Cruel City: Eps 17-20 (Finale)

Drama ReviewsKorean Dramas

It’s been a while–ok, more like one week, but it feels like forever–since Cruel City ended.  Since then I’ve tried multiple times to write about the last few episodes but to no avail.  I just can’t find the right words to talk about it.  The final posts on Cruel City have been trickling in from other bloggers, and I can only take this to mean that the finale left a lot of people a bit stumped.  A bit at a loss for words, if you know what I mean.

^WAAA my Jin Sook and Shi Hyun!! :'(((

As for me, I’ve been trying to figure out why I love watching this drama so much even though it has plenty of glaring flaws.  Sure Cruel City has plenty of raving reviews..but me, I just can’t give it an all-around 10/10.  Cruel City started out great but eventually things started falling apart, the direction of the drama went all over the place, everyone became undercover agents, etc.  Yes, I often felt like Cruel City was overrated.  It even got to the point where I wanted to drop the drama.  Eventually though I threw my hands up in the air and went, what the heck, I gotta finish this drama.  So why? Why is it that I had to keep on watching even though I knew it was not reaching its full potential?

I thought about it a lot, and eventually I concluded that it’s the characters of Jin Sook, Safari, Shi Hyun, and Hyun Soo that kept me watching.  More specifically, I have to say that Jin Sook and Safari totally stole the show.  I think one of my fellow bloggers emsterz said it right–I won’t remember Soo Min or Hyung Min but…wow, Jin Sook, Safari, Shi Hyun and Hyun Soo will definitely stick in my memory for a really long time.  They are the characters that make this drama so compelling to me, they are the ones whose story I want to see all the way through ’til the end, they are the ones I’m most emotionally invested in.  Cruel City has its sucky moments but man, I will definitely remember all of the gripping scenes with the Shi Hyun family.


I know, it’s obvious I’m a huge fan of Jin Sook but I think even those who aren’t big Jin Sook admirers will admit that she really shines in these last couple episodes.  She has all the powerful and emotionally raw scenes, and she nails each and every one of them.  Again, I think emsterz says it right–

“Jin Sook… I heard her heart break ten times over the last 2 episodes.”

In the end, the drama doesn’t fully explore the romantic tension between Jin Sook and Shi Hyun and surprisingly..I think that’s ok.  Not friends, not lovers, not brother and sister…what are they?  In the end I don’t think it matters, because no matter what they will always unconditionally love each other.  They have something that surpasses family ties and romantic relationships.  What is it, I can’t put my finger on but whenever the two of them are together, I’m always wishing with all my heart that the two of them can just be safe and happy.

There are tons of Jin Sook scenes that are amazing but I’ll only mention a few here.  I can replay all of these scenes in my head like the back of my hand now.  They are just that memorable and touching to me.


I absolutely love the scene when Jin Sook discovers Soo Min and Shi Hyun sleeping hand in hand.  I could hear her heart break in that moment, as she stands there in shock and then silently turns away, as though she doesn’t want to intrude on the couple.  And then the reality sets in as she walks away in slo-mo, alone in the parking garage with only her bodyguard there by her side.  She puts the pieces together and now sees Soo Min and Shi Hyun’s relationship in a totally different light.  Omg, my heart felt so heavy during this scene.  There are no words spoken by Jin Sook but that’s just it, there are no words that can describe how she is feeling.  Someone give me a GIF of that moment please.  😛


Of course the other big scene is when Jin Sook accepts Shi Hyun for who he is.  This, my friends, is the scene I’ve been waiting for throughout the entire drama, and it did not disappoint.  OMGGGGG.  EVERY MOMENT IS SO PERFECT.  The way Jin Sook gets down on her knees and softly asks Shi Hyun if it was hard for him.  The look on Shi Hyun’s face as he realizes that Jin Sook knows he’s a cop.  And omg, it is so heartbreaking when Jin Sook apologizes and says it must’ve been hard for him especially because of who she is.  For me that line is probably the saddest one in this scene.  :'(  I think it’s really fitting that Shi Hyun finally breaks down sobbing like a child in Jin Sook’s arms.  This is more than he could ever ask for..Jin Sook accepting him with open arms and an open heart.  She will support him in whatever he does, whoever he is.  In the end, all I can say is that Jin Sook is a great woman.  Her fierceness, her vulnerability, her sisterhood with Soo Min, her unconditional love for Shi Hyun as well as her inability to completely cut off ties with Safari & Min…I love everything about her character.  She is one of the characters I will miss the most from Cruel City.  :'(


Speaking of one of Jin Sook’s great scenes, (her reaction to Safari’s death is so sad. 🙁 )  I just have to talk about Safari as well.  OMGG.  The moment I saw his look of utter love and adoration towards Jin Sook, I knew something was wrong.   I thought it would be Shi Hyun who would die taking the bullet for someone, but interestingly enough it’s Safari.  Safari, the one who Shi Hyun spent 8 years trying to put behind bars.  Safari, the one who tried to kill Shi Hyun multiple times.  This sacrifice means so much on so many levels–to Shi Hyun, to Jin Sook…I think Safari died regretting that he couldn’t reveal the truth about Min, but also satisfied that he could protect the one that Jin Sook loves most.


As for Hyun Soo’s death, I felt like it was rather out of the blue.  I think it’s mainly because the whole execution of the final episodes was rushed and tried to fit in way too much in so little time.  Even though the last episodes really got things moving and had a much darker tone than before, they still left way too many loose ends untied.  O__O  An example would be Hyun Soo’s ‘fake betrayal’ of Shi Hyun.   Gee maybe this would’ve been more interesting if it happened..maybe like 5 episodes ago!??! Why is this happening now of all times?  T_T  His betrayal of Shi Hyun seemed sudden, and his decision to come back on Shi Hyun’s side was sudden as well.  I guess Hyun Soo’s death is meant to be the catalyst for Shi Hyun to follow through and kill Pusan but…things still felt a bit off.


And don’t even get me started about Shi Hyun’s death.  T____T  I’ve had many people warn me and foreshadow about how Shi Hyun is gonna die at the end…so I wasn’t surprised that he died.  But I’m surprised by HOW he died.  What the heck?  He knows that Min killed Gi Cheol, Safari AND Kyung Mi…ALL of them right in front of his eyes, and yet he has a random moment of soft-heartedness?  What makes him think that Min, this blubbering crazily laughing troll of a villain, truly wants to turn himself in to the police?  *facepalm*

Perhaps the writer was aiming to show how absurd all of this is.  Shi Hyun worked undercover for 8 years, all for nothing.  Everything he lived for is taken away in an instant.  In this sense his life and his death all seem just so absurd.  This might be why his death scene is so abrupt and short.  But if this is what the writer was aiming for, it fell flat.  Instead of thinking about the absurdity of life I was left facepalming at the entire scene.  T__T  Also I have no idea how some people are thinking that Shi Hyun’s death might’ve been staged just so that he could run away to some foreign country and live with a new identity.  Ambiguity is great and all…and I get that the little snippet at the end of Shi Hyun standing in a light-colored suit gave a lot of people hope but IMO it’s a false hope.  The drama is trying way too hard to have an open-ending.  To me it’s pretty clear that Shi Hyun is dead..and if he has miraculously survived and if there is a second season or something I think that would be overkill.

And this is random but I think they totally cut the audio during Shi Hyun’s death so that we didn’t have to hear Soo Min’s crying.  😛


No, I didn’t forget about Soo Min.  I’m not gonna even talk about Hyung Min (HEH.) Looking back on the drama as a whole, I now know that Nam Gyu Ri isn’t a horrible actress.  She’s not as bad as I thought she would be.  But that doesn’t mean she has the acting chops to portray what I wish would’ve been a complex character.  Is Soo Min the victim of poor writing in which she remains an inconsistent and underdeveloped character all the way ’til the end?  Or is she lacking because of the way Nam Gyu Ri portrays her?  I suppose it’s both…but I do wish that the writer had established a clearer direction for Soo Min.  Soo Min is such a confusing character..from the start I felt like she is just really out of place in the story.  She’s just sorta there, thrown into this mess and let’s face it, she has no idea what she’s doing.  Even when Soo Min suddenly toughens up and gets smarter, she still has plenty of facepalming moments.  T___T  In the end, all I can say is…she tried.  Oh well.

The drama started out great, but ended up going downhill later on.  I don’t even want to talk about how Hyung Min’s dad miraculously turned himself in at the last minute, how so many side characters went wasted, or how everyone turned into undercover agents.  Things that the drama tried to make more complex (i.e. betrayals, switching of loyalties, the bad guys disguised as good guys) ended up seeming more frustrating.  >_>  What kept me addicted?  Well, you know the answer.  Jin Sook, Safari, Shi Hyun and Hyun Soo FOREVER!!!!!!!  *sniff*  Oh and I am now forever a fan of Kim Yu Mi and Jung Kyung Ho.  Kim Yu Mi is so convincing as the older noona even though she is actually around the same age as Jung Kyung Ho!  It’s hard to believe they are actually about the same age, huh?

^Note: All GIF credit is linked.

Jin Sook Embraces Shi Hyun


I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
Dragon Gate: Eps 1-2
Woman: Ep 6
  • I agree entirely with every single sentence in this post. How did you reach into my mind and pull out my thoughts so succinctly? There were a lot of things wrong with this drama, but the characters and the relationships they had with each other were what made it worth watching. And… Shi Hyun is definitely dead.

    • Glad I’m not the only one who thinks Shi Hyun is dead for sure. It’s not that I don’t wish he survived…it’s just that I highly doubt he and Hyung Min orchestrated some fake-death. T___T That’s stretching it a bit too far..

  • Been waiting for your review. I don’t think I can muster up anything to write about cruel city really. The ending kinda slumped and I just found that I couldn’t give it the conclusion. No heart to write it. OH WELL. Well, the way Shi Hyun died was kinda o.o And the way Soo rushed to his death also o.o Jin Sook is probably the only more consistent character here.

  • WAIT Kim Yoo Mi and Jung Kyung Ho are around the same age?!?!?! MIND BLOWN OMGGGGG not to insult her or anything but I totally bought that she was at least like 10 years his senior *gape*

  • Thanks for the review… Over all whatever the case, I still love Heartless City not only because of JKH but the entire drama as a whole. It may have ended but its the first drama that I will never forget for a long time…

      • So very true! This drama has colorful and unforgettable characters that will be remembered for a very long time. This is why Korean dramas are so addicting and this particular drama will forever be in my heart. Thank you for a very thoughtful review, I may not agree on some but it gives me a different view of the show. Nevertheless, thanks!

        • Hehe I think Cruel City has received a very wide range of mixed reactions. I guess all I can say is, is that I can’t give a completely positive or a completely negative review for CC…overall though, the drama is quite memorable. My Mondays & Tuesdays feel barren without it!

  • I do agree that it went downhill towards the end. Might as well put me in the drama as an undercover….but I knew from the beginning that it would not be a happy ending. It cannot not be a happy ending with these kind of dramas so I was expecting it. However, the author could had approached it a little better. One thing that I want to point out to you is that Soo actually NEVER betrayed shi hyun. It seemed that way but he was acting that way and even if he seemed like he betrayed him from the outside, he never could. It was all an act and he was pulling it off very well until boo shan said “i can just tell by your expression. you give too much away” meaning that boo san can tell that soo was lying about betraying shi hyun. Anyway, I also think that the downfall of this drama is soo min. I think that nam gu ri was a miscast in the first place and the character was so unbearably selfish and idiotic. BUT i don’t agree with you on the whole shi hyun and jin sook thing….i think jin sook had better love line with sapari. jin sook looked like an older aunt next to shi hyun so many people were shocked when jin sook was heartbroken because they thought that it was family love, not “man” love. Anyway, if you like this drama, the time between dog and wolf is a great compromise (shi hyun comes out there as well).

  • I just watched the drama on Netflix and really loved it. Perhaps the fact that I did not have to wait for the episodes, and could just fast forward thrue the tyring scenes makes the experience different. I loved the story line, and the portraying of the characters, specially Dr. Son and Sook. With Sook, I felt so much sympathy for him, that, even though he was a a criminal, you could not help but wish him well. Even though I did not like him dying, I understood that tha was the only ending for him.

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