Red Moon, Blue Sun: Episodes 1-2
From the writer of Village: Secret of Achiara, Red Moon, Blue Sun (also known as Children of Nobody) looks like it will be another such suspenseful thriller, one that promises to be mysterious and full of surprising twists-and-turns. The premiere gives us more questions than answers, but that’s to be expected for a show that’s laying the groundwork for a complex puzzle.
EPISODES 1-2 RECAP
During a sports day at an elementary school, a young boy runs in a relay race. He crosses the finish line, winning the race — but as he stops to catch his breath, he sees a young girl jumping rope and singing a nursery song. The boy is both entranced and fearful as she turns to smile at him — as he should be, since the girl isn’t really there.
Dazed, the young boy goes to the top of a flight of stairs and, with the young girl’s sing-songy voice ringing in his ears, he turns around and purposefully falls backwards down the stairs.
Later, he meets with child counselor CHA WOO-KYUNG (Kim Sun-ah). The boy, Shi-wan, survived the fall but broke his arm, and Woo-kyung gently tries to ask him why he chose to fall down the stairs. Shi-wan says there was no reason — he just wanted to do it. Then he asks Woo-kyung, who is visibly pregnant, when her baby will be born. Woo-kyung cheerfully says that she’s not completely sure, but her daughter is excited to have a baby brother.
Shi-wan says that having siblings isn’t always a good thing, and when Woo-kyung pries a little more, the boy tells her that his younger sister died. He says it in such a chilling, matter-of-fact way that Woo-kyung instinctively clutches her stomach and unborn child.
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There’s no special reason
At a woman’s prison, inmate Park Ji-hye is released. She was sent to prison for killing her child, and as she steps out into freedom, she’s greeted by the furious cries of the protestors who insist she should still be in jail. As they call her a murderer and yell that she should die, they throw eggs and flour at her.
As Woo-kyung makes breakfast for her husband, KIM MIN-SEOK (Kim Young-jae), and daughter, Eun-seo, she sees the news about Ji-hye’s release. Later, when she’s taking care of her bed-ridden sister who’s in a coma, Woo-kyung and her mother discuss the case and the fact that Ji-hye returned to her home, which is now covered in protesters’ graffiti calling her a murderer.
But Mom defends Ji-hye — even if the woman did a terrible act, she paid for her crime in prison, so she should be at least allowed to live in peace. Besides, Mom believes that Ji-hye was just taking the blame for her husband so that her husband wouldn’t end up in prison for killing their child. Shocked, Woo-kyung reminds her mother that Ji-hye still burned her child to death, but Mom insists it was a cover-up anyway.
When Woo-kyung tucks her comatose sister into bed, she’s shocked when her sister’s eyes suddenly open. She excitedly calls her husband at his office, who warns her not to expect too much since her sister is still comatose. Oooh, there’s some interesting tension between Min-seok and his young assistant as she helps him with his jacket.
Ji-hye ruthlessly cleans out her child’s room, erasing any trace of her son’s existence. The last thing to be removed is a photo of him with Ji-hye and her husband. She rips off the bottom half that shows her son, leaving only the upper half of the photo, that part that shows her and her husband.
Later that night, a car burns in an abandoned amusement park.
In a messy apartment that’s littered with empty food containers and alcohol bottles, an alarm rings, waking up detective KANG JI-HEON (Lee Yi-kyung), who’s asleep fully clothed in the water-filled bathtub. As he changes into dry clothes and fights off his hangover, he studies his reflection in the mirror, noting his split lip and the fresh scrapes on his cheek.
Ji-heon arrives at the amusement park where the CSI team is already dismantling the burnt car. Captain Hong Ki-tae greets him, pointing out that Ji-heon’s late.
A body was found burnt to a crisp in the driver’s seat of the car, and while it will take some time to identify the body, they’ve discovered the car was registered to Ji-hye’s husband. Captain Hong orders Ji-heon to find Ji-hye.
Woo-kyung heads to her scheduled appointment with Shi-wan, but his mother calls to tell her that Shi-wan is sick so Woo-kyung will have to skip her counseling session with him. When Woo-kyung offers to reschedule, Shi-wan’s mother says that her son — despite purposefully throwing himself down the stairs — is perfectly fine and doesn’t need any help, so Woo-kyung doesn’t need to visit again.
As Woo-kyung drives along the highway, the truck in front of her suddenly swerves. Woo-kyung sees why, but it’s too late — a child is standing in the middle of the road, and even though Woo-kyung slams on the brakes, she ends up fatally hitting the child.
Ji-heon goes to Ji-hye’s house, but there’s no one there. The door’s unlocked though, so he enters and looks around. He picks up the photo from the dresser, noting the hand-written inscription on the back: “When the moon rises above the barley field.”
At the police station, Min-seok tends to his dazed wife, who’s still in shock that she hit and killed a child. The police officer tells Min-seok that they’re still looking for the boy’s guardians, but Woo-kyung interjects, since the child she saw on the bridge was a little girl in a green dress — not a boy.
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Worried about the wrong kid
The police officer shows them the CCTV footage, and then gently explains that the shock and adrenaline of the moment can play tricks on one’s perception, but the child Woo-kyung hit was definitely a boy, not a girl. Distressed, Woo-kyung insists it was a girl in a green dress — she remembers it clearly.
Unlike what he told his boss, Ji-heon’s wounds are from a scuffle he got into with his girlfriend’s boyfriend last night — or, rather, his ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, since the ex reminds Ji-heon (when he calls to confirm what happened last night since he was so drunk) that Ji-heon broke up with her months ago.
His ex-girlfriend, Yeon-joo, is also Min-seok’s assistant, and there’s definitely something going on between her and her boss based on the way she touches his arm in comfort after he returns to the office. Min-seok worries that his wife will have another breakdown.
Now at home, Woo-kyung channel surfs, stopping on a news report about the body burnt in the car, which has now been confirmed to be Ji-hye. When the news report rehashes Ji-hye killing her child, Woo-kyung can’t stop thinking about the fact she just killed a child, too. She looks to be on the edge of a panic attack — perhaps Min-seok’s fear of a breakdown isn’t so far off.
Ji-heon goes to the prison to meet with Ji-hye’s husband. Ji-heon asks if he or his wife have any enemies, and the man scoffs, pointing out that all of the country is their enemy — everyone hates them for the death of their child. Ji-hye’s husband is convinced his wife’s death wasn’t suicide, though, arguing that she wasn’t the type to kill herself.
It turns out that there’s good evidence that Ji-hye was murdered, since there was a powerful anesthetic in her blood stream that’s only accessible to those in the medical community.
Ji-heon then goes to the women’s prison to collect Ji-hye’s leftover belongings. Her only belongings are all the hate mail she received over the years, which she meticulously collected and kept. The prison guard muses that this must be one of Ji-heon’s easiest cases, since there isn’t much incentive to find Ji-hye’s killer. After all, everyone wanted Ji-hye to die for her crimes. In the guard’s opinion, Ji-hye’s killer did what the law couldn’t.
But Ji-heon — who believes every life has value — coldly tells the prison guard that he is a detective, and that no matter who was murdered, his job is to find and capture the culprit.
He goes through all of the hate mail, looking for clues, as well as tracking down all the photos of the people who were at the protest during Ji-hye’s release. He tries calling Yeon-joo, but she ignores his call, having just gotten out of the shower — and she stands next to a mysterious man (who, from behind, looks an awful lot like Min-seok).
In the morning, Min-seok and Woo-kyung meet with a lawyer. The lawyer is optimistic about their case, because even if it goes to trial, all the facts are in Woo-kyung’s favor — the child was killed on a highway where no pedestrians are allowed and the boy’s guardians haven’t been found, which means there won’t be anyone fighting against them.
Woo-kyung is still distressed about the boy, but as Min-seok drives the two of them home, he’s pleased that the matter should blow over easily and they can focus on their regular lives. Woo-kyung screams at him to pull over, distressed that a boy just died and that no one is looking for him, demanding to know how Min-seok would feel if Eun-seo was the one who died.
Woo-kyung sobs that she’s terrified, and Min-seok yells that she needs to be more focused on her living daughter and the child in her womb than some random boy that’s already dead. Realizing that his wife is on the verge of a breakdown, he quickly tells her that the boy’s death wasn’t her fault.
But Woo-kyung can’t get over the fact she killed a child — how can she look at her daughter’s face, knowing she’s killed another mother’s son? Min-seok gently reminds Woo-kyung that it was an accident. She weeps into his shoulder as he holds her in a comforting embrace.
Woo-kyung still follows up with the police, asking what will happen to the boy if no one claims him. The police officer says that they’ll send his cremated body to a columbarium for awhile as an unclaimed body, then if no one claims him, he’ll be buried with other unknown bodies. Woo-kyung asks to see him off properly, and she watches as the casket is sent to be cremated.
Ji-heon’s investigation leads him to the group of protesters the day Ji-hye was released, since many of them believed that Ji-hye should die for the crime she committed. But as he identified and investigated the protestors, none of them had the medical connections to obtain fentanyl, the drug used to sedate Ji-hye.
However, there are a half-dozen protestors that he hasn’t been able to identify, who are not connected to any specific organization against Ji-hye. But with the help of his enthusiastic hoobae, Ji-heon discovers that some of the protestors are affiliated with an unofficial group. When Ji-hye was first imprisoned, members would take turns protesting with a specific sign. One of those protesters was none other than Woo-kyung.
Ji-heon visits Min-seok at his office, which startles Yeon-joo, since she wants to know why her ex-boyfriend is at her workplace. But Ji-heon cooly says he’s there on official business, and asks Min-seok for help tracking down Woo-kyung since she hasn’t been to work and isn’t answering her phone.
As he leaves Min-seok’s office, Yeon-joo follows after him, demanding to know what’s going on. Ji-heon admits he could have just called Min-seok, but when he noticed that Min-seok worked at the same place as Yeon-joo, he wanted to come in person just so he could see her. He pulls her into the elevator, and once they’re alone, his aloof detective demeanor disappears and he pleads with her, promising to do whatever she wants if she’ll just take him back.
Yeon-joo points out that Ji-heon aways begs for her love — but has he ever truly ever loved anyone? She refuses to listen to his desperate pleas, and tells him to leave her alone.
At the columbarium, Woo-kyung helps lay to rest the unknown boy’s ashes, but she catches a glimpse of the girl in the green dress. Woo-kyung tries to follow her, never quite reaching the little girl who runs through the columbarium’s maze of walls.
Ji-heon finds Woo-kyung at the columbarium, asking about her involvement in the protests. Woo-kyung explains that a bunch of mothers — including herself — had protested Ji-hye’s actions by taking turns holding an identical sign. He then asks what Woo-kyung was doing the night Ji-hye died, and Woo-kyung says she was with her family — besides, she’s not exactly in a physical state to kill someone, considering how pregnant she is.
When Ji-heon asks if she knows anyone in the photos of the protestors during Ji-hye’s release, Woo-kyung recognizes a doctor who used to help out at the counseling center.
As Ji-heon races to find Doctor Park, his hoobae reports that after Doctor Park’s wife and daughter died a few years ago, he started volunteering at the counseling center. Most notably, a couple of months ago his clinic was investigated and shut down — because he was stealing fentanyl. That’s enough evidence for Ji-heon, who asks his hoobae to track Doctor Park’s current location.
Woo-kyung returns to the police station, asking to see the dead child’s belongings. She’s desperate to understand what he was like when he was alive, and even though the police officer is concerned for Woo-kyung’s obsessive state of mind, she allows her to look at the boy’s clothing. Woo-kyung finds a piece of paper hidden in the boy’s shoe and unfolds it, revealing a child’s drawing of a family — a mother, father, and little boy.
Ji-heon arrives at the place they’ve tracked Doctor Park to, noticing that the door’s window has been smashed open. Grabbing his gun, Ji-heon hurries inside. He hears screaming from one of the rooms and enters, gun drawn, to see a young woman stabbing the doctor in the stomach.
He points the gun at the young woman, ordering her to drop the knife.
Written on the back of the child’s drawing is the same phrase that was written on the back of Ji-hye’s photo: When the moon rises above the barley field. Recalling the rest of the poem, Woo-kyung drops the drawing in shock as she finishes the phrase: “When the moon rises above the barley field, a child is eaten.”
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When the moon rises above the barley field
For a show where I have no idea where it’s headed, this is a pretty strong start! I know it’s a mystery/thriller, but the little girl in the green dress makes me wonder if it’ll be more than that — is she a ghost? Or some other supernatural figure? Is Woo-kyung crazy (what kind of breakdown did she have previously that made her husband so concerned about her reaction to accidentally killing the boy)? Was the little girl killed and she wants someone to solve what happened to her by looking into where this unknown boy came from?
I’m assuming the little girl in the red dress that Shi-wan saw in the beginning of the episode was his sister who died, which would explain his shock and morbid comments later. Which then makes me wonder if the little girl in the green dress is some sort of force for justice for abused and forgotten children who died due to neglect and poor parenting. Perhaps she’s somehow choosing Woo-kyung as the person to look into the cases since she knows Woo-kyung is the type of person to be tenacious and caring enough to get down the bottom of things (although if that’s true, then the fact the little girl in the green dress would make Woo-kyung go through the trauma of actually killing a child seems unnecessarily cruel). There are so many questions and theories buzzing around my brain, which I’m taking as a good sign — if everything made sense right at the beginning, there’d be nothing to look forward to.
I’m happy to see Kim Sun-ah again, since she’s one of my favorite actresses, and Woo-kyung seems like she’ll be a complex character to play. I don’t think I’ve fully connected with any of the characters yet, but I anticipate that I will soon, especially once the investigations overlap and our leads begin to work together. Even though I know Lee Yi-kyung is the hot new thing right now, I haven’t really seen him in anything so I have nothing to compare him against — but I’m hoping he can match well with Kim Sun-ah and not make me feel like she’s acting circles around him. Also, we’ve yet to meet the second lead characters, so that’s another reason why the premiere has me patient yet anxious — clearly we’re still in the introductory phase. As such, I feel like I can’t make a solid judgement on the show yet because the plot and character groundwork is still being put in place, but knowing this writer, patience is a virtue.
At any rate, I’m happy to be watching a thriller that genuinely feels mysterious, and I’m looking forward to finding out — along with our characters — what’s truly at the heart of this little girl in the green dress and the “moon above the barley.”
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