Move to Heaven S1 무브 투 헤븐: 나는 유품정리사입니다 (2021): K Drama Series Review

Beautiful shot of the trauma cleaning taking place

The series revolves around Han Geu-ru, a 20-year young adult who has Asperger’s Syndrome, and works as a trauma cleaner at his family-owned “Move to Heaven” business. The business is involved in cleaning up belongings of deceased person, with a really compassionate gesture whereby the business pays attention & cares about the legacy & memories from the remaining belongings of a deceased.

The series started with the introduction of a young employee limping back with deep injuries to his leg, dying overnight from the septic shock. Father & son team (Han Jeung-u & Han Geu-ru) from Move to Heaven is called to assist in cleaning the dormitory room of the young employee, leading the duo towards the revelation of a filial son, hardworking & dutiful young employee who was looking forward to entering university. The injuries arising from the work-related accident is finally revealed to his deaf & mute parents through his mobile chat conversation with his supervisor.

Subsequently, father Jeung-u passed away from heart attack, leaving Geu-ru in the care & guardianship of his younger half-brother Cho Sang-gu, an ex-convict. Subsequent cases referred to Move to Heaven explores various cases of trauma cleaning including

  • an elderly mother with estranged relationship with her only son, who withdraws cash daily to order a tailor-made suit for his son
  • a kindergarten teacher’s pre-meditated murder by a stalker
  • an emergency doctor’s premature death, leaving a secretive love letter for his lover
  • an elderly couple dying together upon the husband realising he is with terminal ailment & unable to look after his bed-ridden wife
  • an adopted baby-turned-adult who comes back to South Korea to search for his biological mother
Uncle-Nephew team on joy rides in the amusement park

The series then explores Sang Gu’s arch, revisiting his brotherhood with Kim Su-cheol, whom he injured in a boxing match & left in coma for many years. When Su-cheol finally moves on, Sang Gu completes the trauma cleaning for his good friend. In between, Sang Gu also begins to question his own perception of his half-brother whom he thinks betrayed his trust & promise when he was young. As Sang Gu naturally grows closer to Geu-ru, he realises fate does play a role in a person’s life – but their reactions determine how the future path for the person. Jeung-u was unable to keep his promise to bring Sang Gu away, due to a major accident linked to the collapse of Sampoong Shopping Mall, rendering him trapped in the debris for 3 days and hospitalised for a long time thereafter.

The series wind down appropriately with the inevitable goodbye & final trauma cleaning for Han Jeong-u by Geu-ru, his son. Subsequently, Sang Gu is finally confirmed to continue as Geu-ru’s guardian. The final scene of the series seems to be an indication of more season(s) to come, with a little uncanny encounter for Geu-ru.


The series is recently released in May 2021, and is a surprise hit for me. It feels slow at the beginning, but the pacing is actually driving towards specific emotions for the audience. The series actually managed to introduce (surprisingly) many thought-provoking themes – dying & leaving a legacy, love & commitment of family of a child with special needs, misunderstandings due to lack of good communication, fate & luck in one’s life make a difference but so does the reactions in facing life challenges.

Pay attention to the yellow box where all the important memories of the deceased is placed

I especially love the idea of “trauma cleaning”, as death & saying goodbyes are never something the society is good at. As death is inevitable for all, it makes sense that the people around us must move on. However, in order for us to move on, a proper goodbye is essential to lay all doubts & misunderstandings to rest. An example from the case – I would like to think that the cellist would be able to move on in his future life as he now understands his lover did not abandon him but was willing to take the next step with him. I was also surprised the series explored same-gender love in a relatively more conservative society.

Geu-ru is an example of a special-need child so well-loved by his parents (adopted parents too!) that he flourishes and manages to move forward with assistance, support & guidance from people around him who equally love him. Jeung-u and his wife are exemplary parents, always so patient, loving & understanding to a child. I am not sure whether Geu-ru realises but his friendship with Na-mu keeps him grounded & provides him with the link to as much normalcy as possible.

Tang Jun-sang as Han Geu-ru, the heart & soul of the series

curiosity #1 The Korean names of Geu-ru and Namu means stump & tree respectively, so apt for these childhood friends!

Jeung-u’s choice of profession – from a firefighter, to adopting baby Geu-ru, to quitting his job to care for his terminally ill wife, to opening a business related to trauma cleaning – just reveal a kind & honest man who braves the challenges as they come. His disposition depicts a sunny position towards all these challenges thrown to him. My conclusion – kind-hearted people have such short life! Really breaking my heart to see his love for his wife, son & brother.

In contrast, his half-brother Sang Gu is almost consumed by his own anger & hatred towards life challenges. He thinks of himself as the victim getting the worst treatment, until he opens up to see & listen to others’ challenges in life. I love his turnaround upon comprehending being grateful, although his behaviour in early episodes is very annoying.

Sang Gu’s relationship with Geu-ru starts off shakily but I believe it is Geu-ru’s persistence & perseverance that provides the platform for Sang Gu to broaden his perspectives. The scenes where Sang Gu and Geu-ru visit the theme park for rides, and subsequently trailing all the wishes of a 10-year-old Sang Gu was heart-warming, leading to Sang Gu’s realisation for the love of his brother all these years.

Geu-ru’s loved ones

Curiosity #2 Jeung-u went to shop for a pair of sneakers for Sang Gu in Sampoong Mall, hence getting trapped in the subsequent collapse. The Sampoong Mall collapse happened on 29 June 1995, a horror story of how greed & apathy got the better of mankind. All the perished soul…

Asperger’s Syndrome & autism are explored briefly, although with less emphasis on the scientific details & reasons. The focus is really how to make do as a family, and I love the concept.

Conclusion 9/10

Love the series! Watch it. Pacing is a little slow, but this is a series with focus on family ties & relationship rather than romance. Less focus on dramatic plots & schemes, with very realistic portrayal of daily life. Each of the cases featured is equally capable of being our own story. One of those series which managed to gut me in many occasions, leaving me teary eyes in a few more scenes. That said and done, this series is not a tear-jerker. It is actually a refreshingly feel-good series which dusted some sand into my eyes 😀 The series is a short 10 episode of nearly 50 minutes each, relatively short. Worth the investment. I am looking forward to more.

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