Korean revenge dramas hit different notes. The audience’s expectations are always high when it comes to any content from Korea, but revenge as a genre, the nuances of it, and the absolute brutality of the perpetrators are shown in a no holds barred manner that few other countries’ content has managed to achieve. Be it “The Glory,” “My Name,” or the much older “The Innocent Man,” the exploration of the need for revenge and the desire to risk it all for that momentary satisfaction is seen best on the Korean screen. “Pandora: Beneath the Paradise” is another such offering, and despite the overwhelming twists and turns, we were hooked. Scandals and betrayals defined the revenge saga, but these were the three that primarily shaped the narrative. Let’s take a look at them.
Why Was President Go Tae Sun Assassinated?
In a way, this is the scandal that started it all. Jang Geun Mo’s corruption had been discovered by his friend, Go Tae Sun. Geun Mo was cornered, and he knew that he needed to get rid of him if he was to cover up his crimes. Geun Mo struggled a fair bit with his decision, as the idea wasn’t his to begin with but that of his wife, Min Young Hwi. She had always been ambitious for her son and wanted him to inherit the Kumjo industries, but that would only be possible if they existed, to begin with. Geun Mo had stopped at nothing for his greed and had already killed one of his friends, Jae Hyun’s father. Goaded by his wife, he was willing to take this further by killing his other friend, Go Tae Sun, but changed his mind at the last moment. He was unable to go ahead with this, but it was too late to stop the process he had set in motion.
Hong Tae Ra’s brother from her previous life was put to the task, and while running away with him, Mun Ha Gyeong fell into the sea, was discovered by Jae Hyun, and found a new life as Hong Tae Ra. As luck would have it, one of her closest friends in her new life was Go Hae Soo, the ex-President’s daughter, who is still looking for her father’s killer and believes Tae Ra to be the murderer. The truth does little to assuage the situation since it is all connected to Kumjo Industries, which Jae Hyun has his eye on for his own ambitions. If only Hae Soo wasn’t Tae Ra’s friend, she would have left the moment she remembered her past. But her current friendship created an obligation of care that just kept building up as Jae Hyun and Geun Mo’s association kept putting Tae Ra’s loved ones in danger. It was sad indeed. Korean dramas have a way of connecting each and every character’s past, and “Pandora: Beneath the Paradise” does that masterfully, as it is these relationships that add to the depth of Tae Ra’s revenge.
How Was Hong Tae Ra Born?
I think that sometimes love at first sight can become the bane of someone’s existence. You never know if you have an actual future with the person, but you felt something when you first saw them. It doesn’t help that you feel it with a force that takes weeks, and sometimes months, to build up with anyone else. Hong Tae Ra was the result of one such barrage of feelings. Jae Hyun was clear that she was the only woman he ever loved, and he did love her right when he saw her. Mun Ha Gyeong’s parents and Jae Hyun’s mother both passed away in the same accident. Jae Hyun had seen her then. But before he could get to her, she landed at Hanwool Hospital. The next time Jae Hyun saw her was when he rescued her after she fell off the cliff. He made her take the place of the dead Hong Tae Ra to give her a new life. It was his way of providing her an acceptable social background that he would be able to marry into for his own ambitions in the future. It was a masterstroke that killed two birds with one stone. He got the woman he loved and a family background that enhanced his own social status. That is how Mun Ha Gyeong became Hong Tae Ra.
Jae Hyun’s idea of love was closely tied to possession. Even when Tae Ra made it clear that she was not okay with his control over her life, he just went ahead and reset her memories. It is another matter that it wasn’t successful, but it just goes to show how important her identity as Hong Tae Ra was to him. If he just saw her as an annoyance, he could have had her killed, but he still loved her. If only he had respected her free will a little bit more, she might have chosen to stay with him.
How Was HATCH Conducting The Human Trials?
When I first started watching “Pandora: Beneath the Paradise,” I was introduced to a chimpanzee, Red, who has been made smarter due to a chip in her brain. But soon enough, the audience discovers that the chip had adverse effects on Red, meaning that their experiment was unsuccessful. Yet the group wanted to conduct human trials, knowing that they had an imperfect mechanism on hand.
Years earlier, they had done something similar. They used Se Jeong, one of the researchers with Kyo Jin, for their human trial. Kyo Jin was unaware of it, and when the trial went wrong, Jae Hyun had been responsible for hiding the body. The fact is that Kyo Jin was a far more upstanding person than the trio, and they needed him out of the way. Sung Chan tried to kill him by cutting his ropes when they went on their trip. Kyo Jin went into a coma, and Sung Chan took over his research. However, he never found the correct success with it, but the illusion was necessary for HATCH to keep doing what it was doing and for Jae Hyun to have the right leverage to run for president. Their lack of success is not deterring them, and I never understood what they hoped to achieve with the human trials when their technology was clearly faulty. Till the last moment, they were not able to get the results they wanted, and they had to resort to an elaborate deception by bringing on stage an unconscious Kyo Jin and pretending as if they were reviving him from his coma when, in fact, he was just knocked down. They never find success with the smart patch, but their ruthless, thoughtless, and, in fact, borderline unscientific and unethical trials just harm people and further fuel their need for revenge. Even a single right decision could have prevented so many tragedies from happening.
In “Pandora: Beneath the Paradise,” everyone does each other dirty multiple times. But while some have righteous reasons, others are just motivated by unreasonable greed. In the many missteps taken, even a single right decision could have altered the course of things. But that was not to be. In fact, looking at the loss of life, the series is more of a tragedy than a science fiction revenge-fueled saga.