A Killer Paradox – K-Drama Episode 1 Recap & Review

Tang Strikes Back

Episode 1 of A Killer Paradox starts in Lee Tang’s parents’ house. Tang is an ordinary college student, discharged from the military about 6 months ago. His sister, Yeong, is getting married soon. His family fusses about how Tang hasn’t been doing much since he got back but he says he plans to go on a working holiday in Canada.

In college, Tang talks to his friends Gyeong-hwan and Mi-yeong. He says things have been too boring since high school and he wants something spectacular. Back home, Tang watches videos of Canada. His apartment, meanwhile, is a huge mess. He then opens a package to reveal a framed picture of the Rocky Mountains. He wants to put it on his wall but is unable to drive a nail inside.

Tang then arrives at a convenience store for his shift as a part-timer. After some time, a drunk customer enters and asks for cigarettes. The man tries to order food as if he’s at a restaurant but his companion is nicer to Tang. This other man buys the food and the pair eat and leave. At closing time, Tang’s boss enters and tells Tang to go home. Tang asks the boss if he can take a hammer home, to put the photograph up, but the boss does not hear him. He takes it anyway.

On the way home, Tang comes across the drunk man from earlier passed out on the street. He then sees the companion and tries to tell him about his friend. The says it’s okay but when Tang presses the point, he starts hitting him. A flashback shows Tang and Gyeong-hwang being bullied by other students in high school.

Tang narrates that he’s never struck back before. So why did he choose differently that day? We see that Tang picked up the hammer from his bag and struck the man, who collapses and dies. Tang is concerned but hides when other pedestrians pass by. A blind woman with a dog named Rex also comes by but doesn’t notice Tang.

At home, Tang washes off the blood in the shower hurriedly. He hallucinates the dead man lamenting the state of his family. Sometime later in the night, Gyeong-hwan comes by Tang’s house and passes out, drunk after a night out. Tang wonders about their high school bullies and Gyeong-hwan says they’re actually doing quite well in life.

Tang then narrates about the time he cheated on his girlfriend. He thought he was going to get found out but he didn’t. He never got caught, not when he stole Gyeong-hwan’s tablet in high school. He seems to have a knack for getting away with things.

At present, Tang realises that he dropped the hammer on the street and it’s the one thing tied back to him. The next morning, a detective named Jan Nan-gam examines the body along with Yong-jae, his colleague. They talk about the two dead bodies, the drunk man and the friend, whose name is Kim Myeong-jin. Meanwhile, Gyeong-hwan leaves Tang’s house in a rush. Tang himself gets called in to work at the store since the girl whose shift it was, has called in sick.

Nan-gam enters the convenience store and asks the owner about security cameras. Two young boys get into trouble with Nan-gam and he has them taken to the station. At the police station, the boys get a warning. The detectives look through the security footage and wonder how the bodies were in different places.

Nan-gam sees the footage of the drunk man buying from Tang. So when Tang arrives at the shop, Nan-gam is waiting to interrogate him. Nan-gam asks if Tang remembers the two men. Just as Tang is about to say something, Yong-jae interrupts to say that a witness saw the men fighting.

Coupled with some more test results, they conclude that the two men killed each other. We see that when Nan-gam was watching the security footage, a fly conveniently blocked the camera at the time when Tang took the hammer.

The drunk man’s wife gives her testimony to the police. She says her husband brought Myeong-jin, a colleague, over quite often. He was amiable and considerate and they soon began to have an affair. She even planned to marry him. But Nan-gam isn’t convinced about Myeong-jin since he couldn’t find any records on him. And he’s convinced that he’s seen the man before.

Nan-gam goes back to buy chewing gum from the store. He warns Tang about suffering from trauma. He also sympathises with him since he has an odd name and suffered similar abuse as Tang did.

Afterwards, Gyeong-hwan enters, saying he’s been trying to call Tang. He says he and Mi-young were interrogated by a detective about Tang. The two boys then go out drinking. The next day, Kim Myeong-jin’s identity turns out to be entirely fake. His real name was Yeo Bu-il and he was a suspect in a case of serial murder in 2009. The police used DNA analysis to figure it out.

Tang hears about it too and seems relieved. He is having sex with a woman when he hallucinates Bu-il again. But this time he confronts the man with his own crimes, confident that he was the one who put a stop to Bu-il’s deeds.

The scene shifts to the blind woman who is playing with her dog. In her house, the hammer Tang used sits on a table.

The Episode Review

Episode 1 kicks off to a fantastic start! The show has clearly set a specific tone and style for itself — the sudden cutaways, the jumping from one scene to another and back, the eerie music. The quick, snippy editing takes a lot of credit for this. The gore and the nudity is a bit of a surprise but this could be a result of the Netflix original tag.  

Choi Woo-sik, as expected, does a great job as Tang. He seems so dejected for most of the episode that when he finally strikes back, you kind of root for him. Nan-gam also comes across as a shrewd detective with his own peculiarities. The characters are well established and with that final scene, there is plenty to be excited about. How does Tang’s power work exactly? How far will it go to protect him?


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You can read our full season review for A Killer Paradox here!

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