Contains spoilers for the Korean drama series “Tomorrow”. Content / Trigger Warning: Suicide
Fantasy K-drama Tomorrow is probably the last thing I would have consumed for comfort. I’d been re-watching and rereading the Spy x Family anime and manga to the ground in the worst days of my sickness and isolation. I guess one day I thought, “hmm, how about pain?”
Tomorrow’s premise is the main content and trigger warning. It follows a small team of grim reapers tasked not to collect souls but to save lives. Called Risk Management (RM), team leader Koo Ryeon (Kim Heesun) and assistant manager Lim Ryunggu (Yoon Ji-on) monitor negative energies, the kind that leads humans to choose suicide, and stops them before they do.
Passionate in their jobs despite being a small and often dismissed unit, their two-person machinery was disrupted by Choi Junwoong (Rowoon), a human who got in the way of one of their missions. Junwoong eventually joins the team on a six-month contract while his mortal body is in a coma. Scrappy, bounding with reckless energy, and brimming with a sense of justice with little knowledge and sometimes willful disregard of the afterlife’s rules, Junwoong’s working relationship with his stone-faced, taciturn bosses is off to a rocky start.
Then there’s Park Junggil (Lee Soohyuk), team leader of the elite Escort team. Tall, broad-shouldered, and ever brooding in his meticulously tailored black suits. He expresses disdain and blatant disapproval of the very existence of the Risk Management team. He considers their efforts futile. Worthless. Why waste time and resources on people who have decided to commit the worst crime of all, the murder of one’s self? These people deserve the Hell they have chosen.
As the episodes roll along, the cases taken on by the RM team become progressively heavy on the heart. Past lives, unhealed scars, and layers of pain are peeled off, sometimes all at once. It’s a lot of angst and buckets of tears.
But what made each episode satisfying was the comfort offered at the end of each one. Despite their troubles and being subject to many disciplinary actions, the RM team never fails a mission, making sure the person lives out their intended life span.
You don’t want to do this. Taking your life means breaking the bonds that tie you to your fated people, and no matter how many times you are reincarnated, you will never meet again.
But more than this warning of the cost and punishment from the afterworld are words of validation and comfort.
It’s not your fault.
Live because it’s cloudy, because the day is nice. And one day you will know that this is the day you have lived for.
If hope seems too big and abstract and unreachable, find happiness in life’s little joys.
We will make it home as long as we are alive.
It’s not that they want to die. It’s just that they do not want to live like that.
If we don’t give up on life, spring will definitely come some day.
It’s a lot to take in. And probably not the kind of drama to binge. But I watched it with a kind of eager hunger and finished in three days.
Add to that Ryeon and Junggil’s tale. Tragic and painful and drowning in love. It was delicious watching the always scowling Park Junggil break under the weight of his nightmares and what they’ve always meant. And the way he resolved to act on it. He says he was driven by pride and the need to appease it and make amends, and not by lingering, centuries-old feelings.
In any case, the pair have made up in the way that torn-apart soulmates-turned-workmates do. And the finale sees them facing each other with fresh lightness and renewed respect, maybe even a hint of allowed affection. I swoon.
The moral of the story, at least for me during an unwanted bout of Covid, is that I found comfort and joy in an angsty place. And that tomorrow, no matter how uncertain or painful or seemingly meaningless, is yours, and you deserve your place in it.