It’s only been two days since I crafted the previous post, and I’m more or less caught up on speed with Children. I must say this show is pretty intense, and its dual narratives of corruption and cult-fetish surprisingly fit very well.
Using the background of a village’s simplicity, Pastor Hwang and his cronies evil plan take root. It is ironic that the people who fall for the cult’s brainwashing are the adults — with their so-called worldly experience, while the innocent children seem to see through the lies the “church” spins out. Although the children have no idea what is the objective of the “activities” (like being forced to “take vitamins”, collect donations) they are being ordered to do, they innately know something is wrong. More so when they are punished for not meeting a “target”…and even more horribly, made to suffer injuries in order for an Insurance Agent to weekly examine them.
In comparison, Kim Dan’s father allows himself to be hoodwinked by Pastor Hwang after losing his daughter to cancer. With a simple lie of “if you agree to do the dirty work, your daughter will gain entry to Heaven”. (seriously…) But because of his willingness to believe in this, he knowingly commits all sorts of atrocities on the children, and inhabitants of the “church” group.
So while I feel sorry for him and pity him when he goes down on his knees to beg Ha-min for forgiveness, a part of me also thinks he deserved it. Even though he had raised Kim Dan, and has repented his actions (and possibly horrified by them), the acts do not totally erase the scarring he has inflicted on the kids.
Other than Kim Dan who managed to escape, the remaining of the children — even intelligent and sensitive Ha-min — are corrupted by the cult. They either turn into psychopaths, or volunteer assassins for Pastor Hwang and cronies…or they are simply…damaged. Like Apollo. He was a normal boy, albeit not the sharpest pencil in the group, but he is NOT born a psychopath. The abuses he suffered in the orphanage, and later in his adopted families turned him into a monster.
Likewise, Ha-min, who we now know is Popeye, has lost a huge portion of his empathy. Although he retains his smarts, Ha-min now has a cynical cold streak that doesn’t allow him to feel deeply. So while he thinks he is “in love” with Kim Dan (or Byul), I sometimes get the sense that he is not so much in love, but there is a desperate need in him to regain his humanity. And to him, Kim Dan (or Byul) is the key to freeing that lost innocence.