jin Kang as she is jealous of Kim Moo Young’s attentions to her, but it takes a few scenes for most everyone to learn this, even Moo Young.

As for the murder mystery, Kim Moo Young is still Officer Yoo’s prime suspect and he and  junior detective Eom Cho Rong spend a lot of time hunting down CCTV or security camera footage that would show he was at the scene of the crime. They also start to center their investigation around Im Yoo Ri as she and her friend who died were in a picture holding Beer Festival glasses from Arts Brewery. In an earlier episode, Officer Yoo spotted a Beer Festival umbrella someone carried while walking on the street. They smartly gain more access to even more cameras and footage by using the excuse of a stolen scooter case. This case was not far from the apartment where the girl died (I think, the English subtitles for this part weren’t completely finished when I watched it).

As far as Moo Young goes, he’s looking guiltier and guiltier as Officer Yoo confirms he is definitely left handed and Moo Young has the trophy (not a ballet girl like I originally thought. Not sure what it’s supposed to be). He takes the trophy from the cooler and other incriminating items and places them in a flowerpot in his apartment. We are left thinking he’s either guilty and trying to decide what to do with the evidence or is puzzled as to why these items are at his place. Maybe he’s still investigating, too. The third possibility is that he was witness to an accident and helped someone, maybe Im Yoo Ri, cover it up.

Jumping back to the topic of CCTV cameras, security cameras, and black box cameras in cars: If this is modern police work in South Korea, they must have a pretty easy job. Everything everywhere is recorded, especially by cars. Why people have these boxes constantly recording everything from their cars, I don’t know, but it’s kind of creepy. We maybe have this in the US, too, I just haven’t heard a lot about it here. The value is obvious when it comes to an accident or whatnot, but it seems a major invasion of privacy. Anyway, Officer Yoo definitely places Kim Moo Young walking to the scene of the crime, as it’s caught on the black box of a passing car. He’s holding the umbrella. Officer Yoo speculates Moo Young took a specific route to get there because he knew he could avoid security cameras along that route.

We find out a lot more about Im Yoo Ri this episode. She’s more than just a one-note character and we are left wondering exactly how she knows Kim Moo Young, especially because she goes to the same psychologist who perhaps knows him from when he was a child. Moo Young sees a book this psychologist wrote and it includes Yoo Ri’s story. Although he passes the book to Yoo Jin Kang, as it’s her brother’s, we can be pretty confident he’s at least flipped through it and knows the contents. Yoo Ri is so rude and prone to suicidal tendencies because she went through some kind of trauma (likely abuse) at a young age. She was nine the first time she tried to kill herself and has been seeing the psychologist ever since. When Yoo Ri tries to get rid of the evidence she tried to run over Jin Kang, Officer Yoo is at first in an angry hurry to get it back as he decides to arrest her, but upon reading her story in the book holds off on turning in the evidence he has.

Before writing about how the relationship between our leads Kim Moo Young and Yoo Jin Kang, is going, let’s talk about the Damsel. Baek Seung Ah is living in a fantasy. She thinks Moo Young really loves her and that she can give up everything, throw caution to the wind, and run away with him to Greece or Morocco where they will live happily ever after. She persists in this thinking even though Moo Young has stopped returning her calls and texts and he finally just has to tell her that he’s not interested, and of course she deals with that by thinking it’s her fault and that she can somehow fix things. Moo Young appears to be a player and has surely been down this road before, but he still seems a little confused that she doesn’t get that this was just a fling for him.

For being so smart, Moo Young is very out of touch with his emotions–and he appears to have some, although guarded at best. Obviously, being nonemotional helps him manipulate people, but it is possible since he once encountered or was even a patient of the psychologist who keeps popping up, that he has some kind of mental illness due to a childhood trauma–the incident where he and Jin Kang got their scars. Or he’s just a sociopath. Moo Young is so not aware that it takes Yoo Ri to tell him he has a thing for Jin Kang. He seems surprised by this information and tells Jin Kang that he likes her but that he wants to spend more time together to check.

Their budding friendship comes to a halt at this. Jin Kang is a good friend and is angry at Moo Young for wanting to date her while still dating her friend. She tries to get the Damsel to stop and think that she really doesn’t know Moo Young well at all and I can’t help thinking Jin Kang would have been better off taking Moo Young’s hint and just telling the Damsel that he’s a playing, cheating scumbag. Because he is a player and likely a murderer, I’m not too thrilled that Jin Kang is attracted to him, but attraction often just happens and is difficult to end. Still, Jin Kang stays strong, calling Moo Young out on how he’s treated her friend. Moo Young explains dating a pretty girl as a way of “checking” if love might be out there, even though he doesn’t believe in love, much like an atheist will go into a beautiful church just to check if God really does exist. Jin Kang’s response to this is: A person’s heart means nothing to you, right? The expression on Moo Young’s face says it all: No, but why is that a problem?

This smart, nonemotional young man has suddenly stepped into territory out of his depth. She’s upset with him, but he’s doesn’t understand why. Jin Kang walks away from him, refusing his offer to date and saying she feels sorry for him that he doesn’t really care about people. Looking as crestfallen as is possible for him, there’s a hint that perhaps this is the first time Moo Young’s own feelings or heart have really been hurt. Or maybe he’s just ticked he can’t manipulate Jin Kang as easily as other women.

Despite their relationship being on hold, the bigger picture is already at play: Eventually Moo Young is going to bring Jin Kang completely over to his side, either by manipulating her, or by some discoveries yet to be unveiled. Officer Yoo is hotly against Jin Kang having any relationship with Moo Young. Im Yoo Ri and the Damsel are also threatened by this relationship, indicating that at least in their minds the nature of that relationship must surely be romantic.

The saddest part of the episode for me was that the Damsel’s crazy fiancee got Moo Young fired from the Arts brewery, as he just couldn’t stand the sight of the man who’s cuckolded him (okay, the two had only promised to marry, but still). Moo Young’s handsome boss kindly offers to send him to another brewery, the Eagle brewery, at least for awhile. I am sad we may not be seeing the Arts logo and truck as much anymore, because I really started to like them and Moo Young’s character had become connected to them. Oh well. People, even fictional characters, are not the stuff that surrounds them.

Outstanding things going on: The silence. It is used well, and the little music in the show is subtle yet effective. I like the guitar string part (I think it’s guitar) that is often played during the beginning recap or connection from last episode to the new one, and that is also played at the end. It kind of reminds me of the same musical motif used in AMC’s series The Killing, though that, I think, was drums. The other thing is the acting, especially from Seo In Guk. He’s definitely in tune with the series title, The Smile Has Left Your Eyes. It’s creepy how Moo Young’s eyes change when he hears something he doesn’t want to or if people aren’t acting as he wants them to. The scene where he’s trying to figure out from Im Yoo Ri why she tried to kill Jin Kang is great. He flirts with her just enough to get the information he needs, and then his eyes go dead, just as if she’s dead to him after sharing her reasons.

Until next episode. –P. Beldona

Dramafever is Gone

When Dramafever was bought out by Warner, I was a bit uneasy that they were just going to try to make a fast buck off of the Kdrama popularity or purposefully take out competition. Seems like it ended up being the latter. Dramafever is no more, and so I will have to elsewhere to finish watching Suspicious Housekeeper and Tree with Deep Roots. The good thing is Viki is still around, but probably only because it has joined with Kocowa, which is a streaming service from Korea.

The bigger picture is, this is a fight. Big fish like Netflix and Amazon are trying to get a piece of this pie of Kdrama popularity, and Asian entertainment in general. Good thing is, it’s such a big trend that likely more opportunities will open up in the future. It will be interesting to see what happens as Korea, China, and other countries all fight to come up on top now that many Americans specifically, but others around the world also, are turning from watching US entertainment only and branching out to more and more entertainment from other countries.

It already has been fascinating to watch the struggles of countries who want the world audience, but need to keep their base, the citizens of their own country, both audiences of which have very different values, cultures, and expectations. One example of the US dithering on this is Hollywood aligning and in some cases getting bought out by Chinese companies who demand censorship in the form of always showing China in a positive light no matter what. American freedom vs. Chinese RMB. Sadly, it is the RMB that often wins out, which, ironically, is perhaps why so many have started to look away from America to South Korea, Japan, and even China for better stories.


Agatha Christie and Qanon

Agatha Christie is one of my go-to authors. Her mysteries are often second to none and great adventures to boot, as her characters often travel to exotic places. Most of her stories can be read in one sitting, and most are more than mysteries: they give us her insights into human nature as well as quiet, no frills love stories.

That being said, she has a few misses, at least in my opinion. I don’t care for her Harley Quin stories and some of her stories that are political spy thrillers. However The Man in the Brown Suit is my absolute favorite by her, and as I’m going to read that again soon, I’ll be sure to do a review later on. This week I read Passenger to Frankfurt and though I enjoy politics and spies, I found this story tedious and difficult to follow.

When this happens with an author I like, I often try to finish the book anyway and find something to enjoy about it. Strangely enough, the violent, anarchic world revolution happening in the book has similarities to the violence and anarchy happening in our world today. Christie refers to certain people of wealth being behind violent youth movements that think they are going to change the world, but really are only puppets for those with power who want more of it.

This has a lot to do with what the elusive Q or Qanon shares with followers on the 8-Chan boards. If you don’t know about Q, I highly recommend at least brushing up on it, as for good or bad, this Qanon is influencing a lot of people. We are all hoping the Q team is on the side of good and he/they appear to be working in conjunction with President Trump in order to get information out by bypassing the media. Q posts questions, phrases, codes, essentially, and asks anons (the anonymous users of 8-chan) to research people and their connections to power, trafficking, crime, and the like.

Despite the Q phenomenon being painted like a cult, the point of it seems largely to get people to think for themselves, to do their own research, and really to realize how much they are lied to and how much is purposefully kept hidden from them by the media. It is also has been a great boost for Trump and MAGA supporters, especially those who find following politics via legal moves and C-Span rather tedious and boring. Researching death and sex cults will always be more interesting. In recent weeks, some Q followers have gotten frustrated that there’s been no fantastic arrests of all the evildoers yet or that we aren’t fighting a physical war yet, or something. People are bored again, because politics, research, and the like, it’s not glamorous or exciting. It’s tedious, dogged work, and one often has to take the longer route when the shorter would be far more exciting.

In consequence the Q team, too, seems a bit down. No one’s seeing the amazing things that have already happened–the true exchanges of power happening in the USA and the world–and are only focusing on what hasn’t happened yet, and frankly, what may never happen. The “wheels of justice are slow,” Q says, and they understand the followers’ frustration.

So how does this connect with Passenger to Frankfurt and Agatha Christie? Well, the story is essentially about a group of people, spies, trying to stop a violent world movement. It is the same thing, old rich people stirring up the young. The young think they are fighting for good and that their violent overthrowing of everything will eventually bring about some kind of utopia. We have seen this in countless revolutions throughout the ages, but it is only the rich and powerful who win in these movements, for they are safe from the violence and get away with instigating crimes while the young get batoned, tear gassed, and arrested. And the utopia never comes, because it’s all about more power or new power for certain people.

At one point in the story, someone draws a diagram showing how so many things are connected or controlled by the same rich people, the same 13 families or Illuminati of conspiracy yore: finance, armament, art, the drug trade, the sex trade, slavery etc. Q research has shown many that the same groups of people (think George Soros) are pulling the strings behind, well, almost everything. It’s unsettling to find that certain people have so much power. Who do they think they are? That’s the question. Do they think they are gods or what?

Christie envisions one such person as a very old, fat woman who has every indulgence and only surrounds herself with beautiful young people all eager for the revolution. This revolution is connected largely to Hitler of WW2 fame, and its hinted that these people are yet again trying to create a “pure” human race using a supposed descendant of Adolf. Today, where anyone who doesn’t agree with anyone else is labeled as a “Nazi” or the next “Hitler,” placing him on a pedestal as the ultimate evil yet again is, well, tedious. Hitler wasn’t the first to start this kind of thing or try to rule the world, and he wasn’t even the most successful. Yet, Christie uses him, because he’s an easily identifiable evil, or was, to most people in 1970.

I saw this revolution stuff, too, in my college years. I graduated in 2000 and I can tell you my classmates were as much in love with Mao and Che Guevara as students probably are today. No eyes were batted at these people being violent mass murderers; it was enough they were not American, or against America, or against being just boring vanilla or something. That was the thing, then, and probably still is today. The young are taught that being peaceful and having a happy family, that these things are all lies of some kind because of course some families and some people are unhappy, so therefore it’s wrong for anyone else to be happy or normal or something. We see this in the LGBTQ movement, where the normal romantic loves between a man and woman are pushed aside in pursuit of being unique or troubled in some way. Why is youth so tempted by this stuff? It’s first of all a desire to fit in with one’s peers, the exact opposite of what’s professed, and also the wanting to do something special. And it is a desire for a world with no bad outcomes, no bad choices, and no bad consequences. (But it’s a lie, and as a result so many of these young people commit suicide because they know it’s a lie and they’re just waiting for someone to chastise them with the truth and no one does. It’s like seeing a brother hit his sister and the child knows he’s doing wrong, but the parents always say it’s good, what he’s doing is good. Nothing wrong, no wrong choices, and after awhile the child can’t take it anymore because he knows it’s wrong what he’s doing. It’s written on his heart. It’s written on all of our hearts.)

The trouble with the “heaven on earth” idea is that we are all humans who have only lived on earth. We don’t know what heaven is, not really, and if we are marching to another’s drum, we are trying to implement their version of a heaven, not actually Heaven. Human nature also can’t be controlled completely by other humans, and if it can, the loss of freedom would be great. We’ll stab you in the back as much as we’ll love you, and so utopian movements fail as people start to grab power only for themselves or lose faith in the movement.

Near the end of the story, Christie brings up this Benvo project or benevolence project, basically a scientific experiment to make people stop being violent and desire only other people’s good. Normal benevolence is a great thing, this would be a nightmare. By this point in the story, I honestly wasn’t sure if these people were the good guys or the bad guys at this point. They wanted to stop the violent movements by drugging people into being good, no, not being good, making them have no desires but to please others. Ella Enchanted, anyone? It would be the worst kind of slavery! Basically, the conclusion is that people who want to rule the world for whatever reason are ultimately not be trusted. They come to see themselves as gods and other people as ants. Like Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, they think of themselves all as great Napoleons, too smart to be chained by any laws whatsoever. And they will eagerly commit murder or lobotomies for the sake of their future “heaven on earth.”

What does that have to do with Q? Well, we want to believe the Q team is the good guys, and I do hope they are, but the reality is that they may be, too, envisioning a world that can only succeed with careful control over everyone and everything. If the “swamp” is drained, if all corruption stamped out, and all the criminals brought to justice, even then, even then, new people will be waiting at the gates to seize power. The peace and prosperity will only be until the corruption and revolutions start again. Q says to “trust the plan” and says the followers are watching things unfold almost like a movie. It’s mostly good and it’s mostly exciting, but the truth is that it’s not a movie, it’s real life. And the truth is, all the new information people have unearthed can be just as useless as it can be useful. The strides made are largely political moves that bore the young to tears. Talk about FISA and people’s eyes glaze over (as one example).

This is not to dampen the efforts of Q, Trump, or MAGA, but this all is about exchanging the old guard of power into a new guard, hopefully better than the last, but still never quite the “power for the people” that’s always promised. We can have anarchy or we can have rulers, and anarchy only leads to stricter rulers. Peace, prosperity, freedom. These are the goals, and can only be reached for the average person by having a good strong man in power, and good, strong men are rare, rarer still if they don’t get corrupted by being in power.

The real good in the world is found in everyday life, in normalcy, in living in the truth. And so Christie’s book ends with the promise of a wedding, the man has gotten his girl, their naughty little bridesmaid says her prayers and seems back on the straight and narrow, and the world is whole again, for a time. As a Christian I know without God, we are nothing, that a world without Him would be hell. Still, it’s tempting to look to other people, like Trump, as someone who can save us from ourselves, but he’s not a savior, he’s breaking the media’s hold on us, and that’s no small thing. He’s showing us how hollow the promises of our congressmen are, and that’s no small thing. He’s showing us that good has to be fought for, and that’s a big thing, perhaps the biggest thing. We can’t have utopia, but we may be able to live in peace for a time, and this may mean embracing nationalism and discarding the globalism that is only putting the poorest of us in stricter chains.

The world is bad enough already, Q says, but there are those rich and powerful who are only fostering more hurt, manufacturing more war, and they should be relieved of their power for the sake of everyone. The Clinton’s should be in jail, shouldn’t they? It’s best to think of things in those terms, I think: Crimes and punishments for them. It does no good to dream on about utopias, Libertarian or otherwise. There may be no mass arrests or martial law, but why would we want either, really? It’s enough if there’s one significant arrest and we avoid martial law and the good strong man becoming the bad strong man. It’s good enough if we avoid being experimented on and made to love being good or love the state, like in 1984. Even God doesn’t force us to be good, even God doesn’t force us to believe in Him.

Sigh. One tries to be an insightful writer, telling truths no one else seems to get or something, but it’s all like a lecture and tedious and I got sort of bored writing it all out, just as I got bored with whatever dear Agatha was trying to say in her story. The truly profound is elusive. Politics are politics. Power is power. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Passenger to Frankfurt like Qanon, is only remarkable because today we have been so very, very steeped in lies. In a climate where the truth is mostly apparent, i.e. common sense, these kinds of stories and devices wouldn’t be needed. But humans tend to lie and be illogical, so we’ll see these stories pop up time and again to remind us we are being manipulated. We are being manipulated, but aside from knowing the truth, there’s not much the average person can do. That’s the lesson. At most one can share the truth with other people. As a Christian, this makes sense to me, for Christianity is much the same: Here is the way things are. Here is Jesus, the way to salvation. You can believe in Him or not. That’s about it. But that’s everything! Because believing in Jesus gives us the confidence to go out and do good and have that power of positive thinking that Trump was raised on. So in Christ’s name, we can have the grand plans, the grand stories, and also the everyday ones. We can have all the cake and eat it too, but that Heaven will not be on this broken earth.

Ok, there I go again. One tries to say something wise and it just ends up sounding like a lecture. Anyway, Passenger to Frankfurt strangely connects with the Q movement, if only in the sense that it tries to pull back the curtain, so show the people pulling the strings. Things are more interconnected than we’d like to believe. People have a staggering amount of power and wealth and hide it well. These are things to be aware of. Conspiracy theories should be researched, not scoffed at. Great wrongs are often righted in the world behind the scenes, sometimes with spies and crazy plans and people who will forever have to be anonymous. They are not important, but what they are doing is.