- Kim Soo Hyun the dog and his masters
The first episode starts with a young boy running in the woods in Russia. Although we don’t know the child’s identity, right from the start the viewer realizes that the boy with strange blue eyes is trained to become an assassin because of the rules told by an adult, the boy’s master:
- Rule number 1: Never reveal a client’s identity to anyone
- Rule number 2: Never keep a witness alive
- Rule number 3: Stay alive
It is clear that during his training, the boy is remembering his master’s rules, until he has to face a dog. Pavel orders Kim Soo Hyun to kill the dog.
While watching this scene, I couldn’t help myself associating this terrible training to the famous experiment of the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov with dogs. First, Pavel sounds so similar to Pavlov, then we hear and see a dog. For further explanations, you can read about it there:
The Russian scientist developed the classical conditioning/Pavlovian Conditioning and in the K-drama, we see how Pavel is using the same method in order to turn our main character into a killer. Yet, in this scene Pavel fails as the boy refuses to kill the dog.
The reason is quite simple: Kim Soo Hyun perceives himself as a dog (see the first picture above) hence he can not shoot his “parent”. Besides, both have blue eyes reinforcing their similarities. The “dog” Kim Soo Hyun refuses to obey its master hence the latter punishes the boy. Yet in the long run, our main character can not escape his fate: he becomes a professional killer. On the other hand, his stubbornness to defy Pavel’s order in this scene allowed him to keep dogs around him. His closeness to animals and especially dogs let him become a veterinarian on the surface.
However, the more episodes we see, the more human Kim Soo Hyun becomes. He starts protecting more and more people: first Kang Seul Ki, a young girl whom KSH refused to eliminate, although she was a witness in a murder.
Later, he takes care of Pavel who is suffering from dementia like a good son and even tries to protect Pavel till the end. The assassin Pavel regrets his decision to have turned KSH into a killer and advises him to live like a normal person. Then he doesn’t kill Tae Soo and the witness, although he could have.
We see that little by little, KSH’s conditioning is disappearing. First, he started questioning Pavel’s rules. Finally, Kim Soo Hyun even refuses to follow his client’s order (episode 6). We can see that KSH is no longer following orders. The question is now, if Kim Soo Hyun will be able to take control of his life, as so far he has lived more like a dog obeying to his masters: Pavel, Philip Ahn and the clients.
- The congressman Seo Won Seok, Tae Soo and the chairman Do Jae Hwan
However, Kim Soo Hyun is not the only “dog” in this story.
Notice the words used by the congressman. He never mentions the word “dog”, nevertheless he is referring to this animal as he keeps talking about a leash. The man describes himself as a dog who did the dirty work for his master: “blood on our hands”. The master gave him the order “kill it”. The beholder gets aware that just like Kim Soo Hyun, Seo Won Seok is unwilling to remain like a dog. He wants to become the master himself, which is different from just taking control of his own life. So Seo Won Seok’s goal is different: his greed and ambition are his motivations, while Kim Soo Hyun desires to protected his loved ones.
While the chairman Jo is looking at his hand, he claims that his position as master should never been questioned. He considers himself superior to Tae Soo and the congressman Seo Won Seok. He is not just a master, he is even the owner of the dog. That’s why this terrible man has no problem to order Tae Soo to get rid of the “dog” Seo Won Seok as he is no longer obeying his orders. The master will never dirty his hands, although he is the real murderer and mastermind.
Tae Soo doesn’t question Do Jare Hwan’s position at all. He accepts it as a normality. But will he remain by his side, once he realizes that he could have the same fate than Seo Won Seok. Do Jae Hwan keeps saying that at some point, he needs to get rid of people, since they represent a thread and a burden.
- The scientist Ko Hyeon Woo
On the surface, the scientist might appear as a good man because he values the lives of the children. However, it becomes clear that he has always viewed these children as his “dogs”, they represent the result of his researches. That’s why he has no problem to use Kim Soo Hyun, one of his “children” to get revenge on the chairman Do Jae Hwan and his accomplices. Sure, he resents KSH even more because he is biologically related to the chairman Do. However, in the episode 6, he is willing to use Kang Seul Ki in order to get more info about the killer he hired. He knows Kang Seul Ki’s fate but he doesn’t feel sorry at all. Furthermore, he has no problem to attempt to kill one of the orphans, Do Hyun Jin/Lee Young Eun. He behaves like a master and treats the children from that orphanage like his puppets. He is in reality not different from the chairman Do.
As conclusion: As time passes on, the killer behaves more and more like a human, whereas the opposite happens to the scientist Ko, the congressman Seo and the chairman Do. In the name of revenge or ambition or greed, these men have no problem to get rid of people.