My Fantastic Funeral was actually broadcast as a two-part special on SBS last month, but I only got the chance to check it out earlier today. The only thing I know about the drama is it stars Kyung Soo-jin and Choi Woo-shik as the leads, but it leaves a deep impression on me. Hours after I finished watching it, all the feelings I had are still intact: the sweetness, the bitterness, and the tears that follow.
The title made me think of creative works centering around illnesses and death. Movies like A Millionaire’s First Love, Closer to Heaven, and Never Ending Story are some examples of stories about the last moments of the main characters and people around them. At first, I thought that Funeral would be along the line of Never Ending Story, in which the main characters prepare for their deaths together, but Funeral did exceed my expectation and gave me a nice surprise in the span of two hours.
The story opens with Jang Mi-soo (Kyung Soo-jin) getting ready to go out in black clothes and contemplating whether she should wear the red heels still sleeping in the box, but she decided to go with black shoes. Together with two older women: Soon-shim and Young-ran (Seo Yi-sook), they attended the wake of Na-rae (Park Jin-joo), who were once their level mates at the hospital. At one glance, Mi-soo seems to be perfect in everything: she has a nice house to live in and a good career path ahead of her. But then, she doesn’t have that much time to live with her ‘broken’ brain, and she decides to forego the tretment that will only prolong her life by a mere one year. With a few months’ left, she starts planning for her own funeral.
Suddenly, someone from her past appears in front of her: Park Dong-soo (Choi Woo-shik), the boy who had a huge crush on her back in their high school days. She attended the best school and he was known as the lower ranking student at his school, but that did not hold him back from confessing his crush and following after her. He works as a contract building painter for Mi-soo’s apartment, and that was how they met again after he suddenly disappeared years ago. Dong-soo had his ‘broken’ heart replaced through a surgery, and Mi-soo thinks of leaving the matters of her funeral to him at first. However, her past lover Se-ho (Yoo Ha-joon) comes back and she deems him more suitable to be in-charge, hence pushing Dong-soo away. But then, Se-ho approaches her with an ulterior motive that is her money, and she is devastated. Dong-soo, having learned about it from Young-ran, keeps pestering Se-ho to apologize to her, and that is how Mi-soo comes to know that Dong-soo is aware of her illness.
He finds out about it by accident, and makes the decision to resign from his job to spend his time with her. I like how the story progresses from this point on. Before this, we only get a limited view of Mi-soo’s thought, but once she opens up to Dong-soo, we have the chance to see more of her: the reason why she plans meticulously for her funeral, and how lonely she is in reality. Dong-soo stays beside her like a sturdy pillar, and the romance that didn’t take flight years back begins to blossom. Mi-soo’s condition slowly deteriorates, but having Dong-soo by her side makes her dare to dream an impossible future with him. Dong-soo is patient, but Mi-soo isn’t. She makes up her mind to break off her ties with him, hiding herself in a hospice in the rural area. Dong-soo finds her, but that is also when she learns about Dong-soo’s real condition: his heart is broken again, and he himself might not have much time to live.
Dong-soo’s chance to live is higher than Mi-soo as he can wait for a donor, but he chooses not to undergo the same thing again. When he received his new heart in the past, he witnessed a friend’s death after waiting too long for a donor. That experience haunted him, and he won’t let another person die because of him. Mi-soo decides to hold a funeral in advance, unlike her initial plan that was to induce a sense of guilt for her mother, who left her when she was young. She invites the people who are close to her, and Dong-soo also prepares a surprise that is her favourite boy group, Ace (Boys Republic). Unknown to him, she also has a surprise for him: she has signed up for organ donation and she hopes that he will go through with the procedure so that he will continue to live.
Over the course of two hours, I come to care for Mi-soo and Dong-soo a lot more than what I imagined. I didn’t sign up for this long trip of feels, but I like the ending so much. We will get to that part later, because I want to talk about both Mi-soo and Dong-soo first.
Both of them are very calm when it comes to dealing with the illness, except in some circumstances. Perhaps, Mi-soo is being used to deal with everything alone and she does not find it necessary to dwell on what could have happened if she is not sick. The interesting thing is she interacts with a lot of people, yet we don’t really get much insight into her way of thinking, and she maintains a mysterious air around her. It’s a different case for Dong-soo: we don’t even get to see his family and even his house, but we learn a lot of things about him through his interaction with Mi-soo. Maybe because he has experienced how it feels to be sick, he knows what Mi-soo is going through and never did he cry in front of her. He maintains his positive attitude in front of her, and no one would have imagined that this kid will probably wait for his heart to stop functioning just like that if he did not meet Mi-soo.
The short time they spent together brought changes to both of them, and it is reflected in the ending. Mi-soo learns not to bottle up her feelings while Dong-soo learns not to blame himself. The story starts off from Mi-soo’s point of view and transforms into Dong-soo’s in the end, but the drama does not sugarcoat the inevitable. Despite the bitter reality, the ending shows that the memory lives on, and Mi-soo’s heart is still beating inside Dong-soo.
I’m slightly disappointed that they did not release the full version of the beautiful OST entitled It’s You, sung by Jelly Cookie’s Im Seo-young and Kim Sung-yoon. The other song by Ace in the drama is from Boys Republic, entitled Hello.
Pictures credit to SBS