A Soul Becomes A Star
Episode 6 of Tomorrow starts with the King of Heaven giving Ryeon a new assignment. Her next target is a 91 year old by the name of Lee Young-Chun. For now, they’re going to be working closely with the Escort Team on this one. The King is not sure why Young-Chun wants to commit suicide and tasks her with reminding him how his life has meaning and he should see it out to its natural conclusion.
As Ryeon briefs the others on this case they’re about to handle, we learn that Ryeon has actually been part of this team since the Qing Invasion of Joseon. For Ryung, he’s been since the Joseon period too but after Ryeon joined.
Anyway, the trio eventually head out together and visit Young-Chun’s house. They’re determined to get it all cleaned up for him, given this can help improve one’s mood.
Jun-Woong heads into town to pick up some supplies but on the way, runs into the old man himself. He helps carry his cart and the two joyously joke around. That is, until they’re stopped by a bunch of gangsters that berate the old man and demand he move. Despite being told not to interfere with human affairs, Jun-Woong has enough and attacks the thugs and knocks them out.
When they head back to the house, Ryung-Gu tells Young-Chun that they’re reapers and informs him that he’s going to die tomorrow. Young-Chun is shocked, and it seems like part of his issues stem from the fact that he’s all alone.
He’s a Korean war vet but there’s no family recorded on his file. But why? Before we find out, Young-Chun mentions gravely how his neighbour was found dead recently but decomposed so much that only his bones were left. This made him afraid, and off the back of this he wanted to try and find a quiet way to bow out this world (aka. suicide)
Ryeon and the others are determined to make Young-Chun’s last day a memorable one, helping him out with the rubbish and carting it all the way up to the junkyard. The thing is, the real estate prices are rising all the time and those thugs we saw earlier are also threatening him too. The man there is eking out a living and struggling to get by. As an act of kindness, Young-Chun gives the man some money to help feed his kids.
As the sun begins to set, Young-Chun reflects back on his life and thinks back over how he could have done things differently. It’s here we actually see an extended flashback to see what transpired in Young-Chun’s life.
The year is 1950 and Young-Chun heads off to volunteer for war. The battlefield is more gruesome than he could ever have imagined. Bullets whistle overhead. Explosions pound the ground. And the rancid smell of death is everywhere.
Young-Chun mostly kept to himself but he did manage to make friends with a guy called Dong-Chil. Unfortunately Dong-Chil gets his leg blown off after an airstrike. Despite saving him from the battlefield, Dong-Chil blames Young-Chun for taking him away from a noble death. With tears stinging his cheeks, he tells Young-Chun to leave and never come back. Just before Young-Chun leaves, he tells his friend that he made a promise to his mother to return.
After the war, Young-Chun rushed home but found his house toppled and destroyed. His mother is nowhere to be found. Suffering from PTSD, Young-Chun did not become a celebrated veteran but instead a mentally crippled ex-soldier. Hard labour only brought back memories from the war, not to mention difficulty in actually doing the hard graft, so he resigned to picking up paper waste.
It’s such a hard story to hear, but Ryung-Gu admits that war is hard for the reapers too, given they all work overtime to get the deceased to where they need to go.
Young-Chun believes his life is meaningless and worthless, certain that he’s done nothing of note on this planet. Ryeon though, teleports him up to the highest point in Seoul to look over the twinkling lights of the bustling metropolis below. She does this to show that his sacrifice was not in vain. He’s helped to preserve the country they’re living in today and if it wasn’t for his bravery, that may not have been possible.
Not only that, Jun-Woong manages to track down Dong-Chil, who’s also a veteran but is still alive. Young-Chun is delighted to find his former friend is still living. Numerous people recognize what Young-Chun has done online and show their respect. Off the back of this, Ryeon finds herself conflicted and tries to haggle with the King of Heaven, telling her that she wants to make sure Young-Chun gets a good passing. The King of Heaven nonchalantly bites back that everyone is judged fairly.
The time soon arrives and Joong-Gil appears to take Young-Chun. It turns out he was actually there that night on the battlefield, and pays his respects. In fact, so too do all the other reapers, who show up and honour his memory. This is a special case, and the King of Heaven appears in person, forming a royal guard of honour.
It’s an absolutely beautiful and glorious tribute to one of many war veterans and a testament to the sacrifice these brave souls have made to their country. Young-Chun is seen off properly, and as he heads onto the great beyond, he’s reunited with his mother. And just to top things off, Young-Chun gets his picture taken during the epilogue, just prior to passing away, and within this he’s put on display for all to see in the shop window.
The Episode Review
Tomorrow comes roaring back with its follow-up episode that absolutely knocks it out the park. What a wonderfully poignant and beautifully written story! With very minimal slapstick humour and strange worldbuilding decisions (time travel only used for some cases?), Tomorrow instead doubles down on its characters.
The individual cases have really been the highlight of this show, and do help to overshadow some of the wooden acting from the Reapers. Now, that may be a deliberate ploy to show that these Reapers are emotionless and go about their jobs professionally, but next to some of the incredible acting on display from the different men and women every week, it is noticeable.
If I’m being super nit-picky, the whole story with the gang and the real estate prices going up doesn’t really go anywhere, and in fact could actually circle back around again if that man from the junkyard becomes suicidal. Mostly this is just an obstacle to reinforce how wat veterans and the elderly are largely looked down on by these sort of thugs.
Young-Chun has had a really difficult life, that much is clear to see, but the ending is absolutely beautiful. It’s a wonderful way to round everything out and easily the highlight of the whole show. It’s not enough to make this the best weekend drama though, but it is a welcome change of pace and a beautiful bottle episode that’s likely to go down as this show’s crowning jewel.