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Sweet Home (Series review)

Just in time for the holidays, we’ve been gifted with a new Netflix original series that is bold and apocalyptic, true to our times. Based on a popular webtoon, Sweet Home follows a motley group of apartment residents fighting inner demons and literal monsters in their midst. Although the gory visuals may be an initial appeal (or repellent), the true draw of the show comes from the individual stories of our residents, who have complex stories of loss, grief, and redemption. The monsters may have been the most expensive part of the production, but the humans and the struggle to be human are at the center of this series.

Like Kingdom and Extracurricular, this series maximizes the liberties offered on the Netflix platform, including graphic visuals, explicit violence, and lots (and LOTS) of money. With PD Lee Eung-bok (Mr. Sunshine, The Lonely Shining Goblin) at the helm, expectations were high for a production value that would match the budget. I think the series almost met those expectations, and we’ll see if this perspective is shared by Netflix and the viewers as we await news about a second season. Considering the webtoon’s content, Netflix seemed like the only platform to do this visual storytelling justice, but full disclosure: I didn’t finish the webtoon. As someone who didn’t read the full webtoon, I’m approaching this series with less expectations and am curious about the webtoon fans’ thoughts on the show.

This review summarizes main plot points and covers my thoughts on elements of the show, but details are missing. While the details are not necessary to understand the show, the onscreen details in the interactions are a charm of the show, often portrayed in unspoken interactions. I cover the main themes and examples of these moments, but watching the show can fill in those valuable pieces that I’m missing. For those who plan on watching the show, beware of spoilers! Again, the details are not all there, but if you want the full experience of watching the show, you should stop here. For those who’ve seen the show, for those who cannot bear the gore, and for those who need the spoilers, let’s get started.

 
THE PREMISE

Welcome to Green Home, a rundown apartment building that houses residents with complex and often mysterious backstories of loss and resilience. A new resident joins Green Home after tragically losing his family to a car accident, and he plans to commit suicide to end his suffering and pain from relentless hardships. But the world beats him to it. The world as we know it collapses into chaos after a novel disease spreads and transforms humans into monsters. The disease painfully manipulates humans’ deepest desires with an irresistible lure, and once infected, humans quickly fall victim to their inner demons. Rarely can humans resist their demons, but one unlikely human/monster exists in Green Home: the new resident, a suicidal high schooler, Cha Hyun-soo.

 
THE SURVIVORS

The main character, 19-year-old CHA HYUN-SOO (Song Kang), is the newest resident of Green Home and the human/monster who carries the show through its exploration of humanity and cruelty. Prior to losing his family in a car accident, Hyun-soo was a victim of extreme bullying from a classmate, who manipulated his father’s power to justify his violence. Disillusioned by the betrayal of his friends and negligence of his family, Hyun-soo became severely depressed. His deepest desires for death manifested in his alter ego monster that prodded him to quench his thirst, but he countered those dark desires with his will to survive. Existing alongside human survivors, Hyun-soo faces rejection, acceptance, temptation, and comfort as he learns to navigate the apocalypse with his dual identity.

Living above Hyun-soo is YOON JI-SOO (Lee Kyu-young), a bass player who moved into the apartment after her partner committed suicide. She moved in a week before Hyun-soo and had just met a few neighbors, including JUNG JAE-HEON (Kim Nam-hee), before the world spiraled into destruction. Jae-heon is a Korean language teacher and a devout Christian who finds reason in God’s will. Trained in fencing, Jae-heon is an expert swordsman and fights off monsters with his sword while Ji-soo’s weapon of choice is a baseball bat.

A few doors down from Hyun-soo lives HAN DOO-SHIK (Kim Sang-ho), an army veteran who uses a wheelchair. Doo-shik is a skilled technician and becomes the survivors’ builder and engineer. He first meets Hyun-soo in their mission to save two children, Kim Young-soo and Kim Soo-young, who lost their father to a monster. Doo-shik becomes the guardian for the two children and joins the survivors as the vital technician who upgrades the weapons to monster-fighting grade.

Also vital to the survivors, LEE EUN-HYUK (Lee Do-hyun) plays the role of the survivors’ strategist and de facto leader. Cold and logical, Eun-hyuk is often the “bad guy” and makes the tough survival decisions, including some morally questionable ones. His cold demeanor melts only slightly when interacting with his younger stepsister, LEE EUN-YOO (Go Min-shi), an aspiring ballet dancer who gives up on her dream because of her injured ankle. To support Eun-yoo’s dream, Eun-hyuk took a leave from medical school to work, but rebellious Eun-yoo dismisses him. She’s full of attitude, but her eye for people’s weaknesses becomes an asset in the right moments.

Serving as the group’s sage, AHN GIL-SEOB (Kim Gab-soo) fights the zombies with his flamethrower and is accompanied by his caretaker, PARK YOO-RI (Go Yoon-jung). Gil-seob is terminally ill and approaches the fight fearlessly because of his proximity to death. Though he receives care from Yoo-ri, he also takes care of Yoo-ri, who has asthma, and others with his grounded wisdom.

A key character in the drama series but not in the original webtoon, SEO YI-KYUNG (Lee Shi-young) is a firefighter who formerly served in the special forces. She lost her scientist fiancé just before their marriage, and she discovers that his death is connected to the monster plague. Her strong intellectual and physical skills save the survivors from crisis, but her determination to uncover the truth about her fiancé leaves the survivors, especially Hyun-soo, in a precarious position.

The only character who isn’t a Green Home resident, PYUN SANG-WOOK (Lee Jin-wook), visits the apartment on a mission to kill one of the residents. Sang-wook a skilled hired killer with scars all over his body, but the burn on his face is particularly important to his backstory. Sang-wook was the only one to survive the fire that killed his family, and he killed the arsonist, who showed no remorse for his crime and received no punishment by the justice system. He’s calloused about death and pain, but he slowly regains his humanity through his interactions with the survivors.

A handful of other characters round out the Green House survivor bunch: apartment convenience store owner and wife, mourning mothers, the Pomeranian owner, the solider, and the guard, to name a few. Each character — alive, dead, or monster — offers key contributions in the exploration of humanity, cruelty, and sacrifice.

 
SERIES REVIEW

It’s a snowy night in September 2020 — one month after the inception of the monster plague — and armed forces surround a young bloodied man, Hyun-soo, who walks out of ruins and toward the soldiers. The snipers shoot at barefoot Hyun-soo, but the bullets don’t seem to hurt him. In the debris around the Hyun-soo, creatures contort and flinch as he walks into the search light.

A voice narrates: “Someone once said that even the deepest darkness disappears in the dimmest light. This a story about us finding a reason to live in a world where finding this reason is harder than merely surviving.” This introductory narration rings truer the longer the survivors stay alive, when survival — not death — seems to be the punishment.

Jumping back one month, the first episode briefly introduces our characters and immediately presents the monster catastrophe. With little warning and no explanation of the cause, the abrupt appearance of first monster, Hyun-soo’s next door neighbor, has a shock factor, both visually and narratively. From the few context clues, it seems that the woman’s efforts to lose weight for auditions resulted in her overwhelming hunger, the desire that overtook her human self.

While Hyun-soo, Sang-wook, and Ji-soo encounter this hungry monster, the Green Home residents in the lobby meet the bloodsucking monster that uses its long extending tentacle to suck the blood from its victims. The Green Home residents find themselves locked in the building, and it’s unclear who locked them in and why. Were the residents locked in to save them from the monsters outside, or were they locked in to save the outside world from the monsters enclosed in the building? No clear answers are provided, but it’s an interesting question to revisit throughout the series.

In the following episodes, the mystery around the disease unfolds. The disease originates from inherent human desires, and those infected experience symptoms of hallucination, aggressive behavior, and the iconic nosebleed. With no contagion to blame for the disease, the survivors’ fear of each other is heightened, resulting in harmful acts of self-preservation and negotiation. The convenience store owner is the prime example of human fear and greed causing harm, and he is the main human antagonist among the survivors. His greed and mistreatment of his wife seems to challenge the dichotomy of human and monsters, which becomes further blurred when the survivors realize that they could become monsters at any time.

The initial monsters we meet, including the lotus root monster (aka the blind monster) and the protein monster, are undeniably unhuman and blinded by their desires, and they seem to exist more for entertainment value. We never meet them as humans, so it’s easy to root for the humans to kill the monsters. By only meeting these humans as their monster counterparts, we forget that the monsters getting killed were humans at one point. As viewers and for the survivors, this perspective on monsters gradually changes as we meet the humans before their transformation into their monster alter ego.

A quite note on the monsters: visually, the monsters are really hit or miss. Some of the monsters, like the bloodsucking monster and the running monster, were well done, but others were disappointing. The lotus root monster looked a bit like claymation and the protein monster was just okay. The lower quality monsters did not distract me from the story, but I did need to suspend my belief a little extra when watching the action scenes. Given the budget for this series, I was expecting the CGI to be better, but maybe they had more important things to cover with the money. I digress.

Back to the better parts of the show, the monster fighters pair up to save each other and begin to find purpose in their fight for survival. Ji-soo and Jae-heon save any stragglers from monsters on their way downstairs; Eun-hyuk and Yi-kyung maintain the safety of the lobby survivors; and Hyun-soo and Doo-shik embark on a mission to save the downstairs children who heard their father fall to his death from a monster attack. The calling from the children saves Hyun-soo from killing himself and gives him new purpose, but his savior instinct also awakens his inner monster, an ego driven by indignation. Hyun-soo’s desire to save the children defeats the overwhelming indignation, and the children become his initial reason to live and fight. The cursory explanation for the abrupt shift in Hyun-soo’s attitude could use more substance, and I can only assume that the children were the compelling purpose he desperately latched onto to escape his desolate reality.

Just as Hyun-soo comes to rely on the children, Soo-young and Young-soo, as his initial reason to live, other survivors, namely the mothers, find comfort and purpose in protecting the children. Resident Lim Myung-sook tragically lost her baby, and this loss is what transformed her into a rare harmless monster. Driven by her loss, Myung-sook’s actions as a monster and as a human are always protective of the children. Even when completely engulfed by her inner monster, Myung-sook manifests her loss and desire by becoming a completely harmless fetus monster in a womb. From the human side of motherhood, daycare center director Cha Jin-ok copes with her loss of her daughter to the bloodsucking monster by taking care of the children. The instinctual desire to protect the children is the obvious example of the survivors living for each other and is a nice prelude into how the survivors fight for and sacrifice themselves for the group.

The show becomes much more interesting once the survivors grapple with the ethical implications of the human versus monster dichotomy, starting with the vote on whether to keep Hyun-soo alive. Cleverly redefining “golden time” as the period in which one can kill a monster, the show asks what defines “human,” “monster,” and “murder.” The vote on whether to kill or save Hyun-soo ends in a tie, and the convenience store owner Kim Seok-hyun, the most vocal proponent of killing Hyun-soo, gets a nosebleed, a sure sign of infection. Desperate to survive, he asks Hyun-soo how to save himself, and there is some satisfaction in seeing a despicable man try to recover from shooting himself in the foot. Seok-hyun ultimately falls victim to the monster within and is killed within the golden time by his wife. His last words to her are an apology — the first time he’s ever apologized to her — and her painful regret captures the complexity of the relationship and her deed.

While Seok-hyun seeks survival advice from Hyun-soo, another resident comes to Hyun-soo with a twisted desire to degenerate into a murderous monster, once again questioning the distinction between human and monster. This twisted resident is murderer Choi Yoon-jae, the target of hired killer Pyun Sang-wook, and he suffers one of the most disturbing deaths of the series. We learn about Sang-wook’s mission, a plea from a desperate father searching for his daughter, and once Sang-wook discovers Yoon-jae’s secret darkroom with photos of his victims, the meaning of “human,” “monster,” and “murder” all become relative. The revenge in the form of a brutal death seems justified, and the residents agree with this punishment. Murder is accepted depending on the context, and guilt is subjective.

Calculating and aloof, Eun-hyuk’s humanity — or lack thereof — comes to question when considering the definitions of those three key words: human, monster, and murder. He’s a cold-blooded strategist and compels Hyun-soo to sacrifice himself for the dangerous tasks. Eun-hyuk considers Hyun-soo their strongest weapon and feels no remorse with using transforming humans, who will continue to grow in number. He interprets the tie vote to save Hyun-soo as a confirmation of everyone’s fear that they could suffer the same fate as a monster. His lucid perspective devoid of emotional distractions makes him seem dangerous, but his transforming humanity also gives him the most interesting arc in the series.

In his initial survival mode, Eun-hyuk finds more value in a person’s contributions and skills, but his requests to Hyun-soo change to value human life. For Hyun-soo’s first mission to fetch Doo-shik, Eun-hyuk makes it clear that the children should be abandoned if the situation turns for the worse. But when he needs to save Ji-soo with an emergency appendectomy, he tells Hyun-soo that his mission should prioritize hospital supplies to save Ji-soo, with food as the secondary goal. This shift in Eun-hyuk’s approach happens across multiple episodes, and his strict rules start to loosen as his priorities shift.

Sang-wook’s journey to redemption and his unlikely friendship with Jae-heon provides another example of humanization. After learning about Sang-wook’s mission to find a father’s young daughter, Jae-heon sympathizes with him. He likens his journey out of alcoholism through religion to Sang-wook’s own coping mechanism, and he encourages Sang-wook to find a new way to cope, starting with manning the convenience store as his contribution to the community of survivors. While he is a killer, Sang-wook still has a moral code, and his background adds more layers to his identity. Stoic Sang-wook is a man of few words, and his actions capture his gradual progression from killer to savior.

Despite being the main monster fighter, Hyun-soo’s action scenes are minimal, and the highlights of the action come from Yi-kyung. The escape scene through the vents was incredible and definitely the best action sequence of the series. Only Lee Shi-young could convince me that she’s a trained firefighter and ex-special forces. Apart from the action, Yi-kyung is a crucial character that drives the story forward, and as the only character who explores the apocalyptic world outside of Green Home apartments, she is the crucial link to survival and the answers about this infection. Without her character, I think the series would have lost momentum and felt a bit claustrophobic set exclusively inside Green Home.

Up to the halfway point, Eun-yoo seems uninvested as she mocks her fellow survivors’ diligence to prepare for the fight, but her sympathy for Hyun-soo’s hidden pain and unfair exploitation gives way to her joining the fight. She sees Hyun-soo’s scars from self-harm and knows that his scavenging trips, which also include the retrieval of survivors’ nonessential belongings like a diary or sunscreen, hurt him. Eun-yoo’s reminder to Hyun-soo to express his pain prompts her to drop her scorn and join the fight when it matters. When push comes to shove, Eun-yoo decides to contribute to their defenses, and it’s noticeably all the women who commit to the practiced defense plan. With a few exceptions, the men are cowards.

As noted throughout, the theme of humanity is the through line of the series and manifests in various ways. One character who consistently exemplifies humanity is Gil-seob. A notable exception to my claim about the cowardly men, Gil-seob offers his sound wisdom and welcome levity in the midst of the gloom. His indiscriminate compassion reaches the outsiders like Sang-wook and Hyun-soo, and he reminds everyone to behave like decent humans. His partnership with little Young-soo as “secret agents” is also the most endearing relationship of the series. If Eun-yoo’s sharp criticisms are like a slap in the face to shove people into action, Gil-seob’s stern reminders of humanity are like a tight hug to stir your heart into action. He is often the glimmer of light in the darkness, and another glimmer is offered in the form of music. Hyun-soo hears Ji-soo playing the guitar and notes that the song reminds him of coming home. She titles the song “Sweet Home,” the show’s namesake, and enjoys Ji-soo’s live performance in a moment of rest. Something as simple as enjoying music becomes an indication of humanity.

Humanity is also reflected in relationships, new and old. Eun-hyuk and Eun-yoo’s tense relationship starts to mend once Eun-yoo lets down her guard, and their brief moment of sibling intimacy — Eun-yoo fixing Eun-hyuk’s glasses — feels like sigh of relief. Eun-yoo’s sympathy for Hyun-soo turns out to be a little crush, and Eun-hyuk teases her by congratulating her on her first love. Ji-soo and Jae-heon share a mutual curiosity and admiration for each other beyond their monster-fighting partnership. There is something very human about seeking meaningful companionship, despite and especially in the apocalyptic world. The strive to be human and remain human hinges on human connection, and the show does a good job of not trivializing these relationships. With these relationship moments embedded in the storytelling, the show always stays grounded in the fundamental question of humanity.

Another major theme near the end of the show is sacrifice, and every loss feels heavier the longer the survivors stay alive. The watershed moment of sacrifice comes from Jae-heon, who loses his arm and sword to the fly-infested guard monster. Jae-heon throws his whole broken and bloody self at the guard, and his sacrifice serves a greater purpose — it solidifies the survivors as a collective. The collective effort for survival depends on each individuals’ contribution, and the sum is greater than its parts. Doo-shik’s sacrifice to save Hyun-soo also echoes the purpose of protecting as many individuals in the collective as possible in hopes of survival. His sacrifice also affirms to Hyun-soo that he’s human, that Doo-shik has always viewed him with dignity regardless of his physical form. Even Eun-hyuk sacrifices himself at the end, and his parting words to Eun-yoo and last words to Hyun-soo ring of hope and dignity.

As more survivors come to witness and empathize with Hyun-soo, the implications of acceptance extend into his past. When convenience store ajumma Sun-young begins to experience symptoms of transformation, she deeply empathizes with Hyun-soo and apologizes for being an incompetent adult. Her sincere and tearful apology brings him to tears, as it seems to represent an apology from the adults in his life who have failed to acknowledge his pain. Likewise, Doo-shik’s embrace and sacrifice at the end consoles Hyun-soo with the assurance that it’s not his fault, that it will be okay. The apology and comfort are a salve for his cuts, and the show captures these tender moments without the jarring comparison effect with the more graphic scenes.

Even with moments of healing, Hyun-soo remains unstable, fragile from trauma and hardened by abandonment. His vulnerability allows another human/monster, Jung Eui-myung (Kim Sung-chul), to manipulate him and be the devil on his shoulder, convincing him that humans will never accept monsters like him. On the side of good, Hyun-soo proves that harmless monsters exist, but Eui-myung flips the question: Do humans who don’t harm monster exist? They do exist in Green Home, but the question effectively eliminates the nuance that Hyun-soo has experienced and learned so far.

The introduction of Eui-myung at this junction emphasizes the volatile nature of this apocalypse and brings back the human and monster dichotomy. When we see Eui-myung sadistically murdering people, it’s clear that he’s a different beast with no regard for humanity, unlike Hyun-soo, and he’s hardened by the people who have never treated him humanely. Hyun-soo is fundamentally human because of his instincts to honor life but also because in his weakest moments, he has friends to embrace and protect him. The human connection saves Hyun-soo from his own desires for cruelty, and without the survivor community, Hyun-soo faces a battle with himself.

 
FINAL THOUGHTS: ENDING & POTENTIAL NEXT SEASON

The final two episodes strongly hinted at a government conspiracy as the cause for the monster catastrophe, and many questions remain unanswered. Distrust of the military and skepticism around their promise of a “safe camp” was shared amongst the more critical survivors, who knew that any absolute promise of safety in the midst of uncertainty was likely a false promise. With Hyun-soo in the hands of the military and the remaining survivors in transit to the “safe camp,” any hope for survival seems to be lost. But is Hyun-soo actually being held by the military? The appearance of Sang-wook at the end was a big twist, and I’m betting that Eui-myung is in Sang-wook’s shell. Eui-myung’s freaky power to inhabit any human body is the explanation that makes sense to me right now, and I wonder if what that means for Hyun-soo’s safety. Is he better off in the hands of the military or joining a wild wolfpack of rogue monsters?

The series has a very strong cast, and I was impressed by actors’ execution of complex characters. I found Eun-hyuk and Sang-wook’s characters particularly interesting and well-acted because their portrayal heavily depended on their demeanor. Lee Do-hyun’s restraint and rare moments of emotional vulnerability were spot on, and he’s definitely on my radar to watch in future projects. I was familiar with most of the cast but had not seen Song Kang in anything before this. I honestly thought he was an idol actor (it’s his pretty face, very distracting misleading) and wasn’t sure about the casting, but he proved me wrong. It helps to have an interesting and complex character, but it’s not a given that an actor can deliver on all the dimensions of a rich character. Song Kang delivered, and I hope we get to see more of his darkness as Hyun-soo.

My biggest misgivings about the characters have nothing to do with the acting and more to do with the writing and editing. I wish we had more explanations about how Gil-seob knew about the bunker, what desires haunted our survivors, and why Eun-hyuk decided to sacrifice himself. These gaps in the story were glossed over for the sake of convenience and possibly limited runtime, but they feel like missed opportunities to me. I imagine some of the missing context can be filled in by reading the webtoon, and I also wonder if any of these gaps may be addressed in the potential next season.

The ending leaves the show wide open for a next season, and I think a second season would be helpful to fill in some of the incomplete characterizations and incorporate feedback from the first season. The loss of key characters from this season means that the remaining survivors will have a larger role the strategy for survival, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Eun-hyuk may come back as a monster. Regardless of his comeback, I’m excited at the prospect of Eun-yoo and Ji-soo getting more screen time and leading the survival effort in the future. I sense that Eun-yoo and Ji-soo have more potential, and I think centering their screen time on fuller characterizations instead of their contentious relationship would be more interesting.

Yi-kyung is a character I hope will continue to go rogue and be at the helm of uncovering the truth. The story will veer off from the original webtoon with Yi-kyung — a drama original character — driving the search for the truth, and I hope the series is open to making more adjustments from the webtoon to take advantage of her great character. My wish list for the next season also includes minor points like a better soundtrack (please no more Imagine Dragons) and better CGI (no claymation please), but those are just my nice to haves. This first season plants lots of seeds for a second season, and I would love to see the potential of the first season be actualized in a follow-up season. The series was good, even with its flaws, and I’m hopeful that a second season will build on the energy, momentum, and constructive feedback from the first season. We’ll see if Netflix agrees.

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This is my first time watching an adaptation of a story I've already finished and I guess comparisons aren't unavoidable. Spoilers might follow.

I remember the webtoon giving off this sense of being stuck in a room not knowing what's going on outside in the beginning episodes. The length of the original material must have allowed it the chance for the characters to discover the monsters' abilities organically and also flesh out the relationships and motivations of some characters.

At first, I was a bit bummed (like some others) they changed which characters get to bond but I think it was not so bad with Jae-Heon acquiring more depth development (He was one of my fave characters) and also Sang-Wook. Also loved how their interactions played out. Missed a bit on more Hyuk-Hyun interaction tho.

Maybe because it is the result of knowing the story beforehand but I kind of missed the feeling of seeing the characters think they make progress then with said progress bring a truckload of even worse problems. Some key scenes seem to play more significantly in the webtoon. First when it made clear no major character is safe (I remember the elevator scene playing out earlier and giving a bit more context) and another when the status quo is upended by some characters, but again, must be my own bias.

I'm not sure what to make of the cliffhanger. I remember the Webtoon ending with a feeling of hope despite some plot points left unclear. Despite knowing what to expect in the story, some scares still made me flinch.

Here's to hoping a Season 2 ends satisfyingly.

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I appreciate the context on the webtoon and the comparison. I think I'll need to finish this webtoon before the (hopefully) next season!

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I LOVED the webtoon, albeit being terrified half the time I read it. From what I saw of the drama it looks like a worthy adaptation, but doesn't give the same feelings as the original. Especially with the changes made to one of my favorite characters. However, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't impressed with how well they were able to pull off the concept.

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Yes, not the same feelings.But the set was nice too and the CGI turned out good.

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Your welcome. 🙂
The series though seems like it'll explore a bigger scale with the military coming into play while the webtoon although exploring more on some things keeps the action on the setting and circle of characters we know.

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I loved it personally. I found most the CG was pretty well done, with the exception of the big guy outside. I’m someone who hasn’t read any of the webtoon so I was coming into this one fresh. I was pretty impressed with how they made some characters who were initially a bit unlikeable more layered and interesting. Lee Do-Hyun and Go Min-Si’s characters specifically, but even Kim Nam-Hee’s was seeming like he would be the stereotypical god fearing christian character preaching at everyone.

All the actors crushed it though, and I was hoping for more Kim Sung-Cheol but that seems like it’s not going to happen :D The camera work and how the show was shot also seemed really well done and made good use of the darkness the whole show was shrouded in. And any show with more Lee Si-Young is just fine with me. I can’t imagine it without her being there, so if they make a second season (I hope they do) I’m hoping she’ll still be a large part of it.

I heard this was an expensive show, so hopefully they make back their investment and find it profitable enough to give us a season 2. I’d hate to see it end here when there’s more story to tell!

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Agreed, and yes, very expensive show. I just looked up the budget... and this show averaged $2.4m per episode. Yikes!

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I do think they used the budget really well. Even when you think about it and it took place almost exclusively in the one building, the building itself had so much character that I wasn’t bored at all. It was constantly changing and evolving throughout the show. Just lots of shots that still stick in my mind, them going up the fire escape with the orange sky lighting it, the strings all throughout the hallways, the crooked door where they put the human “monsters.”

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I felt that it looks like a Korean version of The Walking Dead when monsters became turning as a zombie roles. I loved this series and I knew that when the final episode of the final season will be coming, then Hyun-soo will end up as a lone tearful, emotional survivor in the entire apocalypse. After that, I knew that my only prediction after Hyun-soo's survival moment and his return to normal realities that when someone will be wake him up then he will tearfully answer to him/her that it's just his bad and good dreams. :(

I want more Sweet Home Imagine Dragons-type music and even more claymation so that I can be most excited to watched it in this emotional, darkest melodramatic show. I felt my struggling overcame emotions was meant traumatic tears for me and Hyun-soo when made me every moment when cry after cry. I want Hyun-soo to send him to heaven to defeat against the monsters and even his bullying incidents. Because of my virtual friendship with Hyun-soo's character by his own, I wanted to congratulated the entire crew of Sweet Home as one of the successful Netflix Korean original programming in both locally and globally and I'm in more power to them.

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I've read the webtoon last week, right before watching the drama, and I liked it a lot. Seen some comments on Reddit from disgruntled webtoon readers because the drama digresses from the source material - especially in the last 2 episodes - but I have to say that I'm happy about both. The craving monsters and the twists in the webtoon felt super fresh to me. The focus on human relationships and the questions posed in the webtoon are roughly the same as in the drama, and to me, these are the elements that got me engaged in this super creepy and gory story that I wouldn't otherwise have touched. But, having enjoyed the webtoon as much as I did, the changes for the drama adaptation were also interesting, it added some unexpectedness without feeling like they were betraying the characters or the setup. Some details were actually better, like making Sangwook a killer instead of a police officer (in the webtoon there's this joke about everybody thinking he's a killer at first) or changing the entrance of the bandits for Yikyung's comeback (I was also thankful that the drama didn't depict the bandits' modus operandi, I thought it was needlessly gory).
Also, the drama didn't make clear the monsters' evolution process, but I guess that could be covered in a second season.
Somehow, Netflix kept to the source material's blueprint right until ep 9, but then the role of the military, the survivers' exit of the building and the ending are wildly different from the webtoon. I'm ok about it, because I felt it was a good ending too, and one that kept more open threads for another season. I guess season 2 will recover a couple of characters (Eunhyuk doesn't survive in the webtoon, but I take it that he'll turn into a human monster in the drama) but will open new ground because the webtoon ends with them leaving the building. In the series, there's clearly a military conspiracy at play that wasn't suggested in the webtoon, so I guess the story will go on at the military camp that takes the survivers in...

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Also loved how they changed Euimyung's powers and backstory. It helps that I wasn't expecting to see Kim Sungcheul (of Tiramisu Cake song fame) and he delivered a perfectly creepy character with the visuals of the webtoon but a different personality... He's great! And Euyung's comeback in a new shell *slow clap

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omg, I forgot about the tiramisu cake song! Kim Sung-cheol has range!

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I wonder if it will feel weird to watch To.Jenny right after this. XD

I remember needing a few minutes to adjust to Lee Sang-yi in To.Jenny because he was such a terrible person in Prison Playbook. It doesn't help that Kim Sung-cheol is in the same project. My brain was going "Why is Jailbird best friends with the jerk who put Jung Hae-in in jail???"

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OMG the tiramisu cake song! that's why he was so familiar!

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This is indeed a binge-worthy show and I loved it. I did not know about the webtoon so I did not have expectations and that is why this turned out to be a very good watch. But more than the special effects and the fight scenes, I appreciated most the central theme about humanity, and about choosing life. The show does prove what we know as well, that humans can actually be scarier than monsters. I agree this was well- acted and this solidified my love for Lee Do Hyun's talent, and his last scene was superb. This boy can act!. And may I just say, Lee Si Young's bod rocks! I had to rewind to see all those back muscles , how can a female body be that ripped!

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Aside from this being the adaptation of the story I know of, I came in for Lee Do Hyun after finishing 18 Again. He's so good! I mean, it is harder to act with restraint but still make impact than go all-out (at least to me).

Also, Lee Si Young, the lower back muscles tho, I didn't know those exist. She is apparently a professional boxer and was in the National Team. Gotta look it up to confirm though.

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I believe she retired from boxing. But you can definitely see how much she loves fitness. I didn't even think such lower back muscles existed, lol!

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Her body is amazing!

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The drama was fine. I enjoyed some of the characters more than others. It jadn't occurred to me the Eui Myung had jumped into sang Wook's shell. I just assumed Sang Wook had changed, he had such a strong will that I thought it was possible he was infected and just made it past the 15 days, but the Eui Myung idea is interesting.

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Thank you for reviewing this~!

I love this tiny monster-show and wish it was longer! (And I love all the songs, even the Warriors one that had no idea was from a game.)

I didn't read the webtoon so I was able to watch this without expectations. I just ♥♥♥♥♥ the stuff that make it a good apocalypse show: A core set characters we meet and get attached to (and the heartbreak when they get killed off). The initial panic when shit starts to go down and we are as surprised as the characters at what's happening. Jumpscares and gore and fight scenes. Plus the survivor group full of shady and greedy characters that put you on alert as much as the monsters.

The surprise Kim Sung-cheol near the end (and the twist to his character) is just *chef's kiss* perfection. I wish there's a S2 and he's in it. T____T

(Also, I am now retroactively on the Song Kang ship in Love Alarm because of this show. Heh~ sorry, Jung Ga-ram!)

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Watch "the odd family: zombie on sale" and you'll be back on track! 😂😂 I have yet to watch "Love Alarm" though ☺️

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Waiiiiiiiiiit. Jung Ga-ram is in a zombie project?

THANK YOU!

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Hello, dear mary! Lovely to see you here :) I am now on the Song Kang train and looking up every project he's been in. Love Alarm is on my list.

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Hallo~ I miss y'all~ (I had a feeling you will write the review for this when it popped up in the Recapping section hehe) ♥

I liked Love Alarm because of the tech stuff and social impact... although I'm a serial shipper too so I was invested in the love triangle. XD I hope you enjoy it!

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you may be the only person i have seen say they loved the warriors song lolol i didn't really mind it so watching everyone's distaste for it has been very amusing.

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I like marching songs, squad-unite songs, songs that make you want to punch the air in victory... It's like the We Will Rock You chorus!

(Maybe it helped that I haven't associated the song with the game yet~)

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It's hard not to be on the Song Kang ship. Him and Kim so-hyun had far too much chemistry.

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What's in the suitcase the bandits were trying to open with random fingerprints? Yikyung is carrying it when she escapes the building, isn't she?

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I'm curious also about that suitcase. I'm going to assume that it is government related. Maybe information about the monsters?

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I thought it must be something related with the experiment. Maybe a vaccine?
If I recall correctly, they were trying to open the suitcase, but it wouldn't open, even using some dead people's hand? Am I making it up?
It gave me some Pulp Fiction vibes, tbh.

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I also believed it had secret documents/reserch and maybe substances that were vital for creating a vaccine as we later know didn't yet exist as Hyun Soo might be among the only ones who could actually provide it. I think they killed all those military people trying to figure out who belonged the suitcase or at least who had the print saved to open it.(i even believed it belonged to Yikyung fiance or from the lab)

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Since it was Ui-myeong who was leading the search, my guess is it's not a cure but a way to create monsters?

I can totally see Ui-myeong wanting to build his own monster-army. And the bandit friends might be in it for the chance to be invincible too?

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Ooooh, that's a good guess, mary! Uimyung worked for the military, so the suitcase conspiracy holds up - in that case, bandits didn't show up randomly at the Green House, they were looking for Yikyung's boyfriend to open the suitcase - when they came in they shot a dude right off the bat, probably because he fit the description, but they didn't try anybody else's fingerprints... 😲
Wow, thanks for figuring that out!

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@eazal Hopefully the second season (fingers crossed!) will address this.

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I've been waiting for this recap! This drama is amazing because of its engaging storyline and wonderfully fleshed out characters. I loved the women in this drama. This is an example of a drama giving women meaningful and complex characterization and storylines.
I interpreted the ending as that Monster Boy two had taken the form of Sang-wook and not that the later had survived being shot.

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@dramallama In answer to your question about how Mr. Ahn knew about the under ground bunker, he mentions that he saw soldiers from the People's Army using the building during the war. It is in one of the early episodes when he's telling a story in the daycare center. Mr. Ahn says that the soldiers entered the building and never came out.

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Yes. I think that the other residents kind of dismissed his words because of his storytelling manner (and Gil-seob is also a colorful character who loves to tease). And perhaps they thought of it as more of a ghost story, especially the part about not having seen the soldier coming out of the building.

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Good catch - it was a clue disguised as a ghost story!

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@dramallama Thank you!

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I think many might have thought he was bluffing and making up stories to impress as well so that's why till he found the bunker all of them dismissed his efforts.

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It started as a Christmas dinner watch (not the best show to watch while eating tbh)... and turned into a binge watch (without food). All the actors nailed it... every single one of them... really impressed with how the story was delivered (went to read the webtoon afterwards and did get more explanation).
Lee Jin Wook, Lee Siyoung, Kim Gabsoo all delivered... and the younger actors and actresses are definitely all on my bright young stars to watch list for sure... (surprised to see Kim Sung Cheol here to XD)

This drama played the perfect balance of accessibility and being philosophical for me at least.. will definitely watch if there is a Season 2, if not I probably will be re watching this again.

Nice to see that after the filming wrapped in Feb, many of the younger actors went out to headline/star in many other memorable dramas as well!

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Did anyone else come out with nicknames for characters? @sirena and I had a fun time doing so. For example, I loved calling Du-sik (RIP) Haphaestos. Jae-hon (RIP, *cries to this day in her heart*) was either samurai guy or katana guy. And so on and so on. LOL

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I had Katana Guy, Grandpa and Grand daughter (I didn't pick up she was a carer), Dog lady, Pyjama Guy and Bad hair Guy

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@Fly Colours I love your nicknames :) I called Ji-soo "Bat Girl" because of her choice of weapon and Hyun-soo became "Monster Boy."

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Monster Boy 💚

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I know it is a very obvious one but I love it nonetheless. I call Wooi-myung Monster Boy two lol

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LOL. Those are some good ones.

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1. You know for a while, I thought the kindergarten teacher had something to do with the virus spread (those rotten fishes). Like why give anyone those? But then her own daughter died so I figured that was not the case.
2. While digging for the bunker, an eclipse occurred and the grandpa seemed to completely freeze for that time..but why? Only after the eclipse ended, time resumed.
3. I don't understand the store owner's monster form.
P.S. I....just wanted to admit that I hate people like Eun-yoo! That's all.

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@oosiee I didn't notice that time had stopped. I just assumed that because a rare event was occurring that that made Mr. Ahn stop what he was doing. I think that the store owner's form is a giant hair ball (for lack of a better term). Perhaps he secretly desired to have more hair because he was balding?

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I did realize the eclipse and I want to think it may be related somehow to the monsters.

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Now that you put both things in the same sentence, I did find it odd that the later episodes were somehow a bit "monsterless" compared to the earlier ones... In the last 3 episodes or so, we don't see any monsters lurking outisde (they only show up again in the last scene) and inside the building, excepting Nice Jelly, we only see the ones we already know (Fly Guy, Spider dude and Baby). In the webtoon, there are a lot more monsters, but they have a crysallid period that doesn't show up in the life-action... I thought that it was just that the drama centering on the bandits as the worst, but maybe there was something going on that "deactivated" monsters for a while?

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*Fly Guy, oh no! FlyGuy is my one and only and can't be mistaken with a khorror monster

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🤣🤣🤣🤣
We won’t tell Mr. FlyColours!

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@flyingcolours I love that you call the green blob "Nice Jelly" 😃

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I didn't read the webtoon, but I loved the drama. I thought it explored the themes of survival, humanity, sacrifice and humans being scarier than monsters better than a lot of monster shows. Characters I initially thought were one-dimensional ended up having interesting layers. My favorite characters were Ji-soo, Jae-heon and Gil-seob, but they were all great; Eun-hyuk was probably the most interesting. I loved that we got so many strong female characters.

I thought the ending of Episode 8 was truly great (and sad). The ending of the series was a good setup for a second season. I also assumed Eui-myung had taken over Sang-wook's body.

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Thanks so much for the thorough recap and the excellent comments. I binged watched the series in two days and I needed this detailed recap to comment.

First of all, I'm not into horror movies. I never watch any. Like never. And I don't like zombies (to the point I haven't watched Train to Busan even if Gong Yoo is in it, I'll say no more). But I binged watched this in two days. Nuts.

I loved the show and what it explores: what it means to be human. It goes throughout the series, from the moment we knew monsters were there to when HyunSoo realized he was infected and began his fight, to the voting, to the group understanding what it means, and to the group deciding who lives and who dies.

I was pleasantly surprised by all the cast, specially Song Kang and Lee Do Huyn as this was the first drama I watched with them on it. Both of them immediately caught my eye. Both Hyun Soo and EunHyeok played a forced part they didn't want to play but someone had to. It felt to me they were the two sides of a coin, complementing each other, knowing they could hardly exist in the same world and yet not being able to separate paths.

EunHyeok reminded me of Jack Shepard in Lost. He never wanted to be the leader, he hated to take some hard decisions, but he had to be the leader ant take those decisions as no one was willing to take the place for him. Something similar happened to EunHyeok, who understand that his survival and the survival of the group need some hard decisions to be made. That's why I found particularly heartbreaking his decision to sacrifice himself. I took for granted that he took that decision not only because he felt the responsibility but because he had learned he was also infected, and even if I want to believe he would resist and become HyunSoo's best ally, sadly I wouldn't stake my life on it.

I also loved JiSoo and JaeHeon together. They were a fantastic badass team, kicking some monsters and being honest and also nice to each other. I loved the way they admired and respected the other, and I'm also happy JaeHeon had told JiSoo he liked her just before he died. It didn't feel like a romantic confession to me, but as a "we're comrades, and we've survived and fighting by your side is good in this shit new world". Above all, I was terrible sorry JiSoo lost her sidekick.

Regarding the ending, I'm pretty sure EuiMyung is the one who's taking HyunSoo away with him. For a moment, I thought that SangWook would have been infiltrated all the time in the building, as part of the Government conspiracy, but it just didn't fit in the end.

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"Both Hyun Soo and EunHyeok played a forced part they didn't want to play but someone had to. It felt to me they were the two sides of a coin". So true! In the webtoon it becomes clearer because EH finally sacrifices to "neutralize" HS who finally gives in to his inner monster - in the drama, his coming apart from the group feels a bit ambiguous because he just hides in the control room and has no direct action on HS, but, yes, these 2 characters work so well because they have a complementary arc and grow from their relationship

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@flyingcolours Do you think that there's a chance we might see EunHyeok in season two? I really love his character and I'm not ready to say goodbye to him.

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i think it's very likely we'll see eun hyuk again. one, he already started turning so i'm sure the building collapse won't kill him. two, he's a fan favorite and with so many main sub characters killed off, i don't think they can afford to not bring him back tbh.

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I have a very strong feeling he's alive as well. When I saw the blood dripping I was excited because I knew it meant the possibility of his survival.

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My bet is that he isn't dead!

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Ir there’s a second season I’d love to see him back and as I said before, he being the best ally to HyunSoo. Then they would be mirrowing each other and not being opposite sides of a coin. I would like to see that.

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@flyingcolours Keeping my fingers crossed then!

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@eazal I believe that EunHyeok was the right choice for that role. He was the most level-headed of the group and did not allow emotion to cloud his judgement. I did not always agree with every decision he made, but I believe that he was doing what he thought was best for the group.
I also agree that Ui-Myeong is the one taking Hyun-soo away at the end. There was a scene where you can see a red blob enter an abandoned military vehicle and then drive off; that was Ui-Myeong. I'm curious what his plans are for Hyun-soo.

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I loved it,i think it matter a lot that i went in with the "right" mentality to even name it so as i've mentioned some days ago it was a better experience going into it without having the high expectation of a webtoon lover as i knew the story more or less and over the years i've read here and there but wasn't invested so even the changes or so didn't effect me that much so those 10h or so went by so fast(i didn't believe i would binge it staying all night till daylight,another point to me) and so many emotions,especially with the ones who died as to be fair i cared the most about Jae-heon,really wanted him to survive and get out with Ji-soo…Song Kang was amazing,i totally rooted for him,think it's his best role to date and for me he delivered it,i felt so much sadness and anger for his backstory as his act of kindness was what turned his life in a living hell…Another great point was their woman representation as the women were mostly the ones taking the main stage and front line when most of the guys(not or main 4)were trying to hide(like when they caught the spider monster),overcoming their fear faster and joing hands to protect themselves, something fresh as we usually always see the men in kdramas being the brave etc ones…I was somehow frustrated that the ones who died deserved to live but life is unfair and it says nowere that good brave guys end up surviving and the other side doesn't...A great cast indeed and Lee Shi young just WOW,aside from already a great actress is body goals!Hope we'll really get a second season as i really would want to see them explore the world and monsters outside of the complex building…

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Female characters in this drama are just amazing. They are cool, they have different voices and they behave out of the box - like when the shop ahjumma acknowledges HS's suffering. Yikyung is amazing and kick ass, but Jisoo is my girl crush

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She was also my favorite,must say i didn't stand Eun-Yoo,don't know if it's the character that was supposed to be like that or the actress that came off annoying more than it should but just couldn't like her at all...

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She wasn't one of my favourites, but I was ok with EY. She's a teenager dealing with massive guilt and trying to hold on to a "bad girl" front to hide her vulnerability. Didn't love her, but she made sense as a character. And her crush on HS was cute, he!

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I share your desire for no more Imagine Dragons. I love the song but every time it came up in the series it was so distracting unlike BewhY's 'Side by side'. It ruined the emotion in the scenes

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I binged it, and I still don't know how I feel about it. It was interesting. There were riveting moments of horror, beauty, and warmth. But I agree with dramallama that I wish we had more explanations. I think it was hard to fully engaged with so many questions swirling, especially since we didn't get to know much by the end of the season.
I hope there will be a season 2!

And how cool is Hyun-soo's monster form?!

I still don't get how nursery school lady was able to see her daughter's gps on the tracking app. I thought the internet was down?

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I think part of the major fear aside from well,the monsters at each corner was that no one knew much of anything and maybe that was intended...Of course getting the full straight answers rather than small hints would have been great but taking into context the whole story it made sense that no one knew,at least the general public making it all the more scary...

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I agree that the unknown added to the fear! I guess I expected more reveals as the drama got to the penultimate and final episodes. But I also had been expecting a one season mini-series, so it wasn't until the end that it occurred to me that it was likely saving up stuff for a second season.

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The Monsters are the reason for the internet going down as they jamm the signal ,this makes wireless internet and telephones unusable.However, if someone has wired internet, they are still fine so that's how she has morelikely the function to see the GPS.While cell phones cannot be used for normal functions, they will start beeping as a monster gets close.

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Loved this drama and I feel it's something only Netflix could have done because of the budget. The monsters weren't exactly scary but I found the whole process of how and why they become monsters to be very interesting and a great social commentary. I would love for them to explore it more if they renew for another season which I hope they do. The female characters were the highlight of this drama even though I adore Song Kang and am firmly on the Jojo Sun-oh ship. My interest in this drama was strongly rooted in the diversity of the female characters and how much strength they bought to the whole story. Nobody outshines the other and everyone was perfect in their part. Reminds of how much I enjoyed the widow village in Tale of Nokdu and their diversity of female strength.

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Lee Shi-Young's abs. (//*O*//).

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The back abs. :OOOOOOO

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this show was amazing. it was the perfect balance of sentiment and gore. it isn't the most amazing kdrama i have ever watched, but it definitely is towards the top of my list. i finished watching it yesterday and honestly cant stop thinking about all of the possible outcomes of the open ending. many people say that they believe Eun-hyeok isn't dead because they showed him having a nosebleed, meaning he could survive the building collapse. i'm sorry, but i disagree, i believe he is dead and the reason they showed us his nosebleed was to give us the reason why he sacrificed himself. the reason being he was turning into a monster. he knew that if he went back down to the others, him turning into a monster would just trouble them more, and therefore chose to sacrifice himself. i might be wrong, and i hope i am. i really really don't want Eun-hyeok to die!!!

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The more time I have away from this drama, the more I have to admit, I am disappointed in this adaptation.

I freely admit to being a fan of the original webtoon, but I was down with the adaption changing things, because I thought the original ending of the webtoon was both weird and stupid and felt that changing it up would be for the story's benefit. Sadly the show involve the military literally from the first scene, which dampened my enjoyment quite a lot.

The military being so heavily involved in this makes no sense, because as the show (and the webtoon) showed, the monsters are indiscriminate, if you're turning, you're turning and it also depends on your desires. The military being as strict and presumably repressive as it is, there should be tons of monsters and yet somehow they can reasonably enforce martial law? Sorry, but I just don't buy it.

While I loved the addition of Yi-Kyung, her character threw the original character balance completely out of whack and now most of the other female characters got sidelined severely (seriously??? with the appendicitis and appendicitis operation with 0 hands on medical knowledge?????????? in a ratty ass building in a ratty ass room) and even Yi-Kyung had to leave the apartment building (????? without dying somehow) so the plot could advance without her being there bc she is just so ridiculously OP.

With so many changes and addition to the material, the show needed to work harder to get us invested in these characters, but it sadly rarely succeeded. I understand the need to make Hyun-Soo less abrasive, he was an absolute shitheel in the webtoon and it's hard to do that in a tv show and still get him to be sympathetic. It also meant though, that his arc, such as it was, was very muted and he didn't really grow or change much over the course of the season in my opinion.

Then we had the whole storyline with the serial killer that didn't add anything to the characters or their character development, and in episode 9 they introduce the gangsters only to dispatch them roughly an episode later, so it's not like we got to know them or their deal anyway.

Most of my issues are with the script, so while I'm disappointed, the acting was really good, Lee Si Young alone is worth the price of admission but maybe they should only have done this if they got a 2-season pick up and then plan accordingly, so the pacing didn't suffer like this.

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As someone who hasn't read the webtoon, I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed the show as a material on its own. It was an entertaining watch from start to finish. I cried, laughed, and cried again, something I haven't done much of while watching dramas lately. Between this and Alice in Borderland, I'd say action packed series are where it's at for me at the moment. Can't wait for a second season, assuming there will be one.

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I absolutely loved the webtoon (finished it earlier in the year) so I was very very pumped to hear that there was going to be a drama adaptation. But I was skeptical because this is a story that needs a lot of monsters to make it work.
And oh my did Netflix deliver!
Loved the casting! They were pretty much exactly as I imagined!
Loved Lee Si young's addition as the firefighter.
I liked that she allowed the drama to venture out from Green Home and explore other aspects of the drama world. Also that vent scene was amazingly shot and executed! Who knew back muscles like those existed. I was suddenly very much aware of the fact that I haven't been to the gym in forever.
I honestly loved the soundtrack (call me a person under a rock but I hadn't heard the music before).

I am really looking forward to season 2 or more because there is soooo much promise here!

p.s. are we ever gonna get a Love Alarm season 2?

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I just started this while Im making stuff, keeping one eye on it. Very compelling, but agree on the visual of the monsters. It is a bit videogame´ish for me as I am not accustomed to those visuals.
cant read all of this since I havent finished.
but in kdrama or movie narrative I feel as if there always has to be a human worse than monsters....

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Lee Shi-Young my love

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I came here right after watching. Dived right to the show without reading the webtoon. The monsters are quite gory and I warmed up to the show only in the middle-end. The theme about humanity is well put through the show. The female characterization is one of the best I've ever seen in dramas. Sadly jae hoon ended up dying, his team work with ji soo was my favorite. I was puzzled by how sang wook's appearance at the end. Reading the recap and beanies' comments clarified it for me. Indeed ui-sung's change of shell is most plausible. Hope there'll be a season 2 in near future.

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So I finally plucked up courage to pick up this drama. I typically do not like horror or monster movies with few exceptions. But I decided to try because of Lee Do Hyun and Song Kang. In spite of their young ages, they're extremely competent actors! In fact, all the actors made me empathize with them and root for their survival. There was so much humanity in this show even amidst all the blood and gore. To be honest I often looked away or fast forwarded through alot of the scenes. But I stayed because of the characters and their relationships with each other.

While Squid Game was all the hype this year, and comparable in terms of the gore factor and "monsters" running wild, I preferred Sweet Home for its portrayal of relationships, the intrinsic worth of a human life, friendship, loyalty etc. Even though the circumstances are dire, you feel hopeful when the cast of characters stick together and you also feel their grief with each death. Because it is a horror movie, I found the first couple episodes too intense to watch continuously. Yet I'm glad powered through and I look forward to seeing our survivors in season 2.

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