Hometown: Episodes 3 to 6: Cults and the Need to Belong

I kept forgetting that we are watching this story unfold through Choi Hyung In, and can't help but wonder how much of what we're seeing is skewed by his personal connection and how much of that affects the storytelling. Undoubtedly, whoever this Guru person is (I think it's a she) has a prominent hand in what is happening to the town folk now. I have a strong feeling that the events of the past somehow connect back to Jung Hyun, Young-Sub, Min-Jae, Yong-Tak, and Kyung-Joo.

I can't shake the feeling that most of what Choi is narrating is a figment of his imagination. I am not sure if it's because of Prosecutor Son Ji Seung's (Tae In Ho) reactions to him or to the way he tells the story, or because he knows it's all in his Choi's head. I can't blame him, it seems fantastical in a way. I also found Choi Hyun In's wife dying in the gas attack a bit weird. It gave me the impression that she was somehow connected to the incident, and I was right.


The other thing that bothered is Kyung Ho. The only times we encounter him are the interviews, but every time he opens his mouth, he gives me the sense that he isn't involved in the incident he confessed to and that he was somehow protecting his sister. But the more I think of it, the more it seems that either he and Choi Hyung together or separate, are the key to decoding these ominous mixed tapes and videos, and what may be behind them. It's why I wasn't surprised with the revelation that Jung Hyun and her friends participated willingly or unwillingly in the gas attack incident.


It suddenly occurred to me that this drama's storytelling has elements from the Tokyo subway sarin gas attack of 1995, orchestrated by a cult under the leadership of a guru. I wonder why I didn't realize it until now. It makes sense then that I didn't realize that the issue wasn't only a few people in Saju, but the whole hometown. I mean, the name of the drama practically gave it away, but that's what happens when you have such excellent scriptwriting, that tangles you up in the finer detail when you should focus on the bigger picture.


It is surprising how, despite not having much screen time, Uhm Tae Goo is probably one of the most impactful characters in how he mysteriously and disturbingly played Jo Kyung Ho. But more importantly, I admire how the story sheds light on how Cults are skilled at knowing who to target, and what to offer the lonely -- a desire for meaning, to belong to a cause. I often wondered what causes people to surrender willingly to the point where they are ready to die for their leader and group.


Shockingly enough, the answer is much simpler than I thought. People join cults because they're looking for love and acceptance; they want redemption. I cannot say enough how twistedly terrific the storytelling and acting was with this drama -- fantastic all around. I don't know if it's how the story is being told or what, but I found Yong Tak's reaction or should I say non-reaction to Jung Hyun telling him Young Seob was alive, and that she may have gotten them to participate in the gas attacks bizarre. At this point, I am not even sure what to believe.

Watch the episodes here.

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