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Gap-dong: Episode 20 (Final)

Here we are, at the end of the psychopath’s road. Mysteries (what’s left of them) are explained, our heroes come to an understanding of sorts, and hitherto unsolved investigations are closed. I would say all of our major plotlines are resolved, and characters receive a measure of closure.

As for justice—is that served? Hm, I wonder. I’ll let you all be the judge.

SONG OF THE DAY

Bulldog Mansion – “불편한 사람” (Uncomfortable person) [ Download ]

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FINAL EPISODE RECAP

In the courtroom, Chief Cha begs for his life at the last minute, to no avail. Mu-yeom goes home that night and takes out a photo of his father, telling him he’s sorry and that he loves him. When the monk comes by, Mu-yeom surprises him with an emotional hug, saying that without him, he could have come to a bad end.

For a case that took twenty years to bring to trial, justice sure moves swiftly, and we wrap up Tae-oh’s murder case. We don’t even see the trial open, just jump right to his sentencing. He gets ten years in prison hospital; his defense strategy blaming Cha for masterminding his movements was successful.

Furthermore, Tae-oh has given up his Korean citizenship and is angling to be treated as a foreigner by the system. The prosecution sees this tactic as outrageous, but it’s legally viable. I find it absurd that this conversation includes consideration of public opinion via polls asking “What do you think should be Ryu Tae-oh’s punishment?” Really, drama? That’s supposed to be persuasive?

(For the curious: The poll cites 75% of the respondents answering that Tae-oh should be sent to regular prison over a psychiatric one. Of the types of psychiatric facilities they prefer, 66% of people want him deported abroad; only 10% vote for a facility in Korea. Basically, they’re happy to ship the psycho out of the country.)

Ji-wool takes her newest webtoon to Mu-yeom and Maria, because she’s made the connection to Chief Cha’s history. Its contents mirror what we see in flashback, of a 14-year-old Cha burying a victim, and his accomplice-noona saying, “If only that bastard hadn’t touched you…” The girl (Mi-ja) asks what would happen if they turned themselves in, but Cha says fiercely that they’re just clearing out trash.

Cha had told Ji-wool this story directly, but passed it off as someone else’s experience. It was back before she’d known he was Gap-dong, when she’d been struggling to come up with a backstory for her killer detective character and asked if he had any interesting tidbits from the criminals he’d met in his career.

Mu-yeom guesses that this is Cha’s “bloodstained jacket,” aka the trauma he refuses to show anybody else. A little digging turns up an interesting fact: Victim Mi-ja’s father had a past record of child molestation.

Cha is taken to prison, where his arrival makes a stir among the inmate population, though a young cellmate seems to take to him. Like Tae-oh, he’s also haunted by nightmares of being hanged for his crimes, thrashing in his sleep. Chul-gon has specifically requested to work at the prison as Cha’s overseer. He tells Cha to call him anytime, particularly if he wants to talk about more undiscovered crimes.

Tae-oh sits at home and texts Ji-wool, looking conflicted as he writes the message, “About the rock-scissors-paper… I’m sorry about that.” But he shakes his head and deletes it.

Tae-oh is set to leave the country (technically he’s being deported, but given the circumstances it’s not too different from a flight from justice), and receives a request from Cha to see him before his departure. Mu-yeom advises him strongly against it, but Tae-oh disregards it and goes in for the visit.

Thus the two Gap-dongs meet. Tae-oh thanks Cha for directing him to kill Maria, thereby fueling his defense. Cha sets him straight about Tae-oh’s misconception that he’ll be able to stop his murderous impulses, warning that people like them can’t stop short of their own deaths.

Tae-oh replies that he knows, and guesses that Cha’s real reason for letting Jae-hee live was intentional. If people assumed that the witness’s survival would scare Gap-dong into stopping, he could end his Gap-dong streak and continue on with his “hidden crimes.”

With a smile, Cha confirms that this was the very freedom he’d been speaking of. Tae-oh deduces, “The freedom to stop was really making the world believe you’d stopped.”

Cha makes a request of Tae-oh: Stop him. “There must be a way to quietly send me off in a way that befits Gap-dong,” he says. He declares that they have two options: “Either I finish you, or you finish me.”

Tae-oh isn’t very interested, saying that he has figured out his own way to secure his freedom. He really does seem to have cast off Gap-dong’s influence, and even when Cha warns that he may regret it, Tae-oh laughs that Cha can’t kill him from within prison. He used to be an impressive figure, but now he’s just an inmate with a number.

Tae-oh taunts, “My onetime god and hero—I have surpassed you now.”

Tae-oh alludes to strangling Cha and lurches at the glass separator in a threatening gesture. Involuntarily, Cha flinches. Tae-oh laughs at the “loser” and vows, “Now I’m the real Gap-dong.”

Mu-yeom is intent on wrapping up the loose ends of his investigation, and hands over his case notebook to Cha, showing him Ji-wool’s new webtoon. Now the backstory is complete, and Cha is to fill in the remaining pages with information divulging his post-Gap-dong murders.

Cha sees no reason to comply, but Mu-yeom knows how to appeal to him. He offers the alternative: to call the reporters and lay out the sordid details, so Cha can snivel for pity from the people.

That spurs Cha to agree, and Mu-yeom tells him that after he has found those victims, he’ll leave the psychoanalysis to the profiler. He wants no part of that, because his greatest fear is to feel pity for the monster.

Cha makes one request in exchange for revealing his victims: “Can you take that compassion and use it to send me off?” Cha really just wants to die, and the proposal rattles Mu-yeom. He shares this with his sidekicks, torn between his dual impulses of horror and desire to kill the bastard. “Let’s kill him,” he says, growing more heated as the idea takes hold.

The rest of the staff mull over the dilemma, and Ji-wool draws a comparison with a fictional scenario in which the villagers during wartime huddle together as hostile armed forces approach. At that moment your baby starts to wail, so you slap your hand over it to quiet it. If you keep silencing the baby, it’ll suffocate, but if you let it cry, you all die. What do you choose? (For what its’ worth, the cop she demonstrates on looks bashfully pleased at her attention, which is at least a more promising prospect of romance than that twisted killer guy.)

Tae-oh has a semi-cryptic conversation with Maria, asking about that thing he proposed, which we never heard in its entirety. I have my guesses, but all they say out loud is vaguely circular stuff like “Can you do what I asked?” and “Do you want me to keep that promise?”

That night, Maria tells Mu-yeom that she’s decided to quit her job at the prison hospital, a move he fully approves of. It was a tough decision for her, and fraught with much guilt because she’s haunted by her own behavior toward Tae-oh, using and manipulating him in her bid to catch Gap-dong.

Mu-yeom tells her that from this point onward, her survivor’s guilt is a choice rather than an obligation, and advises her to choose according to what she feels she must do. As for himself, he assures her that all that’s left is for him to live comfortably, and that his health concerns were exaggerated. Gack, I don’t have a good feeling about the carefree front he’s presenting.

Cha hands over the map he has drawn outlining the victims’ locations, and Mu-yeom hands over what looks like a piece of candy. A moment passes between them and they think of when they’d been younger. Cha starts to mention it, and Mu-yeom says, “That time was the happiest for me, too. Maybe that’s why it’s sadder now.”

The candy turns out to be a pill, and Cha gets ready to swallow it. But at the last moment he stops himself.

Mu-yeom assembles a search team to get digging, and it doesn’t take long for remains to be unearthed.

Cha hands over the pill to Chul-gon, explaining that Mu-yeom gave it to him in exchange for completing his investigation. But he’s relinquishing it to Chul-gon, saying sarcastically that he needs it more, after having lost everything. Cha smiles in glee when Chul-gon takes the bait and pops the pill, and says, “Killing like this is so electrifying.”

But Chul-gon says he bets the pill is just vitamins: “I have faith in Ha Mu-yeom. Do you think he’d leave you to die this easily?” Booyah. Cha’s smile fades.

Ji-wool gets out a sketchpad and starts drawing. Not her usual webtoon stuff, but a cute drawing of a little girl (albeit a sad one, who’s dropped her ice cream).

Maria mulls over Mu-yeom’s words about choosing to move on from her sadness, and seems to come to a decision. She calls Tae-oh and tells him, “I may regret it, and I may scorn myself for it…” We don’t see how the conversation ends.

Afterward, the monk mentions Mu-yeom’s intentions to cut his hair, which startles her. It can mean a few things, such as becoming a full-fledged monk, though given his condition it could just as well mean brain surgery.

It’s the latter, and Maria asks accusingly why Mu-yeom didn’t tell her about his condition. He takes a lighthearted approach, saying that his master Bruce Lee died of a cerebral edema, but Maria’s mood is too heavy to crack a smile at his gallows humor.

He asks if he has to stick to the fasting rule before his surgery, and she tells him yes. He asks next, “What about celibacy?” Rawr.

They kiss, and then fade to black. C’mon, this is cable!

Tae-oh returns to his barista job because I don’t even know, and Ji-wool meets him at the cafe. He thinks of the first time he asked her what it was like to like somebody, and she’d answered that it was terrible. But today she answers that it’s not all bad, and now she’s become an adult as a result.

She hands him that sketchbook, telling him it may help him. The early pages contain his angry scribbles from their sessions together, but she’s filled in a few more examples in the ensuing pages, such as sadness (girl dropping ice cream) and compassion (a teddy bear consoling a cat). Tae-oh muses, “It’s strange. You’re younger than me, but you feel like a mother.”

He asks why she’s treating him so nicely, and if it’s because she pities him. She admits that Mu-yeom is going in for a surgery that might kill him, and there’s nothing she can do to help. “But if I do something good, maybe I’ll send him some fortune.”

The prognosis isn’t all doom and gloom, because as Mu-yeom checks in to prepare for surgery, the doctor tells him happily that his hematoma has shrunk.

Tae-oh’s in a good mood as he calls Maria that night, saying that he feels he can do anything, including stopping and ending. He’s going with the flow, and from his expression he looks much happier than he has before. And to Maria’s surprise, he arrives outside the hospital, wanting to see Mu-yeom.

And then he looks over at a security guard standing in front of the building and everything turns ominous. He says to Maria, “I must have messed with Gap-dong too much.” She furrows her brow, wondering what he means.

Suddenly his mood is dark and troubled, and he recalls Cha saying that one of them will have to finish the other off. The security guard is definitely acting shifty, and follows as Tae-oh turns around and walks off in the other direction.

But as he’s passing an unassuming student, that young man stabs him in the gut. Tae-oh struggles to free himself, but the guard grabs him from behind, allowing the attacker to stab him repeatedly. He falls to the pavement.

In his cell, Cha mutters, “You dare surpass me?” Now we see that the nice young inmate who had helped Cha has become his willing accomplice, and was the stabber. The instructions were to leave Tae-oh with the message K for killer—as in, that’s all you are. There is only one Gap-dong.

Cha peers out of his cell to address Chul-gon, who’s standing guard outside. He asks if Chul-gon had intended to shoot Mu-yeom during the Russian Roulette stand-off, when he’d shot Mu-yeom’s gun and the bullet had ricocheted off it and into his brain. Was that his intention? Cha says that he’d been disappointed to have lost his chance to shoot Mu-yeom that day.

Surgery commences, and all his loved ones wait anxiously in the hallway.

Tae-oh gasps in pain as he bleeds profusely, realizing, “I couldn’t stop after all, not before I died.” He’s crying and laughing equally, and in a hazy blur sees Maria running toward him. She presses on the wound and calls for help, but Tae-oh slumps over in her arms.

With effort, he says, “I thought it was strange… being able… to leave like this… It’s like a dream… this freedom… Ultimately, you can’t cheat the rules.”

Mu-yeom makes it through the surgery alive, and Ji-wool is at his bedside when he opens his eyes. “I see an angel, so I must not be in hell,” he says.

Maria cries as she tries to keep Tae-oh alive. He knows he’s a goner, though, and thanks her for being with him at the end. “Not behind my back, but at my side…”

Now we hear the end of the request he’d made earlier: “If I have to die, I’d like for you to be the one to see my end.” She’d answered, “If you pay the price for your crimes, I’ll see your end with you. Not behind your back, but at your side.” She’d urged him to start again and change, and he’d said he’d gone too far for that.

Tae-oh dies, and Maria sobs for him to wake up.

His mother receives word in her usual cold manner, and tells her attorneys to take care of the funeral quietly.

Tae-oh’s killer is apprehended readily, and his response to their questioning has the police officers agape: He’d done it “in Gap-dong’s name.”

Maria staggers into the hospital, her clothes drenched in Tae-oh’s blood. She encounters Ji-wool there:

Maria: “What about Detective Ha?”
Ji-wool: “And Tae-oh?”
Maria: “Is he alive?”
Ji-wool: “…is he dead?”

The two women sit side by side in shock. Ji-wool recalls Tae-oh’s request from the day he’d tied her to a tree, asking if he could request one tear from him upon his death. At the time she’d vowed not to, but now she breaks down in sobs.

Cha makes no (other) friends in prison, and he sneeringly snatches up food in the cafeteria that another inmate is going for. He stomps over to a table and the inmates hurry away, not wanting to get in his path. But the food-deprived inmate flips his lid and screams, “You murdering bastard!” and launches himself at Cha. He’s got a utensil in his hand, and Cha falls to the ground clutching his bleeding eye. Ickkkkk.

As the episode winds down, we get a quick succession of glimpses at people’s lives in the near future. Looks like Mu-yeom’s surgery is a success, and he is awarded for his work in the Gap-dong case.

Chul-gon receives a surprise visitor—the ex-wife.

Ji-wool sends in her next installment of her webtoon.

Maria continues her psychiatry work from a new office.

Mu-yeom flips through his Gap-dong notebook for the last time, and finally gets to write on its cover: CLOSED.

His relationship with Maria seems back on track, flirty as ever. Ji-wool drops by the trailer and starts off with “No matter what I say, you can’t get angry,” and he sighs to prepare himself. She tells them that she’s found out where Tae-oh is; I presume his family kept his memorial site secret.

They find his altar at a temple, and Mu-yeom supposes from the dust that they’re the only ones to come here. They light incense and sit in front of the altar, as Mu-yeom says that if he could meet Tae-oh again, he’d like to ask if he really meant to stop.

Chul-gon and Profiler Han fish together, and Chul-gon muses that a detective’s true satisfaction comes not at the moment of capturing the criminal but uncovering the truth. He remarks, “We’ve spent twenty years chasing after Gap-dong, but in the end we’re just sitting here, talking about men and beasts.”

As they leave the temple, Ji-wool says she’d ask Tae-oh if he had to be as bad as he was. She asks Maria and Mu-yeom what they’re most difficult choices were, and Maria thinks to the moment when she’d told Tae-oh to die when he took that pill. Mu-yeom thinks of Cha’s request to help him die. But they don’t voice those thoughts aloud.

Ji-wool says she wishes someone else could make her difficult decisions for her. Maria says that life is full of choices that need to be made, and ironically, choices turn out to be necessary more than choices. “Nobody has the freedom not to make decisions.”

Mu-yeom adds that living isn’t easy, so it would be stranger if decisions were easy.

Ji-wool asks, “Then what about me and the choices I made?”

Maria answers, “They were human, and therefore beautiful.”

Mu-yeom concludes, “Yes, because you’re human.”

 
COMMENTS

So it ends. Gap-dong gets locked up, presumably awaiting a death penalty at some point, and suffers a humiliating blinding by spoon/fork/spork. Our copycat grapples with that divide between human and beast, hoping he can still come out on the right side, and gets offed for his hubris. Our good guys all come out on top, having come to terms with their respective traumas and starting on the paths toward a brighter life ahead.

By the usual drama standards, I would say Gap-dong came to a satisfactory end, in that it fulfilled its plot and answered questions. I wouldn’t say that satisfactory is the same as satisfying, though, and I can’t with any degree of honesty say that I’m satisfied with it. But I haven’t been satisfied with the story for a number of weeks now, and this feeling is an extension of that—of seeing what the drama could have been and wishing it had done the other thing, rather than meander on in a very, very labored examination of a few criminal minds.

I do think there’s merit to delving into the psychopath’s psyche the way this drama did—I don’t begrudge it that approach. But good golly, did we need so much cryptic talk about “freedom” and “beastdom” and “stopping” and “ending” and “feeling,” spoken with so much gravitas as to make us think there was more at play than there really was? Because freedom to a killer is an intriguing idea, I’ll give you that, but when you boil down what it means in this drama, it becomes a really simple concept that we surely didn’t need to spend ten episodes pursuing. The question of whether one can truly stop killing was batted back and forth ad nauseam, only to conclude, “You think you can, but you can’t. Stab.” It sort of makes me want to spork out MY eyes, when you have the same conversation for the dozenth episode in a row.

I think maybe this was just a four-episode drama, drawn out to fill twenty hours, and oh my god did I find it exhausting. The frustrating thing is, it didn’t need to be tedious. It could have done the exciting thriller thing and actually kept its mysteries mysterious, or playing with our expectations, rather than revealing the answers before we had time to really ask the questions. I mentioned this in a prior recap, of how the drama always told its own punchline ahead of time, so that instead of gasping in surprise, you were wondering why the characters seemed so surprised when you’d known all episode long.

And it’s not like there wasn’t enough to explore, which is another misstep I think the drama took. There’s plenty of rich, complex character stuff in the mix, and I’m actually disappointed that some of those other points got glossed over. We got scene after scene of Tae-oh brooding about stopping, or Cha smirking at his pursuers, but we barely stopped to explore the trauma driving Cha’s shame/rage at being molested. That turns out to be a key component in driving him to his first murder, but the writing just kind of dropped that bomb and then ignored fallout. Instead, it sent Mu-yeom out into the field in this single-minded goal to find more victims. That’s fine, it’s his nature to be a dogged pursuer, but for a show that’s so all about analyzing the criminal thought process in mind-numbing detail, why not mine that gem a bit?

But enough about my personal irritation with the pacing and narrative structure. Cha’s end is rather anticlimactic, isn’t it? He gets locked up and is probably going to drive himself nuts with his nightmares of the gallows, and I have faith that he’ll live out the remainder of his life as a miserable wretch. I guess there’s no better note to leave him on, but it doesn’t really feel like much of an arc for him.

In a bigger-picture sense, though, it does feel like despite having the drama named for him, the original Gap-dong was never the most interesting character. He was perhaps more significant in symbolism and as a driver for other people than he was for the plot on its own. Which is why I have found Tae-oh the more interesting character to observe—no less deserving of a bad end, but at least it was compelling to watch him struggle with internal conflict. I don’t feel like I got any sense of internal conflict with Cha, who was always just out to wriggle free of the law, with no remorse or emotion getting in the way.

I’m conflicted about Tae-oh’s end, because on one hand his death is sufficiently sad to make me feel like he paid the price, so the drama wasn’t letting him off the hook with any absurd move toward redemption. I couldn’t have gotten behind that, no matter how tortured and sad he got about it. But on the other hand, I kind of feel like he got a cop-out ending—it’s not justice to me. Yes, he died, and it was directly related to his delusions of grandeur in becoming the new Gap-dong, so okay, he got his.

But it also feels like the drama was asking hard questions about Tae-oh the whole way through, and how he could adequately be punished, and instead he got the easy way out. He got the pill, the one that was too easy to hand over to Cha. It’s like a sleight of hand where the death allows us to feel sorry for him without feeling bad about having compassion for a sick fuck. I dunno. I didn’t love it, even though I recognize that a death was perhaps the neatest way to deal with the problem of Tae-oh.

As for the drama as a whole, I don’t regret watching it, and by and large it was bolstered by a cast that truly elevated the plot. Here’s a case where execution actually enhances the end product, because if you stripped Gap-dong to its barebones story I’m not sure it would hold up in the same way. (The opposite scenario would be a drama with an excellent story that you just wish had a bigger budget to work with, because the show looks so rinky-dink.) It wasn’t as thrilling or fast-moving as I wanted to be, but it was consistent in its approach and filled with compelling performances and interestingly damaged characters—those characters may have occasionally driven me batty, but they grabbed my attention. A dose of excitement would have been greatly appreciated, but I suppose exciting isn’t everything.

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Ji-wool outfit in the last screen cap gives me that rachel yoo'ish feeling again.. kekeke

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thanks for the recap. Tae oh was fascinating and lee joon's acting was spot on! I'm still digesting this story.

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Take Oh's story is more compelling than the real gapdong and it was the first time I cried for a villain's death. It made me feel conflicted whether to pity him or he deserved it because of what he did. Lee Joon's acting was phenomenal.

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Whenever I watch shows with idols I always wonder if I like the character or if I just like the idol that's playing them. When the show started I kept thinking I just liked Lee Joon but as it went on I was seriously amazed. It makes me happy to know I wasn't the only one who cried. :)

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Me too. It's my first time I cried when the villain's died.

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I totally agree with JB's assessment of the drama as a whole...and I, too, am not satisfied with the ending. I knew it was coming, with the past few weeks' episodes being written the way they were -- so it wasn't a shocker of an ending. But still...what could have been!! :/

Maybe it's because I did expect much more from this drama than what the writer provided, in what proved to be a mish-mash mix of tone and emotions - not to mention at times scratch your head inducing. Why even bother trying to delve into the motivations of both Cha's and Tae-oh's minds, and end up bungling the execution of it all? While hinting at and later confirming that vic #1's dad had abused Cha as a kid...there was no later follow-through explanation as to how it fed his motivation to kill. Why brush through that and even mention it, when it potentially could have given a sliver of a view into Cha's twisted mind?

Or maybe it's because I watch crime procedural dramas, like Criminal Minds -- now that show really delves into the motivation and reasons why killers kill (well, those that can be explained, at least). Maybe that's why I expected more from this writer, and unfortunately...they couldn't deliver.

Tae-oh's death, while being anticlimactic and a cop-out from him taking responsibility for his actions in killing as a copycat -- was also a bit of a way for Cha to "show" him, after Tae-oh's sneering declaration to him that he was the real Gap-dong. I wasn't one of those that remotely felt any sort of emotion towards him, so I didn't really care that he died. I just felt like it was...too easy? I kinda figured that young'un would take to Cha, once he approached him after his nightmare...but come on, really? How was he able to get out of prison to do this...when it seemed like the cellmates were lifers and hardened criminals?

And I laughed when Tae-oh's lawyers were angling to have him basically deported to the U.S. -- like someone commented on the ep19 post, we have enough killers and psychos here, thankyouverymuch. We don't need any more to absolve yourselves from having to deal with throwing down the law and punishment to someone who killed just to copycat his idol.

Back to Cha...so I guess one small consolation was that he continues to await his impending execution, yet still haunted by those nightmares of being hung...and then to act all "I'm the boss" sort of persona, only to get stabbed in the eye? :/ Guess humiliation and mental torture was part of the walk down his path of punishment...and again, I could care less. At least there wasn't no cop-out for him...and he got what he deserved.

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I think that it was a rather good drama. I like that it is one of the first that actually delved into the WHY of murders…and not just the WHO dunnit. Lee Joon's acting was PHENOMENAL and the character of Tae-oh was like a great dessert that I wish that I could order again and again.

Thank you for the recaps Ms. JavaBeans!!!

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Dear Javabeans, thank you for your wonderful recap on this drama. I love how your recaps have become a forum for us to discuss and therefore help us digest it. It was an exciting 10 weeks for me following Gapdongi. I am satisfied. I'm going to rewatch ep 19 and 20 and will come back here with my thoughts. Once again thank you.

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throughout the drama, there was something btw ji woo and tae oh. i really looked forward for them to end up being a couple but their relationship never seems to be running smooth as i thought it would be. The director from the drama does know how to tease audiences abt their "about" to like each other or get them "together". i was looking forward a redemption ending for tae oh at the end since we wanted to apologized to ji woo abt the rock paper scissors. at some point he actually thought abt it but why the director always have to ruin it for us =.=

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I think what was between them was friendship. Which is also a wonderful thing. Dramas make romances the end-all and be all. But Tae Oh needed a friend. He might have fallen in love with Ji Ul if he hadn't already fallen for Dr Maria. And his romantic love for Maria was mixed up with his love for her as a caring maternal figure. That was his lovemap which means his type would always be a maternal figure. (Ah, Tae Oh Omma...not even one shed tear? Cooooooooooooold!)

I think Tae Oh got his freedom. Speaking spiritually, he somehow never had the freedom of choice. He never had the freedom NOT to sin. Or if he had that freedom, he took the easy choice and always went where his natural personality, natural sinfulness led him. He struggled against himself but he always wussed out in that struggle.

By having a friend who taught him emotions, he began to value a life other than his. And friends show the value of life as much as romantic partners do.

In death, he is punished and he is freed. So the redemption is given to him.

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Could someone tell me why no one was interested in how Jiul knew the details of everything before it happened? Did I miss something? I know she was neighbors with Cha but I didn't catch that anyone fed her this info. Kept waiting for some sort of strange tie-in, or big reveal, but nada.....

It's after 3am here now and too tired to think more about it at the moment...

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I am guessing it was because she was following the old Gap Dong murders in her stories.

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Ji Wool explained it to Maria and Mu Yeom in this episode, when she told Cha she's writing a story about a killer detective, Cha told her a story of a case he'd once encountered, but Maria and Mo Yeom take it as Cha's own story.

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It may be because psychology is my pet subject and I love reading about psychopathic traits, their origin, how they perceive the world etc., but for me, it was clearly a win. I was annoyed at Maria a bit in the middle, but well - there's this one thing that can redeem any character for me - being a good older sibling(like she was to Ji-wool).

The actors were amazing, the drama ending was so much better than what I speculated(after something like GG), and it was a fair, well researched and beautiful assessment of the psychology with almost all well rounded characters. They were all 3D, and it never trivialized the mental state of a former victim.

Also, the female leads were really well written. They acted too noble sometimes, but you could always see the reason behind it. They weren't puppies following the male protagonist, but they held their own beliefs. Ji-wool totally acted like a teen would. I even like the female officer. She held her own ground.

Scary tiger and others could have had more opportunities that were given to Mu Yeom, but that's trivial. Also - Ryu Tae Oh - I've never seen such a wonderful and deep characterization of a serial killer. He had his own dilemmas and the drama went into his mind, without making us pity him. That's one of the greatest strength of this writer.

It was exhausting, it kept me at the edge of my seat till the last few minutes, and it provided a fairly good analysis of what makes humans human, and the last few lines were deeply satisfying. What goes around, comes around.

I'd recommend it to everyone who is interested in dealing with psychology. Can someone recommend me some more dramas with such a focus on psychology?

Thanks!

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Yes!!! The psychology was sooo good!

Especially the psychology of care.

So much psychology is about memories and how to deal with them and while I did chuckle when Maria told her new patient to forget the bad memories (as if that was so easy) I totally think that this drama speaks to everyone who has ever been hurt.

And isn't it wonderful how everyone deals with forgiveness and being forgiven..but Gap Dong hates the word "forgiveness."

This is what makes him also a monster: he cannot forgive. He doesn't want to go there emotionally. He doesn't want to share his pain. Ultimately, Gap Dong is now nothing more than an everyday murderer. His self-glory will diminish. People will forget Gap Dong. That in its own way makes him lose his "redemption." He is no longer an Eiffel Tower in his eyes or in anyone's eyes. Once one prisoner took him down, his persona is finished with. No one is gonna allow this scumball to take their eggs or boss them around anymore. Which is apt. He now is pitiful, which is not what he wanted. And which is perfect for us.

Oh my gosh! I loved this drama so much! Which only goes to show that one can think the storytelling, direction, acting..in a drama are messy but ultimately...one can still love it because of what it accomplished. And accomplishing psychological truth in a drama can be difficult because the elements of drama are so rigid and a lot of folks don't want to challenge the status quo.

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White Christmas is a mini-series that focuses on school children and the question "Are monsters born or are they created". I completely love it and I'm fairly sure someone on this site recapped it a while ago.

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Don't kill me, but I loved Tae Oh more than Mu Yeom. RIP Tae Oh, you psychotic killer.

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Loved it, loved it, loved it.
What a really great show this was.
Goes into my classic list.

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mine too!

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ME THREE.. hahaha kidding.. loved this show... ^_^

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I love this show so much. I don't know if I can find a better show in the future. I need more Gap Dong.

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Me too this drama is already shortlisted on my rewatch ritual list; those limited numbers of drama I revisit at least once a year.

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Me too! Will do another round to check every details I might have missed. This is one of few dramas I'm willing to replay many times just to enjoy even the slightest change of change in the actors' expression. Because they played their roles so well, just the right dose, not too much, not too little. Well done, Gapdongi!

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That kiss in the screencap looks gross. They seem to be on two different wavelengths.

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Oh Maria has actually planned to leave Ha Muyeom. She was going to fly with Ryu Tae Oh abroad but it was before she found out that he's going to get surgery.. in that sense I can understand her reaction to Muyeom. She was conflicted.

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This drama is not without flaws but I'm willing to let it go.

I'm going to miss Yoon Sang Hyun as Ha Mu Yeom and I'm happy for him he's able to prove he could do different genre.

I liked him when he was in SEGA but his role on Gapdong has made me a big fan.

Yoon Sang Hyun FIGHTING !

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I really liked the ending. True, this drama had crappy execution throughout. And my sweet Sang Hyun sometimes seemed not quite right for the part. But I sincerely loved every minute of this drama.

I didn't mind the length of it. Could be I was tired with fluff, silliness, and the ready-preconceived pairings. This drama was trying to do many new things -- at least new for me. Firstly, I totally loved the way the romance grew. It felt so organic and adult. Secondly, the messy relationships. There were times I questioned why innocent teenager would even have the freedom to visit a serial killer...and the way big bads just could go any old place....was just weird. But dang...even so, the conversations shoulda-been enemies got into!

But best of all is: It felt like a novel. A very good literary crime novel (albeit with weird totally messed up scenes.) Most dramas feel as if they never explore all the ramifications of a story. But this didn't do the typical: Hate bad guy, find bad guy, arrest bad guy, bad guy finds redemption and/or is killed. And I totally loved the gravitas bit at the end. Yes, it was hokey and all, but it had the writer's heart. And THAT was what was important to me. In most dramas, you see a theme but you don't see the writer's heart or personal statement. This really felt heartfelt. And while conflict is what enthralls a viewer, getting a glimpse of the writer's heart enthralls me even more. Too many dramas feel as if a robot or a computer software had written them.

This is going to be a favorite of mine. What I want now is to see this writer tackle a romance. Or a ghost story. Or a sajeuk.

Thanks for the recap.

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YIKES! Meant to say "could be I was tired of the fluff...pairings...in other dramas." Aish, my brain this morning!

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*STANDS UP TO CLAP*

Thank you for your description. I agree wholeheartedly with your points, Carole McDonnell. It WAS like a novel… a really GOOD novel. It had its flaws (God knows it had its flaws), but overall, it delved into the minds of not only the "good guys," but also the minds and actions of the "bad guys." And outstandingly, there are different levels and types of people that have "bad" thoughts. I LOVED the acting and the character development. Anyway… I just wanted to give you kudos for putting into words what I wish that I could express. Great description!

Thanks!

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Thank you!

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Yes some aspects of the drama don't make sense but I think the writer choose to go that way. I remember director Kim Kiduk once said about putting the characters and the story beyond the limit of normal life's scenario, because that's the point of story making.
If I can follow the story about time machine, gumiho, amnesia, why can't I go along with Gapdong's story? So I just go along and follow the mind of the writer wherever he takes me, and it turns out to be an enjoyable journey^^ ohh so nice.

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The cast was great. The show did wrap up its ending. I was not satisfied either, but Taehos character was awesome!! Maybe the writer didn't know how to deal with the molestation and how to weave in neatly. It was at the final hours too. It seemed to be an afterthought instead of the initial killer motivation from the writers viewpoint.
I enjoyed following JBs recap of the drama, and that was fun!!

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When they put in that "mute five year old" I thought...AHA!!!! Cha was molested! Didn't know it happened at age 14. Maybe it didn't at that age...cause that was Mu Yeom's guess. But coulda been earlier. Several molested folks have been serial killers in the US ...all that anger

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TO had to die it was the only thing that made sense after the sentence he got for his crimes, which in essence was a free pass. Being deported never to return to Korea, I'm sure that would make a serial killer cringe in terror of ever being caught. To make matters worst he was free to walk around town until he left.

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I thought the idea that a known psycho serial killer was free to just walk around anywhere while waiting deportation was just totally stupid, and detracted a lot from the ending.

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I would have loved a more developed back story for Cha. We were given bits and pieces and I guess we were left the responsibility of making some puzzle out of them. The original Gapdong never felt like a fully- fleshed out character, but I guess his significance was the emotional and psychological effect he had on those directly or indirectly connected to his actions. Because of the quest to capture Gapdong, many questions of a moral and psychological nature were brought to the forefront.

I too wonder if Taeoh's death provided him with a convenient end, but I will say that Lee Joon's performance remained strong throughout the show. I hope that more interesting projects await him, but I hope that he is not typecast.

Lastly, I believe that Carole touched on the following a couple of times: I liked the scenes that displayed moments of paternal nurturing and guidance. There were also different explorations of maternal nurturing. Taeoh likened Jiwool to a mother and the first time he saw Maria was when she was washing the feet of the inmates. That initial encounter made him particularly interested in her. I can't help but notice the stark contrast to these nurturing characters (and moments) in the form of Taeoh's mother.

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Yeah. Gap Dong seemed either to be lost in a "silence" in that he will NEVER tell his story. But even so the writer could've found a way to tell about the "silent" Gap Dong. After all, we got memories and flashbacks in his POV. So why not just tell it?

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I just figured out why he was working at the coffee shop again, and it makes sense. He had signed over his wealth.

It was never stated (as many things are insinuated in this drama, but not SAID, and that has given some confusion to some people), but in the previous scene his mother and lawyers are asking him to give up his wealth… then he is shown working at the coffee shop and actually seems a little happy.

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Argh! That cursed Affluenza affecting our lost rich youth!

Am not sure...was his mother going to give him some stocks and 70% of the money when he was in the states?

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Tae-Oh signed over 70% of his stocks to his younger brother (Tae-Min, the one that he was accused of hurting whenever he was younger) and 30% over to his mother… this revealed in the scene right before Tae-Oh is stabbed in front of the hospital.

If one squints hard enough, you could maaaaaybbeeee look at it from the perspective that Tae-Oh was giving the majority of his wealth to his younger brother in an effort to ask for forgiveness… in Tae-oh's own way. Again, the drama leaves that open for the viewer to speculate upon. Regardless, his family got all his shares/money… and in their eyes (read: his mother's eyes especially) they are absolving their familial "responsibility" of him. Very interesting. Again, this is why I have enjoyed this drama so much. There are so many things that stir your thoughts (and then/thus your emotions) in this show.

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Thanks. So weird they never showed the younger brother ever. OR at least I don't remember him being around.

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I am going to miss this show so badly. :(

I feel like they should make a prequel of sorts exploring Tae Oh's life after his dad's murder. We never got to know what happened there. Maybe also more on how he ended up in the jail clinic and his life in there. How did he become a psycho killer? I don't know I guess I am suffering from Gap Dong withdrawal.

An interesting tidbit about Cha's inmate number- 9413:

In Chinese this means 9 dead and 1 alive. crytic ain't it? 9 victims dead and one live witness (Maria). Hmmm.

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wow! That's intense about that number! Love little eggs like that.

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Another show (Padam, Padam) used their inmate's number that meant "Angel." It was interesting because that inmate was…literally…I mean LITERALLY an angel! lol

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it was so confusing. i actually cried when tae oh died. and i went through the process of being very conflicted of that fact. i know he didn't deserve any tears, but a little part of me grew to want him to be a better person. i think his and ji wools friendship really stood out to me. they had great chemistry. and i must say, it was horribly satisfying seeing cha get his just deserved.

the ending felt a little lame personally. them walking down that long path and info dumping us with all those mushy quotes that we really didn't need wasn't all that great for me, and came across as a little awkward. i feel like they could have done something so much better. maybe all the main cast having a gathering and taking it from there.

overall , the mystery aspect went down the drain way back when and it was the awesome characters that kept me going. i haven't stuck all the way through with a show in a while these days so this was one heck of a journey. it was a pleasure coming on here every week and discussing with you. i will miss some characters for sure @)

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I love the lameness, though. Because at heart this entire drama was about spirituality encountering evil. Maria the Christian Madonna figure holding the dead Tae Oh in a kind of pieta symbol and Mad Monk, the Buddhist -- well, we needed that lame ending with the spiritual talk and the walk in "the path."

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I didn't cry when Tae Oh died because I expected it and HE expected it too. He has been thinking about freedom and death was one of his options for sometime. He provoked Gapdong he should have known the consequences. And he has to pay for his crimes.

Even if Cha didn't send someone to kill him, some other people might kill him in the future in the name of his victims.

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Ladies,
Quit crying your eyes out for Tae Oh character. He would have killed more women than Cha, if left alive and loose in this drama. And that a lot of victims. Remeber how many graves they found when Cha confessed?
Go watch 2009 Take Care of the Lady/My Fair Lady to get your fix of Yoon Sang-Hyun AND Jang ll-Woo as a bonus.

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Another drama I'd recommend is Queen of Housewives (aka My wife is a super woman). This was the drama that made Yoon Sang Hyun famous. An excellent drama my favorite one tbh

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Thank you for recapping this, it was a good show.

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I'm watching Cant Lose. It's such a gem. I cant believe I never thought of watching it. My Fair Lady looks boring but I'll give it another try.

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I was replying to Marina.

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Just queued Can't Lose on Dramafever, will give it a try. New Leaf got me intrested in lawyers' dramas. I like how Yoon Eun Hye kicks and orders guys around in Fair Lady - my kinda girl.

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thank you for recaping this drama i love it

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Loved this drama... was following from beginning and one of the best k drama i have ever watched.

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love this drama - thanks for the recaps :)
i didn't know that Lee Joon is quite a good actor!
he portrayed Tae Oh very well.

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Gap Dong: The Spork of Fishing

What this drama made me think about the most was how the involved parties from 12 years prior managed to survive their messed up relationships with each other to solve the Gap Dong case. So much blame, suspicion, dirty wrongful accusations, and yet they worked through their strained if not downright antagonistic relationships all around and -even when what hit the fan was flying everywhere - ended up on the same side with their common goal of stopping the monster.

What was the resolution to Tae-oh's father's death? Did tae-oh kill him? I missed that tangent. His mother - whoa, no wonder Tae-oh was so screwed up. Really. Loved the actor that played him.

The ending - I'm good with it.

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Glad I watched this show!

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This ending sucks. Those two killers should've been hanged.

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is it a bad thing I never cried while watching this drama, only when tae oh died... I just think it's not right that he died but the real gap dong is still alive!

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So it ends... my favorite drama this year so far.
The scene when the two Gapdongs meet is really enjoyable! You can feel the tension from their words, low tone, the pull of veins in their faces. Without shouting, punching or fighting. Without chaotic fight or commotion we've always seen in almost all dramas.

However, Tae Oh has provoked Cha too much, and it becomes an indirect way for him to pay the price of his crime.

R.I.P Ryu Tae Oh... you deserve it.

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- So Maria actuality has called Ryu Tae Oh to tell him that she's going with him abroad?!!
- In his last day(s) Ryu Tae Oh has actually got some kind of "emotion". When Maria called him, when he met Ji Wool, and whe he found out Mu Yeom was going to have surgery.
- I laughed out loud watching Cha got stabbed in the eye for petty reason like egg roll. I wish they showed more scenes lime his hand broken, he got limped and ao on until he's crumpled and hanged.
- I have expected Ryu Tae Oh's death as his redemption. I think that's the best for everyone. If he's let live he certainly continue killing and we won't be able to feel for him anymore. Yes he wanted to stop but it's not that easy; his ego might not want to stop, especially he considered himself surpassing Gapdong already. So yeah, Ryu Tae Oh, this is your freedom, now rest in peace.
- I really enjoy this drama because it dares to use different story telling to otherwise typical crime investigation drama. The romance was kept in small amount and I think it's good decision. Oftenly in in other similar-themed dramas we were sidetracked by unnecessary romance, jealousy between lovers, etc. in Gapdongi there's that but not dominant.
- Yes it has flaws, just like every other drama I've watched, but I'll still say 'good job' to Gapdongi team. It is entertaining.
- The actors have done good job too, especially Jung In Ki and Lee Joon who have got highly praised by medias, by people here and everywhere.

It's been long since I felt this way after finishing a drama series. I feel light, relieved, satisfied, and happy. I'm entertained. I want to give standing applause... clap clap clap clap..

Ahh can't wait for the Gapdong Special episode this Friday!

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There's a Gap Dong special?????? YAY!!!!! Hadn't known. Thanks.

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Yes there is, they announced it last week. I wish someone will sub it too.

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IT WAS GOOD BUT STILL LACKS JUDEGEMENT,COMN HOW CAN U LET GO OF A MURDERER WHO HAS KILLED SO MANY JUST TO ACTING MANIAC AND SENT FOR ABROAD RIDICULOUS WHAT THIS SHOW HAS GIVEN ARAY OF HOPE FOR MURDERER TO ESCAPE EVEN THE LEADS AND DETECTIVE FEEL SORRY. MU FEEL SORRY BEC HE THINKS RU ADMIRE OF GAP DONG BEC.OF HIM , MARIA BEC.SHE USE COMN THIS IS SERIOUS BUINESS HOW CAN DETEC. LET GO OF HENIOUS MURDERER. RYU HAS TO DIE OTHERWISE IT HAVE FAILED I ITS PLOT BUT I STILL HOPE DOWN HE LINE///////////

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thank you or the recaps....
i'm satisfied enough with the plot and the ending.eventhough it could be better than it did.
tae-oh is really steal the show for the real gap-dong.i think this is the main hole needed to fill,you can name it under the main villain unless he has the most interesting story isn't?
but at least the leads get the happy ending.they can leave the past and trauma behind.
i think that is the important thing,beside the justice,this journeu about

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thank you or the recaps....
i'm satisfied enough with the plot and the ending.eventhough it could be better than it did.
tae-oh is really steal the show from the real gap-dong.i think this is the main hole needed to fill,you can name it under the main villain unless he has the most interesting story isn't?
but at least the leads get the happy ending.they can leave the past and trauma behind.
i think that is the important thing,beside the justice,this journeu about

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I hope rye tae oh is not really dead and emerge again in gap dong 2 . really want to see sequel ..plz let my wish come true .

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It's such a shame Tae Oh died. :( I like him even though he was a criminal. I hope he's actually alive or something, maybe in a season two of Gap Dong, he'll come back, being good for once and looking as cute as ever. :D And as for the show, I hope it makes a comeback, this time with a little more drama in it. I mean, after some point, I think that everything was just plain obvious. I hope the producers haven't run out of ideas for new Kdramas. I can't imagine all the Kdramas having the same concept. :l Amteun, thanks for the recap! :)

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this drama was fantastic I can't even imagine it, give it up guys good job Ryu Tae oh

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I just finished after marathoning.
It was one of my favs for the year.
So much good acting, but so many "that would SO not happen." You cannot think for a second that kid could work at a cafe after killing people. I mean, where are the victims' families picketing in front of it? Throwing things at him as he walks by. Going to his house and ripping it to pieces?
If the first GD inspired enough hate and anger after his crimes - and those were decades old - the fresh pain would have been way too much for the public.

I understand he had to be free to be attacked, but that could have happened in prison. Maria could have held him dying there, too.

Still liked the show overall as impossible as that part was.
Thanks for recapping it - flaws and all.

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Is it just me, but did anyone notice the scene near the end where they showed Maria changing to scissors AFTER Ji Wool changed to paper?

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Lee Joon's acting was phenomenal in this drama. He was the main reason I stuck around until the end, and I got quite invested in Ryu Tae Oh's character development.
I thought the overall story was good.
Good, not great.
There was some tension missing in how the real Gap Dong was dealt with, and I feel that could have been explored more.
I'm no longer feeling sad that Lee Joon has left MBLAQ. I hope he keeps acting in interesting and compelling roles like this one!

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But I have a question I know that cha killed mija's father because he molested her but why did he end up killing her then? I thought he liked her?

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Its a waste of my 20 hours watching this drama. It started well with room for the writers to pull the story and the characters together yet I think the writers went psychotic and the story turn out to be senseless. I don't know about South Korean's criminal system but it does not make sense to expect the 9th case to happen when both already being trial for the previous murders and yet the two culprits were allowed to run around and have their field day so that Det Ha can find out the other victimside and allowing Ryu to scare the shit out if the two girls...this drama is as psychotic as the two Gap Dong. It would have been the best thriller drama has the writers able to tighten the storyline. I can't stand Maria's character that swing from victim to doctor. I think she need psychological assessment than giving one.

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