Death’s Game Review: Seo In Guk and Park So Dam lead riveting tale of 12 reincarnations and confronting the inevitable fate

South Korean actors Seo In Guk and Park So Dam are two powerhouses in their own right when it comes to versatility in the roles and stories they feature in. Both of them have carved a mark for themselves with memorable roles in K-dramas and movies like Parasite and Reply 1997, respectively. Seeing these two powerhouses come together on screen is a big treat for the fans. They both don new avatars in Death’s Game, a fantasy thriller K-drama. Park So Dam stars as Death and Seo In Guk stars as Choi Yee Jae. Choi is a young man who is tired and frustrated with his life struggles. He sees death as an easy way out of his problems. Death, angered by Yee Jae’s limited perspective and disregard for his life, punishes him to face twelve deaths. He can continue to live only if he manages to not die in any of those twelve reincarnations. Thus begins Yee Jae’s attempts to survive and avoid going to hell, but it is not so easy to escape fate. Death’s Game is an eight-episode K-drama of which four aired on December 15, 2023. The remaining four are slated to air on January 5, 2023. The series also stars Kim Ji Hoon, Super Junior, Choi Siwon, Sung Hoon, Kim Kang Hoon, Jang Seung Jo, Lee Jae Wook, Lee Do Hyun, Go Yoon Jung, Kim Jae Wook, Oh Jung Se along with Park So Dam, and Seo In Guk.

Death’s Game Review: Seo In Guk and Park So Dam lead riveting tale of 12 reincarnations and confronting the inevitable fate

Death’s Game Review: Seo In Guk and Park So Dam lead riveting tale of 12 reincarnations and confronting the inevitable fate

In the first four episodes, we are introduced to the leads and an ensemble character cast who appear as each of the twelve reincarnations Yee Jae is punished to live. So far, Yee Jae has had seven reincarnations. Each reincarnation faces a gruesome death at the hands of someone who thinks has been wronged or simply to get revenge. We saw a short flashback to seven years ago when Yee Jae first went for a job interview at the Taegang group. But he failed the interview after he saw a person die in front of his eyes on his way to the interview. Since then, he has had a stroke of bad luck at landing a stable job. Seven years later, he has a chance to once again appear at a job interview at Taegang. This is when we are introduced to the antagonist Park Tae Woo, played by Kim Ji Hoon. Park Tae Woo is the first son of the Taegang conglomerate. He is ruthless and spoiled to the best.

Death’s Game Review: Seo In Guk and Park So Dam lead riveting tale of 12 reincarnations and confronting the inevitable fate

As the episodes progress, we see the recurring mention or presence of the Taegang group in one way or the other. Interestingly, most of Yee Jae’s reincarnations also have a connection to each other. Yee Jae’s first reincarnation Park Jin Tae (played by Choi Si Won) is the second son and also the successor of the Taegang group. We see that he and Tae Woo don’t share an amicable relationship. It was Tae Woo who had ordered the hit on Jin Tae’s aircraft to make it look like an accident.

Death’s Game Review: Seo In Guk and Park So Dam lead riveting tale of 12 reincarnations and confronting the inevitable fate

Then Yee Jae is reincarnated as Hyeok Su (played by Kim Kang Hoon), a high school student who is often bullied. He gains confidence and does not take his own life but Jin Sang, his bully, kills him soon after. We also see Yee Jae reincarnate as an adventure seeker Song Jae Seop (played by Sung Hoon) who falls head first to his death after foolishly claiming to make a safe landing without a parachute. Then Yee Jae is reborn as Lee Ju Hun (Jang Seung Ho), a fixer with dangerous methods and connections. Ju Hun has stolen some money and Yee Jae decides to take it for himself. Then we see Yee Jae reincarnate as a five-month-old baby who is utterly neglected by the parents and is eventually killed.

Death’s Game Review: Seo In Guk and Park So Dam lead riveting tale of 12 reincarnations and confronting the inevitable fate

Yee Jae’s next birth is as 21-year-old Cho Tae Sang (played by Lee Jae Wook) lands in prison for a hit-and-run case by taking someone else’s blame on his head in exchange for money. The case turns into manslaughter when the victim passes away. He meets Hyeok Su’s murderer Jin Sang in prison. Tae Sang is eventually killed but the person who had originally committed the crime happens to be Tae Woo himself.

Death’s Game Review: Seo In Guk and Park So Dam lead riveting tale of 12 reincarnations and confronting the inevitable fate

Yee Jae’s seventh and latest reincarnation, Jang Geon U (played by Lee Do Hyun) is a successful and popular model. As Geon U, Yee Jae meets his girlfriend Ji Su and realizes how foolish he has been. Geon U is fatally injured after Tae Woo runs into him with his car. Geon U had been talking to Yee Jae’s girlfriend Ji Su. Ji Su succumbs on the spot, but Geon U still has some life in him. But Tae Woo kills him with his bare hands. Yee Jae makes a connection between his births and goes after the money stolen by Ju Hun. He finds it eventually and securely hands over a sum to his mother whom he dearly misses. In each of his births, we see that whenever he meets a motherly figure, he is brought down to tears thinking of all that she must have to go through after he took his own life.

Death’s Game Review: Seo In Guk and Park So Dam lead riveting tale of 12 reincarnations and confronting the inevitable fate

In the opening scene of the series, a haunting tableau unfolds – a cordoned accident site, bodies being somberly collected, blood staining the ground, and personal effects scattered. The mystery deepens as Episode Four unveils the identities of these victims, Geon U and Ji Su. Yee Jae, confronting Death in purgatory, takes a drastic turn by aiming a gun at the enigmatic figure’s head, leaving viewers on edge. The initial star-studded lineup teased in Death’s Game trailers has begun to unravel, with brief but impactful appearances from acclaimed actors.

Notably, Oh Jung Se’s role as an arresting police officer adds layers to the narrative, while the anticipation builds for Lee Jae Wook’s character, yet to grace the screen. With only a handful of episodes aired, the complexity of the plot promises more revelations, ensuring a riveting journey through the enigmatic world of Death’s Game.

Death’s Game Review: Seo In Guk and Park So Dam lead riveting tale of 12 reincarnations and confronting the inevitable fate

Through the cyclical dance of reincarnation, Death, portrayed with haunting grace by Park So Dam, unveils the profound complexity veiled by mortality. Each rebirth peels away the veneer, revealing that death transcends mere cessation of corporeal existence. It initiates the soul’s odyssey into an enigmatic realm. With a spectral presence, Death prompts Yee Jae and viewers alike to introspect on the facile treatment of death in conversations. Beyond casual discourse, death’s impact resonates deeply—leaving bereaved hearts, fractured support structures, and unchecked culpability. It challenges the frivolity with which society often handles the weighty concept, urging contemplation on the intricate tapestry woven by one’s demise.

Death’s Game Review: Seo In Guk and Park So Dam lead riveting tale of 12 reincarnations and confronting the inevitable fate

With four more episodes to go, there is bound to be more commentary on one’s take on dying, facing death and the afterlife. Park So Dam’s character Death is not your usual run-of-the-mill mystical figure. Despite being vicious and hard-core in approach, Death raises quite a few fundamental questions about the way the living perceive the afterlife. Through Seo In Guk’s Yee Jae, the writers take the audience on a cathartic journey of experiencing gut-wrenching moments between life and death. Many often wonder what it would be like to face death, and Yee Jae does.

The story is tightly packed with adequate focus on each point the writers want to highlight. With just about 45 minutes of runtime per episode, the makers have captured the plot well. One can fairly gauge how important a character would be depending on the screen time provided for each. Geon U is pivotal in Yee Jae resolving matters with his mother and his girlfriend. It remains to be seen what role Tae Woo plays further in the story.

Death’s Game Review: Seo In Guk and Park So Dam lead riveting tale of 12 reincarnations and confronting the inevitable fate

Throughout history, concepts like death and the afterlife have served as powerful reminders for humans to live with honesty and respect. Dramas like Death’s Game provoke contemplation, questioning the true nature of what we label as bad. While not an easy topic, these elements often become conduits for profound life lessons. They prompt us to reconsider whether adversity and negativity inherently carry wisdom and the potential for personal growth. Rather than dismissing them outright, we find that these seemingly adverse aspects of life can, paradoxically, become catalysts for transformative and enlightening experiences.

What do you think will happen next? Will Yee Jae finally crack Death’s riddles? Will he survive any of his reincarnations? Tell us in the comments below!

Also Read: Death’s Game: Lee Do Hyun in talks for guest appearance in Seo In Guk and Park So Dam’s new drama

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