Fermat’s Last Theorem—It All Starts With a Little Confession

Cha Ji-an (Jang Na-ra) and Lee Hyun / David Lee (Seo In-guk) with purple flowers in 2015 Korean drama Hello Monster / I Remember You

The identities of Hello Monster‘s criminal masterminds are no real mysteries, but the show regales puzzle lovers all the same with ingenious cryptograms, including asterisk-based symbols that translate into flag semaphores coding for geographic coordinates of crime locations, with missing strokes of the asterisks representing flag positions, and crossword puzzles which black and white spaces encode binary numbers that lead to resident registration numbers of murder victims. There is also the male protagonist’s evaluation of the female protagonist: 15 plus alpha, 15 being the score he also gives to most of their colleagues and “plus alpha” being loan words used in Korea and Japan to mean “something extra.” When she requests an elaboration, he likens her worth to the exponents in Fermat’s Last Theorem—an unquantifiable value.

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False Hope and False Hopelessness

Hope (1886) by George Frederic Watts

Hope (1886) by George Frederic Watts

The term “caring psychopath” seems to be an oxymoron, yet Hello Monster‘s archvillain, Lee Joon-young, appeared just that. The serial killer attempted to change the course of destiny for many people he met for the better, except that, tried as he might with his extraordinary intellect, he could not comprehend the human psyche. Registering the heroine’s dislike of ambiguity in a conversation on her family, he decided to end some cruelty he inadvertently inflicted on her with a well-meaning birthday gift: Continue reading

The Dream Logician Spiriting Away Stairways

Monument Valley

Monument Valley, an elegant architecture game inspired by MC Escher’s designs.

Images of Maurits Cornelis Escher’s high school’s imposing stairways followed him decades after his torturous time as a floundering student there. Being no helpless hamster stuck on the wheel that was the past, however, the 20th century Dutch artist transfigured them and other kinds of stairs into epic landscapes which defy the laws of physics yet tantalize the mind. Nonetheless, art critics, even after his death, lambasted these lithographs and woodcuts for their emotional flatness and lack of aesthetic appeal. Mathematicians, on the hand, gravitated towards his geometrically sophisticated works like moths to a flame, reproducing them in scientific publications, deconstructing them and finding it astounding that they were created by a man who could not understand formal mathematics.

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Ad Meliora

Lee Hyun / David Lee (Seo In-guk) and Lawyer Jung Sun-Ho / Lee Min (Park Bo-gum) in 2015 Korean crime drama Hello Monster / I Remember You

Most pre-Socratic thinkers, British philosopher Bertrand Russell mused, were adventurous and free-spirited dreamers who explored a great diversity of topics with childlike enthusiasm. Among them, Leucippus and his protégé Democritus developed metaphysical theories that were millennia ahead of their times. In psychological thriller Hello Monster, genius profiler Lee Hyun kept running into a mysterious lawyer, Jung Sun-ho, and the two name-dropped the other duo in a bombastic banter about whether these encounters were mere coincidences. But why let them have all the fun?

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