After posting about the female leads (arguably the epicenters in both shows) I would like to do something similar for the male leads: the characters of Choi Young and Kim Eun-oh or 'Sato'.
|Kim Eun-oh & Choi Young|
At second glance, they do have something in common: Both of them are fundamentally changed by their interactions with the female protagonists. That's a classical KDrama thing, but in both shows, it goes beyond the standard 'rich-jerk-becomes-man-with-heart' or any variation of it. Its fundamental changes in the sense that they fix something that was severely amiss in these male protagonists: Choi Young learns to live and love again, whereas Eun-oh learns to care about others.
In both shows, the transformation has been slow - in a good way. The character growth never felt rushed and was always believably executed (I have many issues with Faith's writers, but the character of Choi Young is not one of them). But even though they might be going through a similar type of change, it affects them very differently.
Choi Young has the far better deal - he is falling in love/is in love, and this transformation is thoroughly good and positive for him. He is 'thawing' - and even though there is heartache ahead (their love is challenged by hundreds of years of time-difference after all), he has been saved from the destitute shadowlands of black despair. Even if he should lose her, he has been saved from the quasi-dead. She eases his suffering - he can smile again. That is truly sweet and I do care for this character; however, I don't care very deeply. I blame the lack of emotions displayed in the first few episodes (or rather, the total blankness and phlegmatism) for that - though he is becoming more and more engaging, I still feel a strange detachement from Choi Young; he's just not my kinda guy.
Eu-oh on the other hand has been forever changed from a seemingly cold, detached bastard into a passionate and caring person (or, rather, Arang has unlocked what was always there, but was deliberately buried), but this very change is the source of his deep suffering. We are not getting the classical KDrama angst in this drama. Yes, there’s jealousy and yes, there’s confessions that have an angsty undertone – but the all-embracing emotion is the absolute certitude of loss. Once you not only know but also accept that someone is going to ‘die’, angst evaporates. You just want to make the last days meaningful for this person; you want to give them everything you can (like shoes, peaches, clothes … but also friendship, or love, or both). He said several times that he is ‘sending her off’ – it’s not a sending off because she is going on a journey, but it’s the last possible sending off 'to heaven'. It’s the final goodbye, and it is unconditional and completely selfless – this is the purest kind of love you can give somebody - and its absolutely heartbreaking to watch.
Though Arang wins over Faith once again, both Choi Young and Eun-oh are great characters because they let us truly care for them. They're not just spoilt brats that need to be given a few clips round the ear, but deeply scarred psychologically by what life has thrown at them. They deserve a better life and they deserve to love and to be loved. Currently, I can imagine (and believe in) a happy ending of sorts in Faith, but not in Arang. Obviously I'm still hoping for one - but the writers have not given us the slightest bit of hope. In fact, they have persistently destroyed all possibilities for a happy ending, the deeper in we get and the more of the mystery unravels. It's probably time I brace myself for the buckets of tears that will come rushing out of my eyes soon.