Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 5/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 4/5
Move to Heaven is a very special Korean drama. It’s a show that takes the taboo subject of death and lays it out across 10 episodes, complete with excellent acting, impressive storytelling and tear-jerking segments. I dare anyone to sit through Move to Heaven and not be moved to tears.
This is not just a blue and depressing Korean drama though. Instead, Move to Heaven plays out as a cathartic, healing experience, one that projects the idea of respecting the dead, allowing them to pass and using their life as a lesson to better your own situation.
It’s a beautiful message and one that’s brought to life through an interesting and unique group of characters at the heart of all this.
Suffering from Aspergers, Geu-Roo is our main protagonist and he’s looked after by his Father Jeong-U. These two live together, running a business called Move to Heaven.
Basically, when a loved one passes away, a team arrive and clear out the room, collecting up any valuables in a yellow box while getting rid of everything else. This team are the Move to Heaven crew. This act also allows the loved ones a respite from the harrowing ordeal of having to do this themselves.
Much like Navillera and It’s Okay To Not Be Okay before it, Move to Heaven essentially takes both concepts and merges them together. The result is a drama that shares a lot of similarities but also moves to the beat of its own drum. That drum is pounded repeatedly by central protagonist Geu-Roo.
It’s a respectful process, one that paves way for multiple cases woven together throughout this 10 episode season. These episodes are anything but straightforward though, ad tackle everything from selfish and money-loving relatives through to adoptive children who have fallen in the cracks of society.
There are also some heavy topics including suicide, substance abuse and even dementia. This all makes sense in the context of the story though, with Move to Heaven doing its utmost to showcase as many different walks as possible. And it works an absolute treat.
Several episodes here showcase forward thinking and well-meaning ideas, including a forbidden love angle between two men which is easily the best episode of the season.
It’s not just the cases that keep this season connected though but ultimately the overarching theme of death. This follows each of our characters in their lives, especially Geu-Roo who suffers a devastating loss and is forced to face it alone. At least to begin with.
When his Uncle Sang-Koo (who’s recently been released from a juvenile center) arrives to look after him, Geu-Roo finds the man unsympathetic and uncaring to his needs. That leaves it up to Geu-Roo’s best friend Na-Moo to straighten everything out.
While it would seem like Geu-Roo is the lead character here, what with his condition and showstopping acting, it’s actually Sang-Koo who gets the lion’s share of the screen-time and the best character arc. He has his own story woven throughout the season, integral to the ideas of healing and death that are repeated throughout.
Given how much is going on here, it’s perhaps a little disappointing to see some of the subplots ended so abruptly by the end. Without giving too much way, Sang-Koo has a recurring debt he has to repay and it causes a lot of trouble for him across the season.
However, by the last episode everything is resolved in a rather abrupt and unfulfilling way. Likewise, the show teases a romance multiple times but never once pulls the trigger. While I understand this isn’t that sort of show, I’m not quite sure why the creators decided to implement these scenes in the first place.
However, these are minor gripes in what’s otherwise a very impressive and well written show. The soundtrack is absolutely on-point, while Tang Joon-Sang’s acting is nothing short of extraordinary. Is it too early to suggest he should be up for a Baeksang award next year? Based on this showing, he absolutely deserves it.
That’s to take nothing away from the rest of the cast though, who are all excellent in their roles and manage to bring their respective characters to life in the best way possible.
With excellent acting, tightly written chapters and a careful, respectful and empowering view on death, Move to Heaven is a cleverly written and unique Korean drama. It’s a show that absolutely excels with its short-form chapters and only really slips up when it comes to finishing up its long-form subplots.
Despite that, this is a wonderful Korean drama and an absolute must-watch this year. Just be sure to have a pack of tissues ready to catch those tears!
Verdict - 9/10