End of Heartless. Rest for JKH!


The journey of the heartless and cruel has finally come to an end! Lots were lost  along the way (tears in particular), but none of them were unexpected, out of the blue or random. I see some people voicing their displeasure and disappointment, not that I agree, but I can see why and where they are coming from.  Where’s my OTP moment? Where is the punishment the baddies deserve? What happened to Reporter Cha’s dad who’s the ultimate ULTIMATE baddie in here? Min died, just like that?!! All these questions, they are legit and reasonable, and if given a chance, of course I’d love them to be dealt with or closed.  But I digress because all these do not really matter after much thought. I realised in hindsight, that all I wanted, was for Shi-hyun to finally get the rest he deserves. To be free and to finally let go. It’s not wrong to want more or to hope for something more conclusive (to OTP or to story) in the finale, but this is noir at its best (when I’m talking about K-drama), nothing could have been more fit that we what was given (at least to me).

Heartless City aka Cruel City was an exploration of human reality and weakness,  a  drama that carried doom and gloom in its title from the get go. I did not expect things to end a happy note, and I even had a bet in the beginning that every main player would meet their demise in the end. While it’s not that far off, I’m so glad it stayed true, through and through to the genre and to its premise. Of course along the ways there were obvious hiccups, loops that rendered suspension of belief, beating around the bush repetition, this drama wasn’t perfect or as amazing as I’d expected it to be. But it was no doubt a solid construct, with characters that threaded lines of grey and made us care (in one way or another, like or hate). Although I’ve been pretty vocal about writer nim’s liberties with some of her choices in recent episodes, they weren’t major issues that made me feel for drama and the characters less. Flaws and whatnot, this drama tried to tackle a genre which has never quite made a mark in Youiedo, and managed to deliver something out of it. It never aimed to please audiences (look at its ratings) and never banked on favoritism (over the supposed main leads JKH and NGR, I think most of the main players had equal screen time). It tried to give us a much hoped for gritty and intense portrayal of what would be of an ideal gangster noir. And it succeeded, though maybe not as powerful or effective.


I’ve been in constant and ongoing discussions with a drama buddy about this drama, and though we’ve got our differences in opinions, I think we’re pretty much on the same page about the message(s) this drama had intended to convey. They were many, including the blurring of lines, the search for light amidst the dark and heartless, the forming of relationships and friendship regardless of sides, trust and betrayal…etc. But amongst others, I was the most moved by Shi-hyun’s thought and concern for the people he cared for, the struggles and dilemma he had to face in a position so vague and insecure. The writer manage to construct a relatable anti-hero, made us care for him in spite of his ever icy cool front. Along with Safari, Soo, Jin Sook and to a lesser extent, Hyung Min and Soo Min, these characters made Shi-hyun so much richer and wholesome a character. Through his journey of becoming someone he thought he could be (a cop) and the breaking down of that ideal/aim. Though I was the least impressed with Soo Min’s arc (IMO the least developed and emhasised, failed to pack much emotional punches), the effort in trying by writer to blend that aspect is very much appreciated. Shi-hyun needed something someone who could take him away from the “world” for second. Just for a while. The man needed a breather.

The fact that writer made him an undercover worried me, I thought it was oh-so-cliche and predictable, but I’m so glad that was the initial plan and it stuck through. It allowed us to at least understand someone in a similar position. Though it had some logical misfits plot execution wise, the general portrayal of someone in Shi-hyun’s position, one who has to play double duty and to gauge between 2 different worlds, I was very much satisfied. They managed to blend Shi-hyun’s persona (the ever so caring) together with the Doctor’s, not forcefully in an acted out way, but in a somewhat inherent natural way. Both Shi-hyun and the Doctor, they felt so real, both identities. The things he had to experience playing 2 different personas, the balancing act. The struggle felt real, the frustration, compelling. Though it’s still far from IA, the grit, the heart, it’s so much more relatable and understandable compared to let’s say, what was portrayed in Time Between Dog and Wolf (which also coincidentally starred uri Paksa <333).

The Gang

Yes, there could have been more. I could list a few things that I’d hoped for drama to deal with. Amongst others, Safari and Hyung Min’s relationship with Shi-hyun. Safari had a better edge because he had more scenes with Shi-hyun, that at least managed to bring out what they had together in the past. No matter how greedy or monstruous he had become, the memories and what they’d shared were never gone, they were always there. I admit I cried like a baby watching them part (I got my reconciliation piece). I just wish Shi-hyun knew earlier. Hyung Min and Shi-hyun, I really hoped they were able to work together early on but it came a bit too late in the drama, I couldn’t feel the connection I’d wanted to feel from them. But at least what they did together, in their defeat of the ever so elusive from capture Busan and Min, it was bittersweet and beautiful a closure. Not the way things should have ended, but nothing else was more fit.

The finale was not perfect, there wasn’t full closure. It was open-ended. That left me empty for about 10 seconds, then I realised I was hung up over stupid things. No drama ending could ever please or satisfy everyone because we all look for different things. I looked at the last 2 episodes as a whole, my heart poured out to the characters, tears fell like shit, for what the characters went through, for the relationships and friendship forged, for the teen weeny bittersweet moments that managed to shine above the dirt grit and brutal reality. I didn’t get full gratification over development of some characters (esp Safari whom I thought could have gone a bit further and Soo Min who could have been lot less vulnerable and annoying), but ultimately they still made my heart sink for them, I cried 2 damn rivers! T___T And it’s all because of Shi-hyun, the person he was. Not Paksa/Doctor, but Shi-hyun, the person they all knew, from within.

GIF2Alas, Jung Kyung Ho can take the rest he deserves, take a break away from the darkness and pain he’s been through for months of filming. His portrayal of Shi-hyun was nothing short of his best, a performance that will only come once in a while I believe (unless he chooses to venture on to film). It was one that combined character and charisma, with dashes of breaking down frailty, and one could often come across trying too hard. He never once overacted or underacted, and though I had certain picks on some awkward moments of his and though he wasn’t nearly as fantastic as the great Tony Leung, I can safely say he’s nailed one of the best performances by a young actor this year. Well done baby JKH, please take the rest you deserve and come back soon!

I also commend the rest of the actors for their dedication and effort, special shout out in particular to Choi Mu Seong and Kim Yoo Mi, who nailed their performances to a tee. Yoon Hyun Min who played Soo, I will forever have a softie spot for him because of what his character did for Shi-hyun. And of course Lee Jae Yoon, Nam Gyu Ri, Go Na Eun and also the ever force to be reckoned with Son Chang Min and the guy who played Busan (he’s truly scary!), together with director and writer nim, 10 thumbs up!!! What they did together, along with the music PD – the meshing together of a solid construct and portrayal of the world we know so little about, a admirable and significant feat. I will always remember the stylish and quiet shots of Shi-hyun thinking and pondering on his next move, the pensive scenes of our characters, the lines that made me chill.

I don’t know if we will ever get a gangster noir ever in K-drama land anytime soon, but I don’t expect to see any come close to this quality in the near future. It’s a genre that has to be dealt with carefully and delicately if you want to convince and sell with conviction. Though the grit and coldness of it all obviously waned  in later episodes, even towards the end, you cannot deny that this drama had tried and had actually achieved something in K-dramaland. Fck the dismal ratings and all, Paksa, Soo an Jin Sook noona ain’t gonna bother! hmmpppffff!

My Rating:  8 /10

Last but not least, some wrap-up pics to end… ^^ you’d have to bear with normal casual JKH for now! hehehe..





Camera 360

Heartlessw6And an awesome badass MV to end all things: –


credits: DC/ kdrama.com / owners of pictures and GIFs / tumblr / as tagged


14 thoughts on “End of Heartless. Rest for JKH!”

  1. I thought the ending ends beautifully… even though there are many questions left unanswered. How I wish they could have extended two more episodes but since JKH is injured, I’m content and I will stop being whiny (I may again when I rewatch again). Why do you rate 8/10? Where the two points had gone to?

    p/s: it is tough to see casual JKH now… he looks so, so cute still and normal!

    1. I thought it ended beautifully as well, albeit the bitterness and melancholy, albeit the unresolved issues. It would have been great if the other characters had better closure, but ultimately, it was always about Shi-hyun’s journey all along. His struggles, his release from all pain and suffering. 😉

      And yeah I can get quite nitpicky when it comes to dramas I love a lot. The 2 points were off for the what could have been and things that didn’t quite kill it for me (Soo Min, silly loopholes, repetition..etc)

      Nevertheless, it was a great journey 😉

  2. My heart sanks and im get goosebumps reading your entry. So much to say. Will come back later to pour my thoughts.

  3. This is absolutely fantastic! This is for me my number #1 drama ever. Im so invested in this drama I cried buckets. JKH is at his best and I hope he gets well soon. Love this drama so much it saddens me to see it end. Anyway I can re watch it… hehehe. Thank you for a thoughtful review!

    1. Aww thanks for reading, I also feel empty now that there’s no Heartless and Paksa to look forward to every week. I wish there were more extended interviews of the cast to satiate my thirst sighs. But more than anything like you, I hope JKH gets well soon.

      1. so true.. Actually I have been surfing the net looking for reviews and articles of this drama. I’m glad a lot of people appreciates this gem. I’m happy that it stayed true to its genre and story and did not succumb to pressure of the viewing public. Although the romance did not progress I’m still satisfied with the ending, because I learned that in watching Korean dramas its actually the journey that is satisfying and not how it ends. Thank you for reading my comments and I really enjoyed lurking in your blog! Please continue writing beautiful post for equally beautiful dramas!!!

  4. Wonderful write up… This is the top drama for me this yr so far… I love it… Jkh surprised me with his acting capability… Never thought that he could be so charismatic , cool and intense and yet so vulnerable At the same time… Interested when u mention Tony Leung… Nobody can act like him.. But Jkh put in his massive effort to portrait his character . There r a lot of scene I like… But one standout for me is when Jin sook found out that shi Hyun is an undercover cop and confront him… She understood him so well and she could see how much SH must be suffered and endured… When I saw how SH just hang on to Jin sook and broke down and cried.. Broke my heart! Apart from SH… Jin sook is my favourite character… Love her outfits… I think everyone are very well acted… I was actually surprise that I’m actually think nam gyu ri is pretty good even thought I could care less about her character… It’s too bad the OTP is really not fully develop in this drama… I though Jkh and ngr has good chemistry… But I do like the relationship between SH and Jin sook.. Whatever it may be…

    The ending actually was not bad and sort of expected… But I did found it a little rush and I would like more detail or a better conclusion for some of the characters and no just be dead so easily… I also like the ending is sort of open-ended…

    It’s funny to see those pic… Jkh remind me of his character in smile you… All smile and goofy… I heard that Jkh has pretty bad injury during the drama… Hope he could get some good quality rest and hope to see him soon… Oh I would also like to mention that the ost is solid and the fashion is stylist…. I don’t think I’m quite ready to let go this drama… This is hoe much I love it…

    Thanks again for the post!

    1. Safari and the Paksa gang are my fav after Shi-hyun, their scenes together were the ones that’d tugged at my heart the most. I felt Paksa had the best connection with them than everyone else including Soo-min. If her arc with Shi-hyun had been better developed better, along with Hyung-min’s I believe I would have rated this drama higher.

      And JKH is a total Hyun Soo in real life LOL

  5. I’ve been a long time fan of your blog but never felt the need to comment….had to delurk for Heartless City 😉 There certainly were holes in the story…lots of them, however I enjoyed the drama regardless!!! It’s been a fun ride! Btw…thanks for the eye candy!!! He looks so super cute…..in an awkward little boy way!!!

    1. Awww thanks for the comment, the power of Heartless Paksa!

      Here’s dorky JKH and his fav Noona and Soo 😉

      cr. Yoon Hyun Min’s twitter

  6. Ohh I’m glad I’m not the only one who think it would have been so much better if the connection between Shi Hyun – Hyung Min develop in earlier episode. It’s just too late, and I don’t feel their relationship the way I want too. But I just love finally the writers finally went there, instead let the misunderstanding between the two drag until the last episode… it would annoyed me so much, Haha… And I hate that the writers turn Com Min become a caricature villain in the end.. He is the char that has no real conclusion that I felt dissatisfied.

    Overall, I’m in for Paksa, For My lovely Shi Hyun… For Me, Heartless City is all about his journey… His relationship with Jin Sook, Safari, Soo, and yes with Hyung Min – and Soo Min in the end, just touch my heart.. It felt real to me..

    I love the fhe final episode… I cried a river for SHi Hyun… SHi Hyun is the character I love and invest the most this year… and for that I give this drama 9/10

    1. I was surprisingly fine with Min’s turn, it wasn’t too unexpected, from the way the writer had approached his character. Though it would have been better if they had made him a lil bit greyer and ambiguous, because we didn’t really get to know the exact reasons behinds his actions, why and what’d driven him to act the way he did towards the ppl around him. Was he acting merely on the grounds of justice and hatred or grudge against the prosecutor’s department?

      Shi-hyun was no doubt a really well-constructed character, definitely one of my favs this year.;)

  7. Never heard of JKH until this show and was blown away! It’s amazing to see his dorky photos and realize that Paksa Adeul came from this man child. Interesting that you mentioned Tony Leung because the show’s teasers reminded me so much of Wong Kar Wai’s movie ” In the Mood for Love”. I would have loved to see how far the story arc could have gone for Paksa and Soo Min but I have found fan fiction delving into a storyline of the couple meeting in the future, with Soo Min being more of an equal to him. If only the cable network can consider a possible sequel to explore this relationship, tie up all the loose ends, and see more of JKH!

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