It wasn’t too long ago that a sci-fi story on South Korean screens was a rare enough event that it was automatically cause for curiosity. But with growing budgets, global audiences and technical sophistication, sci-fi elements have become increasingly visible on screen, and the genre has proved a terrific tool for exploring new storytelling avenues and engaging in social allegory. The latest addition to Korean science fiction is Disney+ Korea’s first stab at the genre, the 10-part series Grid , starring Seo Kang-joon ( Watcher ), Kim Ah-joong ( 200 Pounds Beauty ) and Lee Si-young ( Sweet Home ). With high production values, a name cast and some major behind-the-scenes pedigree, with Lee Soo-yeon of Life and Stranger fame serving as writer, the show rides in on a wave of cool mystery and intrigue. Yet while the storytelling is undeniably smooth, the story has been frustratingly opaque and, despite very short episodes (around 45 minutes) by Korean standards, precious little has transpired over the course of the first two episodes. In an alternate version of our present day, the world is encircled by a magnetic “grid” controlled by the “Bureau Administration” in Korea, which shields our fragile planet from gigantic flares that leap up from the sun’s surface and threaten to annihilate our species, or at the very least send us back to the stone age. 8 new Korean drama series to look out for in March 2022 The show begins in 2004, when panic sweeps the globe as the Bureau Administration races to get the grid online for the first time. Among the alarmed throng of humanity awaiting their fate, two children are singled out: Kim Sae-ha and Jung Sae-byeok. The Bureau gets the grid online in the nick of time and the story jumps forward to 2022. A grown-up Sae-ha (Seo Kang-joon), cleanly dressed and attuned to his surroundings, drops into a convenience store, has a tense interaction with the cashier and leaves. Sensing something is off, he returns to the store when the cashier exits and finds a corpse in the storage room. The adult, steely-eyed Sae-byeok (Kim Ah-joong), is among the cops assigned to the case. Sae-ha tries to extricate himself from the scene but, spurred on by his curiosity and thanks to his unusual lip-reading skills, he briefly lends a helping hand to the baffled police officers. Sae-ha is a member of the Bureau Administration and, along with his colleagues, including Song Eo-jin (Kim Moo-yeol), scours the internet all day long, although the nature of their work is unclear. This searching leads him right back to the convenience store case, when the killer escapes the police later that day with the help of a mysterious woman who appears to have the ability to disappear into thin air. Although the police have never heard of them, the Bureau Administration takes over the case. Undaunted, Sae-byeok surreptitiously remains on the case and she soon crosses paths with Sae-ha once again; he is conducting his own side investigation. They are both after “Ghost” (Lee Si-young), the woman who has been mysteriously helping the killer Kim Ma-nok (Kim Sung-kyun), although he is unaware of her help. In addition to being very fond of cakes – she buys the entire display of cake slices at a cafe one evening and greedily gobbles them down – Ghost appears to have some ability to manipulate space and time, and Sae-ha seems to have run into her in the past. After two episodes, Grid has told us almost nothing about Ghost’s origins, abilities or intentions – despite the fact that the pre-release marketing specifically refers to her as a “mysterious ghost” who saved humankind in 1997. So we already know things that the show, in all its narrative dithering, has attempted to keep secret. Given the short episodes, the fact there are only 10 of them and the drawn-out pacing, the manifold mysteries at the heart of Grid feel more like a deliberate withholding of evidence. Since there’s limited time remaining and we already know more than the series has shown us thus far, the overarching story is likely to be a very simple one, with key pieces of information being strategically held back for later on. The visual world-building has been first rate and, at its best, Grid is reminiscent of glossy American sci-fi-fantasy-action shows like Heroes . However, given the rabbit- hole nature of the mini-mysteries the show keeps presenting while stubbornly refusing to sketch its characters and explain the world they live in, why should we care about the questions they seek to answer? Thanks to its strong cast and slick production values, Grid has earned itself a little patience from us, as we wait and hope for a fully rounded story to emerge in the episodes to come. Only time will tell if Grid is a new frontier for small-screen Korean sci-fi or the next Sisyphus: The Myth . Grid is streaming on Disney+.