Move To Heaven review: Boy with Asperger's decodes messages from the dead

As Move To Heaven trauma cleaners, Geu-ru (Tang Jun-sang) and Sang-gu (Lee Je-hoon) clean up the belongings of the deceased and place them into yellow boxes. (Photo: Netflix)
As Move To Heaven trauma cleaners, Geu-ru (Tang Jun-sang) and Sang-gu (Lee Je-hoon) clean up the belongings of the deceased and place them into yellow boxes. (Photo: Netflix)

Cast: Lee Je-hoon, Tang Jun-sang, Hong Seung-hee, Ji Jin-hee, Lim Won-hee, Choi Soo-young
Language: Korean with various subtitles
Release details: Streaming on Netflix from 14 May

3.5 out of 5 stars

This review covers the first five episodes of Move To Heaven.

Move To Heaven is an original Netflix Korean drama that follows the story of Han Geu-ru (Tang Jun-sang), a 20-year-old with Asperger syndrome, who works as a trauma cleaner. The job scope of a trauma cleaner, simply put, is to clean up the belongings of the deceased — the final stage before the deceased “move to heaven”. But Geu-ru is taught by his father (Ji Jin-hee) to decipher the stories of the deceased based on the items left behind, just like solving a puzzle.

Due to his Asperger syndrome, Geu-ru has significant communication difficulties, often leading others to find him rather straightforward and “stupid”. Quite the contrary though, Geu-ru is far from stupid, as he has great logical skills and superb memory, which help him uncover truths and connect with the dead’s untold feelings.

One day, Geu-ru's father passes away suddenly from cardiac arrest, resulting in a major change to his familiar surroundings. With the help of his neighbour Yoon Na-mu (Hong Seung-hee), Geu-ru has to learn how to live and work with his estranged uncle Cho Sang-gu (Lee Je-hoon), who is now his legal guardian.

On the surface, the plot of Move To Heaven may seem rather morbid. But as Geu-ru dives deeper into the deceased’s life, each death is more than meets the eye. While cleaning up the house of the deceased, Geu-ru will put what he thinks is memorable or important into a yellow box, which he will then pass to the family or friends of the deceased. More often than not, in the yellow box lies a heart-wrenching tale to tell.

Although it is only natural to assume that a trauma cleaner is usually needed to clean up the homes of lonely elderly who lived and died alone, Move To Heaven expands the variety of the deaths to include people who died due to an accident, murder victims, and even those that lived with their parents. The services that Geu-ru’s team provides not just clean up the place, but also do things that the deceased’s family would rather not do, in case they dirty their hands, or feel sad looking at their belongings.

Beyond the plot, Tang’s portrayal of Geu-ru is something worth watching as well. Due to his peculiar antics, it is not difficult to find some scenes rather amusing. When Geu-ru is feeling overwhelmed, he would repeatedly bump his head against the wall or door, usually to the shock of a helpless Sang-gu. Sang-gu is then misunderstood by Na-mu as trying to hurt Geu-ru, even if Sang-gu is trying to stop Geu-ru.

Another thing to look out for is the character of Sang-gu. In the day, he works as a trauma cleaner, but he becomes an underground mixed martial arts fighter at night. Prior to becoming Geu-ru’s legal guardian, Sang-gu was serving time in jail after seriously injuring his friend in a fight. While Sang-gu bears suspicions over his half-brother’s decision to entrust him with Geu-ru despite his background, the sub-plot about the tough-looking Sang-gu is gradually unveiled as he continues to work and live with Geu-ru.

With a total of 10 episodes, Move To Heaven may just be your next Korean series to binge watch during the COVID lockdown.

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