Do you think it would be possible for a robot to head a division of a huge conglomerate? What do you think the chances are that a robot could pass for being human? How likely do you think it would be for a person to fall in love with a robot? First answer those three questions, watch Are You Human Too? and when you finish it, read those questions once again and see if your answers have changed.
Professor Oh has never been recognized by her father-in-law, Nam Gun-Ho, the powerful owner and CEO of PK Group. The man is a master manipulator and has done everything in his power to keep her far away from his son. She returns to South Korea with her eight year old son, Nam Shin, for a lecture and after her presentation encounters some men who forcefully take Nam Shin from her and inform her of her husband’s suicide. When she bravely storms into her father-in-law’s house to get her son, the little boy angrily tells her he is staying with his grandfather and wants nothing more to do with her. Heartbroken, she leaves him there and goes to the Czech Republic but misses him so much that she invents an artificial intelligence robot based on her own son’s physical characteristics, calling him after her boy – Nam Shin 1. As her own son grows, she makes another robot, the teenager Nam Shin 2, and as time goes on an adult Nam Shin 3. Meanwhile, the human Nam Shin sneaks off to the Czech Republic and gets into an accident that leaves him in a comma. His mother witnesses the accident and, in order to help him keep his position in his grandfather’s company and eventually become the heir, she sends Nam Shin 3 back to South Korea to impersonate her son until the human Nam Shin wakes up and is able to reassume his life. With the aid of the human Nam Shin’s right hand man, Ji Young-Hoon, Nam Shin 3 takes over perfectly, so well in fact that people like the “new” personable Nam Shin much more than the “old” prickly one. Unfortunately, Nam Shin 3’s personal body guard, Kang So-Bong, accidentally discovers the man she works for is, in all reality, a robot and finds herself falling for the kind “tin can.”
Although he rejected returning to the Czech Republic with his mother as a young child, Nam Shin still carries the wound of being abandoned by her over 20 years ago. Having to live with his manipulative grandfather only served to make Nam Shin rebellious and cold-hearted. He cares nothing for the company his grandfather prizes or for his fiancée who anxiously awaits becoming his wife. Nam Shin is 28 years old, has a doctorate degree in business from N.Y.U. and is the director of the future strategies sector at PK Group.
Even though the A.I. Nam Shin may physically resemble his human counterpart, they are nothing alike. Nam Shin 3 was programmed to protect others, with his number one rule being – hug them if they are crying. He refers to Professor Oh as his mother, and only desires to serve and please her. He smiles warmly and helps those in need.
Kang So-Bong was an up and coming MMA fighter until a serious injury forced her into retirement. Her fighting skills allowed her to go into the body guard profession but her motives are not 100% pure. In order to make some much desired money she agrees to spy on her new boss, CEO Nam’s grandson, for Director Seo Jong-Gil. When she discovers that her boss is really a robot she is confused and a bit nervous but quickly becomes his ally, and when she lets down her guard and comes to truly know Nam Shin 3, she begins to fall in love with the sensitive robot.
The show has some interesting supporting characters…
Ji Young-Hoon has been Nam Shin’s personal secretary and only friend for many years. Because he financially benefited from PK Group’s funding of the orphanage he grew up in, he is very loyal to CEO Nam and his family.
Seo Jong-Gil is one of the higher-up directors at PK Group. He has been there for years and will stop at nothing in order to become its next CEO.
Seo Ye-Na is Director Seo’s daughter and the girl CEO Nam has chosen to marry his grandson. Even though Nam Shin thinks of her only as a little sister, she truly loves him. She is the Public Relations Team Leader at PK Group.
Nam Gun-Ho is PK Group’s owner and CEO. He cares for his company much more than he does his own family. The man is crafty and selfish.
Oh Ro-Ra is CEO Nam’s daughter-in-law and Nam Shin’s mother. She is a professor and leading scientist in the field of A.I.
David is the man who helped Professor Oh with the funding and creation of all three Nam Shin robots.
The talented, four time award winning actor who plays the part of both the human Nam Shin and the robot Nam Shin 3 is Seo Kang-Joon, one of the five members of the acting group 5urprise. He’s been in many TV dramas but his acting debut came in the form of a supporting character role in The Suspicious Housekeeper followed by his first major role the very next year in Cunning Single Lady. However, it was his role as a talented college-age pianist in the 2016 Kdrama Cheese in the Trap that shot him to fame. Kang-Joon has also been in three motion pictures. I love this guy and can’t wait to see his other two dramas set to be aired before the end of the year (2018), Something About Us and The Third Charm.
Gong Seung-Yeon, the actress who plays Kang So-Bong, began her entertainment career as an SM Entertainment singing trainee after winning the Best Looks portion of the 2005 SM Youth Best Contest. After seven years of training she lost interest in singing and left, shortly after making her debut in a famine hygiene commercial. In 2015 she became singer/actor Lee Jong-Hyun’s virtual wife in the reality variety show We Got Married. Two years later they both starred in the American-South Korean time slip webdrama My Only Love Song. She’s been in several Kdramas but before Are You Human Too? I had only seen her in My Shy Boss and Circle: Two Worlds Connected. Here’s some fun information – her little sister is Yoo Jeon-Yeon from the girl group Twice and her father was the private chef of former President Kim Dae-Jung.
PK Group is a tremendous conglomerate with its hands in the I.T. world. It produces autonomous cars, in particular the medical car which is automated with medical functions. In other words, it monitors your health while you drive. If someone driving begins to shows signs of, oh let’s say, having a heart attack or a panic attack the car will take over and drive for that person, thus making it safer for those in the car and those on the street. CEO Nam Gun-Ho explains, “For leading companies like ours the focus is to combine A.I. with human life.”
I was really excited to see Are You Human Too? because of all they hype surrounding it and, in all honesty, the premise did sound interesting. Unfortunately, the first eight or so episodes really aren’t all that riveting. Yes, there is a darling robot but the first half of the show is mainly just – let’s keep it a secret that this person isn’t really who everyone thinks he is. However, by about the tenth episode things began to heat up and I was sincerely interested in what was going on. There’s absolutely no waiting to fall in love with Nam Shin 3, though. You like him the second he opens his eyes. His voice is comforting and his smile is so innocently sweet. You might be thinking, “How could someone fall in love with a robot, something that shows no emotions?” Well, I’ll let So-Bong explain that for me – at one point she tells Nam Shim 3, “Your actions contain your feelings.” Then she tells someone else, “He doesn’t just look like a person. He’s a better person than I am. He hugs me when I’m sad and saves me when I’m in danger. He doesn’t lie, follows rules, and keeps his promises. He’s always sincere and truthful and he’s warm and smiles a lot.” Especially after hearing her say that, it wasn’t one bit strange to me that she fell in love with Nam Shin 3. I certainly would have! In my opinion, anything that can think, walk, and talk on its own is alive. So what if it’s made of metal instead of bones. I realize some of you are thinking, “It doesn’t matter how cute he is, I wouldn’t fall for something not human.” Okay, I understand. But for you hopeless romantics, Nam Shin 3 is nothing short of 100% lovable.
Director Seo Jong-Gil is an excellent bad guy. His voice and facial expressions are totally bone-chilling. At one point someone calls him a monster and he corrects them with, “I’m not a monster, I’m the devil.” Yuck. It’s one thing for someone to do horribly despicable things and justify them with greed, passion, or revenge but when your only reason for evil deeds is the fact that you are Satan himself – that’s scary.
One of my favorite parts in the show is when Nam Shin 3 confronts So-Bong about her injury, telling her she is a cyborg because of the metal pin she has in her leg. It’s just a little thing that helps them feel closer to each other, a common bond they share. Later, because of that comparison, So-Bong refers to Nam Shin’s 3 and herself as “the Tin Can couple.” Quite heartwarming.
With this particular drama I think the most important part is its ending and screenwriter Jo Jung-Joo did an excellent job of bringing everything to a close. I was mainly interested in was what was going to become of Nam Shin 3. It could have ended several different ways but I was much more than satisfied with what I got.
There are two Kdramas I can think of that have to do with people falling in love with a robot (or what they think is a robot) – Bong Soon – a Cyborg in Love and I’m Not a Robot and neither one comes close to being as romantic as Are You Human Too? Also, the actresses that play the robots in the other shows aren’t nearly as convincing in their robot roles as Seo Kang-Joon is/ In fact, I’d be surprised if he didn’t win an award for his acting in this show.
Excellent, excellent music! Are You Human Too? has a fairly decent-size soundtrack with the follow songs being especially nice… VIXX performs the up-beat Is This Love? It’s a great, feel-good song with some wonderful rapping. Lyn & Hanhae sing a pretty soft rock song simply titled Love. The Longing Dance is primarily instrumental but also has some vocal sung in English by Lim Ji-Eun. Who Are You?, sung by Red Hair Ann, is absolutely beautiful. It begins with a solo acoustic guitar and then subtly adds other instruments, bit by bit, culminating in a full, rich sound. GB9 sings an exquisite love song entitled For the First Time. And they saved the best for last, placing Seo Kang-Joon’s (Nam Shin’s) beautiful solo ballad called You Are My Love at the very end of the soundtrack. His voice is perfect for that song.
Two buildings that are a main focus of the activity in the show have been recycled from older Kdramas. Nam Shin’s house was first occupied by Joo Hong-Bin in the superhero fantasy drama Blade Man (at least it’s the exact same house on the outside) and the boxing gym where Kang So-Bong lives is the same place where Han Tae-Woong lives and works out in the romantic tear-jerker The Snow Queen. Parts of the first episode of the show were actually filmed in the Czech Republic which is a nice change of scenery for Kdrama fans. We also get to see a short but pretty beach scene at the end of the show.
Although A.I.s are now a reality I think science still has quite a long way to go before we have wonderful robots like Nam Shim 3. Personally, I can’t wait to look one right in its realistic eyes and have it ask me, “Are You Human Too?”
Oh, and don’t forget that very important lesson Nam Shin 3 learns, “Your actions contain your feelings.”
Handsome Seo Kang-Joon’s excellent acting
Unique love story
Fun, familiar settings
A few small “oops”
Nothing fascinating or terribly engaging about the first half of the drama