We don’t have many science fiction Korean dramas and when one comes up, I’m always interested to see how they will handle it. This drama is already throwing us a lot of questions. Can machines have emotions? Can we trust their decisions? Can they be treated the same as humans? Having enjoyed I’m Not a Robot and being a long-time fan of Data and R. Daneel Olivaw, you can imagine that I will be on the side of the robot!
If you have not watched yet, be aware that there are SPOILERS!
The Sci-fi Trappings
At Dramas with a Side of Kimchi we don’t usually report dramas step by step, but discuss the most important scenes and ideas. The first of these is having one person develop an android by herself. Because our chief scientist is the mother of a child who was kidnapped by his wealthy grandfather. She hides out in Czechia and makes a robot as a replacement for her son, Shin. Here we see her putting the face on Shin 1. How are they getting us to accept all this?
They have put a lot into to making Mom believable as a robotocist. She is introduced as a robotics specialist, giving a presentation at a conference. In the Czech Republic she has a lab, a work partner, and tons of money. They show us plenty of computers and how she makes changes to create Shin 2 and then develops a new process of growing nerves and tissues onto metal underpinnings to create Shin 3. This lab is a credible setting.
They make sure we know that Shin 3 can interact with other AI devices and hack into other systems. It is fun to watch him changing the traffic lights at the market in Czechia; messing with the lights and blinds at Shin’s house, and making friends with the robotic vacuum. We are set up to believe in this part of the plot.
However to suddenly have a holodeck thrown at us is another thing. It’s pulled straight out of Star Trek to teach Shin 3 how to behave as Shin. There is a sofa that is tangible enough to sit on but he walks through some of the people, so it’s not consistant.
Trucks of Doom who find their target even though Director Seo’s minion is following the wrong person, ambulances that appear out of nowhere when Mom needs one, a completely empty hospital and instant access to operating rooms, are plot holes and don’t count as sci-fi. If too many pile up it will get annoying, but for now we will overlook them because of our two cute guys who are alike but very different.
What is a Friend?
The human Shin grows up and runs away to find his mother. He doesn’t confide in Secretary Ji and yet his secretary puts in a lot of effort to track him down and is willing to help when he finds that Shin is injured. Would you say these two are friends? Secretary Ji knows that Director Seo is dangerous but still gets involved with Shin 3 and coaches him how to fit in. Secretary Ji’s friend Dr. Cha falsifies hospital records and helps treat Shin when they bring him back to Korea still in a coma. These friends risk a lot for each other.
So Bong and Reporter Jo seem to be friends, and yet Reporter Jo pulls a trick on her that Shin planned, to create a diversion so he could get away from his guards. She seems to not have realized the trouble it would make, and is trying to make it up to So Bong. The underhanded Director Seo is friendly to So Bong, but not a friend. He gets her to sympathize with him and spy on Shin. When she is hired on as Shin’s bodyguard for a month she plants a bug in his room.
The Worth of AI
The scene where the new driverless car is introduced is really the theme of the drama. Director Seo asks, “What would the car do if a crash were imminent and it had to choose between two people it was going to hit?” Shin 3 responds that people do the programming. But can people accept the decisions of a machine?
When the building catches fire during the party to celebrate the new car, Shin 3 goes into disaster mode and rescues several people. Is that above what a human would do? In fact he pushes the falling balcony back up and frees So Bong from the heavy beams. When she excuses her rapidly beating heart by claiming it is his, he responds that he doesn’t have a heart. He doesn’t feel emotions when in disaster mode, but the sweet way he looks at Mom makes us think that he usually has them. This is something we will be watching.
What Were They Thinking?
What was So Bong thinking to take spy pictures of Shin a second time? She was already in trouble for that. And why did’t she have more of a fit after seeing Shin 3 lifting up all those girders? Besides that I really wonder what Chairman Nam was thinking to not want Mom helping develop his driverless cars. She is one of the more advanced scientists in AI. But mostly I am wondering what the writers are planning to do with their robot and if he will be treated as a person or an appliance. And how long human Shin is going to remain in a coma.
Follow along as we find out!
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