Black (Korean: 블랙; RR: Beullaek) is a South Korean TV series that was released in 2017 as an OCN original series, that was later added to Netflix in its ever growing list of Korean Drama. Here are some basic facts about the series before I get into my review:
Episodes: 18 episodes with an average length of 1 hour 40 minutes
Maturity Level: 18+ (Violence)
Review: (SPOILERS AHEAD)
The story is about a grim reaper, #444, who has occupied the body of a dead police detective Han Moo Gang, to find his runaway partner. While searching for him, he meets Kang Ha-Ram, who has the ability to see how and when a person will die. 444, now called Black by his two grim reaper comrades and Moo-Gang/ Joon Oppa by Ha-Ram, gets tangled in several murder cases , which he must now solve because of his growing love for Ha-Ram, a human girl.
That being the basic plot, there are several plots within plots of the story and it makes for an interesting watch. After I finished the series, I sat and thought for a while, about the impact that the series had on me. Let me get on with the analysis first. There are spoilers ahead so please proceed with caution. If the summary has interested you, go on and watch the series and resume from here. For your reference, I highly recommend this series and I rate it 9/10.
As I said in the summary of the show, #444 is a grim reaper who has possessed Moo-Gang’s body to find grim Reaper #416, when he realizes that Moo-Gang was a detective when alive. When he meets Ha-Ram, he realizes that he can harvest her ability to find #416. Ha-Ram mistakes Moo-Gang to be Kim Joon/Han Moo-chan, and hence agrees to help him. Joon was the elder brother of Moo-gang and Ha-ram’s childhood crush, but Joon was killed in a car accident 20 years ago, a fact that Ha-ram does not know.
The then alive Moo-gang had joined the force to investigate his brother’s death and Ha-ram was also trying to find her father’s murderer. When Black started living as Moo-gang, he gets entangled in these cases. As he is attacked several times and Black cannot let Moo-Gang’s body die again and again, he decides to solve the case once and for all. The back story for the murder cases in two decades ago and the murders in the present are related in a very complicated way, and this takes up almost all the episodes in the series. The murder case is complicated and horrifying in a way that makes grim reapers look normal. Now that Black is involved, he uses his supernatural abilities to solve the cases and soon all the covers fall one by one. But in the process, he falls in love with Ha-ram and ends up paying a big price for it.
Although there are supernatural elements and that is what attracted me to the series in the first place, there is actually a very small part that the outworldly elements play in the series. Most of the series is actually devoted to solving the crimes, making it more of a crime thriller or mystery rather than a fantasy series. I may put it like this, the Seoul police department support team has some cases to solve and it just happens that their team member, Moo-gang is a grim reaper and his acquaintance happens to foresee death, thus making their job a little easier. The story almost entirely revolves around Black as Moo-gang solving the cases and sometimes it felt that his team was there for comic relief. Except for Gwang-gyun who actually did some work, even though he had his own comic moments. In the end when the main cases were solved, I did not feel a resolution even as the main culprit was revealed. The “sub ordinate culprits” were unexpected and those puzzle pieces fit in the story nicely expect for the final piece.
As Black adapts to his human body and the human world, he realizes that he actually cares for Ha-ram. This romantic pull between the two protagonists is portrayed very beautifully. Black blatantly refusing to accept human emotions in the start to sacrificing himself for Ha-ram’s sake at the end, that journey itself is worth watching. Song Seung-heon has played the part exceptionally and unabasedly I will admit that I like such male characters, the ones with cold exterior with an extremely caring interior. There is such joy in watching such characters coming in terms with their own emotions. However I wish Ha-Ram’s character was explored a bit more. She simply ended up being a mere plot device, as the human girl that a grim reaper falls in love with. She could have been more involved in the supernatural aspect of Black’s life. It turns out that Black was none other than the spirit of Kim Joon serving as Grim Reaper, because he did not know the truth about his own death. This fact combined with his love for Ha-Ram lead him to take a decision, which resulted in his existence being wiped, sort of a divine punishment. Black accepted it because he thought that his non-existence will make Ha-Ram’s life normal. Now here I am a bit confused and dissatisfied. I will tell you why.
If Black would have been honest with Ha-ram, I am sure she would have been able to accept the fact that Black was Joon oppa returned. And I am sure she would have liked to know the reason behind her abilities as they have almost always made her life miserable. And this in turn would have stopped Black from killing a human, which led to the punishment. I also think that had this been the case Black would have lead a happy life with Ha-ram.
Alright, let’s accept that things went as they showed in the series. That leads to my question that if Joon Kim never existed in the first place and Ha-ram never had the ability, then what happens to tge murder cases? There is the possibility that those crimes were never solved as it is only because of their supernatural abilities that the cases were solved in the first place. This point itself negates the entire plot of the series. Which means that the murderers are roaming scot-free. At least that is what I think and shudder at the thought. There are other potential plot holes and question but let’s not delve into that. Or maybe I can make a separate post about the ending, that have been analyzed thoroughly and also possibly suggesting an alternate ending. If you would like me to do that, please leave a comment below.
As I have said before, the series is very interesting. It will keep you both hooked and frustrated. 18 episodes of 80 mins seems a big time investment but definitely watch it once. And a side note: Do not make the mistake of thinking that this is the complete story, even though I have revealed some major spoilers, I assure you that that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Published by ankitakhataniar
A Sapiosexual creature who prefers the dead of night, the thrill of cold creepy air, wintry mornings and the company of a bookView all posts by ankitakhataniar
Is Black Korean drama worth watching? ›
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A Grim Reaper, a detective and a woman who foresees death get ensnared in matters of life and death -- and dark mysteries of twenty years past. Watch all you want.Does Amazon Prime have Korean series? ›
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Is Black Kdrama sad ending? ›
But Leo says it's actually a happy ending, since the Reaper erased memories of him so that the woman he loved could have a happy life. Leo gives her what he calls a Halloween present, and Ha-ram opens it up to reveal the red string bracelet she had once made for Joon.Does black Kdrama have a happy ending? ›
The ending we have, while cliché for many, is still not a happy ending and still leaves heartache in its wake as the audience watches Black (Song Seung-Heon) and Ha-Ram (Go Ara) walk toward the afterlife.Is there any Romance in Black? ›
Black follows the story of a Grim Reaper who comes into the world of the mortals and finds himself falling in love with a woman who can foresee death.