Ashna Susan Varkey, Delhi
Beyond Evil is a psychological thriller K-Drama that aired in February 2021. It stars Shin Ha-kyun and Yeo Jin-goo in the lead roles. The drama was critically acclaimed and received 7 nominations at the 57th Baeksang Arts Awards, and won 3 – Best Drama, Best Screenplay, and Best Actor bagged by Shin Ha-kyun.
Now, there have been many thrillers in the past that have blown our minds, captivated us, and taken our breath away with plot twists. The question here, with “Beyond Evil,” is how it undoes all the learned tricks of a thriller. I would especially like to applaud the women behind the scenes, writer Kim Soo-jin, and director Sim Na-yeon, for their marvelous work. The show could have quickly fallen into the traps of typical makjang, but the genius of the creators behind it quickly decided to build something beyond our expectations. Personally, I started watching the show because of Yeo Jin-goo and the cameo role of Lee Do-hyun. But I stayed and watched every episode ardently for Shin Ha-kyun’s acting brilliance. There is no doubt in saying that the character of Lee Dong-sik is beyond words, and Shin Ha-kyun breathed life into him. There are obvious reasons for watching this thriller. We need to understand why “Beyond Evil” stands out as the best K-drama of 2021 for that we’ll be looking at four major aspects.
Where to even begin, the casting is just perfect. The story gives enough screen time for each character to shine and have their moments. Lee Dong-sik is our main character. Simply put, he is a very difficult person, but we cannot stop wondering who he really is. We don’t know if he is innocent or playing innocent. His smile is eerie, it gives you goosebumps. His eyes have seen so much, and he is still searching for the truth. Shin Ha-kyun embodied the soul of Lee Dong-sik, and there are moments when you cannot fail to feel his genius craftwork. Each character has its own demons, secrets, and motives, but it is still grounded, relatable, and human. Han Joo-won, played by Yeo Jin-goo, is an elite, morally upright detective. He doesn’t trust anyone and is facing his own demons. His precision, calculative nature, and his family background make him too good to be true. You will root for him, as his decisions and feelings are in the right place.
Picture Credits: MyDramaList
Yoo Jae-yi is the owner of the Manyang Butcher Shop. The drama introduces her as a woman who is still in search of her mother. She is an emotional and relatable character in the whole show. The character is very well delivered by Choi Seung-eun.
Park Jeong-jae is the closest friend of Lee Dong-sik and also the most complex and difficult character in the whole show. The person and his past make us question our morals and judgments. Played by Choi Dae-hoon, the character growth of this character is something necessary to mention and applaud.
Lee Chang-jin, played by Heo Sung-tae, is the CEO of JL Construction, and is portrayed as a unique as well as intriguing character in the drama. Unlike traditional villains, he doesn’t engage in dramatic acts or deliver intense dialogues. Instead, he quietly plays his own game, adding an unexpected twist to the storyline.
The director Sim Na-yeon is a genius. She definitely knows how to tell a story without many shenanigans. She takes her own sweet time to put the puzzle pieces together. All the confusion that the viewers have in mind, is taken into consideration and answered to. She has left no scope for plot holes. Some of the shots taken, to tell the story that took place 20 years ago, are commendable. In every episode, viewers are left to wonder what the truth might be and what could be the possibilities. She also leaves us to think about moral and ethical questions which makes us wonder ‘what is right?’ One can tell that the director has taken her time out planning each and every scene. She has crafted something in such a way, that even if one wants to find loopholes they will not.
The last few minutes of each episode make you feel agitated and make you believe that you know what is going to happen. Then the director brings you down to make you realise, no that is not it. You are not even close, and makers immediately brings in an arc you cannot dispose of easily.
Lee Dong-sik is a capable detective who works at the Manyang Police Substation in a small city. A serial murder case takes place, and this case is similar to the serial murder case that took place 20 years ago and changed Lee Dong-sik’s life.
Now, the story seems easy and pretty much seen and heard of. But the uniqueness lies in the delivery of the story. The writer is exceptionally smart to have created such a wholesome tale with the right amount of confusion, crescendos, and cliffhangers. Storytelling is an art, and this writer knows how to create art. The main focus of the story is, ‘who is the monster? Is it you or me? Aren’t we all monsters?’ It presents some moral dilemmas and we as viewers can’t help but wonder what we would have done if we were faced with the same situation. It focuses on all the characters one by one, bringing each one under suspicion, and giving enough insight into their individual stories. The writing is incredible and polished. There is no doubt that the writer planned the plot delicately, and every detail was given much thought and importance.
The drama’s music score, composed by Ha Geun-young, creates the perfect ambiance for the thrilling storyline. Each piece of background music blends seamlessly with the narrative, aiming to emotionally connect with the audience. Noteworthy tracks like ‘The Night’, an orchestral pop with a hint of Trot, along with ‘Beyond Evil Opening Title’ and ‘My Name is Lee Dong-sik’, leave a lasting impact on viewers. The meticulously curated music and background score cannot be ignored.
In summary, Beyond Evil is a compelling show that is worth your time and energy. While it may not be an easy watch, it demands your attention to every detail and doesn’t spoon-feed you. However, the payoff is worthwhile, as it has the potential to become one of your top 5 favorites. Have you seen this K-Drama? If not, then we highly recommend! If you have, let us know your thoughts in the comments.