Juz as Bong-sun and Sun-woo wave goodbye to Soon-ae, we also close the chapter on another good show from tvN. (let’s hope Answer Me franchise continues its previous popularity) Imo, the biggest flaw in Ghostess is probably its need to restrict the story to 16eps, when more can be said about its characters (Sung-jae’s background, perhaps?) and also, how the whole ghost-possession-human relation thingy works.


Juz for the fun of it, I decided to try and work out (as logically as possible) the mechanics of ghostly possession and exorcism based on the nuggets that Ghostess throws us.


1. Possession usually occurs when…

  • The characters are “in tune” with ghostly spirits — like Bong-sun who can see, hear and feel ghosts. Or like her halmoni shaman or our feisty Seo Bing-gu. I suppose having half a leg in the “Other World” means you aren’t fully in the human world, so that makes it easier for ghosts to use your body as a conduit.
  • When the characters have personalities that are timid, recessive and insipid. Compare the “original” (pre-possessed) Bong-sun to the changed (post-possessed) Bong-sun. Her retiring nature invites people to ignore and make use of her, and also allows other beings to take advantage of her. Be it simply to scare her for the fun of it (like that annoying creepy ghost’s hand feeling her up while she is busy cooking pasta sauce late in the night), or to possess her body to fulfil sexual needs (Soon-ae).
  • Same rule above applies for Sung-jae. I suppose he “attracted” the malevolent spirit due to the mental/physical abuses from his adoptive family. And we are told that he is also rather shy and reclusive in nature as a young boy. However, that doesn’t explain why young Sun-woo doesn’t end up with the same fate. After all, young Sun-woo had the same personality as (pre-possessed) Bong-sun. He allowed himself to be bullied and didn’t dare to stand his grounds against those who took advantages of him.


Ghostess doesn’t explain though, what exactly happens to the original human soul when the ghost takes over the body. Is it squashed into a corner (of the brain?) and becomes transient? Seems like the human cannot remember anything during the period of possession. But…Sung-jae’s possession appears to be slightly different. The real Sung-jae seems to be at times cognizant of the on-goings around him. Maybe his situation is less of a possession, but more of a parasite-host relationship. Where the parasitic evil spirit feeds and leeches away the original human spirit before gradually melding and taking over the host.


And of course, while there’s possession, there’s also exorcism. Again, the conditions differ according to the type of possession…

2. Exorcising a ghost needs…

  • Sudden physical shock that automatically ejects the ghostly spirit. Like when Bong-sun runs a high temperature, and Soon-ae gets kicked out like a virus/bacteria. Or when Sun-woo kisses Soon-ae/Bong-sun and Soon-ae literally reels (out) in shock.
  • A strengthening of the human spirit. When Bong-sun becomes less timid, her “yang qi” increases, and ghosts find it harder to intimidate her or possess her. It becomes a situation where Bong-sun chooses who to lend her body to, rather than spirits walking in and out at their whims and fancies.
  • Likewise, Sung-jae also experiences some form of strengthening during the show down. The human Sung-jae remembers the kindness that Eun-hee + Soon-ae and their families have showered on him and instinctively fights against the re-possession. And I believed he won — the realisation that he has passively allowed the evil ghost to harm others using his own body hits him in the end, and he attempts suicide. (attempts, cos the human Sung-jae doesn’t die)
  • And sometimes, extra help is needed — in the form of a brave shaman. Thanks to Seo Bing-gu and whatever she threw at Sung-jae, the malevolent spirit is forced to sever its parasitic connections to the human host — albeit for a short while. However, I do think that the stuff Seo bing-gu used or the ejection from Sung-jae severely weakens the evil ghost. So much so that when Sung-jae takes his life by jumping off the building, he “kills” the ghostly parasite too. (see point 1 about sudden physical shock)


Well, the above is juz my twopence take on Ghostess. Feel free to comment if you have other interesting theories to share. 🙂