[HanCinema's Drama Review] "The Sound of Magic" Episode 5
By William Schwartz | Published on
Courtesy of Ha-na's snooping, Ah-yi and Il-deung are now privy to a recording that appears to imply that their favorite enigmatic magician has committed a violent crime. That evidence, as well as the police investigation, keeps turning up mostly circumstantial clues. To its credit, the actual leads in "The Sound of Magic" recognize this. Ah-yi fully admits that her belief in Ri Eul is based more on emotion than fact, while Il-deung's emphasis on the facts only gets him so far.
The skepticism exhibited by both Ah-yi and Il-deung is quite rational. The running theme of "The Sound of Magic" is that Ah-yi and Il-deung find Ri Eul to be a compelling authority figure somewhat paradoxically because he never tells them what to do. Ri Eul's main point of emphasis is that Ah-yi and Il-deung need to figure out what they want to do for themselves. Magic is an appealing subject for both of them because it's a marginal, dubious skill that makes no promises of a long-term future.
Indeed, as Il-deung explicitly spells out, the fact that Ri Eul can seem so happy living in an abandoned amusement park amusing children with magic tricks suggests that his gauntlet of endless study may not be as necessary as he's been led to believe. Well, really, for Il-deung the whole situation is more of a fate versus free will problem. Il-deung's parents have told him that he must study for a good life, and are hostile to any suggestions to the contrary.
So, given this, can Il-deung really be seen as having meaningful agency in any of his decisions? I like how his initial crush on Ah-yi has just naturally evolved into an obsession with magic, because both desires were prompted by the same basic character conflcit. Il-deung's parents would never approve of any girlfriend, certainly not one from as impoverished a background as Ah-yi. Il-deung's magic hobby, while sillier than dating, is a more convincing way of spiritually asserting himself.
Ah-yi lacks any such reprieve though. Unfortunately for her, we saw what happened last episode when she opened up to a teacher about the whole bribery scheme. The police act nice, or at least they try to, but Ah-yi has every reason to be scared of them and mistrust them. Overall this makes for some fairly dark theming, even as "The Sound of Magic" tries to move away from musical numbers for the more serious final act.
Review by William Schwartz
"The Sound of Magic" is directed by Kim Seong-yoon, written by Kim Min-jeong-II, and features Ji Chang-wook, Hwang In-youp, Choi Sung-eun, Kim Bo-yoon, Yoo Jae-myung, Kim Hye-eun. Broadcasting information in Korea: 2022/05/06, Fri on Netflix.
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Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.