WARNING: May contain spoilers! But I will try to minimize, if not avoid, them.
The Five is a Daum webtoon written and drawn by 정연식. It won the 2010 Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) content contest and was uploaded as a paid webtoon the following year via Daum Comics. It was later on printed into a 5-volume comicbook. And will be adapted into a movie soon.
I haven’t read a complete 만화 or webtoon. I do read a couple of webtoons once in a while if I have some free time. But I usually just scan through them and look at the pictures. I read all the text, yes, but I never bother checking the words that I do not know (unless I am really really curious). But ever since it was announced that my dear Kim Sun Ah will star in the movie adaptation of the famous The Five webtoon, I can’t help but be curious about it. So the moment I got my hands on this webtoon, I started reading it right away.
Wanting to understand it well, I arranged my browser windows this way:
So whenever I came across a word that I do not know, I look for it on Naver dictionary. And I read it that way for 3 straight dawns (since I have a part-time until midnight I can only read it at dawn, until I can no longer open my eyes at 4am).
It was not as difficult as I thought it’s going to be. Of course reading was not a breeze. But with the help of Naver dictionary, I was able to understand the webtoon. Not 100% of course. There were many words that can’t be found on both the English and the 국어 Naver dictionary. There’s a character who uses 사투리 and I never understand a word he said. There were also some slangs and 욕 here and there. I googled some words/expressions. Or when I really can’t find it and is extremely curious I asked The Crush who, luckily, is very good in explaining. In the end I was able to understand maybe 80~90% of all the text. I understood the story completely but I may have missed a point or two along the way.
Prior to reading the webtoon, I’ve read summaries about it here and there the moment it was announced that it’ll be adapted into a movie. They said it’s a revenge story. Eun Ah (Kim Sun Ah) survived a brutal massacre by a psychotic serial killer. Her beloved husband and daughter died. Half-paralyzed and on a wheelchair, she plotted her revenge. She gathered 4 people to join her and help her with her revenge. In exchange, she’ll give her organs to them.
Of course, as a Kim Sun Ah fan I was excited. Well, I guess even if the news says Kim Sun Ah will star as a tree with no speaking lines in a new movie I’ll get excited XD. But on a serious note, the reason I’m really excited is because Kim Sun Ah mentioned before that she wanted to do a thriller/suspense/horror. So I’m happy that she gets to do what she wants. And of course, me too would like to see her on a dark movie. I don’t think a lot of people outside the Kim Sun Ah fandom knows that her follow-up project after My Name Is Kim Sam Soon is supposed to be a thriller movie Thursday’s Child that, unfortunately, had lots of productions issues. She ended up not finishing the movie (and had to face a lawsuit resulting to her untimely hiatus after a big hit ㅠㅠ). The movie pushed through with a new director, new cast and a new title – Seven Days.
Initially, frankly speaking, aside from the fact of 1) Seeing Kim Sun Ah again on the big screen and 2.) Seeing Kim Sun Ah on a thriller I don’t have much expectations about the movie. A revenge thriller? I’ve seen this on a hundred American thrillers (and the corresponding Filipino copycats). There’s one serial killer. The main character’s goal is to catch the killer. It will not be easy. But no matter how difficult it is he/she gets to kill the serial killer at the end. Congratulations! The end! Of course there are twists here and there, but basically that will be about it.
But The Five is different. I’m not saying it doesn’t come with the usual thriller cliches here and there, but the thing is there’s more to The Five than what a usual thriller has to offer.
The thriller part is really good in itself. The way it was executed was simply awesome. Whenever I watch a horror movie or thriller, I don’t go to the extent of covering my eyes no matter how scary the movie is. But I had to cover my eyes once or twice as I read the webtoon. The good thing is I can intentionally stop scrolling down when I can’t handle it anymore (unlike in a movie when I can’t). The cliffhangers were awesome too that’s why I stayed up until 4am because I can’t stop reading it. I wanted to finish reading it as soon as possible because I got really curios on how this will all going to end. However the nearer I am to the ending, the slower I want to read it for two reasons. 1.) I was so scared to find out what’s going to happen to the end and 2.) I’ve grown to love the characters, especially Eun Ah that I don’t want to “part” with her. Yeah, tell me about withdrawal syndromes on a webtoon!
Eun Ah and the rest of the characters were all well-written. Most of them started as heartless characters but as you get to know each one of them, you can’t help but feel for them (except for the serial killer of course). And one more thing I like is that it’s all about Eun Ah (the way My Name Is Kim Sam Soon is all about Sam Soon). I actually dislike stories with so many characters overlapping each other especially when the story is really just all about one.
Eun Ah is a really cool heroine! We can see her transform from a really feminine mother and wife to someone who’s trying to be strong, yet still scared and hurting, for the sake of revenge. And the transformation is not something that is too abrupt. You can see her pain all throughout the story and one can’t help but sympathize and empathize with her.
There were also a few funny parts. It worked on the webtoon and I hope it’ll also work on the movie.
And I’m most happy with the ending. I believe that endings can make or break a good plot. The ending was not something I was expecting and it was indeed very touching. <<< SPOILER ALERT >>> I know right from the start that Eun Ah is meant to die. Once the revenge is successful she needs to donate her kidney, an eye, her liver AND her heart. I was able to witness how the recipients worked so hard and even put their lives on the line for Eun Ah not just so they can get the promised organs for themselves/loved ones, but they also started caring for her. It would just be heartbreaking if they can’t get the organs they’ve worked hard for. Especially when they did nothing wrong. But the entire webtoon let us get to know Eun Ah and made us love her. Of course I don’t want her to die. BUT I think that was a selfish wish of mine. For how can Eun Ah continue living after everything she had to go through. Her only family was murdered and she practically had no one. No friends. No other family. And not only that, a lot of people also suffered because of her along the way. How can someone like her continue living. So at the end of the day, I don’t really want her to live anymore. I wish she’ll just go on a 좋은 데 and just be at peace. BUT I don’t have the heart to see and accept the fact that she’ll die. So yeah, that kind of dilemma was ironed really well.
I felt so many emotions while reading the webtoons. Not only did I cover my eyes on scary parts. I had goosebumps every now and then. I started rooting not just for Eun Ah but for everyone. I’ve cried a lot too. Serious crying. I am easily moved by movies or dramas and I easily get teary-eyed. But the only time I brawl as much and as long as I did after reading this webtoon was while watching My Name Is Kim Sam Soon and Rooftop Prince. After the final chapter, there is an epilogue which is not really an epilogue but a music video – a photo show of all the important points of the webtoon played along the official webtoon OST. So while watching that “epilogue” I was brawling. And even after the music ended, I can’t stop my tears.
And just for the record, this is not just about Kim Sun Ah. Of course it makes a difference knowing Kim Sun Ah will be the main character. And I admit I imagine her as Eun Ah from the start. But I can honestly say that if even if it’s not Kim Sun Ah. Even if this drama is not going to be adapted into a movie. I would still love it as much.
Reading the webtoon actually feels like watching a movie already. And it’s just not me. I’ve read comments of other readers and they felt the same way. The more I can’t wait for the movie now. And usually I’m worried about adaptations. But since the writer and creator of the webtoon will be the movie director too, I have nothing to fear. I just can’t help but be a tiny bit worried because it’s his first time directing a movie – which could actually be a good thing to in the first place, right? I just wish that there will be no problems at all during the entire production. From the first filming day until the day it will be exhibited on theaters.
And speaking of exhibition… I would love to see The Five ON CINEMA! I’m already agitated as early as now. We have to wait a few more months before it will be shown on theaters. And I have to wait some more months on top of that before it gets released on DVD! And watching it on DVD is no fun!!! A movie like this one must be seen on theater! ON THEATER! Unfortunately Korean movies are not exhibited in our local theaters. There were selected exhibitions during Korean Film Festivals but 1) there’s no guarantee that this movie will be selected and 2.) most of them were played from a video copy projected on screen – not on a film roll! I’ve always wanted to watch a Korean movie on a theater IN Korea. It’s not a bad idea to have The Five as my first movie in Korea. When I told my mom I definitely must see this movie on cinema – IN Korea, she told me I’ve gone nuts! 😄
I strongly recommend this webtoon! If you have a chance to buy the online webtoon or the comic book, do so. You won’t regret it. The online webtoon’s price is not that expensive but I know it’s difficult for us foreigners living outside Korea to buy a copy. 😦