Every drama involves conflict, or else it's just a grocery list. But what makes a character a villain? Can a villain be redeemed, or once a villain, always a villain? Join Stephanie, Aunnie, and me, Cici, as we discuss the nuances of villainy found in this week’s episodes of Hidden Identity.

Cici: So...Teacher Jung. He was definitely a bad man but...I really liked him. He was such a charming villain. *sniff* Is there any chance that he was just shot with a tranquilizer gun???

Stephanie: Well, if detective I want to stay in harm's way can live through his death, I guess anything is possible?

Aunnie: I have a hard time not liking a villain when they so obviously love their family. And despite him being a meany the first two episodes, he totally made up for it by loving his family.

Cici: Yes! And my opinion of him is in no way based on the fact that he’s the best-looking villain I’ve ever seen in a Kdrama. Really. With great fashion sense. That ironic half smile, the shaggy hair set off by just the right amount of facial scruff...nope, those things didn’t influence me at all. And dimples. Did I mention dimples?


Aunnie: Suuuure Cici...I hear the oogly eyes in your writing...

Stephanie:The best and most effective villains are those who have crunchy layers. While you don’t want your viewers to root for him, it’s best if we can see why he is doing what he is doing. I personally hate a big bad who is just that, a big bad for no rhyme or reason.

Aunnie: You mean...like the Ghost?

Cici: Stephanie, you’re right. And while I never went so far as to root for Teacher Jung, I did hope he could be...reformed? Brought out of the Dark Side and into The Light? I really appreciated the nuances of his character--one minute he’s telling Gun Woo that killing gets easier the more you do it, and the next he’s risking everything to see his daughter. And he really did get some of the best lines.


Stephanie: You know what I wonder? That scene in the elevator, when he found out that the detective had actually survived and he lived, do you think he was a little (very, very, very little) relieved? He had also, just for a flash seemed regretful when he was ‘killed’.

3_59-14 HesAlive.jpg

Cici: Yes! See? He smiled when he found out that Lieutenant Kim was alive! Now doesn’t that look like a genuine smile?

Aunnie: Actually,yes. I agree with that thought. It felt like the writers were trying to make a distinct difference between the "bad guy" and the "villain". Teacher Jung vs. Ghost and they did it really well, although how much of that has to do with a crying child screaming that her dad isn't a bad person, I'm not sure. Haha.

Stephanie: I did have a little issue with how easily they were willing to use the little girl, but I guess that goes along more with last weeks chat on how they are willing to do and to use anything to reach their goals. I was really surprised that they killed off Teacher Jung so quickly in the story.

Aunnie: Even vigilantes must be villains, I guess. You know, when they aren't totally being obvious about catching the villain. . .

Stephanie: We also had the, I guess she’s not so much a villain so much as a minion? She is doing bad things for bad people, but we have her backstory--I’m hoping we’ll find out more about her and why she is working for team baddie. OH! Wouldn’t it be great if they recruited her??

Aunnie: That's kind of where I see it going and I figure she's with Mr. Baddie McBad because blackmail is a wonderful and effective incentive.

Cici: So the Mermaid had me a little confused.


Cici: Apparently she is working for the baddies in order to get revenge on the guy who hit her car and turned her into a person who can’t walk--which is where she got the nickname Mermaid, right? So once the thugs killed off the guilty party, her payment to Ghost was hacking into NIS and planting a Trojan Horse?

Aunnie: oh was THAT the plot...I admit to being confused too.

Stephanie: Laugh! Thanks for clearing that up for me too. I had gotten a little lost as to who the dead guys were in the tunnel. So I guess if she actually did cause the deaths of those guys, she can’t really be on Team Good (in my head I was planning all sorts of plot ideas…)

Cici: See, I think she could totally be recruited. She may have made a deal to have the guy eliminated, but she didn’t actually kill him...Plus there was that bit where Gun Woo talked to her about understanding why she doesn’t want to live because she couldn’t change anything. He gets her suicidal revenge motivation because he’s been there himself. And they recruited /him/, right? I really want her to be the Ahjumma of this drama. After Healer, we all know every investigative team needs a genius hacker backing them up, right?


Aunnie: That would be great but I don't know if anyone can replace THAT hacker!

Stephanie: No, probably not. But I’m thinking where she actually caused someone's death, do you think, legally, she would be allowed to join up? Wouldn’t she have to pay for what she’s done no matter how much you feel for her?

Cici: Ah, but that’s the beauty of the Hidden Identity Team. She wouldn’t even need a false identity--she’s already in trouble with the law, lol. Okay, you’re probably right, given the penchant Koreans have for taking responsibility. It was just a silly little dream…

Aunnie: She can't be any worse than the doofus with the federal government who wouldn't listen to Team Leader Guy--they let HIM on the team.

Stephanie: How much do you want to bet that the government is actually involved with team bad? Isn’t that how it ALWAYS goes down? Like who the fudge was in the car talking to Team Leader? Now those are the sorts of villains that I hate! They get no backstory they are all just “I’m eeeevil…” (followed by a bwahahahahha….)

Aunnie: haha The King Joffry's of Kdramas!

Cici: Actually, I suspect the doofus who tried to stop Team Leader from pursuing Teacher Jung may be in cahoots with the baddies. That, or like the Director says, he’s just an arrogant jerk who knows too little. I loved that line!


Aunnie: I agree. Which would explain why the Director said he needed "friends". Maybe he suspects something as well?

Stephanie: So far this drama has been able to surprise us and not take the easy or usual story route, I hope that we’re wrong and they continue to write better than the same old trope.

Cici: Well, in spite of the occasional point of frustration (Team Leader Jang, I’m looking at you)...


Cici: I’m still finding lots to love. I continue to be impressed with Jang Min Joo and her mad fighting skills and feisty attitude, and the fact that she’s treated like one of the guys instead of devolving into someone’s helpless love interest. I love goofy Sergeant Choi, who breaks all the stereotypes of an action hero with his slightly pudgy physique and aegyo. And I am really impressed with Team Leader Jang Moo Won’s dedication and no nonsense attitude. He doesn’t ask anyone to do anything he wouldn’t do himself. Nobody should mess with that guy.

It’s nice that Gun Woo has a team worthy of him. Villains, you’ve been warned!

So, dear readers, what do you think? Is there a difference between bad guys and villains?  Do great villains or bad guys make a drama even better? And are you, like Cici, secretly pining for Teacher Jung's miraculous return? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Want to hear more from Hidden Identity Drama Club?

Stephanie: KChat Jjigae, Podcast

Cici: @cicikdrama | Triangle | Discovery of Romance | Tomorrow’s Cantabile | The Technicians | Kill Me, Heal Me | Sensory Couple | Producer |

Aunnie: High School Love On | Modern Farmer | The King’s Face | Words of Aunnie