Edited by Yang Young Jun
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
The fact that the drama is about a pseudo-religion in such times got me both curious and worried that it might be just one of those transparent dramas. But Nobody Knows cannot be simply defined as a ‘pseudo-religion thriller.’ What makes this work so popular?
Nobody Knows starts with a serial murder case, in which ‘stigmata’ are left on the victims. Cha Young Jin, who lost her friend to this serial killer and suffered from guilt, became a detective and traces the killer to this day. As she got exhausted chasing the case with no apparent breaks, Seo Sang Won, who claims to be the serial killer, kills himself right in front of Cha Young Jin after killing another victim. The case, which was left as a cold case all this time, seemed to end in vain, but as Ko Eun Ho, a close friend of Cha Young Jin, jumps off from the rooftop of a hotel, the case enters into a new phase.
Between these two seemingly unrelated incidents, there is a connecting point called “New Life Church,” which seems somewhat suspicious. Seo Sang Won was a former pastor of the church, and the chairman and the homeroom teacher of Ko Eun Ho’s school, and even the head of the hotel and foundation are from New Life Church’s orphanage. The person who Ko Eun Ho accidentally saved is also an official of the church. Slowly unraveling the tangled thread between the ‘stigmata’ serial killer and Ko Eun Ho’s attempted suicide, Nobody Knows expands the story by connecting Ko Eun Ho’s incident, which was believed to have been caused by bullying, with various possibilities such as pseudo-religious crimes and murder, raising the curiosity.
The reason why Nobody Knows is compelling is not simply because it’s a drama that is airing in ‘such times.’ Coincidentally, the drama features pseudo-religion as the center of the incident, as if the drama is reflecting the reality, but such a topic is only present to develop the story. The driving force behind Nobody Knows lies in stimulated curiosities of “what will happen next?” and a solid development that answers these questions, heightening the level of immersion.
At first, as the title suggests, ‘nobody knew’ how the story was going to unfold. There was no way to know what serial murder case had anything to do with Ko Eun Ho’s accident, and what the drama meant by “the story of those who try not to be bad adults, even if they can’t be good adults” or “thinking about what the role of an adult is for kids who are treated as outcasts.” However, Nobody Knows did not rush in its development, and soon provides answers to our questions. With a solid narrative and fully answered foreshadowing in the story, the drama always makes the viewers wait for the next story. This is why the work of a genre with a rather high entry barrier can maintain a steady viewer ratings of 9%.
In addition, the actors’ passionate performances are also a key part of the drama. Not only Kim Seo Hyung, Ryu Deok Hwan and Park Hoon, who play the main three characters of Nobody Knows, but also actors who play minor characters add the fun with their impressive performances. Among them, Ahn Ji Ho, who plays the role of Ko Eun Ho, is most noteworthy. As Ko Eun Ho holds the key to the case, if his acting skills did not fully support the role, he will get in the way of the development, but he is currently presenting fine acting as much as prominent adult actors.
However, its slow development can be a significant drawback. The questions of “why did Ko Eun Ho jump?” were finally answered in the 9th and 10th episodes, which were aired this week. However, compared to other thrillers, Nobody Knows may seem a bit uncomfortable from the viewers’ perspective as the narrative tends to drag. As mentioned earlier, the high entry barrier of such genre combined with a complicated story and the absence of penetrating pleasure became the hindrance of the drama.
Now, there are only six episodes left until the end. Ko Eun Ho, who had been unconscious, has finally woken up, and Cha Young Jin is facing a new crisis as she has been caught up by the unexpected past. Will Nobody Knows, which has finished heating up by building a narrative step by step to the point where people are complaining about its slow development, be able to revive the viewers’ expectations once again? Like the title suggests, nobody knows, but I sincerely hope it will.
Verdict: A well-made thriller, featuring a solid script and actors’ passionate performances (7/10)
Editor Yang Young Jun: There is at least one good part in every movie or TV series. A media geek who isn’t picky with genres.