You can watch it: HERE
Introduction To The Plot
A mysterious sinkhole is discovered near Muji City, where a large-scale petrochemical plant is located. Dark smoke that enters people’s bodies will force them to see the memories of trauma or deepest fears that the individual hides inside. They will lose their humanity and become mutant humans who are mad and driven by hatred.
The first episode starts off with Jung Do-Yoon walking alone in the petrochemical plant. She encounters a tentacle and Lee Hwa-Sun appears, using her revolver to shoot it. They start running away and the tentacle chases them. Jun Do-Yoon falls onto the ground and Lee Hwa-Sun tries to help her up but the tentacle would reach them by then, so she shoots at the electrical chords that traps the tentacle from extending towards them. Once the tentacle realises it can’t reach them, it retreats and the pair run off.
We switch to a monster chase with Yoo Tae-Han, carrying a shotgun. He gets into a struggle with a monster. After managing to shoot the monster, the loud bang, attracts more monsters and he prepares himself for a fight.
We switch again to Lee Hwa-Sun and Jung Do-Yoon who looks around to locate the direction of the loud bang. Lee Hwa-Sun tells Jung Do-Yoon to hide while she goes to lure the monster away from Jung Do-Yoon. The monster enters the storage room where Jung Do-Yoon is hiding but turns around once it hears the two shots fired from Lee Hwa-Sun’s revolver.
In the main area of the petrochemical plant, Lee Hwa-Sun stands in a firing position, trying to locate her target. The tentacle knocks her to the ground. She’s face to face with the tentacle as it prepares to attack. Suddenly, Yoo Tae-Han appears from behind and shoots it. The tentacle retreats once more.
Lee Hwa-Sun and Yoo Tae-Han move towards the storage room where Jung Do-Yoon is hiding, but Lee Hwa-Sun looks like she’s experiencing some kind of headache from a ringing frequency.
From behind, a large monster approaches or feels like it is growing since the camera shot is rising above them. Although, the monster is never revealed to the audience in this scene; both Lee Hwa-Sun and Yoo Tae-Han look shock.
[A FEW DAYS AGO]
Prior to Lee Hwa-Sun’s travel to Muji City, she was at her late husband’s grave where we get a flashback to his murder.
Lee Hwa-Sun is speeding in a car while on the phone with her husband who has been tied up and forced down by the killer. The killer also presses the phone against his ear to hear Lee Hwa-Sun and vice versa. The phone call is abruptly ended.
Next, we see Lee Hwa-Sun running into the apartment to find cooked food on the table and her husband dead on the balcony. He has a cloth bag over his head with red lipstick drawing of circular eyes and a wide grin. There is a needle next to him, presumably what was used in it to kill him.
This moment seems very significant, not just to Lee Hwa-Sun’s character development but it plays well into the dark smoke forcing traumatic memories to resurface and those infected that have faced those memories have gone mad from it.
We’re back to Lee Hwa-Sun at his grave, apologising for being unable to protect him. She receives a call from Detective So Jung-Hwa who informs her that the serial killer has reappeared, killing their eighth victim.
Lee Hwa-Sun arrives at the crime scene. Her colleagues are surprised and concerned that her personal emotions will get in the way of the case but allow her through anyways.
The eighth victim is dead in the bathtub with a similar cloth bag with circular eyes and a wide grin in red lipstick drawn on. There is also a needle on the ground, indicating what was used to kill him. Lee Hwa-Sun storms out of the crime scene.
The audience is introduced to Yoo Tae-Han and his partner, Nam Young-Sik as wrecker drivers. They are hanging back, awaiting a call for work. As soon as they receive the message about an accident on their radio, Yoo Tae-Han speeds off while Nam Young-Sik complains that he hasn’t even eaten yet.
The following scene involves a slight introduction to the two main police characters we’ll be seeing in Dark Hole; Sergeant Park Soon-il and his junior, Zo Hyun-Ho who have been alerted of the same accident that the wrecker drivers are going to at Jingan Intersection.
An ongoing background story/information about the sun and solar flares, where communication devices have stopped working and may threaten electronic activity. The news report quotes, “… we predict that there will be more communication interference down the line.”
Sergeant Park Soon-il exits the eatery and is called out by two gangsters who want to talk to him about being two days late about payment. The gangster threatens him with public humiliation if they don’t get payment and leave it at that.
We change scenes to the wrecker drivers waiting near Jingan Intersection. They watch a tow truck zoom past them. There are several other tow trucks lined up for work.
They eventually drive up to the crash site and Yoo Tae-Han gets out of the tow truck to examine the site. He approaches Yun-Bin who is recording the crash site. Yoo Tae-Han hears a woman crying for help in the upside down car.
Yoo Tae-Han is only able to open the door on the right back side and tells her that they’ve called the police. She continues to beg him to save her as she says she can’t breath. Due to Yoo Tae-Han strong sense of justice and a need to save others, he crawls into the car and starts to cut the woman’s seatbelt. From his former police days, he starts casual talk with the woman to keep her calm in the situation.
While Yoo Tae-Han is cutting the seatbelt, he sees that petrol is leaking from the car to another broken car with sparks underneath it. He increases the speed he is sawing at but it’s still slow. The car starts to set on fire, Nam Young-Sik and Yun-Bin pull them out just as the car explodes. The woman is sent to the hospital and pair of wrecker drivers go to eat and talk.
The next scene follows a hiker, Nam Sa-Sun, in the forest near Muji City where the first case of the ‘monsterification‘ starts when he finds the dark smoke encased in some kind of crystal that breaks when he falls off the cliff, as he is startled from the appearance of the tentacle which looked like a snake to him. He ends up at the bottom of the cliff and the dark smoke is inhaled. We are given a quick flash back through his younger days where he was bullied and made an outcast due to his appearance as people called him a ‘monster’. A voice speaks to him in his head, encouraging him to take revenge. His target becomes his wife who works at the salon.
We switch back to Lee Hwa-Sun who has returned back to her empty apartment from the crime scene. She stares at a wedding photo hanging on the wall, obviously missing his presence in the home as we get to see a moment from her past where her husband is cooking dinner for her.
The transition here from the shot of Lee Hwa-Sun looking at the image to the memory of her husband cooking dinner is amazing. It was incredibly smooth and captured what her mind of thinking about when she was looking at the wedding photo. The lighting to show that he was the light of her life is remarkable and as the memory ends, the light fades and we’re back to reality with Lee Hwa-Sun. This symbolism is magnificent and definitely one of my favourite scenes in episode 1.
Suddenly, Lee Hwa-Sun receives a text message and it’s revealed that it is from the serial killer who mocks her and tells her to go to the place where her husband proposed to her. It is also shown in a flashback that the serial killer was in contact with Lee Hwa-Sun and her husband in the past, as they have a conversation about wanting children to have a normal childhood with their parents so they wouldn’t involve themselves in crimes and so they wouldn’t be required to live in the building they were walking in. They look into a room of girls doing art.
Then, it changes scene to the moment, her husband was on the floor with the phone pressed against his ear which implies that the serial killer was in that room they looked into and can be inferred as a troubled youth. The flashback shows Lee Hwa-Sun taking off the cloth bag with the lipstick face drawn on and crying shakily.
We flick back to Lee Hwa-Sun on the phone viewing the text messages sent by the serial killer. She immediately tries to call the serial killer but she rejects the call.
Back to Lee Hwa-Sun again as she takes a revolver and a set of ammo. She drives her car in a rush while she makes a call to Detective So Jung-Hwa ask her to track the location of a number, most likely the serial killer’s number.
Afterwards, the scene changes to show what the serial killer is up to. She has used tape and tied up a woman; injected some kind of dangerous substance into her which leads her to her death. The serial killer takes the woman’s ID and uses her lipstick to draw the face on the white cloth bag that covers the victim’s head.
The following scene introduces the audience to Jung Do-Yoon and her mother. Their relationship is portrayed as very wholesome and playful; with hide-and-seek, funny banter and jokes.
We’re back to the police substation with Zo Hyun-Ho and Park Soon-il who comments on the weather that looks like it’s going to thunder. This is great foreshadowing the murder of the hiker’s wife who works at the salon and the death of the hiker who works as a herbalist in the future scene.
Next, we see a shaman who is performing a ritual for a blessing. However, her performance fails and she is injured. The shaman, Kim Sunnyeo, blames the goddess who promised to protect her and be the strongest goddess for her. She is extremely mad and doesn’t understand why she’s falling or starting to fall out of the goddess’s favour.
The scene switches to Lee Hwa-Sun driving into Muji City where she hits the breaks as the infected hiker carrying a crowbar walks on the wet road and stands there to says: I will tear out your eyeballs and I will gouge them. I’m going to rip out your eyeballs…
We flick to Yoo Tae-Han in his home listening to the effects of the solar flares to Earth which includes communication interference and GPS signals will encounter errors. Suddenly, he hears something which prompts him to take a look outside with a flashlight.
Another amazing transition with the flashlight to Lee Hwa-Sun’s car headlights as she drives into the area where her husband proposed to her. She tries to call the serial killer but she doesn’t pick up. We find the Lee Hwa-Sun is taking another look at the text messages with focus on where your husband proposed to you.
The setting changes to a morgue and a body is pulled out from the cabinets to show that the body belongs to her husband. Then, it looks like the serial killer is sneaking up behind her with the same cloth mask over her head as she puts on her victims. The serial killer slowly approaches Lee Hwa-Sun with a needle and stabs her in the neck with it.
Turns out it was all a dream!
Lee Hwa-Sun wakes up in her car and receives a call from Detective So Jung-Hwa who informs her that the phone number didn’t belong to the serial killer and it was under the name Kim Bo-Eun who’s a nurse at Muji Hospital.
The following scene shows police officer Zo Hyun-Ho asleep in bed and his pregnant wife comes in to wake up, telling him to answer his ringing phone. It appears there’s an emergency at the salon. As foreshowed with the hiker and the heavy rain, he had gouged out his wife’s eyes and killed her before killing himself.
Back to Yoo Tae-Han who is working with Nam Young-Sik as they drive in their tow truck. Nam Young-Sik tells him that his stomach hurts and that he needs to go, so they pull over and Nam Young-Sik runs into the forest to do his business. Yoo Tae-Han receives a call about work but communication inference cuts the line.
While running to do his business, Nam Young-Sik comes across a crystal with the dark smoke inside. Yoo Tae-Han goes looking for him, following a trail of toilet paper to him crouched over in the forest. The scene also reveals that Yoo Tae-Han is carrying a shotgun.
It is revealed when Nam Young-Sik stands up that he is infected by the dark smoke as his eyes have been taken over by the dark smoke and he has begun to hallucinate his father’s return to life. Yoo Tae-Han rushes him to hospital and the scene changes to the hospital to see Lee Hwa-Sun waiting at the reception area for someone.
Jung Do-Yoon’s mother comes out to greet her and it is revealed that her name is Kim Bo-Eun and her phone was stolen. Kim Bo-Eun tells Lee Hwa-Sun that she allowed a girl to borrow her phone but while she was talking to another nurse, the girl disappeared with the phone. Lee Hwa-Sun shows her a photo of the presumed girl but Kim Bo-Eun says that she doesn’t remember clearly although the long straight hair is familiar to her and since she was thinking of rushing home since her daughter was ill, she didn’t remember the girl who took her phone well.
A smooth switch to Yoo Tae-Han and Nam Young-Sik’s entrance into the hospital where he is taken to have an emergency check up where we discover he has a 43°C fever, can’t seem to remain still, doesn’t want to put on an oxygen mask and is hallucinating his father. Then, Nam Young bites a nurse in the arm before running out of the hospital. As he runs onto the road, a van crashes into him and he appears to be fine physically.
We go back to the shaman who is talking to the goddess and we discover that she accept the goddess because the goddess promised to kill the shaman’s mothser but instead, the goddess tortured them. Something suddenly draws her attention and she walks slowly towards it.
Returning back to Nam Young who is running through the forest with Yoo Tae -Han following him. Along with Lee Hwa-Sun who had lost them. We hear a grumbling sound and she pulls out her revolver as she walks towards the direction of the grumble.
At the crash scene with the van, the lady explains that Nam Young-Sik hurt her husband and was crazy. The police drive off to find him.
Switching scenes back to Lee Hwa-Sun who is walking in the forest with her revolver pointed down but prepared to shoot. She discovers the sink hole and soon, she is also infected by the dark smoke. However, from the teasers and trailers, it is evident that she’s the only one who will not undergo the same infection symptoms as the others. This refers to her trauma as different from the others.
Yoo Tae-Han finds her and walks up to her and putting his hand on her shoulder.
As soon as he does that, we’re moved into her mind where the same voice that spoke the other infected is talking to her, encouraging her deepest darkest desire of wanting to kill for revenge. She points her revolver into the abyss, seeking the owner of the voice
The voice continues to mock her and encourage her to shoot the hallucinated serial killer. In reality, she is pointing the revolved at Yoo Tae-Han.
In angry and the verge of tears, Lee Hwa-Sun says:
Why did you do it?!
Why did you kill him?!?!Lee Hwa-Sun, Dark Hole – Episode 1
We’re left on this cliffhanger, until episode 2!
Personal Thoughts and Theories
Overall, it did share similar feeling to some western shows as I previously stated. However, watching episode one; I think it’s more of a mix of Sweet Home and The Wailing, along with some shamanism thrown into the mix. Episode 1 really raised a lot of questions which I hope can be answered in the following episodes leading to the finale!
The main theme that was tackled and probably will appear in future episodes was trauma. Through, smooth transitions, the audience is able to understand Lee Hwa-Sun more as a character who is formed from her background, her past, her present and what she thinks she wants in the future which is capturing Lee Soon-Yeon.
Who is playing the serial killer, Lee Soon-Yeon?
I believe it’s Yoon Saet-Byeol played by Lee Ha Eun who has taken the place of a nurse at Muji Hospital.
- In the scene, where Lee Soon-Yeon kills a nurse, she takes her victim’s employee ID.
- Lee Soon-Yeon’s voice and smiles belong to the actor Lee Ha-Eun. (ಡ艸ಡ)
What is the sink hole, really?
Is the sinkhole naturally occurring? Was it always there? Did someone or something create it? What is the connect between the green crystals and the sink hole? Where did the tentacle monster from when the herbalist found the green crystal come from?
Maybe the hiker/herblist isn’t the first to be infected.
Is Yoo Tae-Han recording something? What is he recording in his room?
It looks like there is a lot of recording equipment set up in his room, so when he heard a loud sound from the outside, he doesn’t seem to hesitate to go investigate or locate the source from his porch.
There also seems to be graphs and data stuck to the wall from what he has been recording.
Can the mutant humans be cured?
There are three stages after infection. I think it might be likely there is a cure for the first stage? (っ- ‸ – ς)
Is there a relationship between the dark smoke, earth’s magnetic field and the solar flares?
Throughout episode 1, information about solar flares and its effects on the Earth’s magnetic field are placed carefully in the background of scenes as news reports on the TV. Maybe it all connects or maybe it’s just a convenient plot device to remove communication devices from the equation to raise tension.
I can’t wait for the future episodes of this show ! So many questions and no enough answers right now! Surprisingly, I enjoyed Kim Ok-Vim’s acting in Dark Hole than her acting in The Villainess. She definitely knows the role of a broken, vengeful, but kind detective very well.