Summer always brings about chilly temperatures — on screen. As with previous years, kdrama-land has a penchant for bringing in the supernatural when the temperature rises outdoors. (nugget of info: the Chinese celebrate a month-long ghost festival in summer time too) As with all monstrous beings, there are the real deals, and those who are in various shades of monstrosity. The question being — who (or which?) is more authentic …and scarier?
1. The non-humans
Intro the real (?) supernatural beings — Soon-ae, the vengeful virgin ghost, from Oh My Ghostess, Gwi, Sung-yeol and Ma-ri, the vampires from Scholar who Walks the Night and Orange Marmalade respectively. I suppose no one will argue on their statuses as non-humans?
Soon-ae and Sung-yeol both exist for a single minded goal in mind. Soon-ae needs to get laid in order for her to relinquish her ties to the mortal world. Sung-yeol hasn’t burn himself to crispy ashes, cos he wishes to do that together with his enemy, Gwi. In their pursuit of their personal objectives, there are some collateral casualties. In Soon-ae’s case, those poor men whom she sent to hospital and the women whom she possessed. In Sung-yeol’s case, the humans who had to unwillingly sacrifice themselves for his continued existence (ep7 shows he does need to drink human blood too, at least once a month).
Ironically though, Soon-ae and Sung-yeol are anything but scary. Yes, they may be non-humans, but instead of invoking fear, we sympathise with them and root for them and their causes. Soon-ae may send healthy men to Death’s door after coupling with them and decelerating their heart rates, but we also know she is a very filial ghost girl, who radiates non-ghostly positivity. Eps9-10 of Ghost also reveal that most of her bravado and inhibited pursuit of men is a front. When it comes to the real thing, she is as shy and meek as Bong-sun. (i am beginning to think that Bong-sun is those shy girls who actually are sex bombs in the bedroom) Afterall, a virgin ghost is still a virgin — inexperienced in matters of sexuality. Made worse when she too, falls in love with Sun-woo.
Sung-yeol though, has a different problem. Not that he doesn’t know how to romance girls (with that gaze, anyone wearing a skirt will swoon), but he can’t. Cos he knows there’s no future or happiness if any human girl is to fall in love with him. What’s more, he plans to die together with or after getting rid of Gwi. Thus his treatment of Yang-sun, not that it fools anyone. Imo, even dense Yang-sun subconsciously know that her feelings may not be totally rejected.
Soon-ae and Sung-yeol’s proximity to humanity is best seen in Orange Marmalade, where the monsters are co-existing openly with humans. Unlike Soon-ae/ Sung-yeol, Ma-ri and her family technically do not need to hide their non-human identities. There are laws that supposedly prevent their persecution, but we have seen how tricky that can be. Again, sympathies in Orange fall squarely on the underdogs — the vampires. Instead of being afraid of them, we end up seeing the small-mindedness of every other humans in Orange.
So again, monsters? or no?
2. The humans
And we have the humans who liken themselves to monsters. We have a Ghost in Hidden Identity, who is creating mayhem all over Seoul. And a psychopath(s) in I Remember You. The theme of the Wolf in Sheepskin isn’t new, but serves as a reminder that having the exterior of a human, doesn’t automatically make you one.
If we tally the body count we have seen onscreen for Ghost and Min (or Joon-young), they far surpass that of Soon-ae and Sung-yeol. Hidden Identity has at least one baddie turning up dead in every ep, thanks in no part to Ghost’s manipulations. (not that i am mourning over them, those baddies who died aren’t saints obviously) Investigation Team 5 though, is kept on their toes trying to prevent the body count from going even higher, since Ghost has this grandeur design to wipe out a portion of Seoul’s population with a virus. (his idea of population control?)
As for Min/ Joon-young, we learn that they have been regularly off-ing people off-screen, and getting help in body disposal through a shipping company. Although the pair is unlike Megalomaniac Madman Ghost, they are pretty scary too. Ghost prefers a terrorism type of mass-kill, but Min/ Joon-young show more finesse in their killings — they discriminate their victims. Imo, getting stalked and marked for death by a psychopath is way more terrifying than a death caused by being in the wrong place/time. The latter, you can blame it on bad luck…but the former? If the victims knew they were marked by Min/ Joon-young for a pending send-off, won’t they want to save themselves?
To end off my lengthy post, I’ve always love stories with ghosts/ monsters. Cos a good story will leave you thinking about what constitutes “humanity”.
And I suppose that leaves Gwi as being the most honest of the lot. He is a monster — inside out.