With the success of Squid Game and All of Us Are Dead pulling South Korean dramas (K-dramas) into the television spotlight, Netflix has been putting out more and more content for us to enjoy. One of the latest big talking points is Tomorrow on Netflix, an MBC fantasy show running from April 1 to May 21, 2022. The drama has recently been met with BTS-related controversy and has suffered wavering viewership ratings since the initial episode so, without spoilers, we review the show and ask: Is the Tomorrow K-drama any good and is it worth watching?
*Trigger warnings for suicide, self-harm, and sexual assault.
What is the K-drama, Tomorrow on Netflix about?
Tomorrow is incredibly unique in its overall topic, blending a seen-before concept with the important tackling of various issues. It follows three Grim Reapers as they work as the sole members of the afterlife’s newly formed Risk Management Team; they prevent suicides in order for people to live out their designated lifespans and reduce the overcrowding of the underworld.
The grim reaper concept has been seen before in K-dramas and is often a popular one — The Uncanny Counter, Goblin, Black — but Tomorrow puts a unique spin on the theme with its discussion and challenging of social issues. Using a mixture of fantasy, period drama, and comedy, the show tackles a new problem with almost every episode. From a TV producer wanting to end her life due to torment by her old school bully, to a grieving husband wishing to join his wife, to a guilt-ridden woman devastated by the idea that she may have sent her friend to her death at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army, Tomorrow covers it all.
Tomorrow on Netflix cast
Tomorrow boasts an incredibly skilled cast of actors, with the two main grim reapers being played by Kim Hee-seon (a prolific 1990s actress who has starred in both TV and film) and Yoon Ji-on (Monthly Magazine Home and You Are My Spring). The two complement one another perfectly, each with a cool, moody persona that reflects their hundreds of years in the afterlife as well as their immense responsibility for preventing death. They also both harbour mysterious dark pasts, and both actors deliver a range of emotion and expression throughout the show and its revelations.
Rowoon of K-Pop group SF9 shines alongside them, acting in his fourth lead role after his impressive leading man debut in Extraordinary You back in 2019. He offers an innocence and a lightheartedness in between the tragedies of the episodes, with his character having landed in a coma and being contractually hired as a temporary grim reaper. The chemistry between the three leads is arguably what draws viewers back for more, showcasing just how important dialogue and interaction are, as well as action.
An important mention must also go to Lee Soo-hyuk as Park Joong-gil, the head of the Grim Reaper management team. As his and Kim Hee-seon’s character Ryeon find their paths and histories crossing more towards the end of the show, the emotional range and power he demonstrates are incredibly noteworthy, tugging on heartstrings and delivering some awe-inspiring moments.
The rest of the Tomorrow cast includes:
- Kim Hae-sook as The Jade Emperor, the leader of the afterlife
- Kang Seung-yoon (of K-Pop group Winner) as Kang Woo-jin, a depressed singer-songwriter
- Jeon Moo-song as Lee Young-cheon, a veteran of the Korean War
- Park Hoon as Ha Dae-su, the leader of Hell
How long is Tomorrow on Netflix?
The 16-episode show clocks in at around 16 hours total (1 hour per episode) which is rather refreshing for a K-drama; these are notorious for having episodes between an hour and 90 minutes apiece. However, Tomorrow is still very difficult to binge. Each episode (or sometimes two) explores a different troubled character with a new issue or motivation for their suicidal thoughts/attempt. These are very intense, often taboo topics that can be incredibly heart wrenching or difficult to watch, and watching multiple of these in one sitting could be very upsetting and draining for a viewer.
Instead, it is better the issues are consumed one at a time — this allows for both a brief respite in between each bout of sobbing and a chance for the weight of the episode’s topic to sink in. For example, one episode delves into the aftermath of a young girl who is raped by a kidnapper whilst walking home from a night out. She is understandably traumatized by the event and by the attention that is placed on her in the media, which includes accusations that she was ‘asking for it’. This is, at times, horrific to watch (particularly for avid K-drama fans) as it is an issue that is rarely acknowledged or discussed in Korean media due to intense misogyny and controversy over the feminist movement. The discussion of these issues within Tomorrow therefore can be an exhausting process to be a part of, but a necessary one nonetheless.
Is the Tomorrow K-drama worth watching?
Although some viewers may find the K-drama becoming tiresome past the halfway mark due to the overall lack of a consistent running plot line, Tomorrow is still worth the watch. It is an incredibly bold and important piece of television for a South Korean team to create. It offers some great dialogue and action sequences, but more importantly, it sheds vital light on the topics of mental health, sexual assault, loneliness, depression, bullying, grieving, and many more. And it accomplishes this by being led by a talented lead trio who display a great strength in addressing these issues head-on via their acting capabilities.
Tomorrow is not a show for those looking for a deeply intricate storytelling masterpiece across the full set of episodes, but for those wishing to see something new from the K-drama and television world. It is for those looking to connect deeply and profoundly with the struggles of human life, to boldly face taboo societal issues, and to empathize with a forward-thinking cast that steps into new territory whilst tugging on your heartstrings.