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Psychopath Diary: Episode 2 Open Thread

We’ve met our hero, learned who he is, and even more importantly, learned who he thinks he is. With a radical change in his self-concept, his entire world starts to flip. In the space of a few days he goes from pitiful underdog to dynamic antagonist wielding a whole new kind of power.

 
EPISODE 2 WEECAP

Episode 1 ended with Dong-shik reenacting the scene he read about in the murder diary. Outside of getting some much-needed revenge against his manager, it’s as if Dong-shik is trying to decide if he’s truly capable of everything he’s read in the diary. And after some very brief wavering, Dong-shik adopts it as his truth.

If it seems a little fast or far-fetched to quickly accept that you yourself are a psychopath murderer, don’t forget that this is a K-drama. Suspension of disbelief is a part of the End User Agreement, so to speak. If you can’t believe that Dong-shik believes it, there’s no reason to watch the drama. That being said, I think one of the strengths of the drama is that even with an amnesia subplot to help it along, Psychopath Diary does an excellent job of showing us why Dong-shik can pick up this psychopath persona so easily.

While I don’t love everything about this drama, what I’m really enjoying, and what they’re doing superbly, is showing the power of mindset or perception. If nothing else, I hope this drama is going to be a really interesting exploration of self-perception, because that’s where we’re starting to head in Episode 2.

As we get deeper into the opening week, we watch our “pushover” hero go from being belittled, abused, used, and humiliated, to having an absolute reservoir of confidence and power. What changed in Dong-shik to create this shift? Absolutely nothing. Same life, same people around him, same job, same personality — the same exact constraints he always faced. The one thing that changed? His perception of himself.

We watch Dong-shik go from cowering in front of his gangster neighbor, to intimidating him when they’re in the elevator together. We watch Dong-shik go from being stepped on at work (to the point where it was painful to watch), to brazenly terrorizing his boss and manipulating his awful coworkers. This transformation is possible because of the truth he’s come to believe about himself. There’s no need to shrivel in front of a shouting or authoritative figure when you think you’re capable of beating someone’s head in, and keeping a library of your victims’ fingerprints like trophies. So, we watch Dong-shik slowly start to change.

It’s interesting that Dong-sik is less horrified by all of this than you’d think. He’s horrified a bit, but it seems to me like he’s mostly exhilarated. I’m not saying he wants to be a psychopath, but rather that it puts him on an entirely different mental plane. We’ve already learned from seeing his apartment that the horror/gore genre appeals to him, and it’s interesting that rather than run to the police station and turn himself in (what I would probably do if I believed I was an insane murderer), he absorbs it as an identity.

But for all that he gains (so to speak) from this new identity, he’s also still struggling to keep up with the world around him. His amnesia makes it impossible for him to know the truth of what happened with the valuation blow-out at his job, what happened with the almost-murder of the homeless man — and long story short, Dong-shik begins to rely on the diary for all of his facts, information, and context.

The diary itself is another fantastic, more cerebral part of the show. We see just how easy it is to convince yourself of something if you want to believe it. As Dong-shik reads the diary and learns more about the writer, he focuses on the similarities between the entries and what he knows about himself, while ignoring the discrepancies. It’s an interesting peek into psychology, like much of this drama so far, and I hope this stays strong as we continue.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a proper K-drama if our characters and their stories weren’t intricately knit together, so the connection between Dong-shik, the diary, and the true serial killer go even deeper than we first thought.

First, the killer is identified as SEO IN-WOO (Park Sung-hoon), a director and heir of the very same Daehan Securities where Dong-shik works. And second, his little brother Ji-hoon is involved in the scandal and cover-up that got Dong-shik in trouble in the first place. We also learn he’s working with the audit officer Yoo-jin, and this could either be really good, or really bad.

Furthermore, there’s our patrol officer Bo-kyung who keeps running into Dong-shik an inordinate amount of times (and sometimes literally haha). She’s got a detective’s brain hiding out in a patrol car body, and she slowly starts to dig into the serial killing cases. Obviously, with her skills (and the help of Imaginary Dad), Bo-kyung is going to start connecting a lot of these dots, and will help us put the pieces together.

The plot is still warming up, but it’s clear that all of these characters, their pasts — and who they’ve become — are all tied together. From the sexy chaebol by day and insane serial killer by night, to the chump underdog who can’t catch a break, and the cop who’s hiding from her past — I’m looking forward to getting to know these characters and their stories even more.

 
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Im woo is not involved in the scandal, his brother is. In woo is trying to use this information to his advantage to muscle his brother out.

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Yep, that's what I was getting at — his wider involvement and interest in the whole mess. Are you liking the drama? I'm still half and half.

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I am like you half and half. Probably because I can’t invest in any of the characters thus far. I can’t root for either of the men and JIS’s character BoKyung I actually started out liking (but her decision to try to cover up the accident made me rethink - especially seeing she’s a cop). So I feel like I am merely spectating and functioning on a very cerebral plane, dissecting the mind of a psychopath and going meta with the question as to whether a monster can be created or is it inbuilt? Can feeding your mind with all that horror predispose you to acts of violence? Copycat murders in real life. Can anyone become a serial killer and all it takes is enough to tip us over the edge coupled with self belief? And there’s really no mystery to solve either because everything has pretty much been “revealed” already. 16 episodes of this may prove hard going...especially if I there’s no pathos for me. Running on logos and ethos can get dry. I am cautiously optimistic though so I will keep persevering with it. 🙂

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It seems that the show is suppose to be nature v nurture but something tells me the writer or showrunners look it up because it is sloppy at best and I am being kind saying that.

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I would have to agree. Much as I love YSY, so far it’s been a struggle to keep watching. I am not entirely on board either with the comedy? They should’ve stuck to straight up thriller. Writer (Liar Game) decided to try something “novel”...but serial killing isn’t... funny... dark humour yes but not your conventional KDrama humour. It just...doesn’t sit well.

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Many of my favorite shows this year got the snarkiest comments from posters who seemed confused by a series not following standard K-drama conventions. Then when they watch a 'conventional' K-drama they complain that the series isn't original.

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@Mike that’s true too. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Which is why I am still watching to see if comedy will sit well with the macabre.

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Okay this episode I did feel was slow unlike the last one for some reason. Yet I didn't feel the need to fast forward like I generally would. After seeing him be stepped on by others like that, I couldn't help but feel satisfaction over Dong-shik terrorizing his boss and the gangsters. He went from being intimidated to being intimidating. And now it seems he's going to start a new diary, uh oh.

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I am liking these first 2 episodes. I like that this series is asking interesting questions and Bo Kyung's Imaginary Dad with his Sherlock outfit. However, I am not sure if this show can maintain my interest for 14 more 80 min episodes when we already know who the big baddie.

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The so-called real psycho in this drama made me rolled my eyes so hard 😂 If there's ever a 'stereotype' of what a psycho should look like: classical music -- ✔️ checked, drinking red wine ✔️ checked, secret room to stash paraphernalia -- ✔️ checked. I don't know if it was really the intention of the writer or just the interpretation of the actor playing the character, but Seo In Woo really felt like an imitation of Mo Tae Gu's character from Voice.

I'm still not sure whether I like this drama or not.

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This is the problem with Im woo being completely underutilized in the 1st 2 episodes because the scene at the family breakfast was downright chilling and members of his family see that something is off with him. And it would not surprise me if the auditor figured it out or already knows.

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So far the drama is entertaining; the situational comedy is funny and lead actor is convincing as a convinced murderer. I just want to see him get smarter and kick in the shins those taking advantage of him. Hope the writer can sustain my interest.

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I just finished watching the 2nd ep. Glad dong shik is actually standing up for himself although his basis for doing so is a weird. But I'd take that than no growth at all. Will continue watching to see just how far he will go with this mistaken identity. I mean I hope he doesn't end up killing anyone lol

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I am having a good time with this drama so far, the only thing I am not that interested in is Bo Kyung's imaginary dad, I would do without it.

I like Dong Shik, I am sure it has a lot to do that he is played by YSY who is charismatic but seeing him slowly change is so interesting. I am really into true crime in real life and there are moments that make me raise my eyebrows but I try to remind myself that it is just a drama (it won't stop me from dragging it if it goes too far though). I would like to see more about how our real serial killer operates.

I hope Dong Shik meets In Woo and a weird maybe friendly dynamics will form between those two, like they see in each other something similar even if Dong Shik is not a real psychopath. I can already imagine the fun scenarios that could born from their relationship.

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"....the only thing I am not that interested in is Bo Kyung's imaginary dad, I would do without it."

Me as well. It got real old, real fast and the fact that he is alive made it even more repetitive.

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I don't mind imaginary dad, because it isn't dad. It is just the voice inside her head. It is difficult to show inner dialog in a visual medium. Bo Kyung's inner pull between duty and curiosity is so tangible. Her beat cop vs detective instincts remind me of angle on one shoulder devil on the other (but more complicated).

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While watching I was thinking 'Man, that actress sure looks an awful lot like the actress Jung In-sun from Go Go Waikiki'. Oh, that's because she IS the actress from Go go Waikiki!

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I watch this because of the plot, but now im coming to love yoon shi yoon aswell (even though i saw him a few times in other dramas) Somehow the way he shifts between innocent and 'evil' is awesomly done

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Also i think its a really strong message to send to people:
What changed in Dong-shik to create this shift? Absolutely nothing. Same life, same people around him, same job, same personality — the same exact constraints he always faced. The one thing that changed? His perception of himself.

Not that they should go kill people, but you know what i mean.

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Thanks @missvictrix. I had a bunch of thoughts and feelings as I watched the 2nd episode and read this article. I guess that's good because a show that can make us think and ask questions is hopefully less a shallow entertainment and more a thought-provoking work.

Starting from the premise: We are what we think we are. Does memory make us who we are? Does removing that memory or changing it, change who we are? Dongshik must have wanted so much to stand up to those who intimidated him, that given this opportunity, his subconscious seized it to assert his hidden ability to intimidate others.

The concept of what makes us who we are is very interesting. Dongshik is left without crucial memories of his past and the writings of a personality that is very alien to his own. In the Kdrama, Circle, there was the question of whether putting memories in a clone, makes the clone the same person as the one who had the memories.

With Dongshik, who is taking the diary to be his memories - again the question arises, do the memories, no matter how false, make him like the person who had them? On top of this, he is still being fed lies by Jae Ho and even by Bokyung, (who only just told him the truth), so it's his embracing a concept of self, created from 'false and manufactured memories' that is making him change. It changed his reality. Gaslighting is scary!!

Like you, @missvictrix I'm not sure how I feel about the show yet. I kind of like the lighter tone of the almost bumbling police but I don't know that it goes well with the darker murder arc. It still feels a bit jarring at times when juxtaposed.

I was at first face-palming that although the homeless man had been savagely hit over the head multiple times, he was still alive. I'm still sort of disbelieving that someone in his condition could run off and make his way home. OK so suspension of disbelief is required.

I was then hoping, that he could be saved. Maybe show wouldn't go so dark that poor guy who manages to get away, does indeed get away to be the thorn in murderer's side. But now, to my sorrow, he died anyway. I had to FFD that part: it upset me!

What a pathetic, horror-filled and yet a funny scene that was when Dongshik thought that the homeless man was a figment of his imagination and ran from him. What an ironic twist, when that one man, who could have told him about the diary owner and given him peace of mind that he was not a murderer, ended up scaring Dongshik instead. Of course, it was necessary to keep homeless man and Dongshik apart for longer to keep the conflict going ... but to kill of the poor guy!!!

The other part which calls for suspension of disbelief is Sim Bokyung's ability to make leaps of deduction without much evidence or without going into indepth investigation. Her imaginary dad doesn't bother me, it gives us a chance to hear her dialogue with herself, and see what she attributes more to her dad.

While I don't find this a...

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... a compelling watch, show is not to be written off yet, especially before it answers the questions I posed (if it ever will answer them!) and YSY with Jung Insun are very watchable.

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I’ve recently picked this show up and have been intrigued by the tone of it.

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Is serial killers a Kdrama trend now? Seems it's in lot of the recent shows: Camellia, Catch the Ghost, Strangers from Hell...

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