[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 19-20
By William Schwartz | Published on
It's instructive how the other Ji-yeong sort of ruined things for the married Ji-yeong. Upon first meeting the other Ji-yeong, Count Said Faid Ali had assumed that his long lost daughter would be justifiedly resentful at having her father show up at such a late date. Instead, the other Ji-yeong was almost worshipful in his presence. So it is that the married Ji-yeong must now struggle with how Count Said Faid Ali is literally a jerk obsessed with money, but emotionally, can be a kind and caring older man.
So yes, Count Said Faid Ali does regain some of his former likability. Unfortunately, Ji-yeong is the one who has to compromise rather than him, and is at one points even seduced by how Count Said Faid Ali's status has resulted in a similar improvement in Ji-yeong's own life station. I liked her move from discomfort at the change in her in-laws' behavior to silently appreciating the chance to do some work for her new job without also being responsible for the entire rest of the household.
I wasn't the only one to notice this contradiction. Ho-rim, too, starts to believe that Ji-yeing is better off. Ah, all that past behavior of Ho-rim being an idiot makes his assumptions here all to believable. Consider how he does that whole I have to leave you for your own safety bit that's all too common in dumb superhero stories. Except here that whole plot point is played out in reverse. Count Said Faid Ali is the superhero, and Ho-rim assumes that, as a mild-mannered husband, he can't measure up.
There's a lot of trie clichés in "Man Who Dies to Live" that come as fresher than they deserve to be simply due to presentation. It's hard not to laugh at the sheer anticlimactic nature of Yang-yang's big move made with the help of the conspiracy. There are several ways that could have panned out, and I had expected the hostage situation to last for the final four episodes. Instead, that entire plot point is just a big commentary on Ji-yeong and Ho-rim's marriage.
The statement made on the nature of love itself is surprisingly profound. I find myself wishing that more dramas would invest themselves in the serious long-term commitment that marriage is, and sincerely show is the lows and highs the same way that "Man Who Dies to Live" does again and again. It really does emphasize how, absurdly lucky though Count Said Faid Ali may have been, in the long run, he missed out.
Review by: William Schwartz
"Man Who Dies to Live" is directed by Ko Dong-seon, written by Kim Seon-hee and features Choi Min-soo, Kang Ye-won, Shin Sung-rok, Lee So-yeon, Jasper Cho, Kim Byung-ok, Hwang Seung-eon and Bae Hae-sun.
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.