Happiness is a South Korean television series starring Han Hyo-joo, Park Hyung-sik, and Jo Woo-jin, produced by Studio Dragon. It is an apocalyptic thriller that takes place in a time in which infectious diseases have become the new norm. It premiered on tvN on November 5, 2021 and aired every Friday and Saturday at 22:40 (KST) for 12 episodes. It is also available for streaming on Viki, Viu, Netflix, and iQIYI in selected territories.
Happiness takes place in the near future, where the release of a failed Covid-19 treatment drug “Next” has caused a worldwide pandemic known as the Rita Virus, a.k.a “mad person disease”. Those infected by Rita experience short bouts of insanity and bloodlust, before completely regressing into a zombie-like state. The South Korean Military and Police forces are trying to contain the spread of Rita and Next through extensive investigation and authoritative quarantine measures, while civil rights groups protest against them, believing the infected are still capable of normal human interaction.
Yoon Sae-bom encounters a trainee at the Special Operations Unit who is affected by mad person disease. In the struggle to subdue the trainee, she is scratched in the process, leading her to meet Han Tae-seok at a research facility. The facility houses many of the “patients” where they are kept under observation in order to understand and cure the disease. It is revealed that the symptoms of mad person disease is first accompanied with unabated thirst, followed by the pupil turning white, and then the biting of human necks. The disease is not airborne, but spreads through scratches and bites, with Yoon Sae-bom seemingly immune to the disease. Some of those who contracted the disease are ultimately able to return to their former selves temporarily. Yoon Sae-bom makes a deal with Han Tae-seok which leads her to secure an apartment in a newly constructed building, however in order to do so, she must be married. She asks her high school friend Jung Yi-hyun, a former star baseball player but now a police detective, and he agrees to be her fake husband. The building is luxurious and highly stratified, with the public rentals consisting of the lower five floors, and the upper floors for those who own their apartment. Class discrimination is evident where the upper floor resident Oh Yeon-ok struggles to be the apartment representative while keeping everyone in check. Yoon Sae-bom meets many interesting and strange residents, forming a close attachment to her neighbor’s young daughter.
Through Jung Yi-hyun’s detective work, he encounters a diseased person who he believes became this way due to a failed pneumonia drug called Next, that has been widely circulated in order to promote attentiveness and strength. This assumption is later confirmed when a resident member who consumed the drug, secretly sold to her in the building’s gym, ultimately became infected with the mad person disease and succumbed to the illness. This begins the outbreak in the building. In an effort to protect the residents in his building, Jung Yi-hyun and Yoon Sae-bom establishes quarantine rules, while securing the building from the outside with the help of his Captain, Kim Jung-guk. Jung Yi-hyun conflicts with building resident Oh Joo-hyung who seems to encourage destructive behavior in the building. The question of humanity and whether to view those infected with mad person disease as human beings forms a psychological battle for Sae-bom, Yi-hyun and Tae-seok.
Han Tae-seok initially tries to keep the mad person disease a secret, but with more cases progressing and people getting panicked, it is revealed to the public. With the increasing number of people getting infected, Han Tae-seok along with his military team are struggling to determine whether to preserve these people, or to kill them off. Han Tae-seok ordered the complete quarantine of the new building complex where Yoon Sae-bom and Jung Yi-hyun lives, offering them a chance to leave the building before it becomes completely sealed to anyone going in or out of the complex area, however they decline the offer. Yoon Sae-bom’s blood contains antibodies that could hold the cure for the disease, which Han Tae-seok seeks to exploit. It is revealed that Han Tae-seok’s pregnant wife was bitten by the president of the pharmaceutical company that supplied Next, and ultimately became infected with the disease. His search for the cure is in part motivated to find a cure for his wife and to save his unborn child.
Review : by Fatooz (link)
So I finished watching this drama on Sunday but wanted to write a good review for it. This is my second drama after my 4-month break and I was extremely excited to watch this because I love both Han Hyo-Joo and Park Hyung-Sik. But at the same time I was hesitant to check it out as it had the apocalyptic/zombie aspect to it and I’m not one who enjoys watching this genre a lot. However, I did watch it because of the positive reviews and ratings on MDL and like many others, I loved it, to the point that I’m still having major withdrawal symptoms.
Moving onto what I really loved about the drama and what I didn’t.
Cast / Acting: I think in any drama just having a good cast sometimes works wonders. Like for me I don’t enjoy this genre but the cast made me watch it and eventually I ended up liking this drama a lot. Plus it’s important you cast actors who can actually do justice to their roles. For eg., there are quite some characters who’re frustrating but had it not been for the actors playing it do justice to it, it wouldn’t make you feel frustrated like it’s supposed to be.
Direction: In these kinds of apocalyptic/zombie dramas, direction is one of the important factors. For eg., the jump scares, although at this point most are predictable, I did feel most of the jump scares. I also really appreciated a lot of the conversations that took place between our main leads, be it the way they were shot or the vibe they presented.
The Zombies: I would really appreciate this drama for not overdoing the zombies aspect. There was no extreme zombie affect or anything similar like that. In fact if you’re a person who dislikes such things, I think even then you can watch this drama as it was mild and felt more “real” as compared to some other zombie dramas I’ve watched.
Chemistry: The chemistry between Han Hyo-Joo and Park Hyung-Sik was great and natural throughout the drama. From the very first episode you could feel the comfort and the chemistry. But I would say the chemistry between the entire cast was great which is quite rare to find in a drama.
Writing / Ending: I personally felt the ending was too rushed, they showed so much happening the last episode and the last 10 minutes took me sometime to process. Either they could’ve used two more episodes to fit or show more of the ending and done it in a better way or if they knew all along they’ll be going ahead with the 12 episodes then maybe they should’ve tried to blend it all in a better way. I also felt the story building lacked a bit here and there.
My Rating was 9.5/10 as I only found the writing and ending to be lacking a bit but overall the positives overshadowed my watching experience and I ended up loving this drama quite a lot.
Would definitely recommend especially if you’re one of those who stay away from this genre. This drama is more about finding happiness even in the darkest of times.