The world of today runs on connectivity, and mobile phones are the primary means of staying connected to the rest of the world. We treat our phones as diaries that hold everything from pictures of a lovely trip to the contacts of people we need every day. Now imagine a stranger getting access to everything about our phones and also being able to maintain surveillance on our every move 24/7. This became a reality for Lee Na-Mi, a young woman whose phone was hacked by a psychopath. Kim Tae-joon’s “Unlocked” talks about a very real threat and shows just how anyone might be at risk of being hacked and having their entire lives ruined. “Unlocked” has a few characters, but here are the three who stand out as being the most important to the story.
Lee Na-Mi (Woo-Hee Chun)
A young employee in a start-up marketing company, Na Mi’s best friend in the whole world, apart from Eun Ju, is her smartphone. Spending her entire day with her phone, from playing games to checking out recipes, she might even consider herself handicapped if the device is away from her for a minute. A bubbly, cheerful girl whose life is all about her friends and working hard at the Mizi Café her father runs, Na Mi is the kind of person who’d quickly befriend people, maybe because of her nature of easily trusting people. She’s such a pushover when it comes to strangers that she barely questions other people’s motives, even when their actions might suggest something fishy at work. When her father warns her to be wary of the young man who starts frequenting their café, she’s quick to pick a fight with him because she mistakes his concern as possessiveness. Na Mi preferred having virtual connections over building relationships in real life, which is mostly the reason why she had nobody to turn to when her life was ruined by malicious software. Na Mi rarely speaks up for herself; when she realizes that her phone has been hacked and all her colleagues despise her, she begs and grovels with her boss to believe her. The boss, furious because her company is falling apart, literally throws her out of the office, and Na Mi lies on the floor without even raising a finger against this behavior. In front of the grossly incompetent police officer who wants proof before taking on the case of cyber fraud, Eun Ju wants to argue their case, but Na Mi chooses to leave.
Be it her nature to make her phone the doorway to her whole life or her gullibility, Na Mi was easy prey. When Jun Young plants the seeds of doubt in her mind about who could have hacked her phone, she immediately turns on her best friend, Eun Ju, because it’s easy to blame a person she can see instead of considering a possibility beyond what a stranger suggests. By a random turn of events, she ends up in the mobile repair shop where her phone was hacked for the first time and is able to uncover the scam she’s been a victim of. Had her screen never cracked, she’d have always been oblivious to the twisted game that was being played with her. During the showdown, she has a hidden knife she can use to attack the psychopath Jun-Young, but she decides against it because he knows the location of her father. She could have easily stabbed him and would have found her father inside the bathroom anyway. The only time she takes proper action is when she’s convinced her father is dead and Jun-Young will not be punished and chooses to shoot him in the chest. Sure, that keeps him alive so that he can face the law later, but she really showed restraint there, not putting a bullet in the psychopath’s rotten and sick brain.
Jun Young (Yim Si Wan)
A one-dimensional psychopath who plays with his victims by destroying their lives first and then killing them—usually by drowning— Jun Young is a run-of-the-mill sadist with zero depth to his character. However, his real identity is unknown because, as a news report announces towards the end, his real name was never registered, which made it so easy for him to take up another person’s identity. Jun Young is methodical, calculative, and completely devoid of empathy or emotions, making him an ideal psychopath. He can emulate the expressions of normal people when needed, be it acting genuine and polite with a girl whose phone he’s hacking or behaving like an innocent citizen being harassed by the police. He can emulate these expressions, but he’ll never feel them. If the news is to be believed, he was probably an orphan or never knew his parents, but there are millions of such children, and not all grow up to be cold-blooded psychopaths. He was evil—no questions there—but he was technologically quite the expert. Sure, a lot of the events happened in his favor—finding Na Mi’s phone, being able to find her entire life history inside the phone, and his victim being a gullible lamb—but he designs everything in his favor. He even pats his own back indirectly when Na Mi meets him in her café regarding her hacked phone by praising whoever hacked into her device.
Jun-Young harms people, ruins their lives, and kills them when they’re completely broken and have nothing more left to live for, but he never has a reason to do so. He picks Na Mi as his next victim simply because she dropped her phone on a bus, and he was the one who found it. Although his targets have no particular pattern, he has a habit of collecting trophies and being a mobile expert of sorts; he collects his victims’ phones as trophies. Kim Tae-joon was really trying to create the worst villain ever when he gave his psychopath the hobby of setting each phone’s wallpaper as a photo of the victim’s final moments. Jun Young has a detailed process on how to ruin people’s lives—he lists everything he can find about his victims from their phones, selects their closest contacts, removes them from the victim’s life, and then plays a game. Upon kidnapping his victims, he gives them 24 hours to be contacted by anyone at all, and if nobody comes to their rescue, he proceeds to murder them. But let’s face it, even if someone did come; he’d probably kill them too, being a sadistic freak and all.
Apart from his technological expertise with all things mobile phones, he’s a smooth talker and even better at pulling at the heartstrings of the ones suffering. For years, he turned the real Jun Young’s mother away from her husband by painting the detective Ji Man in a horrible light, and with a gun at his face, he pleaded with him in pain just as his son would. He quickly drops the act, though, to show that he was just playing with a traumatized father, and this shows that not only did he not have an inkling of empathy in him, but he also did not learn fear. That’s a possible side effect of being too twisted in the head, but we never get to know what becomes of him after he’s arrested because the news report announces that he’s still unconscious.
Ji-Man (Kim Hee Won)
A detective trying to solve the case of buried bodies near a deserted forest that he and his son used to frequent when he was young, Ji-Man is also a father estranged from his son Jun-Young. He hasn’t had any contact with his son ever since he left home seven years ago, and he learns that his son, Woo Jun-Young, is still in contact with the same mother he abandoned when she fell ill, and he holds grudges against his negligent father. Ji-Man suffers from the regret of not being able to connect with him while he is still there. When the clues at the crime scene point towards the hobbies Jun-Young had, Ji-Man decides to hunt down his son and arrest him. He arrives at the place he was known to live and finds notes, pictures, and other pointers that further suggest Jun-Young is a murderer, but Ji-Man wants to catch his son in the act. His belief that Jun-Young is too much of a simpleton to kill anyone is constantly rocked.
When he learns that his son’s body has been found towards the end, Ji Man’s heart of a father doesn’t want to believe it, and he instantly melts when Jun Young pleads with him as his son. It’s only after seeing the wallpaper of his dead son on Jun-Young’s phone that he’s satisfied that his son is dead, and he points the gun at the psychopath. However, he asks to be arrested, and the emotions of a father need to be suppressed because of the duties of a detective, so he has to lower his gun. Ji Man’s character hasn’t been fleshed out too much, and it’d have been good to see him more as a father than a detective.