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REVIEW: ‘Moving’ is the greatest Korean superhero series yet

By Jerald Uy Published Sep 22, 2023 8:48 pm

Tackling US imperialism and the never-ending war between the two Koreas, the Moving series stands as South Korea’s best superhero series yet, structured with character-driven arcs that culminate with a heart-pounding three-part finale.

The 20-episode series is bookended with a blossoming romance between flying chubby teen Bong-seok (Nevertheless’ Lee Jung-ha) and a girl with an immense healing factor Hui-soo (Law School’s Go Youn-jung). Along with the third wheel, super-strong speedster class president Gang-hoon (Here's My Plan’s Kim Do-hoon), they attend Jeongwon High School.

Unbeknownst to at least two of them, it is a secret recruitment hub for the children of superhuman spies, sponsored by the National Intelligence Service.  

A hopeless romantic Bong-seok shows that superheroes can come in different shapes and sizes.

While the first few episodes are seemingly light and swoon-worthy, the story takes a violent turn as a Korean American courier with quick healing abilities (The Berlin File’s Ryoo Seung-bum) begins attacking retired superhuman Korean spies. This subplot is literally plucked from Korea’s history books as Americans adopted a large number of Korea’s orphaned children, mostly boys.

In the story, the US government, despite its alliance with South Korea, is anxious about lagging behind the superpower warfare. Presented as transactional friends, the White House and the Blue House’s relationship is on the rocks.

One thing leads to another, the parents’ backstories unfold, featuring an all-star cast from Hallyu world—Bong-seok’s missing father, the flying sniper Zo In-sung (Memories of Bali’s Zo In-sung); his mother with enhanced senses Lee Mi-hyun (Happiness’ Han Hyo-joo), Hui-soo’s fast-healing dad (Miracle in Cell No. 7’s Ryu Seung-ryong), and Gang-hoon’s loving father with intellectual disability, Jae-man (D.P.’s Kim Sung-kyun). Cha Tae-hyun of My Sassy Girl fame portrays one of the older gifted children, the electric superhero actor-turned-bus driver Gye-do. 

The latter episodes then focus on North Korea’s response after a video of the gifted children goes viral. Superhuman agents from North Korea, led by military officer Deok-yun (Trolley’s Park Hee-soon), strike at all fronts.  

But make no mistake—while it shows the brutal penalties imposed by Pyongyang, it also humanizes the supposed antagonists of the story. It also magnifies a number of South Korea’s government officials’ warped sense of nationalism that contributes to the circle of violence between the two Koreas.

Hallyu stars Ryu Seung-ryong, Han Hyo-joo, and Zo In-sung portray superpowered agents of South Korea.

Despite the disclaimer flashed at the start of every episode, the superhero show makes a brave, clear stance on the geopolitical conflict in the Korean Peninsula. It hopes to exclude future generations from the wars their predecessors started.

The first season even ends on a hopeful note, the Korean youth being symbolized by a smiling Bong-seok, now clad in yellow, rocketing into the skies. 

Viewers would need patience to go through each character-centric episode but the flashbacks will all pay off in the finale. It is hard not to get charmed by each character as they find themselves love and contentment in building a family.

However, the power sets are a bit redundant—there are four people with healing factors and two with levitating powers. Save for Gye-do’s electric powers and a Korean agent’s seismokinesis, others’ gifts are not that flashy.  

The fight choreography and cinematography are top-notch. Hollywood should watch out because South Koreans are matching spectacular CGI with a good script.

Would an athletic girl fall in love with a chubby guy?

Based on the webtoon by artist Kang Full, Moving expertly delivers a cohesive superhero series that is relatable not only to the Korean audience but also to Filipino viewers whose country is also heavily influenced by the US and has been dealing with internal conflict throughout the decades, albeit without a pronounced split.  

Centering the series on the chunky, hopeless romantic Bong-seok also shows that superheroes can come in different shapes and sizes, a rebellious move against systemic fatphobia in mainstream entertainment. 

All episodes of Moving Season 1 are now streaming on Disney+. Stay for a post-credits scene.