Tuesday, July 04, 2017

[First Impression] Forest of Secrets/Secret Forest

For a small toad a shrub is a tree. And bushes - a whole forest. Sometimes this forest can be "une forêt de Bondy", the one having a horrible reputation, a cursed place where Childéric II, a grandson of Dagobert was assassinated, also it was frequented by the brigands and ruffians. There is also Birnam Forest in Macbeth, a nightmarish harbinger of main character's fall. And Brocéliande - which has few parallels to the drama here. In it, as in Chrétien de Troyes' version, Ywain pours the water from a well over a stone, causing a storm and suddenly a knight appears that guards the forest. Then Ywain kills the knight...

Jo Seungwu and Bae Duna were actually my main interest in this drama, because I knew they couldn't do wrong in anything they appear in. And then it turned out that the drama about trudging through a corruption bog is a fascinating experience. Partly because of the actors and partly because of the everything else. 
Here, everyone has an agenda, be it a positive, negative or neutral. Hwang Shimok, the protagonist, is logical and composed to the point of an iceberg, and it s explained that it's a result of the surgery he had as a child to get rid of his super-sensitivity related to sounds. Trouble is, the emotions are processed mostly by amygdala, and I didn't hear it being mentioned here, but whatever, it's not the documentary on brain, but a TV series. He's focused and corruption immune. Therefore, he's despised as some kind of a weirdo, that doesn't go out with others for dinners, gift-exchanging events, nepotism-filled places, etc. He's a loner in a society where social bonds define a person's status and professional life. He faces everything that's thrown his way with the same stoical response as ever - because he knows that denial can make people believe in lies even more. He doesn't depend on anyone and reluctantly accepts the help of an awesome Police Lieutenant Han Yeojin. And these two do not bend to orders to stay away. This is also against the hierarchy of Korean society and the pathology it can create - the orders of your Chief are expected to be carried out without any amount of your own thinking. If you do - it means you defy the authority.

However the drama shows that blindly following orders create a sick environment where nothing changes because, like Yeojin said, people turn the blind eye, they pretend not to see. We have police brutality exposed, sex industry, corruption dancing freely through the halls. The greed for power, the insatiable hunger that allows to kill people and frame innocent victims because they're poor. The tentacles of moral decay dressed up as public service.
All this and more, given to us in bluish, ash-colored frames, where the light has the shade of steel like kitchen knives used to stab an inconvenient person.

A concrete jungle housing many species; magistratus corruptus is the most prevalent.

There is proverb saying "not to mistake a tree for a forest". One corrupt officer or a prosecutor doesn't mean the whole system is corrupt. But it also works the other way - one exemplary officer doesn't make the whole system great. This drama must also hit close to home (this sounds so dumb, I know), given the corruption scandal involving the Former President and her aid - scandal that mobilized millions of Koreans taking power back where it should be in a democracy - into their own hands and jousting (damn, another knightly word!) her from the office. Now, how that will be processed, well, knowing the snail pace of any judicial system, I am not that much of an optimist. But it shows that Koreans are not mindless drones and the society starts to develop a more non-conformist stance. And this drama shows that it is dangerous, but beneficial to stand sometimes against the authorities. Let's hope Koreans learn this.
We are only at episode 8, the events start to unfold faster, people start making mistakes, because as Agent Mahone in Prison Break said, the hunted will always make a mistake.

Pictures: Asianwiki, official website, screenshots.