SF8: Can Robots Kill? Can Robots Pray?

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“SF8” is a 2020 Korean drama series, with 12 episodes, and categorized as Science Fiction (Sci-Fi) and also included as Family, Fantasy, Horror, Supernatural, and Disaster. This K-drama series is very unique in that 8 film directors directed 8 different episodes (i.e. 8 one-hour short story episodes).

The “SF8” K-drama series, the first episode is based on the short story “TRSga Dolbwadeuribmida”, published in a short story collection novel “Gwannaeboonsil”. The Korean drama addresses topics such as robot caregivers, AI (artificial intelligence), AR (augmented reality), VR (virtual reality), and robot games.

What Can Technology Do For Humans?

In “SF8: The Prayer”, Gan Ho-Joong is a robot caregiver, required to take care of a terminally ill patient, the mother of Yeon Jung-In. The robot is an excellent caregiver for the patient, but she also strives to understand the daughter of the patient. Perhaps evolving and becoming more “human-like” it part of her programming.

Yeon Jung-In has grown accustomed to talking to Gan Ho-Joong as if she were a human. She even told the robot that she considers her to be like a sister. But many of the conversations they have with each other are filed away in the robot’s memory.

One day Yeon Jung-In says she wants to kill herself. Gan Ho-Joong asks if she needs to see a psychiatrist. Yeon Jung-In tells her to just keep taking care of her mother and don’t be concerned about her. However, when Yeon Jung-In leaves Gan Ho-Joong tries to process all the things Yeon Jung-In has said to her. It’s almost like an information overload which causes the robot to shut down.

While Gan Ho-Joong is recharging, a Catholic nun, Sister Sabina, visits the patient. She is unable to talk to the patient so she leaves a card that says “The Call to Save Lives”. When Gan Ho-Joong has recharged and is activated again to carry out her patient care duties, she sees the card the nun left behind.

Gan Ho-Joong calls to ask how it is possible to save lives. The robot now wants to know the answer to two things: (1) how can the life of the terminally ill patient she is programmed to protect, be saved; and (2) how can the life of the daughter of that patient also be saved. But she poses the question to Sister Sabina in this way: “If one life must die, to save the life of the other, what should I do?”

Sister Sabins is taken aback and does not quite understand the question. So the robot rephrases it and asks again: “If the patient must die to save her family, what should I do?”

Sister Sabina refers to Gan Ho-Joong as a sister. The robot asks: “Am I your sister?”  Sabina replies “Yes.”  Then the robot asks: “What does it mean by ‘My prayers are with you?’”  Sabina says it means to talk to the Lord about your problem and everything will work out.

The robot continues to ask more intriguing questions about prayer, such as who does prayer benefit, etc. In other words, it works out for who?  The most thought-provoking question that Gan Ho-Joong asks the sister is: “Do you think a robot can pray too?”

(No spoilers.) That was an introduction to Episode 1 titled “SF8: The Prayer”. The titles for the remaining 7 episodes are as follows:

  1. SF8: Manxin
  2. SF8: Joan’s Galaxy
  3. SF8: Blink
  4. SF8: Baby It’s Over Outside
  5. SF8: White Crow
  6. SF8: Love Virtually
  7. SF8: Empty Body

The intro to Episode 1 should have aroused the viewer’s curiosity enough to want to watch the other 7 episodes of this sci-fi anthology.

Main Characters:

Where to Watch

Viewership and Rating:

A reviewer on Letterboxd put it this way:

That sums it up the “SF8” anthology and I could not have said it better.

I chose to only write a quick review of Episode 1 because it struck me that there have been many sci-fi movies and series where the robots get out of control and start killing humans. There is a fear that fiction can turn into fact and that robots can commit murder without impunity. But for me, this is the first time a robot ever asked if they could pray. I was blown away! It’s something I never thought of. (O.o)

LINKS OF INTEREST:

TRAILERS/TEASERS:

KOCOWA TV. “[SF8Teaser Trailer] ‘What Must I Do If I Have to Kill a Life to Keep Another One Alive?’” YouTube Video. YouTube, August 13, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-d2LIuktoFI.