TV: Abyss by Moon Soo-yeon

I try to watch a whole Netflix series before reviewing it, but I couldn’t resist coming here to tell you about Abyss. So far I’ve watched five of the sixteen episodes of this South Korean drama. I think it’s just brilliant.

Abyss first aired in 2019 on tvN in South Korea and on Netflix worldwide. It stars actor and singer Paul Ahn and film and tv actress Park Bo-young. Abyss was written by my new favourite scriptwriter Moon Soo-yeon.

What’s it about? Abyss (pronounced Eobisu in Korean) is an alien device that revives the dead in the form of their souls. Warning: I won’t spoil the plot for you, but I will give some details away so that you know what Abyss is about. Look away now if you want to watch the show with no prior knowledge.

The first person the device brings back is thirty-something lawyer Cha Min. In his first life he’s not the most handsome of fellows, but he has a beautiful soul. When he returns he looks like a male model and at least a decade younger.

Cha Min uses abyss to revive his lifelong friend Go Se-yeon. In her first life she’s tall and good looking in a dramatic way. She returns as a much shorter, daintier figure and is also a decade younger. Cha Min tells her that she now has a “common face.”

When abyss is used to bring back a serial killer the result is quite different. Instead of coming back younger this person ages at least thirty years.

As you can imagine, taking on a new form is a tricky thing. Friends and relatives no longer recognise you. It’s also easier to evade the authorities. Scriptwriter Moon uses these issues to add a zesty freshness to Cha and Go’s hunt for the serial killer.

I’m really enjoying Abyss. The story is unpredictable and the characters are engaging. I also like the combination of tones. When Cha and Go are on screen the show seems as light and airy as a romantic comedy. The feel darkens when the serial killer is on screen. Viewers are left in no doubt that he’s a very vicious character.

A final thought. While writing this review I was aware that I was making Abyss sound ageist. The idea that bad people have old souls and good people have young souls could be taken as such! It should be noted that South Korean society is traditionally highly deferential towards older people. The serial killer is able to use his older form to gain respect from those he encounters. By losing years, Cha and Go lose some social capital.

I hope you give Abyss a go. If you want, let me know what you think of it. But no spoilers please! I still haven’t finished the show myself.

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