They say good looks are all that matters. Even when I’m covered in blood, I look fashionable. I look good, don’t I? — Cha Min
Have you ever entertained the idea of reincarnation? Of being reborn into a life that’s better than what you currently have? You might want to be someone who’s attractive, affluent, and genuinely happy. Or perhaps you yearn to rectify your mistakes and start afresh. If you’ve had any of these thoughts, this multiple-genre K drama will fascinate you. I finished it more than a month ago on Netflix, but I can’t move on until I express my feelings and opinions.
Abyss refers to a significant object in the story: a magical glass orb that can resurrect the dead and change their appearance according to their true soul or personality. The show doesn’t give enough details about it. Apparently, all that you have to know is that it’s from another planet or universe.
Go Se-yeon (Kim Sa-rang), the female lead, is a beautiful and excellent prosecutor. Cha Min (Ahn Se-ha), her love interest, is a chaebol with a very plain face. However, the former has a not-so-great attitude and the latter has a kind and generous heart. At some point, they die and come back to life with the help of Abyss. Go Se-yeon takes on the “nondescript appearance” of Park Bo-young, and Cha Min becomes a babe magnet (Ahn Hyo-seop).
Go Se-yeon wants to reveal herself to her bereaved parents but is unable to do so because her killer named Oh Young-cheol (Lee Sung-jae) is still on the loose. Cha Min, who feels responsible for Go Se-yeon’s death, resolves to help her achieve justice. A game of cat and mouse ensues, and the protagonists’ reincarnation might be for naught. Of course, there are cheesy scenes here and there to make the drama more thrilling but in a different way. I won’t reveal the rest of the cast because I don’t want to spoil anyone. 🙂
The unique premise of Abyss resulted in a great beginning. I frequently judge K dramas based on their pilot episodes. If I don’t feel interested even after 30 minutes, I give up on the show or hopefully try it again someday. In this case, the first episode was fast-paced and left me wanting more. Two new episodes were released each week, and I looked forward to them like a kid excited about a bowl of Koko Krunch (I still love KK now that I’m 25, but I digress).
As the series progressed, my fascination turned to frustration. Why do the characters in thrillers have to be so pathetic? The villain constantly outwitted everyone to the point that Go Se-yeon, Cha Min, and their detective friends looked so stupid. Seriously, if you suspect that someone is a serial killer, will you follow him or her to an abandoned alley? Also, if you know that this murderer wants to kidnap you, will you go to places alone? If so, you probably have to evaluate your mental health or capacity.
Fortunately, Cha Min could use Abyss as a safety net. The glass orb had some strange limits, though. For example, once its owner died, it would belong to the last revived or reincarnated person. Other rules popped up whenever it was convenient, but one of them nearly made the drama a tragedy. Most of the “Abyss guidelines” were unexplained, so I had to ignore my skepticism and focus on the entertainment factor: the romance.
Go Se-yeon and Cha Min’s relationship wasn’t entirely unrealistic. When they were in high school, Go Se-yeon was super popular and many boys (including Cha Min) pined after her. She didn’t reciprocate Cha Min’s feelings. Still, they managed to stay platonic for many years. As an adult, Cha Min finally moved on when he met a pretty woman named Jang Hee-jin (Han So-hee). However, strange and bloody circumstances led him back to Go Se-yeon, rekindling his affection and all that jazz.
The romance in this drama was similar to that in Strong Girl Bong-soon; it also developed in threatening situations. You could say that the love between the characters bloomed because of fear or danger. Psychologists claim that some people confuse love with fear. Applying this hypothesis to Go Se-yeon and Cha Min makes their relationship less authentic, don’t you think?
Nonetheless, you won’t be able to deny the actors’ on-screen chemistry. Park Bo-young really works well with tall guys like Ahn Hyo-seop and Park Hyung-sik. I’m sure that her agency is also aware of this fact, hence the trend. I bet that Park Bo-young will be featured with another lanky celebrity on her next show.
Looking at the reincarnation aspect of the story, I think that Abyss can be used as a topic in the outer-and-inner-beauty debate. In the epilogue of the series, Cha Min was still handsome. Otherwise, many people would’ve complained about Ahn Se-ha’s pudgy face (I’m so sorry). Go Se-yeon also kept her new face, which was supposedly neither pretty nor ugly.
If the drama wanted to devalue outward beauty, they would’ve made both Go Se-yeon and Cha Min plain. I should also note that Go Se-yeon only fell in love with Cha Min when he became handsome. Cha Min was the better person because he loved Go Se-yeon when she was pretty and plain. Combining all of these facts, the overall message of the drama is contradictory. If you feel confused, refer to this chart:
Go Se-yeon (pretty) + Cha Min (pudgy) = unrequited love
Go Se-yeon (plain) + Cha Min (handsome) = sparks fly
Ultimately, I gave Abyss 2.5/5 stars because it was equally fun and irritating. I loved the concept behind it; Korean writers really excel at ideation. If the plot and characters had been more fleshed out, I would’ve enjoyed the drama a lot more. It doesn’t feel good to lower your standards (e.g. suspend your disbelief) just to be able to enjoy something. But if you plan to watch Abyss, I hope that you’ll like it more than I did.