Some of our favorite heroes are the ones that take a minute or two to get started. There is so much potential within them, yet they slack about and refuse to be the people we know they can be. I suppose it’s because they know there’s more to them and they just don’t want to do the work or perhaps, they just don’t get the proper encouragement. Either way, there’s always that defining moment in a hero’s life that makes him take up his sword and follow his destiny. I love those moments but another moment that is far more important, is when a hero finally grasps what the sword is for.
Story of a Man (Slingshot) is plainly a revenge drama. I love revenge, because it’s such a conundrum. When you’re hurt, you want to lash out and take that tooth that someone stole or deprived you of but honestly, it’s never just a tooth or an eye that you want in return. Nor, is that all you bruise in the process. Therefore, revenge dramas are always fascinating because though it’s human to want revenge, it’s humane to seek peace and find a better solution. To figure out how to justifiably make your case known, say your peace or get justice and leave innocents unscathed. Watching a hero maneuver through these issues is truly the best thing about the genre.
This story takes place in the world of big business, stock markets and trading– things I know zilch about, but underneath all of that are two men and real people, with real issues concerning family, love, money and themselves.
Setup: Kim Shin (Park Yong Ha) has returned from prison determined to rid the world of ruthless financial super power Chae Do Woo (Kim Kang Woo), the man who destroyed his family business and perpetuated his brother’s suicide. However, through every new tactic, Do Woo has a counter and Shin realizes how little power he has on his own. Kim Shin is called to Sari Village to help stop the demolition of his sister-in-law’s home due to big business development. In the course of the day, a demonstration is held and Shin finds out Chae Do Woo heads the conglomerate out to evict the villagers. Shin stands alone, mulling how to proceed, thrust back in a war he’d hoped he’d defected. He feels defeated and decides to retreat but then he meets the spunky mayor of Myeongdoshi, Yang Woo Sun (Jun Sung Hwan).
Kim Shin: I haven’t formally introduced myself to you yet. I apologize for my rudeness. And I’m grateful for your help. And…
Mayor Yang: The fact that you came to look for me, means that you have nowhere else to go.
Kim Shin: No, I don’t.
Mayor Yang: What do you guys do? You and the guy who lying downstairs.
Kim Shin: We do different things. That friend at least knows what he’s doing. But I don’t. I don’t know what I’m doing. I should say I’m throwing eggs at a rock.
Mayor Yang: Why? Are you not a rock, or are the eggs angry?
Kim Shin: The friend downstairs looked at me, and said that I was kind. He said I was kind but kindness is a weakness. So, he says I will only lose. So I’m an egg that is kind, weak, and only knows how to lose.
Mayor Yang: Looks like your friend doesn’t understand. Kindness isn’t weakness. Being by yourself, is weakness. Doing things alone and fighting by yourself is why you lose by yourself.In that manner, that is throwing eggs at a rock. If you throw one egg, of course there is no effect. If you throw ten thousand eggs, a million eggs– the rock will shatter.
Mayor Yang: Your name is Kim Shin, isn’t it? Now… now you must be feeling very lonely, don’t you?
The sub-title for this drama is The Slingshot, which is a nod to the Biblical story of David and Goliath. David was a young boy, tiny, compared to the giant Goliath that threatened his city and yet, he stood up to him with three rocks and a slingshot and won. His weapons weren’t as savvy as Goliath’s nor was it logical to think he could win but he did. However, even David wasn’t alone.Not only did David have faith in God’s sovereign support, he believed his people would back him. If David had truly believed himself to be alone, his success may not have occurred, for why would he even want to fight? Chae Do Woo is a Goliath, for he’s big and tough and positioned to be triumphant. Truthfully, Kim Shin has no chance of winning unilaterally against this man. This is what made Kim Shin’s conversation with Mayor Yang so valuable, for it opened his eyes and birthed his faith in the support around him, giving him the push to acknowledge and accept it.
One of the biggest lessons in life is: “No man is an island.” To be honest, I still wrestle with this fact, for it’s easy to repeat and comprehend but harder to implement in everyday life. Mayor Yang points this out readily (from experience I’m sure) to Shin because obviously no battle can be won, successfully, alone. Up till this point, Shin has asked for help but conditionally, based on repayment of winning, but never contemplating what and who he’s winning for. In an underdog series like this one, it’s not always about the outcome but about the journey, the relationships, the bonds that are formed and tied along the way. A hero may be fighting for the world, but with the world on his shoulders, he isn’t going to get very far.
In the beginning of the episode, Shin concedes to buckle to Do Woo’s demands and makes the choice to do this alone. He says the word (alone) twice, almost like a chant, pointed and sullen. He’s so dejected in his loneliness that he doesn’t recognize the willingness of the people around him– people who care not only for the cause but for him as a person. Thankfully, this moment comes in the middle of the drama, allowing Shin to embrace his relationships and trust those around him, spending the remainder of the drama utilizing and combining their skills.
I used the analogy of the sword earlier and in Shin’s case, his sword isn’t just to wound but to protect– protect the people at his side but protection is not synonymous with seclusion. He was using it as a barrier between he and the people around him, wielding it to nick the enemy but distance himself from those that desired to help him. It wasn’t until he breaks down with Mayor Yang, that he was able to look at the entire picture and where he stood in the midst of the battle.
When we take on the world and barricade ourselves from the help of others it truly is nothing more than self-righteous arrogance. It can be argued that we have reasons for this; our past hurts, pains or problems and those a definitely valid but ultimately, it’s about the individual believing themselves to be Law. Kim Shin, like us, was a man with tons of pain, guilt and responsibility but somehow he learned weakness comes from being isolated. And isolation, traps us, making us open to debilitating targets, instead of shielding us. Mayor Yang knew this truth and imparts it to Shin reminding him that, no matter the situation, at the end of the day, whether you win or lose in battle, it’s always better when the spoils are shared, with someone else.