How would the name Cho Pil-yeon (Jeong Bo-seok) be written in Chinese characters? How about "必 (necessity)" for "Pil" and "然 (obvious)" for "-yeon", which adds up to mean "inevitable?" It was pure coincidence that Manbo Plaza collapsed on the day he was at the hearing to be designated a prime minister of the country. However it was only a matter of time that Manbo Plaza, the pinnacle of all shoddy constructions, crumbled to rubbles or his account book of illegal funds testifying to his years of corruption got disclosed.
The final episode of "Giant" reminded two disturbing events of the past, the collapse of the Sampoong Department Store and slush funds accumulated by former presidents both in 1995, implying that those events are no coincidence but a result of all the sins accumulated by people like Cho Pil-yeon for a long time. By revealing the cause to the incidents that remind us so much of other past tragedies in the country, "Giant" depicted on how power and violence influenced the modern history of Korea.
In that sense, the theme of the drama is not quite about good-defeats-evil nor about which character comes out the winner. It is a story of 'giants', or rather, about a history of 'gigantic sinners' that messed with the country's past in its era of development. During the rise of those corrupted 'giants', our history got twisted in the process and such became the basis to where we stand. When Cho Pil-yeon asked main character Lee Kang-mo (Lee Beom-soo) whether he thinks he defeated him, Lee replies that all along his enemy was not Cho Pil-yeon but the world that allowed people like Cho to thrive, showing the era that "Giant" portrayed.
However, while Cho in the drama is gone there are still many Cho Pil-yeon look-alikes still well and alive and occupying the seats in today's National Assembly. Even if it is impossible to punish each and every one of them for their sins we can at least see, learn and forever remember the kind of era they created in the past. Only when those people repent for their sins like Hwang Tae-seop (Lee Deok-hwa) did in the drama can we bid goodbye to the sins of the past. Therefore, as typical as it sounds, it makes sense that all the characters were promised a happy future at the end save Cho Pil-yeon and Lee Sung-mo (Park Sang-min). After all, won't those people who at least struggled to sin less amidst the age riddled with immoral value, need hope of being with a family to move forward? This may be the kind of hope that "Giant", which gave a frank portrayal of the violence of the past but remained faithful to popular codes of drama, wanted to offer to itself. We do not know if a happy ending lies ahead for all of its characters but as demonstrated by "Giant" we need to look back and face our past properly in order to build such a future.
Senior Reporter : Kang Myoung-Seok two@
Editor : Heidi Kim heidikim@
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2015 51st PaekSang Arts Awards