At long last "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" has dispensed with the tragic backstory and gotten back to what made this drama interesting in the first place- the prospect of elaborate schemes. Now that Gil-dong finally has a good idea of what he wants to, the first step is to use his mighty strength to gain the full respect and command of Amogae's various friends. Then it's a matter of finding the right pressure points on those in power, and striking.
As we have seen in crude displays of power before, if Gil-dong's goal was simply to brutalize people, that would not be very hard. He has the manpower for it. The problem with direct pain, though, is that it's very easy to forget. Indeed, sooner or a later a counter-reaction would flare up, led by people with no reason to be scared of Gil-dong, and they'd crush the whole merry band in a fell swoop.
Hence why Gil-dong ultimately relies so much on gaslighting and terrorism. As has been mentioned time and again in "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People", consent of the governed isn't just a matter of Enlightenment philosophy. The power of the ruling class depends entirely on the ruled class submitting to it in fear of worse alternatives. They have every reason to be scared of the people they rule over, because guess who dies in the event of rebellion? Whoever happens to be the closest person affiliated with the government. That is to say, you.
Nok-soo's story is also a surprisingly effective parallelism. Nok-soo is actually quite smart- but where Gil-dong has belatedly learned there is no negotiating with the system Nok-soo knows, as a pretty girl, that she has some leeway when it comes to her own dream of being a royal consort. That particular system has clearly defined rules. Nok-soo is not likely to be murdered or brutalized just for minding her own business and the farther up she goes, the more proportionate risk there is.
The difference of the systems simultaneously makes it clear why Gil-dong has to fight. Nok-soo's ability to compete on a relatively fair playing field is proof that such concepts can exist in Joseon when the game is not hopelessly rigged in the favor of the wealthy. So overall it's back to the good stuff for "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People". My only complaint at the moment is that, for the alleged true love interest, Ga-ryeong is kind of dumb.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
"[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Rebel: Thief Who Stole the People" Episode 9"
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