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18

Room No. 9: Episode 2

Whether by heaven’s purpose or accident, the two leads have switched bodies, throwing them in completely opposite worlds. Hwa-sa uses her newfound freedom to experience everything she missed while Hae-yi pleads for hers, to no avail. The lives of our leads begin to collide, and the skeletons of the past bare their heads in the present. Though our leads may now have new faces and lives, they might not be the only ones living under someone else’s identity.

 
EPISODE 2 RECAP

December 24th, 1984, a man resembling Yoo-jin steps out of his car to observe a meteor shower as a stray meteorite plummets toward the earth. It crashes into a hospital where a newborn cries, and a familiar looking defibrillator glows in the dark as bolts of electricity surge into it from the fallen meteorite.

Back in the present, Hwa-sa stares into a bathroom mirror and is greeted by Hae-yi’s reflection. She slaps herself to wake up from this dream, but when the prison guard calls her by Hae-yi’s name, she realizes that the impossible has truly happened—she’s in Hae-yi’s body.

Hwa-sa sits in Hae-yi’s car and remembers the day she first entered prison. Every day was the same, the fear of death never abating, and she prayed constantly for an admission to heaven. Hwa-sa narrates that her prayers were answered, though in a different way, and runs past the prison gates, finally free after all these years.

Learning that “Hae-yi” left the premises, Yoo-jin rushes out in search for her and finds her walking on the side of the road. He pulls her into a hug, much to Hwa-sa’s surprise, and sits her down to help her put on her heels again. His terms of endearment and demeanor confuse Hwa-sa, who can’t quite figure out the relationship between him and Hae-yi.

In the hospital, Hae-yi wakes up, handcuffed to a bed, and is startled to find Hwa-sa’s face staring back at her through the window. Released from her restraints, Hae-yi stumbles into the bathroom and screams at the sight of her reflection.

After calming down, Hae-yi asks about her body, wondering if she died, but the prison guard assures her that “Attorney Eulji” is fine. Realizing that Hwa-sa must be in her body, Hae-yi plans her escape. When the guard takes a minute to use the bathroom alone, Hae-yi uses the opportunity to escape, pausing to steal clothes and a phone from some sleeping patients.

Intern Bang is working through the night with the others at the law firm when he receives a text from Hae-yi, instructing him to bring her car to the hospital. Though he protests and acts like he won’t go, Intern Bang dutifully follows her orders.

Hwa-sa is still acting awkwardly around Yoo-jin, which he notices, and she doesn’t even know what to do when Hae-yi’s phone rings. With some prompting by Yoo-jin, Hwa-sa tentatively answers the call, and is shocked to hear her voice over the phone—it’s the real Hae-yi asking to meet.

In the privacy of the bathroom, Hwa-sa tells Hae-yi to wait until she’s ready. That only riles up Hae-yi further, and she scoffs at Hwa-sa’s audacity when she hears Yoo-jin calling for “Hae-yi” over the phone. She orders Hwa-sa to meet her at a convenience store alone. Before Hwa-sa can reply, Yoo-jin walks into the bathroom, and Hwa-sa throws the phone into the sink and turns on the faucet.

Yoo-jin notes how strange she’s acting, but Hwa-sa argues that it would be weirder if she was acting normally after her injury. He raises his hand to check her temperature, but Hwa-sa recoils from his touch. With a sigh, he says that they should go home.

Meanwhile, Hae-yi runs as fast as she can through the hospital, though her new body limits her physical abilities. She hops into a taxi, barely evading capture with the prison guards just seconds behind her. She makes it to the promised meeting spot, and texts Intern Bang to bring her car to the convenience store instead.

Hae-yi waits at the convenience store when the doors open and in walks Hwa-sa with her body. She takes a seat next to Hae-yi, unfazed by this literal out-of-body experience unlike her counterpart, and berates Hae-yi for wanting to meet without a plan.

Hwa-sa orders Hae-yi to take their conversation elsewhere, but once outside, Hae-yi realizes that she’s fallen into a trap. Though the guards arrive and Yoo-jin tries to stop her, Hae-yi refuses to give up, and pushes Hwa-sa to the ground in her attempt to escape.

However, hearing Yoo-jin call out her name in worry stops Hae-yi in her tracks as she watches her boyfriend unknowingly comfort Hwa-sa. Hae-yi crumples into the arms of the guards who surround her, and silently screams while Hwa-sa stares at her with a pained expression.

Yoo-jin calls the doctor at the prison to ask about Hwa-sa’s predicament, and finds it unfair that she was placed in solitary confinement given her medical conditions. In prison, Hae-yi refuses to eat, and cries out to the guard to let her go because she’s the real Hae-yi.

Elsewhere, Hwa-sa wakes up in a fancy hotel room, courtesy of Yoo-jin. He calls her, offering to drop by to check on her, but Hwa-sa turns him down. Instead, she tells him that she’ll be busy for a while and asks for some time alone.

Hwa-sa looks out the window at present-day Seoul, and scans the changed landscape of the city. She narrates, “What I saw when I opened the curtains wasn’t Seoul, but the passage of time.”

With her newfound freedom, Hwa-sa enjoys the pleasures of the world, ordering a spread of rich foods, but in the middle of her meal, she begins to cry. After dying every single day for all those years, she finally realizes that she was alive all along.

Hwa-sa dances in her room as memories of her fellow inmates dancing intertwine with the present. With the soft glow of sunlight enveloping her, Hwa-sa dances, no longer in Hae-yi’s body, but in her own.

Sporting a new perm, Hwa-sa visits her mother with a cake to celebrate her birthday and thanks her mother for waiting all these years. Hwa-sa asks her mother if she remembers Choo Young-bae, the man who wanted to marry her; the man she supposedly killed.

However, Hwa-sa tells her mother that Young-bae might be alive. Believing that the heavens always have a purpose, Hwa-sa takes these turn of events as a sign to reveal the sins Young-bae committed.

Hwa-sa’s visit ends when Mi-ran, who watches over Hwa-sa’s mother for her, asks her what she’s doing here. She’s suspicious of the new face until Hwa-sa introduces herself as the appeals attorney.

Hwa-sa departs soon after, and a nurse tells Mi-ran that Hwa-sa moved Mother to a private room and is paying all future bills. Mi-ran watches Hwa-sa suspiciously, unsettled by the excessive act of kindness.

The prison guards wake Hae-yi, and she looks up at them, whispering that she isn’t Hwa-sa. Desperately clinging to the guard’s leg, Hae-yi softly cries that she’s Attorney Eulji Hae-yi. Her distressed insistence worries the guards, though one of them thinks it’s a hoax, and the doctor informs them of the possibility of dissociative identity disorder.

Hwa-sa finds her way to Hae-yi’s apartment, and remembering a tip from a fellow inmate, she uses a taser to unlock the door. I’m no expert in breaking-and-entering, but maybe it’s not the best idea to get advice from someone who was captured. Just saying.

Unsurprisingly, the alarms go off, and a security guard is dispatched. As luck would have it, the security guard is a friend of Officer Oh’s, and informs him about the security breach at Hae-yi’s apartment. Even turning down a free meal, Officer Oh accompanies the guard to the apartment.

Once they arrive, the security guard scolds Hwa-sa for using a taser on her lock, but with Officer Oh confirming her identity, he lets her off with just a warning. Since he helped her, Officer Oh asks for a drink, and lets himself into her apartment.

He excuses himself to go use the bathroom, but slinks into Hae-yi’s office to snoop. Rummaging through the drawers, Officer Oh finds a document from the National Forensic Center, and quickly snaps a few pictures before Hwa-sa finds him.

After getting his drink (literal sugar water), Officer Oh leaves, and Hwa-sa escorts him to the elevators. Her uncharacteristic behaviors puzzle him, and he states that she must not be Hae-yi. Without a hint of sarcasm, he asks her what’s going on: face-off or multiple personalities?

Unnerved by his accusation, Hwa-sa yells at him for spewing nonsense, and stomps away. Officer Oh finds her reaction surprisingly cute, but then slaps himself for even entertaining the thought. Heh.

Alone in the apartment, Hwa-sa raids the fridge for the little food Hae-yi has, and starts pressing buttons on remotes, curious about all the new technology and fancy equipment. She accidently turns on the projector, which displays slides containing information about her case.

A picture of Chairman Ki pops ups, and Hwa-sa reaches out to touch his face as if in a trance. Though the information on the slide calls him Ki San, the half-brother of Young-bae and the oldest son of the late chairman, Hwa-sa recognizes him as the real Choo Young-bae.

Elsewhere, Chairman Ki receives an update on Yoo-jin’s recent activities, including his visit to the prison and Hae-yi’s role as Hwa-sa’s appeals attorney. Though curious, Chairman Ki seems relatively unperturbed by the news, but when his secretary informs him of Hwa-sa’s recent hospital escape and current mental state, he drops his utensils in shock.

Chairman Ki drives alone in the middle of the night, wondering if Hwa-sa really went crazy. He thinks to himself that it would have been better if she died back then, and remembers sitting in the snow-covered car, bloody and bruised with an unconscious Hwa-sa next to him.

As Chairman Ki turns a corner, he nearly hits a hooded passerby and barely manages to swerve out of the way. Cursing under his breath, he notices the pedestrian on the ground but still moving, and drives away.

The hooded figure looks up, revealing it to be Hwa-sa.

The chairman arrives at a rundown carousel where he once went on dates with Hwa-sa, and flicks a lighter on and off out of habit. Hwa-sa reaches the same spot, but stops at a distance as old and young Young-bae overlap before her eyes.

Without thinking, she calls out his name, her voice mounting with fury. Chairman Ki whips his head towards her direction, bellowing for the bastard to reveal himself. The shrubs and darkness cover Hwa-sa’s face, and she twirls around before he sees her.

Hwa-sa runs down the familiar streets of her youth with Chairman Ki chasing after her, and she trips over a stone. As she falls, the scene flashes to her past where a young Chairman Ki offered his hand to help her up.

While past Hwa-sa received a piggyback ride from Young-bae, present Hwa-sa currently runs for her life away from him. Past and present oscillate as the once-lovers retrace their steps, the warmth from their past in stark contrast to the darkness of their present.

With Hae-yi’s younger body, Hwa-sa manages to outrun and hide from Chairman Ki who roars into the rainy night for her to come out. Flashing back, she remembers the moment she learned Young-bae’s father was Chairman Ki Se-woong — her boss. In the present day, Chairman Ki questions who else would call him by that name except for Hwa-sa.

Hwa-sa returns to the apartment completely drenched, and Yoo-jin waits for her outside with an umbrella. He asks her what’s going on, but Hwa-sa walks past him without uttering a single word. He tells her that “Hwa-sa” is being transferred to another prison because of her mental state, which finally gets her to turn around and face him.

Early in the morning, the prison guards escort Hae-yi to a van for her transfer, but Hae-yi instantly recognizes the name of the facility as a psychiatric hospital for prisoners. Knowing that her chances to return to her body would be slim once she goes there, Hae-yi argues that she never approved of this transfer and calls it a violation of her rights.

She fights against the guards, and from the corner of her eye, she spots Hwa-sa standing by the gate. Hae-yi launches herself at Hwa-sa, who motions to the guards to let her be, and the two stare at each other.

Hae-yi accuses Hwa-sa of requesting this transfer, asking if she was that desperate to live as her. Holding Hae-yi’s gaze, Hwa-sa states, “I’m Attorney Eulji Hae-yi, and you are Jang Hwa-sa.”

Hae-yi scoffs at her shameless claim, calling her crazy, but Hwa-sa merely repeats her assertion as Eulji Hae-yi. Pushing Hae-yi back, Hwa-sa doesn’t even blink as she asks, “Inmate 122, who are you?”

 
COMMENTS

Episode two throws us deeper into the lives of Hwa-sa and Hae-yi, and reveals hints of a larger secret intertwined in both their lives. While Chairman Ki’s secret wasn’t necessarily surprising, I thought the execution of the reveal was well done and conveyed the feeling of shock experienced by Hwa-sa. The show hinted that Chairman Ki is probably Young-bae, but by showing the viewers the overlap between young and old Young-bae, and the juxtaposition of the past and the present, it really drove home how much there is yet to be revealed. The stark contrast of the two chases between Hwa-sa and Chairman Ki highlighted the change in their relationship, which only reinforced the weight of the discovery for Hwa-sa. All these years she lived with the fear of dying, never really living, because she supposedly murdered the man she loved. However, he was alive this entire time, and to make matters worse, he knew she was in jail for his death.

I don’t think Hwa-sa was entirely sure that she wanted revenge until that fateful encounter by the carousel. She was clearly shocked to see Chairman Ki in that video right before her heart attack, but from the way she talked to Hae-yi in the beginning and her conversation with her mother, it seems like she wasn’t quite sure what to make of everything and still needed time to process. However, seeing Chairman Ki in the flesh and the instant overlap with past Young-bae was a watershed moment for Hwa-sa, as well as the viewers, signaling the start of a revenge plan. The wound of betrayal is fresh, thus, this still leaves a lot of question marks in terms of an action plan. This also gives space for Hae-yi to insert herself in Hwa-sa’s revenge and gives the show room to explore different relationships and character growths. In terms of setting up the plot, I think the first two episodes did a good job.

Given the body swap premise, I was naturally worried about how the switched characters would be portrayed. It’s difficult to have two different actors convey the same character while also acknowledging the differences that come along with having different bodies. Even if Hae-yi is the same, spiritually and consciously, her body is that of Hwa-sa’s. Physically, there would be certain limitations due to age but also habits—likewise with Hwa-sa in Hae-yi’s body. Quelling my fears, Kim Hee-sun and Kim Hae-sook are doing great, and hopefully, their portrayals will go from strength to strength as the plot thickens.

Besides the two leads, the other characters are slowly getting fleshed out, and I find their interactions with the leads interesting so far. There’s a clear difference between the way Hae-yi is treated compared to Hwa-sa. Part of it is that Hae-yi is claiming to be herself while Hwa-sa is not, but more than that, Hwa-sa’s body is stigmatized because of her label as an inmate which gives Hae-yi very little power to have her voice heard. Her pleas for help are either considered an act or a psychological disorder. For strong-willed Hae-yi, who knows how to bargain and argue, she’s going to have to realize that her previous way of life won’t nicely translate to her new body and life as Hwa-sa.

While Hae-yi struggles with getting people to see and hear her, Hwa-sa is struggling with the opposite. She doesn’t want people from Hae-yi’s life to observe her for fear of being discovered. In fact, I like how the show is already putting seeds of doubt into the characters’ heads even if making the leap that Hae-yi is actually Hwa-sa might be too fantastical to make. It leaves open the possibility that characters like Officer Oh or Yoo-jin will eventually accept the truth and then act accordingly to the switch. Just as Hae-yi has to learn how to navigate the world as Hwa-sa, Hwa-sa will have to learn how to live as Hae-yi which might be just as difficult a task after living as a death row inmate for 34 years.

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Now this revenge story! Maybe this is something I want to watch. It looks interesting.
If only I would have time!!!

But I will keep it on visiting the recaps.
Thanks, by the way, for the recap, @lovepark

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Woo hoo, @lovepark for tag-team recapping with @hanshimi! Thank you so much!

I'm getting MONEY FLOWER vibes from the revenge plot and murky identities. I'm also getting the feeling that Jang Hwa-sa was framed for a murder that may not have actually been committed.

Question #1: If Chairman Ki San is really Chu Young-bae, then where is the real Ki San? And why has no one else noticed his absence? My suspicion is that the two are identical twins, perhaps separated at birth (which is the only way I can account for their different surnames). Or maybe Ki San used a pseudonym in certain circumstances, and there is only one person with two names? Pater familias Ki Se-woong allegedly sowed an awful lot of wild oats. I think there's a good chance that he's not solely responsible for all those Ki babies.

Question #2: Is Ki San really Yoo-jin's significantly older half-brother? The way he hugs his dongsaeng and the way the shot is framed are strong clues that Ki San is his father.

Question #3: Who is Yoo-jin's mother? I'm not so sure that mom is Jang Hwa-sa. In a flashback we see Hwa-sa meet Chu Young-bae. He later informs her that his father is her boss. Thus, maybe the baby's father was actually Ki Se-woong, not Se-woong's illegitimate son, Chu Young-bae. That's assuming that Hwa-sa is even the baby's mother. My head is spinning!

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As to your question #1, they couldn't be twins because he said he is the bastard son of the boss, presumably the real Ki-San was the legitimate son, because that is what he is claiming. My theory is that Ki-San was never really shown in public, so he just replaced him when he died and no one was the wiser.

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As far as Yoo-jin knows from being told, he is an illegitimate son of Ki Se-woong, with Ki San as hyung and legitimate head of household, and deceased illegit brother, Chu Young-bae, along with an unknown number of other illegit siblings. But it may not be true. Hwa-sa's reaction to seeing Ki San on TV made me question the family history.

I like your hypothesis that Ki San could have been kept out of the public eye, hence few people would have been able to recognize him. ;-)

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It is literally a who's who at this point. What Ki San is saying about the family is not to be trusted ..... the man has secrets and it's not a stretch to think he wants them hidden, especially if he has any direct link to anything nefarious involving those secrets.

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I'm actually thinking that what if chu young bae also swapped soul with ki san? Maybe some multiple souls swapping are taking place in this drama? :S

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@fay17 I suppose anything is possible ...... unless the swapping has to take place in Room No. 9. Then again, it's the defibrillator that does the swapping, so if that machine was once in another place I guess it could happen anywhere.

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ROOM NO. 9 is already up to its eyeballs in imagery. Illegitimate chaebol son Ki Yoo-jin was born during the Perseid meteor shower on Christmas Eve, 1984. It's the next best thing to having the Star of Bethlehem appear. LOL! The opening scene has "Silent Night" playing in the background as part of a radio broadcast. Will Yoo-jin become some kind of redeemer? Or a sacrifice?

The strange celestial and ch'i conditions that prevailed when Yoo-jin was born seemed to repeat themselves in the prison as the defibrillator in the storage next door to visiting room #9 began to flash its display even though it was not plugged in. I like it. It's a lot less disruptive than having twin typhoons whisk 90s singer Hyun-Jae into the future as in THE BEST HIT. ;-)

As a young adult, Ki San watched the falling stars. One of them landed on the far side of a mountain,
striking the Nabi (Butterfly) Sleep Obstetrics and Gynecology building where a baby had just been born. Electrical discharge through the broken window caused the defibrillator's display to flash. So that's how the old defibrillator in the prison became a conduit of ch'i. The device is basically a capacitor or battery, and must have become imprinted/entrained with the charge of the celestial energy.

The imagery of Nabi as a symbol of the soul and rebirth is provocative. Aside from GOBLIN, it also brings to mind "The Butterfly Dream" of the Zhuangzi. Is the man a butterfly in his dream, or is the butterfly dreaming of the man? I love the Taoist subtext which points directly to Tao Te Ching [The Book of Changes]. I cannot help but wonder if the murderess's virtual rebirth /transmigration into a different body is some kind of divine justice, as well as an examination of karma and exploration of the possible realities we cut ourselves off from according to our choices and actions.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhuangzi_(book)#%22The_Butterfly_Dream%22

I would love it if Beanies who are more numeralogically aware than I am would weigh in to the significance of the number 9. Three is a significant number, as in the Triple Goddess and the three Persons of the Holy Trinity. Three squared (9) is even more so. I have a sense that there's a metaphysical reason why Room #9 is the designation for the place where the body switch occurred. Off the top of my head, all I can think of is cats' reputation for having nine lives. In a way, that is apropos for Hwa-sa, who has somehow lived 34 years on death row. My inkling is that 9 speaks to the completion of a cycle.

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I also love how this drama gives Kim Hae-sook a meaty role for a change instead of being relegated into a perpetual mother/mother-in-law role. Good, interesting roles for middle-aged women are regrettably rare. :/

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Kim Hae-sook had an interesting role in ABOUT TIME that paralleled the female lead's unusual relationship with the passage of time.

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Thank you for the recap @lovepark

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I REALLY want to watch this but it's been difficult fitting yet another show into the drama schedule. But @lovepark's recap makes it clear. This is a show that needs to be watched. *reserves some time over the weekend for the show*

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This episode was interesting because Hwa Sa became extremely unsympathetic to Hae-Yi, which she deserved to an extent. These first two episodes have been a really great set-up. However I am hoping that Hae-Yi's boyfriend isn't Hwa-Sa's son because that would be both creepy and very uncomfortable.

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I really hope so because I wasn't very comfortable with the set-up in "Miss Granny" either even though the grandson (played by Jinyoung) wasn't Granny's main love interest.

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I thought this episode was much better than the first one. The two leads do an amazing job with the swapped characters. It's hard to describe but I think that Kim Hee-sun depicts the vulnerability of the woman who is suddenly free from jail (but in another body) and Kim Hae-sook shows the indignant anger of the lawyer who shouldn't be in prison.

This is really what I've come here to see: the prisoner released and the lawyer in jail. I'm really intrigued with how they're both going to cope, maybe more so than with the birth secret.

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I have started watching this show and have to say I am quite impressed! I was a bit worried about the birth secret thingy but I do think it's just a red herring.
Coming to this episode, I'm kind of glad lol that hae yi is stuck in the jail, #sorrynotsorry. Considering how awfully she treated hwa sa on episode 1 and how she taunted her saying that her mom lost her memories because of her, it just serves her right. I am not hoping for her redemption either, I feel like I would be happier if that doctor realized by the end of this drama that she's not the one for him lol.
Coming to my question, is it only me who's wondering what's the doctor's look-alike doing in 1984? I have some crazy theory about the soul swapping thing but I will wait for some more episodes to see whether it could be a possibility or not. This drama reminds me of black, but in a good way. Also I literally had goosebumps when hwa sa was being chased by yong bae at the end and then 80's scenes were playing at the flashback, very beautifully done show.

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@fay17,

My take on Yoon Park's (PD Lee Gang in RADIO ROMANCE!) portraying young Ki San aka Choo Young-bae is to play up the father-son resemblance to Ki Yoo-jin. I had already noticed it in the first episode, but seeing the young adult version of Young-bae/Ki San really sold me that they are father and son. Of course, it's also possible that Writer-nim has fooled me but good. ;-)

At this point, I'm feeling like you about Hae-yi, who is reprehensible. Throw away the key already, jailer!

On the other hand, it sounds as if Hae-yi and her family suffered because of Hwa-sa's case or related issues, and was destroyed. It may be that the two women will come to recognize that both their families were destroyed by another party (Choo Young-bae / Ki San), and will eventually join forces against their common enemy. That would be fun. But... I cannot help feeling that Choo Young-bae and the rest of his father's children are also victims, of what or whom, I do not exactly know at this time. ;-)

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How could I forget the butterfly (nabi) as symbol of metamorphosis and transformation?

It seems to me that metamorphosis applies not only to Hwa-sa and Hae-yi, but to Ki San and his alias(es). Why did he apparently adopt another identity? Was it to protect his own life, someone else's life, or for nefarious reasons?

A related image is that of the protective cocoon the caterpillar spins as a refuge for its lengthy, solitary metamorphosis. Once it begins, the caterpillar cannot turn back. The transformation cannot be avoided, rushed, or interrupted, lest the creature die. Once the process is complete, after the butterfly has gnawed its way out of its silken fortress and waited patiently for its wings to fully unfold and dry, it takes to the air. Freed from crawling on plants on the ground, it rides the breeze in broad daylight and sips the sweet nectar of flowers, a rarefied liquid generated through photosynthesis, that contains the essence of the plant.

A prison cell can be considered a cocoon of sorts. If the intent of incarceration is rehabilitation as well as punishment, prisoners have an opportunity to reflect, repent, and remake themselves. They emerge from their forcible withdrawal from society different from how they entered. It is up to them to decide whether they change for the better.

Hwa-sa's name interests me. Does it have something to do with flowers, or does it mean “shining brightly” – like a blazing meteor? As a newly-liberated butterfly, the scene in the hotel of her looking out over Seoul far below plays up her transformation from a manipulated prisoner cut off from the outside world and the passage of time to an agent of her own fortune. With the realization of her incomprehensible transmigration into the body of a ruthlessly ambitious younger antagonist, the stage is set for her to “float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.”

Conversely, ambitious attorney Hae-yi has found herself powerlessly imprisoned in the very jail she had doomed her “client” to remain in for the rest of her life at the behest of her superiors. Her heartless provocation of Hwa-sa to manipulate her into acting violently has ensured that, for the duration of their body swap, Hae-yi will be confined to prison without hope of parole. The mighty one has been humbled. Has the universe offered her an opportunity to reevaluate her attitudes and actions and evolve into a better human being? Is there a silver lining to her imprisonment?

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