4 months after the crash of one of Legend Entertainment’s private jets that left singer Seo Joon-Oh (Jung Kyung-Ho) and his stylist, Ra Bong-Hee (Baek Jin-Hee), stranded on a deserted island with some of the agency’s top stars, Ra Bong-Hee reappears in Korea, alone and with amnesia.
I’ll be honest with you. Robinson Crusoe stuff? Not my thing. At all. But I kept hearing good things about Missing 9, I needed something new, and so I decided to give it a try. I don’t know what I was expecting, really. Whatever it was, though, it wasn’t that. This show was amazing.
For starters, it’s got one of the most beautiful male-female friendships I’ve ever seen. You can feel that they’re hovering on the edge of something more, but it’s first and foremost an absolute trust and complete devotion in and to each other that binds them together. It’s the foundation upon which their relationship is based, and it’s what makes it so very powerful and moving to watch.
Birth of a Phoenix
The acting was also wonderful. I was especially struck by the leads, Jung Kyoung-Ho (One More Happy Ending, Heartless City, Time Between Dog and Wolf) and Baek Jin-Hee (Empress Ki), who you’ll fall for immediatebly, but Choi Tae-Joon, who plays Tae-Ho, and Yang Dong-Geun who, as Prosecutor Yoon, displayed an incredible range of emotions, were both brilliant as well.
Beyond that, the character development bordered on art. You can sense the potential at first, of course, but it’s in adversity that each individual truly reveals themselves and what lay dormant deep in their hearts. Joon-Oh, wonderful Joon-Oh, shows himself as the charismatic, protective leader that he is, and I have never, I think, loved a character more than I loved him. His ability to trust and forgive, to care and protect even at the cost of his own well-being, was breathtaking to watch. It was like witnessing the birth of a giant, or a phoenix. He fell, and fell, and fell, but he never gave up. And you can’t help but love him all the more for it.
A Good Female Character at the Helm
Bong-Hee, for her part, displays a maturity and a wisdom far beyond her age right off the bat, but she grows into herself and takes upon her shoulders the burden of caring for this group of privileged—and often useless—people with grace and growing strength. She becomes a true force of nature, and what’s better is that you don’t even realize it until it suddenly hits you in the face like a sledgehammer.
She’s really one of the best female characters in a KDrama up to now, right up there with Lee Seryeong of The Princess’ Man and Choi Yoo-Jin of The K2. I’ve rarely seen such a well-rounded, strong female character in a Korean show before, and damn if I wasn’t clapping and laughing in delight at her absolute BAMF-ness.
And the plot, you guys. This show is clever. It drops hints here and there, which works perfectly with a fast-paced, yet artfully arranged timeline split between Then and Now. There’s also something else about the narration I would love to praise, but I don’t want to spoil the enjoyement of the discovery for anyone. Summed up in five words: there will be plot twists.
Missing 9 Knows How to Balance Itself
More than that, you have to admire how Missing 9 managed to combine darkness and comedy. The show does get pretty dark in places, but it’s balanced by the absolute hilarity and sweetness that are Joon-Oh and Bong-Hee. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be at the edge of your seat. You’ll stop breathing at the sheer heartlessness of some of the most soulless characters ever.
They almost deserve an award for it. Really, I’ve never been so disgusted by characters before, but the best part is that they’re not all black or white, no. The bad guys are mostly gray, and sometimes, you despise them all the more for it, because they actually have their moments and you can feel the potential for goodness hovering right there. At other times, however, you can see where they come from, and you actually empathize, and I’d like to give a special shout out to Choi Tae-Joon, whose performance as Choi Tae-Ho in that regard was nothing short of amazing.
The character himself is all the more interesting because of how twisted he truly is, and his storyline really makes you realize just how tenuous the line between good and evil is. His relationship to the other characters, Yeol and Joon-Oh in particular, but especially Joon-Oh, is heart-breaking, because when all was said and done, there remained no doubt in my mind that he actually loves them in his own way.
The music is absolutely beautiful, and I especially appreciated the lack of actual songs in there. The OST, if I’m not wrong, had a grand total of two songs, and the rest was all gorgeous instrumentals.
Let’s be clear, however: if you’re looking for a realistic show, this one is not for you. The lighting is problematic at best on numerous occasions, and there’s a ton of other stuff that would certainly not happen in real life. In my opinion, the acting, the plot, the characters and the relationships more than make up for it, and it was very easy to ignore those faults mostly because I was far too busy reminding myself to keep breathing, but I know that might not be the case for everybody.
All in All…
Title: Missing 9
Nationality: South Korea
Starring: Jung Kyung-Ho, Baek Jin-Hee, Oh Jung-Se, Choi Tae-Joon, Chanyeol
Aired: 01/18/2017 to 09/03/2017
Number of episodes: 16
Genres: Thriller, Mystery
My Grade: ★★★★★