Title: Lost (English title) / No Longer Human / Human Disqualification (literal title)
Main Cast: Jeon Do-yeon, Ryu Jun-yeol
Writer: Yoon Hee-jung (My Love, My Bride, Architecture 101)
PD: Hur Jin-ho (Forbidden Dream, The Last Princess)
Timeslot: Saturday and Sunday – 22:30
Plot Synopsis: Two lost souls, a 40-year-old career woman who lost everything and a 27-year-old jaded man who seeks his life’s meaning, meet each other at the lowest point in their lives and start healing.
Major Trope: Slice-of-life / Depression and desolation / Healing
Grumpy’s First Impression
It’s dark, deep, and depressing, but it’s so good! It’s the kind of sad story that makes you reflect. The scenes keep getting better, too. It’s no wonder the multi-awarded main leads chose this poignant drama as their comeback on the small screen.
I’m getting a My Ahjussi vibe with the dynamics of the two main characters. And to be honest, this doesn’t need to be a love story for it to be good. It’s a drama about two lost souls finding comfort with each other’s presence. Plus we get awesome performances from Jeon Do-yeon, Ryu Jun-yeol, and the entire cast!
For starters, the drama revolves around the life of Lee Bu-jeong (Jeon Do-yeon), a 40-something woman who used to work at a publishing company but now earns a living as a part-time housekeeper. She is currently at a low point in her life after losing both her baby and her career. To make matters worse, her husband is a useless misogynist mama’s boy and her mother-in-law doesn’t know how to respect boundaries.
Another main character of the story, Lee Gang-jae (Ryu Jun-yeol), is a 27-year-old who offers a service wherein he acts according to the customer’s desire. You can simply think of it as a wholesome escort service or a boyfriend-for-hire type of work. At first, I thought he’s a call boy but then it’s established that he doesn’t have sexual relationships with his customers. Gang-jae also appears jaded on the outside, but his actions are marked by a sense of loneliness.
Bu-jeong and Gang-jae meet at a time in their lives where they are both suffering from loss. They both question their existence and future. Sometimes, it’s hard to look ahead when you’re feeling down.
Loss and emptiness as the central theme
The first two episodes focused on setting up the gloomy days of Bu-jeong and Gang-jae. Gang-jae’s close friend Jung-woo drowned himself to death with his lover. He and his friend Dak-yi (Yoo Su-bin) took care of everything – from the retrieval of the body up to the funeral. The scenes highlighted the emotional and physical toll of losing a loved one. My favorite from the pilot episode was Gang-jae’s back shot while walking along the corridor of the funeral center, surrounded by grief and groundwork. Some are busy preparing for the wake, some are breaking down because of sorrow, and some are smiling and greeting guests. It’s a familiar sight for us but it’s chaotic to watch at the same time. I also like to mention the clever use of Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah” as the background scoring for the scene. It gave me goosebumps when Dak-yi mentioned that this song was Jung-woo’s favorite. For context, Buckley was a famous young singer who died of “accidental drowning” (some reports think it’s suicide).
Aside from depicting the reality of mental illness and suicide, the drama also shed light on the grief of those who are left behind. Gang-jae and Dak-yi are the only ones who stood by their friend until the end. They did a good job of giving Jung-woo the decent funeral rites that he deserved, but we can also see that these two friends are struggling on their own. Both have different ways of coping with the sudden loss – Dak-yi wears his heart on his sleeve, while Gang-yae doesn’t let his sadness overcome him.
Bu-jeong, on the other hand, is haunted by a sense of emptiness. She is not just losing herself, but also her will to live. The only good thing in her life right now is her relationship with her father (Park In-hwan). Though living in poverty and suffering from early signs of dementia, her father is a warmhearted person who only wants the best for his child. He defends Bu-jeong against everyone and exerts all efforts to help her, despite the limited resources he has. It’s admirable yet painful to witness how he tries so hard to protect his daughter. And for this reason alone, I know Bu-jeong will be able to pull through. Her father could be the only string that holds her lifeline.
Lastly, I would like to talk about the cliffhanger from Episode 2. It’s so simple yet so powerful! Gang-jae overheard Bu-jeong’s phone conversation with actress Jung A-Ran (Park Ji-young), the apparent villain and the reason why Bu-jeong lost her baby and her job. She lets her heart out and blames her for everything. But after the confrontation, Bu-jeong still receives a call from A-ran. She leaves her phone behind and proceeds to the apartment rooftop – looking like she’s ready to jump. Gang-jae witnesses everything and blurts out to Bu-jeong’s surprise, “Why die? Just don’t pick up.” Two sentences, five words. And these five words saved someone else’s precious life. Gang-jae saved Bu-jeong by merely being there at that crucial moment. If only we can all be like Gang-jae to someone, the world will be a better place.
🧣 Ryu Jun-yeol looks so damn fine with his long hair!
🧣 Bu-jeong’s husband Jin Jung-soo (Park Byung-eun) is a misogynistic SOAB that deserves a slap. He defends his own mother’s rudeness and intrusion and calls Bu-jeong an “older woman” with a “laidback job” just because she doesn’t have a definite work schedule. He looks down on his wife and lets his workmates malign her. I swear if Bu-jeong and Gang-jae develop a love line, I won’t even take pity on her husband.
🧣 Kim Hyo-jin is so beautiful! I wonder what impact would her character bring to Bu-jeong and Jung-soo’s relationship.
🧣 I can’t wait to see more of Na-eun’s character and her chemistry with Su-bin and Jun-yeol!
🧣 Sharing Gang-jae’s monologue to his father, a masterpiece:
Hello, Father. Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I wondered if I would have become a different person than I am today if you were alive. As you can see, I am seriously, totally a mess. Father, I haven’t made anything of myself. I was born into the world the same way, but I don’t think I will be able to become anything. What should I do, Father? Somehow I will be 27 next week. At 27, Mom was already sending me to school. During the last days of being 26, I’m thinking, “What is money?” And that’s it. Eventually, I started thinking whoever loves me the most is the one who spends the most money on me. These bad thoughts fill my mind. Father, if you had money, you would have given it all to me. My beloved father, I think money is love. Have I turned completely bad? Have I failed to live like a decent human being? Despite that, I still don’t want to give up on anything.
🧣 We only have two episodes but I already collected so many memorable quotes from this drama.