- This article is solely based on the television drama of Ashes of Love, not the novel.
- There are HUGE spoilers in this from Ashes of Love. Please read at your own expense!
Not too long after I finished watching Ashes of Love last year, I got in a heated discussion with my friend about the Night Immortal, Run Yu. We started arguing on who was a much better fit for Jin Mi and whether or not Run Yu was a bad guy. While my friend likes and pities the Night Immortal, I really can't feel sorry for him.
And so I thought I'd write up an article going deeper into the discussion. Is Night Immortal, Run Yu, good or bad?
Good or Just Pitiful?
Helping Jin Mi
Run Yu has saved Jin Mi countless of times. On many occasions, he would fight alongside her or try to talk his way to keep the Heavenly Empress from punishing her. Whether it's helping her fight against Qiong Qi, the beast that killed her friend, Rourou, or the Heavenly Empress, he always had her back. But each of these occasions didn't happen with the absence of Xu Feng. He was the one that actually fought with her against Qiong Qi, and Xu Feng was also with Run Yu whenever they had a run-in with the Heavenly Empress.
But other than that, Run Yu would always heal her, even if the reason was that she was trying to save Xu Feng. It hurt him to see her care for Xu Feng, but he would rather have her okay than give in to his jealousy at the moment. For example, when Jin Mi tried to cross the Wang Chuan River, looking for Xu Feng's primordial spirit, her legs were severely bloody. Run Yu healed her then (Episode 48).
Or when she had to carry the Light of Xuanqiong to save Xu Feng. It took so much of Jin Mi's strength that she could've died if it weren't for Run Yu. He used all his might, his own prowess and blood to save Jin Mi. Even though Kuang Lu, his assistant, begged Run Yu to stop, knowing it'll hurt him, he insisted. He knew how weak he would become and how strong he needed to be with the war coming up (which, by the way, is his fault), but still gave his all to save Jin Mi (Episode 50).
I do have to admit, Run Yu has done so much for Jin Mi, but he did it out of his own choice. Jin Mi didn't ask to be saved by him. I'm not saying Jin Mi shouldn't be grateful nor deserves Run Yu's sacrifice, but caring for someone, loving someone, and showing kindness are never done with the expectation of receiving something back.
I would have loved his character if these were all truly motivated by his own kindness.
A Tragic Past
My friend's biggest reason as to why she supported Run Yu and didn't even really like Xu Feng all that much, was because she pitied him. It is true Run Yu had a hard life growing up. He was taken away from his mother, who was emotionally unstable, forced to cut off his horns, and grew up to be the "bastard" son of the Heavenly Emperor. His birth mother was even killed by the Heavenly Empress, his stepmother.
While I do agree that Run Yu's life was hard, it doesn't necessarily justify his actions thereafter. Everyone has a choice, a choice to become a better person, to be the bigger person, and to leave your past behind. Just because he's had a rough past doesn't justify all the killing and manipulation that occurred in the future. Yes, the Heavenly Empress played a huge reason for his actions, but it was still his choice to go to the dark side.
Love or Selfishness?
Why I can't believe Run Yu is a good guy.
It was already determined before Jin Mi was born that she would marry the Heavenly Emperor's oldest son, Run Yu. And although that was true, Run Yu took advantage of the situation to convince Jin Mi's father of their "feelings" for each other. Jin Mi's father, the Water Immortal, was against their engagement, as he would have much rather have nothing to do with the Heavenly Emperor, but Run Yu knew he would make an exception if his daughter truly loved him. While Xu Feng was wallowing in his sorrows, believing that he and Jin Mi shared the Heavenly Emperor as their father, Run Yu already knew that Jin Mi's birth father was the Water Immortal.
Outside of the Northern Heavenly Gate, Run Yu "runs into" Jin Mi and her father. He puts on a show in front of Jin Mi's father, knowing very well her father is eavesdropping on their conversation.
In the scene, he thanks Jin Mi for saying she likes him, but it being unfortunate he has an arranged marriage (Jin Mi and her father don't know he already knows she is the one he is engaged to). To which Jin Mi responds, "Whether you have an engagement or not, I'll still like you." It sounds like they're confessing to each other. When in reality, Run Yu knows that's not the case. He knew Jin Mi's "confession" was careless and only meant she likes everyone, but he had to convince her father somehow.
Run Yu even "apologizes" to Jin Mi's father for wanting to "break off" his engagement with the Water Immortal's daughter for Jin Mi, emphasizing that it is "clear" that he and Jin Mi have feelings to each other. This will make his feelings for Jin Mi seem even more genuine and the whole circumstance believable (Episode 14-15).
This is the start of his manipulation. Jin Mi even states in her confrontation that Run Yu took advantage of her ignorance of love at that time, luring her to say she likes him in front of her father to make him believe she had feelings for him. Why? Because he was afraid Jin Mi's father would break off the engagement and afraid that he'll lose the support of the Water Immortal when the time comes to take Xu Feng down (Episode 58).
Fixing the Love Pill
After seeing Jin Mi and Xu Feng's hot night through the Beast of Dreams, Run Yu deliberately goes after Jin Mi while she's sleeping and fixes her "love pill." He knew that her "love pill" was cracking and it was why she was starting to show her true feelings for Xu Feng. The cracks have become deep enough that she was willing to cancel her engagement with Run Yu.
Afraid that he'll lose Jin Mi, he fixes her "love pill" while she's sleeping, saying that he would rather Jin Mi never love anyone than not love him. Out of his own selfishness, he rids Jin Mi of her ability to love (Episode 36).
Jin Mi's father is killed, and Jin Mi is trying hard to find every reason to believe it wasn't Xu Feng, but Run Yu knows better. Despite knowing that Xu Feng wasn't the one that killed Jin Mi's father, he sends over the Beast of Dreams to Jin Mi to make her turn against Xu Feng.
The Beast of Dreams lets out a dream bubble showing "Xu Feng" killing her father. Although Jin Mi checks the dream records, in hopes that it was tampered with, all is left to dust because it was real, except it wasn't.
Run Yu gambles that with the "love pill" fixed and the Beast of Dream's dream bubble, Jin Mi would grow a hatred large enough to kill Xu Feng. He bet that Xu Feng would break in on their wedding day and Jin Mi would kill him. How smart! Because that's exactly what happened. Less blood on his hands and let the girl he claimed to love literally kill the person she truly loves, his own half brother.
He used Jin Mi like a pawn to satisfy his own desires.
The End of it All
The scene I cried the most in wasn't even Xu Feng's death, but it was Jin Mi's confrontation to Run Yu. After hearing Sui He and Run Yu's conversation, Jin Mi finds out about everything. She confronts Run Yu about it, about the "love confession" in front of her father and about letting her believe that Xu Feng was the one that killed her father when he knew it was Sui He.
She tells him he used her as a pawn in his plans, that he doesn't love her, but only loves himself, and that he has no idea what love is. I remember in this scene, I was yelling "Yes! You go, girl! You tell him!" while hyperventilating from the tears that couldn't stop falling from my eyes. I just felt so much for Jin Mi. She has every right to leave him. Run Yu is the reason why Xu Feng hates Jin Mi and the reason why Xu Feng is about to marry the one who killed her father. She begs him to let her go, but instead, he holds her hostage (Episode 58).
It's funny because, for someone who despised his own father, he sure was becoming a lot like him. Everyone kept saying they were afraid that Xu Feng would be no different than his parents, when the reality was, Run Yu was the one they should've been afraid of. He treated Jin Mi almost the same way the Heavenly Emperor treated Jin Mi's mother, the Flower Goddess.
Jin Mi's confrontation is such a powerful scene. I was crying waterfalls because I just felt so sorry for Jin Mi. You can practically feel her pain and heartbreak exuding off the screen. Everything said in Jin Mi's confrontation is exactly why I will never, in my life, ever feel pity for Run Yu.
Furthermore, his obsession grows so big, it's enough to start a war between the Heavenly Tribe and Demons. He is not only the reason innocent lives were killed but also the reason Jin Mi was killed. His lying, manipulation, and obsession are ultimately what leads to Jin Mi's death (Episode 61).
Let me ask you something. As cheesy as it sounds, what is love? Does love mean putting your feelings above the person you care about? Does it mean you can use it as an excuse to hurt your partner?
Doing things in the name of love could sometimes sound like an excuse. It makes you wonder if Run Yu's actions were really about love or his own selfishness.
Love is not an excuse for the things Run Yu has done to Jin Mi. Yes, he's sacrificed a lot for Jin Mi, but he also used her as a pawn. Jin Mi didn't ask to be saved by him. She never asked for Run Yu to love her. Run Yu loved Jin Mi by his own choice, his own feelings. It's his job to figure out how to handle it himself and to accept the reality that Jin Mi doesn't feel the same way.
I'm not saying that Run Yu's feelings are invalid. And again, I'm not saying Jin Mi shouldn't be grateful nor does she deserve the things Run Yu has done for her. But caring for someone, loving someone, and showing kindness are never done with the expectation of receiving something back.
Run Yu's crimes overshadow his sacrifices and tragic past. I'm sorry, but I have to agree with Jin Mi. In my opinion, Run Yu does not know what love is. He's hurt Jin Mi in more ways anyone could ever imagine. He's calculating, manipulative, and deceitful, but smart. He knows how to use people to his advantage and somehow manages to convince the whole world he's so kind when he really isn't.
Now, this is solely my opinion. I do think that part of the reason some prefer Run Yu is that the writers spent too much time developing his story and not enough of Xu Feng's. We, unfortunately, didn't get to see much of Xu Feng's past.
What are your thoughts? Leave them down in the comments below. :)
It was so much fun writing this article, as I had to skim through and rewatch some scenes from Ashes of Love again. It's been a whole year since I've watched the show and I didn't think I would ever have to watch it again. I told myself it was unlikely for me to rewatch it, not because it isn't good, but because I went through a lot watching this show, emotionally. Rewatching some of the scenes triggered my emotions, getting me angry and tearing up. Even just thinking about this show gets me all fired up again. That's how big of an emotional impact this show had on me.
With that being said, it's still one of my favorite dramas.
Edited by: Yuanwei (1st editor)