My Perfect Stranger is a Korean drama that takes us back to 1987 to solve the mysterious case of a serial killer. The protagonists, too, travel back from 2021 to 1987 in a car that is a time-traveling machine, yes, like in Back To The Future, and remain there in order to solve the mystery along with their family problems. Hae-Joon and Yoon-Young try really hard to find the murderer back in 1987 and almost peg it on Go Mi-Sook, a lying cheat who happens to write a book that details the murders precisely. Some things don’t add up in this plot line because how did Mi-Sook know every little detail when it wasn’t her or her brother who murdered the victims? In episode 14, the real killer is revealed to be Yeon-Woo, the village Chief’s son, who is coincidentally also Hae-Joon’s father.
A young Yeon-Woo resented his mother because she never treated him warmly. She would always read her books and ignore her son, so Yeon-Woo began to hold a grudge against women like his mother who read books. It’s not a very strong villain origin story and definitely doesn’t give him an excuse to murder innocent women for no reason whatsoever. We never learn why Yeon-Woo picked certain girls, for example, Go Mi-Sook read a lot and was never attacked. In the case of Kyung-Ae, she was only holding a book in her hand; was that reason enough for Yeon-Woo to bludgeon her to death? Through all these factors, we can assume that Yeon-Woo is just a cold-hearted murderer who uses his mother as an excuse to kill innocent people. We never see a sign of regret from him, even after he’s caught. On the other hand, it looks like Yeon-Woo had a great relationship with his own father, who did everything he could in order for his son to be happy. The Chief’s only fault may have been giving Yeon-Woo too much of his love. It’s another case of nature vs. nurture, and this time, Yeon-Woo’s nature won over.
Yeon-Woo And Chung-A
When Hae-Joon asks Yeon-Woo if he really did love Chung-A, Yeon-Woo replies that he did. He tells Hae-Joon that he chose an orphan woman because she was desperate for a family of her own and would never abandon her own son the way Yeon-Woo was abandoned. If only he hadn’t killed people, that might have actually been the case, but instead, Yeon-Woo was the cause of a reverse effect on Chung-A, who chose to leave Hae-Joon in the care of his grandfather because she was afraid he would end up as vicious as Yeon-Woo. It’s very sad that Hae-Joon never tells Chung-A the truth about who he is and instead tells her to be free of him before she’s even given birth to him. Hae-Joon could not survive the guilt of making his mother unhappy, so ultimately, he chose her happiness over his own wish to have a mother. Hae-Joon chose not to be selfish and gave his mother the freedom to live her own life.
Yeon-Woo Vs. Hae-Joon
It is interesting to see two sides of the same coin in the case of father and son. While Hae-Joon’s abandonment made him an independent person who stayed away from love and chose to be alone for fear of abandonment, Yeon-Woo decided to pursue love in the hope of a better life for his future son and then proceeded to mess that up by becoming a serial killer. It almost feels like this whole angle was added just to set up a twist in the show and to make sure it’s clear why Hae-Joon had to be the one to find the car, but in my humble opinion, Go Mi-Sook would’ve been a much more compelling villain, and it didn’t matter if that was predictable because that’s not the main plot of the story. Instead, we could’ve seen Hae-Joon get close to his estranged father and find a way back to his mother, who abandoned him because she “thought” Yeon-Woo was the murderer. For once, when we need misunderstandings, they’re not there. Additionally, we will never learn why Yeon-Woo tried to kill his own grown son in the future. There are a few ways we can speculate on this. Yeon-Woo realized Hae-Joon was going to go back in time and end everything for him, so instead of talking it out with him, Yeon-Woo ended up trying to murder him. Even Soon-Ae’s murder was very random because Yeon-Woo had no connection with her except that he killed her sister. Soon-Ae never went looking for clues because the suspect, Min-Soo, had been in prison for 30 years.
Why Did The Chief Protect Yeon-Woo Both Times?
After the killer is revealed, Hae-Joon remembers a time when his father sent him a letter, and his grandfather took it from him. The Chief had cursed out his son for being reckless, meaning he knew that could’ve been used as evidence against Yeon-Woo. The Chief tells Hae-Joon the second time around that he wants to protect Hae-Joon’s childhood and give him a good future with his father. Hae-Joon is quick to tell his grandfather that even after doing all of this, Hae-Joon’s future ends up being lonely and painful. The kid was never loved by his grandfather, who might have seen Yeon-Woo in him. He was abandoned by his mother, who was also cursed out by the Chief. Maybe Hae-Joon’s grandfather wasn’t happy to take up the sole responsibility for Hae-Joon, and that’s why he disliked Chung-A for leaving him, but he probably didn’t connect the dots and realized that she might’ve known the truth about Yeon-Woo.
Ultimately, Yeon-Woo is just an intrinsically bad person who happened to ruin a lot of lives, especially those of those close to him. A grown-up Hae-Joon would never be disappointed in not knowing his father, and it seems to us that he did a good job raising his own son. What I do appreciate is the comparison between how Yeon-Woo and Hae-Joon turned out in similar circumstances, but there were a lot of loopholes in the idea as a whole. Still, as I consider the murder mystery a secondary plot point, it seems like a decent outcome.