As evident from the title, this post is chock-a-block with ending spoilers.
Rebirth (a.k.a. Resurrection or Revenge, 2005) is a drama where omniscience (defined here as knowing plot developments ahead of time, thanks or no thanks to spoilers) is simply going to ruin the viewing experience. I don’t want to spoil this drama for anyone; I respect and love it too much. So may I gently discourage you from reading this post if you are planning to watch the drama but have not gotten to it yet?
Also, Rebirth inspires the most profound discourse and I’ve been blown away by the depth and sheer brilliance of many people’s thoughts and reviews. (Just take a look at this and this to see what I mean. See what I mean?) I’m embarrassed to add my pebble-sized “contribution” to the mountain of Rebirth-related discussion out there, but since this blog is all about the prattling…
The sweetest words in the drama come from Park Hee-soo, one of my favorite Rebirth characters. He says: “I’m thankful he’s alive.”
His words save me from the vow I had made seconds earlier: “If Gang-hyuk dies from the stabbing, I’m NOT going to watch another kdrama. EVER.”
But back to the scene before the stabbing. Gang-hyuk tells Eun-ha that he’s returning to the office because he forgot his precious dice. He says, “I’ve never done that before,” meaning he’s always had them with him. The moment he says those words, a heavy sense of foreboding sweeps over me, the same feelings I had before Chief Kyung was stabbed. Something bad is about to happen to Gang-hyuk. We then see Hee-soo trailing Gang-hyuk to the park and in a moment of crazed anger, stabbing him once in the abdomen.
To me, introducing the character of Park Hee-soo into the plot is plain genius. Joining the story only in the later episodes, his appears at first to be a lowly and unimportant role, yet he will be instrumental in destroying Congressman Lee and Chairman Jang.
But using Hee-soo for his revenge is also the worst thing that Gang-hyuk does, a despicable act for which he will have to pay the price. Here is a man, abandoned and parentless, who grew up in an orphanage and later joined the dregs of society. Gang-hyuk takes this unfortunate man and deliberately weaves him into his intricate game of deceit. He knows Hee-soo is Congressman Lee’s son. Is he not aware of the moral consequences of using the son to destroy the father?
He does. That’s why he drags himself to a tree that he can lean on for strength, and then carefully and painfully wipes the blood from the knife. That symbolic act of removing the evidence of the crime is his way of seeking forgiveness for what he has done to Hee-soo. He will protect Hee-soo. It is the least he can do.
That scene in the park is one of the many reasons why I think Rebirth is such a masterpiece. “Your responsibility is to find the truth. It is God who will punish.” But Gang-hyuk ignores those words from Chief Kyung. He has come too far to stop. He wants both to find the truth AND to punish.
And so a father dies, jumping off a bridge. Is the suicide because of what Choi Dong-chan is doing to him, spilling the beans and all? No, Congressman Lee gives up the fight because of that final meeting with Hee-soo. This son who was disowned and abandoned like old rags because of what the father did to the mother years before. The son now doing the same, now disowning the father. Everything is coming full circle.
But even though he is wrong to use Hee-soo, we know why Gang-hyuk does what he does. We have come to love this tortured man who is so bent on revenge because of all the losses life has inflicted on him. At the age of seven, he loses everything: parents, brother, home, identity, even speech. So traumatized is he by the sight of his father burning to death before him, his brain compensates by erasing everything in his memories up to that point. He has neither name nor birthdate. The man who takes him in so reluctantly has to create a new identity for him, naming him Ha-eun which is the reverse of his daughter’s name Eun-ha. Twenty years later, Ha-eun discovers his lost identity and learns that his real name is Gang-hyuk and that he has a twin brother Shin-hyuk. But on the day of their meeting, the brother is killed. On that day, Gang-hyuk loses his brother a second time.
It is too much suffering for one man to bear. Thus, if Gang-hyuk had died from Hee-soo’s knife, that would be an end so wrong and so unjustified I really would stop watching kdramas.
I LOVE THE ENDING.