Main Cast: Kim Hee-seon, Rowoon, Lee Soo-hyuk, Yun Ji-on, and Kim Hae-sook
Writer: Kim Yoo-jin, Ra Ma (webcomic)
PD: Kim Tae-yoon, Sung Chi-wook
Timeslot: Friday and Saturday / 2150H (KST)
Network: MBC, Netflix
Made half-human and half-spirit by accident, a young man is employed by a company of grim reapers in the underworld to carry out special missions. (sourced from Netflix)
Grumpy’s First Impression
Grim reapers that save lives? Count me in! The drama offers a dark and heavy concept, but it’s a much-welcomed addition to the discourse on mental health. The first two episodes already explored a danger zone. I’d like to commend the production for such an exquisite depiction of mental health issues and how this blended well into the drama’s fantasy premise. In short, I love it.
Honestly, though I’m loving the series opener, I’m nervous about how they would pull off an entire show tackling several mental health problems without triggering the entire K-drama fanbase. We just started with two episodes, and finishing them was quite a bit of a struggle already – not because of the acting or execution, but due to the sensitivity of the topic. It got harder to breathe as the story progressed. I was so mad and sorry at the same time. But that’s how you know it’s working, right? When the scenes challenged your comfort zone.
Koo Ryeon (Kim Hee-seon) and Lim Ryung-gu (Yun Ji-on) are grim reapers who work for the Jumadeung (basically fictional afterlife) as members of the Risk Management Team. Their main task is to save suicidal people. One night, they chanced upon Choi Jun-woong (Rowoon), a job applicant who was saving a street dweller from jumping off a bridge.
Because Jun-woong didn’t know who they were and why they intervened, Ryeon and Ryung-gu’s mission somehow took a different turn. Both Jun-woong and the mission’s target toppled over the side of the bridge into the water – causing the poor hero to fall into a coma. From here on, we saw how Jun-woong’s soul left his body, which is apparently scheduled to be comatose for three years. He can shorten this to just six months by working in Jumaedung. The “Jade Emperor” (Kim Hae-sook), or the big boss of the underworld, gave him a chance to observe the different teams. His first shadowing task was as an observer for the Risk Management team.
The RM team’s new assignment is a bullying victim – both in school and at work. She’s a TV writer who used to love variety shows, but this soon became her worst nightmare after being a target of bullies in high school. They terrorized her for giggling and joking around with her friend. Laughing soon became traumatic for her. It was honestly hard to watch. But the episode managed to raise one important statistic: South Korea’s high suicide rate tops the world ranking. They delivered this sad truth in such a comical manner, too. The theme is depressing, but the funny moments make it lighter.
The use of the “Red Light” app is also very witty. The app shows a person’s profile and suicidal percentage status. The higher the negative rate means the higher possibility of suicide. Since Jun-woong is not yet used to Ryeon’s ways, he acts according to his emotions. He stepped in during the mission making matters more complicated that they already are. But honestly, Jun-woong’s fresh approach benefits the team, which is on the brink of getting dissolved.
I liked how the drama opposed the notion that “time heals everything.” No, sometimes it does not. When someone is in so much pain, even time can’t do anything, especially when the person is struggling with heavy emotional trauma. It needs to be confronted – a brave move, nonetheless. A person who needs help must acknowledge it first to get out of the never-ending cycle of distress.
I also liked that they highlighted people who undermine the victims of suicide and depression. The script was raining with red flags and trigger statements, but it needed to be said so that the people who think shallowly of mental health issues reflect on the gravity of their words and how it impacts the victims. Suicide is not cowardice; it’s the person’s ultimate cry for help. Though filled with heavy scenes, the premiere episodes tackled bullying as a societal issue. The Risk Management Team saves those who suffer from depression and offered words of comfort that transcends through the screen. Suicidal people also want to live normal lives. It’s not that they want to die, they just don’t want to live in suffering.
💀 The disclaimer/trigger warning at the beginning is much appreciated.
💀 Koo Ryeon is very beautiful! I want to recreate her make-up look! But seriously though, I’m curious about her sudden change in appearance/style. The Jade Emperor saved Ryeon from hell because there is a person that she needs to save from wanting to die – is it Ryeon herself? Or Jun-woong perhaps?
💀 I feel like there is something fishy between Ryeon and Escort Team Leader Park Joong-Gil (Lee Soo-hyuk).
💀 I haven’t read the webcomic so I’m enjoying the mystery. Ryung-gu is searching for something – or someone? I’m so curious!
💀 The drama is obviously big-budgeted! I’m amazed by the visual effects and cinematography!