[Hey, that’s me] A mirror to my future
by Guest Beanie
It is a little secret, mostly known to those who follow me on other platforms, that I absolutely adore Oh “Bad Cop” Yang-chon from Live. I don’t just enjoy him as a character however, it was that he seemed like a mirror reflection of me in so many ways. His character slapped me in the face, and with his development, had me rooting for him as I watched the show.
We learn early on that Yang-chon has a turbulent personal life. He has family issues and heartache to spare–his beloved wife wants a divorce and his close sunbae dies on the day he was due to retired. Yang-chon’s also a workaholic and when he’s assigned to train students at the police academy, he treats them with stern contempt. But as the show went on, he progressed and grew as a person. We saw marked changes in his manner as we got to peel back the layers of why he acted the way he did. As the pieces fell into place, I found myself increasingly familiar with him, as though I were looking into a mirror to see myself, but older.
Here is him throwing out a TV because he’s pissed. Honestly, if I were him, trapped in the house I had been abused in after a difficult divorce? I would throw my TV out too.
He’s quick to anger, in part from an abusive childhood. He would often go into fits of violent rage in front of his once-abusive father–but never turns his rage towards his children, no matter how angry or upset he got. He goes from despising Sang-soo, the rookie cop assigned to be his partner, to trying to do everything by himself to attempting to shield Sang-soo from the dangers of being a beat cop. Shielding someone was the best way he knew to protect someone. Even Yang-chon’s relationship with his wife improved throughout the series as he reflected on himself and made changes in his life to become a better individual.
One scene that stood out was his lecture to someone who left the police academy in protest of his treatment. Yang-chon pointed out matter-of-factly that it was part and parcel of “being a cop,” that the job is unfair. Even after serving the public to the best of their abilities, as cops, they would still have complaints lodged against them and be put through even more stress than what they experienced at the academy. The way Bae Sung-woo delivers this hard fact in a tongue-in-cheek manner, complete with cynical laughter in the end was what sealed the deal for me. Oh Yang-chon is me, down to being utterly aware of the hazards of my job and taking it all in stride anyway.
As a writer, Noh Hee-kyung has always strived to create relatable and believable protagonists to root for, but I had never connected with one of her characters so quickly and intimately. Right off the bat, I suspected an abusive childhood when I saw Yang-chon’s anger issues and the way he addressed people, so it wasn’t difficult to feel sympathetic over the way people treated him. He genuinely was trying his best a lot of the time, but nobody seemed to feel any need to give him credit for it.
I’m only 23 and I’m trying to figure out my place in the world. So seeing someone like me, traumatised and brash yet a stubborn force of nature, portrayed on screen as realistically and beautifully as Yang-chon was made me feel happy and whole. I felt validated and represented.
Bravo, Live! Bravo, Bae Sung-woo, for bringing this man to life. And bravo again to the ever-amazing Noh Hee-kyung for imbuing him with her heart and spirit.
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Tags: Theme of the Month