Based on a folklore horror story.
Watch At: dramacrazy.net
Impressions Before Watching:
The only exposure I’ve had to this legend is in watching the horror movie Arang.
Basically, the story is of a girl who was murdered. Her dad, a magistrate, believes she ran away to elope and steps down from his job.
Now, whenever a new magistrate is hired, she appears to tell him her story… however he is always too afraid to stay and listen.
However, one day, the new magistrate stays and promises to find her murderer.
I’ve been looking forward to this drama since it’s the first Lee Jun-Ki will be in since he came back from the military. Shin Min Ah is also one of my favorite actresses!
Okay, there’s a text intro… it goes by pretty fast.
Around the middle of the Joseon era, the desire of the human reached its limit and the world was uglier and nature was devastated.
In the middle of this chaos, the boarder of this world and the other world had collapsed.
So the ghost stayed in this world and walked around.
The ghost could see the human, but the human couldn’t see the ghost.
There was only one person who could see the ghost.
He came to Milyang to look for his mother who disappeared 3 years ago.
The screen then zooms out to show Eun-oh lounging in the forest, (this is Lee Jun-ki’s character).
Suddenly his servant calls for him. He complains that his master was too quiet… he wanted Eun-oh to make some noises because he was afraid of a ghost pulling his hair while he was going to the bathroom.
Eun-oh thinks the servant is stupid for believing in ghosts.
He asks his servant if he has to apologize, (he kind of has a “I-have-to-deal-with-an-idiot” attitude).
The servant tells him he doesn’t have to because his master’s grandfather told him that doing something you didn’t know isn’t your fault.
Eun-oh asks him what he doesn’t know.
“”I’m sorry”, “Thank you”, and “I love you”, those three sentences,” replies the servant, “You say them, but you don’t know them.”
Eun-oh says, “Sure! I don’t know them, I don’t!”. He says they’re useless sentences, then goes on to remark that it seems like it will rain a lot soon.
It lightnings and now shows a girl, (Shin Min Ah’s character), running alone in the forest.
She stops and complains about someone daring to “leave her out” as she ties up her hair. “With whose help, do you think you survived so far?” she says.
She begins to run again.
She seems pretty angry as she jumps from rock to rock with ease.
There’s a memorial caravan traveling through the forest.
Various ghosts appear behind some trees. One of them worries about how it will go without Arang there with them, but the other doesn’t want to share with her.
They start attacking, unseen to the humans, but suddenly Arang, the girl from before, shows up.
She’s mad that they started looting without her.
When the guy who didn’t want to share tells her they waited for her, she punches him in the face.
He stands up and says they don’t know where she came from, but kept her in their group anyway.
She says they’re the same and they can’t all get food from the memorial.
He tries to dive at her, but she lightly steps aside, causing him to run head-first into a tree.
Suddenly, Arang hears something. She looks up just in time to see a net falling from the sky.
She jumps out of the way, but another ghost is caught. The net causes him to disappear into a blue light.
Four men in black are descending upon them. Arang is scared.
The men in black start beating and capturing the ghosts.
Two use a wand to capture the ghosts with a green light. The ghosts disappear.
Another uses a red glowing rope to grab another ghost by the throat.
Eun-oh is still walking through the forest with his servant.
He stops and seems to hear something, causing his servant to worry, but they start walking again.
His servant complains about the scary atmosphere. “Are you sure Milyang is the place where you’ll get your mother’s news?” he wonders. He wishes they didn’t have to go there because he thinks it’s spooky.
Eun-oh asks him why it’s so spooky. His servant tells him that there are a lot of rumors about spirits hanging around the area. The master snickers at him, but his servant tells him that many magistrates had died on their first night on the job there.
Eun-oh whacks him on the head and tells him he’s stupid for believing in ghosts.
Arang is still running through the forest, away from the men in black.
Eun-oh stops and listens again. His servant worries again. Eun-oh makes a surprised face and points behind his servant. He tells him that there’s a virgin ghost behind him and his servant freaks out, falling to the ground.
Eun-oh starts laughing at him.
But then he sees Arang running towards him with the man in black chasing her.
He stands still, with no real expression, and watches from the corner of his eye, closing his eyes when she passes him. He opens them again just in time to see the green-light wand pass by.
It hits her in the back, knocking her down.
Eun-oh watches as the man in black approaches her.
His servant doesn’t seem to notice what just happened and tells him that they better start walking again. Without saying a word, Eun-oh follows him, glancing back once.
On the ground, Arang looks up at the ominous man. “How come the noble underworld general became a ghost chaser who chases after the lemures!” she asks him. Apparently she escaped from the underworld.
The general looks at her and says that revenge is prohibited by the law of the Jade Emperor. He says she riled up the “lemures”, took revenge for them, and caused a mess in the underworld as well. Her punishment won’t be light because of all she’s done.
Arang scoffs at the Jade Emperor’s law. She tells him that thirsty people have to dig a well and if he doesn’t like it, then he should do it for them.
He takes out his red rope. She grimaces as she reaches inside her jeogori, (top part of the hanbok), and says, “you like peach blossoms, right?”, then throws the petals at him.
He blocks with his arm. One of them brushes his hand, causing a cut. When he lowers his arm, she’s gone.
He yells her name angrily.
Walking a distance away with his servant, the guy from before hears the yell. He makes a kind of “ah, noisy people” kind of expression and starts walking again. However, it starts down-pouring and they have to find shelter.
They run together through the forest until they find an old building.
The guy says they should stay there for the night and his servant gets upset.
Arang stops in the rain and looks at her hand, which got hurt from the peach blossoms from before. As she looks, it heals before her eyes.
She looks up to the sky and yells, “You think you’re all that?!”
Up in the heavens, the King of Heaven, (Jade Emperor), is playing a game with the King of the Underworld.
He comments that it feels like someone is talking about him.
A woman walks up to bring tea and the Heaven King smiles.
While he’s paying attention to her, the Underworld King says he’s won the game. He seems really happy about it, but the Heaven King hardly notices. He’s busy complimenting the woman’s “new” hairstyle.
She looks at him and tells him she’s had that same hairstyle for 1,000 years.
“Really?” is all he can say. She bows and leaves.
The Underworld King reminds him to play, confident that no matter what move his opponent makes, he’ll be the winner.
The Heaven King looks for just a moment, then says, “What about here?” and places a piece on the game board. The Underworld King starts and grabs the board, staring down at the move.
The Heaven King seems apologetic. He tells him that he didn’t mean to win, (I like his acting in this scene, haha), and to distract him from his loss, he wonders if the General has caught Arang yet. He walks away, leaving the Underworld King angry.
Heaven King is in a beautiful garden. He walks to a lamb that’s laying next to a small fountain of water. As he scoops up some water for it with a seashell, he tells the lamb that he really didn’t mean to win. He says that Underworld King likes to calculate too much and that there are just too many things in the world that can’t be calculated.
He pours the water on the flowers growing out of the lamb’s back, (weird o_O lol).
On Earth, Arang grabs a big leaf for an umbrella.
Eun-oh is watching the fire in the shelter while his servant sleeps.
He remembers arguing with his mom before she disappeared. She told him to go live with his dad… that if he lived with her he’d be a servant’s child.
He tells her that he wants to live with her and even if he lives with his dad, he’s still a low-class man.
She says something like, “Do you know what kind of household is your mother’s? If it wasn’t for that bastard…!”
Eun-oh is almost in tears and shouts that he wants to die.
She slaps him and then calmly commands him to go live as his father’s child and forget about her.
He tells her that if she was going to be like that, it would’ve been better if she had never been there from the beginning.
He cries and runs out the door.
The next scene shows him running to his mother’s house the next day to find that she’s gone.
Back to the present, he’s still looking at the fire full of emotion.
Arang runs into the building and notices the fire. She sits down and complains about being wet. She didn’t know that ghosts can get wet.
Eun-oh glances at her.
She starts taking off her wet clothes and he is somewhat shocked.
Luckily, Arang notices him staring right at her and she covers herself. “Can he see me?” she wonders, and waves her hand at him.
Eun-oh just stares in shock.
“I’m sure our eyes just met,” she says to herself and tries talking to him. He refuses to say anything and just vacantly stares, thinking, “I can’t see you,” seeming to wish that she’d leave.
She pokes his cheek and he tries to keep control of himself, pretending he doesn’t see her. She’s about to blow on him too, but his servant suddenly snores. Arang thinks that’s annoying and goes to sit on him.
Eun-oh steals a quick glance at her before she looks at him again.
Arang thinks out-loud that there really is no way he could’ve seen her since he’s not a shaman. He agrees in his head, wishing she’s leave him alone.
She wonders why he’s traveling in the mountain forest so late at night, then decides to tell him her story. He thinks to himself that he doesn’t want to hear it, haha.
Arang begins her story, saying that one day she woke up to find that she was following an angel of death….
The next scene shows her waking up while she’s walking. She sees a man in black ahead of her and notices she’s tied with red rope.
Suddenly the rope falls off of her. The grim reaper doesn’t notice and keeps walking, so she takes the opportunity to escape.
Back to the present, she tells Eun-oh that she couldn’t remember who she was or how she died.
She wishes that he could see her so she could ask him a favor.
Eun-oh makes himself yawn and he goes to his bed area. Arang is annoyed that he’s sleeping so early and wants to tell the rest of her story.
Eun-oh was hoping she’d give up, but she just comes closer to continue.
She tells him that she thinks it’s all the fault of the Jade Emperor, (Heaven King). Looking at Eun-oh, she wonders if he’s sleeping yet.
Eun-oh thinks to himself that she died because she couldn’t talk, which explains why she talks so much now, haha.
Arang decides to sleep too and lies down right next to Eun-oh, making him freak out in his head. But he continues to pretend to sleep.
She watches him, then, to his relief, says goodnight.
However, her arm falls on his chest. Her ghostly essence makes him cold so he rolls over.
The next morning, Eun-oh wakes up and looks to see if Arang is still there. To his relief, it looks like she’s gone.
He smacks his servant awake happily and they go outside.
A few miles later, they’re at the town they were traveling to.
While walking in the streets, they see two men traveling on horses, being announced as they pass.
The servant says it’s Lord Choi, who is there because he probably got demoted. He took on role as magistrate since there is no magistrate in that town. People consider him as king in that little town, says the servant. “The rabbit pretends to be king when the tiger is away.”
A few ghosts across the street catches Eun-oh’s eye while his servant is trying to tell him the rumor of why Lord Choi was demoted.
Suddenly, a man runs out and begs the lord to listen to his story.
He says he has an 80-year-old mother who’s senile. The man says if he goes to the forced labor camp, nobody will be able to take care of her. He begs to be let out of the labor camp. He shouts that the law says he can be exempted because of his mother.
Lord Choi looks at him with contempt and scoffs at him. A group of people knock the man down and beat him.
Eun-oh watches and says to his servant, “You know right? When I see violence…”
His servant says, “Just tolerate it, alright? I know.”
Lord Choi is moving on. The man rushes to Joo-wal, the lord’s son, (pretty sure it’s his son…), and begs him instead.
Joo-wal looks down at him and after a moment tells him to go. It seems he’s being generous, but he has a kind of scary look on his face. The man runs away.
Eun-oh asks his servant if they’re building a detached palace. The servant says they are, but Lord Choi wants it to be on top of a river. Eun-oh thinks that’s ridiculous. The villagers have to work insanely hard to build it.
This is what the forced labor camp was that the guy was shouting about.
Besides that, each villagers has to pay extra taxes for it.
After his servant’s rant about it, Eun-oh comments that even if he knows about these things, there’s nothing he can do about it.
Suddenly, he disappears from his servant’s sight.
Quickly walking down the road, he turns around and asks a group of ghosts following him what they want.
They tell him there’s a rumor that he can see them and they want favors from him, (“6th Sense”-style!).
One old ghost tells him his daughter thinks his murderer is a savior and is going to marry him.
Eun-oh looks inconvenienced and tells them to leave.
Arang is watching and sees now that he was just ignoring her the other night. She’s irritated.
Eun-oh goes to a woman, asking about his mom.
She tells him that she doesn’t know his mom, but she saw her while traveling the mountain. His mom shared a room at an inn with her, but never told her where she was going.
As the woman goes back in, Eun-oh grabs Arang, who was hiding next to him.
She’s surprised to find that he can touch her as well as see her.
She asks him who he lost and correctly guesses that he’s looking for his mom.
He gets irritated with her for getting personal and then turns to leave saying he won’t talk to a low-quality ghost like her.
Arang tells him she knows she must be annoying, asking him to do favors for her.
Eun-oh tells her to leave if she knows.
She says she can’t because they’re in a relationship where they shared the same bed.
Shocked at this accusation, Eun-oh spins around to her, saying she’s crazy.
Meanwhile, the servant comes across a public notice put up by the city hall. It says they’re in urgent need of a magistrate and will take anyone regardless of education or background.
He comments that the town really must be doomed.
Arang is going on again about her situation to Eun-oh, telling him that she doesn’t know how she died.
When he says he knows, she points out that he really was listening the other night and asks why he pretended he wasn’t.
She tells him that she just wants him to find out her name for her.
He responds by threatening her with red beans, scaring her. He laughs and walks away, telling her to bother City Hall about it instead.
She says she wants to, but there’s no magistrate. He tells her that he’s not a magistrate so he can’t help either.
Arang asks if he’ll help if he becomes a magistrate. Thinking that there’s no way he can, he tells her yes.
“You made a promise,” she says to herself as he leaves.
In Lord Choi’s room, he’s scolding Joo-wal for showing sympathy earlier.
The son tells the lord it was just because he was busy and wanted to go on his way and that was the quickest way to get rid of the man.
His father brings up the half month that’s soon approaching and comments that work must not get easier as time goes by. Joo-wal does not seem happy with this comment.
As Joo-wal leaves, Lord Choi says, “You must act urgently. In this world, how is it you can’t find a woman you like quickly?” He laughs. “Anyway,” he continues, “You HAVE to find them. If you want to warm yourself by a piece of the fire next to her.”
Joo-wal turns and says, “My piece of the fire can’t be compared with yours.” Lord Choi turns and looks at him slowly. Joo-wal goes on to say, “If I don’t find them, your piece of the fire won’t be safe and sound either.”
Lord Choi gets angry at this, but his son runs out the door before he can do anything.
The next scene shows a fortune teller scamming a woman to get money, (her expression clearly shows that she’s scamming, haha).
Suddenly, the woman dumps the bowl of dried rice on her head and demands the money back that she scammed from her mother. The fortune teller hands over the money and the woman goes out the door, singing.
Then the fortune teller hears Arang’s voice scolding her for still scamming others. The fortune teller looks around but can’t see her.
“Do your supernatural powers still come and go?” Arang asks her. “Then how can you do this job?”
The fortune teller looks annoyed, “This job was always half powers, half tricks. That’s how you do it!”
Arang tells her she needs a favor. The fortune teller cries, “Again?”
Meanwhile, City Hall is crying over the need for a magistrate. They need to find one within 2 days.
One of them bad-mouths the king, making another of them freak out about spies hearing him.
Then they hear a noise.
They all get scared and hide under the table.
The door slowly opens.
It’s the fortune teller/shaman girl.
Their attitude all changes to high-and-mighty since they were embarrassed for being scared. She bows to them, telling them she’s 10th generation from a famous shaman family.
They ask what her point is.
She tells them, “Today the God came and told me to meet you.” She tells them of a way to get a magistrate.
The City Hall men run down the street in the dark, eager to get the new magistrate.
Eun-oh is outside, teary-eyed over his mom.
The City Hall men sneak around to spy on him.
They sneak around, surround him, and whack him on the head!
They then wrap him up and carry him away.
“Because we hadn’t known about this easy way, we had a hard time,” they say. They think that since the general god said it was okay, there shouldn’t be any problems.
Arang watches from a roof smugly.
Eun-oh wakes up.
He finds himself tied, then hears a man from behind the door to his room addressing him as magistrate. They tell him to have a good night and leave him confused and upset.
Outside the City Hall men discuss what was done. Since every magistrate dies the first night, they don’t expect him to last until morning. However, they will now have extra time to live because they fulfilled the king’s orders.
They look at Eun-oh’s name piece and wonder who he is. The shaman had told them he was an orphan with no family, so they don’t feel worried. They discuss the type of coffin he should have.
Inside the room, Eun-oh is calling out, upset.
Then he remembers what happens to magistrates in that village and accuses them of making him a sacrifice. He seems more angry than upset now.
He yells to the ghost responsible for those deaths and hears a girl’s laughter.
Arang appears, upside-down, in front of him.
His manner changes to calm and he tells her to come down properly before he ties her hair to the door.
She imagines how that would be like, and comes down, telling him he’s brave like she thought.
Eun-oh tells Arang to untie him. She doesn’t want to because he might throw red beans at her again.
He tells her he won’t and after some begging, she helps him out of the rope.
She then reminds him of his promise and he finds that she had him kidnapped because he said he’d help her if he became magistrate.
Arang uses a bit of “soft and gentle” womanly attitude, saying someone told her to do that to get a guy to do what she wants.
“You killed the others because that tactic didn’t work?” Eun-ho asks.
She says she feels sorry about that.
Since not everybody can see ghosts, she bought a mysterious pill in the Underworld’s Black Market.
For the first magistrate, she took the pill, then stood in front of him, calling his name in a high-pitched sing-song voice. When she slowly materialized, he was so shocked, he died of a weak heart.
She tried hard not to scare the next magistrate, but since she only had one pill left, she cut it in half. This made it so when she materialized to him, her lower half was transparent and made him die from shock as well.
The third one was a warrior. He looked tough and called out to her bravely, so she jumped down to see him right away. However… this time her upper half was invisible. He also died from fear.
She laments over how the king only sends weak people and tells Eun-oh he’s brave, so she knew it would work out this time.
He tells her it’s no use since he hates ghosts.
Arang decides to use his weakness… she tells him that she needs to find her mother and father and say her goodbyes to them.
However, he’s wise to her and says how can she be crying over her parents when she doesn’t even know her own name.
Angrily pouting, Arang gives up for the moment and goes outside.
Joo-wal is on a bridge looking at the moon.
Some girls pass by and mention that this month it’s the “rotten moon”. During this time, the gods don’t watch the humans and people can get away with anything. Her friends don’t believe her, but she tells them that many girls disappear during this time.
Joo-wal overhears and looks jumpy at this. He looks at his hand and then at the girls walking away.
In the morning, the City Hall men are carrying in a heavy coffin for Eun-oh.
They’re sure he’s dead, but he suddenly throws the door open and glares at them. They freak out as he demands his clothes be brought to him.
In the marketplace, his servant is going crazy in the streets. He’s bounding about, yelling for his master, knocking over everything in his path like a madman.
He runs over to Eun-oh when he finds him and checks to see if he was hurt. Eun-oh scolds him for not waking up while he was being kidnapped.
When his servant find that he was kidnapped as a sacrifice to the ghost, he gets pretty indignant. He tells them that they will be in big trouble, since Eun-oh is the son of Lord Kim Eung Boo, the previous prime minister. (Of course, Eun-oh is not happy with this fact, since he hates his dad, however, he can’t deny it and goes with it).
The City Hall men are really freaking out now. Eun-oh looks amused.
Eating with the shaman, Arang complains about how none of the female charms worked on Eun-oh.
The shaman stares and then says it must be because Arang is very ugly. She shouts at Arang, “AH! WHY DIDN’T YOU TELL ME EARLIER?!”
Arang looks at her in shock and replies that she didn’t even know she was ugly. “
The shaman nods and says that not even a ghost would know that. She tells Arang that if she isn’t naturally pretty, then she must make herself up with clothes and hair decorations and make-up.
Arang says ghosts can only own things offered to them by humans. The shaman says she has no money for that, Arang says that’s not a problem and they go to the market.
We then find out that the shaman has to steal the items!
Arang says she’ll be the look-out. The shaman worries. Suddenly Arang announces that the coast is clear and throws the shaman out of her hiding spot.
Everything seems to be going well, until the shaman runs into a couple of guards. In shock, she drops all the items on the ground suspiciously. While the guards are asking about that, a shop keeper starts calling out “thief!” and suddenly she’s being chased.
Eun-oh notices the chase and sees that it has something to do with Arang. He just watches.
The shaman is surrounded now. Not knowing what else to do, Arang starts beating up the humans surrounding her friend.
Some of the other ghosts see and worry that she’ll attract the grim reapers.
Eun-oh turns to go with his servant, but sure enough, the grim reapers have come and he runs right into them.
They start capturing any ghost they can find. The general is after Arang again.
Eun-oh just watches, but when Arang runs in front of him, he notices her hair decoration.
Apparently it’s important, because he starts chasing after her.
Borrowing a horse, he chases after the two spirits as the head out of town.
He soon surpasses the general and grabs Arang, lifting her onto his horse.
Opinion After Watching:
Wow… this took a super long time to recap. I think it’s a mistake for me to recap a drama that has both my biases in it because I can’t stop adding screenshots >.< Uggggh….
Anyway, this is really good so far. It’s the right amount of funny and the characters are really interesting. Jun-ki is such a good actor! His expressions always feel natural to me :D
Don’t know when I’ll have time to recap the 2nd episode… Since episodes air so soon after one another, I have a feeling I’m going to die :[ lol