Long time no see! I apologize for my extremely sporadic posting. Recently I conquered midterms and also went to the BIGBANG Made Tour in Newark, New Jersey. (It was fantastic—feel free to ask me about it or hit me up if you were also there!) Anyway, yesterday was the first day I actually had time to sit down and breathe for a moment. So, I’m back with a fresh new drama that I’ve been anxiously awaiting. I love a good mystery/thriller and I didn’t want to miss out on the possible spookiness that The Village could potentially be serving up.
The drama opens in Montreal, Canada in September 2014. People freely roam the streets and all appears well—that is—until a body is seen plummeting toward the pavement. The citizen meets an unfortunate end marked by the blood splatter resulting from the injury. The deceased turns out to be a window cleaner, grandmother of a now frantic So Yoon (Moon Geun Young) who’s come to identify the body at the hospital morgue. So Yoon is her only family, and she weeps over the sight of her lifeless grandmother. The scene changes to an apartment the two family members shared. An assortment of pictures spanning a large range of time hint at the possibility that So Yoon was mostly raised by her grandmother. So Yoon packs up their belongings.
Among them is an airmail envelope containing a newspaper article titled, “Passenger Car Collides with Truck. Entire Family Wiped Out.” It triggers a flashback of the accident where a car is seen flipping over with two young girls looking horrified in the back seat. She reads the highlighted names aloud, which are her mother, father, nine year old sister, and herself—just five years old at the time. She questions why the article lists her among the dead victims. The only word on the envelope’s return address is “Achiara.”
We rewind even further to August 2013, but we’re now set in the town of Achiara. A young woman (Jang Hee Jin) is seen exiting the bus.
She walks into an art gallery, where artist Yoon Ji Sook (Shin Eun kyung) is hosting an exhibition for her work. Ji-sook notices the woman, but is hindered by her husband’s approach from finding out more about her. Her husband, who’s all smiles, compliments her and makes a fuss over the critics who have come and taken notice of her work. He then leaves to welcome these distinguished guests, while Ji Sook becomes engaged in conversation with some ladies. The unidentified woman from before returns and slips an envelope under Ji Sook’s arm. In the blink of an eye, she disappears, and Ji Sook takes the opportunity to examine the contents of the envelope. Instantly, her expression moves towards outrage and surprise. Inside the envelope is a series of photos depicting the affair of this mysterious woman with Ji Sook’s husband.
Ji Sook looks over at her husband in shock and anger as she tries to keep her composure. The ordeal has her shaken up as she’s seen collapsing to the ground and being helped back up to her feet. The woman watches all of this from a distance.
The woman turns out to be an art teacher named Kim Hye Jin. Hye Jin compliments her young student, who’s mother bursts through the door angrily in the middle of their session. Oh shit. It’s Ji Sook… (Now that’s awkward)
Ji Sook dismisses her daughter from the room so she can have a private chat with Hye Jin, who acts cordially as if there was nothing to be discussed. She begins pouring tea as an angry Ji Sook slaps the photos one by one down on the table in front of them. Hye Jin doesn’t seem very perturbed, in fact it all comes across as very amusing to her. She flashes a smile in Ji Sook’s direction, which is apparently, the final straw. Ji Sook slaps Hye Jin twice as her daughter secretly watches from a distance. Hye Jin smiles once more before finally pulling Ji Sook’s hair wildly (some weaves are about to see their last). The two women continue their vicious brawl as the scene shifts back to So Yoon.
So Yoon applies for a teaching job and by chance stumbles upon a pamphlet for Achiara, which she now realizes is a place. Time shifts again and we now see her presently returning to Korea for the first time in 23 years, stating, “My birthplace, and the place I died. A place that has a secret.”
So Yoon pays respects to her family and tells them about her new job in Achiara. She questions why her grandmother withheld the mysterious letter from her, but doesn’t linger on it for too long, believing that someone has called her there for a reason.
On a rainy night So Yoon rides the bus into Achiara. The news plays a story about the body of a young woman being found and its possible connection to a serial killing. The bus driver sighs, taking note that yet another person has become a victim. The driver inquires about So Yoon’s destination and advises her not to enter the town at night. He references the news report, claiming that a series of “Rainy Wednesday” killings have all taken place in the surrounding area. Another passenger is shown— a male, dressed in dark clothes. He gives off an ominous vibe as he grinds a palm full of walnuts together to produce a loud, grating sound.
So Yoon tries not to make her suspicion of the man obvious, but he definitely gives her the creeps. She exits the bus and notices soon after that he has done the same. In an effort to lose him, she begins walking briskly in the rain. However, he speedily follows her trail, even when she eventually breaks out into a sprint. As she trips, she finds a rusty old pipe and arms herself in preparation for self defense, but he appears to be gone and she’s scared the hell out of a young woman instead.
This same woman, who turns out to be the town pharmacist, takes her inside and gives her some directions to help her navigate the town. She deduces that So Yoon must be the new teacher, since the town is such a small community it’s easy to take note of new changes. So Yoon wonders if the village is safe, but the pharmacist is quick to disclose that there hasn’t been a single crime in Achiara for ten years.
So Yoon moves into her new apartment, which is furnished nicely thanks to the previous owner. She’s abruptly interrupted by her new neighbor (a strikingly odd character) who comments on how young women always seem to disappear. She clasps So Yoon’s hand and asks her not to become one of them before leaving in a flash.
At her new job, So Yoon receives a lukewarm welcome from art teacher Nam Gun Woo (Park Eun Seok). After work, she tries to find out more about her family history, but to no avail. She’s forgotten her Korean ID number, and there’s no record proof of her existence in the country, so the employee rudely claims there’s nothing she can do. As she goes to leave, she hears the sound of the grinding walnuts, but can’t find the source. Instead, she sees a lone walnut rolling across the floor and landing right at her foot (how comforting).
Meanwhile Ji Sook is at the doctor’s office, checking up on her ability to have children. She’s adamant about wanting a child, but when she walks into her husband, Seo Chang Kwon’s (Jung Sung Mo), mancave to have a chat with him about it, he seems rather displeased by the topic. He goes as far as to tell her she’s old and should just give up on the idea since she already has one (what a scumbag). She doesn’t fight about it, which seems like a wise idea. Judging from what we’ve seen so far, the man has a lot of power and is the head of a big steel company.
While on duty, So Yoon chats with a fellow co-worker, who notice’s three high school boys enter a forest-like area. So Yoon offers to go after them and in the midst of doing so takes a tumble. Before she gets up to leave, something catches her eye. The rotten hand of a skeletal corpse (how welcoming). Obviously, she’s freaked out and the police are soon there to commence a crime scene investigation. The corpse instantly becomes the talk of the small town, with everyone fussing and trying to find out more information.
Seo Ki Hyun (On Joo Won) returns to the airport where Ji Sook happily greets him with a warm embrace. As she drives him home, he inquires about his father, to which his mother replies is enjoying his hobbies– even freely remarking that there haven’t been any women problems lately. Ki Hyun sympathetically eyes his step mother, taking care to ask if she’s alright, to which she assures him she’s okay.
Young police officer, Park Woo Jae (Yook Sung Jae) is among the authorities at the scene of the corpse. He’s a bright, energetic and eager young man, who is almost ecstatic to have something out of the ordinary happening in such a peaceful town. Gun Woo goes to the pharmacy to tell Kang Joo Hee (Jang Soyeon) about the discovered corpse. She doesn’t take him seriously, especially since he seems to be in the mood for a make out session. Embarrassed about the idea of being caught by customers, she forces him to move to a more private room while he continues going on about the corpse in between kisses. This turns her right off (though he seems to be rather excited by the topic) and she abruptly ends the session to greet a customer. Gun Woo steals some cash from her as she does so (what a stand up guy).
Ki Hyun sits down to have a chat with his grandmother, who seems enthusiastic about his return. Ji Sook walks in to offer some snacks but is met with ferocious contempt from good ole Grammy. She politely dismisses herself from the room but it doesn’t stop her from overhearing the old bag warning Ki Hyun that she’s a snake going after his father’s fortune.
The family then sits down for dinner and— talk about awkward… The tension could be cut with a knife, but just when we think it couldn’t get any worse, in walks Seo Yoo Na (Ahn Seo Hyun), decked out in the skimpiest clothes imaginable for a girl her age. Grammy’s quick to condemn the child for such risque attire—that is—until Ki Hyun reveals that he’s the one who gifted it to her. Yoo Na’s got quite the mouth and she quickly and confidently shades Grammy, who doesn’t take too kindly to her. Yoo Na then goes on to reveal the story about the corpse to which the entire family awkwardly assumes a deathly silence after which Yoo Na is ordered up to her room.
The next day at school, Yoo Na throws a chair out the class window in anger at the presumption that the corpse is the dead body of teacher Hye Jin. Gun Woo is quick to try and thwart these rumors, and confidently asserts in front of the students that the body is definitely not hers, before escorting a crying Yoo Na out of the classroom.
As Jisook drives her daughter home, Yoo Na voluntarily explains the reasoning behind her outburst at school. She reveals the rumors about the corpse belonging to teacher Hye Jin and asks her mother what she thinks. Jisook replies that she doesn’t think anything about it and Yoo Na asserts her beliefs that her mother is most likely happy that Hye Jin disappeared. Jisook, obviously peeved by such an accusation, slams on the car’s breaks and tells her daughter not to share their discussion with pops and never to mention teacher Hye Jin’s name again.
Woo Jae runs in to So Yoon while she’s on her way home, and recognizes her from being the one who discovered the corpse. He enthusiastically tells her about his mission to solve the mystery behind it, but she’s visibly rattled by the whole situation. Being the cheeky, good natured, young officer that he is, he offers his assistance to her, saying that if she ever needs anything, she should feel free to call upon his services. She asks, “Why?” which throws him for a loop. He answers that it’s his job to take care of Achiara’s residents, but she’s already beginning to walk away. At the last second, she turns around and mentions how everyone who sees her only ends up mentioning the corpse. She wonders if anything could be done to fix it, but poor officer Woo Jae isn’t quick enough on his feet to come up with an answer, causing her to say goodbye and be on her way.
At the steel factory, Chang Kwon begins talking to Ki Hyun about taking over the “family business.” While Ki Hyun was away, the company was in the hands of his Uncle, and Chang Kwon doesn’t want said Uncle to get cozy enough to mistake the company for his own. To ensure this, Chang Kwon has called Ki Hyun home to take the reigns of the company, so he can follow his own ambitions of running for governor.
Back at her apartment, So Yoon’s paranoia has gotten to her. The idea of living in a dead person’s house is beyond freaky, and looking at all the decorations she left behind is becoming too eerie. As she begins desperately stripping the bedding and the walls of all decorations she sees the crusty corpse hand reaching out from the pile of goods. Before she can process the situation, there’s a loud knocking at her door and she struggles with whether or not to answer it. When she finally works up the courage to do so, she’s met with Yoo Na, who looks a little beaten and disorderly. The child says one thing, “Hye Jin Teacher…”
A pretty amazing start to this drama! I think it was very captivating and I look forward to what’s in store. I love the idea of a small town where everyone becomes paranoid and suspicious of each other. We can see that starting to happen now that the corpse has been discovered. I think it will be fun to see how all the characters pan out. Right now, none of them are particularly free of my suspicions, especially that wacko creep Gun Woo. Not sure how I feel about Ki Hyun yet. He seems okay at first glance, but at the same time he’s a little too nice compared to the other characters…which makes me even more suspicious of him. His dad is definitely a first class asshole though. I won’t be too disgruntled if he hits up the grave anytime soon. Same for Grammy. She’s just a little too bitchy toward her grandchild for my tastes. I must say that family dinner scene was pretty hilarious. It reminded me of some of my own holiday dinner experiences to be quite honest. As for the body, I think most people want to say it’s Hye Jin’s but I’m not going to jump to conclusions just yet. You never know what could happen, especially if the drama decides not to take the safe route.