First Impressions: Black
OCN has once again given us another intense thriller along the lines of the other popular drama, Save Me—this time with a supernatural twist. The one strange thing about Black is that it is not available on the most common streaming sites like Dramafever or Viki, but is exclusively available internationally on Netflix.
The Girl Who Can See Death
Black is certainly not a drama for the faint of heart. One of the first things I noticed was that the horror and gore aspect of it was much more intense than is often seen on the major broadcasting networks. However, since the plot revolves around death, it makes sense that these aspects wouldn’t be as censored as they are a main staple of the story.
The main characters in the story are Han Moogang (played by Song Seungheon) and Kang Haram (played by Go Ara). Moogang is a police detective who is known for having a very weak stomach when it comes to murder investigations. He first meets Haram at a fast food joint where she works. She attracts attention for wearing dark sunglasses with no explanation, and eventually gets yelled at by her boss and has them ripped off. She comes off as incredibly cold and strange for her behavior, until she turns her head and sees a black shadow attached to a previous customer, who happens to be her ex-boyfriend. She begs him to stay a bit longer, only to receive a horrible response from him as he leaves anyway. What is truly terrifying is that the moment he steps out of the restaurant, he is hit by a bus and dies. It becomes clear that she knew this was going to happen and was trying to prevent his death, but he refused to listen.
This is the introduction to Haram. As the first episode goes on, it becomes clear that she sees the shadow of death attached to people just before they die and wears sunglasses so she cannot see those shadows in the daylight. Her backstory reveals that only her father believed in her ability to see these shadows, and that she was shunned by everyone else for her psychic tendencies.
She ends up crossing paths again with Moogang when she finds herself on an airplane full of dead spirits and throws a fit, not allowing the plane to take off. She is written off as crazy, escorted off the plane, then taken into custody and charged with an act of terrorism for knowing about the tragedy that was to occur.
Moogang is the only one who takes a shot at listening to her and even saves her from a suicide attempt when he suggests they work together to try and stop the deaths that she foresees. The story always has a very grim air to it, so naturally things do not go as expected, even as both Moogang and Haram have virtuous intentions. After a series of events occurs with the two attempting to stop a murder at the mall, one death is prevented in exchange for another. And that other life taken happens to be Han Moogang’s.
Wait, what? So you’re saying that the writers killed off the main character in the first episode? Yes, that is exactly what I’m saying. What makes that moment even more tragic is that Haram realizes that Moogang was her childhood first love and is on her way to the police station to jumpstart his memory of who she is. Moogang is shot on live television; she sees this, along with his police coworkers.
However, the first episode ends with Moogang waking up in the morgue. Yes, you read that correctly. It is clear that something is very different with him, as his personality does a complete 180 that makes him rude, stubborn, and generally disagreeable. There is seemingly no explanation for Moogang’s return from the dead, which leaves everyone especially puzzled as they encounter a man completely different from who they knew.
If you’re into light-hearted comedy or sweet romance, Black is definitely not going to be the show for you. It’s about as dark as dark can get, with a lot of horror along with supernatural concepts. The horror and supernatural aspects can be likened to Hwayugi, but Hwayugi differs in that it’s much less intense in the death arena.
Song Seungheon does an unbelievable job in switching personalities of Moogang post-death. He looks like a completely different man in just about every way possible. His stellar acting caught me totally off guard and was incredibly intriguing since it’s rare to see an actor play two different characters in one episode (oops, is that a spoiler?). That alone was intriguing enough to continue to the next episode to find out where the story was going.
One complaint, however, is that there are a ton of unexplained plot twists that seemingly go on for a long time. While that is a staple trait of thriller, at a certain point it can get confusing when threads of plot are constantly being added without resolution to others, and it seems that Black could be guilty of this.
Regardless, Black has done better ratings-wise than the previous OCN release, Save Me. For fans of horror, thriller, and intense plot lines filled with twists, Black is definitely worth a shot just based on the first episode.