I love the contrast of these two posters. They basically show the two opposing narrative tensions within the show—the first poster portrays how Yoon Sung can exercise his own agency and actively choose to be with Nana, thereby directly defying his father’s orders and manipulation and rejecting the life his father has constructed for him. The second poster exhibits the sheer extent of the power Yoon Sung’s father has over him—how he’s basically mapped out every step of his life ever since the night that he and Mu Yeul were betrayed by the government and how he now (and has always) wants Yoon Sung to be the vehicle through which he exacts his revenge.
In the first poster we have these two individuals who are facing one another in an almost-embrace: they are equals, choosing to be together. In the second poster we have the almost-shadow of one man looming over the concrete figure of another (Yoon Sung), back-to-back, not facing one another, with Yoon Sung holding a gun. Clearly one is redemptive and hopeful while the other is full of antagonism and conflict.
What I especially like about the second poster is how the cityscape is laid out behind them. It illustrates how the city is the terrain on which they will wage their battle against one another—neither of them know it will be a battle against each other at first, and only Jin Pyo starts to realize it once Yoon Sung decides to go about the revenge in a way that he can live with, deviating form Jin Pyo’s plan. This is the conflict that comes to a head in the last episode. But my favorite part is that the poster epitomizes this one wild (but not really) idea I have about who the real City Hunter is. I feel like Jin Pyo and Yoon Sung fight over not just how the revenge should be meted out (killing or no killing, focusing on the politicians who murdered those servicemen only because of that event or focusing on them because of the larger wounds they’ve inflicted on society–basically should the revenge be for personal and maybe selfish reasons or should it be for the greater good of Korea—or should it be meted out at all?) but over who the City Hunter is and what he represents. I my interpretation of the overall drama, the two fight over this one identity, with Jin Pyo killing the politician and two policemen and Yoon Sung insisting that they turn the politicians over to the prosecutor, but more specifically, in my reading of the last episode, Jin Pyo cements himself as the true City Hunter, and in doing so turns this origin story from one in which it is simply Yoon Sung’s journey through becoming the City Hunter, to one in which Jin Pyo is handing the baton over to Yoon Sung, passing the identity fully onto his son. From the beginning it is Jin Pyo who has always been the City Hunter, and it isn’t until his sacrifice, his death, that Yoon Sung can finally ascend and take that identity on as his own. Another thing within the structure/layout of the poster is how ephemeral Jin Pyo looks as opposed to Yoon Sung—it’s like he’s fading while Yoon Sung is remaining; also, the most concrete thing about Jin Pyo is his head—after all, he is the mastermind behind this entire narrative and it is in existence because of his machinations.
And then the first poster is not outside like the second one: they are standing under the roof of this building that looks as if it’s on fire, which I read as Yoon Sung constantly trying to build a life for himself with Nana (wooing her, moving in with her, telling his father that “after I’m done with this I want to live happily with you”—which is interesting because Nana also uses the same expression of “after you’re done with this” as if this City Hunter thing is temporary, as if it will expire once all the politicians have been either killed or prosecuted, and he rejects Nana when she says that) but that life is under threat by his father and his identity as the possible City Hunter.
Best thematic element in the show: the possibility of facing off against the people you love. The tension within that theme is so palpable and weighty, and his nightmares illustrated that. The writers should have integrated his facing off with his father and possible facing off against Nana better. They could have shown a progression of his nightmares where they slowly morph from a fear of being hurt by Nana, or worse, him seriously hurting her, to ones where his father takes a more active antagonistic role and maybe one that’s is not logical at all, to illustrate his fragmented state of mind, considering all the daddy issues he inherits because of Jin Pyo’s machinations.
The episodes that expounded upon Lee Yoon Sung’s fears, that explored them in detail, as opposed to the ones where he tried to deal with them by trying to eliminate the source of the fear altogether, (i.e. people he needs to protect, his loved ones, which translated into pushing Nana away, which was weak, both in terms of Lee Yoon Sung as a character and in terms of narrative progression) were the strongest ones: tightly written, perfectly paced, and always leaving me wanting more.