Noh Suk Min was the metaphorical ‘demon’ to Gu Won’s literal one in My Demon. He was also the ‘real evil’ of the story, meant to show that the biggest devil is not magic or myth but living and breathing amongst us all. The intention of his character was communicated just fine, but My Demon suffered from not dwelling on his character more. There are several things about him that were left unanswered, but let us give it a go in this article.
From the series, we know that Noh Suk Min considered himself to be under the thumb of his mother. As a young man, he had gotten into a drinking and driving accident, and his mother had made him serve jail time instead of buying his way out. Cheon Suk was generally hated by her children and branded as a bad mother, but the audience knew that it was because her children were mostly incompetent and greedy, which is why she treated them this way. But Noh Suk Min and Noh Su Ahn thought differently.
Noh Suk Min had a broken mind, and the audience was never told when that started. Maybe he has been that way since his birth, like most evil is, or maybe something triggered it. Regardless, you can’t trigger what isn’t already there, so nothing could have stopped Noh Suk Min from becoming the kind of person he was. Growing up under a strict mother, it is easy to imagine a child calling his parents the ‘devil.’ Before Cheon Suk witnessed Gu Won taking Do Hee’s parents’ lives, she wasn’t a conscientious person herself, and that must have been observed by Suk Min. He judged her for it, but in a way that gave him permission to be evil himself. When Suk Min witnessed Cheon Suk following Do Hee’s parents, he was positive that she was going to kill them for the company. In fact, that is what he believed for the rest of his life. That means that he believed his mother was hypocritical for sending him to jail for the drunken accident when she herself was a murderer. Yet Suk Min did not call her out on it but bided his time.
After Do Hee’s parents died, Cheon Suk became a god-fearing woman, and Suk Min witnessed her saying that she had seen the devil. Suk Min thought that she was referring to herself, and she was talking about discovering the lengths she could go to for power. As much as Suk Min despised his mother, he took all this to mean that he had no choice but to be evil since that was his natural inclination, and if his mother said differently, then she was lying.
Something we have wondered is why Suk Min did not try to start his own business. Do Hee ran a dessert business, and she did it without Cheon Suk’s help. Suk Min could also have done that if he really wanted to be free of his mother’s rule, as he called it. Unlike Noh Su Ahn, Suk Min was not completely incompetent. Or maybe he was, and he knew that inheritance was the only way he could make something of himself. Another possibility is that, in his twisted mind, Suk Min believed that he had to inherit the business from his mother, just like the evil he had ‘inherited’ from her.
The way Noh Suk Min dealt with his family was rather interesting. From the beginning, his only purpose and affection for his child extended to how he could be the scapegoat for his crimes. Se Ra’s flashback of the past shows that Do Gyeong tried to live up to his father’s expectations because he wanted to protect himself and his mother. This was a time when Do Gyeong had some grip on his sanity and hadn’t given in to his father’s manipulations completely. Suk Min needed only one thing from Se Ra, which was for her to turn a blind eye. As for Do Gyeong, he must have been too young to initially understand that he could seek help, and by the time he grew up, he was completely under his father’s thumb. Even Se Ra did not interfere because, as long as Suk Min was focused on Do Gyeong, she was safe.
Suk Min and Se Ra’s relationship reminds us of Narcissus and Echo. Narcissus was consumed by his idea of his beauty and grandeur. Echo was someone who had fallen in love with him, but the only thing she could do was repeat everything he said, ultimately feeding his own narcissism. That is how Se Ra and Suk Min’s relationship must have started and progressed. At any point, she could have asked Cheon Suk for help and gotten free of the man. She did not hesitate in asking Gu Won for help when he approached her. This makes us think that though it was a toxic relationship, she was in love even if it was brief, and Suk Min made use of that.
The theory of grandeur also makes sense when one considers the tools Suk Min used to control his wife and child. Within those three people, Suk Min had enforced a system of rights and wrongs and how they were tied to earning his approval. Suk Min’s name was saved in the serial killer’s phone as ‘Abraxas,’ a powerful mythical being, and this had to be at Suk Min’s suggestion. Suk Min’s narcissism was great enough that he thought of himself as a magical being akin to God, and he acted accordingly.
My Demon never showed the audience Suk Min’s reaction to first finding out that Gu Won was a demon. There was no disbelief or further investigation. The moment he heard the recording from Gu Won’s office, he was convinced and stole the book for further use. Even at the very end, Suk Min was willing to die to gain an advantage over Gu Won. Suk Min was driven by a desire to win over Gu Won. It absolutely never made sense. When Do Hee realized that Abraxas referred to Suk Min, the only proof against Suk Min was the testimony of Se Ra. He could have done something about it, but there was something that Suk Min wanted more than the company, and that was to be more powerful than Gu Won. It wasn’t revenge that brought him back to kill Gu Won, but a need to prove his power. It was a lost cause, but it made sense to Suk Min because this is how he could prove to be worthy of his mother’s approval. Suk Min said that his mother was a demon, and he was under her thumb his whole life. This is the system he repeated with his son.
If Suk Min could defeat an actual demon, it meant that he was more powerful than his mother, and this reasoning was the driving force behind his madness. It was the only way left that he could prove himself worthy, a quest he had followed with murder and passed on to his son. It is no coincidence that Suk Min saw Cheon Suk’s spirit in his cell after Do Hee told him that he had failed to kill Gu Won. It wasn’t the dead or the supernatural scaring Suk Min, but the fact that it was his failure staring at him in the form of his mother. That was the ultimate hell for Suk Min, more painful than burning his own face or living a life without love or humanity. His death sentence was the only possible mercy he could be granted, and he would pay for his misdeeds in hell, a place he had been eager to go to for a long time.