30 June, 2013

Cruel City: Through a Glass, Darkly

Cruel City is a drama we can't stop talking about. It is most definitely one of the best dramas this year, and it continues to impress and excite us. We've also been discussing the past episodes (and general plot development) via Facebook, and we figured that we should share our thoughts, and also hope to hear some of yours as well. The last time we did a post sort of like this, was probably our post on Queen In Hyun's Man, so it's been a while.

dewaanifordrama: So...I think that the relationship developing between Baksa and Soo Min is really interesting, mostly because she has no idea that he is Baksa. It is going to be sooooo interesting and awesome when she does find out, and come to think of it, it's going to be really interesting when he figures out that she's Kyung Mi's donsaeng as well.

bustered: Yes! They definitely have a really interesting relationship, and episode 10 really brought that out.  I love the fact that he seems to be thinking, "Why do I like this girl so much??" I love that he 1) left Jin-sook to go call her 2) saved her and 3) took her hand all sweetly and 4) he told her his real name!! Ah. My heart nearly stopped it was so sweet. And I love that he does all of this and we know that he cares for her, and all without his ever smiling at her or making googly eyes at her etc.

dewaanifordrama: AMEN like a million times to what you said! When he took her hand, and then paused to inter-lace their fingers, I got chills! (and swoony butterflies) It was so an incredibly sweet and intimate moment. And that line: "Shi Hyun, it's Jung Shi Hyun." And then he looked at her. It was so much better, more heartfelt, and wonderful than any James Bond moment ever! I just loved that scene. I also really loved the tenderness of the kiss and the love scene. It wasn't really sexy; it was more sweet and tender. It felt organic and had an air of innocence.

bustered: I don't know about innocent ;) but it was definitely a really tender scene. I love that they highlighted sweeter moments (ex. his kissing her face, her outlining his scars, his touching her hair afterwards), rather than giving us a simply steamy scene.  More than anything I am surprised and touched that they have both chosen to trust each other--with her answering his call at the zoo and his giving her his real name.  In terms of their relationship, I definitely think that was one of the best things about episode 10.  And how about that doozy of an ending with Safari??

dewaanifordrama: So do you think that Safari is really police? Wasn't the drama originally called "Undercover" or something like that, I think, but really, do we need someone else undercover at this point? I think the ID is fake. [I just watched the episode 11 trailer, and it turns out that Safari is a rogue cop, which is still really interesting narratively because it messes with Shi Hyun's potential fear that he will lose himself].

bustered: That's what I was thinking as well. I really do think (well, hope) that this whole dealio is a fake-out. Though if Safari and Baksa and Soo-min joined forces and took revenge on EVERYONE...well, that'd be pretty awesome.

However, I have wondered about a lot of Safari's reactions in the last few episodes. I thought that it was just him not wanting to kill Baksa, but now, well, let's just say that he and Baksa reacted to a lot of things in the same manner of... okay, need to acquiesce these fellows but still work around my own personal agenda... kind of way. So I am not sure.

Also, what undercover agent would keep a freaking ID on him?  Answer: the ones that want to die.

But if he really is an undercover agent, some awesome stuff had BETTER happen.  If this revealing new undercover shenanigans keeps up right until the end, they'd better do it the right way--or I will be very unhappy. I am not super happy about this turn, but again, if it's awesome, I will be all for it.

dewaanifordrama: That would be way cool if Baksa, Soo Min, and Safari joined revenge forces!

I have also been wondering about Safari's reactions. Baksa and Safari seem like really similar people in many ways - and they do have a rather complex father-son relationship. And yeah, the whole carrying od the ID thing - certain death. Speaking of IDs, I wonder who is going to discover Shi Hyun's secret police badge box. I wonder if it will be Soo, or someone else. Or Safari?

I think one of my favourite things is watching the two of them is how much you can see how Shi Hyun and Safari are each hurting in their facial expressions (not because I am a sadist, but I think that their pain shows their humanity and love for each other). That bookshelf-library fight scene was such a beautiful and intricate ballet of hurt and harm - a perfect representation of their relationship - this beautiful dance of death.

It really was such an excellent fight scene, as all the fight scenes have been in the drama. I like how they are efficient and understated, but oh so incredibly effective.

bustered: Most definitely.  None of the action scenes are very showy, but they're cleanly choreographed and shot, and usually short, to the point, and violent, which is my kind of fight scene.  They don't try to be super cool (not like some of the stuff found in IRIS etc.) but the understated-ness absolutely helps them become way more cool than they actually are.

dewaanifordrama: Most definitely. I think it generally adds to the understated-ness of the drama in general, and acts as a beautiful contrast to the quieter more melancholic moments like with Shi Hyun pondering what he's doing. And we're seeing more and more of his tender-hearted side. He can't help but try and rescue the people he loves. In episode 8, I think it was, where we saw him have a bit of a break down, you know the part where that gorgeous hand cradles his head as he can barely mumble answers to Hong Ki's questions? And as you said earlier, as he's falling for Soo Min, you can see he is not sure why.

bustered: Oh absolutely. One thing I am loving about Jung Kyung-ho's fantastic performance are his physical reactions (two examples that stick out in my mind was when the sniper was shooting around his legs after Kyung-mi was shot, and his writhing on the ground after Safari landed that blow to his back--masterful I tell you!), and the way that he reacted when Soo-min called him was beautiful.  He was with Jin-sook (and he has to have some inkling of her fondness of him that could develop into dangerous jealous territory) but he receives Soo-min's call anyway on what looks like a gut reaction, only to hang up when he suddenly remembers that he's with Jin-sook.  And then he promptly removes himself from her presence so that he can call Soo-min.  It shows that he's already putting Soo-min above those he's loved for a long time.  It makes me worry a little, but it makes me a little giddy how much he does seem to care for her.

dewaanifordrama: His vulnerability with Soo Min is definitely going to cause him some problems - but then again his general love for people already causes him so much stress. I hope that Soo Min can give him some of that support. He really has so much heart. Not that we can really say that for the police. He doesn't seem to have forgotten who he is, but the police seem to lack the zeal and earnestness he has. Well, the police in general except for Hyung Min. And I think we are going to see much more of that conflict and fear that he has of losing himself in light of the episode 11 trailer where we find out that Safari is a cop gone rogue. Shi Hyun I think fears he might become exactly what he's trying to get everyone to escape. And it also explains a little why Hong Ki forgets he's a police officer sometimes. And I can't really tell if Hyung Min forgets that Soo Min is a police officer-ish too, or if he's just struggling with what he's doing to her by enabling her undercover life.

Hyung Min though despite his inability to really let Soo Min in, has a really driven sense of right and wrong. He is not someone who would become easily corrupted - and I hope that he can act as someone more supportive to Soo Min. I am glad we also got to see a lighter, more caring side of him in episodes 9 and 10. And dang, that man is incredibly hotte! Those flashback scenes!

bustered: Yep. My liking for Hyung-min is definitely a bit of a roller coaster, though he's gotten a bit better lately.  My only big issue with Hyung-min, and it really is a double-edged sword (or should I say sashimi knife ㅋㅋ...), is that he's so determined to gain his goal... to the point that he doesn't seem to care who gets hurt, or to consider that maybe he's going in the wrong direction.  I do like that we got to see a lighter side of him in the flashback scenes, and he really is incredibly hot.  Hyung-min is drool worthy while Shi-hyun is swoon worthy.  I like that we've been able to see more of Hyung-min taking Soo-min under his wing and actually teaching her skills (though next lesson should probably be about how wearing six inch heeled boots is not helpful when on mission and trying to run away from a knife-wielding killing wench--or you know, they can have a nice discussion on mission appropriate, inconspicuous clothing).

Also, on a sort of associated note, I like that this drama works a little bit like a Tolstoy novel--Anna Karenina, to be exact.  I'm not saying that this drama is anywhere close to magnificent quality that Anna Karenina is, but that they share something in common, which is a sort of realistic quality that allows the viewer (or reader) to focus on the story being currently being read or seen and unconsciously forgetting everything else, only to later be reminded of what else has been going on and moving your thoughts to that particular story and so on.  Human beings live many lives simultaneously, and forget a lot of things, only to remember certain things later on, and that memory can transmute and influence the current experience.  Life is full of so many details that it would be difficult to remember all of them at the same time--it wouldn't be possible!--and I think the drama definitely works this way.  And it lends the drama a certain realism, and a natural, organic feel as the drama has developed.  I definitely think there's been some missteps in the narrative, and I am still unsure about this whole Safari development, but we'll see how it goes.

I also like that although it's a really dark story, after the initial set up, there's been very little that's melodramatic.  You know, versus something like Time Between Dog and Wolf which has a similar story, but is pretty much well done K-drama melodrama to the max.

Oh!  Speaking of memory, I love Kyung-mi and how she's an important memory to all our main characters.  I really love Kyung-mi.  She had it hard but her revenge on the world was to rise above it by being positive and working hard, which is in stark contrast to most of the characters in the drama.  She was such a wholesome, and inwardly and outwardly good person, and I love that she still has a hold on the people that she loved and loved her.

I think she's also the reason that I don't like Hyung-min, lol.  She was so good, but Hyung-min often does things that I don't think that she would approve of and it angers me.  Although I don't find Go Na-eun a phenomenal actress, she gave the character a lot of goodness, and I think it shows that she did a good job, especially since, even I, as a viewer, still feel for her, and completely understand why she still matters to our main trio.

dewaanifordrama: Definitely! I just love the pacing and general tone of a show that feels like it's breathing. I think we see evidence in that of how the show is not afraid to punctuate dialogue with breathing space, contemplation, and silence. It adds to that organic feel you're talking about. And I am glad that it has been light on the melodrama. I do love Time Between Dog and Wolf, and I am thoroughly enjoying it (and not just because of Jung Kyung Ho), but it has a different feel. And I think that's why I felt that the Anna Karenina  quote I used at the beginning of the last Cruel City post was so apt; we have this complex dynamic of living, breathing, flawed human beings.

I love what you have to say about Kyung Mi. I definitely agree. It's almost as if Hyung Min forgets his better self without Kyung Mi. I appreciated the flashback scene where Soo Min blackmails him for money, and he gives it to her mostly so that Kyung Mi will not have such a hard time. I wish he would remember her goodness a little more. I guess he is still struggling with the crippling grief of losing her though, and he wants to move on, but he also feels like he has to avenge her death, so he can feel some goodness in his life again. He has also had some really rough things in his life. I think he is one of those people who feels he has to shoulder all the burdens in the world - like with his brother, and his corrupt father. I also though have a bit of a roller-coaster reaction to him. He's so different to Shi Hyun.

Another thought to add about the police and Baksa from what I said earlier. In that scene where he's in the back of the police car with Hong Ki, and Hong Ki's all like, "We're at the police station. It's dangerous!" and Shi Hyun says with this earnestness and intensity, "But I AM a policeman." I think for me it showed how much he feels like he's one of the good guys; he really does have a moral compass. That scene, it wrung my heart. Everyone else seems to forget he's a good guy, and then we have all the policemen who are amoral or seem to have no moral compass.

bustered: For one, I think its by virtue of the genre that we are supposed to be rooting for Shi-hyun, the anti-hero (and one reason why I didn't love his being an undercover cop, but they've done well with that development so far), and that everyone else pales in comparison.  It's an awful situation that he's in, because he isn't heartless and he loves people of both sides of the fence that he's straddling, and I think that's why he's so wonderful: because he loves and he is willing to be emotionally vulnerable even though he's in the most vulnerable spot out of everyone in the drama.

dewaanifordrama: Definitely!!! I am so glad that Jung Kyung Ho is so masterfully portraying all of that pain and awfulness that Shi Hyun is struggling with. It's in those small (and big) moments where we see how he's always trying to protect people like when he leaves money for Soo Min after sleeping with her. I know that it seemed hurtful, but I actually think he was trying to protect her.

bustered: Yeah, we see that when Jin-sook comes in and doesn't bat an eyelid because she sees the money. But you also mentioned that he understands how dangerous he is, and I also think that he knows how dangerous it is for him to show his vulnerability.  He cares for Soo-min, but he cannot be too brazen about showing that off.  I agree that he was trying to protect Soo-min, but I also think he was trying to protect himself and the image that he has created as Doc's Son. 

dewaanifordrama: Yes, definitely. It's a little like he feels this subconscious need to be grounded by her, but knows that it is incredibly dangerous to his whole persona as Baksa.

I had a bit of a conversation with Eye Candy in the comments for the last two posts [here and here] about hoping that we get to see much more of the interaction between Soo Min and Shi Hyun. I am pretty sure that we will. Whether or not we get any semblance of a happy ending or not though is very much up in the air. I think for sure things are going to get a whole heck of a lot more complicated before she finds out he's Baksa, and then...well, all hell is going to break loose. Maybe not with them, but definitely in the relationships between them. It might actually be nice if things remain chill between them. It is certainly going to test her loyalty to the police though. We have already seen how every time Soo Min needs saving, it's the "bad guys" who save her, and not the "good guys". The first time with her prison help, and the revenge against the rapist - that was all Jin Sook. And then we see it again in episode 10 where it's Shi Hyun who saves her, not Hyung Min. I love how she doesn't take out the battery and instead answers Kkangpae Ajhussi's call instead. ^^ [If you need a little Jung Kyung Ho & Nam Gyu Ri fix, here's a link to the video of their InStyle photoshoot. Nothing like Jung Kyung Ho being a little goofy and sweet]

bustered: Honestly, they've already put quite a bit of trust in each other when they hardly know the other, and so I think that they'll only develop a stronger connection.  At least, I like to think so.  They both have relationships with others that I think could chafe their relationship to each other (Jin-sook for him, and Hyung-min for her), but when it comes down to it, they've already shown that their trust in each other vs. their loyalty to their other important relationships.

dewaanifordrama: It makes the conflict oh so much more interesting! I think that we're also going to start understanding more deeply what Shi Hyun's motivations are. I know that Hyung Min has a problem with drugs in general because of his brother, and then of course there is the major issue of wanting to avenge/get revenge for Kyung Mi's death.

Shi Hyun most definitely shares in wanting to unravel and avenge Kyung Mi's death. I think he also wants to get rid of the shadowy world that people he cares about can't escape. He even begs Soo Min to get out when she can. I think that Shi Hyun wants to save Jin Sook and if he can Safari and Soo as well. That conversation with Soo's mother, and the prison flashback scene was really telling. He really cares about these people - his family so to say - and he wants them out of the world of shadows. We also have his general desire to get revenge on the world, his "father" - and Soo Min shares that motivation as well. As with all of this though, I think the drama is really good at being shadowy and not revealing everything all at once. It is very much like the Biblical reference to experiencing life, where "...now we see  through a glass, darkly...". I just hope that when everything becomes clear, some light amid the darkness remains.

bustered:  Right. This is noir, and someone (well a lot of people) are going to die.  At this point, I don't know that I want any of the current relationships to win out in the end.  To me, if they do, that would feel a little cheap.  I know that this drama takes more from the Hong Kong noir branch, and I am a lot more familiar with old-school 1941-1958 Hollywood branch (or should I say trunk? ^^) of film noir, which tends to have more happy-ish endings with main couples (ex. Bogey and Bacall), but those are often the least memorable vs. hard hitting endings like In a Lonely Place and The Big Heat which have pretty depressing endings on the romantic front.  Basically, as much as I adore Soo-min and Shi-hyun, it had better not derail the drama's dedication to the genre, and from what I've watched in the Hong Kong noir branch, there really shouldn't be a happy ending.

Besides, all this talk about never being able to escape once you're in... I am pretty sure they're giving us a hint here.  At this point, I think the question is "Who the crap is going to get out of this hellhole alive?" And I don't think the count is going to be very high.


  1. i guess i'm one of the rare few that do not like Soo-min. it's a long rant (more than what i'm typing here) about how she's dragging Shi-hyun down and i don't appreciate a lot of aspects of her character. for me, she's poorly written and Nam Gyuri has not been able to give the character more depth or make her darker than her annoying sunshiney self. frankly, i'm really tired of the cliche trope that Shi-hyun is attracted to her innocence and vibrant nature and that she's some sort of balm for his wounded soul. all that zoo scene screams is her stupidity and i am plenty pissed that Shi-hyun risked his neck to save her silly self, to the extent of exposing himself and telling her his name. that's like a big fat no-no to me.

    i'm also rather disappointed that the drama chose to make Soo-min have a crush on Hyung-min - what's with liking the men who are so deeply involved in your sister's life? and coming onto your sister's fiance so soon after her death? c'mon. for a chick who's inexperienced with men, she sure displayed full-on coquettish behaviour with Shi-hyun before he kissed her. and to feel hurt that he left money... lady, you're working at Jin-sook's cub, everyone knows what kind of place it is. sheesh.

    i dunno, i want a Soo-min who's smart enough to hold her own against Shi-hyun, and not have him worrying about her the way he's been worrying about Soo, Jin-sook and the rest of the world. but sadly she's only adding to his burden. she's frustrating me to no end and she's set up to be Shi-hyun's Achilles heel in a way that neither Jin-sook nor Soo, or even his police identity, will be. that's something i already hate.


  2. Great LONG and still interesting post! That is not easy to pull off.

    Love all the thoughts, and love the fact that we all want to hear what others are saying.

    The relationship that will bring me to my knees, just as it has Baksa, is between Safari and Baksa.
    The flashbacks of the three current frenemies peppered here and there prove to us there is, or was, real caring between them all. He had no father, and Safari must have been very impressive to the little guy. He was Imo's man, he was cool and confident, and taught him how to survive on the streets. Even though Baksa has turned traitor to everyone else, I think he was naively hoping somehow to spare Safari and Jin-sook. (And Soo, but that is another story.) I hate that they have established this Harry/Voldemort ending already - only one of them will survive? Do they have a Prophecy somewhere? Couldn't they both live on? Please?

    I have some questions:
    @dewaanifordrama - When did Baksa cradle his head, in the back of the car?

    @bustered - Also loved that Baksa answered Soo-min's call in Jin-sook's presence. It was a reflex that overrode any logic. Do you think he knows if he actually cares for her now, or do you think is is just as bewildered at his own reaction?

    I think the fact that we are ALL ignoring the badly written Police force part of the show and have fallen hard for the emotional aspect means this writer needs to write a LOT more shows - NOT ABOUT POLICE. It won't be a perfect drama by the time it is over, but it will be very memorable.

  3. Snow -
    Soo-min's "frustrating me to no end and she's set up to be Shi-hyun's
    Achilles heel in a way that neither Jin-sook nor Soo, or even his police
    identity, will be."

    What if we suppose that if it weren't Soo-min who met him outside his world, and who called him out for a drink, that it would have been some other pretty girl?
    He is a handsome man with charisma, so we can't suppose SM is the only one (other than all of us!) who have noticed and wanted his attention.

    Just like the cause of any hero's downfall, the weakness within brings it on. Baksa didn't see SM as the great love of his life who he had to have at that moment, but she was the only one who made herself available to him. He must have been longing for that intimacy for quite a while. It just hit him hard out of nowhere right THEN, and he couldn't resist it.

    I do like the idea that while she WAS sent in to seduce him, that is not how she ended up with him. It was happenstance. She already liked him from before. Of course that is not how it is going to be revealed to everyone, but she knows the truth.

  4. Nicely done, ladies - very nicely done! This DRAMA. My goodness, it eats up my time. I have to read all the recaps because everyone talking about it highlights something new each time - I love all the different views and thoughts. I spend more time reading about it than I do watching it and I'm watching twice, religiously. Raw and then subbed. I just do not do that....but for Baksa, anything.

  5. I also don't see the problem with Soo Min... I always say it takes two to tango. There are two in this game: Soo Min and Shi Hyun. And if Shi Hyun let himself being distracted by his affection/desire for Soo Min then he is equally blamed for it. It's not the women's fault only - just saying.

    Anyways I loved this long post - it's always interesting to read a different view on the things that are happening atm in Heartless City. :D

    Can't wait for episode 11.

  6. Jomo, was she sent to seduce him though? i didn't catch anything along those lines, maybe i missed it.

    i don't disagree about the weakness from within which is common to humans. or that she made herself available to him and he took her up on it. what i disagree with is the stupidity of her character. i have no problems with his vulnerability - my issue is his vulnerability to a poorly written character like her. like, for the life of god, Shi-hyun, if you were going to risk your neck and even reveal your name, couldn't you have been attracted to someone with brains?!

    if i had a penny for every aspect of her character that i dislike, i think i'd be able to buy a car. she was shaped to be like Shi-hyun, someone who grew up an orphan and was moulded by the tough life she led. granted, it was not as tough as Shi-hyun because she had Kyung-mi, but she seemed the rebellious one initially, tougher and no-nonsense (re detention centre scenes), yet seemed like if someone would give her a chance she would be less of the punk she was (or at least what Hyung-min and Kyung-mi thought she was). that was all well and good.

    but i dunno... i think something went wrong in ep 7, right about the time she had more interaction with Shi-hyun. i just think the whole car scene was wrong. yes she was sympathetic, yes she was happy to see he had recovered, yes she was glad to chance upon a familiar face - one who had saved her life from a robber. but he had pulled a knife on her. he was a virtual stranger. and he wasn't partial at all to continuing any sort of conversation with her. so what did she do? she greeted him like a long-lost best friend. hello? after all that she'd experienced since the time Kyung-mi died, you'd have thought she had matured a little, become a little warier of people, toned down somewhat her trusting nature. just a little less exuberance and the scene would have been ok. but no, she treated Shi-hyun like he was her prom crush she was so happy to see. and the look he gave her was pretty appropriate - he thought she was nuts. she pretty much badgered him into giving her a ride, and thrust her phone number at him.

    and then everything else afterwards, culminating in the zoo fiasco, just confirmed for me what a witless chick she is. i can't buy that he's so starved of intimacy that he'd fall for someone like her and then proceed to lose his head over her. i can't buy this romance and i'm sad, because I love Shi-hyun so. i blame it on the writing, on the forced contrivance of it all, and on the actress.

  7. Jomo W

    I know what you mean. I totally ignore the plotholes when it comes to the police stuff. Plus this is the first drama for the writer - and by god he is already this good, so if it happens that he doesn't make those mistakes in the future anymore this writer has a great career ahead. :D

    Maybe I can answers this question: "When did Baksa cradle his head, in the back of the car?"

    He didn't cradle his head in the car. :-) I think @dewaanifordrama means the scene when Soo is captured by Safari and Shi Hyun calls Min. :-)

  8. I know, right?! It could almost become a career following this drama ;) There really is just so much to talk about with this drama!!!

  9. Thank you Jomo! I know that the Safari/Baksa relationship is also going to break my heart! I am so glad that we have such great actors to play the parts. Choi Moo Sung is KILLING the role! And of course Jung Kyung Ho - wow! I am so in love with everything he's doing for the role.

    The part I was talking about him cradling his head, or maybe it was more his hand to his face/head down, was in episode 8 I believe, where he's all in blue, and there is this fabulous blue filter. (I screencapped it in the last post I did on Cruel City - but I've attached a part from the scene.) I guess he also got all thoughtful and contemplative when he was in the car as well.

    I think that when a show gets the heart of it right, coupled with some fabulous acting from at least a few major parts, I am generally willing to forgive some of the bad things. It is not a perfect drama, but you are most definitely right that it will be memorable - that and we are probably all now in love with Jung Kyung Ho ;)

  10. LOL - I guess this teaches me to look at all the comments before replying! That's a perfect screenshot for what I was talking about! Thanks!

  11. I can't wait for episode 11 either! I am so glad you enjoyed the post :D

  12. Yep, I watch everything raw and then subbed. I've done it for other shows, but never has it been quite this satisfying. And thank you. ^^

  13. ㅋㅋㅋ I sometimes forget that the whole badly written police sections exist. Thank heavens the writer focuses on what matters!!

    It just breaks my heart to even think about how the Safari/Baksa relationship will pan out. :'''((((((. I completely agree, why can't we all just get out of this happily?? But it's a drama... and it's noir...

    I definitely think Shi-hyun was bewildered at first, but when he went after her during her stint for Jin-sook, I think he just accepted that he cares for her and just went for it. I think that's one of the qualities I like most about Shi-hyun: he gives everything for those that he loves, even if it's at a disadvantage to himself.

  14. I had no idea that this is the writer's first drama, and I am impressed. I think that if she/he doesn't take as many story-lines on, and just focuses on a couple, she/he'd go far--at least until she/he learns to balance this sort of complexity. Because the police stuff could work... it's just not incorporated very effectively and feels like deadweight.

  15. I've read both your comments, so I might reply to something here but it will apply to both places :D

    I think if you were to read the post again, and the one we did before (http://www.samsoondowntherabbithole.com/2013/06/cruel-city-study-of-unhappy-families.html) you will find that both bustered and I share some of the same opinions as you do - of course, I am sure bustered will add her two cents in here, but here are some thoughts.

    I definitely agree with you that Soo Min is not innocent, but I would say that she's naïve. I think her character is supposed to be about 20 or so, and I think that when she's been "cute" it's supposed to be a sign of her youthfulness. I also think she is untainted by the world of shadows, and that Shi Hyun sees that. I think that part of his fascination with her also has to do something with that she is more like him than he realizes. She is a younger, more untainted version of himself. I also don't think that she's dragging him down per se, but more distracting him. I think he is at a breaking point anyway, and she is serving as a catalyst for that. He is right where Safari probably was at some point before he went rogue. I think she is also at heart really good - like Kyung Mi - who has chosen to be more cheerful despite the really crappy hand life has dealt them. And really, Nam Gyu Ri is not a great actress by any means, but still the director is able to bring out a much better performance than I was expecting from her. She also happens to be contrasted with Jung Kyung Ho, who is giving the performance of a lifetime, so she is just not going to look that good. She is looking actually really great considering what level of actress she is.

    I totally agree with you that the fight scene at the zoo with Eun Soo was poorly executed. Particularly because Nam Gyu Ri has shown she can be tough and put up a fight/slash people - it was a plot device to get Shi Hyun there. Obvious perhaps, but the drama is not perfect.

    Another thing about Shi Hyun and Soo Min trusting each other. She was able to live a more sheltered life than he did because of Kyung Mi, but also because I think in part because of the house that he bought for Kyung Mi. He has already been sheltering her in a way.

  16. Thanks for the replies, guys! I read them all and I think we all seem to have the same idea of where this whole thing is going (GULP!)
    I rewatched 1-4 skipping most of Hyung-min, sorry Brother! I really really really don't like SM's love story with him. It is based on nothing, and I don't see how it could ever be reciprocal. It actually reminds me of how I felt about my big brothers' friends as a kid. No matter how big my crush was, I was just a little sister.

    Here are some wild a$$ guesses. I love making them because it doesn't matter if I am wrong or not.

    Do-hoon will be the one to get a shot at Baksa first, and he will die without succeeding. He obviously had a one-sided thing for Lady Cop and acted out of control with HM after she died. He is boiling right now, and will blow.

    Baksa will have some recovered memory of Soo-min that we haven't seen yet. It would have to be when they are kid actors, though, because otherwise he would recognize her. Maybe she catches him sticking something in the red heart mailbox and he has to give her something to keep her quiet.

    Is it Monday?

  17. Oooh! I will go look at that now...

  18. I like your surmises! I know, right...can we believe that we're actually hoping for Monday? ;)

  19. you have some very good points, thank you for that. i think i've made my dislike of Soo-min fairly clear, so i won't belabour the point. unfortunately, her version of "cute" and "untainted" does zero for me, especially when this drama seems to be veering towards conventional k-drama romance tropes, which defeats the point of a crime thriller like this. it just feels like 9 and 10 (or rather, 10 singlehandedly) undid the good work done in 1-8. the kiss and sex scenes were done well but the rest of 10... epic facepalm.

  20. Well...if it's any consolation to you...it is noir, so she might die ;)

  21. haha. you know, i hope she does. actually no. i hope Shi-hyun dies, so he can be free of her. sigh. this drama makes me want to do violence, and it isn't even to Hyung-min or Safari. okay, maybe Commissioner Min. what's with all the Mins being so annoying...

  22. LOL - well, I hope they get less annoying to you. I've continue to love them though ^^

  23. i am actually surprisingly okay with Hyung-min, even if story has him going ballistics half the time. Min Hong-ki is unsettling and doesn't inspire confidence for the way he's treated Shi-hyun, plus i feel nothing for his still being hung up on Jin-sook.

    i want more bromance though. more Soo + Shi-hyun kicking ass! i love those two together.

  24. I think there is a bigger back story behind Hong Ki, and honestly - I think he might be a bit of a scum bag who's using Shi Hyun. Hyung Min, well, sometimes I like him, but mostly I am still mad at him for being horrible to Soo Min. And I think that Soo is going to stick a big, fat, twisty dagger in Shi Hyun's back when he finds out he's a policeman. Maybe it's because I'm not totally sold on him - I only care about him marginally because he's connected to Soo. I am much more interested in the Shi Hyun/Safari dynamic.

  25. the Shi-hyun/Safari dynamic is really interesting. i'd be happy if the drama spent the rest of the episodes exploring their relationship - all the back and forth so far has been quite intriguing. the father-son, mentor-protege, relatives-of-a-sort, rivals-for-affection, power play themes... all awesome. drama should spend more time on the themes that matter.

  26. I wholeheartedly agree! I think that is where the real narrative staying power is, and where we are going to get the most heart-rending performances. Particularly with the excellent acting that Jung Kyung Ho and Choi Moo Sung are exhibiting.

  27. I just could not agree more with y'alls opinions about this show!

    For me Hyung Min of what Kyung Mi would expect of him and who he was with her because he has buried his grief in his revenge plot. I find him one of the hardest characters to like (definitely a rollercoaster relationship) because he seems to be barreling ahead without taking note of the chance that he could be wrong. What is baksa didn't cause Kyung Mi's death? Also there's a part of me (the part that watches shows like CSI) that wonders if they couldn't tell forensically that Kyung Mi was killed at an angle that would make it impossible for it to be Baksa. Like on of those moments where the scientist is like, "Well, if he was standing on the same level as her, he would have to have been thirty feet tall. So she was probably killed by a person standing on a higher incline". I don't know if you can actually tell these sorts of things or if CSI just makes it up, but it has been bothering me. However, I've taken this thought as showing that maybe they could have figured this out but Hyung Min needed someone to place the blame on so he did not feel responsible, so he is ignoring potential evidence because it creates too hard of a reality for him. I find it hard to watch him use Soo Min without much regret, but I also find it interesting that Kyung Mi surfaces as his conscious in this situation when she accuses him of waiting for Soo Min to get stuck like this so he could use her. Then he seems alarmed when Soo Min is angry at him or feels like he does not respect her feelings. Well it's because he doesn't. I also have qualms about the guy who knows about Shi Hyun's undercover op (sorry I don't know his name), but I think the scene right after Soo Min being angry at Hyung Min for not asking how she is shows Shi Hyun's guy asking him. It was an interesting and poignant contrast. Soo Min needs a lot more support than I think Hyung Min realizes because he is so single-minded. It's his strength because he does seem incorruptible because he does not lose sight of his goals, but it also gives him tunnel vision. Whereas, Shi Hyun struggles more with his motivations, but I think it allows him to see the reality of the situation. The drug world as a whole is bad, but there are people who did good things in it.

    It's like Shi Hyun loses Baksa when he is with Soo Min. He obviously likes that because he has to be on his guard so much and put up his front with everyone else, but it is also so dangerous for him to lose those walls that he has carefully built for eight years because like you said people die very easily here.

    I was also glad to see others were having squee moments during Soo Min and Shi Hyun's interactions. Oh, I definitely want more.

    I also was hoping Safari's badge would be a fakeout (because I'm starting to wonder if there are any actual drug lords or if they are all just undercover cops and because of bureaucracy no one has communicated.) I'm glad to hear he is a dirty cop only because I was also apprehensive of Shi Hyun being undercover. I felt like it made him too sympathetic and not enough of anti-hero. I really wanted him to push Soo Min's allegiances without giving her an easy out by being like, "oh he's a cop. I can love him and protect him with a clean conscience!" But the show did a good job with his reveal (having his journey be a parallel to Soo Min's and his struggles to figure out the right actions in his situation), so I have faith that Safari's will have a deeper meaning.

    Sorry this comment was so long. This post was awesome. I loved all the screen shots! I look forward to any future ones!

  28. I definitely agree that Kyung Mi is Hyung Min's conscience, and I am glad that he has been giving her some more support. I also don't trust Hong Ki so much, and I wonder about his motivations.

    As far as the CSI stuff goes, I think that at some point someone pointed out to Hyung Min that Baksa was on the same level as Kyung Mi and so couldn't have shot her, but he said that it didn't matter whether he pulled the trigger or not, Baksa was responsible. I don't really get that sort of logic, nor do I get the logic that if the bad guys and Shi Hyun can figure out that it was a military grade sniper/weapon, that surely the police forensics would have figured that out. I think that's just indicative though of the flaws the show has - poorly written police, Soo Min prancing around in stiletto heels (though Hollywood does that too), and other stuff. I am willing to suspend my belief though.

    I am glad you liked the InStyle video - it really is lovely, and it shows the nice, light-hearted side of Jung Kyung Ho.

    I am guessing that the tattoo being blurred out has something to do with Korean TV. They went through all the effort to paint it on, so it seems a shame to blur it out. Here is a pic though...

  29. I love what you said about Hyung-min and his single-mindedness. It's sad that he has no idea how much Soo-min does need him and his support. Maybe if he'd care more for her (but then there's the whole 'you-loved-my-eonni-thing which is hard to get around), she wouldn't put so much trust in Shi-hyun.

    But then, who would want that?? I certainly don't. I do hope that Hyung-min figures out some of his priorities soonish. It'd be nice to see him have to deal with that uncertainty that Shi-hyun does. It's great that he's pretty much incorruptible but it'd be interesting to see him in a weaker state.

  30. So, this is a picture of the tattoo that I had had sent to me via twitter. I am not sure which one it is... because it looks like there's two different tattoos going around that are apparently both Baska's...

  31. That is so true! I would not want Hyung Min to support Soo Min anymore if it took away from her relationship with Shi-hyun, but it still makes me like him less. I guess I'm just never satisfied.

    I look forward to his moment when he has to face the reality that the man he channeled all his need for vengeance and the outlet for his grief is one of the good guys. Oh his head is going to roll. I have faith that he can make it through it, but I think it will be his time to face that extreme uncertainty Shi Hyun is dealing with right now.

  32. This looks more like what they blurred out because in his scene with Soo Min his entire back was blurry. But I kind of hope for whoever had to make that tattoo that it was the wolf one because this looks like more work. Both are cool and I'm still confused why tattoos and guns are too much for us, but spurting blood is fine.

    Though they were painting his back, so maybe they liked spending more time on it...

  33. Oh right I remember that scene now. Hm it does not exactly add up but at the same time I think it speaks to how single-minded Hyung-Min is. He's really channeled his grief into this quest for vengeance which is just so unhealthy mentally, but I think very true to his character.

    I'm so confused about what a prosecutor is and how that is different from the United States because I'm used to Law&Order where this is Law and Order and those two things stay separate but now a prosecutor is in charge of a special unit?

    Oh I forgot to say how angry I was at that prosecutor when he was sending in men to apprehend Soo Min. That was a slap worthy action.

    Thanks for the tattoo photo! It's so cool. It sucks that they took the effort to apply it (or does it? I see you make-up lady.) At first, I thought the actor had it himself and the show would choose to blur it, but then I was like no actor in their right mind would get a tattoo that huge. Maybe one day the logic of the tattoo blurring will be explained to me. And the knife blurring. But blood is okay? That's where I really get confused.

  34. I think it took 3 hours to make this tattoo.... I'm jealous of the female body painter who did this. :3

    This one above is the official one in the drama... The tiger is the tattoo they wanted to use first but only did in the teasers. :-)

  35. That is indeed going to be an interesting section of the drama for sure!

  36. Mr/ X says the blurring is an interpretation of certain broadcasting law...but he didn't elaborate. Yeah, it makes no sense to me to have blood spurting...but knives and tattoos blurred.

  37. LOL - I am jealous too! Then again, I did dream that Jung Kyung Ho was my boyfriend the other night. He was more like his character in TBDW though. Sweet and charming.

  38. I think Hyung Min needed someone who he could focus all his energy and hatred on...and Baksa is a great candidate. If we didn't have the info about Baksa and only knew the shadowy facts, we might react the same way.

    Oh the prosecutor. I am not sure how that works, but according to Wikipedia, prosecutors have a lot more legal power in Korea and can actually interfere more actively in a police investigation. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_South_Korea

    Mr. X said on Twitter that the blurring has to do with an interpretation of Korean broadcast law, but he didn't really elaborate much.

  39. the Korean prosecutors definitely have a lot more power in deciding whether an investigation can proceed and how. so i think it's a real shame that the writer did not make use of the police v prosecution rivalry to greater effect. and then Shi-hyun can pull some handy strings courtesy of Prosecutor Ahn (who now controls the special unit) for his own goals and purposes. i think that would have made for a stronger narrative on the whole, or at least on the police side.

  40. Indeed. The whole police story arc isn't particularly well done.

  41. I totally agree. Hyung Min just needed a focus point. It makes sense why the facts led him to Baksa it's just his single-mindedness leads to him not questioning his focus once he has landed on it.
    Should have known I could look it up on Wikipedia. Maybe I'll check there for the broadcast laws too.

  42. you're not the only one here! Added me please...LOL
    I wish I could care about Soo Min, but until the end, I don't care about her at all. (too bad the sniper missed her on top building LOL) and the fact that Nam Gyu Ri isn't helping her character that much to be likeable. Soo Min turns to be annoying imo, but I'm glad

    that Cruel City isn't focus much about the romance, so Soo Min is a supporting character to me, she's just one of Shi Hyun's girls. I think the story focus on Shi Hyun's relationship with Jin Sook, Safari and Soo which is one of my favourite parts of the show and I find it more sweet and memorable to me.

  43. I guess we'll just have to agree to disagree about Soo Min and Nam Gyu Ri. ^^ Thanks for commenting!

    I really do love how the show focused on Shi Hyun's relationships, and how they broke or saved him.