“Circle” K-Drama Review: A Tale of Twin Brothers Separated By Time, Bound by Family Love

Here goes my Best Writing pick for 2017 K-Drama so far.  It helped that it was only 12 episodes, although it also became a disadvantage as some details were not elaborated.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed the exciting thread “Circle” initiated. 

Circle ambitiously taunts a revolutionary science fiction premise that is risky and exciting at the same time.  Every episode just keeps on unlocking a revelation after another, making me decide that it is futile to decipher its trajectory.  I felt fulfilled on the closure of the twins’ journey to be with each other, owing to how the writer elaborated all those reasons why I had to have faith that they will get a happy ending.

Here’s the link for my full hellokpop review.  Below is the plot summary for you romance.

Kindly like my abbyinhallyuland facebook page as well.  Happy 4th of July from my side of the world!  -abbyinhallyuland

PLOT SUMMARY

Divided into two parts, Circle: Two Connected Worlds take turns using the present and future time frames in chronicling the story of twin brothers Kim Woo Jin and Kim Beom Gyun.  The current timeline is named Beta Project while the future timeline dated 20 years after takes the Brave New World title.

BETA PROJECT

When young Kim Woo Jin (Yeo Jin Goo) gets lost in a mountain, his twin Kim Beom Gyun (Ahn Woo Yeon) finds him to bring him home.  Little Beom Gyun castigates his younger brother on his alien hunting adventure. But then a flood light shines at their direction, rushing them to escape the scene.  Luckily, their father comes to their aid as an alien approaches them, turning herself into a beautiful woman before losing consciousness.

Fast forward to 2017 – when Kim Woo Jin is trying to make the ends meet with the financial constraints he has to shoulder after their father vanished with alien Byul.  His brother, who got obsessed by aliens, served a prison time after being admitted in a mental facility.  An unfortunate murder happens at Woo Jin’s school, and he suspects his elder twin has something to do with it, which the latter flatly denies it.

Woo Jin catches his twin brother on the act after following him to a motel.  From there, he confirms that his elder brother’s alien delusion is still on full swing.  Beom Gyun brings his younger brother to a place where he can prove his sanity – only to find an empty space.

Woo Jin argues to get him treated. But Beom Gyun runs outside with his brother chasing behind. They stop at their tracks, when the alien girl who took their father away from them, walks from the other side of the road, appearing with her same youthful appearance.

Beom Gyun ends up getting a treatment at a hospital, and insists how the alien girl is involved in the serial suicide cases happening at Woo Jin’s university.  The twins engage in a heated argument, making Woo Jin to rant how confronting the alien will not do them any good.

Beom Gyun argues that their father is taken by her. But his twin has enough of the burdens which he has had to bear from his dysfunctional family. Woo Jin vows that his brother will not see him anymore if he walks away, and not heed his request to stop his illusions.

The next day, the alien girl, Han Jung Yeon (Gong Seung Yun), appears in front of Woo Jin as a new classmate.  He dismisses his brother’s claim as everything she does looks human to him.  When he looks for his older brother, he notices his camera and finds a recording of Jung Yeon inside his motel room.

Beom Gyun continues his alien investigation when a flash of light blinds him. Woo Jin confronts Jung Yeon on why she is at his brother’s motel room.  She responds how she thinks his brother is the culprit of the suicide incidents in the university.  She teams up with him to look for his missing brother, and explains how she is investigating the suicide events due to her friend who died because of it.

The two go through Woo Jin’s brother’s notes, and stumbles on a possible list of future victims.  They fail to warn the next victim as she commits suicide, showing the initial signs of the death streak happening in the school.  They discovers a blue worm that comes out from the victim, dissects it, and realizes it is a micro-robot.

Woo Jin remembers his last conversation with his brother when he sees Jung Yeon’s email address note.  He rushes to her place and finds another blue worm thriving on a soil pot.  At an abandoned building, Beom Gyun wakes up, realizing he is locked up inside a room, while Jung Yeon walks to the very same place where he is imprisoned.

Jung Yeon is attacked by someone but Woo Jin comes to save her.  He runs for the attacker but lost her in an alley.  Jung Yeon clears his discovery of the blue worm that he found in her place.  She explains that the worm came out from her dead friend’s body.  Beom Gyun feigns unconscious when his captor approaches to attempt an escape route. But the latter subdues him with a tranquilizer shot.  A blue worm is planted inside his body while Detective Hong surveys the deserted hospital.  Woo Jin is summoned to a park by the same woman he chased who attacked Jung Yeon.  The two head to the park where the woman fails again to charge on Jung Yeon.  Woo Jin questions her about his brother and she has cited a proof of Jung Yeon’s alien identity.  Woo Jin recognizes the star he gave the alien when they were young and shows the picture to Jung Yeon who admits that she does not have memories.  Prof Han, Jung Yeon’s father, receives a phone call that her daughter skips her treatment again and we see him monitor the unconscious Beom Gyun from his computer. Puzzled by Jung Yeon’s declared past, Woo Jin seeks answers through the research conducted by his father.  Jung Yeon debates whether she will open the star keychain Woo Jin claimed to have been given to alien “Byul” when he was young.   He meets his brother’s friend, Park Min Young, and they go to where she is supposed to meet Beom Gyun before he disappeared.  They bump with Detective Hong who is also investigating.  They stumble on a crime scene, at that same moment, Jung Yeon confirms Woo Jin’s words to be true about her real identity.  Woo Jin chases after an ambulance with a bluebird logo where he sees Beom Gyun trying to reach him in his bloodied hands.

Min Young remembers the van that took Beom Gyun as a roving blood donation van.  Her selfie captured the first victim also donating blood to the roving van.  Min Young chides Woo Jin for withholding Jung Yeon and Professor Han’s relationship.  Jung Yeon teams with Woo Jin to discover details about Prof Han’s lies.  Woo Jin discovers old pictures of Prof Han working in Hansung hospital along with a picture of Woo Jin’s father with him.  Detective Hong gets the same information from a patient who used to be subjected to an experiment in the hospital.  Detective Hong confronts Woo Jin and Jung Yeon about their fathers’ experiment.  Prof Park learns about Prof Han’s activity behind his back.  The former is aghast about how his blue microbot invention is the cause of the recent student deaths, but the latter smirks that they are together in that research.  Min Young tells Detective Hong about the people in the van when she had her blood taken while Woo Jin finds the video footage of his brother from Prof Han’s computer.  He calls the police station and is met by Detective Hong’s subordinate who secretly works for Prof Han.  He is brought in the hospital where the scientist discloses the experiment he was working on with his father on erasing memories that would make life better for the people.  He mutters how when Byul came she gave the solution to their problem but his father hid the research results.

Prof Han begs Woo Jin to help with the research details but the latter responds that he does not know anything about his father’s work since he just learned that he is a neuro-scientist.  Prof Han makes a nonsensical bargain to make Woo Jin finds his father’s research or he will continue killing people.  Woo Jin rummaged on his father’s things and retrieves his old calling card for his previous work email.  He cracks the security code of his father’s email to get information about the experiment.  Detective Hong visits the research team’s office where he inquires Prof Park about the bluebot to which he denies association with.  Prof Park corners student assistant Hyun Seok and he learns from him about the research on saving memories in the form of video files.  Second bout of confrontation happens as Jung Yeon speaks with her foster-father who discloses why her memories as Byul will resolve all the problems he has at that moment.  He explains how she has cracked the resolution on the neuroscience research they were working on before, but Prof Kim locked her memories somewhere.  He threatens her to stay still or the twins’ lives will be at stake.  Prof Park goes back to the research office and finds the video planted by Jung Yeon, Min Young who is hiding underneath a desk takes away the camera and threatens the professor with a taser.  Prof Park appeases her and offers to join hands in locating Beom Gyun.  Woo Jin on the other hand walks to the neighborhood of their old house and receives a call from Prof Park that Beom Gyun is in their old house.  Woo Jin finds two men in the yard and rushes to look for his brother.  The men block his way so he grabs a shovel to smash on the bad guys.  With blood dripping from his head, he heads to find his brother who is unconsciously laying down on their father’s old office floor.  Beom Gyun wakes up to the sound of his crying brother.  He apologizes for putting him up to trouble.  While the two brothers got reunited, the computer screen powers up back to life.

The twins are rescued and they rush to the hospital.  Prof Park figures that Woo Jin is the key to open his father’s computer that stores the hidden research data.  Jung Yeon escapes her foster crazy father who heads to meet Hyun Seok to retrieve their research data.  Prof Park who is already there confronts him about his fatal experiments.  He reveals how he needs it to complete the research Prof Kim started which is viewing human memories in videos and tampering the memories as well.  Prof Park feigns knowledge on the blue microbot he created when Woo Jin and Jung Yeon visits him.  He leads the two to Woo Jin’s old house after learning that Prof Han planted a secret camera in the room.  The three confirm the memory viewing and alteration Prof Han is obsessed about as Woo Jin’s memory is displayed on his dad’s computer screen from the yellow star that was given to him by Byul when he was young.

Prof Park pretends as an emissary of Prof Han in negotiating with Woo Jin.  The latter lay his condition for his brother to get the surgery in exchange of his father’s research.  Woo Jin who learns that his father destroyed the research tricks the villains by sacrificing himself.  He bargains that he has the recollection of the research details and destroys the USB card that contains his father’s warning video that he already destroyed the result of the study.  Woo Jin learns Prof Park’s ploy and conspiracy to the same company who initially sponsored Prof Han.  He leads them to their old house and successfully eludes his captors.  They chase him into the woods where he reaches the road, but accidentally got driven over by Hyung Seok.  Prof Park keeps Woo Jin who is slowly deteriorating.  He meets up with a scientist who has studied human cloning.  Woo Jin eventually dies and a clone was created from his memory.

BRAVE NEW WORLD

20 years later, Seoul is divided between the utopian “smart earth” where no crimes and clean city exists versus the dystopian “normal earth” struggling with pollution and a trouble infested society. Detective Kim Joon Hyuk (Kim Kang Woo) tracks down an infamous hacker that will help the police unit he is part of in their operation to hack smart earth. They surprisingly receive a help call from a resident of smart earth reporting a murder case. Together with his chief who is obsessed on a felon he let go a long time ago, they head to smart earth portal to work on the case. The lead peacekeeper of smart earth Lee Ho Soo (Lee Ki Kwang) refuses their presence citing the impossibility of the claim due to the stable care system planted to all citizens of smart earth that monitors and calms human emotions. But another video evidence back up the police intention so he is escorted to the smart earth where he wants to be, owing to his secret goal of finding his missing brother.

Joon Hyuk proceeds with his investigation of the runaway murderer just as he is being probed by “Human B (the security department of smart earth), due to him having no history trace except for the last 10 years.  He obtains the chip card of the first victim and sends it to normal earth so his resident hacker can work on cracking something useful for his inquisition.

Joon Hyuk investigates on Jin Gyu, the guardian of Min Ji based on a phone call 20 years ago. He deduces how memories of the chip enabled smart earth people have been tampered. They go to normal earth to conduct and investigation, but bluebird hacker prevents them from retrieving the information they need. Ho Soo, who is experiencing strange memory flashbacks, ponders on Jin Hyuk’s deduction on how Human B is “bluebird”. He starts reclaiming images of a woman who turns out to be his dead ex-girlfriend. Joon Hyuk and his team track down “bluebird” moving in smart earth, but failed to catch him when Ho Soo interfered. Joon Hyuk berates Ho Soo who reasons how letting the memories be buried is a good thing as long as people are happy. Joon Hyuk reveals that he lost his memories too.

Joon Hyuk tells Ho Soo that he does not have any memory and narrates how Detective Jang gave him a new identity. Smart Earth people regains their blocked painful memories due to “bluebird’s” messing up of the system. Joon Hyuk and his team realize that bluebird has been unsealing the memories and is not affiliated with Human B.  Joon Hyuk heads to smart earth to find bluebird. On his way he receives a phone call from the exact person he is looking for. Joon Hyuk is given a map to follow so he goes back to normal earth stopping by at a university, an apartment, a bakery and to an old motel room. Through those stops he remembers pieces of his memory with his twin and he finally remembers his brother Woo Jin, as it turns out the he is 2017 Beom Gyun. At bluebird’s lair the hacker’s face is finally shown revealing Jung Yeon.

Joon Hyuk is kidnapped by Human B but Minister Park (2017 Prof Park) halts the plan to insert the monitoring chip. Joon Hyuk wakes up and Minister Park arrives to talk to him. He divulges how Woo Jin could possibly be the chairman of Human B to which Jung Yeon agrees.
Joon Hyuk meets blue bird who turns out to be Han Jung Yeon. Ho Soo tips “Human B” and they are on a standby on what the meeting people would do. Jung Yeon escapes the scene as Human B chief who is Woo Jin’s college senior in the past Hyung Seok, reminisces on his memory of Jung Yeon. Joon Hyuk meets with Detective Hong and Min Young about the recent development about bluebird. Joon Hyuk meets with smart earth city mayor so he can get permission to enter their world again. He bargains his need to meet bluebird who will confirm how Human B is instigating memory blockage to the citizens. City Mayor approves and shows how Ho Soo has made a secret deal with Human B chief as well. The mayor meets Minister Park who is Prof Han’s assistant researcher in the past. He discusses Human B’s illegal business but the Minister refuses to let go of Human B’s system. Ho Soo is still ordered to trail Joon Hyuk. When they are about to eat dinner he receives a message to meet the Human B Chief as Jung Yeon appears to where Joon Hyuk is.

Joon Hyuk is in denial that his twin is Human B’s chairman, but Minister Park believes that it is possible given that Woo Jin had the technology before he vanished. He reveals that he knows his twin well and reveals to the latter that his memories are all of Woo Jin since he lost all his memories. Jung Yeon visits normal earth and narrates how it was Joon Hyuk who pushed the idea to his twin when he was found 20 years ago without memories but feeling happy. It was then that Woo Jin realized the potential of the technology so he might have made the choice to work on that project.
Mayor Yoon refuses to reveal the glitch of Human B technology with an excuse that it will alarm the citizens. He requests time from Minister Park to sort out their options. Mayor Yoon releases Human B Chief with the condition of meeting Human B chairman and speaking with him only about matters regarding Human B. At normal earth, Min Ji’s abductor, Park Jin Gyu, is released since there are no crime evidence to pin him down. Detective Hong tells him that he will pay for his crime as it will haunt him and responds that they don’t know where Min Ji is. Soon enough Min Ji corners her abductor. She she cuts her pulse in front of him with the goal of making him remember a horrible thing that he did to her.

Joon Hyuk argues with Detective Hong if working on the case makes sense since he is torn into accepting the idea of how erasing bad memories prevents pain from happening over again. Ho Soo who has remembered everything meets the abusive father of his ex-lover living a normal life unaware of how he sexually violated his daughter. From there, he counters Joon Hyuk’s idea citing how memories serves justice and will make humans responsible for their actions. Joon Hyuk heads to Human B and advises the Chief to relay his message to the chairman of his proposed closed door meeting with him and bluebird. At that same moment a mysterious man walks on Joon Hyuk’s room and left a phone with details of a rendezvous.
Joon Hyuk videocalls bluebird of his intention to meet Human B’s chairman. Human B chief advises chairman of Joon Hyuk’s deal. Ho Soo and Joon Hyuk finds the old cellphone left by the mysterious man and Joon Hyuk notices it to be his old phone. Mayor Yoon recalls where he met Minister Park. It dawns on him that he is the chariman of Human B. Mnister Park blocks the memory of their conversation.

Joon Hyuk and Jung Yeon stalk Hyung Seok’s right hand in an attempt to locate Woo Jin. They go to a house where deranged Prof Han is babbling nonsense on how Woo Jin is already dead, but counters how the super computer of Human B is working fine so Woo Jin is not supposed to be dead. Ho Soo finds out that the hostaged villain sends a danger sign to her superior. He sacrifices himself for the two to escape. Jung Yeon plants a virus on Ho Soo’s smart care chip disabling Human B’s system. The two infiltrate the building but the fiends realize their intention. Just then the power shut down so she takes advantage to escape the holding cell.

At another room, Woo Jin wakes up appearing to have not aged at all. He goes out and bumps with Joon Hyuk and Jung Yeon. They take advantage of the chaos to run away meeting the normal earth police team who are off to rescue Joon Hyuk. They settle to a nearby chapel where they learn that Woo Jin is indeed a clone with all the memories of dead Woo Jin. They debate on what to do with him when an arrest order is issued for the twins and Jung Yeon. Joon Hyuk rushes to find clone Woo Jin who is about to turn himself in to Human B. Upon realizing how his younger brother made the sacrifice for his treatment, they embrace each other after the long battle to be with each other.

The team devise a plan to battle Human B by using Woo Jin as a bait. Minister Park retrieves Woo Jin’s memory so the team has 45 minutes to hack the system while it is up. Minister Park figures their plan, but misses the part how the twins trick him by using the secret communication code they used to do when they were young. It was not captured in Woo Jin’s video film so Joon Hyuk and Jung Yeon, who pretended members of the SWAT team are able to follow the fleeing Minister Park with Woo Jin. But Hyung Seok and his men appear to protect Minister Park.

Detective Hong and his team meanwhile carries on with the other part of the twins’ plan by rescuing Mayor Yoon so Woo Jin’s student hacker can retrieve back the piece of evidence that Human B has been blocking the citizens’ memories. They stream it for all smart earth citizens to see finally cornering the evil villains. Woo Jin who secures the cube that connects him and the memory technology throw it in the air, and the greedy Minister chases after it meeting his death as he falls down from the building.  Mayor Yoon takes over the ruckus that happened in smart earth as the twins and Jung Yeon go back to normal earth.

 

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