When we think about Korean dramas, the first thing that comes to the mind of many would usually be the typical love triangle stories—two men of completely different backgrounds fight over a simple-minded lady with dreams of success. If you’ve been in the loop and watched even more, you would probably associate these dramas to the typical conglomerate-inheritance stories with multiple wives, hidden children, and recurring amnesias that twist and turn the hurdles for a happy ending for hundreds of episodes at a time.
A new 10-part series called “Move To Heaven,” however, is a refreshing addition to the K-dramas you definitely need to watch. And here’s why you should. Don’t worry, no spoilers here.
“Move To Heaven” is a Netflix original series about a young man named Geu-Ru, who happens to have Asperger’s Syndrome, and Sang-Gu, his uncle who ends up becoming his guardian in replace of Geu-Ru’s father. The two work together as “trauma cleaners,” i.e. they help move the things of those who passed away, delivering messages to their bereaved loved ones.
What first makes this series very interesting is the fact that these stories are heavily based on the essays of Kim Sae Byul, one of the first trauma cleaners in South Korea. In 2016, Kim was recognized for having one of the most unusual jobs in the country, with his company that offers cleaning services after murders, suicides, and unattended deaths in the departed’s homes. Through his experiences, he came up with a collection of essays entitled “Things Left Behind” (떠난 후에 남겨진 것들).
In the series, we will see very real stories, tragedies, and realizations that bring light to the struggles of individuals, both young and old, who go end their lives here on earth—some intentionally, while others inevitably. Lead actor Lee Je-Hoon also admitted during our roundtable interview that upon reading the scripts for many—if not all episodes, he had shed a lot of tears because of how heartfelt and eye-opening the stories were.
The next thing worth mentioning is the cast involved in producing the series.
Lee Je-Hoon has recently been enjoying success with his ongoing drama “Taxi Driver” (모범택시). This time around, his role in “Move To Heaven” is completely different from previous characters he has played. We see Je-Hoon as a former MMA fighter and ex-convict, who makes a living through illegal underground fighting. From his unorthodox hairstyle to the completely different cold attitude in front of the camera, his fans are sure to see another side of him, that nobody has seen in the eight other dramas he had previously starred in. “There is no limit to Lee Je-hoon’s ability to portray the multi-dimensional emotional shifts of his character, and he had unmatched energy to push his emotions to the extreme,” director Kim Sung-Ho said in the press conference held on May 12, 2021. Throughout the 10 episodes, do expect a character development from him that will make you love the drama even more.
Tang Joon-Sang as Geu-Ru (Netflix)
We also see a young talented actor, who would most likely be familiar to many as Geum Eun Dong from the hit Korean Drama “Crash Landing on You.” Tang Joon-Sang will give you goosebumps portraying the role of Geu-Ru. Co-actors Lee Je-Hoon and Hong Seung-Hee, alongside the director Kim Sung-Ho commended the 18-year-old actor for amazingly portraying the character, seeking advice from medical practitioners and fully understanding the core of who his role is. During the media roundtable interview, Joon Sang admitted he was very nervous in portraying such a big role for such a huge and diverse set of audiences, and that he really did his best to understand and portray the character.
Hong Seung-Hee, who we’ve seen earlier this year in the K-drama “Navillera” also portrays a different kind of role in the 10-part series. Her relationship with Geu-Ru is also something worth catching down the line. Her character Na-Mu, being the source of positive vibes in the series, helps Geu-Ru in his toughest of times. Asked about her thoughts on the highly anticipated series, Seung-Hee said that “sometimes you will feel moved and, in other times, sad. It’s a story that will make you feel diverse emotions like the four seasons of the year.”
Another point to highlight would be the cameos throughout the series. Be set to expect outstanding actors from previous Netflix Originals such as Lee Jae Wook from “Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol,” Choi Soo-Young from “Run On,” and Ji Jin-Hee from “Designated Survivor: 60 Days.”
Ji Jin-Hee, Choi Soo-Young, and Lee Jae-Wook (Netflix)
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, this drama highlights what life and death really are, and how Korean society values them very differently from how others in different parts of the world do. This could be an eye-opener for many and, for others, it could also be a point of realization on the true worth of one’s life.
We see Geu-Ru, his father, and Sang-Gu exude utmost respect for the dead in “Move To Heaven”—from the rituals they perform before entering homes, all the way to bringing the deceased’s belongings to those they have left here in the living world. We see how one mourns in a funeral in Korea, and how one shows respect to the families of those who die.
The stories of those who die in the series bring tears of joy and pity, that will make you realize that you need to love yourself, perhaps even more than you’d want to love others. Their stories teach you that on this earth, yes, we only live once. While we do, we should always make it count.
“Move To Heaven” is exclusively available on Netflix in 190 countries starting today, May 14, 2021. All episodes will be released simultaneously, and it’ll definitely be worth the weekend binge to heal your heart in these trying times.