So Missing 9 has finally concluded. In the beginning, I wasn’t sure I’d continue on with it, but I stuck it out for a few more episodes and things started getting really interesting. Though there were many plot twists I didn’t see coming, and a number of endearing characters, some episodes seemed to drag on. The mix between comedy and angst occasionally came across as confusing, and the ending has left me wondering what the point of all this was. So, is Missing 9 worth the watch?
[Be Forewarned: Spoilers Below].
Suffers from Occasional Lags: The show definitely had its share of highly engaging moments. The scenes with Tae Ho on the island always seemed to be the most suspenseful and gripping to me (where he kills Sohee, Reporter Kim, and Yeol). I always wondered who he was going to target next, who might be watching, and how he was going to fair once people discovered the truth. Equally suspenseful were the sequences in the present where he would intimidate and chase after his victims (the hospital scene with Ji Ah and Ki Joon, the car scene with Mr. Tae, the fight scene with Bong Hee, etc).
It was also interesting to watch the group betray Joon Oh for various reasons once they returned from the island. What I found most interesting was how Joon Oh ended up being a completely different person from the one he was made out to be in the beginning episodes. Sure, he was selfish and low key stupid at times, but neither the drunk driving accident nor Jaehyun’s death were his fault in the end. This was very telling about the group dynamic, and how easily people are willing to make assumptions despite not having all the facts straight. I was extra surprised by So Hee, who despite knowing Joon Oh was innocent the whole time, was one of the most active members in pointing the finger at him. I also thought it was selfish how she used this information in order to advance her career. In the end, that made me a lot less sorrowful about her death. She clearly felt guilty though, which is most likely why she wanted to commit suicide on the island at one point, and why she visited Joon Oh to apologize when he was unconscious.
Despite these interesting developments, the show seemed to drag on at many points. Particularly, the whole cell phone conundrum seemed to take up an awful lot of time, and yet so little progress was made in the interim. There were many comedic scenes strung throughout, and though many of them provided laughter, a good chunk of them could have been omitted without any loss to the show. Some scenes were also downright boring. I felt the whole hitman plot was just used in order to create tension between Jang Do Pal and Tae Ho, so they could use it later in the finale, but even that ended up being pointless since Tae Ho goes mostly unpunished. The bits between Bong Hee and Joon Oh, while nice, were so numerous, that the show pretty much revolved only around them. There wasn’t much background on the other survivors who returned from the island and I wish we could have seen more of the President’s recovery, Ho Hang’s story, Ji Ah and Ki Joon’s relationship, and definitely the Yeol situation (but more on that later).
Finally, I failed to see the benefits of the whole corrupt prosecution plot. That really just added an extra layer of confusion and frustration to the story. The show would have been much better off ending the turmoil with the press conference and having Tae Ho/Jang Do Pal put in jail than dragging it out and ultimately giving Tae Ho the get out of jail free card. It would have also provided a much more successful and believable happy ending since that seemed to be what they were trying to create in the end. Unfortunately they fell flat on their face with this one, because there was absolutely no logic behind the ending we were given.
Includes some Contradicting or Unrealistic Situations: Moving on, there was a lot happening in the show that made absolutely no sense. There was many a moment when Joon Oh was supposed to be in hiding yet he was out and about yelling, screaming, and making a scene in the streets. If you’re trying to tell me a small black mask is enough to stop people from recognizing him I want explanations for every single accurate dispatch dating article that has come out where idols who were wearing masks were easily caught red handed.
Tae Ho too, seemed to be downright invincible. That man suffered so many lethal wounds yet recovered in a flash, so much so that I was questioning his mortality. He is literally beaten to a pulp several times on the island, falls off a fucking cliff, suffers a stab wound in the lower abdomen (which, if you aren’t aware, is always extremely dangerous since your lower abdomen is where all your vital organs are located), gets ambushed by an entire security team, and still manages to be more spry than ever. Meanwhile, Yeol’s head hits a rock and he’s dead on the spot.
Even without these miracle recoveries, Tae Ho is also freely walking around choking, threatening, hunting, and attacking people in broad daylight, even when his name hasn’t been completely cleared yet. Now I don’t know about you but that is just completely unrealistic. Even when the police release suspects in real life, they still keep an eye on them and the public does too. So even if the police were corrupt in this case, it’s ridiculous to think that not a single citizen would have taken notice of what he was doing. Especially at the hospital. The doctors might have been crooked, but are you trying to tell me that not a single patient witnessed the scene? And if they did are you trying to tell me they didn’t think what they saw was outrageous and worthy of calling 911? I don’t buy it.
Unexplained Motives/Situations: The corrupt Prosecution has to be one of the most mind boggling parts of this drama. They were corrupt, but why? Even though they messed up by originally blowing the investigation in favor of Tae Ho, they could have fixed their mistake by revealing the truth once they had the video recording and true testimonies of the survivors. It was extremely weird how far they were willing to go, how bloody they were willing to get their hands, all to cover up something that could have been much more satisfyingly resolved if they had just admitted their wrongdoings and come out with the truth. There was nothing presented to us that really solidified why they needed to go so far as to falsify the story so corruptly. At one point they even try to frame Bong Hee, which I found utterly ridiculous. That one prosecutor at the very end really had no good reason to be so jarringly unethical. He kind of popped up out of nowhere so the drama could deliver one last final hurdle for Bong Hee and Joon Oh to overcome and it wasn’t even well executed.
Chairwoman Hee Kyung started out as a relatively strong and interesting character, but as time went by I found her more and more boring and not to mention spineless. She lost her backbone once she decided to team up with Tae Ho and ultimately just became another obstacle the drama was using to hinder Joon Oh’s name from being cleared. I felt like her character had wasted potential. They tried to revive her in the end when she miraculously agrees to help Bong Hee in the finale, but at the point it was a day late and a dollar short.
Also, what was up with the ending? Does Jang Do Pal die? It looked like Joon Oh stopped Tae Ho from killing him last minute, but we never actually see him after that scene. Is he dead? Does he get a death sentence, or a life sentence, or what? It seems as though he just disappears from the story all together.
The Lee Yeol Situation: I’ve seen some very angry Chanyeol stans these past few days while browsing twitter and I can’t say I blame them. I myself, am not an exo fan nor a Chanyeol fan in particular. I don’t really have any opinion on them, but I felt Chanyeol performed his role quite well for a first time actor. He was believable and didn’t overact like many idol turned actors tend to do.
But anyway we’re here to talk about his character Yeol who, I think it’s safe to say, everyone found likable and extremely endearing. The problem is that he supposedly dies on the island, according to Tae Ho, who we can’t exactly trust. His body is never confirmed to have been found, which means there is a possibility that he is still out there. I actually thought he was going to come back at some point and play a large role in clearing Joon Oh’s name, but that never happens. In fact, he is largely forgotten. Even So Hee, who died before him, has a much more noticeable presence in the show long after her death. Yeol becomes this long forgotten friend who gets a mere three second shout out by Chairman Hwang in the final minutes of the finale. The chairman simply states, in a rushed interview clip, that they’re still looking for Yeol. It’s honestly baffling how casually they let the ball drop on this one. If they weren’t going to bring him back, they shouldn’t have killed him off so early.
There were actually some leaked photos of Chanyeol that showed him shooting scenes that never found their way into the drama. Clearly, they had planned to include him in later episodes, which makes me wonder why the scenes suddenly got edited out. What did they feel was so important enough to prompt the removal of Yeol’s extra scenes? There were plenty of moments I think they could have trashed in favor of Yeol’s return, so it’s frustrating to see that they abandoned his character completely. A lost opportunity in my book. They played Chanyeol, they played Yeol, and they played the audience by ousting one of their most liked characters.
The Ending: This had to be one of the most illogical and unsatisfying drama endings I have ever been subjected to. There was so much wrong with this ending, but I’m just going to skip to the brunt of it. In the very final scenes, Joon Oh has this desperate heart to heart with Tae Ho, who is just about done choking Jang Do Pal to death so he can prevent his testimony on Joon Oh’s behalf. Basically, Joon Oh tells Tae Ho he’s gone way too far, and that he’ll never find happiness if he keeps dragging this shit out. Joon Oh tells him to let it go and offers to put everything behind him and stay by his side.
Tae Ho basically agrees, because he’s finally had the revelation that he wasn’t ever a murderer. He was tricked by Jang Do Pal into thinking he killed Jae Hyun and because of this he had already viewed himself as a monster when he entered the island. He used this as an excuse to act violently, because in his mind, he was already a murderer. That is why he’s so horrified when he finds out the truth, and realizes he has killed so many all for naught. I think Tae Ho’s situation really was sad, but at the same time, nothing justifies his later murders. It doesn’t matter if he was tricked. Just because he thought he killed Jae Hyun, doesn’t mean he gets a free pass to terrorize everyone trying to expose his other murders. As Tae Ho comes to realize his mistakes, he really does seem sorry for the most part this time around. He clearly appears horrified that things have gotten this far and that he never really was the cause of Jae Hyun’s death in the first place.
After this scene we get a whole montage of nonsensical scenes. We see a trial scene where Tae Ho is in prison garbs and gets taken off, but then we jump to a scene of everyone painting together, Tae Ho included. I’m not sure whether he ever went to prison, or whether he had a short sentence and already finished serving it by the time everyone’s doing this shitty art project or what.
Anyway, everyone is gathered together fooling around and painting. It’s Joon Oh, Investigator Oh, Byung Joo, Prosecutor Yoon, Prosecutor Cho, Bong Hee, her Mom, Ki Joon, Ji Ah, Ho Hang, Chairman Hwang, and Tae Ho. They’re all smiling and laughing together and everyone seems to be totally chill with Tae Ho being there. It looks to me as if he has pretty much evaded punishment all together. What I find extremely odd is how buddy buddy everyone is with him. We have Ho Hang laughing and teasing him, we have Bong Hee’s mom patting him on the back and basically telling him it’s okay, we have Chairman Hwang accepting him, we have Ji Ah acting like they’re on good terms, and most bewilderingly, we have Prosecutor Yoon acting chummy with the man who murdered his sister. Let’s not forget that Tae Ho was bad up until the very final moment. It’s not like he had three episodes where he repented and showed true sorrow. He has a one minute turn around at the very last minute and then they jump to this jovial acceptance of him.
What makes this so extremely fucked up is the fact that they’ve literally spent ages rallying together and combining their efforts to prove this guy guilty, and yet this is all tossed out the window in a matter of seconds in the finale. Apparently, the writers wanted a happy finale, but I’ve never seen something so forced in my entire life. What was the point of all that suffering if they were just gonna let Tae Ho slide in the end. They’re not even acting cautious around him either. It’s as if he never did anything wrong in the first place, which is why it gives off such a strange vibe. It was so uncomfortable to watch.
Finally, I think we all know that Bong Hee and Joon Oh like each other. I’m not a fan of romance, but even I was startled and offended that they didn’t even have the decency to give these two a legitimate kiss scene. They dabble with the idea, but never really bring it into fruition. If you can make these people stupid enough to accept Tae Ho, I don’t think it’s too much for us to ask for a solid confirmation of Bong Hee and Joon Oh’s love for each other. I felt like they gave us everything we didn’t want in this finale, and nothing we were actually looking for.
Solid Cast: The cast of this drama were highly influential in my decision to stick with it. I love Jung Kyung Ho and thought he did a phenomenal job capturing the personality of Joon Oh and presenting him in a way that captured the hearts of the audience. I found Baek Jin Hee alright as Bong Hee. She’s not what I’d consider one of the most strong actresses out there, but I thought she handled the role decently. I really liked Lee Sun Bin as Ji Ah and Ryu Won made So Hee a very interesting personality. Oh Jung Se did excellent as Ki Joon. He was fantastic at expressing his conflicted nature regarding his desire to keep Ji Ah safe and his friendship with Joon Oh in tact. Kim Sang Ho is always a crowd pleaser. Even though he is mostly silent for the second half of the drama, his moments in the final portions of the drama were his most significant. The scene where he testifies on behalf of Joon Oh was so powerful, and he was able to emote successfully without speech in the other moments of the drama where he’s recovering. Tae Hang Ho was also a successful case here. He was one of my favorite characters and I felt his story was one of the most gripping. His dedication to Chairman Hwang was believable and honorable, and I loved seeing him grow from a fearful and easily intimidated personality, to someone willing to stand up for what’s right. I loved when he kicked the hitman’s ass when he tried to inject the poison syringe into Chairman Hwang. Kim Pub Lae also outdid himself playing the role of the creepy and slimy Jang Do Pal. Finally, I have to give Choi Tae Joon a big round of applause. I’ve never seen any of his work aside from this, but he was owning the role, I loved his cold facial expressions, tone of voice, and overall expressive nature. I really found him chilling and even pitiable at times when I really didn’t want to.
Likable and Believable Characters: As I mentioned, the acting was very strong, which contributed to the likability of the characters. Aside from the main characters, I really liked a lot of the supporting cast. Byung Joo and Prosecutor Cho were some standouts for me. I really found them quite endearing and I also ended up liking Investigator Oh, despite the fact that he never really stood up to his Aunt when she was being corrupt. Of course, the main characters were all likable in their own way. Yeol was definitely a positive force and voice of reason, but once he was gone it took people like Chairman Hwang to help Joon Oh and convince others when important decisions had to be made. Once he was injured, things got a lot more complicated. Reporter Kim was an interesting man, at first he seemed to be causing mischief, but then he really was trying to assist Joon Oh. I wish we could have found out more about him. Joon Oh ended up being quite the opposite of how he was presented in the beginning. He seemed to be the only one aside from Bong Hee willing to do what was right despite the consequences. Ji Ah was also badass and spoke up against Tae Ho even when it put her at risk. Prosecutor Yoon was well intentioned, but I must admit his character was a bit bland for me. I don’t think it’s YDG’s fault, I just think there wasn’t much driving force behind him aside from avenging his sister’s death.
Bong Hee/Ji Ah’s Badassery: Finally! A drama where the girls are empowered and bad to the bone. I loved the scenes where Bong Hee stood up to Tae Ho. When she gives him that nice smack in the face after ordering him to get out of the car I was living. The scene where she beats the crap out of him at the hospital was also fantastic. Ji Ah also had some great moments. She pours the water on Tae Ho when he smugly asks for a drink and she pretty much curses him out when she’s forced to do that ugly drama photoshoot with him. I love how both women weren’t afraid to let him know he was a piece of trash and a snake.
Quality Humor: I found most of the comedy in the drama quite hilarious. Joon Oh was by far the funniest character, but Ki Joon and Byung Joo were definitely contributors as well. I loved the scenes on the island where Joon Oh was playful with Bong Hee or was doing stupid things like eating up all the food while dreaming, or wasting all of the water to clean himself off. These kinds of scenes provided relief in between times of angst. A few of my favorites were when he stepped on the mine, told Bong Hee to go first when they thought they were in danger, when he tried to camouflage himself and when he had petty arguments with Ki Joon. The scenes where they told Ji Ah not to do anything when they were making big plans were also hilarious.
Overall Suspenseful and Engaging Plot: Although I’ve beaten up pretty badly on the show, I do believe there were some good and memorable qualities to the show. I mentioned the complexity of Tae Ho’s character and how the murder plot unfolds to reveal another murder and the ultimate innocence of Joon Oh. I wasn’t expecting Jae Hyun’s death to be murder nor was I expecting Tae Ho to be involved. I liked that they made it even creepier by having Jang Do Pal as the ultimate murderer who tricked Tae Ho.
I thought the wavering between island scenes and the present made things interesting. I think it worked best when they utilized a Rashomon type plot and had everyone giving different versions of what happened on the island. When Bong Hee first recalls the events with So Hee, she mistakenly names herself as the killer, it isn’t until later that she realizes the truth. That made things suspenseful and gripping. I liked that they showed the events through the different narrators’ perspectives as well. For example, when Tae Ho claims it was Joon Oh who stabbed everyone on the boat, they show him doing so in a flashback. It made me question whether it was actually true or not because we were given a visual. I think these types of techniques added to the storytelling element of drama and aided in places where it was otherwise lacking.
I think Missing 9 had some great qualities. If the finale wasn’t so glaringly awful, I’d say that it was a rewarding show. However, the finale was so atrocious that I feel as if I wasted my time muddling through these past sixteen episodes. If I had known from the start they were just going to give Tae Ho a free ride, I most likely wouldn’t have watched. If you like a suspenseful, unpredictable, or comedic drama, this might be for you. If you don’t like dramas that are completely illogical, than stay as far away as you can from this one. The only thing that I could say makes this drama recommendable is the acting, otherwise I can’t really advocate for adding it to your watch list. In the end, the only things really missing in Missing 9 were Yeol, justice, closure, and logic.
Have you watched Missing 9? What did you think? If you haven’t, you can check out the six minute extended preview trailer here.