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Circle: Two Worlds Connected
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Circle, also known as Circle: Two Worlds Connected (써클: 이어진 두 세계), is a 2017 Korean Drama that aired on tVN.

The drama is divided into two parts. The first, The Beta Project (2017), is set in the present and revolves around twin brothers who think they saw an alien in their childhood. In the present, the younger brother, Kim Woo Jin, is a university student, and his elder brother Kim Bum Gyun was recently released from jail, having been incarcerated for causing someone's death, because he thought the person was an alien. Bum Gyun is convinced that the alien who they met in their childhood is the one who caused their father to disappear and is also the reason behind a spate of student suicides at Handam University. Woo Jin is not inclined to believe him, until he and his brother spot a girl, Han Jung Yeon, who looks exactly like the alien from their childhood. Suddenly, everything seems to be connected, including the suicides. The brothers and Han Jung Yeon work towards uncovering the reason behind the university suicides, unravelling a bigger mystery in the process.

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The second setting takes place in the future, A Brave New World (2037). The story is about an alien invasion in 2017 and the subsequent new Earth in 2037; which is separated into the "Smart Earth" where people's emotions are controlled and no crimes or illness exist, and "General Earth" where people still suffer from rampant plague and lawlessness. Kim Joon Hyuk is a violent crimes detective who lives on General Earth and is skeptical of Smart Earth. However, he believes that his missing brother is on Smart Earth and is able to gain entrance into Smart Earth when a sudden murder shocks the crime-free utopia. Once on Smart Earth, he discovers that everything is not what it seems and that the disappearance of his brother could be linked to the corporation that controls Smart Earth, Human B.

The drama stars Yeo Jin Goo as Kim Woo Jin, Gong Seung Yeon as Han Jung Yeon, Kim Kang Woo as Kim Joon Hyuk, An Woo Yeon as Kim Bum Gyun , Jung In Sung as Park Min Young and Lee Gi-kwang as Lee Ho Soo.

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This series provides examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: The creepy abandoned psychiatric hospital used by Human B in 2017.
  • The Ageless: Byul counts. She retains the same appearance throughout the series.
  • Agent Mulder: Bum Gyun’s explanation for everything tends to be “aliens”. Woo Jin will have none of it, at least initially.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Prof. Han is an amoral, manipulative Mad Scientist responsible for the death of multiple people. Still, his condition in 2037 – an aged, sickly and incoherent old loon brought low by his own methods – is so pitiful that even Jung Yeon sheds a tear for him.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Prof. Park is thoroughly corrupted by his ambition. This is also a general theme of the series: once they have powerful technology, humans will never give it up, no matter how bad the consequences are.
  • Amnesiac Hero: Joon Hyuk reveals in the third episode that he lost all of his memories before. It's later revealed he's actually Bum Gyun who lost his memories. And Jung Yeon is actually an amnesiac Byul.
  • Arc Words: Bluebird. The word is repeated many times in both settings of the drama for different meanings.
  • The Atoner: Bum Gyun as Joon Hyuk is very regretful over not abandoning his obsessive search for aliens which lead to his brother's disappearance.
  • Badass Longcoat: Hong wears one as part of his badass detective schtick.
  • Big Bad: Overall Park Dong Gun. While Han Yong Woo starts as the Big Bad for Beta Project, Dong Gun takes over and stays that way in the Brave New World.
  • Call-Forward: Due to the nature of the series, a lot of plot points in the Brave New World are used in the Beta Project or vice versa.
    • Jung Yeon calls herself a hacker in 2017 while her method of "hacking" is simply placing a camera in front of a computer. By 2037 she's the best hacker in the world.
    • Jung Yeon and Joon Hyuk talk about how Joon Hyuk lost his memory and Woo Jin's reaction.
    • Jin Hong mentions that he was part of the cyber force in one episode during Brave New World. The last episode shows him being transferred to that department due to his refusal to listen to orders.
    • Jin Hong draws a web comic in the Brave New World, which shows his art skills which give him the hint that Park Dong Gun isn't what he seems.
  • Came from the Sky: One of the very first scenes of the drama features what seems to be a very bright ball of light hurtling towards the ground. From the ball of light, emerges a naked woman, who immediately collapses at the feet of Woo Jin, Bum Gyun and their father, Kim Gyu Chul.
  • Cloning Blues: Woo Jin model 2037, AKA Circulate III.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Human B’s chairman, Park Dong Gun.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Smart Earth. Normal Earth is a straight out Crapsack World.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Bum Gyun was pretty close to the mark with most of his claims, although he didn’t realize the full extent of it until much later.
  • Dirty Cop: Detective Choi. The police chief in 2017 also seems to be in on the Human B conspiracy, and stonewalls Hong’s attempts to discover what’s going on.
  • Disappeared Dad: Woo Jin and Bum Gyun's father left them in childhood with Byul.
  • Disney Villain Death: Minister Park plunges off the 100th floor in a desperate attempt to catch the memory cube. Unlike most cases, we get to see the messy aftermath.
  • Driven to Suicide:
    • Lee Ho Soo’s girlfriend was a victim of Parental Incest, which eventually drove her to suicide.
    • The students experimented on by Prof. Han took their own lives due the resulting pain and mental deterioration.
    • After Minister Park’s demise, Lee Hyun Seok turns the gun on himself, although he’s stopped by Secretary Shin.
  • Emotionless Girl: Byul never shows any emotions and seems confused over them. Averted after she lost her memories and took the name Jung Yeon.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Park Dong Gun was at first horrified when he learned what his old friend Han Yong Woo was doing to the students in their college. But after he realized what Yong Woo was after, he quickly became as obsessed as his friend and even took his place as the head of the project.
  • Family of Choice: The main four. Only Woo Jin and Bum Gyun are related. However, throughout the course of the drama, we see that Jung Yeon and Min Young have become an integral part of the twins' lives.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: At first Joon Hyuk and Lee Ho Soo disliked each other intensely. They became true friends when Hoo Soo realized that Human B was wrong and changed sides.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Bum Gyun is the Foolish (impulsive, apparently mentally unstable, obsessed with aliens and conspiracies) to Woo Jin’s Responsible (down to earth, hardworking, concerned mainly with protecting his family).
  • Foregone Conclusion: Due to how the drama is structured, we know in 2017, Bum Gyun, Min Young and Jung Yeon will survive as they appear in 2037 and that Woo Jin will find Bum Gyun.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Both Min Young and Joon Hyuk have a scar behind their left ear. This hints that Min Young also had a worm in her brain.
    • In one episode of the Brave New World, Park Dong Gun talks about a law to make human cloning legal. Which makes sense when you realize he had a dying Woo Jin cloned.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Park Dong Gun starts out as a mild-mannered junior professor and advances to running his very own dystopia.
  • Getting Smilies Painted on Your Soul: What the Stable Care chip essentially does, immediately suppressing any strong negative emotion.
  • Great Detective: Inspector Hong likes to cultivate the image (and portrays himself as such is his webtoon, where his Expy is even named “Sherlock”), but he’s probably just a good detective.
  • Hacker Cave: Dong Soo and Bluebird/Jung Yeon each have one.
  • Happiness in Mind Control: When his memories first resurface, Ho Soo begs to have them blocked again.
  • Heel–Face Turn: When Ho Soo realized that his memories were blocked at first he is desperate to escape the pain by having them blocked again. But when he sees that the man that caused his girlfriend to commit suicide is not only happy but doesn't have a clue over what he did, Ho Soo realizes that Human B is wrong.
  • Human Aliens: Byul looks exactly like a young woman in her early twenties. She can even converse in Korean. The only indication that she is not quite human is the fact that she is expressionless, emotionless and cannot process emotions or feelings.
  • Imported Alien Phlebotinum: The Transferable Memory technology the plot revolves around.
  • In the Back: Kim Gyu Chul’s fate, courtesy of Detective Choi.
  • I Will Find You: One of the running themes of the drama is Woo Jin and Bum Gyun looking for each other, in different decades. In the future, Han Jung Yeon is looking for Woo Jin as well.
  • Just Think of the Potential!: Han Yong Woo and later Park Dong Gun think of Byul's system that allows humans to see memories as video files and edit them.
  • Light Is Not Good: White is the dominant color in Smart Earth, including official uniforms. Ho Soo's Heel–Face Turn is signified by him switching from an all-white to an all-black outfit.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Woo Jin and Bum Gyun are this to each other as they're the only family they have left.
  • Mad Scientist: After being exposed by Woo Jin, Prof. Han takes to the character type with gusto. Averted by Prof. Park, who manages to be effectively evil without fits of maniacal laughter and speeches about the Glories of Science.
  • Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter: Han Jung Yeon. Except she’s not really his daughter.
  • Maybe Ever After: For Joon Hyuk or Bum Gyun and Park Min-young. And Woo Jin and Jung Yeon.
  • Missing Mom: Woo Jin and Bum Gyun's mother died when they were very young to the point that 11 year old Woo Jin didn't remember her face anymore.
  • Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Woo Jin is hated in his college as he refuses to participate in their school-wide strike which they see as him being selfish. In reality, he needs the money to pay for his ill grandma and he's a scholarship student.
  • MockGuffin: Kim Gyu Chul’s coveted flash drive, which turns out to contain only a video message explaining why he destroyed all his research data.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Do we need a scene featuring a shirtless and buff Woo Jin? Not necessarily, but the audience is rewarded with one.
  • Mysterious Waif: Byul’s original persona as an ambiguously extraterrestrial Emotionless Girl of unclear origins.
  • Orphan's Plot Trinket: Jung Yeon has a star charm that she made with her mother and the only thing left of her as she lost her memory. It's revealed to be a lie as Woo Jin gave it to her 10 years ago and is what clues her to her true identity.
  • Polar Opposite Twins: Woo Jin and Bum Gyun couldn't be anymore different. When they were kids, Woo Jin believed in aliens while Bum Gyun was more grounded in logic. In 2017, it's reversed with Woo Jin being enrolled in a science college while Bum Gyun is obsessed with catching aliens.
  • Properly Paranoid: Bum Gyun thinks that the suicides in Woo Jin's college aren't suicides and that Jung Yeon is an alien. It's later reveals he's totally correct.
  • Sanity Slippage: People tend to go through this when re-experiencing traumatic memories that were previously suppressed by the Stable Care system. In one case at least, it leads to murder.
  • Sequel Hook: Our heroes dismantled Human B, but as they are celebrating their new life, they hear breaking news about another mysterious flash of light in the area where they used to live. Jung Yeon’s face suddenly grows expressionless as her eyes begin to glow…
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: After the time skip, Jung Yeon switches from a typical wardrobe of a 20-something undergrad to wearing all-black, complete with a leather jacket, piercings and heavy eye shadow. She is still one of the good guys; the wardrobe shift serves to show that the world has grown Darker and Edgier.
  • Ship Tease: The drama has quite a few moments between Woo Jin and Jung Yeon. Bum Gyun and Min Young share some ship tease as well.
  • Smug Snake: Lee Hyun Seok, especially in 2037.
  • Stepford Smiler: All Smart Earth citizens to some extent, but especially Lee Ho Soo. Joon Hyuk nicknames him “Erro”, short for “Pierrot”, due to his constant, unnerving, fake-looking smile.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mayor Yoon, up to a point. To a greater extent, Minister Park or at least that’s what he wants everyone to think.
  • Red Herring:
    • At first we're lead to believe that Joon Hyuk is Woo Jin due to their similar mannerisms but it's actually revealed it's Bum Gyun.
    • We're given a lot of evidence that Woo Jin might be the chairman of Human B: the chairman has a photo that Bum Gyun took of them, Woo Jin's belief that to treat PSTD is to make patients forget their trauma, and a photo of him standing in front of a painting in the chairman's office. Turns out it was Park Dong Gun all along.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Hoo boy did the Time Skip do wonders for some people.
    • Bum Gyun is an alien obsessed young adult that was captured pretty easily in 2017. As Joon Hyuk, he's an iron willed detective that is a capable fighter and dedicated to finding Woo Jin.
    • Jung Yeon was a regular girl in 2017. In 2037, she's a legendary hacker that many aren't sure even exists and is able to easily hack Human B.
  • Tragic Keepsake:
    • Lee Ho Soo’s tie, which he wears even without remembering where it came from.
    • Jung Yeon's necklace, which was a gift from Woo Jin.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Applies to both Woo Jin and Bum Gyun. Bum Gyun just finished a stint in prison and Woo Jin is a college student who does not seem to have a good relationship with anyone.
  • Twin Telepathy: Invoked half-jokingly between the Kim brothers, although we never see evidence of this actually happening.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Minister Park claims that humanity just wanted to be happy, so he gave them happiness – at the expense of freedom, justice and accountability.
  • Wetware CPU: A variant with Woo Jin’s Circulate clones, who are put in an artificial coma and serve to power the alien technology at the heart of the Human B supercomputer.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A number of side characters from 2017 don’t appear again in 2037, and we’re never told what happened to them – most notably, Detective Choi.
  • The World Is Not Ready: Kim Gyu Chul ultimate conclusion regarding the alien technology, leading him to destroy all his research data.
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