Before I got into K-drama, I had little clue that death and departures would be so prevalent a theme. I mean, it’s a rare series that doesn’t have a funeral scene at one point or another, not to mention such dramas as Move to Heaven and Missing - the Other Side which are completely rooted in the theme.
So, I’ve compiled a list of five of my favourite such moments, and I’ll look forward to hearing everyone else’s recommendations:
Hospital Playlist is full of departures, and near-death moments, which necessitate a ready supply of tissues and ‘no, just something in my eyes’ excuses. Taking it most to heart is children’s doctor Ahn Jeong-Won (Yoo Yeon-Seok) who when the waterworks begin just becomes even more adorable.
My Mister: Surely, Ji-An’s (IU) life can’t get any worse, but then comes a call announcing the death of her grandmother. She could hardly be more alone with not a surviving member of her family, but then Dong-Hun ([Lee Sun-Kyun], his brothers, and all their friends wrap around her like the warmest of blankets. In her darkest hour, a ray of hope and the prospect of a new life break through.
Chocolate: The thing is … blub-blub, blub-blub, blub-blub … Sorry, can barely write about it for the tears in my years. Terminally ill, disappears into his own fantasy world as Iron Ranger No. 3 from Iron 130 from where he’s been sent to bring peace to earth. But the job is too difficult, and they are calling him home. He struggles to let go, just the same as the adult before death, but consoled by his doctor and nurse, they assure him of all the good he’s achieved in his short life. His mind put at rest, he’s gone, and there’s not a dry eye in the house. His older brother grows hard knowing the fantasy is just make believe, but the adults follow it through, accepting it as the white lie they tell themselves, the balm for their own grief.
Tomorrow is all about the mission of the Grim Reapers gathering up the departed: the murdered, the lost and forgotten souls, and the miscreants, passing them over into the hereafter. In episode 6, A Soul Becomes A Star, they encounter a forgotten soldier of the Korean War and when his time is come, all the reapers descend to escort him out this world, with full honours, in a masterfully staged set-scene, involving what seems like a hundred background artists.
Move to Heaven is a supreme example of television drama. World beating. Geu Ru is the Asbergers young adult who works with his father as a trauma cleaner. His papa is a beautiful presence of a man, his rock and his stay, his guide through a world confused by his condition. They process the effects of the recently passed and make complete the end of their lives, but then suddenly Geu Ru’s father has also passed, leaving him in the guardianship of his rough and uncouth cousin. Through clashes and conflict, they eventually find a bond and come together as a team, but Geu Ru struggles badly to let his father go. Brilliant performances by Tang Joon-Sang, Ji Jin-Hee and Lee Je-Hoon. Exceptional writing by Yoon Ji-Ryun and direction by Sung-Ho Kim.
Thanks for reading x