It’s a made-for-a-Lifetime-movie plot: Police detective Cha Ji Won (Moon Chae Won from The Good Doctor) is married to a serial killer but doesn’t know it. When she finds out, she loses all faith in men, reaching for her girl power and… No, no, no, that’s not it. That’s not it at all, because this is a Korean drama called Flower of Evil, also starring Li Joon Gi (Lawless Lawyer, Two Weeks) as said serial killer, who is the actual main character. The story is largely his and all about him learning what love truly is.
That being said, this is a half-review, as I haven’t finished the series yet. Flower of Evil is suspenseful and action packed, as many of Li’s dramas are. Moon’s character is no slouch, either, and her detective keeps up with the boys well while still maintaining her femininity. The music is intense and really helps carry the story and often reminds me of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack on occasion. Spoilers ahead.
For years, Baek Hee Sung (Li) has lived as someone else. His real name is Oh Hyun Soo, the son of a long-dead serial killer, who is wanted for murdering one person and possibly assisting his father in killing his victims. We know from the beginning that Hee Sung and Hyun Soo are the same person, and because Hee Sung seems like a great husband and father, we hope that this murder and killing stuff is all a mistake.
The writers dance the tightrope well in this story, giving a little hope here, and taking it away there. Baek Hee Sung also has Antisocial Personality Disorder. Basically, he doesn’t have feelings like normal people and manipulates people without thinking. To bring hope and humor into the story, we get to see Hee Sung persistently learning how to mirror human emotions from YouTube videos. It’s sweet, yet kind of scary at the same time. We also learn that he hallucinates, seeing his dead father staring at him with blacked out eyes and carrying a dog chain and collar, something he used on his victims.
I was sure this wasn’t going to end up in the Lifetime arena when reporter Kim Moo Jin (Seo Hyun Woo, The Good Wife) comes on the scene. Their tense first encounter turns into a pretty cool bromance that carries much of the first quarter of the show, especially after it becomes obvious that whatever psychological problems Hee Sung has, it’s nothing compared to others who would perhaps consider themselves “better” people. This is pushed to the forefront throughout the show as we start to learn more and more about what happened in Hee Sung’s village in the past.
Flower of Evil isn’t all action and mystery solving, it is also a relationship drama, plumbing the depths and weirdnesses of family relationships. Cha Ji Won and Baek Hee Sung might end up being one of my favorite Kdrama couples ever. Their trust and loyalty in each other is challenged again and again, yet both rise to the occasion, the perfect match for each other. It is Cha who tells him and gets him to understand by her actions, that love isn’t a mere emotion, a feeling, but something you do. DC Talk said it best back in the say: Love Is a Verb. It’s an interesting question: Can you love someone without really feeling that you do? The answer is: of course. But it’s just not how we often think about love.
As much as I’m able to guess about this show, though, it keeps throwing me for a loop. I don’t know how it’s going to end. I suspect happily, but in episode 11, it’s revealed we are dealing not with one messed up family, but two, and the second family might actually turn out to be worse. The show eerily echoes Hundred Million Stars from the Sky starring Seo In Guk and also produced by SH Studio. At least one of the same sets is used on this show, as are the themes of trust, loyalty, and family relationships. The 4th wall is nudged a bit by the introduction of Do Hae Soo (Jang Hee Jin, Babel), Hee Sung/Hyun Soo’s sister, who’s trying to live quietly as a makeup artist for gory movies. How much her serial killer father really affected her or her brother, for that matter, is still to be revealed. Hee Sung doesn’t remember anything from before he was ten, but Hae Soo, being older, surely has some answers.
Can you really live with a person and not know they are killing people? Another interesting question. I was thinking about that driving home today: how many times we surely see something strange but never think to pull the thread. Well, who wants to imagine the worst about their fellow man, much less someone they live with or a family member? Sometimes people don’t know, sometimes they choose not to, and sometimes they suspect or know without realizing that they know. It’s only much later that we often realize we did indeed know all along, but it was as if we were seeing things through a veil. If only monsters revealed themselves outright, how much easier it would be to fight them. There’s that action again. Love is a verb. Good fights and defeats evil, that’s what makes it good.
Well, I’m off to watch another riveting episode. After the last big twist, I’m really not sure what’s going to happen next, and I’m inwardly kicking myself for not figuring it out earlier. This messed up other family started as seemingly shoe-horned in, yet they are not, they are totally not. And they all think that what they are doing is fine, because of course they do. All I can say is that Hee Sung better hold onto Cha Ji Won for dear life. She is his anchor and he hers.