The Eight Sense is not your traditional Korean ‘Boys Love’ series, but reminiscent of an art house film. In my opinion, it’s simply stunning. The cinematography colors remind me of old 80’s indie films, with the vivid blues, reds, oranges, and greens, the spectrum of vibrant hues setting the scene’s tones. The moody punk and rock soundtrack define the promise of summer and young love. The acting is solid, with each character having their moments to shine, while the issues tackled are deep yet relatable. There is so much to talk about in this series, but I will start with a synopsis. Then we can unpack it together. I will try to avoid some spoilers as I really want you to watch it and feel where it takes you.
Ji Hyun, a new student from a peaceful rural town, struggles to adjust to the bustling city life of Seoul. While at university, he meets Jae Won, who has just completed military service. As they share a love of surfing, they begin to develop feelings for each other. During a surfing trip, they share a kiss, but Jae Won acts as if nothing happened, leaving Ji Hyun confused about their connection.(Source: MyDramaList.com)
—Edited by TheFNGee
Im Ji Sub as Jae Won
Oh Jun Taek as Ji Hyun
Lee Mi Ra as Yoon Won
Park Hae In as Eun Ji
Jang Young Joon as Tae Hyung
Seo Ji An as Ae Ri
Chae Soo Ah as Bit Na
Jung Seo In as Ji Hyun’s boss
Bang Jin Won as Joon Pyo
The story begins with two main characters; a boy from the countryside, Ji Hyun, who moved to Seoul to attend university, and Jae Won, a student who resumes his last year of college after completing his compulsory army stint. These two people are polar opposites of one another. We have an outgoing Jae Won, drinking with his friends before the term begins, and his opposite, Ji Hyun, who wants to work before the school term starts instead of participating in incoming freshman activities.
Ji Hyun works at a Korean barbecue close to campus. He is diligent, working with quiet efficiency while watching those around him. When he spots Jae Won and his group, Ji Hyun begins to watch Jae Won with his friends as they get drunk. Jae Won’s friends tease him about being rich and not having to worry about what to do with his life. He is a man who should be comfortable with his best mates but isn’t. You see the hint of misery behind his expression and in his eyes. He is haunted by what we don’t know yet. His smiles never quite reach his eyes, but his friends don’t appear to notice.
At the end of the night, as Ji Hyun closes up the shop, he finds Jae Won lingering around the entrance. Jae Won asks Ji Hyun for a cigarette, but Ji Hyun doesn’t smoke. Reluctant to end the encounter, Ji Hyun gets two cigarettes from his boss to give to Jae Won. Jae Won teases him, and they talk about school a bit. Jae Won offers to befriend Ji Hyun since he doesn’t seem to have any. Thus begins the story of the ‘country mouse’ and the ‘city mouse.’ The outgoing city boy, comfortable in large crowds with many people, meets the sweet shy, introverted boy from the countryside. However, first appearances can be deceiving. As the series moves forward, we see bravery and a progressive opening of Ji Hyun’s persona pertaining to the way he plays ‘hands’ he’s dealt. We also realize that Jae Won is not as comfortable with others as he seems.
From the opening shot, with bold colors and blocky letters, alongside some incredible music, we see people surfing. The intro is reminiscent of an indie summer film. This show is about more than surfing but uses surfing as a metaphor. Waves come and go in all sizes. There are no perfect waves but favorable and less favorable ones. You choose when to try to get up and ride them, not knowing if it will be the perfect thrill or end in a wipeout. Either way, standing up requires quick decisions, quick action, and a bit of daring. Like life. The sea is a fickle mistress, whom you love, even when it hurts you. You will always push yourself to keep going, even when it’s hard.
We have the seasoned surfer in Jae Won coming back to tackle the waves once again after being discharged from his mandatory 2-year stint in the military. He rejoins the Uni Surf Club as a senior member. The ocean calls to him. It seems that Jae Won is only free from his dark thoughts when he’s in the ocean.
Ji Hyun is the opposite. He’s not comfortable in water but chooses to join the surf club. He wants to be closer to Jae Won. But that’s not his only motivation for joining the club. He is determined to step outside of his comfort zone and challenge himself to become a braver person. Moving to the city and attending college isn’t enough of a change, so he joins the surf team to start the next chapter of his life.
Jae Won is dealing with much more than a past military stint and disagreements over his future with his parents. He carries many burdens, hidden from others.
Jae Won struggles with trauma, depression, and anxiety. By allowing us to see the sessions with his Psychologist, we connect with him on a deeper level. For anyone who has struggled with mental health issues, it’s refreshing to see it on screen. Jae Won transforms into a relatable person, not a BL stock caricature often seen in the genre. The interactions between the doctor and Jae Won are full of truths, silences, and hard questions. I can’t stress enough how impressed I am with this addition to the plot.
By portraying mental health struggles in a non-judgmental way, the audience can relate to Jae Won’s struggles without pitying him. Jae Won represents anyone who has used therapy as a way to cope with issues in their life. Maybe this can lead to a dynamic shift in less stigma surrounding mental health struggles.
Ji Hyun’s Boss is an amazing character, yet we never get to know her name. She’s a middle-aged woman who owns a barbecue place near the college campus and where Ji Hyun works. She hires students to help her in the bar. At the end of the night, she invites Ji Hyun to share a drink with her. As the series progresses, the pair become unlikely friends, not just boss and subordinate. The students and staff make her feel young again. She’s always willing to lend an ear and offer advice when any of the kids need it. She behaves like the cool auntie, not a mom, which makes it easier for Ji Hyun and, eventually, Jae Won to confide their worries to her. She offers sound wisdom helping them reframe their problems as she shares her viewpoint from someone who has lived life longer.
Yoon Won is the president of the surf club. A senior in college, she is also like Jae Won, a few years older than others in their group of friends. Yoon Won struggles to figure out what she wants to do with her life, so as long as she remains in school, she doesn’t have to make that decision. An older sister to the younger students, she is kind and patient with them. Yoon Won’s friendship with Jae Won is built on accepting one another, flaws and all, and is a welcome addition to the story. She struggles under the weight of parental and societal expectations. Just because she is a certain age, this doesn’t mean she has her life planned out.
There are others I could talk about, like Eun Ji, Jae Won’s ex-girlfriend, or Joon Pyo, Ji Hyun’s best friend. But I want you to watch it, forming your own opinion.
Werner du Plessis’s bio from IMDB.com:
Werner du Plessis, a talented writer hailing from Pretoria, South Africa, has showcased an outstanding ability for both poetry and prose. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree from The South African School of Motion Picture Medium, specializing in Directing, Screenwriting, and Editing. Later, he pursued a Master of Arts degree in Digital Media Content from Sogang University in Seoul, South Korea, during which he also completed the Harvard Documentary Film Program. He furthered his studies in Los Angeles, where he completed the UCLA Screenwriting Program and established himself as a highly sought-after script editor among major productions in Seoul, South Korea.
In March of 2023, du Plessis’s exceptional talents culminated in the release of his directorial debut in partnership with Inu Baek, The Eighth Sense: The Series (2023), and accompanying film. The production was celebrated for its visually stunning aesthetics and nuanced treatment of complex themes. It garnered critical acclaim from both audiences and critics alike, solidifying du Plessis’s position as a masterful storyteller.
The inspiration he drew from cinematic masters such as Ingmar Bergman, Larry Clark, Gaspar Noé, Catherine Breillat, and John Cameron Mitchell was evident in his work, and quoted in an interview in Dazed Korea, May Issue. The Eighth Sense was a triumph in the eyes of both critics and audiences, cementing du Plessis’s reputation as an up-and-coming force in the industry.
IMDb Mini Biography By: by Danielle B. Stratfohttps://www.imdb.com/name/nm10395578
Inu Baek’s bio from IMDB.com
Inu Baek is known for working on The Handmaiden, Downsizing, and The Eighth Sensehttps://www.imdb.com/name/nm11028372
Excerpts From an article in Dazed Korea: An Interview with Inu Baek and Werner du Plessis (for the full article, please click the link in Chrome, and it will automatically translate the article)
Werner du Plessis (hereafter Werner): We didn’t want to fit us into the BL genre, but we wanted to fit the story we wanted to tell into the BL genre. In particular, we did not focus only on the main characters but put narratives on all the characters that appear in the work. I wanted to share an in-depth story. I also wanted to address topics such as depression and trauma that are not easily talked about in Asian cultures.
This story is not easily compressed into the BL genre but is used as a loose framework to tell this compelling story. The vibe of this series is unique amongst BL because of some of the themes you don’t normally see in the genre. But it feels natural within the context of the narrative.
Inu Baek: I am a PD and director Werner majored in directing. Director Werner is so good at directing that he puts metaphors in detail, even in the color of the lighting. And if you look at the directors who have been influenced by each other, you can see how different they are. I am influenced by director Shunji Iwai, and director Werner is influenced by director Stanley Kubrick (laughs).
You can definitely see the influences of each director, whether it’s a surfing scene, music selection, or restaurant and school settings. I was blown away by how much the coloring in these deep blues affected my mood and set the tone perfectly.
The last thing they both say in the article sticks with me. I appreciate someone who doesn’t look down upon the BL fans. I am also grateful that the directors put such meaningful sentiments into their work that anyone can take to heart and relate to. I encourage everyone to go read the article.
Lastly, if you have any unfinished stories, feel free to tell them. (Interviewer)
Inu Baek: This is a key line of the drama: I hope you don’t be afraid and live as you please.
Werner: Those who like the BL genre analyze the director’s directing intention and the character’s behavior. I am very happy about this. I want to say thank you to the BL fans. I think BL fans are an audience that should be appreciated.
I feel this article gives insight into their creative vision and their intentions. I hope it’s giving you a different lens as you watch the series.
Check out this interview from BoysLoveHub with Werner du Plessis. The article is in Portuguese, but you can open it in most modern browsers and opt for a translation through the browser. Check out the fantastic read, which just affirms our “near perfect” rating.
To start with, could you give a brief summary of the series so that people can better understand and become even more familiar with The Eighth Sense?
Werner:…The Eighth Sense captures the vivid emotional landscape of two young people on a journey of self-discovery, one that takes them to places they never thought possible. Their love is both tragic and transcendent, a testament to the transformative power of human connection.
The Eighth Sense corresponds to some characteristics of the BL genre but stands out precisely for having certain differences in the production style. In your opinion, what is the main difference of the series?
Werner:…The Eighth Sense attempts to transcend boundaries of genre and medium and offers a deep meditation on the complexities of the human experience. What sets the series apart is its attempt to capture the essence of human relationships in all their messiness, beauty, and heartbreaking glory.
Do you think a BL series can genuinely bring LGBTQIAP+ representation to an industry that thrives in a conservative society?
Werner:…As a director who was new to the BL fandom, I was blown away by the community’s passion, insight, and open-mindedness. Not only did they appreciate the drama, but they also understood and embraced the ideas it represented. While BLs may not necessarily address LGBTQIAP+ issues or identities directly or openly, it’s hard to ignore the overlap between the two. To do so would be hypocritical, in my opinion.
Overall, I believe that creating honest and authentic stories that explore the complexities of human relationships is a powerful way to promote empathy, understanding, and acceptance. And if we can do that at the same time as expanding the representation of marginalized communities in the media, that’s a win-win for everyone.
Please make sure to go read the full article at BoysLoveHub. The interviewer asked many thoughtful questions, and Werner du Plessis gave thorough and nuanced responses. He appreciates the BL community while understanding the need for addressing LGBTQIA+ inclusivity into the storytelling narrative. Werner du Plessis is a director for BL fans to keep an eye on. I’m already a fan and look forward to his next work. With the change in Instagram posts to say Season 1, I hope this means more Ji Hyun and Jae Won from Director Werner du Plessis.
As I close this article, I will leave everyone with the final poems from each episode, beginning with the 2nd, which they posted on their IG. It’s lovely. The flow of words is weighty and lyrical. They showcase each episode’s core message along with a vibrant color scheme for each episode. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have.
Poem from Eight Sense – on Instagram:
*Not Ready to Say Farewell*
Jaded by life’s mundane ways
Intrigue found in the moon’s rays
Hopeful for a moment of bliss
Yearning for something they almost missed
Understanding nothing but the now
Nothing else matters anyhow
Jaewon, heart full of glee
Awestruck by Jihyun, it’s plain to see
Entwined under the moon’s soft glow
Worries fade as passion starts to flow
On the beach, they find their serenity
Nothing but love, pure and free
Pensive Thoughs cloud Jaewon’s mind
Agonizing memories he ties to unwind
Internal struggles he tries to contain
Nostalgia brings forth a wave of pain
*Don’t pull away*
Their first kiss, forever stained,
By the dark and ominous fate that remained,
On the beach where the moon once shone bright,
Now haunted by his past; it came in the night.
Episode 3: Don’t be afraid*
*They stand in silence, side by side,
Each one afraid to be the guide
*Don’t look away*
Their lips did meet, a fleeting bliss,
But what comes next, they cannot guess.
The air between them thick with doubt,
Their hearts unsure, the minds without.
Towards the truth, towards the light,
Towards a love that just might.
Episode 4: *Just ME*
Able was I, I saw another
Myself, a mystery to uncover
Through winding roads and winding thoughts
I sought my truth, as I ought
In mirrored reflections I gazed
And found not one, but many ways
To deny the person I once forlorn
To torn, to born, to once more spawn
A journey grand
With twists and turns and shifting sands
But as I reach the journey’s end
I find myself, my dearest friend.
Episode 5: *Percussions of the Past*
A heart once satiate, now ensnared in disarray
Recollections of vexation, indelibly inlay
A mind unwell, convoluted in the fray
Inward darkness prevails, leading ever astray
The onus of sorrow, a ponderous load
Anguish and affliction, the journey’s muted road
Struggling to endure, within this chasm I grow
My mind a labyrinth, a dolorous manifesto
Hope, a nocturnal muse, elusive
A faint flicker, amid the forlorn refuse
A chance, a touch, a kind embrace
To recapture my life, to save face
But demons loom
Battles to resume
Lost in the murky depths, beneath the sun
My heart beats on, towards a life undone
Episode 6: *Two*
The tempestuous waves of love did strike,
A force I could not but heed alike,
My mind once adrift at sea,
Until you came and enveloped me,
Your touch a beach, a blinding light,
Leading us through the deepest night.
With you, my heart ascends,
We’ll ride the waves, our love shall soar,
Now and forevermore
Forever adrift at sea,
I needed to first rescue me,
Free to be he
Episode 7: *There is no We*
A fire burns deep inside,
Fueled by a sense of wrongs unrighted,
Heat rising, the flame cannot hide.
Now the ashes remain,
A hollow sense of what could have been,
The cost of anger, the price of pain.
Frustration builds, boiling over,
A storm of words and actions taken,
Leaving only pain to discover.
Episode 8: *Me*
I wasn’t enough
You pushed me away, tore us apart
Leaving me feeling broken and rough
Side by side
It seems you don’t understand
How hard I’ve tried
Move on into my own space
My heart still aches, forsakes
Someone to take your place
Episode 9: *Within the Search*
From Jihyun’s heart did flow
A realization, deep and slow,
Of Jaewon’s struggles, oh so true,
With past trauma that did ensue
He reached out to him, in a way,
That was gentle, kind, and stayed,
And Jaewon, with a heavy heart,
Faced his past and played his part
Memories of pain, they did rise,
And tears did fall from Jaewon’s eyes,
But with Jihyun in his mind,
He found the strength to abide.
Episode 10: *Infinite*
Amidst the shadows of the past,
Our love has found a home at last.
In each other’s arms we find,
A refuge from the world unkind.
But still, our hearts bear heavy weight,
The pain of the past still lingers late.
A haunting melody we can’t ignore,
It echoes in our souls evermore.
How we long for love’s pure bliss,
To banish sorrow with a kiss.
But until then, we’ll hold on tight,
To love that makes our heart take flight.
Overall Rating: 5 out of 5 stars. [See our Review Guide]