Rating:
Average user rating 4.8
166

White Christmas: Episode 8 (Final)

The end has finally come, and what an end it is. The question this series has been toying with all along – are monsters born or made – does finally get an answer, though you might not like the result. It depends on how you like your heroes, and if you don’t like them with a side of murder, you might end up going hungry.

But all told, this was a pretty satisfying end to a show that I wish would never have ended at all. White Christmas, flaws and all, still stands at the very top of my ultimate favorite can’t-live-without-it list of drama awesomeness. It’s just one of a kind.

SONG OF THE DAY

Joseph Arthur – “Stumble and Pain” [ Download ]

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FINAL EPISODE RECAP

At the regional police station, officers piece the clues together from Moo-yul’s call on Christmas Eve to Ji-hoon’s call earlier that morning, claiming that a serial killer with a scar on his left palm is at their school.

The police know immediately that it’s Doctor Kim and his patient, Jung-hye, and are able to pave their way through the previously-blocked roads to the school by following an enormous snow plow.

A gunshot rings out the moment they reach the gate, which we see as the shot Jung-hye took at the plexiglass. We cut to Doctor Kim as he levels an angry look at the boys who almost bested him before dragging Jae-kyu away.

The police set up camp outside the school gates, while one officer uses a megaphone to address Doctor Kim.

Doctor Kim uses the school’s PA system to communicate back, and explains that both he and Jung-hye have a gun but all eight students are safe.

Meanwhile, Jung-hye tries uselessly to break the bulletproof glass, while Kang-mo outside sardonically reminds her that if Mad Mi-reu couldn’t get out, then she doesn’t stand a chance.

Doctor Kim responds to police questioning with his list of demands – he wants to be able to finish the students’ counseling sessions and be able to speak to their parents. After that’s done, he’ll set them free.

So the police begin a mad scramble to get all the parents to the school gates, and helicopter in swat teams and snipers to the roof. Yoon-soo’s parents are the first to arrive.

Before Doctor Kim comes in, Yoon-soo has a vision of him as a child being held close by his mom(?). Outside, the police coach his parents on what not to say.

They get to hear Yoon-soo’s voice, but Doctor Kim isn’t going to let them off that easy. He wants to test whether they really are Yoon-soo’s parents, and suggests a pop quiz. “Yoon-soo’s mother. Tell me how you make pancakes.”

She grows nervous, and the police officer beside her does a quick internet search on recipes while Doctor Kim explains their significance to Yoon-soo, and how he’d told him that he was happiest in life when his mother would make pancakes for him. And even now, he misses her when he smells pancakes.

So he asks one more time: “How did you make your pancakes?” She seems extremely nervous as she speaks into the microphone, and lies as she uses the online recipe. Yoon-soo’s memories are black and white, as we see him hugging the legs of a woman who can’t be his current mother.

Doctor Kim even calls her out, and says that it sounds like she’s reading from a cookbook. Mom loses her temper and demands to know what the point of all this is, as Doctor Kim explains that he was able to prove something. “You just proved that you really are Yoon-soo’s mother. I will return your son to you.”

Yoon-soo couldn’t look unhappier about it, and we flashback to his memories to reveal him smiling and playing with the warm woman who took care of him. Or… not. The boy playing with her is the Monster in the Corner.

Ji-hoon’s been burning up with fever this whole time, caused by an infection in his leg. Moo-yul prepares an icepack and reassures the shivering Ji-hoon that Doctor Kim is keeping his promise and letting them go, so he just has to hang in there long enough to get out.

As Doctor Kim leads him out, Yoon-soo asks how he knew that the woman he talked about wasn’t his mother. Doctor Kim explains that he just realized it now, and we flashback to reveal police storming into his black-and-white memories to arrest the woman, who had apparently kidnapped Yoon-soo.

This part is honestly confusing because there are two boys, one with blue and one without, but the feeling I’m getting is that it really was Yoon-soo holed up in the closet, and the boy with blue was his imaginary self. But there’s also the chance that it’s another boy. I’m waiting for clarification on this one.

Now, Yoon-soo wonders why he thought that woman was his mother. Doctor Kim seems sincere when he tells him: “Memories sometimes work in funny ways. Some truths ruin people. Do you still want to know the truth?”

But Yoon-soo doesn’t, and walks away. As he heads toward the police camp a sniper gets spooked and accidentally shoots. No one’s hurt, but the sound alarms everyone. Especially Doctor Kim, who loses his composure at what he feels is a betrayal by the police for placing snipers.

The negotiator explains that it was a small mistake, and Doctor Kim fires back, “Mistake? Should I make a mistake? We could shoot by mistake too.” And with that, he has the police eating out of the palm of his hand. And by the looks of it when he closes the blinds, the anger thing was all an act.

Jung-hye is in the midst of a panic attack in the cell, and looks at the two bullets left in her hands when she hears Doctor Kim explain his location.

The police question Yoon-soo about the situation inside, but he can’t offer anything helpful since he was separated from the others in the clinic.

Jung-hye dismantles one of the bullets and wraps the gunpowder in paper, which she then stuffs into the door’s lock. She has two matches, and uses one to light the paper while she steps back. We’re all waiting for the big bang, but nothing happens.

Meanwhile, Doctor Kim sets the PA system to blast some haunting operatic music.

Even though Kang-mo can’t hear he understands what Jung-hye is doing, and urges her against it since she’ll get hurt too. She ignores him and lights the other match, and this time it works. The door erupts in flames.

Kang-mo watches in horror as she emerges from the door, looking unscathed from the explosion. She calmly gives his hearing aid back and walks away… but he notices the trail of blood she’s leaving behind her.

What a chilling sight it is to see her back stained with blood, indicating that she’d turned away from the blast but something hit the back of her head. By the time she heads up the stairs her torso is all but covered in blood. It’s so frightening in ways I can’t describe.

The visuals in this show! I swear, chills are going up my spine. She stumbles through the glass-enclosed bridge where dozens of sniper laser sights follow her every move while Mozart’s Requiem plays over the PA system. There aren’t enough words about how poetic this scene is.

She barely makes it to Doctor Kim, who looks shocked when he sees her covered in blood. She hands the gun over and collapses, with him to catch her. Interestingly enough it’s the first time I’ve seen Doctor Kim look frightened, as though he’s realizing that he truly did create a monster in Jung-hye. Or the monster he’s losing.

She smears blood on his cheek by accident, and in her hurry to wipe it off, she only spreads it more. She smiles till the end, cries tears of blood, and dies in his arms.

Ji-hoon starts seizing due to the fever, and Mi-reu finally loses his cool, screaming out uselessly for the police to hurry up and force their way inside.

Eun-sung’s parents are next to arrive, and Doctor Kim comes to collect. She nervously sets her gaze on Moo-yul, who offers her a pat on the shoulder and a reassuring smile. “I’m relieved that you get to go out first.”

While Eun-sung heads up to the broadcasting room, Kang-mo tries his hearing aid on, only to find that it doesn’t work. Eun-sung’s mom can hardly contain her emotions, so her dad takes over instead. Strangely enough, Moo-yul hears the exchange and clenches his fist.

Doctor Kim wants proof that Eun-sung’s parents are who they say they are, and Mom is eager to oblige… until he tells her to confess her greatest sin. “Confess the most shameful sin that you’ve committed, then I will return your daughter.”

This sends Eun-sung into a rage, as she lunges at him with her hands in cuffs, kicking and screaming, calling him a devil. He slams her head down onto the desk and holds her still, practically cooing the words, “See how far your mom goes to save you.”

This puts Eun-sung’s mom in a precarious situation, and the few glances we’ve had of her driver are enough to tell us what’s really going on here. (Eun-sung talked to Doctor Kim about her mother’s affair before.) The negotiator urges her to lie, since Doctor Kim wouldn’t know what her sin was anyway.

While Mom starts going through a litany of her business-related sins, Kang-mo sneaks through the halls, staying away from windows. Doctor Kim eventually stops her: “I need a confession that will prove you’re her mother. The first sin you thought of when I asked you to confess.”

And Eun-sung, knowing what it is, cries pitifully. In the room with the rest of the boys, Young-jae murmurs, “He’s trying to ruin us. Totally ruin us.”

Doctor Kim wonders aloud to Eun-sung whether her mother will pick her daughter, or herself. He gives Mom till the count of ten, and as the numbers climb higher Mom grows tearful and nervous, but can’t bring herself to speak.

He reaches the end, and Mom still hasn’t answered. He tells the PA system that he’s left with no choice, and looks to Eun-sung as she cries, knowing now that her mother chose herself over her life.

As he begins to lead her out, Doctor Kim admits that he’d wished for her mom to choose to save her daughter, but explains that Eun-sung’s mom is just selfish. He seems to be reassuring Eun-sung that though there are some parents who’ll sacrifice for their kids, it isn’t the norm.

Doctor Kim: “Don’t feel upset about it. You’ll never slit your wrist again because of your mom, right?” Weird. Once again, it’s like he’s doing all this craziness to help them, in a weird, twisted, and sick way. Eun-sung spits out: “I hope you die.”

He affectionately pats her on the head, and sends her on her way. Mom runs out to meet her, and Kang-mo watches from the CCTV laptop. There’s a strange moment where Doctor Kim looks at Teach’s snow-covered corpse in the courtyard.

Eun-sung’s mom sobs over her, and she looks less than enthused to be in Mom’s embrace. The police probe her for information, and she claims that there can’t be more than three bullets left.

More parents arrive. The Negotiator plans on letting Doctor Kim continue the counseling, but Eun-sung desperately grabs his arm: “No! This isn’t counseling, it’s an experiment. He’s experimenting to turn us into monsters.” But the Negotiator tells her that as long as Doctor Kim keeps his word, they have to keep going.

While Kang-mo finds a hiding spot next to Jung-hye’s corpse, the loudspeaker announces that Young-jae and Moo-yul’s parents have arrived. Young-jae jumps to his feet and locks the cage door with a bicycle lock.

Doctor Kim is pretty laissez-faire about the lock, and tells them that they can stay in there as long as they realize that Jae-kyu will die in their stead. (We haven’t seen him yet this episode, but presumably Doctor Kim has him locked up as his trump card.)

“I hope you make the most of your time from now on,” Doctor Kim shrugs. “Especially seeing as you sacrificed a friend for your own lives. Moo-yul, you should know. You’re used to living that way.”

This is the line that gets Moo-yul to unlock the door, causing Doctor Kim to smile to himself like he’s won.

However, Kang-mo wasn’t hiding out in the broadcasting room for the hell of it – he manages to rig the laptop CCTV feed to the school’s jumbotron, so that the police can see whatever he does – and one shot is of the dead Jung-hye. Smart move, Kang-mo. You’re earning some serious cool points.

The police can’t figure out how to enter the fortified school until Eun-sung tells them about the window where Mi-reu outlined the secret passage. In no time at all, SWAT team members are crawling through the air ducts.

Kang-mo hides under the desk in the broadcasting room while Doctor Kim hosts his free counseling session with Moo-yul’s dad, congratulating him for raising a wonderful son. “I was confused at one point,” he admits. “But he’s the true leader among the students here.”

However, he thinks that Moo-yul’s heroic behavior points to a yearning for death, and knows that Moo-yul must feel guilty because he lived instead of his mom. He asks Dad if he raised his son to think that he had to grow up great in place of his mom.

“Sir, I really like Park Moo-yul,” Doctor Kim admits. “So please convince him. Tell him not to be so attached to death. Tell him not to think about dying for another person.”

The cop tells Dad to talk to Moo-yul like he normally does, but Dad is so flustered he can barely stutter. He’s shaking like a leaf as he speaks into the microphone: “Park Moo-yul. I never asked you for any favors. This is the first favor that I’m asking you as your father: Don’t die. Whatever you have to do, make sure you don’t die. Even if it’s cowardly, don’t die. That’s my wish.”

This scene really gets to me, because we see his father breaking down into tears and how it affects Moo-yul. And then, Young-jae’s mother shoves him aside to scream into the microphone – where’s HER son? (Like mother, like son.)

She screams about being unable to see her own son while she can see everyone else’s, which clues Doctor Kim into the fact that he’s being watched by the CCTV.

Only the sound of heavy breathing is heard as we cut to the SWAT teams closing in – saving Jae-kyu and Young-jae, while parents and police wait anxiously outside. Doctor Kim moves Moo-yul up to the rooftop, and we hear the sound of a gunshot.

Eun-sung breaks down, thinking that Moo-yul is dead. And Moo-yul lies still on the rooftop, clutching someone’s pant leg, though we can’t see who. I guess we’re to assume it’s Doctor Kim.

There’s an interesting shot where Moo-yul is mostly surrounded by darkness, where we can’t tell if he’s alive or dead as different news reports flood us with varying stories – the criminal has committed suicide, and the students are now being treated.

Slowly but surely, light floods the room and we discover Moo-yul in a hospital bed, attended by this father. He goes to check on the others, with Mi-reu and Kang-mo drawing on Ji-hoon’s shiny new leg cast. D’aww. Moo-yul is all smiles when he sees them.

Moo-yul must’ve been hit in the back of the head, and all the boys ooh and ahh over his head lump. Ji-hoon even gets out of bed to see, and when faced with curious glances, he’s all, “I can’t touch it? I’ve never felt a bump before.” Aww, Ji-hoon is learning how to be more sociable! Wuv.

The Negotiator comes in to congratulate them on being alive, and delivers some news: Their teacher is alive and being treated at the hospital. No one believes him since Teach was in the courtyard for several days.

But this is where the Negotiator gets to be incredulous – they didn’t find anyone in the courtyard, they found the teacher on the roof. Ji-hoon then asks if the doctor killed himself with a gun in his mouth. This seems bad, whatever it is.

Yoon-soo gets treated at his fancy home instead of the hospital, and asks his mother why his caretaker kidnapped him as a child. Mom explains that she fired her, “Because you thought she was your mom. You gave her the Parent’s Day carnation instead of me. You probably think that mothers don’t get hurt by their children.”

She leaves Yoon-soo alone in the room.

Police have set up checkpoints outside the hospital to make sure Doctor Kim doesn’t escape. (I know, roll with it for now.) The boys wonder if he really is trying to escape, but Ji-hoon comes up with another conclusion: “If I were him, there’d be only one thing I’d want. To confirm the results of my experiment.”

Yoon-soo sees the blue-faced boy, the Monster in the Corner, and avoids him by listlessly roaming his enormous house. He gets a call from Moo-yul, only the voice on the other end is Doctor Kim’s, as he counts up to ten. Is this another hypnosis method?

“Is hide-and-seek over now?” Doctor Kim asks, and the Corner Monster begins to count to ten in the corner, his back turned like he’s playing hide-and-seek.

Now we see the full scene of his flashback, where the police found him in the closet. His caretaker ran to what was probably her son first, the boy with blue on his face. All the more heartbreaking because young Yoon-soo thought she was running to him.

“Why did I lie?” Yoon-soo ruefully asks the Corner Monster, when he’s really asking himself. “Because she hugged you instead of me. I must’ve wanted to be you.”

And as he heads up the stairs, the Corner Monster follows him. Once in his room, he slowly shuts the door on the Corner Monster. Why is this shot so frightening?

Armed guards stand watch around Yoon-soo’s house, and are all startled when they hear a gunshot from inside. Oh no.

Strangely enough, a young man working at a gas station stares up at the clouds. When we see his full face, half is covered by a faded birthmark… So this must be Yoon-soo’s Corner Monster, all grown up.

All the boys (and Eun-sung) are gathered together in the hospital, but both she and Young-jae are lost in their own worlds. The Negotiator comes in with a grim face, and tells the boys that Yoon-soo committed suicide. Whoa.

The shock of this settles in with everyone in the room. We cut to Yoon-sung’s house, where a hunting rifle lies next to Yoon-soo’s body, with blood seeping out of his head. And half of his face painted blue. Oh my god. Oh my god. Please make this stop. I didn’t expect them to show the body, but it really brings it home in a bad way.

The officer tells them that Yoon-soo left a short suicide note: “The egg’s about to crack.” Young-jae recognizes what that means as he murmurs, “The monster’s egg.”

They know Yoon-soo received a call from Not-yul, and tell the boys that all outside contact is banned. Moo-yul wonders what it is Yoon-soo could have heard, and he and Ji-hoon lock eyes to hatch a plan.

The police station gets a call from Doctor Kim… only it’s not him, and it’s Ji-hoon’s voice. The police don’t know better (we’ll have words about this later) and think it’s really him, so Doctor Ji-hoon claims he’s finished with his experiment and is done with the kids.

After the phone call, Moo-yul throws the cell phone out the window. The police scramble away from guarding the boys, and we find Doctor Kim in plain sight, dressed as a doctor.

Mi-reu holds back the two remaining guards so that Moo-yul and the rest of the gang can go free.

In another part of the hospital, Eun-sung’s mom dogs her and follows her every move, until Eun-sung finally snaps. The first thing Mom does, of course, is look around to see who is judging her.

Mom claims she’s worried that Eun-sung might get captured again, and she fires back, “If I was so precious, why didn’t you answer?” Mom asks what she means, and Eun-sung says her greatest sin. Mom’s caught wide-eyed and red-handed, and has no retort to give as Eun-sung storms off. Well deserved.

The police are on a wild goose chase for Doctor Kim, and eventually stop a random truck for no reason when they think Doctor Kim’s inside. However, we find him on the hospital roof where Eun-sung has gone.

She turns to him and tells him: “You lost.” The camera pans around to reveal all the boys behind Doctor Kim on the roof. This was all part of their plan, since the police end up hunting down the cell phone they used in the garbage truck, miles away from the hospital.

Doctor Kim seems to gloat in the fact that Yoon-soo isn’t among them, and sarcastically claims he just said ‘Hello’ on the phone, “As well as the final keyword to awaken the monster.” I want to punch that smug look right off his face.

Eun-sung steps forward, reciting this: “The white laundry moves with the wind on the line. The rooster windmill goes round and round the neighbor’s roof.” This strikes fear into Doctor Kim as he asks her how she knows.

She continues, “It’s bad when it rains. The laundry must be collected.” Doctor Kim yells at her to stop, but she continues. She’s using the words he’d murmured feverishly in the clinic.

Doctor Kim lunges at her, but the boys all grab him and push him toward the edge of the roof. She tells him that he’s lost – the monster didn’t wake up. He asks how she’s so sure.

Eun-sung: “Yoon-soo is dead. Want me to say it again? Yoon-soo took his own life instead of becoming a monster. You wanted us to become monsters. You wanted to say that you weren’t the only monster, but you’re wrong. We won’t become monsters. Whether monsters are born or raised, you’re still evil. You’re the evil one. You’re the only one who’s dirty!”

The police arrive back at the hospital, and start rushing up to the roof. Doctor Kim regains his composure and reminds the group that one failed experiment (Yoon-soo) doesn’t mean the hypothesis is wrong. His experiment isn’t over yet, because what of the remaining boys?

Moo-yul leaves the group quietly, and as the police arrive, he locks the door to the roof with a chain. “It’s all over,” Moo-yul says, his eyes not quite focused. Doctor Kim seems surprised that Moo-yul would do this, and suddenly Moo-yul’s eyes become like daggers as he tells Doctor Kim, “You’re finished.”

All the boys, sans Eun-sung and Ji-hoon, grab Doctor Kim and throw him over the edge of the roof. He’s holding onto the edge with his hands, and looks into the faces of the group staring at him. A smile comes over Doctor Kim’s face, like he’s proud. Like he’s won.

And then, he lets go, and falls to his death only moments before the police break through the door.

Jae-kyu sits in a police interrogation room, and the officer asks him to explain once more what happened on the roof. He starts with this story, and we get a nifty montage of all the group telling what must be meticulously rehearsed stories about how they got to the roof, why the door was locked, etc.

Until finally, we stop at Moo-yul, who seems oddly vacant when he tells the officer that Doctor Kim just fell off the roof before the police came, and that he wasn’t able to do anything. The officer seems dubious but has no choice but to accept the story.

He asks Moo-yul one last question: Did Doctor Kim say anything before he died? We cut to a flashback of him hanging off the edge of the roof, smiling. “I won,” Doctor Kim had said, the moment before he let go.

But Moo-yul looks straight into the camera as he lies, “No. He didn’t say a thing.”

He’s freed, and the rest of the group joins him outside. Together they walk down the long hallway as the lights go dark behind them.

 
COMMENTS

This finale is a really confusing case, because I like the conclusions the episode got to, but not so much how it got to them. The scenes we got were emotionally and narratively fulfilling, but there was some serious glossing-over going on that affected my ability to purely enjoy the show.

Most of it is technical, and has to do with suspension of disbelief. Everyone’s meter is different, but I think we can all agree that a police force should be able to tell the difference between Teach’s body, which was frozen for eight days prior, and a supposedly freshly-dead Doctor Kim. That’s already hard to buy, but let’s say we did and moved on – if Doctor Kim shot Teach in the mouth to masquerade the body as a suicide, wouldn’t an autopsy or just a regular once-over reveal Teach’s week-old stab wound? That’d raise some suspicions, right?

So even if we bought the idea of a blind forensic pathologist, there’s the whole reason Doctor Kim killed Teach in the first place: Because his picture was released by news agencies, and Teach had a TV. It wouldn’t take a seasoned eye to hold a picture of Doctor Kim up next to Teach’s face and decide that they’re not the same person. The pieces just don’t fit, unless the police officers used their investigation time to make moonshine.

I can’t even say it’s a small flaw in the scope of things, since it’s a pretty gaping flaw, which impacted how the episode moved forward and how it ended. I can see why we needed Doctor Kim out of jail for those scenes to happen, but I’m still scratching my head over this one.

That aside though, this episode was amazing. What I especially liked, and what I wish we could have gotten more of, was Doctor Kim’s parent confrontations. It speaks to a weird dichotomy I found in him where sometimes it seemed like he was genuinely working for the group’s well-being, even though he was holding them at gunpoint.

Like with Eun-sung and her mom; I was horrified when she didn’t speak up to save her daughter’s life, but at the same time, it was something Doctor Kim orchestrated to free Eun-sung of her mom-related issues. Eun-sung saw it as part of Doctor Kim’s monster experiment, but the forced parent/child conversations actually seemed like real counseling sessions (minus the guns and police and coercion). What I mean is, apart from Yoon-soo, Doctor Kim was helping to free Moo-yul and Eun-sung from the different guilts that had haunted them through the years.

I found Doctor Kim a fascinating character up until the end, where it seemed as though there was a mad dash to cement him as eeevil in case we’d forgotten, so he acted out of character for the first time while lashing out at Eun-sung. It’s believable that he’d react strongly to Eun-sung reminding him of his past, but I’m still pretty iffy. Something about his sudden change seemed cartoonish.

The situation with Yoon-soo was interesting, and I mostly wonder at Doctor Kim’s involvement. We all knew Yoon-soo was teetering toward the brink with more frequent occurrences of the Monster in the Corner, and we also knew that Yoon-soo reacted poorly to hypnosis. When Doctor Kim called him a failed experiment, everything fit together.

What I assumed was that Doctor Kim tried to ‘activate’ Yoon-soo’s monster by using hypnosis, but just like before, Yoon-soo woke up and decided to stop. Only this time, the only way he saw to do that was to kill himself, which was equal parts surprising and terrifying. It’s a sad end for Yoon-soo, and one that could have been prevented if Doctor Kim had never entered the picture. Or not. Who’s to say?

So now we reach the question of the series, the big enchilada: Are monsters born, or are they made? The answer to that will vary from viewer to viewer, and to really dig deep into the nature vs. nurture debate, we’d need a whole lot more space. But for what it’s worth, and in the scope of this show, I don’t think Doctor Kim was entirely wrong when he claimed he won.

We head into some murky waters with the technicalities of his death, namely that the boys threw him over the edge but he chose to let go. But, intent counts for a lot here, and I don’t think they threw him over expecting him to survive – they were honestly trying to murder him. With the police right behind them and Doctor Kim without a weapon, they weren’t being actively hunted or harmed. They could have let the police capture him (although with that level of police ineptitude, I can see why they were hesitant), but instead, they each made a cold, calculated decision to take his life.

However, depending on your favorite school of philosophy, I say Doctor Kim only half-won because human beings aren’t meant to be broken down into ‘monster’ and ‘not a monster’. Nurture plays a part in everyone’s lives but it doesn’t automatically preclude free will, and it’s important that we got to see our boys make that choice, and even more chilling to see them lie about it later. The interrogation scene was amazing, and the look in Moo-yul’s eyes was honestly chilling.

So while the act they committed was monstrous, it doesn’t make them all monsters. You can’t reduce people like Moo-yul down to that moniker easily. I will admit though that while it was satisfying to see their solidarity, what they did was wrong wrong wrong, no matter the reason behind it. And I suppose it works to bring people like Moo-yul, Mi-reu, and Ji-hoon to the point where they could kill a person. They became monsters to fight a monster. Does that make it right?

I’m inclined to think no, because the long and short of it was that our leads got away with murder. And while that’s endlessly fascinating from a narrative standpoint, part of me wonders if the murder would have been more fulfilling if Doctor Kim hadn’t died thinking he’d won. Because after all these trials, you end up hoping that good will prevail over evil. But it’s never that easy, is it?

 
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Thank you!

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Thank you again for the recap! This drama is on my list of dramas to watch.

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I don't get why you hafta comment on all the posts here, even on shows you not watching.

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I don't think its a problem to comment on a post even if you are not watching a drama. There are a few dramas i don't watch but read the recaps first to decide if i should even start so that I don't waste my time (Dr. Jin for example). A loyal reader and fan of DB should have every right to thank them for their hard work for recapping for us.

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agree!

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True that!

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I agree with this as well, but I can't help but to think that ivoire is commenting at least partially for the reason of being first. That's what irks me a bit.

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Its just so all Ivoire's comments can be on top

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Haha...there are just as many colorful personalities on here as there are in White Christmas.

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finally! thank you, I've been waiting for this recap

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Yeeeaaaa! It's here! Have been waiting all day! On to reading!

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"And then, Young-jae’s mother shoves him aside to scream into the microphone – where’s HER son? (Like mother, like son.)"

I found this act unforgivable. Even though I understood that she thought her child was in danger. That woman was either ridiculously stupid, or appalling [I can't think of a word to encapsulate my contempt] selfish.

I almost feel as if a few of those students needed to petition to become emancipated minors--if such a think exist in Korea.

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thanks for the recap.

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I don't know. While I agree that Young-jae's mom was probably kind of selfish and kind of stupid by doing that... If someone had your kid at gunpoint or something, I'd figure you'd be a bit crazy and probably a bit thoughtless in your actions; I mean, I think I would be freaking out and just trying to get my kid back. Y'know?

And I'm not sure exactly what you're referring to at the end there, but I think people's lives are more complicated than good and bad, easy or hard - just like it's not a simple matter of being a monster or not. (I don't know if that makes sense with regards to your comment, but...yeah.)

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I totally agree with the statement "like mother like son" about Young-Jae and his mother. It's not because you are trembling for your kid that you should be a jerk about it because all the parents were in the same situation and yet they didn't act the way Young-Jae's mother did, but surprise surprise she was the only only shoving aside a father trying to speak to his son maybe for the last time, so this speaks for itself about what kind of person she really is.

What I mean is while I understand that she should/ maybe was really affraid for her son knowing that somebody is having him at gunpoint, I also think that she was really selfish thinking only about herself, not caring that maybe by doing what she was doing she would be harming the other kids too at some level. For me she was tot [Read more]

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I agree. When I saw her shove the other parent out of the way and basically jeopardize every other child held hostage, she would gotten a faceplant and a beatdown.

It might have been better for the police to keep the families sequestered until it was time to talk to their particular child, but that is real life and not drama.

It was one of the best series I saw, and I'm very happy that so many of the young actors have gone on to play roles in other shows!

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Totally agree about Young-Jae. Idiocy + cowardice, like mother like son. It's as though they lack this simple human ability to pause and *think*. For them, it's just "me, me, me" all the way. Not so easy to make excuses for people like that, once you consider that other people behave more decently.

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I disagree with the "like mother, like son" description, actually. Young-jae isn't so much like his mother as her "me first, I'm the only one who matters" attitude explains the why of Young-jae. Her action was stupid and selfish. (Dr. Kim might have killed her son because she interrupted.) And I could see how such a stupid and selfish mother could turn out such a frightened and weak child.

Of course, this is all colored by what Young-jae said about his mom. Her outburst just confirmed what he'd said about her and Young-jae was wise to be terrified of how Dr. Kim planned on using her to destroy him.

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yeah I'm a little worried that YoungJae would snitch about them killing Dr. Kim.

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I can't say I agree with you about Youngjae... After watching this for the second time ever (my first time was during the original airing back in 2011, and it took me way too long to find it again in its entirety :'}), I've come to be so intrigued by and empathetic toward Youngjae.
To be honest I really feel that had we been given a little more time to partially tie up some loose ends in character development, we would have seen that Youngjae was not, at his core, a selfish, cowardly 'snitch.' We only saw those characteristics become manifest in his actions as he explored his own humanity, just as the other seven students did in their own way.

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Thank you c:

After I read recap 7, I decided to just go ahead and watch the entire series, then and there. So I did. But when I came to this final episode...I was just pretty confused - so glad for your thoughts from this ^^;

Like you said, I liked where the show takes its ending, but I can't say I really followed how it got there.

Anyway. Curious thing it is, the question of whether a monster is born or made. Obviously, there's not going to be a simple answer; it's not like you can say one is better/worse than the other. And like you said, it's not as simple as 'you're a monster' and 'you're not a monster'.

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I really enjoyed this short story series thanks to your wonderful recaps, otherwise I probably would never have known this series. Did the children become monsters by killing the doctor? I am not sure.. It wasn't self defense, but if it happened to me, I think I will want to have peace of mind when I sleep at night... The solidarity the kids have shown is... touching, and a little scary hehe it reminds me of the Vampire Prosecutor's case where all the friends got together to kill the woman they felt was wicked...

Nevertheless its a powerful and amazing short drama. Thank you HeadsNo2!!

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I was immediately reminded to that Vampire Prosecutor story line as well.....

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They became "monsters" to stop a monster. Once those monsters inside of them were released, I wonder if they can put them back in. This was a really intense series, scary in a way because of how close it is to reality. How a person can turn into a monster with a key phrase or random act. Gives you shivers doesn't it?

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Did anyone notice that the actors who played Mi Reu, Jae Kyu and Yoon Soo all acted together in Vampire Idol as well? That's so odd/cool for them to team up again like that. If they like working with each other then it must have been fun to work together again.

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I don't think it was a coincidence :)

I think White Christmas probably jump started all of their careers. Sung Joon and Kwak Jung Wook reappear together in Shut Up Flower Boy Band, Young Jae appears in Bachelor's Vegetable Store and Love Rain, Kim Hyun Joong (Mi Reu) appears in Big, and Esom appears in CFs and has a cameo in Ghost.

And even if White Christmas didn't necessarily jump start their careers, I think it gathered a group of rising new actors, so it's no wonder we're seeing them pop up every where~~ I was especially impressed with Mi Reu and Young Jae's acting.

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Actually it was Baek Sung-hyun who played Mu-yeol that acted in Big. And I agree that Kim Woo-bin (Mi-reu) had acted well especially when this is his debut show.

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The police...are some the most incompetent beings I have ever seen in a drama.

I just cannot get over that huge plothole. There are so many things wrong with mistaking the teacher's corpse for the Doctor's, all of which HeadsNo2 has listed. For a drama that's been so smart for all its past episodes, I can't help but be a little disappointed by this one VERY BIG flaw in the plot, and at a crucial point in the story too. Also, I have some serious issues with the ending. I know it's meant to be ambiguous, but it does seem to lean towards "the kids are monsters" answer to the question. They murdered someone, very clearly intending to murder him too, seeing as they'd actively locked the police out instead of giving the Doctor up to them. I feel like the show was trying to accomplish somethi [Read more]

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Okay, I actually thought the police plot-hole... well, wasn't. :) It might be that I missed some things but, here's my take.

Dr. Kim shot the teacher in the face with the gun. (Ji-hoon's cutting-to-the-meat-of-the-issue question.) That means they had an unidentifiable corpse that all signs pointed towards being Dr. Kim. The corpse may have thawed a little when Dr. Kim pulled it inside (which must have been when he looked at it -- before Kang-mo set up the CCTV for everyone). Though, being so obviously dead, I'm quite sure there wasn't a rush to collect the body with actual living wounded to deal with. Which means that it being frozen wouldn't have been too weird. Hell, they may have stuck it in a freezer to preserve it when it arrived at the lab.

Also, the corpse wouldn't have be [Read more]

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Yes, I can go with all that - I noted that question from Ji-hoon too, and figured the body had not been immediately unidentifiable. So when the police do realize their mistake, that's they start setting up roadblocks. Although one wonders why they didn't recognize the surviving adult as Dr Kim and not the teacher if they had a photo of him! I suppose it's a case of people seeing what they expect to see.

The rest of this drama is so perfectly and tightly plotted that it does seem odd that this last episode appears to have a few inconsistencies. It may not be the writer's fault of course - or the director's - perhaps we've lost a few crucial minutes due to length issues that might have made everything clear.

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*nods* Yeah, I think people seeing what they expect to see goes a long way towards the police not recognizing him. And Dr. Kim would have been used to using that sort of cover I'd guess.

Further down the comments "whimsyful" talks about adult incompetence being a recurring theme. So I do think the police were supposed to come across as a certain level of incompetence. The question is if it's a believable level. It works for me, but as HeadsNo2 pointed out -- everyone has their own suspension of disbelief.

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Oh, and regarding the point HeadsNo2 makes in her comments about the police not noticing the week-old knife wound in the body - I didn't think the body had a knife wound. In Episode 4 (I think), Moo-yul and Eun-Sung go back to look at the body and one of them comments that leaving the knife seems odd as the killer could have disposed of it. Then they brush the snow away from the body and see something that surprises them - which we don't see. I thought it was that the teacher had been shot, not stabbed, so the knife is a red herring planted by Dr Kim to hide the fact that he has a gun. But I may be completely wrong... Will just have to watch the whole thing through again, which will be no great hardship!

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yeah the knife was planted by Dr. Kim to make them suspect each other as the killer. Anyone can get a knife but guns are rare in Korea.

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Yeah, didn't Dr Kim say he used one bullet to kill the teacher when Ji-hoon asked how many bullets he had left? That could be easily disguised if he shot again

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I hope somebody could answer my question: If Dr. Kim disguised the teach's body as his, then how did the police believe that the teacher is alive?

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The last episode! I'm so sad it's over.

The first time I finished this series, I was staring at the screen, mind-blown. And even days later, I was still thinking about it, about the ending, about these characters who felt so so real.

Ramble ahead:

- The police are morons. Complete and totally incompetent. Those logic fails were probably the weakest part of the entire series.

- But the failure of the police was also necessary, both narratively and thematically. The final face-off had to be between Dr.Kim and the students, so Dr.Kim had to escape. And if the police were actually competent, I don't think the students would have gone as far as murder. It's been a running theme, how all the adult figures have failed to protect and care for the students, from the murdered Teach to cr [Read more]

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Me, too, would like to know about them years later. But, I don't think they would make it. It's up to our imagination.

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you've got a good point there about all of the adult's being incompetent, or at least not as smart as the genius students

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Whimsy! Thank youn for recco'ing this me. I thoroughly enjoyed it the second time around as well!

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Ooh, I second (third?) the idea of a sequel! It'd be so, so cool to see how they all are a few years down the road. Still a group? Gone their separate ways? Would they come together easily or would it be awkward city? (Makes me think of Stephen King's "It" actually.)

I didn't think the police were that incompetent (more, Dr. Kim was fairly good), but I won't repeat that argument because I totally agree with what you said: "It’s been a running theme, how all the adult figures have failed to protect and care for the students, from the murdered Teach to crazy Jung-hye to the parents."

Which is fascinating because, that's part of growing-up isn't it? Realizing that adults aren't as all-powerful as children think. (Daddy will fix it; Mommy will keep me safe.) But [Read more]

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Yeah, I think the detective questioning them at the end suspected the truth. But from his point of view, seven high school students from an extremely prestigious school (some of whom have powerful, respected parents) killed a wanted serial killer who held them hostage for a week and caused one of their classmate's (who has a rich and powerful family) death. No judge or jury would punish them very harshly even if they were found guilty, and the investigation would also reveal the police's gross incompetence in handling the situation.

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I think the murder was planned. They knew Dr. Kim would just be around, watching them. So Eunsung had to go to the rooftop where she's supposedly alone so Dr. Kim can show himself. Well we know she wasn't alone, and the boys were expecting the doc. There was also a moment when Eunsung (or somebody) dropped a scalpel blade? They needed it as evidence that Dr. Kim pointed a knife at ES, like how they told the investigator.

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Sooo, this is it... the end of this beautiful drama... I loved it and I loved the end. I was a little bit sad that Yoon-Soo died but indeed the end was just perfect for me.

Thank you HeadsN°2 for the recaps and for highlining some points that made me love this drama even more.

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Ok, I don't know if somebody already mentioned this but I find the first screencap with the 8 of them totally awesome!!!

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Even though I already watched this series, your recaps totally filled in so many gaps for me and made me really appreciate your insights (like that moment where Moo-yul's dad pleads with his son). You even included awesome music!

THANKS SO much!

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Yeah I agree, the songs were totally perfect !!!

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I had chills when I heard Arcade Fire being played in the climax. The music choices were totally spot on.

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thanks it was great

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finally, finale recaps is here ... thanks a lot heads. Are monsters born or made? until now, i still don't know the answer to that question ... but one thing i agree, the doctor's death the only way to give them closure. He's been playing tricks with them physically and mentally. though i would prefer that the police will do that job instead of them, but considering the situation they were in after one of them killed himself triggered of course by the lunatic doctor ... i can't blame them to handled it their way.

did they become monsters as well? i guess i have to wait and watch season 2 *hopeful - fingers crossed*

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thanks for the wonderful recap.Ye yes yes, that's how I felt when I saw this drama, cann't say better than you.
I do not hate the end, even I think it's very appropriate(except for the thing how the doctor can missunderstanding as the teacher, but,what can I say?). from the beginning we've been told by the narrator that they are fighting a monster with a monster himself.
I just.... feel sad? maybe because I was including the one who hoping they can fight evil until the end. haha
So i think, my favorite episode is episode 7. Because I really hope (when I was watching) each of them fighting against monsters in theirself to win and in the end they win(in this eps)haha

But, anyway, can someone tell what the problem of Young-jae? I see in...forget the eps..about his dream when he was ch [Read more]

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Young-jae's mother abused him. She would lock him outside in his underwear for not liking the food she cooked him for dinner. Then when he misbehaved by stealing from other kids she'd excuse his behavior. She was inconsistent with the scale of her punishments in comparison to the misbehavior.

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I was also kinda creeped out when he said he mother loves him seems like the kind of thing he was doing to simultaneously protect himself from the truth, protect his mother from the consequences of her abuse and what you'd hear an abusive person tell the abused "you know I love you but sometimes you do things that make me angry ( but there is a thin line between abuse and punishment)".

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And how defensive he was about his mom being normal and good. Like he knew she wasn't but couldn't face it. Yeah, I totally agree Young-jae was abused.

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I think Young-jae defending his mother is common behavior for abused kids. He asked Dr. Kim "what is wrong with me" because he rather blame himself than blame his mother. Parents are like God to a child. To admit his mother was wrong would be like admitting that something is wrong with the world. He rather believe the world is ok and he is the defective one.

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I mean, fight the monster by become monster itself, sorry for the error(not really good in english :P)

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First, I completely agree about the body swap not making any sense. I never really understood how they could mistake a body that had been dead for several days as a dead-just-a-few-minutes-ago body, even if it was frozen (or more especially because it had been frozen).

About the ending, when I first watched this series I was really saddened that 1.) Yoon-soo committed suicide, and 2.) the students tried to kill the doctor and therefore proving that he was right. I mean, talk about depressing! In retrospect, I admire the balls the creators had to take the story in this direction and realize that the ending is more ambiguous than I originally felt.

I have to say though that Moo-yul did warn us at the very beginning of the series that he had to become a monster to defeat a monster. [Read more]

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Am I the only one who thinks that Yoon-soo lied about being kidnapped? The first time I watched the show that's what I thought he meant when he talked about lying because the woman ran to her own son instead of him. This is how I thought it went down...

Yoon-soo went to her house after she was fired to play. As the two boys were playing hide and seek, the police came into the house. The woman ran to her own son instead of Yoon-soo. When asked by the police what happened, Yoon-soo lied in response, saying that he was kidnapped. Afterward, feeling guilty, he blocked out the memory of his lie.

I haven't seen anyone really touch on this, so was I totally wrong?

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Never mind, I just finished reading through the comments and noticed other people's take on Yoon-soo's lie. I'm still really sad that he died! *pout*

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I THOUGHT THE SAME THING!!!

After all what else did he mean when he said to the litle boy apparition "why did I lie?"

What else could he have lied about? Is that why he's haunted by the little boy because he took his mother away from him?

I am still not sure why he killed himself...

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My thought is this: what is a monster? What does a person have to do to be considered a monster? If you kill innocent people just to kill, does that make you a monster? What if you kill only once and it is a serial killer that you murder-does that make you a monster? Dr. Kim kept saying "monster" but what is a monster? How would he know if they turned into one or not? How would they know if they turned into monsters? Well in my opinion Dr. Kim IS a monster because he murdered innocent people, whereas the students killed a man who was a danger to society. So I don't think they became monsters. If he escaped once, twice, who's to say he won't again. The only way to be certain that his evil is gone is to make sure HE is gone. Sadly they will have to live the rest of their lives wondering if t [Read more]

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I don't think the kids became monsters. What they did was self defense. They were dealing with an evil genius serial killer who could hypnotize them over the phone! The cops were too incompetent to even arrest the guy. The only way for them to be safe is for Dr. Kim to die. Yeah they locked the door to keep the cops from arresting Dr. Kim but once again, all he has to do is call to hypnotize them. Yoon-su committing suicide showed them that they would never be safe until l Dr. Kim was dead.

Other than a few leaps of logic in this episode this was a very well written interesting scary drama. I wish it was longer. Hopefully these actors will get to work together again.

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Yup. In order to answer the originial questions, you have to define what a monster is. So the ending still leaves it up to you to decide, are monsters born or made?

I think I find with a lot of debates people have, it often comes down on how you define the words in the question.

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They're kids who are geniuses. They all understood that the word monster has a definition that will be unique to the each person. Doctor Kim planned for them to become what they individually believed was a monster. Think of it this way: Each person has a different line. The goal of Kim was to make them cross their own lines, their own boundaries, and become what they perceive a monster to be.

Sure they were pushed to the edge. Sure they had good reasons. But it doesn't excuse what they have done. They pushed Dr. Kim out of that roof intending to kill him and they stood by and watched him fall. They committed a cold-hearted murder. And, for the whole series, each of them considered the choice of letting someone die. When Chihun fell down a cliff, when a hostage could die because [Read more]

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I think Teacher told Yoon-soo the truth that he avoided hearing at the school: Yoon-soo was clinging to a constructed image of his parents, particularly his mom, that didn't actually exist. Once that image of shattered, he believed that nobody really loved him. Rather than lashing out and becoming a monster, he contained it with a bullet.

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Thanks HeadsNo2 for recapping this amazing drama and letting me relive it. I agree with your final assessment of the drama, so I won't repeat it here. However, I'm more accepting about the gaping flaw and don't let it bother me too much. That's not the main point of the drama, anyway.

After finishing watching the drama, some of the things I wonder :

- if the group is ever able to get out of this monster hole (or as someone above says, "keep the monster in"). There's no question they're not the same people as before, but do they cross back the line to the good side after that brief journey to the dark side ?

- are they now feeling that they can do whatever they have their minds set to do ? You know, like they can get away with anything as long as they gather their forces ?

- is [Read more]

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I think that's where a big part of the overall question, born or made, comes in. Their killing of the Doctor can almost be excused as self defense and pyschological breakdowns after mental torture. The police were so inept (how can you mistake a days frozen body for a freshly dead one?) that you can understand after Yoonsoo's death the kids wanting to take it into their own hands, and make sure with their own eyes that Doctor Kim was gone forever, never to torture or attack them again. But like Dr Kim said to Eunsung, do you think all monsters start out as evil as him. Once they've taken that first step of killing someone because they believed it to be right, is someone out of that group going to justify it again?

A sequel would be so, so freaking awesome.

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hmm I gotta say... ehhhh. I think the series is giving us their opinion of the nature vs. nurture debate - that monsters can be nurtured into one.

Anyway you look at it, like you said, the group threw the man over the ledge intending to kill him. They could've just passed Doctor Kim as a psycho, and ignored him. But no, they chose to kill him.

As for yoon soo, I don't agree with Eun Sung that he did not become a monster because he took his own life. While he didn't kill someone else, he did feel the need to kill SOMETHING. Either someone else, or him. And killing yourself is quite a monstrous act in and of itself.

I was hoping for a more open ended ending.

As for me personally, I think people are developed into murderers. It's almost crazy to think someone was just born to [Read more]

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I disagree. Everyone has their issues and ticking points and this show highlighted how they can be manipulated. Not all the characters had the same level of susceptibility. Young Jae being the weakest and I would consider Moo Yul (not really counting Ji Hoon since he didn't have much emotional capacity) the strongest. The end showed everyone can become that monster, even logical Ji Hoon was part of it. Dr. Kim did manipulate the kids but the thing is his methods were destructive but what he said was the truth about them (Maro with his disability, Moo Yul with his heroism, etc.). It's a truth they suppressed and completely shaped their lives and actions. And like Young Jae said, the truth can ruin people. You can either use it to better yourself and move on or live in denial which can take [Read more]

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Ah, love read dramabeans recap, not just because is good recap but for a good comment too. Reading different opinion from different people make u understand the story better =)
#sorry, random stuff
So, what the answer : are monsters made or are they born?
Still donn't get the answer, but I thinks I will back with the first opinion of Moo-yul“Even if he has problems in his brain or if he was raised in bad conditions, he chose to kill even though he knew it was a crime." whatever monster made or born, but in the end it's the choice of the person. Like how Yoon-soo choice not to be a monster(in tragic way) or the kids choice to kill the doctor in the end....even I thinks that didn't make them suddenly bcome the monsters.
What path they choice in the rest of their live after that? Is the [Read more]

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Strangely enough, as much as I love this show, I was disappointed with the ending. I see how everything happened for a reason, and even Yoon-soo's death made a sort of sense, but over-all the ending didn't sit well with me. I am not really sure why. Probably because I'm a pacifist and I don't think I would have done what the kids did. But, I can see why they needed to do it. And Moo-yul's introduction about having to become a monster to fight a monster made sense, too. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed the episode and the whole series, but I was left with a sour taste in my mouth.

The big question,"Are monsters born or are they made?", wasn't answered, and it's not a question that can be answered easily, and if it is, how do we know the answer is right? I believe that there is good and bad [Read more]

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I, too, had a similar reaction when the series ended - a bitterness in my mouth and a heavy weight in my chest. I also thought that Dr. Kim "won" and proved that monsters can be made. But that conclusion troubled me - not because I didn't want to believe it, but because it didn't quite fit with the events that occurred throughout the series.

The longer I dwell on it, the more I am convinced: it would be too much of a generalization to say that the students have become monsters by the end of the drama – not only because it's fallacious to neatly categorize people into "monsters" or "not monsters", but because there are specific instances in the series that point to this.

For one, there is a fundamental difference between Dr. Kim and the students at the end of the drama: the studen [Read more]

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Omg, I adore this comment. It clears up so much for me.

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"Because after all these trials, you end up hoping that good will prevail over evil. But it’s never that easy, is it?"

You're right. The show is right. Sometimes, there really is no good. Just evil prevailing over evil.

:(

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It makes me ask the question if "good" exists at all. I don't think it does as no one is completely "good" or morally pure. Instead, I think there's just different levels of 'evil' and not everyone is at the same level. Some people litter while some people kill.

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I think this mini series' biggest flaw is that the pace started lagging for the last 2-3 episodes, lowering the level of suspense. Also, I wished that the actor who played the psychiatrist could have been better. Kim Sang Kyung did a solid job, but one of the big name acting veterans could have made Dr. Kim even more fascinating, mesmerizing, and chilling. Like imagine Ahn Sung Ki playing Dr. Kim's role *shivers like a hunted rabbit*

The ending wasn't that unique or surprising to me, perhaps because I've already read a similar one in Michael Chrichton's Sphere.

As for the answer to whether monsters are born or made, I came to the same conclusion as dryedmangoez and Headsno2 did. It's neither. Monsters aren't born or made, because everyone has FREE WILL. We can always choose which ac [Read more]

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Oh yeah, just wanted to add that's why I think Moo-yul's hands clenched when he heard Eun-sung's father speak. If her mom's secret was simply an affair, I don't think it would have made Eun-sung go all ballistic and come to the realization that Dr. Kim was trying to totally and completely ruin all of them. Turn all of them into monsters. The truth was so painful to Eun-sung that she wanted to leave it buried in the past.

And I think Moo-yul's "counseling" session with his father, like the others', was a springboard for him to turning him into a "monster." His father says, "Don’t die. Whatever you have to do, make sure you don’t die. Even if it’s cowardly...” Before, the reason why Moo-yul led such an upright life was because his father drilled into his head that he must live hon [Read more]

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I never thought about that with Eunsung before. It would make sense with her actions.

I totally agree with you about Doctor Kim and mooyul, and the counseling sessions.

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When I first started the series, I actually assumed that Eun-sung had been raped, causing her mood to change so drastically. I thought it might have happened during her time away from the school, and that she didn't tell anyone about it, specifically Moo-yul.

I was really surprised when episode 7 (I think) came around and I found out that she was angry over her mother's affair. I'm not going to say that one explanation fits better than the other, but I totally see why you would think her father (step-father?) had abused her.

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I think your explanation for Eunsung's issues makes sense. I think for Eunsung's behavior to change so suddenly and drastically it would have to be something more tragic than her mother having an affair.

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I don't know- having someone you believed in doing something as horrible as having an affair is enough to turn one against the world- especially at that age. Eun Sung lost her belief in not only her mother but the idea of Love and Trust and Faith, I think thats she was so cold to MY as well- to push him away.

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Oh ty DB5K for your take on this drama, it's really interresting...

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I didn't think about Eun Sung being abused as a reason so thanks for the insight. I think it's a possible reason for her actions but I wouldn't say it's more tragic than her mother having an affair considering that different events effect people differently. Maybe the affair gave her the sense of abandonment, neglect, loss of trust, and she lost her faith the concept of family/close relationships and female figures.

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Btw, I wanted to answer your question about the "white laundry" blabber but since it was so long I decided to make a new post for it :). It's comment 45. I'm no lit major but I tried to make sense of it :).

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Heads, thank you!
I'm lovin the feeling of like watching the episode with you through your recap. Though you've seen this many times before... It feels like you haven't.
Case in point:"I’m getting is that it really was Yoon-soo holed up in the closet, and the boy with blue was his imaginary self. But there’s also the chance that it’s another boy. I’m waiting for clarification on this one."
Great as always!

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Awesome show, and awesome comments people have.

With the recap, I'm not sure what your or other people's opinion on Yoonsoo's backstory is. I took it to mean that the monster in the corner is actually Yoonsoo, the kid that was kidnapped. When the police broke, the woman ran to hug blue-Yoonsoo for an unexplained reason (she thought the police was going to take him away and wanted one last hug?). But because she hugged blue-Yoonsoo first and not her own son, her son let the police take him and told them that he was Yoonsoo. And this is the truth that Yoonsoo had been hiding from all this time, and why the monster in the corner was haunting him. "Why did I lie? Because she hugged you instead of me. I must have wanted to be you." So when the doctor called him, it wasn't so much trying to p [Read more]

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I think Yoon Soo meant his "kidnapper" maid hugged her own son when the police came in and not him. Remember he thought the maid was his mum.

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Aha, so someone else did notice Yoon-soo's lie about the kidnapping.

I'm going to have to agree with lee, however, I don't think that Yoon-soo is really the son of the maid. He grew up seeing the maid as his mother figure, and when he went to play at her house after she was fired, he hid in the cupboard as the two boys played hide and seek. The boy with the bluish birthmark was the maid's real son. As the police burst into the house, the maid ran to her own child instead of Yoon-soo, breaking his illusion of her. In the end, he lied by saying that she had indeed kidnapped him instead of honestly saying that he had gone to her house on purpose to be with her and her son.

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Haha, I just saw that modestgoddess already replied. Never mind my comment!

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My interpretation of Yoon-su's back story. He was more attached to the nanny than his own parents. His real mother that never spent time with him fired the nanny. The blue kid is the nanny's real son that Yoon-su was jealous of. I don't think Yoon-su was actually kidnapped. I think he missed the nanny, followed her home and when the police came looking for him he lied and said the nanny took him.

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Ah, that makes sense. And is a more simple explanation. I guess my mind likes to jump to the complicated scenarios. :)

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I agree. I think when the child monster in the corner asked Yoon-soo why he lied, it was about lying that the nanny had kidnapped him, whereas he had just gone with her. Which was probably due to the fact he was lonely at home (since his parents don't look like the affectionate type). But when the nanny went for her son first, he was upset because he wanted to be her child too, which also explains why at the end he painted his face blue.

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But it still doesn't explain to me why he killed himself. Was the truth that he lied that more horrible than the life he was living to that point?

Or was he hypnotized- although he was not as susceptible to that either (remember when he woke up before)

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Regarding the death of Dr. Kim, it could be considered that the students were saving others in the future from Kim's manipulations even though it would make them killers. In a way it was a sacrifice on their part. Was it murder or was it execution or like war? I don't think it made them monsters.

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Hey there Heads, firstly I want to thank you so, so much for recommending this drama. Everything was just perfection. I love the darkness, the haunting atmosphere, and the angst, it reminds me so much of my high school days for some reason. I was not entirely happy with the ending, because Doctor Kim definitely won, he was able to make monsters out of these kids. There is no way that murder is ever going to be right, but I like the way that the kids had their own twisted perception of good and evil that somehow justified their act. Serial killers, too, have their own twisted logic that gives them false justifications of their evil deeds. In the future, these kids would grow up, most probably successful given their intelligence and money, some may even be future leaders of government or po [Read more]

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should not have read this so late at night. great. now i'm a little spooked. will i make the trip upstairs to use the restroom before knocking out? no.

ha.

are monsters born or made? nature and nurture. the sad state of human beings is that we're inclined to do what we ought not to. with that said, choice is always involved. either do what's good and right or do what's wrong and evil.

were they monsters?

well, WHERE IN THE BLAZES ARE COMPETENT DRAMA POLICE OFFICERS?!! if the police force was less of a failure, i might lean more towards they are, but because the police were so lacking, i'm in the "shrugs" boat because of that gaping flaw you mentioned. messes things Right. Up. because, honestly, it seems more like they pulled a gaksital--stop him because no one else can or wil [Read more]

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I enjoyed the students and their journeys immensely! I have more questions than answers after watching this though, the most prominent one being what the hell was the "Laundry/windmill" speech about? I think Eun song clocked it was when the Dr thought that was the defining moment on his path to being a monster, there are multiple things it could mean, it could be a scene from a movie, a moment in his life when he saw something "depraved", an ideal life he never had, point is that we never knew.

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I loved the ending despite the obvious flaws with the whole "I thought he was your teacher" bull. I really wanted them to prove him wrong. I guess I'll just have to be glad that Yoon Su was the only one who didn't let the darkness control him. It was such a great moment when he closed the door on the "monster in the corner".

I like that we never find out about the mutterings Dr. Kim was spouting during his fever dream. It's his changing point and I found his reaction when ES started to recite it very believable. It's this personal birth for him. Intimate. Seemed reasonable his reaction would be violent.

Thank you so much for the recap!

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"Ji-hoon starts seizing due to the fever, and Mi-reu finally loses his cool, screaming out uselessly for the police to hurry up and force their way inside."

Exactly!!!!! Totally agree with Mi-reu and Heads!
The police is the weakest link! So many police officers already with their guns pointed at him and they didnt act at all? It was so weird.

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I had to watch this whole drama TWICE IN ONE GO because 1. It IS awesome, and 2. so deep that to interpretate each sentence or action, it definitely needs a few reruns to get the big picture.

Phewww, this is the first time i've ever watched a psychological drama, and I've gotta say I'm immensely impressed and surprised with White Christmas. I expected creepy, thriller and perhaps a dash of horror, only to be welcomed with,well, none of those. The scenes were breathtaking, and the depth of the story and it's characters were superb.

On to the question and conclusion: are monsters really born or made? The ending scene was pretty much hinting that they're probably made, but I have a feeling it's a pretty open minded thing. Whether they really turned into monsters, who knows? Is killing D [Read more]

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I recommend watching Shut Up! Flower Boy Band, if you haven't already.

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I have :P I watched SUFBB first before having a go at this, that's where I found Sung Joon. imo, SUFBB is still the best drama I have watched to date. I adore loads of other k-dramas, but nothing comes close with Shut Up.

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SUFBB of definitely in my Top 5.

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"is"... "is definitely."

*sigh*

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I'm watching "Can We Get Married" just for him- only 8 episodes so far but plenty of smooches and shirtless scenes- Thank You cable dramas!!!!

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About the body...I've seen it repeatedly said they don't do an autopsy unless requested and there are limited locations. However the body temp or something should have been a clue.

To act to eliminate a threat does not make you a monster. Yoosoo was dead. I understand their thinking. However I could argue the Doctor killed himself. He chose to continue torturing them and followed Eunsung to the roof for no good purpose. They didn't peel his fingers off. Discounting how he got like that of course

Either way they acted to survive...and everyone will do that if necessary. The opening monologue does say they became monsters for 8 days to fight one...but that also implies that they stopped. They are right saying no matter their choices the Doctor and Hye Jung are still insane and dirty.

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good catch, becoming a monster to fight a monster could mean that once the threat was gone the kids no longer were monsters themselves

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Thou, once you taste and feels how it is like to be a monster, you may never be able to go back again. Its a scary thought. I personally think, everyone of us has the potential to be a monster, it just that our up bringing, our environment and our views of things that determine if we are willing to cross that boundaries.

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Thank you so much for such wonderful recaps and introducing this great drama to me. I loved how the drama did not veer away from controversial topics and that it forced the viewers to rethink the notion of good and evil which was effectively personified in the characters of Dr. Kim and the students. I agreed with Heads finishing comment "you end up hoping that good will prevail over evil. But it’s never that easy, is it?” I agree with this because on an elementary level Dr. Kim is the archetype of evil. He is a serial killer and the torture of the students exhibits that. So the fact that he died should mean that good has triumphed over evil. But Moo-yul and the others drove him to his death and although they have indeed ended the life of an evil man they cannot necessarily be defined a [Read more]

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Fantastic drama and great to read the recaps and comments and get other viewpoints on it.

But I have to say I had a far more upbeat take on the ending that most people seem to have. I don't think the doctor did necessarily win.

First of all although killing the doctor was wrong you can totally see how they got there - all along they had been cut off from outside help and authority and had been forced to take matters into their own hands to survive. Would it have been logical for them to step back at the end - after they had heard the doctor had fooled the police again - and leave it to others? They'd developed an 'its our problem, let's deal with it' mentality. And they had experienced what the doctor was capable of regarding mind games, which was far more scary than him killing peop [Read more]

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Oh, I like your take of the ending scene. Indeed, they're walking toward the light.

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I completely agree :)! I think they will all be there for each other when one has some life-altering problem and saving each other from dealing with the problem on their own and becoming a monster. A lot of times monsters act on their own because they are the sole ones who can justify their actions and if they're acting as 'god' then there can only be one in their minds. So seeing them as a group throughout the end enforces that idea that their not on their own.

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It would be interesting if there is a second season for this drama. Imagine how their life would be like after the incident. Which of them stay a monster and which of them walk straight and never look back. Are there able to stay friends? or will they walk their own path and forget this incident ever happened? I mean, there are people stop being friends just because of a bad experience that linked them together and they want to forget about it and being together is a constant reminder of the sins that they had done. Or maybe one day, one of them will black mail each other of how they become a monster. Scary scary thought.

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well. i'm just finished watching this drama this year.well, i'm a bit late compared to you.haha

thanks for your brilliant comment and i did agree that they walk towards the light in the end after a long, dark journey- there is always light at the ends of tunnel,isn't it?

one more thing, the doctor's dead was actually his own choice. he choose to let go his own hands and dead after he thought that he had won. he knew that the police was just behind the door and he can wait for only few minutes or even seconds to be saved.but,he didn't.he let go his hands and said that he had won. but to me, i think the students planned all this to look like that he won. didn't chi hoon said that the doctor would not stop until he saw the results of his own experiment. so, they show him what he wants t [Read more]

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Am conflicted. I didnt want them to do it. But I understand why they did it. The crazy teacher would never leave then alone!!!!!!!!!!! Plus those bungling cops!!!! Am surprised they even got the kids! It kinda reminds me of The Dark Night movie with the Joker. He carried out a similar experiment where he had 2 ships: one filled with criminals while the other filled with civilians. He told them that if they wanted to survive they had to push the trigger which would result in the other ship sinking. There was debate but the end result was that they deciced not to push. I was Proud of them. In this case however, the kids had no batman to fight for them. The cops and most of their parents failed them.

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I'm perplexed by what happens with the gun. I did watch the subbed eps but couldn't figure it out.

So, the kids know there are two guns with three bullets total (since Mooyul and Jihoon know they brought in an empty cop gun). Why do they assume when Jung-hye's gunshot rings out that the Doc's must be empty? Jung-hye and the Doc could have split the bullets for all they knew...

And then, since they did assume the Doc's gun was empty, why does he as a known unarmed man still get so much power? None of the kids try to overpower him in the PA room or tell the police that he doesn't have any bullets.

Am I missing something or is it another plothole?

Thanks Headsno2 for your brilliant recaps, sageuk and contemporary alike ... I'd seen previews of White Christmas but put it on the bac [Read more]

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I'm also confused by this.

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This show is one of the best I've ever seen. Thank you so much for recapping it.

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Regarding the question of whether the kids actually become monsters or not, as few things stood out to me...

1.) That final confrontation is played out very deliberately. Doctor Kim purposefully says "I surrender" as Moo-yul is heading towards the door to lock it. You can see the decision on Moo-yul's face when he decides enough is enough and turns to lock the door. At this point, Doctor Kim's earlier comments about Moo-yul's monster being the biggest monster is important. Moo-yul makes the decision and the rest follow. They either help him push the doctor over the ledge or they stand by and watch.

2.) Doctor Kim asks one of the students if his life (Doctor Kim's) was less important than the student's just because he was a serial killer. I believe he was referring to the precau [Read more]

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I don't think the students had any 'innocence.' They all lost their innocence before Dr. Kim came on screen. I agree that they gave in but it was a result of everything that happened. Before when they had captured Dr. Kim with the help of Mi Reu, they could have decided to just kill him then and there reasoning that he's a menace to society but they didn't. I don't think they're free from guilt or a nagging conscience after what they did judging by their facial expressions during and after the incident. So I don't think they became monsters, they did something monstrous but for the moment still have their humanity. And thus, I don't think Dr. Kim completely "won," he proved that there's monsters in everyone waiting to be released. But I would question his scientific methods, if I can even [Read more]

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You are right, MeeisLee, that they weren't innocent little children. For example, they each in their own way contributed to Kim Jin-soo's sense of alienation (except for Mi-reu and Jae-kyu). But I wouldn't say that they had lost all innocence before the doctor arrived.

I'm thinking of the word in the innocent/guilty context too. Sure, they were all snotty teenagers, but none of them were guilty of a major crime. The one exception would probably be Yoon-soo, whom I believe lied about his old maid kidnapping him. The result of his lie is his old maid going to jail, I'm assuming, and the other boy with the birthmark becoming an orphan. (And, wow, look what guilt did to him.)

You also bring up a good point in mentioning the time they captured the Doctor with Mi-reu. They could h [Read more]

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I'd be more worried about Moo-yul if he had been reacting to Dr Kim's mind games at the end, but I don't think he was. I believe that what was driving him were his father's words to do what he had to do but to make sure he lived. And he has already faced his monster once when he hesitated about saving Ji-hoon, so I think ultimately he'll be OK.

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Also, Doctor Kim really does have a bad sense of the scientific method, hahaha. Talk about unethical practices.

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Thank you for the recaps! I've been so enjoying this show and am sad that it ended.. Although I got more and more confused toward the end of the series, your recaps helped a lot! This series is definitely on my top favorites!

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I remember a part where Dr. Kim was asking if his life had any less value than someone else's because he was a serial killer. I don't think his life had any less value just that it had a negative influence and dangerous impact on society. It goes with the idea of capital punishment and whether you think it's 'right' or not. Does that make supporters of capital punishment murderers? Probably not, I think the extent of accusation goes to manslaughter. I think the students were taking matters into their own hands when they threw him over the edge. I would forever live in fear if I had a stalker like Dr. Kim so I understand where Yoon Su (losing my sanity) and the students (losing my morality/conscience) were coming from. However, is it a good idea to enforce and apply the idea of taking certa [Read more]

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If anyone is interested in a book that sorta has the same underlying question of whether monsters are born or created should check out Patrick Suskind's Story of a Murderer (the book, I can't recommend the movie since I personally haven't watched it yet). It doesn't ask the question outright but you find yourself asking the question about the story's protagonist who is portrayed as being born a monster (he's a serial killer, which you know from the title and the blurp on the back so it's not a spoiler).

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I feel a little guilty about commenting 7 times already but I wanted to offer a sorta explanation of Dr. Kim feverish blabber since it's been bothering to figure out what it means (I'm considering being an English or Literature and Pyschology double major, natch).

“The white laundry moves with the wind on the line."
- I think "white laundry" symbolizes a sense of purity, birth, and innocence. If the laundry is white that means it's clean and free from dirt and impurities. Thus, I think white laundry represents childhood, when you're the most innocent and have little knowledge of society. This brings me to the part about "moves with the wind." The wind represents society. The laundry moves with it, not against it, meaning that people conform to certain conventional beliefs this way. I [Read more]

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Thanks for your input; it was interesting to read~~

I would say white laundry represents tabula rasa, the blank mental state everyone is born with. Or if not tabula rasa, then something else abstract like the soul.

And I think wind is either the external or internal factor(s) that directs someone's life. As you intelligently noticed, there is a connection between the two metaphors (laundry, windmill): WIND. Is wind an external force that sways people to go astray (aka society/experiences/nurture)? Or is wind a natural force (aka genetics/destiny/nature)?

And I agree that rain symbolizes ruination. If the laundry can be collected, it is saved from the rain. If it can't, then it is ruined by the rain.

I also thought that this was a bad childhood memory of Dr. Kim's. It's certa [Read more]

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Oo i_ like the idea of the white laundry being tabula rasa. I had no idea what it was but your explanation fits. I also agree with what you said about the rooftop. And I'm glad my lengthy explanation helped someone :). I doubt many people will bother to read it since it's like a page long.

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SUCH AN AWESOME SHOW!!!! One of my most favorite k-drama's. It was so very cool to get recaps on it and have a chance to rewatch (even better the second time, I have to say) and discuss and thank you, thank you, thank you HeadsNo2 for taking this project on. Your recaps have been excellent. :)

I'm looking forward to reading the comments, but first my initial take on things (gets a little long):

Yoon-sung's death: The innocent sacrifice. He was such an interesting combination of innocence (still lost in his dream-view of a childhood that wasn't) and rage (the world that is). My take is that he wasn't kidnapped -- maybe he ran away from home? -- but backed his parents' story (the lie he told) because he was furious at his caretaker not hugging him. The Corner Monster was hi [Read more]

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Thank you so much for the recap, HeadsNo2! I watched this drama last year, but your recaps just adds another layer of appreciation. And the comments that the recaps generated added yet another layer.

It's really sad for the kids had to take matters into their own hands in order to protect themselves. At least one good thing came out of all this: these kids have found friends and allies, after feeling so alone and lost. Maybe if it weren't for the doctor's experiment, they would have walked through life doing more monstrous things than lying to police and getting rid of a serial killer.

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What I absolutely have to give the show props for is the consistency in its characters. In the final scene when the boys push Doctor Kim off the building, Ji Hoon and Eun Sung stand behind and watch. It speaks to their characters that they're not people who would actively kill someone. Ji Hoon's not that emotionally invested (and perhaps, because of his lack of emotion, he seems to stand on a certain moral high ground that's allowed by his mental understanding of virtue, etc). On the other hand, Eun Sung is invested emotionally, but she has rarely reacted physically to any catalyst. The only time she lashes out is when Doctor Kim questions her mother. Just as the time the boys hunted Kang Mo through the school and Ji Hoon and Eun Sung stay behind, the two do the same thing here. However, i [Read more]

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ahhh, the last episode! Thanks for the recaps, I would have never known about this show if you had not done them. Its definitely become one of my favorite series. I'll be telling folks to watch it for years to come!

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The creepy doc really won!

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