Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Kim Y.U
There was high expectation for Dark Hole even before the airing. OCN, which specializes in making good thriller series, took a step forward to feature creatures. Also, it created curiosity about the main actor, Lee Joon Hyuk, for his new performance, and the actress, Kim Ok Bin, with her wild image. The setting of sinkholes, black smoke, and mutants was also intriguing. However, unfortunately, expectations have not been met so far.
Dark Hole depicts a sudden sinkhole collapse and the desperate survival when the black smoke from it covers the entire city. As people who inhale the smoke turn aggressively, Muji city becomes a living hell. Few survivors struggle to avoid the black smoke and mutated humans. At the same time, survivors have to face the unexplainable phenomena and the mistrust and extreme selfishness that grows among them.
Dark Hole is composed of various genres and a world in which zombies, creatures, the occult, and the thriller coexist. Firstly, mutants, which lost their humanity, remind us of zombies in The Walking Dead, Train To Busan, etc. In the black smoke that reminds us of The Mist, a hidden monster in the shape of tentacles manipulates the human mind. Secondly, Kim Sunnyeo changes her mind to worship this monster after being abandoned by the god she used to serve. Soon, she creates confusion and chaos between people. Meanwhile, detective Lee Hwa Sun arrived in Muji city to track down the serial killer, Lee Soo Yeon, who murdered her husband.
Although it combines many things that each genre fans might fall in love with, it fails to provide a unique charm of its own. In fact, too many factors of the settings make people hard to get immersed in the show. The development of the story is distracting, and various conflicts are even tiring. The presence of the murderer who brought Lee Hwa Sun to Muji city is not strong enough to draw attention. Even the episode of the cult seems to be contrived. Furthermore, the shaman who instigates people seems to keep the narrative slow when it needs to be accelerated.
The intention is understandable. As director Kim Bong Joo explained, “The story is about what people in crisis will do to survive and what values they will try to protect.” The drama focuses on depicting human nature under extreme circumstances. Mutants can be good examples. People who inhale black smoke become violent and turn into mutants as they get hallucinated by their internal repressed memories or fears. However, Lee Hwa Sun does not fall into trauma even after breathing the smoke. Instead, she takes the lead in helping people.
It brings out the evil nature of man through the characters of the shaman, school boards, murderer, and an expelled student. In a time of crisis where fear grows, the shaman takes advantage of the crowd mindset to deceive people. The board chairman controls everything with power only for himself, and the sociopathic killer plays with fear. Also, the expelled student expresses the inherent weakness with anger and madness. On the other hand, Lee Hwa Sun, Yoo Tae Han, Choi Seung Tae, and Han Dong Rim tried to survive together despite the difficult circumstances. However, the contrast between good and evil is so clear that the conflicts and confrontations of survivors lost their novelty.
The fact that the main characters, Lee Hwa Sun and Yoo Tae Han, move separately is another reason why it’s hard to concentrate. The two, who had their first encounter in the sinkhole, soon go their separate ways in Muji Hospital. Lee Hwa Sun goes to help the nurse who she met at the hospital. And Yoo Tae Han goes to find a friend, Na Young Sik. Then, each joins survivors at each school and hospital. Although the two situations are different, it gives unnecessary distraction in the repetitive structure where the people face the internal struggles and survive against the black smoke and mutants. The series could have shown various aspects of the individual and delivered the fun in the disaster series without dividing the story into two groups.
To sum up, excessive settings of the story have failed to boost the interest of the viewers. The process of a human turning into a mutant itself contains a critical message but repeating it in various forms makes the fun and tension disappear. Doctors experimenting with patients to find a cure seems to be far-fetched. The series aired 8th episode out of the 12 episodes. However, it is highly likely to remain an unintriguing series that has only tried one thing or another.
Verdict: A failed storytelling with too much information (5/10)
Editor Hong Hyun Jung: K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.
Translator Kim Y.U: Welcome K-pop, K-drama, K-movie, K-culture fans. I hope you enjoy our news about K-entertainment.