...when the screen takes over...

Circle: Two Connected Worlds, Episode 3

Can you handle the truth? You know, when it’s not really out there?

Woo-Jin’s discovery that there’s truth to his brother’s observation prompts him to pick it up where his brother left off. With Han Jeon-Yeong in close proximity and also invested in solving the suicide cases, weeding out ‘which is what’ is going to be quite tricky when the question of ‘is she or isn’t she’ constantly pops up. But, getting an ally in solving these mysteries, suspicious though she may be, is still a step forward. Just be prepared for more surprises!

It’s hard to deny that Joon-Hyeok and the bunch’s daring hacking is anything but an open attack on Human B. Yet, who and what are you fighting for, Joon-Hyeok? Why bother messing up with someone else’s perfectly crafted life?


Beta Project, 2017

A limping Beom-Gyoon, one leg is in cast, reaches a deserted building complex. A nearby plate bears the name ‘Eunseong Psychiatric Hospital’. As he walks towards the bulding complex, Beom-Gyoon receives phone call from Woo-Jin. He tells Woo-Jin that he’s found the alien’s secret hideout. He tips Woo-Jin that the culprit is Bluebird. Woo-Jin tell him to just come home and tell him directly. Beom-Gyoon agrees to come home after he’d checked and confirmed a few things.

Beom-Gyoon uses his phone’s camera to take picture of the place. But a blinding light forces him to look away and drop the phone, of which wallpaper is the picture of the twins at the chicken restaurant.

That light again, huh?

 

“Who are you?”

Woo-Jin seizes the collar of Han Jeon-Yeong’s shirt in a threatening manner, clearly holding back his rage. Han Jeon-Yeong gets what Woo-Jin means so she asks whether he too, like his brother, believes that she is an alien. Her question also implies that she knows Beom-Gyoon and his ‘obsession’. “Does that even make sense?” She frees herself from his clutch, calls him as insane as his brother, and turns to walk away.

Woo-Jin then asks why she searched a mad man’s room. Han Jeon-Yeong answers straight away that she thought his brother was responsible for the suicides since he was always present on each incidents. She too thinks they were not suicides. Woo-Jin offers the scenario of which Beom-Gyoon had thought. “Are you not the culprit?” She too must have been present in every incident to have seen Beom Gyoon. Woo-Jin wonders that it is odd that his brother goes missing now after trying to catch her. Jeon-Yeong’s surprise, that Beom-Gyoon is missing, irritates Woo-Jin. He shakes her and tells her to stop pretending that she doesn’t know.

Their argument is interupted by Senior Lee (Shin Joo-Hwan) who assumes the role of Jeon-Yeong’s knight in the shining armour. When he refuses to give in to Woo-Jin’s demand to leave, they go for a brawl —Jeon-Yeong does try to stop them— and end up in the police station.

 

 

Detective Choi berates them for fighting. Senior Lee points finger at Woo-Jin for initiating the fight. Mentioning Beom-Gyoon’s having criminal record, he insinuates Woo-Jin must be like his brother. Woo-Jin keeps quiet while Jeon-Yeong is watching them both. A call from his mother seems to subdue him. Detective Choi sends him outside to answer it.

Detective Hong perks up when he hears the name Kim Woo-Jin. He takes over the conversation and asks for his brother, “not that he’s in trouble,” toning down the anxiety and suspicion level. He brings up the coincidences that the incident that led Beom-Gyoon to prison is similar to incidents at Handam University. Woo-Jin denies his brother being responsible for the incidents. He thinks something may have happened to his brother since Beom-Gyoon hasn’t returned his calls. He has been looking for his brother all day. He begs Detective Hong to find Beom-Gyoon. He doesn’t care if Beom-Gyoon ends up in prison or mental hospital, “just find my brother… Please.” Han Jeon-Yeong listens with interest and sympathy.

Jeon-Yeong asks Senior Lee to leave them, to Senior’s obvious disappointment—and not tell her dad— and tells Woo-Jin to follow her. They need to find his brother. She thinks his brother was investigating the suicides before he went missing. Jeon-Yeong takes Woo-Jin to her place at a ‘Mystery Studio A’—her friend quizzically asks if he’s her boyfriend, which she denies.

They need to clear up some misunderstandings. Jeon-Yeong shows him her notes on the suicide incidents. The victims were Kang So-Yoon (found in the library), Go Seok-Gyoo, Lee Ji-Soo (Welfare Centre), and Oh Ji-Hyuk ( Dorms). Since she was investigating the incidents and Beom-Gyoon was after her, they were bound to run to each other around the victims, and thus thought the other as the criminal. Woo-Jin notes that the police may have drawn similar conclusion in suspecting Beom-Gyoon.

Jeon-Yeong considers the situation. Neither Beom-Gyoon nor she is the culprit and Beom-Gyoon has gone missing while investigating the incidents. They need to find whoever responsible for the suicides. Woo-Jin asks why she bothers with the case. Jeon-Yeong shows him photos of her and the first victim. Kang So-Yoon was her friend who was energetic and never suicidal. Jeon-Yeong emotionally mentions how they even had planned to travel to Europe together.

Are they one and the same?

Woo-Jin watches Jeon-Yeong crying and recalls the woman from his childhood who had remained stoic throughout a sad melodrama when he and Beom-Gyoon had been crying. “Why is that sad?” the woman had asked.

Jeon-Yeong quickly regains composure and recalls So-Yoon’s change of behaviour a month before she died. So-Yoon got agitated and nervous. She also got headaches and nosebleed, physical symptoms, which strangely also manifested in other victims before their deaths. She is determined to catch the culprit so she wants to see Beom-Gyoon’s findings.

They get to Sejong Motel right in time to stop the motel manager from taking away Beom-Gyoon’s belongings. Woo-Jin and Jeon-Yeong redeem them for a sum. At the library, Jeon-Yeong observes an ‘observation’ log on Han Jeong-Yeon and a camera full of shots of her. She asks Woo-Jin why she is thought to be the alien. Woo-Jin explains that his brother must have mistaken her for a woman they knew from childhood who looked like her. “Was she an alien?” Jeong-Yeon asks playfully, to which Woo-Jin answers that Beom-Gyoon believes so. Jeon-Yeong asks for his opinion since he too is suspicious of her. Woo-Jin is taken aback for a moment and then says that he doesn’t care at all. If so, she observes, then he should stop staring at her.

Among Beom-Gyoon’s notes is a list of names, some who had been found dead were crossed in red. The rest are Park Min-Yeong, Kim Yeong-Eun, Kim Nan-Hwi, Song Jin-Hyeok, Jeon Yeong-Jin, and Kim Mi-Seon. One name, Kim Nan-Hwi, is a student with whom Woo-Jin was supposed to do the group assignment. The girl, as Woo-Jin recalls, has exhibited the common symptoms preceeding suicide, headaches and nosebleed.

Oh, no!

They rush to find the girl at her dorm. Interestingly, the guard also mentions another friend was also looking for Kim Nan-Hwi just now. They go to her room, which Kim Nan-Hwi shares with Jeon Min-Ji, but find her gone. Her room is a mess. In her study desk are blood stains which likely come from nosebleed.

Jeon-Yeong screams as she sees the girl standing on he edge of a rooftop of a building across the dorm. They run to get to the girl, shouting her name. But before they can reach her, she jumps to her death in front of them. Woo-Jin notices that from her nose, something blue slithers away. People begin to gather around the scene of suicide.

 

The police is soon notified and Detective Hong investigates Kim Nan-Hwi’s room. The guard recounts that a couple of students came looking for her after another female student. Detective Hong asks the guard to describe the female student.

 

Woo-Jin recalls Beom-Gyoon mentioning Bluebird in their last call. Could he have mistaken blue bird for blue bug? He then finds Jeon-Hyeong sitting on a bench, shaken by the incident. She keeps blaming herself for the death. Had she come sooner, she could’ve prevented her from jumping. He offers her coffee and and sits with her. The incident has Jeong-Yeon blaming herself again for failing to stop So-Yoon’s suicide. Woo-Jin opens the can of coffee for her and stays quiet, giving silent consolation.

a shared grief…

 

At the research group office, Professor Park comments on how today’s youths are weak and impatience, alluding that they take the easy way out by suicide. Professor Han disagrees and tells him to watch his mouth.

 

Woo-Jin and Jeong-Yeon go to the school ground to get the blue bug that night. Woo-Jin seems to be quietly fascinated by her that Jeon-Yeong has to remind him to aim the light properly so she could search the area. When a guard comes around, she pulls him to cover her while lying down, trying to avoid security’s light. For a moment, they stare at each other until she reminds him once more that the threat has gone, seemingly aware of their compromising position. Woo-Jin, however, orders her to stay still. The blue bug they are looking for is now crawling along her neck.

Blue bug on a neck…

They spend the night trying to figure out the blue bug. In a laboratorium, Woo-Jin takes a pincer and a knife, cuts the bug open, and finds a microchip inside it. Now that they know it’s a microrobot, they look up the internet for information but find nothing. Woo-Jin concludes that the bug robot hasn’t been released to public and wonders if it’s made for individuals or a research group. Jeong-Yeon wonders why bug robot is made and used in such a way. She offers to ask around the mechanical engineering department.

Woo-Jin sees that she is about to open another can of coffee and tells her to stop drinking so much coffee. He notices that she hasn’t slept since the incident and tells her to get some rest. He takes over the laptop and continues looking into the bug. Jeong-Yeon offers him a patch to cover a cut wound on his cheek. Since he can’t precisely put the patch in place, she applies it for him. Before she puts her head on the table, Jeong-Yeon asks about the woman, whether she really looks like the woman from ten years ago. “A lot,” Woo-Jin says.

The next morning, they leave the library. Jeong-Yeon gets a phone call from her dad, to whom she tells a lie that she spent the night at the library alone. Amused, Woo-Jin takes note of her lie. She consoles him that they will find who made the microrobot bug and find his brother. She promises to call him if anything comes up. They part ways and Woo-Jin smiles a little.

 

At his apartment, while looking at the disassembled bug and holding a rubik cube, Woo-Jin thinks about the bluebird that Beom-Gyoon mentioned. Did his brother mistake blue bug for blue bird? Then a note that Jeon-Yeong had pinned on his book draws his attention. It contains her email address. Reading it, Woo-Jin’s expression changes from perplexed to irate.

He goes to Jeon-Yeong’s place. Since she is not there, he asks to be allowed to wait in her room. Once inside, he searches her study desk. A pot by the window, covered by a book, catches his eyes. He removes the cover and finds a living blue bug roaming the earth inside the pot.

A pet bug?

At the spot where Beom-Gyoon has been at Eunseong Psychiatric Hospital, Han Jeon-Yeong is observing the ruin. Inside the building, Beom-Gyoon finds himself alone in a room. He tries to open the door but it’s locked. He shouts and screams, demanding the aliens to open the door, to no avail. Han Jeong-Yeon walks into the abandoned building complex of Eunseong Psychiatric Hospital.

Her email address is bluebird97@hdust.ac.kr.

What? The plot thickens? Again?

***

Brave New World, 2037

It is morning.

Joon-Hyeok wakes up with headaches from a dream of bits and pieces of his memory. He receives call from Dong-Soo, who’s whining and wailing about being hacked by Bluebird. Joon-Hyeok instructs him to prepare for something else. He has got something in mind.

After dressing up for work and checking his tie, Ho-Soo finds Joon-Hyeok kneading dough on the floor, offering to make him bread for breakfast. Ho-Soo declines since he’s the rice-and-soup-for-breakfast type of person. Joon-Hyeok comments that it seems that they don’t get along well. Ho-Soo agrees.

 

 

Joon-Hyeok wants to check Park Jin-Gyoo’s memory, whether he really was an accomplice in Kim Min-Ji’s kidnapping. Lee Ho-Soo reminds him that they’ve checked Park’s memory and found no such thing. He would’ve remembered had he been involved. Joon-Hyeok still wants to check whether it’s a case of having no memory or having the memory tampered. Lee Ho-Soo doubts there is such thing as controlling memory. “Are we shooting a science fiction flick? That is impossible!”

“That’s why I need to make sure of it.” Joon-Hyeok plans to do Memory Access to check Park’s memory on the day Kim Min-Ji got kidnapped. But the procedure will be done under General district jurisdiction. Ho-Soo objects to the idea and cites the law that using Smart district’s technologies outside the city without Human B’s consent is illegal. But Joon-Hyeok points out the need to do it without Human B‘s involvement, if indeed Human B had tampered with Park’s memory.

Ho-Soo questions Joon-Hyeok’s suspicions on Human B and Joon-Hyeok questions Ho-Soo’s blind trust on Human B. Ho-Soo believes Human B’s system works perfectly fine and the company never conducts anything unetichal or immoral, such as messing up people’s memory. “Let’s see which one of us is right, then,” Joon-Hyeok says.

a concerned mayor?

Mayor Yoon, to Ho-Soo’s surprise and objection —”But it’s illegal, Sir!”— agrees to cooperate with Joon-Hyeok. As a mayor who is responsible for the citizen’s safety, he must know whether Detective Kim’s claim is true. The Mayor orders Ho-Soo to keep an eye on Detective Kim —”Should the time come that he should be removed”— and keep reporting only to him.

Ho-Soo experiences headaches although he assures the Mayor that he’s fine. In the men’s restroom, he hears a woman’s voice when there is no one around. He gets agitated, which activates his stable care system. Soon, he calms down.

 

Joon-Hyeok plays the recording of kidnapping report that Park Jin-Gyoo himself made twenty years ago. Park Jin-Gyoo recognises his own voice but doesn’t remember ever making that call. Joon-Hyeok accuses him of being an accomplice in the kidnapping, which was the reason for Kim Min-Ji’s attack. Park Jin-Gyoo refuses to believe it.

“Then why did she attack you?” Joon-Hyeok provokes him.

“I wonder about that too,” Park Jin-Gyoo answers with anger. His sudden burst of emotion ignites his stable care system. He calms down. As her guardian, he has raised Kim Min-Ji since she lost her parents. He wants to understand what had happened. Joon-Hyeok offers a way to find out and he agrees to do it.

 

At the Human B tower, Secretary Shin reports to Director Lee that Park Jin-Gyoo has gone missing. The news unsettles Director Lee.

 

At Dong-Soo’s space on General district, everyone is preparing to do Memory Access for Park Jin-Gyoo. Detective Oh touches on Lee Ho-Soo’s presence, whether he will be okay since stable care system doesn’t function outside Smart district. “He won’t go crazy, right?” Detective Oh quips. “No, he won’t,” Lee Ho-Soo just takes the dig with a smile.

Dong-Soo explains that they will trick Park’s care chip to believe that he is in Smart district, so they can access the memory. He points out that he specifically dumbs down his explanation so Detective Oh can understand. Detective Oh takes offense. But Chief Hong fills in the details, to everyone’s surprise and amazement, that what they are doing is basically DNS spoofing. But, they don’t have time to use ARP so they’ll be tracked easily.

Outside, Joon-Hyeok welcomes a female doctor, with whom he seems to be on a friendly term.

accessing a Memory Cube

Once Park Jin-Gyoo is put under euthanasia, the doctor makes a cut on his neck to access his chip. The chip is then connected to Dong-Soo’s hacking infrastructure and the Memory Access begins. They begin shifting through Park Jin-Gyoo’s Memory Cube. However, on the date of kidnapping, 5 May 2017, the memory is blank. Joon-Hyeok asks Dong-Soo to check if it has tampered.

The Human B control centre detects intrusion. Park Jin-Gyoo’s memory cube is being hacked from General district, Director Lee sends Secretary Shin and a bunch of men in black to stop the hacking “no matter what!”

Detective Oh notices the coming party and Chief Hong bravely gets ready for it. Outside, the General district bunch gets into a fight to stop Human B’s men (and woman, as Secretary Shin is now dressed) in black. Fighting apparently is not one of Chief Hong’s expertise so he appoints himself the guard of the doorway. Joon-Hyeok steps in and fires a gun that stops everyone. He then points the gun towards Secretary Shin.

a party, Gangnam style.

Secretary Shin explains their presence is to stop an illegal hacking on their proprietary technology, as their control centre has found out. Joon-Hyeok uses the excuse, “if it’s a crime then report it to the police.” But then, they are the police so they should check on Human B’s servers to prove her claim. He also threatens to investigate Human B’s building. “Shall we get the warrant?” Director Lee orders Secretary Shin and the Men In Black to withdraw. He takes note that Kim Joon-Hyeok is trouble.

Dong-Soo confirms that someone did lock Park Jin-Gyoo’s memory. He manages to hack into it but Bluebird sign appears. Is Bluebird the one who locked the memory? Joon-Hyeok concludes that Bluebird is likely Human B, which means Human B has been locking people’s memories.

You’ve been hacked.

Lee Ho-Soo challenges his conclusion. If Bluebird is the hacker then he is the culprit. Why should Joon-Hyeok think that Bluebird is Human B? Why is Human B responsible for locking memories? Joon-Hyeok points to the hacking being blocked by Bluebird as the proof that Human B is responsible for playing with people’s memories. But his insisting on connecting Human B and Bluebird doesn’t make sense to Lee Ho-Soo (and to me!). Upset, Joon-Hyeok maintains that he just… knows.

Ignoring everyone’s concerns, Joon-Hyeok prepares his gun and goes to raid Human B. Lee Ho-Soo tries to stop him but he gets sudden headache. Chief Hong stops him and reminds him that he hasn’t got proof. He points out that he is the proof. He had gone through the same thing twenty years ago and now they are doing it to the masses.

Chief Hong asks for his gun. Joon-Hyeok refuses, expressing his fear that ‘the child’ could be one of those whose memories are locked. He insists on going so Chief Hong punches him. Chief Hong pleads for Joon-Hyeok to wait a little longer. If Joon-Hyeok acts rashly and anything happens to him, Chief Hong won’t be able to live with himself. All the while, the doctor is watching from a distance.

 

Lee Ho-Soo struggles with his headache, now coming with vivid images of a woman. When he gets nosebleed, he recalls Kim Min-Ji complaining about the symptoms. He begins to wonder if his memory too has been tampered with.

 

another wound, another scar, a healer

The doctor reminds Joon-Hyeok to cut down his pills. As she tends to his wound, she asks why he can’t let it go and just live as Kim Joon-Hyeok. Joon-Hyeok tells her that he needs to find out to let it go and to live as Kim Joon-Hyeok. He reminds her to eat well.

 

Lee Ho-Soo finds the cafe that appears in the intruding flashes of images. He recalls a woman sitting at a spot. He visits the spot and sits on it. He gets anxious and drinks a glass of water. A photo draws his attention. He and a woman are in it, dated 9 May 2035. While trembling, he begins to remember that he had happily received the tie he is wearing from the woman.

The owner of the cafe greets him. He and his girlfriend used to come to the cafe. When he asks the owner about his girlfriend, the owner says she has passed away. Ho-Soo recalls himself banging on a door shouting a woman’s name, Soo-Bin. Taking the picture with him, he walks out, shaken.

a reminder of who we were?

 

Ho-Soo stands outside Dong-Soo’s lair, listening to the bunch talking about locating Bluebird. Dong-Soo boasts that he’s getting there. He manages to track down Bluebird’s location at Smart district.

Joon-Hyeok goes to Smart district to catch Bluebird with Dong-Soo giving him direction from General district. But when he is just less than a kilometre in radius from the detected site, Dong-Soo’s infrastructure loses electrical power. They lose track of Bluebird.

Detective Oh goes to check on the electricity and finds Lee Ho-Soo there, giving himself away as the one who had cut the electrical power and thus ruined the chase.

A horor story? A ghost?

 

Pinning Ho-Soo to the wall, Joon-Hyeok demands explanation for his action. Ho-Soo tells Joon-Hyeok to leave Smart district since his previous warning went unheeded. Even if they are being fooled by the Human B, it’s none of Joon-Hyeok’s business since he is not a citizen of Smart district.

“But don’t you see that they are messing up people’s memory!” Joon-Hyeok shouts.

“And so what?” Ho-Soo just says quietly. Even though they’ve lost their memory, they are happy. That’s what matters.

Joon-Hyeok argues that losing your memory means losing yourself. You are not yourself and not knowing yourself is scary. “Do you know how that feels?” He lets go of Ho-Soo and walks away.

two scared people

“I am scared too,” Ho-Soo suddenly says. Yet, he would rather not be himself. He is scared that the terrible memories may come back to haunt him. He doesn’t want to remember. He wants to be happy. Joon-Hyeok should leave things be and just investigate the murder incident. “Who are you to mess everything up?”

Joon-Hyeok is silent for a moment. Then, with inexplicable sadness, he tells Ho-Soo that he doesn’t know who he is. He doesn’t remember.

 

Ten years ago…

The young twins, playing Rubik cube next to each other, were shown on a TV in what looked like a hospital room. On a raised bed, a man was watching intently, wistfully. “Is that me?”

Attending him was Detective Hong, unable to say anything.

“Who am I?” The man asked.

“From now on,” Detective Hong said, “you are Kim Joon-Hyeok.”


Notes

Since the Beta Project part explores him dealing with questions he has avoided, most pronounced in this week is Kim Woo-Jin’s lonesomeness, now that there’s a contrasting company in Han Jeong-Yeong. Many wordless scenes show him reacting without words, a striking difference to his bubbly younger self. What had happened to you?

So it’s more a memory blocking than a ‘hard delete’. This adds to list to questions, which is quite long already, that I keep while watching this drama. Is this memory blocking by consent? Is this applied to everyone in Smart district or just to ones with traumatic past? And, in the case of Kim Min-Ji’s kidnapping, did Gong Min-Woo, who seems to have no moral qualms about the deed, also get his memory blocked? Funny how with each episode, the list gets longerer.

The Brave New World’s part gets interesting as Lee Ho-Soo’s argument for memory blocking may have merit. As long as you are happy, what’s wrong with that? It’s something Joon-Hyeok has got to answer. But hey, I am all for holding big bad wolfish corporations accountable, so I’m behind you. So far.

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