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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Man Who Dies to Live" Episodes 11-12


Eun-bi (played by Ko Bi-joo) is the daughter of Ji-yeong and Ho-rim. This, by extension, makes her the granddaughter of Count Said Faid Ali, which makes her yet another useful reference point for Count Said Faid Ali's return to Korea. Count Said Faid Ali lacks family and with it, familiarity. So it's touching to see Eun-bi react with genuine kindness with the (as far as she knows) complete stranger Count Said Faid Ali, especially because it parallels Count Said Faid Ali's own eccentric brand of do-gooding.

And there's always the excuse of the goofy props that Count Said Faid Ali proceeds to wave around with his wild gesticulations in further scenes. Although ridiculous as they may look, there's still further metaphorical meaning. Kimbap is a food that strikes Count Said Faid Ali profoundly in the heart, even as until receiving some of it, he had never really thought much about it since leaving Korea. But with the other Ji-yeong, even complicated business talk can't disguise the obvious boredom these two have with each other.

What makes this especially sad is that Count Said Faid Ali and the other Ji-yeong both clearly want a connection with one another. But it just isn't happening. The other Ji-yeong is selfish and shameless when it comes to what she wants. What's worse, the other Ji-yeong doesn't even care whether the love she finds is a sustainable concept or not. The other Ji-yeong just wants people to obey her on general principle.

We also get a much anticipated look into Abdullah Mohammad Waliwala's dark side too. Like the other Ji-yeong, Abdullah Mohammad Waliwala started out as a marginally sympathetic character. He is the guy, after all, who has to clean up after Count Said Faid Ali. But once Abdullah Mohammad Waliwala becomes sufficiently obsessed, he finds any obstacle that stands in his way morally offensive no matter how obviously creepy his own behavior is.

These dualing subplots, nestled in the larger grand plot of "Man Who Dies to Live", make for an unexpectedly intriguing commentary on adultery and its relation to desire. Divided as the story is into cool successful people and a boring couple who are easily bullied, we would expect the latter to want to be the former. Instead, as Ho-rim gets a better understanding of how painstakingly artificial the other Ji-yeong really is, the more steady progress he makes toward developing a badly needed backbone.

Review by William Schwartz

"Man Who Dies to Live" is directed by Ko Dong-seon, written by Kim Seon-hee and features Choi Min-soo, Kang Ye-won, Shin Sung-rok, Lee So-yeon, Cho Tae-kwan, Kim Byung-ok, Hwang Seung-eon and Bae Hae-sun.

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