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.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Ep. 13 Review

Revelations are coming fast now as the plot picks up speed; however, a lot of this episode was filling in gaps that we maybe already know or guess, but the characters on the show do not. It’s an engaging episode despite mostly setup for Episode 14.

Ever amused by Officer Yoo, Moo Young tells him that being a murderer doesn’t suit him, recalling an earlier conversation they had about murderers. No hard feelings about the stabbing, ok? Moo Young is an odd duck, that’s for sure.

Episode 13 is primarily about Moo Young’s quest to learn about his past. He is going on this journey alone, though Jin Kang gives him moral support. Moo Young travels to the mountain in Haesan where his dad supposedly committed suicide and gets bombarded with a slew of memories that lead him to his old house on the mountain. It’s a house made of stone with an angel on top and a cross inside. His family was perhaps Christian. Everything appears to be left as it was after the accident/shooting he remembers. New things he now remembers are his kid brother by the name of Yoon and the fact that he did actually see it was Officer Yoo who shot his dad.

Moo Young is amused by Officer Yoo no longer.

As for Officer Yoo, he talks briefly on the phone with the psychiatrist and we realize that the doctor is just taking his word for it that Moo Young’s dad committed suicide. So looks like no collusion between the two. Officer Yoo meets Deputy Tak for a drink as usual and he confirms for her that Moo Young is the child he was searching for so long ago. Officer Yoo also says that he shot Moo Young’s dad because he was scared. He recalls Moo Young saying that he doesn’t like things for free, that he likes living by “eye for eye and tooth for tooth.” Officer Yoo agrees, nothing in life is free, and he tells Tak that if Moo Young wants eye for eye and tooth for tooth that’s ok with him. Officer Yoo fully expects retaliation for what he did.

I had to point this out because it’s a Korean film reference I actually get because I saw the movie. There’s a shot of Kim Moo Young waiting for Jin Kang at a nearby school. He’s hanging upside down on the bars and staring across the track and field area to the school. This is a very direct reference to the movie Our Town that I quick reviewed not too long ago. It’s an extremely disturbing film about how trauma begets trauma with psycho killers reenacting their pasts over and over again.  I actually do not recommend watching it as although it may offer some truth, it offers no hope or goodness, unlike this show that has hope in how the story is told and in the characters of Tak, Eom Cho Rong, and especially Jin Kang. Is Moo Young like the psycho killers in Our Town? Is his past something he is unable to escape and must live over and over again, maybe even kill because of over and over again?

Moo Young lies to Jin Kang about lying. This news about what her pretend brother did is something he can’t share with her. But he has to be sure, so while the pretend siblings are at work, Moo Young breaks into their house (he did memorize the code!) and finds the lost child ad that Officer Yoo keeps in his room. Officer Yoo returns early due to a pot being left on the stove. Although he misses Moo Young, he encounters him on the street and from the daggers in his eyes and the fact that someone turned off the stove and put the pot in the sink, Officer Yoo knows the young man was in their house. He finds his beloved missing child ad missing. One thing Moo Young has confirmed is that the missing child is himself.

Perhaps returning to his monster status roots, Moo Young visits CEO Jang who is dead gone on him and is going to be in serious trouble. She makes him wait, pretending she has any leverage here, but there’s no question that Moo Young is calling the shots just like he does with every woman. Moo Young asks the CEO to get him a gun and also agrees to do anything for her. Since he’s just playing her, it’s unlikely that he really means that promise, but then he has an odd tendency for honesty, so we’ll see.

Moo Young gets the gun and bullets and CEO Jang tells him she wants him, has fallen for him, etc. He pretty much scoffs and rolls his eyes–this is definitely a man who really doesn’t like being chased, preferring to do the chasing–and flatly disagrees that they are at all alike, an assertion CEO Jang keeps bringing up oh so hopefully. She’s lonely. It’s kind of sad. She does reveal to him, however, that it was Officer Yoo looking for him as a child, not his father like he thought. Since Moo Young has thought his dad was a police officer this whole time, this news confuses him. He asks CEO Jang if she’ll look more into his past for him and especially find out the whereabouts of his mother and younger brother. Perhaps thinking of her dead brother, CEO Jang says that younger brothers are no use in having and why would Moo Young want to look for him.  “And you think we’re alike?” Moo Young scoffs. Yeah, he holds the cards. Every single one.

The end is a standard cliffhanger. After establishing that Jin Kang will be pulling an all-nighter at work, Moo Young decides it’s a good night to shoot Officer Yoo and the episode ends with him threatening to do just that.

A few other notable things:

Jin Kang and her coworkers are just a vehicle for the show to advertise food and instant coffee. The ad in this episode was particularly egregious and really detracts from such a fine show that has a production quality to rival any film.

Upon seeing a robot that Moo Young brought from his childhood home, Jin Kang doesn’t suddenly have memories revealing she, too, was there. So, either she really wasn’t there and their similar burns come from two separate accidents, or (more likely) she was too young or honestly doesn’t remember anything about the accident or her childhood. Moo Young seems pretty sure this Yoon he now remembers–actually he eventually says Kang Yoon–is his younger brother, but that’s super unlikely considering the show this one is based on. Will they ultimately turn out to be siblings? If so, will Moo Young try to keep the truth from Jin Kang at any cost? Will he and Officer Yoo even make an agreement to do just that? Does the officer even know they are siblings (if they are)? He hasn’t mentioned it, but that doesn’t mean anything.

Lastly, a shout out to all of the awesome plaid shirts and coats that mostly Moo Young wears. It just makes me think, again, of the great state of Minnesota. And it’s sad we seem to be saying goodby to the breweries as Moo Young has been fired/laid off from Eagle brewery.

Ep. 14 review up for next time.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Ep. 12 Review

I have sooo much to say about this episode and will do my best to keep everything concise, but there’s so much at play to go through, especially subtext.

First off, considering Officer Yoo: If Moo Young and Jin Kang are actually siblings, does he know this and how does he know this? Why does he always fall to the ground when being overcome with–I hesitate to say emotion–anxiety, maybe? Guilt, maybe? This is not a man in control, least of all of his body.

Second: I am noticing a lot of crosswalks, the three leads walking the same crosswalks. This is symbolic of their sealed fates, perhaps. They are all walking the same path. Also, I have to wonder, since Jin Kang is caught in the middle, will she be the one to die at the end? Somebody’s going to die at the end of this, just not sure who yet.

Moo Young gets stabbed by dead eyes Officer Yoo and flees to the psychiatrist’s (he prescribes meds, so I’m going to go with that over psychologist). By some instinct, Moo Young knows this doctor can be trusted.

The day after the stabbing, Officer Yoo goes to turn himself in. Now this is interesting because he’d rather do time or be fired for stabbing Moo Young than have the truth come out about his past. Either way he looks like a murderer, so this is making the past look shadowy indeed. Yoo’s fellow officers laugh him off. It is predictably only deputy Tak and Eom Cho Rong that consider this may be a serious issue. Tak is in “protect my man” mode, so she tells Cho Rong not to look into things further, but she herself does. Props for her actually being upset at Officer Yoo this time. The only evidence of the stabbing is a video and Tak says it could also be interpreted as Moo Young stumbling while drunk. Since Moo Young didn’t go to a hospital, he’s unlikely to bring charges and Officer Yoo’s not going to get into any trouble at all.

Jin Kang is frantic when Moo Young never comes home and spends a lot of time worried and searching for him. She even calls Tak to ask if the police have any news of him, but Tak won’t tell her anything. Eventually, Moo Young is well enough to call Jin Kang and reassure her he’s at least still alive. Probably to protect her, he wants her to think he’s fine and just at a friend’s house. Of course Jin Kang isn’t buying this, and he knows that, too, but wants to ease her worries, at least momentarily.

At the psychiatrist’s house/office, the doctor asks Moo Young how he knows Im Yoo Ri (Tattoo girl). Moo Young answers, “Through you, I guess,” and then changes the subject. Hmm. He also tells the doctor that he and Officer Yoo are frenemies, not friends, but not enemies either. As with everything to do with Officer Yoo, Moo Young just seems amused by him, even after getting stabbed. This reinforces the idea that if Moo Young is playing some sort of long game, it’s with Officer Yoo, no one else.

Jin Kang is really starting to get scared now, especially when she finds out what her pretend older brother did. Something is really off with Officer Yoo. Despite that he seems to have been trying to live a good life, since meeting Moo Young his actions seem to shout out that perhaps he has that murderer God complex that Moo Young joked about a few episodes ago. Officer Yoo tells Jin Kang that he stabbed Moo Young for her. Ridiculous. He did it for himself hoping Moo Young dies and no one ever finds out the truth. Moo Young’s no saint, but Jin Kang seems to have genuine compassion for him, unlike everyone else. She pleads with Officer Yoo to no avail. This is a man she’s well rid of by this point. Their relationship is toxic and likely beyond repair unless Officer Yoo becomes willing to face what he did and has done.

Speaking of that: Tak. Instead of turning him in or doing something a normal person would do, Tak asks Officer Yoo to meet her for a drink. She is upset that he stabbed Moo Young, but is all in in helping him cover it up. Psychologically, this is horrible for Officer Yoo, who is having such a tough time because guilt is eating him alive. It is now obvious why he appeared to have some sort of demotion in his job at the beginning of the show: Not being brought to justice is literally driving him crazy.

Tak is totally helping in this process, but probably thinks she’s loving him. What’s that saying? With friends like these who needs enemies, right? Hey, Moo Young is that kid you were looking for 25 years ago? That’s ok, he doesn’t remember a thing! Not a thing! No worries, oppa! You don’t have to stab him again! I am starting to see why Jin Kook has never made a move on Tak. The kind of love she has for him is downright unhealthy for both of them. Tak should be encouraging him to confess everything, to face his punishment, and to go on and be a better person, just as he encouraged Im Yoo Ri to do.

We get a little clarity as to why Officer Yoo’s detective team won’t turn him in or let him resign. The lead detective, and his former Haesan teammate yells at him and tells him he’s been doing this for years: trying to turn himself in for things he didn’t do. Have to wonder if these crimes are imagined or not. Everything is in question at this point. Maybe Yoo’s a serial criminal or something but somehow always gets away with things. At any rate, his colleague is livid. Yoo resigning would only be one more scandal that the team just doesn’t need. “This is your s—, you deal with it. Don’t involve the team by resigning.” Ah, politics.

Meanwhile, back at the psychiatrist’s place Moo Young is remembering more and more and lo and behold he remembers this same doctor spoke to him at the Haesang University Hospital when he was being treated there as a child. The doctor finally gives in and tells him, yes, I saw you there. The doc was a first year intern, knew that Moo Young had lost his memory, and let him leave the hospital. A kid. A child all on his own with nowhere to do and who has no memories of his past? What kind of life did this really bad doctor expect he’d be walking into that would be better than staying safe at the hospital? For me, this took me out of the story completely. No matter the kid’s past, I don’t know any normal adult that would take such a risk. The doc thought it was Moo Young’s last chance to be completely free of his past. Okay, sure. A psych doctor who thinks one can be completely free of their past. Sure, sure. Moo Young is looking less and less like the crazy person here. How is this doctor at all in charge of caring for children?

Even more unbelievably, the doctor says he came across Moo Young three years later on a random day fishing at the river. Moo Young was by himself and still didn’t remember anything. At this point Moo Young became his first patient and why the doctor ended up going into pediatric psychiatry/psychology in the first place. This is all very strange and we clearly don’t have all of the information. The doc keeps mentioning the fact that he lost his memory, but this is not that unusual for someone who’s gone through a trauma, is it? And he doesn’t mention Moo Young’s photographic memory at all. Also strange.

“Wow, I guess my past was just that horrible,” Moo Young says sarcastically. He’s rightly ticked at finding all of this out. Anything, anything, child prostitution, starving on the street, anything could have happened to him when the doctor let him leave. Moo Young also now wants to know everything, and it’s his right to know. The doctor rightly feels guilty for what he did. It is his fault Moo Young has been living so recklessly since then. The kid never had any roots to build on.

Maybe the reason Moo Young plays games with people is that he’s continually trying to sound out a foundation under his feet, a lay of the land. Perhaps this is a way to compensate for not being able to tune in with people’s emotions. He again tests Jin Kang as to her commitment to him. Jin Kang has told her brother (out of fear for Moo Young’s safety) that she will no longer see Moo Young. At this point, after being stabbed, Moo Young’s gotta wonder if he should cut his losses while he can. His life is on the line and he’s rightly uneasy as to where Jin Kang’s loyalties lie. It may be safer for both of them to stop seeing each other.

Excited to find Moo Young’s runaway cat in the neighborhood, Jin Kang and Moo Young cross paths. Pretending to talk to the cat, Moo Young says it’s ok, the cat can stay or go as it pleases. Either way is fine. This scene is so great because although Moo Young doesn’t have normal emotions, it still really highlights the male vs. female struggle. Men don’t want to be ogres and keep their women captive, so they try to be nice. It’s ok, honey, either way it’s your decision. I will be happy with whatever you choose. Sounds great, right? Nope. It’s not at all what women want to hear (probably what men don’t want to hear, either). Props to Jin Kang both for calling him out on this ridiculous statement and simultaneously reassuring him that whatever she told crazy bro, she’s all in. Women want men to fight for them. They absolutely don’t want to hear that it doesn’t matter if they choose to walk away from the relationship. “Where would I go? And why would I go? I would only come back,” Jin Kang tells him. “And you said you would stop me, you would stop me from leaving.” He told her he’d fight for her and she’s asking him to keep his word without any fear because she won’t leave him either.

And they are killing me with this couple and they better not turn out to be siblings, because Moo Young responds in the exact way required: Tender but passionate kisses that tell Jin Kang he’s all in, too. The genius of the kisses are all Seo In Guk. No offense to Jung So Min, but he is the one in the driver’s seat here, but he’s playing a man taming a woman, so there you go. This man is so good at what he does, though, because he really thinks about everything in the story and how it’s all going to play out. Seo has that in common with a Bollywood fave of mine, Shahrukh Khan. Both men really love analyzing and talking about stories, and it shows in both their interviews and in their work. Even before filming The Smile Has Left Your Eyes, people were saying that Seo In Guk already had pages of questions. Everyone should be like that with their work. Everyone. Passion. It’s what’s required. Faint heart never won fair lady, and all that.

Jin Kang tells Moo Young she lied to her brother about seeing him. Moo Young unexpectedly says, “even if I tell you I hate you, don’t leave. Not even then.” Jin Kang doesn’t think this is funny (but Moo Young doesn’t intend it to be) and makes him promise he will never say such a thing. He does promise, but it’s obvious that he’s smart enough to foresee there may be a time coming when he has to say this for her safety. They jokingly decide to be secret lovers. Of course, this will never work.

This scene was so fun to pick apart, again, because of the male vs. female dynamics at play. Jin Kang seems to actually think they are going to continue on in secrecy, and Moo Young’s expression asks, “you’re not really that naive, are you?” Maybe she’s just wishful thinking. At any rate, Moo Young is not naive about this in the slightest. He knows this thing with Officer Yoo and his past has to be faced, but Moo Young may choose to fight this battle by himself.

“What if my past is so bad, it’s better not knowing?” He asks Jin Kang. Very carefully, he gauges her response: How much am I going to have to protect you from the truth? This idea clearly troubles her. This woman is not into this fight, she’s not into getting hurt by this awful past. She tells him it’s better not to know, then. With a bit of manly relief, Moo Young says not to worry about it. He will fight this battle–it’s his battle to fight. And not really an option to walk away from it, either, with his memories rapidly coming back.

Still Jin Kang strongly supports him in this, saying he’s free to follow his heart about what he should know and do. It would not be right of her to stop him. She has him promise that he’s not going to disappear on her again. Jin Kang is in essence saying that although she can’t fight this battle with him or for him, she still wants to be with him and support him in it. All of this scene is a lot of subtext and just a fantastic job by the writer, director, and actors.

[At some point a shadowy meeting takes place between the psychiatrist and Officer Yoo. Finally, they both realize that they were both at the university hospital when Moo Young was there. Whatever the doctor learns from Officer Yoo later changes how helpful he is to Moo Young.]

The next day Moo Young launches into his investigation. He is now the de facto hero of the story, and it will be interesting to see how this plays out with his seemingly sociopathic/psychotic tendencies. He visits the doctor to pump him for more information, but the doctor’s tune has changed. He’s sticking to the official story now, and is trying to plant a false memory in Moo Young’s head. They had previously talked about Moo Young’s dream or memory of someone shooting his father with a gun. No, the doctor tells him, your father committed suicide just like the official report says. Argh. Curses on you, Officer Yoo! I am really, really curious to know why the doctor has sided with Yoo in this. Really curious. Moo Young knows this is B.S. and tells the doctor he’s not going to stop trying to find out the truth. But now Moo Young is obligated to look into this official story and see if it crumbles on close inspection. We may be in for a wild ride the next couple of episodes as Moo Young tries to uncover the truth.

We do at least learn Moo Young’s real name, so that’s something: Kang Seon Ho. Kang as in Jin Kang?!?! Yikes.

The episode ends with Officer Yoo, whose smile has definitely left his eyes and is never coming back, and Moo Young, ever amused by him, meeting at a crosswalk. Not changing his spots for a moment, Moo Young’s expression is the same as it always is for the officer: I am so looking forward to messing with your head and torturing you until the end of time or until the truth comes out. Whichever comes first. 

Yeah, this review ended up being a mini-novel, but, wow, story-wise it was awesome. Just so much going on and the fascinating ways that characters (and people) deal with situations. Until next time.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Ep. 11 Review

Episode 11 of The Smile Has Left Your Eyes (Hundred Million Stars from the Sky) could also be called, “The Turn.” Who is good and who is bad clearly gets turned on its head, which is, of course, what keeps us watching. That, and the improbably cute love story.

I’m going to go through this episode by relationships, because that’s the core of what’s going on and how some are behaving well and some not.

Kim Moo Young and Yoo Jin Kang.  The writers are selling this love story hard, hopefully not to meanly pull the rug out from under both us and the characters at the end, but in the meantime it’s adorable to watch. See in Gun and Jung So Min have great chemistry onscreen and should consider future projects together. Both are phenomenal actors. Whether biologically related or not, Moo Young and Jin Kang have a bond that seems like it’s going to stick and Moo Young is really on his best behavior. No shenanigans from him this episode as he lets Jin Kang tame and domesticate him. They do fight briefly over the fact that Officer Yoo does not accept them as a couple, but it’s a standard lover’s quarrel and Moo Young continues to be honest with Jin Kang.

Deputy Tak and Officer Yoo. These too already have a relationship where unsaid secrets reign. Tak is in love with him, and he’s maybe in love with her, too, but they avoid speaking about it at all costs. With this as the state of their friendship, we maybe shouldn’t be so surprised that Tak has been eagerly helping Officer Yoo keep the truth  that she’s not his biological sister from Jin Kang.

Tak appears to know more than that, but she did not know that Officer Yoo murdered someone. No one did. Up until this point in the story I had thought Tak to be a good soul, a bit stupid for loving a man who won’t try and win her or may not even love her back, but that’s common enough and more to be pitied than anything else. This kind of love can be unhealthy, however, and this episode brings that to light: Tak isn’t horrified at finding Officer Yoo is a murderer. No, she, in fact, has empathy for him: Officer Yoo, how on earth did you live 25 years with all of this guilt? Tak is also firmly on Officer Yoo’s side in any disagreement with Jin Kang and like Officer Yoo seems unable or unwilling to see Jin Kang as an adult with her own agency. I have a feeling that Eom Cho Rong may be the one to pull her out of this. He genuinely seems to care about Tak as a friend, taking the time to ask about her, if only briefly. Cho Rong has also become a bit disillusioned by Officer Yoo as Officer Yoo lied and held back information from him. They are still friendly, but Cho Rong is a bit more guarded now, more grown up. He’s starting to watch events more like a detective or officer, I think.

Officer Yoo and Jin Kang. This relationship is where things get really sticky. When Tak asks Yoo Kook how he got through 25 years of guilt at being a murderer, he answers, smilingly: Jin Kang, that kiddo, Jin Kang. In some stories perhaps this would be a sweet admission; in this one, no. It’s suddenly crystal clear that Officer Yoo has dumped love and care into Jin Kang largely to assuage his guilt. Whether or not the guilt is directly connected to her, we still don’t know, but we do learn she is a replacement for the burned child (Kim Moo Young) that he lost at the Haesan hospital so many years ago. I am not sure at this time if Officer Yoo’s intentions towards the missing child were good. He probably thinks they were, but he may have just as likely been preparing to pump the kid for information to make sure Moo Young really didn’t remember who shot his dad. Officer Yoo is going to be in real trouble when Moo Young fully remembers what happened.

Officer Yoo is livid to find out that Jin Kang lied to him and went with Moo Young to Haesan and dived into a relationship with him. With what we know about Moo Young, it’s understandable for him to be upset, especially as Jin Kook is a father figure for Jin Kang and wants to protect her. But his level of outrage shows that what he told Jin Kang, that she is free to make her own choices, was indeed merely a tactic. Jin Kang is only free to make the choices Officer Yoo wants for her. Add to that the fact that both know they aren’t really biologically related, but can’t talk about this and bring it into the open because Jin Kook especially must keep up with the charade. What an unhealthy relationship! Both need to read Boundaries by Cloud and Townsend.

No, seriously. Officer Yoo has placed all relief of his guilt on not only the truth not coming to light, but also on Jin Kang’s delicate shoulders. She is his saving grace, something he felt he’s done right in his life, only he won’t allow her to grow up and make her own choices and her own mistakes. Jin Kang yells at him that growing up she always felt like baggage to him, when in reality she was probably just feeling the weight of Officer Yoo’s problems upon her. If that’s not emotional and psychological harm to a child, I don’t know what is. In this light, their relationship is downright creepy. In this episode Moo Young is clearly the one loving her and fighting for her best interests.

Partway through the episode Officer Yoo de facto shuts down all of his emotions and common sense. This is after he visits Tattoo girl, Im Yoo Ri, in prison. He’s fishing for information on if Jin Kang actually knows the truth she’s not his sister. In the course of their conversation, Yoo Ri tells him that no woman who falls for Kim Moo Young will ever be free of him. Perhaps if Moo Young rejects them, but probably not even then. All hope that Jin Kang will make the choice he wants is essentially swept away for Officer Yoo, and it’s written all over his face. His worry isn’t truly for Jin Kang, but for himself, although he himself may not understand just how afraid he is of the truth. Tak actually gets angry with him at one point, asking why it would be so bad for Jin Kang to at least know that he took her in and raised her. At this suggestion, Officer Yoo is apoplectic, and Tak tells him so. Perhaps she will wake up from supporting him eventually.

Tak and Jin Kang. Let’s briefly go back to Tak for a minute. Although she is an older sister figure to Jin Kang, her alliance is all with Officer Yoo. Tak interferes in the supposed siblings’ argument, trying to get Jin Kang to cave in and also trying to get Jin Kang to disclose more information. Are these the actions of a good woman, a woman who just found out her best friend has been hiding the fact that he’s a murderer (we still don’t know if this was in cold blood or not) for the last 25 years?

Tak also knows this past death (she now knows it was a murder) has something to do with Jin Kang’s past, but has been happy keeping up with the charade that Officer Yoo’s put in place. She, too, has comfortably been treating Jin Kang like a child for far too long, to the point that she chastises Moo Young for arguing with her brother. This is wrong. What is happening isn’t Jin Kang’s fault. True, Moo Young seems not boyfriend material due to what happened with her friend and his connection with Im Yoo Ri, however, this is not the main concern for either Tak or Officer Yoo. Their main concern is that Jin Kang never find out the truth of her past. With that in mind, it’s really not fair to Jin Kang to say she can’t be honest with Jin Kook and tell him it’s been hard growing up feeling like baggage. She has good reason to feel that way. As a person she’s allowed her own feelings that may not agree with her brother’s or Tak’s. Jin Kang also may know the standard reasons Officer Yoo doesn’t care for Moo Young, but she doesn’t know the real reason. In any case, if they can’t allow the girl her own feelings, she may be better off with someone who does.

Officer Yoo’s perspective on Moo Young is now being called into question because he’s so afraid of anyone learning the truth about the past. Is Moo Young a monster to him mostly because Moo Young might be the spark that sets the line of explosives surrounding his carefully constructed lies on fire? Moo Young has also definitely been fishing for information and I think once he finds out Officer Yoo killed his dad he will be more than happy to dissolve any illusions for Jin Kang about her “good” Oppa, or older brother.

The Psychologist and Officer Yoo.  We haven’t seen a lot of the psychologist from TV at the beginning of the show, but he’s moving into prominence as he has much to do with the past in Haesang. Yang Kyung Mo appears to be a good doctor, but then we remember that Im Yoo Ri does horrible things on her medication prescribed by him, and perhaps we wonder. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, Yang has been trying to get her off the medication. In this episode, Yang meets with Officer Yoo when both discover they visit prison to see Im Yoo Ri. Officer Yoo finds out that Yang also treated Moo Young. Yang knows Moo Young is the same boy primarily because of his eyes (they are unique and probably what triggered Officer Yoo when he first saw Moo Young) and the look in them, the look of a child who has lost all his memories. I’m not sure what the odds are that two patients a psychologist treated would become fast friends, but as he hasn’t seen Moo Young for a number of years, I’d say slim to none. Did Moo Young and Im Yoo Ri meet by chance? Given the intelligence of Moo Young, does he meet anyone by chance? In any case, we learn that Dr. Yang feels he made the wrong choice with Moo Young, that it’s his fault Moo Young isn’t living well.

Both the doctor and Officer Yoo are clearly holding back information from each other. Both appear to know the truth of Moo Young’s past, but maybe don’t know the other knows it as well. I have to wonder if Officer Yoo will find that the doctor, too, threatening his constructed lies at some point.

Kim Moo Young and Officer Young.  Intelligence shows in strange ways. Moo Young obviously has a great, probably photographic memory, but his real skill is in knowing people. He tries to get on Officer Yoo’s good side, to make amends for the sake of Jin Kang, but Officer Yoo is not having any of it, and Moo Young says he won’t try to impress him, then. Moo Young tells Jin Kang the same thing: He and Officer Yoo are not going to be friends or reconcile. Moo Young’s ok with rejection and isn’t going to push things. This is what they have their quarrel about and though they quickly make up, the nonemotional truth is that Moo Young is right. Some things you can’t fix, some relationships can’t be changed until the other person is willing. Moo Young is rightly not going to try if Officer Yoo isn’t willing. We saw this same trait in Moo Young the night he asked Jin Kang several times if she cared for him and she obstinately said no. Moo Young let her live with her lie, knowing perhaps that she’d figure out for herself how much she was denying her feelings. And he was right.

Perhaps its the same with Officer Yoo. Perhaps Moo Young is hoping that when Officer Yoo sees that he is also not going to give way and will continue to date Jin Kang, Yoo’s feelings toward Moo Young will soften. But Officer Yoo has built too hard and too high of a wall of lies that he can’t see crumble. At the end of the episode, as Moo Young is just walking home after buying a wine opener, he sees Officer Yoo across the street. Officer Yoo looks like a zombie with dead eyes, by the way, yet Moo Young doesn’t seem to notice this. No, that young man is looking forward to teasing the officer once again, but what he gets is a quick stab to the gut. So afraid of the truth, Officer Yoo has allowed himself to once again commit murder. This is not a good man. These are the actions of a psycho.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Ep. 10 Review

In this episode the murder mystery appears mostly resolved, though the police department is still investigating Kim Moo Young. As they should. His actions are highly suspicious, especially as we’ve seen how good he is at manipulating women. Im Yoo Ri might think the deed rests solely on her, but Moo Young definitely helped her do it with little regard for what Yoo Ri’s life would be like after committing murder.

Realizing he’s not going to get anywhere by shouting at Jin Kang, Officer Yoo gives the non-apology apology and tells her she’s an adult, can make her own choices regarding her life and Kim Moo Young, and that he will respect that. This is a tactic. Officer Yoo is hoping she’ll make the right choice. Officer Yoo both underestimates the allure of Moo Young and of course has no idea they are all likely headed for tragedy no matter what he does.

As for the love story: We get a lot of cuteness as Moo Young and Jin Kang try to date without being obvious to everyone. Since Moo Young is objectionable as a romantic partner to anyone who is using half a brain, it’s understandable that Jin Kang lies to her brother even though he agreed to respect her choices. Like her boss said, she’s knows she’s going the wrong way, but it’s too far to stop now. Moo Young is on good behavior, taking her to their old hometown of Haesan to visit the Catholic orphanage where he grew up.

This too cute by half couple even has their own verbal exchange. “I’m going to keep hating you.” –Jin Kang.  “Good luck with that.” –Moo Young. And then they smile.

For this autumn leaf decorated getaway, Moo Young ditches his mandatory police interrogation. Police seem not only to be rather inept in S. Korea, but have next to no power as well (if the former is true, maybe the latter isn’t such a bad thing), and so have no choice but to wait for Moo Young to come back to town. Officer Yoo is also out of town, going on the trip he and Jin Kang take every year to the temple in Haesan. Jin Kang doesn’t know why they go there, but we learn that this is where her parents are buried.

Really, I want to like the love story, I do. It’s just that Moo Young is a psycho and Jin Kang is kidding herself if she thinks she not jumping into the exact same fantasy world her friend resided in briefly before returning home as ashes in an urn. Moo Young is very good looking and charming, but that doesn’t explain why the “good” Jin Kang is diving headfirst into a relationship with him. They are playing that she’s going to teach him how to be a good person with normal empathy and emotions. This girl is in for some serious heartbreak, but she’s been warned plenty of times, so whatever happens how is on her.

Episode 10 ends with a sex scene, love scene, whatever you want to call it. It is both cute yet creepy as they are giggling together at first like little kids…like siblings? Their initial kiss was rather passionate, so it’s clear that the writers want the kid connection to be made clear at this time. Maybe they’re just childhood friends, but we do have a mystery “sibling” to contend with. The happiest thing about their relationship, and also perhaps a big tell to being related, is that they are completely relaxed around each other. They can just be themselves.

Moo Young keeps having the same dream about his childhood. He’s running in from playing with his sibling and a man shoots his father. He also hears Jin Kang calling his name. She comforts him when he has a nightmare and he shows her a childhood drawing he made of his family–his father, mother, and sibling.  The translation on viki just says “sibling,” so I’m assuming what he’s saying in Korean is the same, not indicating if it’s a sister or brother, and he doesn’t remember much about this sibling. This dream is what instigates the lovers heading to the orphanage to find some answers.

At the orphanage, while Jin Kang seems emotionally moved and thrilled by the kids singing, Moo Young literally stands off to the side, clearly only there for the sake of Jin Kang. He tells one of the nuns who raised him that he’s trying to look good to her. The nun seems ecstatic to see him, so maybe he didn’t cause much trouble as a kid there. He asks her what she thinks a good person is, and the nun answers it’s someone who has a lot of love. Moo Young responds that in that case he’s in trouble. The nun jokingly agrees. From her, Moo Young learns that an officer had come looking for a child with a burn on their arm. Supposedly this child was someone else and was found, but he nun is clearly hiding something.

On their trip, we learn that Jin Kang knows Officer Yoo is not her real brother. She’s grateful that he took in and raised a stranger. Moo Young is suspicious because Officer Yoo used to be an officer in Haesan when he and Jin Kang were both children, yet Officer Yoo lied to him about knowing any policemen in Haesan. Add that to the fact that Moo Young believes his father to have been a police officer. He sometimes seems to believe his father could be still alive, but it’s not clear if that’s just wishful thinking or if he actually considers that a possibility.

At the temple, Officer Yoo has come for what is a yearly pilgrimage of penance. Jin Kang calls Deputy Tak to join him, and show she’s shows up and they start their usual banter. For at least the second time, Officer Yoo jokes about her being pretty and Tak becomes very short in her manner. One would think such a great detective would pick up on the clues to what is going on behind her anger, but people are dumb and often miss the signs that they most need to see. Or maybe he does get that she likes him, but he thinks he’s not good enough for her. He finally confesses to Tak, that he is actually a murderer, that he killed a man and pretended the man fell off a cliff. Like Raskolnikov in Crime and Punishment, Officer Yoo has been tormented by guilt ever since. Tak is shocked.

The new more overt villain in the show is new CEO Jang Se Ran. Much like her deceased brother, the “fiancee,” she has trouble taking no for an answer. Hauling Moo Young in for martinis, she wants to know why he turned down her great offer of running his own bar.   He honestly explains that he’s going to be learning how to be good from Jin Kang instead. CEO Jang laughs and says “that’s so not you.” Moo Young answers that because it doesn’t fit him, he’s going to give it a try.

CEO Jang says they are the same kind of people, two peas in a pod. It’s “too late for them to become human beings.” She says she is bored and always chasing after the next shiny thing, finding it to be meaningless in the end.  Still, the chase passes the time for her.  Moo Young is now the newest, shiniest thing she can see. She tells Moo Young he will come to her eventually. At this, Moo Young says good-bye, but we are left to wonder if they really are the same and if Moo Young’s newest shiny thing is Jin Kang. He also in his words likes to “mess” with Officer Yoo. Dating Jin Kang is also the perfect way to mess with Officer Yoo.

I don’t want to be too hard on Moo Young, as it’s not his fault he was traumatized as a child and likely became emotionally impaired due to it. However, psychopaths or whatever name we call them, despite in some ways deserving of our pity, are extremely dangerous, and giving them too much benefit of the doubt is like giving the devil a foothold. Jin Kang is genuinely sorry that he doesn’t care for the feelings of others, and  Moo Young’s using that skillfully against her: Teach me. I want to be a good person. Really. I want to see what I’m missing. Sure he does. Right until the next shiny thing comes along, likely in the form of revenge against Officer Yoo for killing his father.

Am I too cynical? Jin Kang could use some cynicism right now. It might save not only her life, but other lives as well. And what kind of good person sleeps with her best friend’s boyfriend after he broke her heart and caused her death? Jin Kang is making so many bad choices with this, I don’t know where to begin. Are the two peas in a pod Moo Young and CEO Jang, or Moo Young and Jin Kang? We’ll see what happens as Jin Kang becomes further torn between lover and fake brother. Or real brother and fake brother? Really, really hope we don’t have to go there.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes: Ep. 9 Review

Finally, in this series, they appear to be wrapping up the murder mystery. Most of episode 9 is spent on it, which is great, because it’s been sort of dragging on, and isn’t such an integral part of the overall plot that it needs to be stretched out to the end or anything (unless this isn’t really the end of it, and they do decide to reveal something more about it the last few eps of the show).

The beginning starts where last episode left off, with Eom Cho Rong in super detective mode, realizing Officer Yoo has been keeping evidence about Kim Moo Young’s possible guilt and is out with his team to arrest him. Cho Rong is surprised to catch Moo Young following his girlfriend, Yoo Jin Kang, and only becomes more defeated upon discovering that she is one of the people Moo Young calls and texts the most. We see a very assertive Cho Rong as he calls Moo Young out on this and asks him what his plans with Jin Kang are. Does he want her to be questioned in a murder investigation? Moo Young didn’t forsee this possibility, and subsequently decides not to call her later, so that her number won’t be recorded while he is in jail.

Officer Yoo, on the other hand, has finally gotten a solid confession out of Tattoo girl Im Yoo Ri. Yoo Ri was at the scene of the crime at the right time and though she was on medication and doesn’t remember what she did, she is the likeliest killer as it comes to light that the murdered girl was blackmailing her for a long time. Officer Yoo and his previous team member Lee Kyung Cheol but heads, as Lee thinks that Moo Young is the culprit. Officer Yoo again talks to Moo Young, asking him if he’s just playing a game again, but once again, Moo Young doesn’t give him any serious answers.

As far as the larger plot goes, Kim Moo Young is starting to remember the trauma that happened in his childhood, and also is subconsciously connecting Jin Kang to it. Officer Yoo knows the truth, but he’s no longer feeling supportive of Moo Young in any way, because although he finds the young man isn’t the murder, he’s possibly something far worse.  Officer Yoo calls him a devil.

Through their investigation, Officer Yoo and Cho Rong’s team find that Kim Moo Young did indeed meet the murdered girl before she was killed. She was acting the angry drunk at the Arts bar, and Moo Young took her home. They also find that Im Yoo Ri called him the night of the murder because she found herself in the girl’s apartment, but didn’t remember how she got there or why she was there. Instead of coming right over, Moo Young walks in the rain where the car black box catches him with the Arts umbrella, and then goes to a convenience store for almost half an hour, sitting in a spot where he has a clear few of the fated upper story apartment. He claims to actually have heard her fall.

Sensing the darker truth, Officer Yoo calls Moo Young to come to the same convenience store and he tells Moo Young to his face that he is a devil for what must have been going on in his head. Officer Yoo says Moo Young memorized the apartment code and also the route to avoid all cameras, and told both to Im Yoo Ri, knowing she was desperate to get out of being blackmailed. We do actually visit Moo Young’s mind briefly, and Officer Yoo’s idea is the right one. Moo Young found out about the blackmail and basically helped Im Yoo Ri set up the murdered girl, inviting her to the bar where she would drink too much and he, playing the nice guy, would take her home. We see her trying to sleep with Moo Young, but he’s disgusted by how she’s preying on Yoo Ri. He always calls Yoo Ri “pretty” and this seems to be his main reason for having anything to do with her. Perhaps his motive in all of this is to help her, but making it possible for her to commit and nearly get away with murder isn’t what most good people would consider “helping.” It also ends with Yoo Ri being sent to prison for, if not life, a long, long time.

This is why Officer Yoo calls him a devil, and gets extremely upset when he finds out that Yoo Jin Kang has been spending quite a lot of time with Moo Young. He wants to force her to stay away from him, shouting at her all of the reasons Moo Young is bad, especially considering what happened to her friend, the Damsel. Jin Kang asks him, “so you think everyone can change, but not him?” Her pretend brother says, no, Moo Young can’t change because he doesn’t have normal feelings. He is a psychopath, a devil, and a monster, due to his emotional impairment. Moo Young doesn’t know what being good means.

In her heart, Jin Kang knows that Moo Young is risky business, but she is inexplicably drawn to him. She’s overly concerned over his arrest, though really it shouldn’t come as so much of a surprise, and she finally tells Eom Cho Rong that she’s sorry, but their relationship isn’t working. Cho Rong says it’s ok if she doesn’t date him, but please don’t turn to Moo Young. Anybody but him, as he’s bad news.

Jin Kang’s boss gives a defining speech about bad boys like Moo Young as the working trio goes out for a drink. Jin Kang says, “poor, good-looking, complicated men are the worst.” Her boss agrees, and even says, “listen to me on this because I have such a man at home.” She says, “Does a person go in that direction because she doesn’t know she shouldn’t go there? No, it’s that as you’re going, you realize you’ve gone too far to turn back.” You also may get one more chance to turn and, essentially, be saved, and if you run away at that point you will be saved. This thought preys heavily on Jin Kang’s mind, but we already know she’s reached the point of no return, so despite all of the continual warnings, she finds herself again at Moo Young’s rooftop home.

Jin Kang is crying. She knows she shouldn’t be there, she knows that Moo Young is bad and doesn’t know how to be good. Perhaps out of options to have her as his, Moo Young puts forth his last card: “Teach me,” he says, in a desperate tone of voice and pulling out all of the stops as tears appear to spring into his eyes. A bad boy wants to be reformed by a good woman? Oy vey, there’s so many woman that fall for that, and he’s broken through all of Jin Kang’s defenses at this point, plus it’s they have a fated attraction that is impossible to overcome. That will likely be aptly explained if they are indeed siblings. This has happened before in real life, brother and sister meet and fall in love, all the while not knowing they are related. They are devastated when they find out later. Is their attraction merely the familiarity of family genes? Are they genuinely in romantic love? I don’t know, but it’s very tragic.

One player is still left over from the Damsel and CEO storyline, Jang Woo Sang’s sister, Jang Se Ran, who is the new CEO of the company and who made some sort of deal with Moo Young after the accident. A million dollars for his silence. Se Ran is intrigued by Moo Young: he amuses her, and like so many women on this show, she’s probably attracted to him as well. She bails him out of jail and offers to set him up as manager of a new bar she plans to open. Normally, this would be a pretty good deal for Moo Young, but Jin Kang tells him not to take the position and to stay away from that family, as they are toxic. If only she took her own advice. Sigh. Moo Young wants Jin Kang more than he wants the job at this point, so he agrees to turn it down without any hesitation.

The Smile Has Left Your Eyes presents us all of these storylines, yet it is not a cynical story. It is full of hope, laughter, and happiness at the same time. The truth is, people don’t often sense when things are going to end in tragedy. Officer Yoo is perhaps the exception, but both Jin Kang and Moo Young seem to think they will somehow beat the odds. Perhaps this is a ray of hope they built in their minds from the long ago trauma of their childhood? Or is it just the normal hope that humanity in general possesses? We’ll see what happens.

Nanowrimo is here

Happy reading, everyone!

It’s November and NaNoWriMo or National Novel Writing Month! I am participating this year, as I have a story that needs to get a draft out as soon as possible. If you want to be a writing buddy, I am under Pixie Beldona. The nanowrimo site appears to be down at the moment, so there must be a ton of writers planning to participate, which is awesome.

As I want to get a good start on the new story, it may be a couple extra days before getting out my reviews for episodes 9 and 10 of The Smile Has Left Your Eyes. The pace of the series is picking up as Yoo Jin Kang finds herself, despite her abhorrence, falling for the psychopath Kim Moo Young. She seems to believe that perhaps Moo Young can turn a corner and be a better person, but I don’t see that happening at all, and so we’re in for a roller coaster ride that will likely end in tragedy.

On the reading side, I got about halfway through Caleb Carr’s lauded The Alienist, and gave up as it was far too wordy with so much unnecessary detail. Some writers are writers and some are storytellers. Carr is not a storyteller, from what I can tell, and even managed to make the seedy side of NYC in the 1890s kind of, well, boring. He’s probably a very good historian, but this novel is likely hit more due to the fact it was recently made into the TV series, and the subject matter, which is a trendy subject among the virtue signaling set, than for his writing or storytelling. For a better series about a psychologist detective, try A Death in Vienna by Frank Tallis. The fourth book was a bit much for me, but the first three books, I thought the mysteries excellent and the setting great. Warning, your mouth may water from his descriptions of the food.