I do quite like Children‘s set up, it’s OCN-ish, yet isn’t.
- Kang Ji-hwan (from Big Man) as ex-Detective Cheon Jae-in. He is smart, observant, thorough — qualities which propel him to be the star of Seoul Police Force. But his biggest drawback — arrogance. After his younger sister dies in a revenge murder, he quits the force and lives his life as a vagrant.
- Kim Ok-vin as Detective Kim Dan. A policewoman who is born with shamanistic ability to “see” death, she hides her supernatural powers since it alienates her from others.
3 children, with the nicknames Apollo, Star, and Popeye are playing in the backyard of a church. Star’s mother calls her and her friends in, the visitors (huge donors to the church and its orphanage) are coming. During the stage performance, Star (or Kim Dan) suddenly has a vision of the entire congregation, dead. She also realises her church’s pastor, Pastor Wang (Jang Gwang), is behind the murders.
On that fateful night, Dan’s father runs away with her. Her mum is one of those murdered by Pastor Wang.
Dan grows up and becomes a police constable. During on of her off duty days, she has a run in with Jae-in, who is a pretty arrogant twerp — but he is right in outing Dan’s baseless assumption that a woman who ran off with a baby is hiding from the male kidnapper. The “kidnapper” is the father, and the woman — a mother who had lost her child (and sanity), who is infamous for abducting babies around the neighbourhood.
Our first case for this ep is a serial murderer, who has a penchant for strangling women with a black cable tie. Dan receives the case through the victim’s distraught father. During her investigation, she has a vision of the woman’s last few moments. By retracing the dead’s memory, she manages to locate the murderer — taxi driver, Han Sang-goo, who has a penchant for animes and Popeye.
Jae-in too locates Sang-goo’s hideout, but he deduces the Sang-goo’s identity through the more orthodox ways (i.e. by observation and police work). Though Jae-in managed to capture Sang-goo, he had to let him go due to lack of direct evidence. Dan sees another vision when she touches Sang-goo — he will kill again once released. Before he struts off, Sang-goo suddenly whispers to Dan, “Run, Star…they are after you”. Dan realises Sang-goo is the orphan and her friend during her days of helping out at the church with her parents.
Sang-goo then next pays a visit…to Jae-in’s sister, and kills her. Angered, and guilt ridden, Jae-in quits the police force and lives out his life on the street. Dan meanwhile, rises up the rank from a constable to a detective.
As mentioned, Children is classic OCN in the way that the murders are dark, creepy and the psychos are smart enough to impress you. The identity of Sang-goo as Popeye is strongly hinted at when Dan crashes into his little hut at the foot of the hills where the latest victim was found. There are pictures of Popeye, a strong reference to childhood, and an inability to step out of “childhood innocence” in Sang-goo’s living environs. We learn later that after the church’s mass murders, Popeye, and possibly Apollo, are adopted. Popeye (Sang-goo) met with vicious adopter families, who beat him regularly. No wonder he turns out to be a psychopath.
Interestingly, the first case already links itself to the mass murder which Dan and her dad managed to escape. And that let me to jump to the conclusion that POSSIBLY, Popeye is Jae-in. In a way, that’d make the OTP rather a match — both are “astrologically linked” (aka “fated”).
And that’s where I see a deviance from OCN’s usual OTP portrayal. Usually, romance is low on the scale for the classic OCN thrillers. At most they are hinted at, but never really developed. In Children‘s case, we have a rather blatant association of Jae-in and Dan as the OTP — the closing scene of cherry blossoms, and Dan holding Jae-in in a slow-mo “Gone with the Wind” classic dip…unless you are seriously not watching or paying attention, the narrative is shouting to you that we have THE PAIR.
Given Jae-in’s proud reliance on his analytical skills, and his tendency to pooh pooh stuff that are “illogical” or “unprove-able” it’d be a fun watch to have Shaman Dan drop him down a peg or two with her uncanny “instincts”.