This is by far, the most difficult and challenging review I have written. A drama about DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder), in other words, Multiple Personality Disorder, had a star cast of Ji Sung (as Cha Do Hyun), Hwang Jung Eum (as Oh Ri Jin) and Park Seo Joon (as Oh Ri On). This show blew my mind away, making me think of literary theory and critical analysis, so much that I can’t begin to imagine where I should start, hence I will begin with a little insight into the story.
Cha Do Hyun, is a third generation chaebol heir to a company, Seung Jin Group. He has lived a lot of his adult life away from his family, studying in the US, where he is also being treated for his illness, DID. He has completely erased an entire year of his childhood from his mind and that has made him cope with his past by forgetting about it. His grandmother, the CEO of the company wants him to come back to South Korea and participate in the internal machinery of their company. He agrees to coming partially because his old therapist is also there, and he senses he could get further psychological help while also doing his job as the heir. The catch is, none of his family knows about his condition, and it is crucially important that nobody finds out for fear that the internal factions may use his state of mind to manipulate the inheritance.
Back in Korea, he meets his therapist’s assistant, Oh Ri Jin, who he takes up as his personal physician, since she is somebody who has seen most of his sides and is able to keep secrets. Simultaneously, her twin brother, Oh Ri On, is out and about collecting news and articles about the mystery at Seung Jin Group, involving car accidents, deaths and arson attempts at the main residence. He writes books with the pseudonym, Omega, and his identity is a secret from the entire world, other than his family and his editor.
The drama is laden with conflicts of three types, namely, man vs nature, man vs man and man vs self. As far as the first conflict is concerned, the drama raises the question of where Do Hyun’s internal strife arises from. One can assume that the cause of most mental illnesses could be completely natural, lying in the inherent nature of an individual, implying that one’s personality is natural, without any other influences. Thus Do Hyun’s syndrome is one arising from his natural state. The second conflict, is one that implies that he is what he is because of how he was raised, what all he went through as a child, causing him to develop his condition. Lastly, the third conflict is his own internal fight with the other personalities that have come to adopt those traits that the main personality has avoided coming to terms with.
From hereon, I believe the rest is going to be a spoiler for many, so I advise that it should be read with caution.
Coming to Do Hyun‘s personalities: over the course of the show we meet Do Hyun, Shin Se Gi, Perry Park, Ahn Yo Sub, Ahn Yo Na, Na Na, and Mr. X. Each personality deserves their own description, so here it goes.
Do Hyun, as we see him throughout the show is a soft spoken, sensitive person, who has turned into an introvert because of the curse of his alternate personalities. He is extremely responsible and he goes about cleaning all the messes that the alter-egos keep creating. He can never remember the interactions the other personalities have and therefore, he meets people who he doesn’t recognize and often gets treated badly because of his lack of consciousness. He seems to bear the weight of world on his shoulders with such grace that it is truly commendable, how he deals with everything around him.
Then we have the angsty Shin Se Gi (신세계, shin segye in Korean means new era). He is essentially the ‘New Do Hyun’, kind of like a rebirth. He is the one holding all the memories of the hurt and the pain that Do Hyun had witnessed as a child. His mission is to set everything that had been messed up straight, by meting out justice where it’s most needed. He is the one who knows all of the family for what they truly are and treats them exactly how they deserve to be treated. Furthermore, Se Gi is also the roughest version of Do Hyun, since he is the only one who can win a physical fight, and yet is the most sensitive one. Since he was created at an early age, he either associates with things like heavy bikes, or choo choo trains, which makes for quite a dichotomy.
Next, we have the simplistic Perry Park, who loves to make bombs out of stopwatches, fond of drinking and fishing. Perry is a representation of Do Hyun’s father, as he was at a point in time. I saw Do Hyun’s father as a kind of Young Jolyon from Forsythe Saga, especially when we saw him in flashbacks. A man who had run away from the money and the fame of his family to live a simple life in a fishing village away from Seoul, he was freest then. It wasn’t until Do Hyun’s mother had forced her husband to go back home to have her son establish his own place in the business empire, that ill befell everyone. Perry is Do Hyun’s longing for the time when his father was still a good person, enjoying
the simple life.
Next is Ahn Yo Sub, Do Hyun’s 17 year old self, who simply wants to commit suicide despite possessing a keen interest in art, literature and music. It is the sensitivity that art brings to Yo Sub, that makes him suicidal, because he feels like he bears too much guilt, much like the conscious Do Hyun. Ahn Yo Sub’s twin sister is Ahn Yo Na, a fiesty female, with ‘oppas‘ on her mind. As she said it herself, ‘Every good looking man is my oppa‘. I couldn’t agree more, Yo Na! She is the most exciting of Do Hyun’s personality. Her huge crush on Ri On speaks volumes of where she comes from. Do Hyun’s guilt stems from how Ri Jin had been treated as a child, and so it makes sense that he adopts a female persona. It also makes sense for her to have a crush on Ri On, because no matter the fact that Ri Jin and Ri On are siblings, it’s evident from her interactions, that had they not become siblings, they would have been a romantic couple. Yo Na simply fulfills that desire.
Nana, is the name Ri Jin had given the teddy bear she owned as a child, the one that her father had given her before he passed away. Nana’s the 7 year old Ri Jin and she represents the longing for her father, something that I could relate to on a very personal level. She represents how much Do Hyun had absorbed Ri Jin’s personality into his, as a means to preserve her memory, as well as everything she had been through as a child. Mr X was somebody we only met in the last episode. The father that Nana longed for, and the person who could bring all of Do Hyun’s personalities together.
One thing that is overarching in most of Do Hyun’s alters are their need to destroy. Se Gi, is the bad guy who wants to destroy everything that has made him the way he is, and also as a means of payback to all the adults who took advantage of his weak state as a child. He represents the sadist in Do
Hyun. Perry makes bombs, just like how baby Do Hyun possessed the capacity to commit arson. Yo Sub, on the other hand, is a sensitive masochist, willing to destroy himself because of all the guilt Do Hyun bears.
Now, coming to the other characters; I absolutely love how well thought out the names of the twins were! Oh Ri On, every time I heard the name, it struck a bell with me. If I just change the spellings a bit, it becomes Orion, a character from Greek mythology. A watchman and protector of humans from the monsters, Oh Ri On is exactly that in the show. His job as an author proves he’s a keen observer, because how else would he be able to write books? He is also the protector from monsters, and in this show, the monsters are our internal demons, the frightful memories that remind us of a painful past. Oh Ri Jin, on the other hand, can be spelled correctly as ‘origin’, the origin of Do Hyun’s state of mind, the person who started it all. What apt names for our siblings.
The last thing I want to deal with regarding this show is the concept of parenthood. We meet all sorts of parents in the show. Sometimes, adoptive parents can give a child so much love, helping it overcome all the hardships that it may have faced at a younger age. At other times, biological parents can be the most traumatizing relationship for a child. While Nana, longs for her father, who has passed away, we see Se Gi spit at the person Do Hyun has to call father. The fact that we long for the protection and love of our parents and yet, also see them as a kind of prison is such an honest emotion and the show dealt with it phenomenally.
Kill Me Heal Me was surely a great suggestion, and I thoroughly enjoyed watching it.