I tried to make this post short but I failed once again. (Call it my system error, lol.)
I’ll “summarize” what we know about the villains so far.
First things first —
1. There are three dead bodies in the story but two of them, HyunSuk and Sec Seo, are linked to Jinwoo.
2. Their killer? Most of the viewers are led to believe that the GAME killed the two individuals. However, there are some who suspect the killer is JinWoo because of circumstantial evidence.
With HyunSuk, there was evidence that JW grabbed him by the collar and that he was the last person to see him alive. With Sec Seo, JW was his companion on the trip who reported him missing.
However, there was no evidence of foul play which would directly connect JW with the two deaths. With HyunSuk, there was no physical evidence of external trauma although his body exhibited sign of exsanguination. With Sec Seo, he died of cerebral hemorrhage consistent with impact from a fall although I’m sure that the train station’s cameras would show that JW didn’t get off the train with Sec Seo.
3. If the game is the killer, then the real villain is the mastermind or creator of the game who’s hiding behind the mechanics of the game — somebody similar to the Wizard of Oz who hides behind the scene.
FYI. In the “Wizard of Oz”, there’s an ordinary man behind the green curtain who pulls all the levers of his gizmos and pretends to be a great Wizard.
In the Memories of the Alhambra, there are two divergent theories regarding the identity of this “evil” mastermind.
The first theory is Sejoo is the creator of the game, and Marco was his middleman or game distributor. Sejoo unknowingly developed a flawed game and became a victim himself.
It’s widely assumed that NPC Marco parallels NPC Hyunsuk. NPC Hyunsuk haunts JW because JW slayed him in a sword fight. NPC Hyunsuk is said to be “avenging” his death. Likewise, NPC Marco chases SeJoo because SeJoo killed Marco in a fight. NPC Marco is also avenging his death.
However, I suggested an alternative to this point of view.
I said that NPC Marco can be chasing SeJoo because Marco had an “unfinished business” with SeJoo. Vengeance has nothing to do with the NPCs because NPCs aren’t imbued with emotions, principles and morals. (Otherwise, they would stop KILLING, right?)
To me, the game simply malfunctioned. It has a programming error that causes a failure in execution (lol, literally and figuratively speaking). It replays, on perpetual loop, its users’ LAST ACTION at the time of death.
For instance, in NPC HyunSuk’s case, HyunSuk was dueling with JW. When the real HS died while playing the game, the game “captured” the user at his moment of death and repeated this action non-stop as the game couldn’t log out the user. Same with NPC Sec Seo. As JW’s ally, Sec Seo had shared “experience” points with JW and he was fighting off the swarming NPCs when he died. The game “captured” this moment and now as an NPC, he too fights off the enemies of JinWoo.
The way I see it, the game was programmed to generate results according to pre-set or predetermined criteria.
Meaning, IF a user does x + y, THEN the user gets z.
The user INPUTS the required actions for a given level (i.e., kill 50 NPCs or completes a mission) and the program OUTPUTS the calculated result (i.e., leveling up or dying and being logged out of the game).
But it seems like the game wasn’t tested completely and there was a glitch when two users interface/interact with each other, and one of them dies while logged in the game.
That’s why we have NPC HyunSuk and NPC Sec Seo in existence. According to Jinwoo, SeeJoo most likely realized a bit too late that there was a problem in the game and he wanted Jinwoo’s programmers to fix it. Of course, Marco would have been “unhappy” (to put it mildly) to learn that SeeJoo was backing out of a 10 billion won deal.
The second theory is that the mastermind is one or two of JinWoo’s associates.
The prime suspects here are his ex-wife #1, Director Park and Prof Cha because they all have something to benefit from JinWoo’s downfall. Although there have been strong arguments put forward to prove their motives, I don’t believe any of them capable of “masterminding” the game.
Here are my explanations:
a. His ex-wife #1, SuJin
Being an adulteress doesn’t make her a murderer or a conspirator. 😀
It’s totally preposterous to suspect that she masterminded the game in order to get rid of her husband and Jinwoo. Why on earth would she kill HyunSuk when they were expecting a baby?
Plus, she immediately suspected that JW had a hand in HS’ death and she was enraged when he came over to their house to offer his assistance after HS’ death.
She was hysterical when she accused Jinwoo, “What did you talk about with him? You met up with him last night. You called him out, didn’t you? What did you say to him that he ended up dead?… Something felt weird. I felt like something bad was going to happen ever since we ran into him at the train station. You must feel relieved. You wanted this to happen, didn’t you? You must’ve longed for this to happen…. What did you say to him? What did you say to him before he died? You should’ve called me instead. Why did you have to call him out?… He also lived in agony. He always wanted to reconcile with you. He cried and drank every day. We weren’t always happy.”
See that? Despite her husband’s alcoholism and jealousy, she didn’t want him dead. It didn’t make sense for her to kill him just to get back at Jinwoo and torment him with NPC Hyunsuk.
More importantly, she had zero knowledge of computer programming and gaming. She couldn’t have designed or teamed up with SeJoo to create an Augmented Reality game for the purpose of killing. This theory is just too convoluted.
b. His company co-founder Director Park
It’s also absurd to suspect that he masterminded the game to kill HyunSuk to cover up a secret affair with SuJiin (no evidence here) and to kill Jinwoo so he could control of the company. He knew game design and engineering weren’t his expertise so why would he covert Jinwoo’s job? Especially when he was already in control of the business side??
Furthermore, it would have been easier for him to get rid of Jinwoo at that moment he and Prof Cha discussed Hyunsuk’s autopsy.
Right then, he could have disclosed the Programmer’s statement about Jinwoo bragging about “destroying” HS. But he himself didn’t want to believe that Jinwoo was capable of killing HS.
Prof Cha: WE already decided. And I don’t want my son’s body to become a mess either. I don’t doubt Jinwoo. Therefore, there’s no reason to carry out an autopsy. What about you? What do you think?
Park: (recalling his conversation with the Programmer and Jinwoo) I think it’s absurd… to doubt him.
Of all people, he knew that Jinwoo expressed a desire to kill HyunSuk. Yet he didn’t voice his doubts aloud.
In his conversation with the Programmer, the latter disclosed, “Mr. Yoo told me that he completely destroyed him. He called me at dawn and told me that he destroyed Mr. Cha. He sounded really excited. Do you think Mr. Yoo used physical violence on him? Then he could get sued for assault or accidental homicide.”
Park protested that, “YangJu! How can you actually say that?”
The Programmer continued, “I just feel uncomfortable about how he told me that he destroyed Mr. Cha.”
Then, in another flashback, he remembered how he too had been uncomfortable when Jinwoo told HIM that he wanted to stab Hyunsuk, “I could’ve done something crazy if you hadn’t called me. If I had a knife in my hand, I might have stabbed him.”
See? Park knew two occasions when Jinwoo expressed enough hatred for HyunSuk to want to kill him. So if Park really wanted to, he could have usurped Jinwoo’s leadership position back then by raising suspicions and demanding an autopsy.
Why wait another year?
To me, his reply to Prof Cha “I think it’s absurd to doubt him” was his way to calm his OWN self-doubts about Jinwoo. He’d been shaken by the death of Hyunsuk and by the thought that Jinwoo could have been involved in it.
But he was giving Jinwoo the benefit of the doubt. He was clinging to his belief in his innocence. He wasn’t going to be a “traitor”.
That was why before he returned to Seoul, he asked Jinwoo, “Work is piling up. I must return to Seoul. Is there anything you want to tell me?” When Jinwoo asked him, “What about?” he pretended that it was a general question, “Nothing. I’m just saying.”
Park couldn’t have masterminded the deadly AR game.
c. Prof Cha
No. As much as people wanted him to be the villain here, he had no hand in the creation of the game. Based on his inflated sense of pride and self-worth, he wouldn’t resort to murdering his son (he dislikes scandals and being in the public’s eye, remember?) or hiring a kid like SeeJoo to create a game to kill JinWoo. And based on his reaction in Episode 12 upon seeing the zombie HyunSuk, he couldn’t have masterminded the game.
So there you go. I’m “recapping” what we know of the possible suspects and rearranging them to make sense out of the confusion. 😀 As it stands, it’s very possible that this story might not have a real “villain” at all.