Jirisan is not what I expected, but I am loving it. There is so much history on this mountain, and not all of it is good. The opening monologue was on point, but as Mt. Jirisan is one person's hope, it's another's death trap. They all come searching for answers, but not all of them come back with it, if they come back at all. This episode felt serious, more like eerie, like something evil lurks in the mountain, and it is not a stranger. It makes me suspicious of everyone. The little Shaman girl, cursing Hyun Jo to roam the mountain even in death as ominous as it sounded, confirmed to me that the person leaving the signs for Yi Kang in 2020 was indeed him.
I had a sense, Hyun Jo either worked or had been on Mt. Jirisan. Finding out that he did with the military and the incident in the mountain from that time was the reason for his premonitions, and probably why he came back put everything in perspective. As much as I wished Yi Kang believed in Hyun Jo's visions, I understood why she didn't. The way things have unfolded with the deaths makes me wonder if whoever is luring these people to their deaths believes he or she is giving them the answers they seek from the mountain.
I am amazed that almost every person that climbs up Mt. Jirisan has a story, a secret that haunts them and drives them to do what they do, be it people who visit to memorize their loss, such as grandma Geum-rye, the shamans, and illegal poachers to the park rangers and volunteers who strive to protect it and them. For Yi Kang, it's the fire incident, and losing her parents for Hyun Jo, it's the loss of his friend in the military. I wonder what drives the other park ranges and volunteers. I am sure they have their stories too. It gives credence to why Mt. Jirisian is known as the mountain of patience, as park volunteer Kim Sol (Lee Ga Sub) said.
On that note, I like the way Jirisan uses the different timelines as a storytelling tool. It surprisingly works well, giving the viewer a premonition of what's to come. It makes me relate to Hyun Jo even more than I already do. How lonely it must've been for him, having these visions when he was awake, and now in his coma aimlessly wandering the mountain, yet not knowing he's invisible.
I love Oh Jung Se, as Jung Goo Young. He brings such a fun dynamic to the drama. There are two things I struggle with as I watch K-dramas, irresponsibly taking responsibility for someone else's actions, regardless of the reason, and the second is this culture of blatant blame of others for one's choices. I understood why he did and why it was allowed to happen. But culture shouldn't be used as a pacifier to turn a blind eye to wrongdoing, because it does nothing but enable wrongdoers to continue their destructive behavior, while the innocent suffer in silence.
I was surprised, yet relieved for the revelation of the killer, but it looks like he may have an accomplice in a park ranger, or maybe one of the volunteers or even the police. My money is either on park volunteer Kim Sol or policeman Kim Woong Soon (Jun Suk Ho). Despite knowing the contrary, I found myself wishing they could stop him before he committed more murders. I wonder if he's the reason we don't see Lee Yang Sun (Joo Min Kyung) or the team lead in the 2020 timeline. I hope I'm not right in these thoughts.
I can't help but question what drives these killers. Even they must have a story, a reason why, not that it excuses their behavior, but then do psychopaths even need a reason to do what they do. It's like they say, everyone has a secret. People always hide something, their vulnerabilities, fear, shame -- it doesn't matter how content they appear. Everyone has a monster in them, how they manifest it is what makes them who they are. The deeper we delve into Mt. Jirisan, the more dangerous and complex it gets. Watch episodes 3 & 4 here.