by Nauriya, October 16, 2020
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Photo courtesy: tvN

[This review might contains spoilers for some readers, please read at your own discretion]

tvN’s most popular TV series Flower of Evil came to an end this week and boy did it hit all the right notes. Form unmatched chemistry of the leads to nerve wrecking cliffhangers and scenes, the show inarguably delivered all what it promised. Throughout its run, it received immense acclaim for various plot twists, outstanding performances, direction and cinematography, and despite COVID hurdles at the end of production, it ended up victorious.

Lee Joon Gi and Moon Chae Won have won the hearts of people by giving stellar performances in the roles of Baek Hee Sung / Do Hyun Soo and Cha Ji Won respectively. The perfect duo of imperfect husband and wife riddled with secrets enthralled the viewers with each episode all the way to the finale. With a cast that skilled, performances this outstanding and a story that kept us on the edge of our seats, it is not wrong to say that Flower of Evil is one of the best Korean drama series that made 2020 a much better year.

Production details


DirectorKim Chul Gyul
Writer Yoo Jung Hee
Genre Thriller-mystery / crime-romance
Cast See
Episode count 16 + (1 Special)
Run time70 minutes
ProductionStudio Dragon / Monster Union
ChanneltvN
Online availability WeTV, Viki, Viu (subscription)
Original release dateJuly 29, 2020 - September 23, 2020


Helmed by ace director Kim Chul Gyul, whose work shines in tragic-historical Chicago Typewriter and tear-jerker Mother, has crafted Flower of Evil with the same sentiments and emotions. Yoo Jung Hee the writer of the series who has written either special or short dramas up till now took me by surprise for creating such an amazing script and characters. I am really looking forward to her next project.

The show had an intriguing way of introducing itself to viewers. Before the premiere a viral post surfaced  on social media titled, “I suspect that the husband I’ve loved for 14 years is a serial killer,” which later revealed to be a part of promotional campaign for the series. It  had already sparked interest in the audience. And it proved to be a successful move, as public reaction to the lead actor being presumably a "bad-guy" met with overwhelming response.  

The talented actors Lee Joon Gi and Moon Chae Won who played husband and wife in the series reunited after their appearance together in tvN’s Criminal Minds, and this proved to be one of the best reunions in K-drama land. Before this, I had always thought Son Ye-Jin had the best reunion projects with her co-stars, but Flower of Evil offered another great pair showing us outstanding chemistry and honesty that their actors kept with their utmost sincerity. 

Plot outline and overview


It tells the story of Baek Hee Sung a metal craftsman, who lives with his wife Moon Chae Won and their six years old daughter Baek Eun Ha in a picturesque house in the fictional city of Yeonju. However, unbeknownst to his wife, Hee Sung is the son of an alleged serial killer and has been living with a different identity. When a series of murders happen similar to crimes related to 18 years ago, his wife grows suspicious of him being a serial killer and sets to find out the truth. This chase of truth and lies led Chae Won to a discovery of shocking events that turns her world upside down.

The beginning of the show introduced us to a lovey-dovey couple with their adorable daughter in a dream home they built together over the period of fourteen years. Everything feels picturesque - a husband who take cares of the household including their daughter with perfection, also runs a home-based metal shop and a wife who is a police detective, liked by her peers and fellow colleagues, is head over heels in love with her husband in a devotion unseen, but little did she know that the world she lives in is a crafted one.

Their world starts shattering piece by piece when a murder case comes running banging at the door of Baek Hee Sung, that led to the discovery of his shocking past and not even in the half, but at episode five, his wife is revealed to all the black outs of her life, and boy, did she handle it well. I mean, Cha Ji Won as a character, is one of the most matured characters, I have ever seen. Suddenly exposed to all the lies she has been fed, she never once behaved irrationally, but instead she accepted the reality and set out to find the truth to put their life back on track. 

And that is the reason, why this series is charismatic (at least for me). Although, her trust in her husband shook many times but she never once stopped loving him and gave him every benefit of the doubt, every time she dug into his past.

Flower of Evil was one of the series, that never felt being dragged in any way, it was fast paced, straight to the point, strong in delivery and it pushed the bar of dramas in the genre of drama-thrillers. I was hooked from the start, and as the characters progressed in their arcs, it achieved my earnest attention. It wasn’t too much, it wasn’t too little, it was just perfect. 

Lead cast


Lead cast members (from left to right) Jang Hee-jin, Lee Joon-GiMoon Chae-won and Seo Hyeon-woo
pose for a picture at a promotional event of series. (Courtesy: tvN/The Korea Herald/File)

Characters relationships and analysis


Baek Hee Sung and Cha Ji Won 

Baek Hee Sung and Cha Ji Won, played by talented actors Lee Joon Gi and Cha Ji Won, is undoubtedly one of the best pairings in recent times. In an opening scene of the first episode they share an intimate scene and as a viewer I could tell it was going to be the best on-screen couple of 2020, and I was right. As I watched the series, I realized it is just not the love that bounds them, it was the trust that forged their formidable marriage and it was that same "trust" that was going to "save" it.

Metal worker Baek Hee Sung and detective Cha Ji Won are married to each other for fourteen years and have an adorable six-years old daughter Baek Eun Ha. This charismatic and mysterious metal-craft shop owner entered the life of Cha Ji Won when he came to buy a beer from her shop. Pestered by Ji Won's lively character Hee Sung ended up opening up to her and eventually forging a life, that wasn't possible had it not been for her. Selling him two cans of beer, she bought a champaign for a life.

In my opinion, Baek Hee Sung is a fighter, as someone who is suffering from personality disorder, negligence, hatred and a life of hide and seek, he managed to hold himself and all thanks to Cha Ji Won, who was his savior. Their blooming love despite all odds, was a miracle for him.

I wish we could switch bodies for one day. 
So you could feel how much I love you!

In 14-years of their marriage, he did every possible thing to erase his past by loving his wife and daughter. Unfortunately, the past is something you cannot bury. The longer you avoid it, the stronger it comes running. Lies covered in truth are more dangerous than a lie itself. As a husband and wife, they won my heart and their tenacity to lean on each other stood the test of times and in the end, they embraced each other without succumbing to the lies.

I have no words for LJG and his exceptional acting skills. I mean, he has fans all over Asia and after the Moon Lovers phenomenon that took him to whole other level of success, his graph as an actor never touched the bottom line since then. Taking this role, he proves again that his acting is not limited and he can transform into any challenging character given. Playing the role of kind-hearted husband and father but at the same time suffering from a disorder that categorized him as a “psychopath” in the eyes of people, is a challenge he passed with flying colors. In an interview, LJG said,

“I wanted to express the complex inner thoughts of the characters Baek Hee Sung and Do Hyun Soo well. Also, because it is a genre and a role that I’ve never done before, I wanted to show another side of me through Flower of Evil.” 

Moon Chae Won, as an actress, has surpassed my expectations, although I haven’t watched anything from her before, so for me she was a breath of fresh air - musky voice, trembling tone, and a confident face she became the best on screen wife of the year. She proved that when you hit rock bottom hard, instead of sobbing into sorrow, the only thing you should do is to fight against all odds to save what you love the most. And in the series, at times she was heart broken by the shocking revelations of her husband but never once she gave up. She stood out the most, and she is one of the top most favorite characters in my list of 2020. For her role she said, 

“the role or genre that I choose to take on varies — it depends on various factors, such as the kind of experience I have had in my daily life and how I feel at that moment. Flower of Evil contains a considerable amount of elements that I favour, in terms of personal preferences and the genres that I like”.

Do Hae Soo and Do Hyun Soo

Half way along the series, we are introduced to a smitten and frightened character, living under the shadows, - Jang Hee Jin as Do Hae Soo, the child of an ill-fated family and guilt-ridden sister of Do Hyun Soo, who we learn is the cause of her brother living under a false identity. But I, for once, never felt hatred towards her, nor did I pity her, it just I felt sad as both of their lives went down with crimes they never committed. The both were victims, not just of their father's crimes, but of people who saw them as evil and outcasted them.

Despite having ASPD, Hyun Soo did things that only a normal person would do, sacrificing his life for her sister's, protecting her. And despite living under a different identity, pretending to be a normal person, he actually became one, he just realized it at the very end. Having no contact with her brother over a decade, and in order to protect each-other, she actually lived like a prisoner. She already paid the price for her actions, which in my view were never a crime. I was glad that they reunited and had a heart to heart conversation.

Kim Moo Jin and Do Hae Soo

Kim Moo Jin and Do Hae Soo are like pair of open scissors, connected to each other but they have very bleak chances of cutting the rope that tied them together. I truly disliked the personality of Moon Jin, but then I can understand from his perspective as well, he had to save himself, so he did. But then he lived with the guilt of leaving her alone.

But his hostility towards Hyun Soo was totally unfair. He kept nagging at Hyun Soo every chance he got, knowing fully well that he can't stimulate emotions or feelings. Moo Jin's anger towards Hyun Soo was actually his guilt that built over the years for turning a blind eye to them. He always had a soft spot for Do Hae Soo, for that I might have a leniency on him and I really like the fact that instead of holding her when he finally had the chance, he let her go to in order for them to start anew. They had their bittersweet ending, and that was perfect for the storyline.


Gong Mi Ja, Baek Man Woo and the real Baek Hee Sung

As much as my blood boils seeing their faces, they are the only two characters, I feel pity for. Gong Mi Ja and Baek Man Woo, played by Nam Ki Ae and Son Jong Hak, and their evil genius son Baek Hee Sung, played by another stellar actor Kim Ji Hoon, aced their roles as the crazy family of Baeks.

My stance on father and mother is lenient as they did what they had to do to protect their lives and their child’s, even though he turned out to be something beyond imaginable. A mother knows her child best, in that case as well, she knew her son is up to no good, but she couldn’t do anything. She was a victim of her son as well, seeing her son's genius turn into evilness, she couldn’t save him.

And his father took advantage of their son’s genius mind, and couldn’t care less, as long as he was daddy’s “good boy”. This was the main reason that threw Baek Hee Sung into the abyss and that’s when he fell prey to Do Min Seok's trap.

Im Ho Joon, Choi Jae Sup and Lee Woo Chul 

Cha Ji Won’s colleagues at Kangsoo Police Station turned out to be a gem, they supported her as much as they could. I liked the young detective Im Ho Joon, played by Kim Soo Oh, he had a very cheerful personality. I could see in his eyes, how genuinely he played his part and made his small appearances memorable. In the end he played an important role, that made him even more memorable.

Second in line Choi Jae Sup, played by Choi Young Joon, is my most favorite person in the series: the loud voice in the team, seemingly careless personality and his casual regards to seniors made him a true champion of his character. As a true "sunbae" and friend, he always put his trust in her so she can feel less burdened by the lies thrown at her. 

Third, but not least, Lee Woo Chul, played by Crash Landing on You actor Choi Dae Hoon, had my immense respect for understanding the secrecy between Ji Won and Jae Sup and despite showing his authority as a Chief he put his trust in them.

Do Min Seok and the real Baek Hee Sung

The father, Do Min Seok, played by Choi Byung Mo, holds a strong notion in a story of siblings - the origin of all chaos and suffering. His arc is nonexistent in the series, but it sets the main plot for all the other characters associated with him, and his children Do Hae Soo and Do Hyun Soo the most.

They sure are a victim of their father’s crimes but there was one person who fell deep into Do Min Seok trap and that was Baek Hee Sung. When their father failed turning Do Hyun Soo into his prodigy, he saw himself in Baek Hee Sung, and together they wreaked havoc in name of their curiosity. I saw Mindhunter awhile ago, and when killers talk about “curiosity” it has a whole other level of scariness.

Has a relationship between master and devil ever ended well? The Master must go down in order for the devil to prevail, that is a forever rule of evilness. And we know how it ended in their case as well. I truly feel sad for Baek Hee Sung, I wanted to see a good side of him, as there is no evilness born without goodness.

Final thoughts and verdict


Director Kim Chul Gyul summed up the series perfectly saying,

“This drama has a ton of hidden contrasts. Most notably, the contrast between good and bad, lies and truth, love and hate, and though this is a slightly different concept, the contrast between melodrama and thriller. I think the way these conflicting ideas are all in full force creates the tension that becomes the strength that carries the plot.” - (Source Soompi, read full article here)

Flower of Evil was one of the easiest series to watch, and when I say easiest, I mean it is free from planning-plotting, love triangles, hatred, and jealous exes. In other words, this show wasn’t a heart burn for people like me who cannot see unrequited love, bear second lead syndrome or tolerate crazy exes. With each episode having precipice type endings, the next episode picked up the same pace of teeth clenching moments as the previous one. 

I will like you a lot from here on out!
I’ll be good to you!
I’ll teach you everything you don’t know! 


- Cha Ji Won

_______________________________________________________________________

I finally took one step towards you!
I’ll be good to you!
I'll like you for real!

- Do Hyun Soo

Lee Joon Gi's performance in the series is another milestone in his acting career. Playing such a steep character he literally made the audience worried of suspecting him as a bad person. With those sharp eyes, that he rolled in various scenes, gave me goosebumps. The role demanded a craziness like Joker but at the same time it had to be gentle, kind, deceiving and he did a fantastic job in doing so. From playing a person suffering from “emotionlessness” to a husband with a kind heart and a lovely father, he exceeds his own excellence. So as a viewer, we are waiting for his next project to be no less than a masterpiece. Regarding Moon Chae Won, her character I loved the most this year after Nana’s In to The Ring. Moon Chae Won outperformed her character in every way. And I truly salute the writer for creating such a mature and daebak character. 

At the end of series, Kim Ji Hoon  really came out as a shining star, many will hate me for liking him, but as an actor he transformed into his character with such earnest dedication and his acting skills gave me goosebumps. He was truly a “sleeping villain” that shined the most. I loved Kim Ji Hoon's transition from going straight handsome to hunk. 

Flower of Evil truly embodied the meaning of its name and showed us that humans are not simply black and white, they cannot be divided in right and wrong instead they are made of emotions, the core state of human nature. The mere relationships that we take as granted are always the reason of our existence. Flower of Evil cements the very core of relationships in form of a husband, wife, daughter, son, friend, brother, sister, and above all, as a human,  the origin of both - evil and good

For those who haven’t watched the series yet, get into your pajamas, fold up your sleeves - wait...its October already - roll yourself in the warmest quilt you have and binge it over the weekend. I promise, this will be your best thriller packed weekend ever!

Be healthy and stay safe, we are in difficult times, but just as Do Hyun Soo, took one step forward towards his happiness, we are going to be fine, as long as we put up a good fight to make all odds even. 

Score:

Flower of Evil is available on various streaming platforms both paid and free. 


Read final goodbyes of our four main characters from their seven-months long amazing journey

“The story of Flower of Evil finally ended after seven months. To be honest, when we first started, I felt a lot of pressure about whether I would be able to portray this role well. Thanks to the director, writer, staff, and fellow actors, I was able to wrap up the drama with success. Above all, I was able to finish the drama with more energy because of the viewers who enjoyed and cheered for Flower of Evil. I sincerely thank you from the bottom of my heart. Although every project is memorable, I think this drama will last a long time in my mind. I would like to thank everyone who loved Do Hyun Soo and Flower of Evil , and I love you all!”
“We’ve been working for three seasons from the warm spring to the the cool autumn, so I still can’t believe Flower of Evil is about to end. Since I did my best, I think it will be remembered as a project that is more rewarding than ever. I would like to sincerely thank the viewers for loving the drama. As much as I wanted to express Cha Ji Won’s character and emotions as perfectly as possible, there were some difficult moments. But thanks to the viewers’ love, I was able to overcome them successfully. I was very happy to meet director Kim Cheol Kyu, writer Yoo Jung Hee, the crew, and the cast. Please look forward to the final episode of Flower of Evil.”
“I received an unexpected amount of love, and I was very happy. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all the people who made this drama together and to the viewers who loved watching it. The last episode of ‘Flower of Evil’ is finally airing tonight, so please stay with us until the very end.”

“Thanks to the enthusiastic love and interest of the viewers, we were able to wrap up the drama successfully and safely. I hope the viewers will cheer up during this difficult time and that this drama has been able to comfort them. Thank you.”0

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