Flower of Evil (2020)

Directed By: Kim Cheol-kyu

Written By: Yoo Jung-hee

Language: Korean                                                          

Genre: Suspense; Drama

No of Episodes – 16

Run-time – 60-70 minutes

Cast:

Lee Joon-gi – Do Hyeon-su/Baek Hee-sung

Moon Chae-won – Cha Ji-won

Jang Hee-jin – Do Hae-su

Seo Hyeon-woo – Kim Moo-jin

Kim Ji-hoon – Baek Hee-sung

Son Jong-hak – Dr. Baek Man-woo

Nam Gi-ae – Gong Mi-ja

Choi Young-joon – Choi Jae-sub

Choi Byung-mo – Do Min-seok

Jung Seo-yeon – Baek Eun-ha

Flower of Evil is a thriller drama about a man on the run, Do Hyeon-su (Lee Joon-gi) who is living under the assumed identity of Baek Hee-sung, with his devoted detective wife Cha Ji-won (Moon Chae-won) and their young daughter Baek Eun-ha (Jung Seo-yeon).

 You find yourself as a viewer thinking oh this will be a cat and mouse narrative because Ji-won in the course of her investigation is bound to come closer to finding out the real identity of her husband, whose real name Do Hyeon-su is implicated in two different horrific crimes – one, the murder of the village headman, and the other, allegedly, as his serial killer father Do Min-seok’s (Choi Byung-mo) accomplice.

As the story progresses however, one begins to wonder if all the assumptions made up till that point were simplistic because nothing is as it seems. Hyeon-su was adopted by Dr Baek Man-woo (Son Jong-hak) and his wife Gong Mi-ja (Nam Gi-ae) after their son Baek Hee-sung (Kim Ji-hoon) hit Hyeon-su with his car. Hyeon-su took his place when Hee-sung fell into coma and yet how? Why did they readily adopt him? Is there a connection that exists or were they just being humane? Else, could it be that as someone up for a promotion as hospital director Dr Baek needed to maintain their public image…many questions emerge.

The series effectively uses foreshadowing to explore the dilemmas that will affect Ji-won. The opening cases that she investigates with her partner Choi Jae-sub (Choi Young-joon) has on one hand, a woman wilfully choosing to ignore her husband’s possible subterfuge so as to maintain her façade of a happy family and on the other, the exposure of a supposedly loving caregiver’s psychopathic tendencies.

We also see Hyeon-su being tormented by the shade of his father, an eerie figure with black orbs for eyes, bottomless, pitiless and seemingly drawing him towards violence because the vision shows up every time he’s at the crossroads of a decision – one violent and the other, socially acceptable.

There is also Do Hae-su (Jang Hee-jin), Hyeon-su’s older sister, for whom time stopped the moment her father, was revealed to be a serial killer. She, at pretty much the same time, lost her boyfriend Kim Moo-jin (Seo Hyeon-woo) who backed away and her brother, who fled the village after the headman’s murder. Her separation from him has worn her out in worry.

Kim Moo-jin’s fear might have destroyed his relationship with Hae-su, yet his intimate connection with the siblings leads him to become a journalist that writes on the killings that shook his village. However, his need to write about the killings hides a sinister truth, one that threatens to be revealed when he inadvertently comes into contact with Hyeon-su, which sets off the narrative.

The series has been frequently described as a story about human suffering and that is an apt description in that it sheds light on the depravity within humans, the need to justify dishonourable decisions and being groomed into a world of violence. It looks at the scars that trauma can leave on the very fabric of a person’s soul and possibly what innocence really is.

Masterfully directed, the series does not let up on the tension even when one has a sense of where each piece fits. There is no lazy resolution to the story; it pushes to violent despair to see if after that hope can still exist.