When is the last time OCN has given us a really kick-ass female lead? Like…never. From OCN thrillers to OCN romances, female leads are usually in the pretty, cute, but kinda useless category. They are either there to prettify the testosterone-filled cast or to be some vague form of romantic interest. Even Cho-young‘s female sidekick — although vivacious and street smart — is still ineffectual, since she is a ghost.
But in comes Kim Dan to shake up the male hierarchy. She not only has the “feminine” traits of being pretty and generous, but also masculine enough to earn her admiration from Jae-in. He calls her “violent”, but with a grudging kind of “I know you can take good care of yourself” undertone. And she does. He leaves her to deal with a female psychopath, who drugged her in the hope of pushing her off the balcony, with full confidence. His confidence isn’t misplaced. Kim Dan notices the telltale signs of murder from the witness turned suspect, manages to maintain her wits (by self inflicting pain in order to counter the drug), and nails the psycho down at the same time. Even without her superpowers, Kim Dan is a very good detective. She is observant, dogged and analytical.
And Kim Dan is not the ONLY femme fatale in the show. The 2 ahjumma assassins from Pastor Hwang’s flock — they are aunties you need to be wary of. The two of them bustle in to the guards’ station like typical lost grannies, then proceed to coolly stab them multiple times, wipe their bloody hands on their windbreakers…and finish up the guards’ dinners…so as not to waste food. Daebak.
The reversal of roles is not the only draw in Children. I love the conflicted Joo Ha-min, and how HUMAN he is. He has never walked out from the shadow of witnessing the mass murder, which he is unfortunately, a part of. But as Kim Dan said, while as a child, he may have limited options, but as an adult, he has a choice to remain a monster or become a human. And I am glad he chose the latter. Cos from the onset, Ha-min has always been the tragic figure. Those little bursts of happiness from him counters his “official” role as Jae-in’s nemesis. So that you end up rooting for him and hoping he will get his own happiness. Which he did. And I’m glad Children didn’t kill him off — which can be an option, after all, he did orchestrate the roadblocks to stem the investigations. In his defence, that’s ALL he does. Unlike the megalomaniac Politician Kook, Ha-min has never ordered someone to kill another.
Lastly, although we have less of the in-your-face gore (no dismemberment, etc), the crimes are no less gruesome. We have orchestrated cultish mass suicides (which turns out to be mass murders, even worse!), orphans who are raised as body parts replacements and even a female psychopath. In between all these gory narratives are the cute bits like a Prison Playbook cut scene — with OST complete — when Jae-in sneaks into jail to orchestrate a confession from an ex-cultist. Also, the OTP — their actions are pretty cartoonish and when juxtaposed against a serious backdrop, is hilarious.
On the whole, I thoroughly enjoyed Children, and I see it as one of the rarer less-OCNish typical shows.