Flower of Evil: Can you take a secret to the grave?
WARNING: SPOILERS UP TO EPISODE 12
(Any plot twists thereafter are not accounted for!)
What happens when your deepest, darkest secret is brought to light?
In the ongoing suspense thriller K-drama Flower of Evil, Lee Joon Gi plays the role of Baek Hee Sung, a seemingly perfect husband and father. His wife, Cha Ji Won (played by Moon Chae Won), is a violent crimes detective.
But unknown to Ji Won, behind her husband’s devotion lies a tangled web of lies and deceit. It’s so complicated that my colleagues and I have been engaged in a weekly brain workout since the drama started.
The problem with Hee Sung – he is not who he is.
In reality, Hee Sung is actually Do Hyun Soo, the son of a serial killer. He’s ostracised and bullied for that, and ends up as the prime suspect for the murder of the village foreman in his hometown.
How it all happened was quite a mystery, but the real Hee Sung and Hyun Soo end up crossing paths due to a road accident that left the former in a coma and the latter waking up in Hee Sung’s house.
In his bid to leave behind his traumatic childhood and lead a new life, Hyun Soo takes up the offer by Hee Sung’s parents to assume their only son’s identity.
He eventually gets married and all is well… until Ji Won’s team is tasked to re-investigate the murder of the village foreman.
Although Hyun Soo manages to keep up this pretence for 14 years, it’s clear that he is living in an invisible prison of shame and trauma.
We see him seizing up in pain and hyperventilating every time he remembers something from his past. At one point, 18-year-old Hyun Soo tells his sister: “They’re right. I’ll end up just like Dad.”
As a teenager, Hyun Soo was dragged off to exorcism rituals every night because the villagers were convinced that he was as evil as his father. They pinned him down on the ground and threw stones at him.
To make matters worse, the psychiatrist that Hyun Soo saw as a child also said that he was incapable of ever understanding love, and that he would develop violent and aggressive tendencies.
“You were the only one who could’ve helped him back then,” Ji Won tells the psychiatrist in anger, after she finds out that the reason her husband had been so emotionally closed-off as a child was due to the sudden disappearance of his mother.
The psychiatrist, like the villagers, was convinced that Hyun Soo was a lost cause. She misdiagnoses him with an anti-social personality disorder, which became a life sentence for Hyun Soo.
THE INVISIBLE PRISON OF OUR SECRET SHAME
As the drama progresses, you’ll notice that everyone has something to hide.
Among them, there’s Hyun Soo who’s desperately trying to conceal his real identity. His resolution to keep his secret sees him telling lie upon lie to his wife as an attempt to cover up (pretty gutsy of him, considering that his wife is a detective).
He retreats into his own bubble of growing shame as he’s convinced that his wife, like everyone else, will not believe him no matter what he says.
He’s trapped in the illusion he tries to project – loving husband, doting father, perfect son from an esteemed family.
In the opening of the drama, we hear Hyun Soo saying that in order to protect his marriage, he only shows his wife what he thinks she wants to see. To him, keeping up with this charade is the only way he can ever have a normal life.
But it’s in this secrecy that Hyun Soo’s shame and pain continues to haunt him, even if love is right there and within reach. He isolates himself in fear and feelings of condemnation.
Many of us must have felt this way before: If I don’t say anything, no one will know. If no one knows, nothing will happen.
Sometimes we get so accustomed to what shame makes us feel that we mistake it for peace. We become comfortable living with our shame, although we’re never truly liberated from it.
We fear what might happen when the secrets we’ve been guarding come to light. We fear being judged, being condemned, being deemed as lesser than, being abandoned.
But before we know it, our shame will eat us up and swallow us whole.
IN LOVE, THERE IS FORGIVENESS TO BE FOUND
Of course, Ji Won eventually finds out that her husband has been hiding. She’s broken, shocked, angry and hurt. But she doesn’t believe the things people have been saying about her husband.
If you follow the drama closely, you’ll know that it wasn’t easy at all for Ji Won to give her husband the benefit of doubt. She’s human, after all. At one point, she even tells Hyun Soo she wants a divorce.
But her moment of epiphany came when she thought about who her husband really was to her, and not who he was based on what people said. She realised she was all he had in a world that stood against him. She wanted to forgive him.
She waits for him to make the decision to come clean to her about it himself, as she pleads silently in her mind: “Give me a reason to forgive you.”
When Hyun Soo eventually decides to reveal his past to his wife, he is surprised to be met with forgiveness and grace.
In one of the most emotionally charged scenes after he realises what Ji Won knows, we see Hyun Soo running into his wife’s open arms, crying for the first time in his life.
It’s Hyun Soo’s first display of any emotion and vulnerability, as he tries to wrap his head around this thing called love that he’s been told he’ll never get to experience.
Hyun Soo, who felt that he was unlovable for his entire life, finally understood what love looked like that night. For the first time, someone who knew about all his secrets didn’t look at him with disdain, but with unconditional love.
We’re now at the climax of the drama, but one thing’s for sure: Hyun Soo is now free from the chains of his own secrets (kinda – there’s the antagonist that Hyun Soo will need to take on and obviously the legal repercussions of him using a fake identity).
Flower of Evil has not only kept me on the edge of my seat, but also prod me to think about the skeletons in my closet.
There are many times I’ve felt completely inadequate in God’s eyes. My sinfulness, the things that I’ve said and done, the thoughts that I have… stuff in my life that I’d never want anyone to know about.
When I think about these things, shame trips me and weighs me down. Like Hyun Soo, shame hurts us all. It hurts us in different ways, but it all hurts a lot.
And yet there’s unconditional and unwavering forgiveness to be found in Jesus.
Just like how Hyun Soo ran into the open arms of his forgiving wife, we too can run to a Saviour who loves us for who we are (Romans 8:1). He welcomes us fully with open arms and love in His eyes, like the father of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32). He journeys with us.
Hyun Soo might have to deal with the messy aftermath of having all his secrets revealed and setting everything back in its rightful place, but at least he’s no longer struggling alone.
We hear Ji Won stating this firmly after her husband has confessed to her everything in repentance: “Hyun Soo is the father of my child. He’s my family. He’s my person. Now, he has a wife who will stand by his side no matter what happens.”
Sometimes we get so accustomed to what shame makes us feel that we mistake it for peace.
For anyone carrying the dead weight of shame, remember this: Jesus welcomes you.
You don’t have to hide alone. Jesus will turn our shame into a display of His grace. Only when we walk out of our invisible prison of shame, can we find true freedom and forgiveness.
Will you come out of hiding today?
The last 3 episodes of Flower of Evil will air over the next two weeks on tvN (StarHub TV Ch 824, Singtel TV Ch 518) on Thursdays and Fridays, 9.45pm. You can also catch the show on Viu Premium.
THINK + TALK
- What are some of the things you are hiding?
- Have you brought these secrets to God before in confession and repentance?
- Do you have someone you can share your secrets with – someone whom you can trust to journey with you?