So right away we get an extended flashback wherein Oh Soo as a child learns about the terrible power of the magic tea. But because these scenes are taken from the vantage point of a child, the explanation for why the magic tea is so dangerous is completely dumbed down and censored. Consequently, Oh Soo's journey to find a cure is bereft of context. We can't even guess at loopholes because so far as the script is concerned this tea just kills people, end quote.
Once again this begs the question of why Oh Soo made the tea in the first place, and why he expressed no interest in its abrupt disappearance. I would be satisfied with a pretty cursory explanation here. The main issue is just that without proper worldbuilding it's hard to get very engaged in Oh Soo's goal. There's no dramatic tension, because whatever happens next won't have anything to do with established character skills or relationships.
Even the romance is on pretty shaky ground, since Oh Soo's unwillingness to explain the whole tea problem to Yoo-ri is now putting the woman in highly unnecessary danger. Even granted that we're explicitly told that the accidents can't be avoided via proper preparation, Yoo-ri has a right to know what she's up against. Oh Soo's unwillingness to tell his grandfather what's going on is equally odd, since this is a situation where any possible help is critical.
The one communication breakdown that actually influences character actions in a meaningful way ends up having nothing to do with either. I know Yoo-ri has a habit of getting easily flustered, but even so, what was so wrong with Ga-na's explanation for what Oh Soo meant? I would have much more preferred it if Oh Soo had said something about the tea, since that would be a cryptic riddle that would require serious effort on Yoo-ri's part to make any sense of what happened.
Instead? We get a product placement gag about a smart phone translation program. Oh, and there was also the extended sequence where Yoo-ri comes face to face with a person of interest in the night stalker case while the situation contrives to prevent anyone present from making the necessary breakthrough. Incidentally, the night stalker is an odd character to use as the butt of clumsy secret-keeping comedy. I mean what, are we supposed to sympathize with the guy?
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] "That Man Oh Soo" Episode 13"
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