Well, I’m back alive and kicking (pun not intended). So you’ve got ghosts, ghost reapers, gods, shaman, and people all in one drama which you’d think would turn out to be a scary ghost hunting “Walking Dead” sort of deal, only to find a funny comedy in a Joseon Era setting – not that I mind. It’s better this way!
The beginning starts off with a written narration of how the world in the Joseon Era was in chaos and the gap of the two worlds (physical and spiritual) disappeared. Ghosts were able to roam around freely and can see humans, but not the other way around. There is only one person who could see ghosts that came from Milyang and he was searching for his mother that vanished 3 years ago.
The drama pans out to see EUN OH (Lee Jun Ki) relaxing on a large rock in the middle of the night in a forest. DOL SAE (Kwon Oh Joong), his servant, gets slightly angry with Eun Oh for not making any noises while Dol Sae was pooping because he’s afraid ghosts would pull his hair. Eun Oh doesn’t believe in all those myths and asks if he should be blamed for not doing as Dol Sae asks. Dol Sae replies, of course not since he didn’t know about it.
Eun Oh: What don’t I know?
Dol Sae: I’m sorry, thank you, and I love you. Those three sentences. You don’t say them because you don’t know them.
Eun Oh just concedes that he doesn’t know because he doesn’t care about those useless phrases.
Flashes of lightening appears and our main character, ARANG (Shin Min Ah), is angry about being left out and grumbles about how she had helped them survive so far. She ties up her hair to prepare for a chase and the viewers can see the black tattoo displayed on the left side of her neck and collarbone. As she runs through the forest, a group of people are walking through with a litter. Ghosts appear throughout the road and they try to possess the living, but before they can fully succeed, Arang appears and gets angry at them for feeding her water. She punches the ghosts in the face (what a badass!).
So they get into a scuffle but that quickly dissipates when a ghost catching net is thrown which signals a ghost chaser is in the area. The people captured in the net are frozen and one of the chasers, MOO YOUNG (Han Jung Soo), spots Arang. Another chaser fights the other ghosts as Arang escapes and uses some baton-looking weapon that sucks the ghost in it. Chaser 3 has another weapon that shoots out a red rope which latches onto the neck of the ghost that fought with Arang and drags him in.
Dol Sae and Eun Oh walk around in the empty forest and Eun Oh hears a man’s scream in the far distance. Dol Sae, being a scaredy-cat, asks him what’s wrong, but Eun Oh replies that nothing is wrong. Dol Sae asks if they really have to go to Milyang and if Eun Oh’s mother was really last spotted there. He doesn’t want to go because that town nearly became a ghost town so there are a lot of ghosts that hang out there. Eun Oh doesn’t believe in any of that and even scoffs at it. Dol Sae even tells him of the new magistrates that die there, but Eun Oh brushes it off.
Moo Young continues to chase Arang into the forest. Eun Oh decides to scare Dol Sae by saying there’s a virgin ghost behind him which causes the servant to cower in fear on the ground (aww poor Dol Sae). Eun Oh suddenly does notice Arang and right behind her is Moo Young.
As she runs past Eun Oh, he tenses up, sensing something isn’t right. Everything begins slowing down and the baton hits Arang right on the back which causes her to fall. Dol Sae doesn’t notice the two and tells Eun Oh to hurry up so they can leave. Eun Oh takes one last look at the two before following Dol Sae.
It turns out Moo Young used to be the underworld general, but now became a ghost chaser. It turns out she is being chased for taking lumeres and helping out with revenge which is prohibited by the Jade Emperor. She causes chaos in this world so she will be punished severely. He takes out the red rope, ready to bind her but she throws some peach blossoms. The petals cut Moo Young like razors and his hand has a scratch. He looks up to find Arang gone.
Eun Oh hears Moo Young shout Arang’s name and a rainstorm suddenly befalls the two traveling. They take shelter in an abandoned hut and Eun Oh decides to stay overnight which irks Dol Sae who suggested they travelled when there was daylight in the first place.
Arang looks at her hand which is also cut by the blossoms she threw, but it heals quickly. She asks if the Jade Emperor is even that great.
The JADE EMPEROR (Yoo Seung-Ho) sneezes and wonders if someone is talking about him. He seated across from UNDERWORLD KING (Park Jun-Gyu) and they’re playing a game of baduk. Jade Emperor seems more interested in the servant and flirts with her by complimenting her hair. She must be used to his nature since she dryly replies that she’s had the same hair since 1000 years ago (haha). Underworld King thought he won the match, but the Jade Emperor places it in a spot which makes him the winner. Jade Emperor walks away to avoid the awkwardness as he wonders if Moo Young caught Arang already.
Jade Emperor walks into the garden and talks to his little goat about how some things can’t be calculated and the Underworld King was calculating way too much. He grabs a shell and uses it to scoop water to pour onto the flowers that are growing from the goat. Arang continues to run in the pouring rain.
Eun Oh’s the only one not sleeping as he looking fondly at a wooden hair pin. He recalls how his mother told him not to stay here with her and to live with his father which Eun Oh despises. His mother turns out to be a slave and she doesn’t want her son to live that kind of life; she would rather have her son be a noble under his father. Eun Oh argues that he’s a lowly ranking person anyways and his mother gets angry with him, she blames a certain person for her family’s downfall and Eun Oh gets sick of her constantly thinking about that. She slaps him for acting up and tells him to forget about her. He shouts that it would have been better for him not to know of her existence if it was going to be like this (ouch). He runs off to blow off the steam, but finds her gone by the morning thus the reason why he’s looking for his mother and at Milyang in the first place.
Arang walks through the abandoned shelter that Eun Oh’s at and warms up by the fire built. She starts to take off her wet clothes which makes Eun Oh startled, but he doesn’t say anything. Arang complains about getting wet despite being a ghost. She’s about to take off the little coat when she notices Eun Oh staring in her direction which freaks her out. She waves a hand to see if he sees her but he just stares straight ahead, pretending not to notice.
Arang inches closer until they’re almost inches apart and touches his face. He tells himself to just let it be and hold it in. She starts blowing at his face, but gets startled by Dol Sae’s loud snore. She gets annoyed and decides to sit on him, and the viewers see the little curve on his clothes from where she is sitting and a blue hazy light around anything solid that she touches. Arang talks to herself about how Eun Oh can’t possibly see her since he’s not even a shaman. Eun Oh silently agrees in his mind and retorts mentally of how many times he must say that in order for her to agree. She asks what kind of past he must have to be travelling here late at night. Eun Oh concentrates on ignoring her voice.
Arang: Since it’s raining, do you want to hear my story?
Eun Oh (thoughts): I don’t want to, I can’t hear you.
Arang: You see…it was ridiculous.
Eun Oh (thoughts): Don’t talk, I can’t hear you!
Arang: When I opened my eyes one day, I was following the Death Angel. It was ridiculous!
We flashback to when Arang was first a ghost and she notices her hands and body bound by red rope. On the other end was the Death Angel, who tied the red rope around his waist. The red ropes loosen and she escapes unnoticed.
We’re back in the present as Arang talks to Eun Oh about how she can’t remember anything of her past: her name, why she died, etc. She wishes Eun Oh could see her so she can request a favor which makes Eun Oh panic and suddenly pretend to be tired (hahahahaa). She’s sad that he’s going to sleep, but still continues talking. She blames the Jade Emperor for all of this and wants to have a talk with him when she gets to the other side (feisty, this girl hehe).
Arang decides to sleep next to Eun Oh which gets him annoyed as he secretly wants her to go away and calls her a crazy ghost (haha). She sleeps and places a hand on his shoulder which makes it cold around the area and he shrugs her off as sleepily as possible.
The next morning, Eun Oh wakes up and finds Arang is gone. He happily wakes his servant up so they can start their journey again. They finally make it into Milyang!
Two servants tell the villagers to make way for Lord Choi (Kim Yong Gun) and JOO WAL (Yun Woo Jin). Dol Sae reports that Lord Choi was probably demoted and ended up at Milyang. A commoner blocks the way of Lord Choi in order to ask for his removal of forced labor camp (which is to help build a detached palace that the Emperor wants on the river) since his grandmother is senile and no one can take care of her. The commoner gets beat up by Lord Choi for even requesting that as Lord Choi sneers at him. Eun Oh tells Dol Sae to just tolerate the violence so they won’t get themselves in a mess. The beaten up commoner tries to beg Joo Wal, but he just brushes him off and tells the commoner to go home.
Due to the King’s request to build something as complicated as a detached palace on top of the river, the people are suffering from it through forced labor camps and taxes. Eun Oh tells Dol Sae to go on ahead first and walks away to somewhere isolated so he can confront the ghosts that are following him around. Unlike Arang, they look creepy looking. One of the ghosts knows that Eun Oh can see him despite Eun Oh’s protest. The old man ghost kneels down and tells him how his daughter is going to marry the man who killed him. Eun Oh walks away without accepting the request, not knowing Arang had just seen the exchange from the rooftop.
Eun Oh speaks to a woman who claims to have seen her, but Eun Oh’s mother only stayed a night and left without saying where she was going. The woman’s expression as she walks back to her home seems to say something otherwise… But anyways, Eun Oh grabs Arang before she could enter the home which surprises her. She asks if he’s looking for a woman, perhaps his mother? He threatens her by asking if she wants to die, but she replies she’s already dead (haha).
Arang ends up following him around much to his annoyance and she figures he pretends not to see them because they’re always asking him to do things for them. He counters that if she knew that, why keep following him? She replies that they have a different relationship since they did share a bed together anyways which gets him even more irritated. She asks if they needed to “build the Great Wall” in order to say they shared a bed which makes him even more flustered (haha love these two!).
Dol Sae finds an announcement posted on a wall that the town needs a magistrate and no requirements are needed.
Arang starts telling Eun Oh her story which he heard already, her only request is that he found out her identity for her. He doesn’t want to and pulls out some red beans which freaks her out and she prepares for the blowing, only to have him throw it over her. He warns her that next time, he won’t be as kind. He tells her if she wants to know her name, ask the magistrate which she would if there was one. She asks if he becomes a magistrate, would he help her and he says fine only he won’t be one. Arang considers that a promise and has something up her sleeves.
Joo Wal walks into Lord Choi’s quarters where Lord Choi states all this happened because of Joo Wal and asks why he would show that kind of sympathy earlier. Lord Choi tells him to find that girl already which gets Joo Wal angry. They pretty much have a tense father-son relationship .
We cut to BANG WOOL (Hwang Bo Ra) who’s a shaman and she foretells something for a client. She seems to be “predicting” right until she asks for 10 nyang and that’s when the client stops her fake crying and demands that Bang Wool give back her mother-in-law’s money. Bang Wool looks down and hands back the cash. Arang talks to Bang Wool about her shaman ways and it seems Bang Wool can hear her but not see her. Arang asks why she even does this work when her power comes and goes. Arang requests for a favor from Bang Wool which we don’t hear.
LEE BANG (Kim Kwang Gyu) is sitting at a table with a few people and he’s fretting about not finding a magistrate. If they don’t find one, they’ll be punished by the King. The men complain about the king’s competence as a ruler and they hear some squeaking noises which scares them. It turns out to be Bang Wool and they all try to act intimidating instead of the fraidy cats they just were (lol). Bang Wool tells them that there’s a way to elect a magistrate.
The three men run off into the night to search for Eun Oh. Meanwhile, Eun Oh walks out of a tavern to reminisce and the three men spy on him. They end up kidnapping him and Arang watches this up on a rooftop.
Eun Oh wakes up and finds himself bound by rope and lying on a bed. Lee Bang, outside the room, addresses him as Magistrate and wishes him a good night sleep which confuses Eun Oh. The three men meet up outside the magistrate’s office. They wanted to quickly write a letter telling the king the mission is accomplished. One of the men asks if they should figure out who Eun Oh is but Lee Bang doesn’t care since he’s an orphan anways. They wonder what kind of wood they should use for the coffin since Eun Oh’s going to die tonight anyways like all the other magistrates before him.
Eun Oh figures out they’re probably using him as sacrifice and demands that the men untie him. He hears an evil laugh and Arang appears upside down before her, attempting the Ju-On move. Eun Oh’s unfazed and tells her to come down properly or he’ll tie her hair to the door. Arang knew she picked the right person since he was so brave.
The three men wonder when they will hear the ghastly screams of poor Eun Oh, only to hear nothing. Eun Oh asks to be untied and promises not to throw red beans at her. Arang goes straight to the point of how she helped him now he has to help her lift her curse since he’s the magistrate. Eun Oh scoffs at her scheming and asks why her voice sounds creepy like a caterpillar crawling on skin (shudders). Arang states that someone told her that a woman should act gentle in front of a man than he’ll grant her wish. Eun Oh can’t believe that because the past magistrates didn’t grant her wish, she killed them. Arang says she regrets it, not everyone can see ghosts so she was looking for a pill to eat which can let the magistrates see her. It’s secretly sold in undead world.
She had appeared to the first magistrate, looking like a disheveled ghost, and he had a weak heart so he died. For the second magistrate, she only ate half the pill so only her upper half (her hair is brushed neatly this time) was seen (haha), but he died too. The third magistrate was a warrior who bravely called out to her so she appeared, except it was only her lower half; he died and she kicked him to see if he was still alive (hahah).
Arang acts like a damsel in distress and asks why theking would send such weak men. Eun Oh requests that her voice goes back to normal so she clears her throat and talks less femininely. She decided to do a test this time on courage and he passed. Eun Oh tells her to go away because he hates ghosts. Arang tries to appeal to him through his mother, isn’t he trying to find her? She’s like him, she wants to find her parents and properly say goodbye. She starts crying but Eun Oh doesn’t buy it so her fake tears disappear.
Joo Wal is standing on a bridge recalling how his father said the full moon is appearing soon and Joo Wal’s mission will get harder. Three female villagers pass by wondering if something will happen when the full moon is out since it’s a leap month which makes it a “rotten moon”. During the month, the gods don’t watch over them so anything can happen; in Milyang, young girls goes missing during this time.
The next morning, the three men walk inside the magistrate’s office with a coffin in order to collect Eun Oh’s dead body. Eun Oh bursts out of the room angry and the three men are shocked that he’s still alive. He demands for his clothes. Meanwhile, Dol Sae runs around the village, wreaking havoc in order to find his master. He bursts into the magistrate’s place to find Eun Oh sitting there with three men prostrated before him. Eun Oh berates Dol Sae for sleeping when he was kidnapped and the servant angrily grabs Lee Bang. Dol Sae thinks they kidnapped Eun Oh so he could be given to some widow which wasn’t the case as he was kidnapped to be sacrificed to a female ghost. Dol Sae asks if they even know who Eun Oh is – he’s the son of Lord Kim Eun Boo, the old prime minister! They all beg for forgiveness.
Bang Wool asks if the plan worked as the two girls eat and Arang angrily says no. He didn’t even show any sympathy for her at all. Bang Wool deduces that it means Arang must be ugly since men would do anything for a pretty girl. Arang sighs and wonder what she can do, if she wanted to look pretty, she can only get stuff from offerings given to her. She’s an orphan so who would do that? Arang realizes Bang Wool can do that which causes the poor shaman to choke on her food. Bang Wool doesn’t have money so Arang tells her to steal some.
Arang acts as Bang Wool’s lookout and promises not to appear before her again if she does this for Arang. Arang tells her when to steal and an exhausted Bang Wool continues to do it. Bang Wool tries to avoid everyone and ends up running into some officers which causes her to drop all the things. A group of merchants shout that there’s a thief which causes Bang Wool to start running.
She runs past Eun Oh and Dol Sae and Eun Oh sees Arang trailing behind. She ends up trapped by a tree and Arang starts beating the merchant and officers up. From the villagers point of view, they don’t see her so they just see the people falling. Dol Sae finds this entertaining and Eun Oh tells him to just leave. The fellow ghosts panic because a ruckus like this means the ghost chasers are bound to come so they run off.
Moo Young and a bunch of ghost chasers descend upon the town which Eun Oh sees and Moo Young chases after Arang. Eun Oh spies a familiar hair pin on Arang and he chases after her too. Arang runs out into the forest and Eun Oh steals a horse to use. He catches up to Arang, who’s as fast as a sprinter, and pulls her up on his horse.
So far, I’m finding the drama interesting with the ghost reapers (which remind me of Bleach, maybe there’s a Soul Society too!), gods, ghosts, and villagers. It has potential to be a great drama so I think I’ll stick to it.
The comedy is there which you don’t find in a historical drama really and Shin Min Ah is doing a great job acting as Arang. I find Arang amusing especially when she tries to act like a damsel in distress and Eun Oh’s like “I’m not buying it.”
As for Eun Oh, at first, I thought he would be a beta male since he was trying so hard to ignore Arang when they were in the deserted house, but now I just realize he doesn’t like dealing with them. He’s pretty heartless you could say, but I would probably do the same thing if ghosts came up to me and requested a thousand things.
Dol Sae is a great character too mostly because a person of his physical appearance wouldn’t look like such a chicken, but he’s just one buff chicken haha.
Bang Wool is a great character also since you’d think a shaman wouldn’t be terrified of a ghost, but poor girl is wrapped around Arang’s pinky. I can’t wait until she plays a bigger role than just Arang’s slave. Haha.
There is a lot of mystery surrounding who the person Joo Wal is looking for though it’s probably Arang, hmm…maybe they had some love story going on before she died? Who knows, I’ll continue to watch as this drama unfolds.
3 thoughts on “[recap] Arang: the Magistrate’s Chronicle – Episode 1”
This is going to be an awesome drama!
I actually wouldn’t mind more of the scary-mystical stuff, though I do like comedy too.
But overall the drama seems to be pretty enjoyable and the leads give off a slightly different vibe from their previous roles, which is great because, for instance, I wouldn’t want to Arang be overshadowed by Gu Mi Ho. Especially as Arang’s quirky sass is already really fun to watch.
I don’t really care for Eun Oh’s mommy-issues, but Arang’s death mystery is interesting. And I’d like to know how Joo Wal fits into the storyline. So I can’t wait for those big reveals.
I agree, Arang and Miho are two totally different characters, but since Shin Min Ah played them both, they’re bound to be compared. I like both characters actually, they both just fit the setting really well. With Miho, she was already proclaimed to be scary so she didn’t really need to get a backbone so to speak. However with Arang, she’s just a mere ghost like any other so she had to lift her sleeve and just work harder to survive.
But yes, I don’t care for Eun Oh’s mommy issues either, but I feel there’s probably some tie in with Miho since they have the same hairpin. Joo Wal’s a great mystery too, we’ll just have to continue watching this drama to find out hehe