Debating Devil

Devil (a.k.a. Lucifer or its Korean title, Mawang, 2007).

I love the title. It’s so in-your-face, instantly conjuring up something that’s dark and evil. Yet it is also cryptic, because what does it mean? Is it referring to a character? Or a mastermind behind the characters? Who is the devil in Devil?

But before we ponder that weighty question, let’s get a few trifles out of the way.

First, isn’t life funny? I fled from his first drama after 30 minutes because I couldn’t stand his wooden acting. So what if you’re a prince? The tree you’re standing under has more life than you! I didn’t know his name then and didn’t bother to find out. Now that same actor is one of the main reasons why I love Devil. His acting here mesmerized me so much I became even more catatonic than his character in Goong. Uncanny how he can command the appearance of one solitary tear whenever it is most needed. Take a bow, Joo Ji-hoon. You were fantastic in Devil.

Second, Shin Mina is the female lead, and she’s the one with the psychic powers (as well as drawing skills I would kill for), but she is eclipsed here by the two male leads. If you told me two years ago that Joo Ji-hoon would one day out-perform Shin Mina in a drama, I would fall off my chair howling. (I’ll have the humble pie for breakfast, thank you.) But even if her role is less demanding, she’s her usual sweet and assured self. No underacting or overacting at all.

Third, Uhm Tae-woong is adorable (especially when he’s being shy or flustered with Seo Hae-in, Shin Mina’s character) and has the cutest lopsided smile. But you already know that.

Fourth, this drama is highly addictive, so cancel all appointments and hot dates because you won’t be able to tear yourself away from the screen. Don’t recoil in shock when you look at your reflection in the mirror because you’ll have eye bags the size of tea bags. But it’ll be all worth it. Why? Because 2007 was a year when kdrama addicts everywhere slipped on their own drool salivating over the sheer quality of the year’s offerings. And Devil was one of the best in that year.

Okay, now for more serious (and SPOILERY) musings.

This is one of those dramas that will divide its viewers. It pits two men against each other in a bitter struggle for revenge, truth and justice. As you watch, you will root for one and despise the other. Even when you watch a pivotal scene multiple times, your perception of that scene — of what really transpired in a scrap yard years ago — will depend on which of the two male lead characters you are rooting for and believe.

The first time I watched Devil I believed a murder took place in that scrap yard. Because my sympathies were with the lawyer character, I hurt for him and I processed the drama through his eyes. Then I watched Devil a second time, even a third (because that is how much I love this drama), and I was astonished that my perception had changed. I now believed the young man who died in that yard died because of an accident. No one killed him, and thus to pin the blame on the detective character and to plot revenge on him was simply the workings of a twisted evil mind.

How is it that I can watch the same scene — the most important flashback in the drama — many times and come away with a different interpretation each time? That is the marvel of Devil’s brilliant script, birthed by the same Kim Ji-woo who wrote Korea’s most perfect revenge drama, Rebirth. That is the wonder of her complex characterization, giving us two lead characters who are every shade of gray.

Kang Oh-soo

In Episode 1 we learn what drives Kang Oh-soo (Uhm Tae-woong). The world that he inhabits is divided very simply into two types of people: bad guys and those who catch them.

As a detective, Oh-soo’s mission is to catch the bad guys. Simple as that. It’s a tunnel vision of the world that he makes no apologies for. The abrasive and cocky way in which he goes about his work, catching crooks like Ssangkal, shows that he clearly puts himself on the side of the good guys.

What makes bad guys end up on the wrong side of the law? That bit does not seem to matter to him; he is just full of disdain for them. According to Oh-soo’s team leader, no one nabs more criminals than Oh-soo. He is truly a star detective.

When did that divide (good vs. bad guys) begin to crumble? At the crime reenactment scene with Jo Dong-sub. Like he did many times before, Oh-soo acted as the victim. But this time, something falls apart within him, as if a crack has opened up in the ceiling of a darkened room and the new light reveals previously hidden shadows.

As Jo Dong-sub reenacts Lawyer Kwon’s death, Oh-soo remembers how he had stabbed his classmate twelve years ago. That event and its ensuing guilt had been pushed into his subconscious mind all these years. He had poured his heart into his work as a keeper of the law. But now everything comes back to haunt him. With Yoon Dae-shik’s death, the good vs. bad divide crumbles completely and Oh-soo realizes the awful truth: he is himself a bad guy. He is the bad guy who killed Jung Tae-hoon and now he is the bad guy indirectly responsible for Dae-shik’s death.

Realizing what a hypocrite he has been, he submits his resignation. “I’m a bad guy. I don’t have the right to be a detective… I forgot about that, that I’m worthless, that I’m a bad guy, I forgot about it.” But the team leader rejects his resignation and instead gives him a tongue-lashing: “How bad of a person you were, how shameful you were, don’t forget it. And in order to not forget, keep living.”

As events escalate, Oh-soo makes a new vow: he will catch the mastermind even if it means following him to hell. So now the tables are turned. The bad guy is going to catch the bad guy. I find the tunnel analogy very interesting in this new regard because Hae-in tells Oh-soo that to overcome his feelings of guilt and worthlessness, he has to go into the tunnel. He has to confront his demons, so to speak.

Oh Seung-ha

But who is in that tunnel? The mastermind. The one manipulating everything and having the last laugh at Oh-soo’s expense. And without realizing the irony of it all (because she doesn’t know the truth yet), Hae-in tells Oh Seung-ha (Joo Ji-hoon) that he has to come out of the tunnel. But she doesn’t know that that tunnel (of despair, hatred and revenge) is where Seung-ha has lived, figuratively speaking, for the last twelve years.

As I watch Devil, I keep asking myself this question: Why don’t I dislike Seung-ha? He is clearly evil and despicable the way he causes the deaths of one person after another. I am especially uncomfortable with how he uses Sora and her mother to achieve his goals. He tells little Sora, “I will help you find your mom.” But he does the opposite, separating a child from her mother.

Yet instead of judging him, I side with Seung-ha from the beginning. Blame that particularly warm smile that Seung-ha gave Hae-in in their first scene together. Or blame a character flaw (mine) for making me all gooey-eyed in front of a villain who’s lonely and tormented. I must have a weakness for tall and lanky characters who seem cold-hearted on the outside but are nursing deep wounds inside. (Case in point: Kang Dong-won in Magic.) Starting from Episode 14, when Seung-ha realizes that someone very dear to him now knows the truth about him, I essentially cry every episode for him. Or how about this foreshadowing that hints at Seung-ha’s divided character? In Episode 1’s theft-that-wasn’t scene in the library, Hae-in says, “People who like fairy tales aren’t bad.” Then later, in Seung-ha’s first scene as he walks into the prison, the prison warden tells him, “My daughter loves the fairy tale you got her.” See? Seung-ha likes fairy tales and therefore he can’t be really bad!

Perhaps it’s also because I see a Seung-ha who wants to break free of that hell which is the tunnel but can’t. For someone whose apartment is often in semi-darkness (and who is supposedly the devil in the drama), he is constantly looking at the sky. His favorite song is Over the Rainbow… where skies are blue.

[MAJOR ENDING SPOILERS BELOW]

THE ENDING

The opening scene in Episode 1 shows us young Hae-in cycling with her friends. They look so happy and carefree. Rewatching that scene after I finished Devil the first time, I thought of Kang Oh-soo and Oh Seung-ha and how both had lost their hopes and innocence at 17 and 16 years respectively. The future should be so bright for them, yet that fateful day turned it into one dark tunnel.

But let’s talk about the ending.

“Like you said before, it doesn’t matter if I killed Tae-hoon on purpose or not. What matters is that I didn’t do anything to tell the truth. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

I love the final scene between Oh-soo and Seung-ha. It’s my favorite scene in the entire drama and even though it makes me cry every single time I watch it, I can’t stop replaying it. I’ve almost memorized the words. Oh-soo’s apology made me, as a viewer, forgive him finally. The compassion in his eyes as he looked at Seung-ha just broke my heart. If not for a school brawl gone horribly wrong, these two might have been close. Seung-ha would address Oh-soo as “hyung” just like how he called Yeong-chul. How differently life would have turned out.

Was Oh-soo’s apology that one thing that Seung-ha sought all those years? I’ve thought long and hard about Seung-ha’s exact motive for the string of murders. What did he want? A tooth for a tooth and an eye for an eye? To make Oh-soo suffer? To destroy all that was precious to Oh-soo? What did he really want?

But first let’s consider what caused Tae-hoon’s mom to die. This is important because I believe her pain and passing pushed her younger son over the edge and transformed him into the Seung-ha that he would become.

Yes, she was drunk so she got hit by the truck as she was trying to cross the road. But her drinking was because Oh-soo’s trial ended in his favor. He was pronounced innocent because he acted in self-defense. Tae-hoon allegedly instigated the whole brawl because he had the knife with him. He taunted Oh-soo and made him see red. In the ensuing struggle, the boys fell and Tae-hoon got stabbed. It was the victim’s fault. End of story. So now not only had she lost the son she loved more than the world, she had to sit in court and hear his name and character being maligned. In her grief and anger, she drank until she got drunk and then she herself lost her life.

Yes, Oh-soo was only 17 at that time. So I can understand if he didn’t have the guts to reveal the truth that it was he who had taken the knife out of Tae-hoon’s pocket, pointed it menacingly at him, and then rushed toward Tae-hoon to stab him. That’s the big difference between how Lawyer Kwon died (during his skirmish with Jo Dong-sub) and how Tae-hoon died. Tae-hoon was stabbed by Oh-soo (although I accept that Oh-soo didn’t mean to kill him).

Let’s assume Oh-soo really, really believed it was an accident. It doesn’t negate the fact that he rushed at Tae-hoon with the knife (unless he’s completely blocked off that fact in his mind). He never acknowledged that he was also to blame. He never told the complete truth, not in court and not in the next 12 years. He went on with his life and the boy he killed became just another closed file in the criminal annals. Listen to what he said to the ‘reformed’ thugs at the billiard room: “You know I hate boys with knives. It’s very dangerous. You might even kill someone. Someone innocent.” Words uttered with nary a tinge of guilt or self-reproach. The irony of it all.

I don’t believe that Oh-soo went out of his way to be a zealous cop so that he could use that as a way of atoning for his past sins. I take him at his word when he said he had completely forgotten what happened 12 years ago. Why? Because Oh-soo never acts. He’s always an open book. What you see is what you get. That’s the huge difference between him and Seung-ha. Look at how he treated thugs like Ssangkal or a murder suspect like Jo Dong-sub. Look at how he treated his own pal Sun-ki who’s been in and out of jail. He clearly had a disdain for people on the wrong side of the law. There wasn’t any obvious dualism of good and evil in him until Seung-ha came along.

Thus I don’t see Oh-soo as a man struggling between being good or bad. He simply pushed his mistakes out of his mind and they weren’t awakened until the first tarot card came. His redemption, so to speak, started only then. And who was responsible for his “redemption”? Oh Seung-ha. Oh-soo started to change after the first murder, Lawyer Kwon’s. And because I knew he wasn’t faking his zeal as a cop, that made his gradual transformation all that much credible and believable. As his past began to come back to him, he began to accept responsibility for the tragic chain of events orchestrated by Seung-ha. He was the cause of it all.

But although he knew all the events were tied to his past 12 years ago, he still did not come out to set things right. He kept insisting it was an accident. Until he realized Seung-ha was Tae-sung, he never (as far as I can recall) expressed sorrow for the deaths of Tae-hoon’s mom and brother. He was so caught up in trying to nail the mastermind.

Whatever anguish Oh-soo felt was more selfish than repentant. “Woe is me because I’m the cause of my friends’ deaths.” Just self-beating and more self-beating. Always looking inward. Always that outrage at Seung-ha for orchestrating everything. Why did he bring the pistol to the scrap yard if not to kill Seung-ha? But along the way or when he reached the yard, something happened inside him and he changed his mind. Face to face with his nemesis, he finally uttered the words that he should have said so long ago: “I didn’t do anything to tell the truth. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

I believe Seung-ha knew that this was their final confrontation. When he gave his most prized possession, his mom’s ring, to Hae-in, he clearly was behaving like a man making final preparations for his own death. That’s why when he got knifed outside his car, he was at first stunned and then bemused (note the slight smile). He got his wish but the perpetrator was a person he least expected. He, who had planned everything down to its minutest detail, had not foreseen this particular enemy.

What about the aftermath of their deaths? What if the police thought the two men had killed each other? Oh-soo’s death was an accident, but would the police finger Seung-ha as the killer? How ironical and unjust if that were to happen. Would Hae-in be able to piece together their final moments? Would Yeong-chul finally do the right thing and clear Tae-sung’s name? After all, Yeong-chul was the start of it all. It was his knife that killed Tae-sung. He too was guilty of concealing the truth. Was he the drama’s “devil” then? But Yeong-chul brought the knife to school because he wanted to hurt Oh-soo. And why? Because Oh-soo had bullied and harassed him. So back to Oh-soo again. His fault again. But who made him that way? Why was he behaving like a bully? Because of his dad. And the dad was the one who forced him to hide the truth, bought Yeong-chul’s silence, and treated Tae-sung like scum. So was the dad the “devil” then?

What do you think? Who was the devil in Devil?

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25 thoughts on “Debating Devil

  1. I watched ‘Devil’ for the first time last night. I was floored by Joo Ji Hoon’s acting and his commandeering appearance on screen. I was drawn to his character. I couldn’t understand why either. Is it because I felt for the lonesome, dark and in a quiet way, charming lawyer? It is too bad the ending is such; but anything but that ending would not have done justice to the title and plot of the story.

    Now to the question – who is the devil? I have to say Seung-Ha. He sold his soul in order to take revenge and in his mind, seek justice. He understands he is not a good person (Ep. 2 or 3) but has ventured on a road of no return, a self-destructive path….too late to get out of the tunnel.

  2. I think everyone has something evil inside, but Seung-ha is the Lucifer. He makes others have to show their dark side. He plans the murders, but that people will never become murderers if they are totally clean. Oh-soo, Young-cheol, Oh-soo’s dad, Oh-soo’s brother, Oh-soo’s friends… maybe is the devil, too.

    About Joo Ji-hoon, I accept that he makes me surprised. But that is just because his bad performance in Goong. He is much better than himself in past, that doesn’t mean he’s a good actor now. But… ok ok, I forget that Devil is just his second drama. He’s not really good yet, but ‘promising’. And he seems pretty smart in chosing projects.

    And about ‘my beloved one’ (guess who ? ^^), he’s freaking awesome (as always !). No need to say more. Just… awesome!

    thunide, I can see your love for Devil through this looong post. I have lots of thoughts, but it’s hard for me to write. You’re really a good writer.

  3. Hi yvhsien

    I was floored by Joo Ji-hoon, too. I still get chills remembering his acting in the final episode. Prior to Devil I had only watched him for all of 30 minutes in ep 1 of Goong (that was the max I could stand of the drama, initially) and his acting was awful. I also adore Uhm Tae-woong to bits because of Rebirth. Yet funnily JJH was the one I was rooting for, not UTW. He just seemed so lonely and needy!

    BTW, I liked JJH so much in Devil I did eventually finish Goong. Will blog about it another day. ^^

  4. Hi Non

    Haha, was this a “looong” post? My first draft was much longer, but I lopped off about 1300 words as I was editing it. I didn’t want to be too wordy and scare off the few regular readers of the blog! ^^

    You have “lots of thoughts” about Devil? Ah, then you MUST share! I love to discuss this drama. It doesn’t have as much symbolism as Rebirth, but in a way it has a more complex plot because it has more (in terms of number, not degree) complex characters. The way the dots connected, the way the “devil” plotted his moves and brought everyone on center stage for his grand play… What a feat, a testament to the awesome script. Yet, my finicky mind also thought the uncanny way in which all the dots connected was a weakness in the writing and the main reason why I think Rebirth is the superior drama. What I mean is… the coincidences did sometimes feel too contrived. Nevertheless I LOVE this drama and will recommend it unreservedly!

  5. Well, this is my first time reading your blog, but I love it! (: Ahaha I can totally tell that you love this drama (like me). It had low ratings, but then again, I was pretty aware it wasn’t going to be a “mainstream” kind of thing.

    Ahh… I’m considering watching this drama for a second time just so I can get it more. (:

    On another note, Joo Ji Hoon and Uhm Tae Woong were SO good! Wow is all I can say. I think it was partly because of JJH’s acting that I was rooting for Oh Seung-Ha, though I liked Oh-Soo as well. Shin Min-Ah was good, but like you said, the other two leads overshadow her.

    I remember when this drama came out. I unleashed a series of long ramblings about it ): My poor friends!

    Anyway, good job reviewing the drama (: I’ll look forward to your other posts.

  6. Hi Gloria!

    Thanks for the encouraging comments.

    You’re right, I really love this drama, and love the cast as well. (And thus this latest news about Joo Ji-hoon makes me very sad… He was so good in Devil and I was looking forward to his continued growth as an actor. *sigh*)

    Ah, you “unleashed a series of long ramblings” about Devil? Re-unleash them here, please! 🙂

    Thanks for stopping by thundie’s prattle. *muah*

  7. great prattle thundie kekeke
    WHY am I doing this to myself?! I was having a SEVERE withdrawal symptoms and been depressed for like a week after I finished “Mawang” and cried buckets for days, and finally the pain started to fade away a bit, but then I read your post and I’m back to where I started!

    lol my sister thinks I’m crazy whenever she sees me listening to the drama OST and then out of nowhere I start crying!! I kept bugging here to watch it for like ever (she watched antique and she liked Jihoon there, so she wanted to see him in another thing), but when she knew it’s a sad drama and saw how I do look like by just listening to the OST, she decided not to watch it!
    whatever, it’s her loss anyway lol)

    speaking of Ju Jihoon gahh I wanna strangle him for what he did! man you were captivating in the “Devil”, great in “antique” and your acting was so natural in the “naked kitchen” and I was already falling so hard for you, and now you do this stupid thing to yourself! we all go through many struggles in life, but that doesn’t mean drugs is the solution! I wanna spank him! but I hope they won’t really ban him forever cause I’ll be so devastated .__.
    -end of rant-
    (sorry for my ranting, but I’m just feeling so sad about him!)

    like Non said, each one of us has a devil and an angel inside, but it’s up to us to choose which one of them roles.
    but the real Devil in this game was Tae Sung (I love calling him this cause I want to remember him as the young innocent boy not the cold lawyer). He got some help from Yeong Chul, but Tae Sung was the one who went for him in the 1st place! he’s the one who messed up his mind! Yeong Chul traveled to Australia and I think he started forgetting what happened in the past, but Tae Sung’s letters brought back all the bad memories!

    Tae Sung was a real demon in here! he thought he’s a God playing with other peoples’ lives! but me too couldn’t hate him! like you said, his apartment was all dark, and I think he was trying to hide his evil side even from himself! I think he couldn’t believe how far he has gone in his revenge! he didn’t want Hae In to find out what a bad person he is, that even the slightest touch between them (which he was so craving for), couldn’t let it happen! he finally was able to do that when she found out about him!
    he had some stellar moments here (when his sister knew he’s not her real brother O.O;; mamamia I was crying with him! when he ate with Hae In and her mother and remembered his mother and brother and cried outside the house T.T and when he hugged Hae In! and of course the last scene between him and Oh Soo >.< )

    the pain is still there and I don't think it will fade away anytime soon! this is how much I love this drama that I'm even starting to think that these are real people who lived and suffered all of that suffering!

    sorry for my long babbling lol =P

  8. selva!!!!!

    Oh wow, love, LOVE your long comment!! Read every word twice, hehe. You’ve an awesome insight into the drama and I’m nodding my head off agreeing with you. I’m still listening to the OST; I bought the original and it’s among my most cherished OSTs. Track 2 makes me cry because it’s the song that plays when Seung-ha and Hae-in are together. But I also really love Track 17, Uhm Tae-woong’s song.

    I had the same feelings about Ju Ji-hoon. Really, really disappointed about the drug-taking. I’ve not watched Antique or Naked Kitchen, but I won’t be surprised if he’s good there since he improved so much in Mawang. Have no right to judge him, but what a waste. All those scenes you mentioned where he shone… Those are my favorites, too. Besides the ending, which still gives me chills thinking about it, the one that made me really teary is the scene where his sister tells him that she knows. Such a powerful scene in a very quiet way.

    Don’t worry about not getting over Mawang. The best dramas always stay with us long after the watching, don’t they? *hugs*

  9. First off – I love your writing. I love reading your reviews (going to That Fool next). I love Hwang Jung Min. Three loves already – remember this when I start hating. Sidenote: have you watched HJM on Family Outing? He sings an adapted version of “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” – hilarious.

    Secondly…My eyes are going blurry. I’ve been catching up on Kdrama.

    I haven’t watched anything seriously for nearly year. And after reading the 2008 roundup on Dramabeans – including yours – I’m glad I stayed away. I think the last thing I watched was Lawyers of Korea which I mainly fast forwarded through.

    Disclaimer before I rant: I have a short attention span, known to fall asleep in cinemas (there’sa so much mainstream crap! not my fault!), and take double time to watch dvds.

    Knowing all this, I’ve spent the last couple of weekends doing a UTW marathon or, overdose. Seriously. He is awesome. I love his lopsided smile…which is so rare because he’s often tormented and angsty after a few episodes…

    Anyway, Rebirth was first. It had a rave from X via Twitch. So I sat down and I watched it. And I loved it. There were areas I didn’t love, like the son of the bad guy…that was the worst character as he was sort of redundant. And I hate stalker characters who can’t accept the word no. But UTW, the journey from Seo Ha Eun, to Gang Hyeok, to Shin Hyeok, and then becoming both…was brilliant and captivating.

    Then, I turned to Devil. It was from the same team. It was consistently ranked in the top 10 round ups, sometimes even above my all time fave Evasive Inquiry Agency (some day I’ll list the reasons, one of them being that it fails miserably to adhere to Kdrama cliches). Turning to Devil – you’re right, the last scene was the best scene. In fact it made me less angry at Devil.

    You’re probably wondering why I was angry…mainly because I got sick of Det. Kang consistently being a day late and a dollar short. For a guy who has the arrest number in the department, he did a particular poor job. Maybe the whole conflict of interest thing is true – he should have stayed out of the case, and let others handle it. I don’t know how many times he jumped to conclusions and/or turned to violence because he wanted to get the manipulator. And alcohol, christ…things are going bad but you need a clear head. Like you said, it wasn’t until the climactic end that he stopped being selfish – that although the game was instigated because of him, he needed to look out of himself, stop pitying himself, to rescue the ones closest to him. But like I said earlier, a day and a dollar short.

    I know it’s due to the script, but don’t you think that they should have made a little more believable as to why everything took so long. I mean, Shin Mina saw things…but she couldn’t place the faces. Once Det Kang knew that it was the people connected to him who were the pawns in this game, he should have given her an album of the suspected pawns and players…how many conservations of ‘I saw a face, but I don’t know who it is’ would we not have to listen to. And, I really didn’t like her siding with Tae Sung and keeping her knowledge that OSH was TS, because it is obstruction of justice. She knew he was the manipulator, but she wanted to stay in her own fairytale world. She had entered into his tunnel, rather than being on the outside persuading him. I don’t know how much help it would have been but by confirming Det Kang’s suspicions, it may help him believe he isn’t going crazy. Also, it may have helped the victims in the last Act.

    Maybe it’s also because I am angry at the fact that TS should be afforded any understanding. The argument for mitigating circumstances shouldn’t apply. KOS killed one person when he was a teen. Yes it was deliberate, but I don’t believe at that instant he fully realised the consequences of his actions. TS’s mother’s death maybe due to her grief, but KOS didn’t pull the trigger. The mother should have pulled herself to become stronger – she had another son she had to be there for.

    TS instigated everything whilst realising the consequences of his actions – he was there at every crucial moment, from pushing them to murder then riding in to save them – (and in some aspects I believe he was abusing his position as a lawyer). In setting out the scene, 4 people were murdered, 1 died of a heart attack and 2 people went to jail (maybe 4 if including the truck driver, and Yeong Chul). He played them for his own purposes. Most of these were innocent people. He left Sora, a kid without her mum. Broke up a man’s marriage because he was under the mistaken impression that he was wrongly imprisoned and would be apologised to.

    Everyone in this series has a slide scale of the ‘Devil’ factor in them, just like human beings. But what TS did was sick, and I think, or I hope that he realised that when his plan to die didn’t work out.

    Being lonely and tormented doesn’t reserve anyone the right to kill, let alone become a serial killer. I doubt his brother would have approved, in fact his brother once said to Det Kang, that he was a coward, unable to do things for himself, always hiding behind other people and letting them do the dirty work. Doesn’t that sound similar to TS’s actions?

    I guess I was unable to root for one or the other in this drama. Det Kang for showing me that when his arrest record was probably due more to brawn then brain. TS for not being able to walk away, that whole ‘it’s too late’ to stop is utter nonsense.

    On an objective level, this drama has the script, direction, music and acting. Notice I complained about the characters, not the acting, although JJH evil/tormented closeups started getting annoying.

    I wonder though, how I could like Rebirth so much, but be so angry at Devil…when both are revenge dramas.

    One last thing – strong female characters – where were they?!!?!?! (Another reason why I love EIA/MIA)

    Sorry about the long rant.

  10. Hi twinks!

    Wow, I’m floored by your comment. It’s a blog post in itself, do you know? Love, love, love, LOVE it. That’s four loves. Remember that. 🙂

    I rooted strongly for the lawyer the first round, the detective the second round… I should watch it a third time (and I was, except I stopped at ep 13 and had no time to continue) to see which way the wind blows this time. Maybe Shin Mina’s character? LOL. Nah, even though I like her, there wasn’t much depth in her characterization. Ditto for the female lead role in Rebirth.

    I agree parts of the script felt unbelievable, the coincidences even contrived. Since the tarot cards figure so prominently, I guess there’s that element of the supernatural forcing us to suspend our belief.

    Rebirth was practically perfect, although I have friends who much prefer Devil. I love both, but Rebirth’s in my Top 10 and Devil is not.

    I love that you love EIA. (That’s five loves.) Ye Ji-won is LOVE. Aww, just writing her name makes me miss her instantly. That was one awesome cast, wasn’t it?

    Thanks again for that droolicious comment. I park myself here waiting for comments, so to have one so long and meaty just totally makes my day. *muahhhhh!*

    Psst, X posts comments here sometimes. Look for his nick Temujin’s Chief Retainer. He’s recovering from eye surgery, so I haven’t seen him around.

  11. I read somewhere that X was in surgery. Good to know that he is in the recovery stage.

    Sorry about commandeering your blog to post my rant in your comments section, but alas I don’t have my own blog as I don’t have an eloquence with words that you and other good bloggers and critics inherently have. Also, I spend a lot of time ranting, it’d be an extremely grumpy blog.

    If you watch Devil a third time, maybe this time you’ll root for all those victims…there are so many in this story. Depressing. Shin Mina’s character and the whole pure characterization was grating at the end. Saccharine sweetness versus stewing hatred. Like all good stews, the flavour deepens the longer you leave it to cook – and after 12 years it’s pure black. The dichotomy between light and dark doesn’t really work. If the intent was to add light to all the darkness that is the Devil, then they should have used someone a lot more realistic instead of trying to pit a stereotyped (female) angel against (male) devils.

    You are spot on in saying there was no depth in her character. I wish the team behind Devil/Rebirth would create a realistic three dimensional female lead. Although, I can empathise with the fact that they are constrained by Korean societal/drama norms if they want to achieve something resembling successful ratings.

    Imagine a drama where a female character has strong opinions, that she follows through with and can stand on her own feet without having to wait until the male lead(s) comes to the rescue in their shiny luxury sedans. She would stand beside him, and not as his shadow. One who doesn’t cry at the drop of a hat, does not get hysterical and uncompromising…one who thinks – the lady you root for, not because you are sympathetic to her plight, but agree with her values and plans. God forbid she has a plan other than to snag that guy. Rant over. Sorry.

    I’ve realised that I like Rebirth better than Devil because UTW in Rebirth sought justice through legal recourse and the victims were not innocent people (read: child). This was a lot more believable, especially as both protoganists were on the side of the law, UTW as detective in Rebirth – his role to enforce the law, and JJH as the lawyer in Devil – whose role is to practice law responsibly. Also it didn’t leak into as you said, contrived coincidences. Well, at least not as often.

    EIA was brilliant – when it randomly pops up in my thoughts, I’m happier. When a song from the OST comes up, I smile. And to think, it took me three good tries before I got through the first episode. Thank god I persisted.

    Anyway, my next marathon is That Fool because of your review. Maybe you’ll see another long rant/rave from me. I know HJM is suppose to be brilliant in it, but the lead actress has made me tentative to watch it. I didn’t like 200 pounds at all and do not understand the rave it gets.

    May I make a request? Please post your top 10 all time? That would be a fascinating read.

    Ha. Another long comment. Word vomit comes easy to me.

    Sorry. Again.

  12. Hey twinks, I LOVE looooong ranty comments, the longer the better! Don’t ever apologize! Also, you write really well, so I seriously think you should start a blog. Make an EIA review your first post. 🙂

    X is recovering well. Once he’s back I’ll likely have less time to blog, since we’ll be busy catching up with subbing. I really miss working on his awesome translations.

    Ah, a blog post on my all-time Top Ten, similar to the yearly recaps? That’s an idea. But it might become a thesis in itself, at least 20,000 words? *faint* I won’t be able to stop gushing! But I’ll think seriously about it once I’m done with the Brilliant Legacy recaps.

    Looking forward to your Accidental Couple rant/rave. Make sure it’s deliciously LONG!

  13. Twenty thousand is less than your Brilliant Legacy recaps combined…so it’s more than possible. Your gushing would be an excellent antidote to X’s tongue lashing 2008 review on withs2. That review is at least twenty thousand words long. Probably before he even hands out the annual awards. Plus you should do it before you become busy playing assistant to X’s awesome translating. (*nudge*)

    I love to read. In contrast to my short attention span behaviour regarding visual mediums, if I’m reading engaging material I can sit for hours in a comfy chair and be oblivious to the world. So if you ever you want to post it, you know you’ll have at least one appreciative reader.

    The length of my review for ‘That Fool’, if I write one up, will be entirely dependent on whether if it can lift me from the indifference I greet all new dramas.
    _____

    Thank you for the BL recaps! Wrong post to comment on but I’m lazy. Keep up the excellent work!

  14. Hi twinks!

    X’s 2008 review was 50,000 words. *faint* Will his 2009 review set a new record? Hehe.

    I’m thinking seriously about your suggestion. I have an idea how I might want to do it, but I’ll keep it under wraps for now. Don’t think it’s possible, though, to get it done before X returns. My priority now is to finish the Brillant Legacy recaps.

    Here’s a high five on “I love to read.” Psst, do you read can labels? Or menus even after you have ordered? 🙂

  15. No rush on the review – whatever the idea is, I’m sure it’ll be executed wonderfully, so I can wait [im]patiently.

    I don’t read menus because they are taken away but can labels are a must read. Especially imported Asian food…spelling errors galore (which can be quite funny). If I’m purchasing a new product at the supermarket, I read everything on the packaging before choosing.

    It took me an afternoon to read X’s review and am looking forward to his 2009 review – I like the way he writes. Too bad I can’t understand Korean, otherwise his blog would be heaven.

    I love reading the BL recaps, can’t wait until you post up the rest.

  16. You know, I always thought “The Devil” referred to the tarot card called the Devil. I was waiting for it to show up in one of the characters’ ‘boxes of doom’ but it never did…

    It’s quite hard to single out any one character as ‘the Devil’. Maybe it’s a more abstract thing – a menace which follows all those involved in the incident of 12 years ago and which eventually destroys them.

  17. Stumbled across this blog thanks to javabeans and this is my first time posting here….

    I loved this post and found myself agreeing with what you said, but back to the point…

    Has anyone here watched the 2008 Japanese remake “Maou”?

    Because I’ve watched the remake before the original and I would like to hear from someone who has done the opposite to see which one they liked better….

  18. I didn’t watch this because I didn’t want to compare it to Maou, the Japanese version, which I absolutely loved. Should I have watched it? How does it compare to say…Slingshot?

  19. all those questions you asked, i asked myself. but i really don’t know the answer. i just watched devil and i love it, but i erased it from my hard drive. i don’t know if i have the guts to watch it again. i was so in pain while watching it, i need Oh Seung-ha to be a good guy so badly, i hurt for him so much. and kang oh soo suffers so much, i can’t help but suffer with him. i cry like a baby at the finale, it was simply perfect, but so sad. sometimes i really believe Yeong-chul is the devil… but he’s a victim too
    what a wonderful drama and what a wonderful acting

  20. Pingback: Missing The Devil – thundie's prattle

  21. HI thundie, I’m watching this drama right now. And now I’m hooked already. I loved the way they built up the tension, though I’m abit confuse is it coincidence, or Is it not? It’s the main factor that keep me hooked in the first half of the drama honestly. Since watching PP and harvest villa, I don’t want to think each circumstances in suspense drama are coincidence, LOL ….

  22. I have finished this drama. And I love it! From the start, i root for the lawyer, because I have a soft spot for a character who has chillhood tragedy in a drama. No matter how much he hurt someone around Oh Soo, I can’t hate him. Because I know he has endure so much pain because one tragedy.

    I know he honestly kind. It shows when he is with people he loved. where he feels genuine and become himself. I loved his character the most.

    I feel for UTW’s character several times, and feel bad for him, and questioning my conscience and wonder why I’m not rooting for him.

  23. Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I really enjoyed reading it, you can be a great author.I will make certain to bookmark your blog and may come back very soon. I want to encourage you to ultimately continue your great work, have a nice afternoon!

  24. Pingback: The dance with The Devil – Mawang | A Touch of Drama

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