Another KBS Drama Special, another excellent and thought-provoking hour of television. The 2018 episode Dreamers (도피자들) is another in the long line of stunningly genre-bending entries in the anthology series. Dreamers presents an imaginative treatment of real world struggles, which in turn results in an introspective and eye-opening look at love, loss and healing.
Detective Ji Wook (Lee Hak Joo) finds himself escaping from that real world into dreams as he tries to come to terms with the death of his girlfriend Huiju (Choi Yu Hwa). He is seemingly able to spend time with her in his dreams, even if for just a short period of time. But a mysterious mob boss-like figure (Kim Joo Hun), apparently in charge of regulating visits to this world, ensures Ji Wook does not remember the encounters once he wakes back up.
Ji Wook’s silent grieving has started to affect his work and daily life. But he soon meets in his dreams a woman named Se Young (Kim Sae Byuk) who too has been escaping into this world and is a bit more experienced with how to navigate it.
Just as Ji Wook tries to find answers to his girlfriend’s death, Se Young is also dealing with loss and the two somehow manage to help each other in this mysterious dreamworld.
Dreamers is a captivating mix of gritty noir and soft, ethereal moments. The episode captures that sort of fantastical world that is our dreams. But also touches upon how those dreams can very much be influenced or be a response to our everyday world. That is, our worlds when we are awake.
As Ji Wook, and later Se Young, try to heal over their respective loss, this escape into dreams illustrates that often difficult process. In turn, it’s an intriguing way to highlight as well other situations and experiences in which we might be eager to escape into a dream. Whether it is for a short time just to get away or perhaps a longer, more introspective journey.
The way Dreamers unfolds is one of its best aspects. There’s a bit of exciting wonder in the midst of emotionally affecting realizations. Everyone has different ways of coping or dealing with different kinds of struggles or hardship. And Dreamers shows how dreams can be one of those ways.
The cast delivers excellent performances. Especially Lee Hak Joo as our main character Ji Wook. But also Kim Joo Hun as the mysterious man in charge of the dream world. Along with Kim Sae Byuk and Choi Yu Hwa, the performances really bring to life that almost intangible and indescribable feeling one will have when dealing with such difficult circumstances in life.
Ultimately, Dreamers offers a memorable and thought-provoking look at loss and healing. A truly captivating hour of storytelling.