I’d be honest — I cheated. I couldn’t help myself but went to peek at Wikipedia’s endings for the UK’s original…and suddenly, everything makes sense. Although…wow.
In case I can’t help myself, for those who are not that keen for spoilers, maybe you should stop reading about…here.
But yes, suddenly everything does make sense. Even the titles. It is “life” on “Mars”, not literally, but close. While Tae-joo appears to be transported to his past, he is also painfully aware now of events that had slipped his attention, but more importantly, those events he was unaware of. Because, while it is HIS past, it is also reality — a real “time-space” exists, albeit on a different plane. (I’m getting constipated trying not to reveal too much) So what Ms Yoon says is true. They (as in herself and everyone else) are “real”, in a way.
In the original, the protagonist does manage to wake, but later chooses to return to the past — I shall not divulge the means on how he manages to “travel” there. Suffice to say, I am quite confident that the Kdrama version will likely follow suit, given the way the narrative is going. Tae-joo has managed to unearth quite a fair bit of secrets around Min-suk (and oh man, though he is a psycho…I kinda feel sorry for his traumatic past). The last domino that will fall into place is the mysterious caller who has directed Tae-joo towards Min-suk’s Hyung — the true nail polish murderer in the 80s.
Back to the reason why Tae-joo may likely return to the 80s, even though he now strives to wake up from his coma in the current time line. Strangely, the modern Tae-joo, despite his formidability and preference for solitude (not that he has a choice, since he was ostracised by his colleagues) is a pale version of the Tae-joo in the 80s. While he may have a hard time adapting to the “loose” police work (where violence within the force is a turn a blind eye thing), and the lack of forensics capability — he is actually forming firm friendship with his team mates. Granted, he still rubs people the wrong way, and his by-the-Han Tae-joo-book method is still given plenty of eye rolls by his colleagues, yet they are warming up to him. Even Yong-ki, whom he had to proposed to be placed on suspension, grudgingly admires his schemes to draw Min-suk’s Hyung out from hiding. And Nam-sik already idolises him, and tries to follow his interrogation methods (which I feel will serve him in good stead as the police force in later years clean up their image).
With 4 more eps(?) to go, I am quite excited to find out how the Kdrama version of Life will round itself up. And whether we would have a sequel. (btw, the sequel no longer features the same protagonist, just in case you are curious)