Welcome to The Bookish Context! This post is dedicated to all mystery/thriller enthusiasts. Looking to segue into Korean Dramas? ‘Beyond Evil’ is a great place to start. I was introduced to this psychological thriller while wanting to get better acquainted with Yeo Jin Goo’s newer works as I thoroughly enjoyed his performance in The Moon Embracing the Sun.
What is Beyond Evil about?
As a killing resembling a cold case resurfaces in a small town, the chase for the truth falls on two policemen who each harbour secrets of their own.Netflix Blurb
This highly acclaimed procedural drama recently won the Baeksang Arts Award for Best TV Drama, Best Screenplay and Best Actor for Shin Ha Kyun among several other nominations. I believe that it deserves widespread appreciation and love. Listed down below are some of the key aspects of the series that set it apart.
7 Reasons Why ‘Beyond Evil’ Deserves its Numerous Accolades
Atmospheric Small-town Setting
Manyang, against the backdrop of a redevelopment project, initially appears to be like any other placid neighbourhood. But it quickly morphs into this eerie and chilling entity that almost has a life of its own.
Whether it’s the boundless reed fields, the deserted winding pathways or even the dilapidated houses. It successfully builds a sinister atmosphere. The ominous warning strikes home.
There are no secrets here. Someone is always watching from somewhere.
Eccentric Inhabitants of Manyang
The denizens of Manyang are an eccentric bunch who are generally at odds with one another. However, they believe in solving their problems within their close-knit community and without external interference. When outsiders come to harm one who has been accepted into their fold, they unite to protect one.
Storytelling Reminiscent of an Agatha Christie Novel
No character or subplot is irrelevant! And I mean absolutely none! The plot is very intelligently written and plays out like an Agatha Christie novel. Everything is interconnected through an intricate web of hidden agendas. Even the most unassuming of elements have a role to play in the grander scheme of things.
Keeping Viewers on Edge with Building Suspense
So I have to admit, that I have a weird intuitive ability when it comes to deduction in mysteries. On one hand, I was feeling smug when one of the major revelations occurs, because my suspicions had proved to be true. On the other hand, I was also sceptical because how in the world did they plan to keep the audience on tenterhooks at this rate? It felt too soon in the progression of the plot.
However, to my utter delight, the complexity of the puzzle only heightened from that point onwards. The more clues that were being uncovered the more the maze expanded. The stellar performances by the entire cast were in huge part responsible for bringing this about.
Intensely Moving Background Scores
The music adds to the tension and makes us feel the emotions trying to be conveyed more deeply especially the anguish or despair that settles in with certain realizations. I especially like the following:
- Who Is the Monster
From Mutual Antagonism to an Everlasting Bond
The relationship between our central characters who are forced into a partnership as a police duo is the highlight of the series. The way it oscillates from being at each other’s throats to showing each other their most vulnerable sides will give you whiplash. Their growth as people is marked by the change in their interactions.
Lee Dong Sik, a tortured soul can reveal his compassionate heart which is usually hidden underneath his theatrically creepy smiles. As for Han Joo Won, he is able to practice greater empathy, and let go of his rigidity and extreme beliefs of what is right and wrong.
Food for Thought
Some of the messages that this Korean drama emphasized and those that particularly stood out to me were:
Nam Sang Bae, the Chief of Manyang police substation, gives remarkably poignant advice here, pointing out the power those in authority hold in deciding one’s fate. Thus, reiterating the importance of wielding power wisely, and not making accusations based on mere conjectures, rather finding solid evidence.
While I can completely see from where Oh Ji Hwa, (Team leader of the Dangerous Crimes Divison) is coming from, and being empathetic to killers seems like a betrayal to lives lost in their hands. I think many would have mixed feelings about having such a simplistic viewpoint.
Various forms of media portray the life of criminals and research is done in the field to understand what drives them to murder and if possible find a sociological solution for prevention. There is such a convoluted mixture of factors involved and then the ever-present nature vs nurture debate comes into play, that there really can be no perfect answer. At any rate, it does indeed leave the audience questioning the nature of evil.
Bonus: If You Liked This, Then You Will Like That
I am rather fond of connecting media based on what I found appealing about them. So, while watching this I could not help but think that some of the thematic and stylistic components, for example in terms of problems faced in the law system made me think that if you enjoyed a movie like Talvar you would like this too. And the unexpected twists and turns are just as riveting as in Kahaani.
Beyond Evil is a must-watch for those who relish fast-paced thrillers with a gripping storyline and well-rounded characters. This has become one of my most favourite Korean Dramas that I have watched to date. Needless to say, I highly recommend it!! Watch it on Rakuten Viki or Netflix.
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Have I convinced you to give Beyond Evil a try?
If you have watched it already, what were your thoughts on this drama?
Do you have any recommendations for similar drama series?
Feel free to chat with me in the comments below!!
[Photo Credits: JTBC]