In Room No. 9, Kim Hee Sun’s character, Hae Yi, a brilliant, but heartless lawyer, and Kim Hae Sook’s character, Hwa Sa, a woman unjustly accused of murder, switch bodies because of some spooky magic.
In this Freaky Friday-style sci-fi mystery, Hae Yi is a glamorous lawyer who long ago traded her principles for a chance at power. After sabotaging Hwa Sa’s parole hearing, Hae Yi justly gets to walk a mile in her shoes. No longer powerful, beautiful or free, she begins to understand the enormity of what she’s done and that Hwa Sa is innocent. Hwa Sa, now in Hae Yi’s body, has little pity for her and no feelings for her doctor boyfriend, played by Kim Young Kwang. He’s understandably upset by his woman’s sudden change of heart since they were about to exchange rings, just days before the freaky magic.
Trapped in Hwa Sa’s body Hae Yi tries to convince others what happened but her bizarre tale of body swapping is impossible to believe. When she confesses the transition to her former boyfriend, he’s repulsed. How could this woman think he would believe that she is his beautiful girlfriend.
But then he suddenly does—and that moment reminded me of the time I first fell in love with k-dramas. It was the moment in Coffee Prince when Gong Yoo finds that his attraction to Yoon Eun Hye’s character is too strong to resist. She’s been pretending to be a boy, because she needs a job. He’s been fighting his feelings because he’s convinced he’s heterosexual but then he decides that it doesn’t matter whether she is a girl, a boy, or an alien. He’s in love and he can’t fight his feelings any longer.
The scene between Kim Young Kwang and Kim Hae Sook has a similar feeling. It’s reminiscent of not only of Coffee Prince but of the funny closing scene in Some Like It Hot or the more serious k-movie Beauty Inside. While the glamorous Hae Yi is supposed to be three years older than Yoo Jin in the drama, Hwa Sa is three decades older. She’s not only old enough to be his mother, she’s in poor health and has been in jail for 30 years.
Yoo Jin recognizes Hae Yi when he sees the rings bearing the word “veritas,” which he wanted engraved as a reminder of his true love. At that point the story truly becomes a fairy tale.
In fairy tales characters must overcome obstacles and learn to recognize what’s valuable, despite misleading appearances. They must learn to separate the gold from the dross. In spite of its sometimes meandering plot and occasionally confusing flashbacks, Episode in Room #9 is a fairy tale about just that. It’s about the importance of setting your life on the right path, no matter how far you’ve strayed. It’s about love that does not rely on exterior glamour and about mercy being merciful to those who offer it. The transformation also helps Yoo Jin recognize the dark story behind his birth and wealthy, seemingly perfect family. Everything is not what it seems. Everything is interrelated.
At the moment Yoo Jin realizes he’s talking to Hae Yi, viewers need to witness Hae Yi’s redemption. Love that constant is rare. Maybe it just happens in fairy tales. Maybe it can just work out in a k-drama.
You can see this drama on viki.com.