I have a list of Korean dramas that did not reach the part where I sigh and say to myself, “That was one awesome show! I will definitely miss it.” I could possibly write a separate post about all the TV shows I dropped. Lol! Circle, however, was one I could compare to a domineering friend pulling me to the restaurant she wants to go to when I strongly want to eat desserts. And that friend won! Every. Episode.
I am more of a silent viewer watching K-dramas alone and never discussing it with friends who all gushed over Descendants of the Sun and Goblin. This is one form of entertainment that I’d rather keep to myself; I enjoy it in privacy. I guess, not many are like that but I’m sure that there are viewers like me (say, hello!). Circle is the kind which would most likely not get me interested not because I’m not interested in it but because it came out at a time when I did not want to watch anything heavy to the mind (and heart). I have recently been receiving more workload, writing drafts for my poetry books, and trying to have a consistent online presence. I have also just finished reading Great Expectations.
I learned about Circle one day and thought, “Oh! This seems to be interesting. Look at that story line.” Having actor Yeo Jin goo as the lead is also a given. I wondered what difference there is between the two worlds and how these two would intertwine somewhere in the the climax of the show. I also got automatically invested when I learned that the story is about twin brothers looking for each other.
I don’t know why but I have always been so attached to twins. Any story that has twins in it, I’m in! I cannot imagine how emotionally draining this show would be but there I was, looking for Episode 1 and clicking Play. Kayce, you’ve done the right thing. *Pats myself
The First Episode
I was mentally giving the show a lot of compliments as I watched the pilot episode. First, they were able to draw a solid picture of the two worlds. There’s the past which looked very familiar to us and then there’s Year 2037 where General City and Smart City exists. The effort they put in the show to paint two pictures where our twins exist certainly did not look rushed or forced. Also, the two timelines managed to become an emotional backdrop to the storytelling. Wondering how everything would connect somewhere in the show, I gave in and watched all episodes.
Walking in Circles (The feels!)
This show is one of the very few that managed to leave me so hyped up and curious every single episode. Each episode was a gem on its own. I cannot remember a time when the story seemed to be written without much thought. Also, a plot like Circle’s has the tendency to be exciting at first but lacking towards the next half of the show. Fortunately, that was not the case. Each episode was divided into two: Year 2017 and Year 2037. The two parts were almost always on par. As a writer myself, I give this show a round of applause for being able to be like Libra: balanced. There were times, of course, when one part felt more exciting and crucial than the other but even that added to the tension of the show and it pulls you to just hang in there for there’s so much more. Watching the show made me ask so many questions:
What exactly makes Beom Gyun too invested in the idea that Byul is an alien?
Who in the world is Human B’s chairman?
Who is Bluebird and what drives him/her to act against Human B?
What happened to Ho-soo’s girlfriend?
Where is Byul from?
Is Woo jin a clone? If yes, and with original Woo jin’s memories intact, does he have the same emotions that original Woo jin has? (A strong part of me agrees with Beom gyun’s concern that “this Woo jin is not the same Woo jin I was with in my childhood”.)
Who are behind Human B?
How will the twin brothers meet?
So many questions!
I love how this show managed to not just build two convincing worlds but to also create within it an ensemble of characters that are memorable and are very human in sometimes their most inhumane way. I say “inhumane” because the show emphasized on “memories making us who we are”. They are a product of the world they live in but are also active in coping up and fighting. The twin brothers come from a mysterious childhood in which a young woman whom they call “Byul” seemed to be responsible for the questionable circumstances surrounding them. Byul is a young lady who appeared in the twins’ childhood and lived with them as one who was thought to be an alien. In the present day, she is Jeong Yeon. She cannot remember who she was prior to her 18th birthday. All she knows is that she is Jeong Yeon, her father is Professor Han, and that she is eventually connected to the brothers. In the 2037 timeline, she lives as Jeong Yeon who goes by her hacker name, Bluebird. I love how the show emphasized on the concept of Memory through these three characters. There is Beom gyun who lost his memories and have lived his life as Kim Joon hyuk. There is Woo jin who left his memories through videos which Bum gyeon watched at some point in order to recall his identity. And then, there’s Byul, whose memories are crucial to the development of a new technology that can create a Perfect World but would rather not remember those because of the danger that lurks within once unlocked. There are so many conflicts within each character that I, as a viewer, wasn’t able to help myself but to sympathize with every one. EVERY ONE! Even the bad guys in the show were not mere evil but had souls in them. Professor Han was terribly astonished by the idea of their discovery and lost his sanity in return. Park Dong geun was dominated by his greed and acted godlike when he got hold of the “star”. Lee Hyun seok was pulled by Park Dong geun’s greed making himself a man who took actions that were always based on someone else’s direction, not his own. Throughout the series, he always seemed like a lost soul to me. And then there’s Secretary Shin who acted like a puppet of Human B all because of her love for her blind sister which was sadly never addressed till the end of the show. Was her devotion to Human B wasted then?
I love how the show made the emotional impact of the story so strong by using its main characters and inflicting them with the turmoil of losing and gaining memories. With Byul, we are reminded of memories we’d rather forget. With Beom gyun, we are shown the fear of losing, the pain in having lost, and the hope in being part of our and other peoples’ memories. With Woo jin, the vitality of memories making us human is widely expressed. I still cannot come to terms with Woo jin being Circle 8 in the last few episodes but taken as a symbolic figure, the latter is a manifestation of someone severely missed and longed and that the memories we leave behind will always be cherished by the people we love. That’s what I felt when I saw Beom gyun and Woo jin (Circle 8) reunite in Episode ___.
The show beautifully closes with Ho-soo’s speech. I love this scene because this guy started as one who worshipped Smart City’s artificial peace. We saw him struggle to the point of almost fainting whenever fragments of his dark memories lurked in his mind. We then see more of him resisting it, threatening Beom gyun for what he believes in, and even begging for his memories to be locked again. And now, this speech! This coming from him is plainly beautiful.
“To the citizens who have had your memories blocked, your memories will return to you. You will feel very confused, possibly even tormented. There are certainly those who will have been made happy through the memory block. However, the result of blocking painful memories have made some forget the wrongs they have committed. And someone else will have forgotten someone who must not be forgotten.
“Please accept the memories that come to you. If you have forgotten something you ought not have forgotten, remember it. And if you have forgotten a wrong you committed, take responsibility for it. And if you have forgotten sadness… if you have forgotten sadness…. I wish for you to feel sadness. Because that is what it means to be human. Finally, no matter what, please remember what happened to us in the year 2037. As of today, Human B does not exist.”
Guys, after the great long emotional ride, I’m glad to see the show ended with a positive note. The lovely thing about its happy ending is that it feels so real although still with an underlying tragedy in its core *Side-eyeing the fact that real Woo jin died (cries). On the other hand, I am giving myself a hug by telling myself to view this as Woo jin’s memories staying with the people he fought for and loved so much. (Ugh! This is so sad!)
The happiness we see in the last episode is far, far away from the peaceful yet artificial happiness that Smart City offered to its citizens. And that is thanks to our Memories.
P.S. Some Random Thoughts
So Byul is indeed an alien? Where exactly is she from?
Since Woo jin is a clone, does his existence have a limit?
I can see hearts popping around Beom gyun and Mi young in the last episode.
Clone Woo jin + Alien Byul falling in love = sounds legit in a fictional world. haha!
Now let me end this post with a picture full of memories…