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[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 4

2017/02/07 | 660 views | Permalink

His name finally cleared, Amogae now heads out into the wilderness to become...the leader of an organized criminal enterprise. The morality in "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" really is completely topsy-turvy. It took me awhile to fully appreciate last episode that hey, Amogae is trying to get away with cold-blooded murder, and it's only the overall messed up nature of the situation that makes him sympathetic. Note how the widow seemed to have been angling for petty spite rather than justified revenge.

But anyway, on to the present. Ja-chi (played by Kim Byung-ok) has already signaled himself as a clear co-conspirator in Amogae's scheme- he's the money guy. And also the token noble, which is important since class is such a big deal in this drama. It's Amogae's lower-class compatriots who are new here, even if we've seen them previously, because now they're in close enough focus to have personalities, as befits Gil-dong's inevitable band of merry men.

One class aspect of "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" I rather like is how, for their pittance of a salary, lower-class people have to work way harder and way more dangerously than their upper class contemporaries. Ja-chi is a nice guy, and Amogae isgrateful for his assistance, but in the end, Ja-chi holds disproportionate power over the organization simply by holding the pursestrings. And how is capital maintained in Joseon? Through land ownership, of course, a completely arbitrary concept that lets a person make money literally by doing nothing.

The way "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" focuses specifically on class conflict via economic justice remains its most eminently fascinating design element. It no joke veers surprisingly close to North Korean dramas, of all things, because of the very similar Marxist undertones and explicit lack of sympathy for the upper classes. Amogae is heroic less because he's fighting for some big cause and more because he's a hard worker who values his comrades, loves his children, and wants everyone to succeed.

I have to admit that moments of skepticism notwithstanding, watching Amogae turn small-scale schemes into hugely dramatic endeavors has been extremely entertaining. So I'm actually a little disappointed that the story is going to have to pivot to Gil-dong, who we already know is going to have to fight a giant heroic cause, somehow, when Gil-dong himself remains a largely passive character. I shudder to think what kind of catastrophic political derail will be necessary to force an actual revolution here.

Review by William Schwartz

"Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" is directed by Jin Chang-gyoo (진창규), Kim Jin-man, written by Hwang Jin-yeong and features Kim Sang-joong, Yoon Kyun-sang, Kim Ji-suk, Lee Honey and Chae Soo-bin.

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