Hancinemas Drama Review Man Who Dies To Live Episodes 1 2

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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 1-2

Count Said Faid Ali (played by Choi Min-soo) is The Sheik- not literally, but that's the character type he aspires to. Such clichs about the Middle East are more than a little antiquated. It's hard to escape the sheer cartoonishness of Count Said Faid Ali's supervillain palace, complete with sexy women in blasphemous swimsuits that couple headscarves with cleavage. By the end of the sandstorm it's pretty thoroughly established that Count Said Faid Ali is from a pretty weird world.

...But actually, Count Said Faid Ali is from Korea. Once that's explained, we move into the world of Ho-rim (played by Sin Seong-rok), a nebbish bank employee. He struggles with trying to resign from the job that he hates, and can't even stand up to his wife Ji-yeong (played by Kang Ye-won) when she tries to take the family on an unwanted vacation. Take note, though, that Ho-rim never comes off as a particularly sympathetic.

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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 3-4

The other Ji-yeong (played by Lee So-yeon) is, at present, the most likely suspect for Count Said Faid Ali's daughter, although this is based on limited information. Count Said Faid Ali's information is filtered through Abdullah Mohammad Waliwala (played by Jasper Cho), and we've been getting hints that he is not to be trusted. It's just that Count Said Faid Ali is too eccentric to notice. Observe his bizarrely complicated plan for eventually meeting his daughter that in the short term just involves spending a lot of time with Ho-rim.

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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 5-6

We get some much needed "awww" here as the married Ji-yeong and Ho-rim get a cute moment together. Because I mean really, "Man Who Dies to Live" skirts dangerously close to having us straight up root for their divorce. It's comforting to know that Ho-rim does, indeed, have some positive qualities. It's just a shame that in his greedy quest for money and power Ho-rim must tell increasingly bizarre and elaborate lies in order to guarantee Count Said Faid Ali's continued interest in the bank.

How much Count Said Faid Ali even cares about his money is actually surprisingly unclear. He just seems to toss it around at random. Cartoonish figure that Count Said Faid Ali is, it's hard not to see the obvious satirical undertones. The South Korean characters, like South Korean society in general, are obsessed with financial success in a way that's not terribly healthy. But Count Said Faid Ali, who was not in South Korea when this cultural shift happened, has a profligate attitude toward that astounds everyone he runs into.

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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 7-8

So you know that trope, that comes up in dramas where a character is searching for their lost parents/child, where they run into each other by accident and talk about family issues? Yet somehow, the conversation is always just vague enough that they don't make the obvious connections? "Man Who Dies to Live", to my great relief, does not fall into this bad writing trap. The other Ji-yeong quickly realizes she is not Count Said Faid Ali's daughter, and the conflict continues from there.

The other Ji-yeong is not really a bad person, although it's pretty clear at this point that she isn't a good person either. All of the other Ji-yeong's actions after learning the truth are clearly designed to act as a salve to her badly bruised ego. On the one end it's easy to feel sorry for her, since the other Ji-yeong is in legitimate emotional anguish every time we see her alone. But on the flip side, starting up a scam based on a lie is the worst possible way to try and solve that problem.

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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 9-10

Right away a brief soliloquy makes it clear that yes, Count Said Faid Ali is suspicious about the other Ji-yeong although as is to be expected, his reasoning takes the form of an obscure fairy tale rather than real world standards. Which works, oddly enough. We already know that the other Ji-yeong isn't really motivated by money anyway, so it's not like trying to suss the situation out logically would be of much use.

The way "Man Who Dies to Live" is able to to come up with reasonable character motivations from entirely emotional situations is quite impressive. Usually when characters starts thinking overly emotionally, that's the part where they start to feel artificial and unreal. But the eccentric behavior works in "Man Who Dies to Live" because the entire overriding situation is so inherently strange that mere spontaneous character reaction is quite convincing.