Ja-won (played by Park Soo-young) is a sinister minister who for mysterious reasons gave Gil-dong a massive burn mark while the younger man was staying at Nok-soo's place. There are clear implications that Ja-won knows Gil-dong is far smarter and more dangerous than he lets on. Yet for all his apparent importance, I have not discussed Ja-won up until now because like so many characters in "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People", Ja-won never seems to do anything with his superior story knowledge.
No joke, Moley (played by Kim Jung-hyun) is better about demonstrating agency, and I wasn't really expecting to see that guy again, now that the character he was a henchman for is dead. So it looks like Gil-dong has left himself with a very unfortunate dead end- a character that hates him, with competence enough to do something about that. All of a sudden that cute stunt to trick Moley into doing Gil-dong's dirty work for him doesn't seem all that smart.
It occurs to me that a lot of "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" is just foreshadowing. It's very good foreshadowing, to be sure, so that even when a curveball appears we can see it implied in the scripts of earlier episodes. The problem is that the drama is mostly wind-up with relatively little delivery. Ja-won has so many flashbacks it's not clear he serves any other purpose in the story except to remind us of important stuff that happened several episodes ago.
Then when we finally do get some action, it's of the subplot variety which only serves to further delay rather than intensify the inevitable confrontation between Gil-dong and King Yeonsangun. This too is a problem because lately King Yeonsangun's scenes only serve to make him more sympathetic. Any time he hangs out with Nok-soo I just end kind of wanting them to get together because King Yeongsangun seems like a nice guy who's available when Gil-dong obviously is not.
And making this such a big part of the conflict in general is kind of a questionable creative choice to begin with. I've nothing against romantic subplots on general principle, but "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" barely even talks about the actual people anymore. You know, the people who Gil-dong is supposed to be saving from the horribly oppressive government. It's hard to believe that used to be such an important plot point when lately it's just various small scale schemes.
Review by William Schwartz
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Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via email@example.com.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 15"
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