K-Drama Review: Arang and the Magistrate

K-Drama Review: Arang and the Magistrate. The drama will make you laugh a lot with the main couple

Arang and the Magistrate
아랑과 치안 판사 (2012) MBC 20 Episodes, Grade: A

Arang and the Magistrate (2012) could be a complex but stunning Korean historical fantasy drama and mystery, loosely supported an old folk legend telling the story of Arang, a stunning girl betrothed to someone she never met, who died unjustly and whose ghost returns so as to unravel the mystery of her death. initially she cannot remember details of her death, so she seeks the help of the new local magistrate, who is that the only person within the village where she lived who can see ghosts. Previous law men had believed she died from an accident and dismissed her case. Now, finally, Arang finds someone who takes her ghost seriously enough to need to assist her solve the mystery of why she tragically died so young.

Although murder may be a serious crime, funnily enough this version of the story never takes itself too seriously, yet its beautiful cinematography and tricks via CGI are gorgeous, and that they make this show an epic masterpiece that’s different from the norm. This drama expertly ropes you in to Arang’s compelling story, keeping you glued to your goggle box to seek out out who killed her, and what she’s going to do about it when the reality is revealed.

This drama isn’t any fluff piece, however, despite its many surreal comedy and fantasy scenes (scary journeys to heaven and hell in episode 4 are quite jaw-dropping; I watched those sequences thrice during a row because i used to be so transfixed by them!). Underneath the mystery of Arang’s death are layers of cloak and dagger suspense twists which is able to amaze you as each is uncovered. Bizarre family secrets are revealed, corrupt politicians are revealed, spiritually possessed, occultic people are revealed. The person you think that can be the killer within the beginning seems to not be, but that does not mean that person is totally innocent either! Will the important Pontius Pilate stand up?

The main characters of “Arang and the Magistrate”


From left to right: Jade Emperor King of Heaven (Seung-ho Yoo), Yama King of Underworld (Joon-gyu Park), and Mu-young, Grim Reaper (Jung-soo Han): heavenly beings invested in the outcome of Arang’s mysterious death case


In addition to Arang’s death mystery, we see unrest within the heavens, as two important gods hold a sporting contest on what Arang’s ultimate fate might convince be; the Jade Emperor, King of Heaven (wonderful young actor Seung-ho Yoo, whom i’m quite daffy about – can’t wait till he gets out of the military – from Operation Proposal), who wants Arang to measure in heaven always (Jade Emperor definitely has an eye fixed for the beautiful ladies!), and Yama, King of the Underworld (veteran actor Joon-gyu Park), who wants to bring her soul to hell (and desperately wants to trade bodies with the handsome Jade Emperor!).

Is this how the real Judgment Day will be? Standing before God and Satan to decide who gets your soul?

As the story unfolds we revisit the heavens from time to time to work out Jade and Yama engaging in tongue-in-cheek banter with each other about Arang’s destiny. i actually got a kick out of those scenes – the vision of heaven within the show was just gloriously beautiful, but also amusing. A servant who does their bidding is that the Death named Mu-young (handsome Jung-soo Han) who has his own sad back-story which could even be associated with Arang’s death. i do not know why, but I felt very sad for this character – his face never smiled, he always gave the impression of he might cry at any moment.

Imagine feeling sorry the Grim Reaper! that is the quite psychological disturbances you undergo while watching this show! At one point within the drama Arang even visits hell to allow her a taste of what she might experience within the future if it’s Yama who gets to assert her soul.

Yama’s minions are not who you want to hang around within the afterlife! Sorry, but songwriters who claim it’s more “fun” to hang out with the sinners than the saints are WRONG.

All the performances are well-executed within the drama. Shin Min Ah is ideal casting for the lead role of Arang, even as she was for enjoying “My girlfriend is Gumiho” could be a Nine-Tailed Fox (2010). There’s just something about her tender and sweet fragility, combined along with her delicate beauty and humor, that produces you root for her all the way, irrespective of what character she plays (I particularly loved her because the physically scarred girl within the 2005 film Sad Movie, with Su-jeong Im and Woo Sung Jung).

She is joined during this drama by handsome co-lead Lee Jun Ki, who plays the Magistrate, and who had just finished his two year required stint within the Korean military when he took on this drama. he’s much more rugged in appearance here than he was in earlier shows and films, pre-military. He also has several black belts in martial arts and did all his own stunt add the show, which really impressed me … no stunt doubles for Jun-ki! (I loved him within the 2007 combined Korean-Japanese film production Virgin Snow). His popularity is one big reason this Korean drama cost uncountable dollars for Japan to get for broadcasting rights.

The Story of “Arang and the Magistrate”

A replacement magistrate could be a nobleman named Eun-oh Kim and he arrives to Arang’s isolated village with a secret agenda to search out his lost mother whom he’s been parted with since childhood. He takes the work after hearing a rumor that she could be staying at this village, called Miryang. He has the special ability to listen to, see and even lightly touch spirits, but pretends he doesn’t initially because he gets annoyed when the spirits come up to him soliciting for favors. Arang is even more determined to search out out who killed her because each of the three previous magistrates had died from shock after she had revealed herself to them.

When he first sees Arang’s ghost he tries to pretend he doesn’t, which makes for a few funny moments as she suspects he can see her so she teases him repeatedly until he gives in and admits she is visible to him. He rescues her from some demons who are chasing her and so realizes that for a few mysterious reason she includes a decorative comb in her hair which belonged to his own mother, which he had given her as a parting gift years before. So when she asks him for his help in solving the mystery behind her death he agrees to assist her because he thinks in doing so he can find his mother yet. The Magistrate exasperately initially, so affectionately later, nicknames Arang “Amnesia”. this can be pretty typical of the K-drama formula: two eventual lovers who start out their relationship teasing each other, and it is often delightful to determine.

Along the way, the Magistrate finds help and support through two people, his faithful servant Dol-swe (actor Oh-joong Kwon) and therefore the local shaman Bang-wool (actress Bo-ra Hwang from “Love Rain”). Bang-wool cannot see Arang’s ghost but she will hear her voice so she will often assist the Magistrate in helping him to know Arang (the scene where she makes the Magistrate measure Arang’s body for a replacement suit of ghost clothes is especially amusing … and sexy).

Dol-swe (Oh-joong Kwon) and Bang-wool (Bo-ra Hwang): Cute Comic Relief

Eventually Arang’s natural object is uncovered and everybody is amazed how it didn’t decay. The sequences where they find the body and Arang is overcome with grief are a number of the foremost evocative within the drama. These scenes influence me all over again how potent and powerful Korean drama acting is; one doesn’t even must hear their voices to grasp what the emotions are of the characters — their facial expressions and visual communication are enough to prove how exceptional these actors always are.

On hand – presumably out of respect – to work out Arang’s natural object revealed is that the quiet and darkly moody young nobleman Joo-wal Choi (Woo-jin Yeon from When a person Loves). It seems he was the nobleman whom Arang was purported to marry when she was alive. they’d never met, the wedding was parent-arranged years earlier, but as Arang has her memories restored she seems to recall falling soft on with Joo-wal from a distance as he read books on the veranda of his estate. Joo-wal is an incredibly lonely person, but there’s also a shady side to him, which makes the audience suspect he may need been Arang’s killer, though there’s no evidence to support the idea. As a ghost Arang develops a girlish crush on him, which does not exactly please the Magistrate, whose own heart is popping tender toward Arang, despite his best intentions to the contrary.

Moody, unhappy nobleman Joo-wal (Woo-jin Yeon) whose family is incredibly loathsome and evil

Through the long process of solving Arang’s case, Arang eventually loses her interest in Joo-wal, and falls crazy with the Magistrate. But how are you able to bed to a ghost? Jade Emperor kindly lands up giving her a resurrected body and tells her she has three months to use it to search out out how she was killed (the look on the Magistrate’s face when he sees her resurrected body walking toward him is priceless!).

Arang thinks that with a brand new body, which everyone can now see, that her mystery will now be a chunk of cake for her to resolve (shades of 49 Days where the character of Ji-hyun mistakenly thought that gathering 3 tears from 3 those that loved her would be a straightforward task). At the tip of these three months, reckoning on how she uses this body to accomplish her goal, she’s going to find yourself in heaven or in hell. However, in some ways, her case becomes harder to resolve because now certain people are more curious about hiding facts surrounding her case, and Joo-wal becomes determined to win Arang’s affections removed from the Magistrate.

Arang and Eun-oh’s actions, meanwhile, are being tracked by the Jade Emperor and Yama, who fear that there’s way more occurring than they themselves realize behind the mystery of Arang and therefore the Magistrate and also the village that they live in: there’s political corruption and dark family secrets to be revealed. Joo-wal’s father Lord Choi (veteran actor of the many dramas, Yong-gun Kim) could be a corrupt business man who wants the pesky new magistrate out of the way because he’s far too well respected within the village. His evil, unloving wife Lady Choi is an occultist who controls him because without her occult intervention a disease he suffers from might return at any time. Both of those people seem to rule the frightened town with a spiritual oppression that affects all the villagers. Will the Magistrate be ready to expose their underhanded tactics to regulate and manipulate (and infrequently, starve) the easy villagers? When the Magistrate eventually finds his mother, Lady Seo (Moon-young Kang), will the Choi “family” have had anything to try and do with why she disappeared from Eun-oh’s life as a boy?

The previous couple of episodes are a whirlwind of surprises and suspense. Can the love between Arang and also the Magistrate endure, whether or not it’s beyond time and space? they appear so perfect for each other that even the Jade Emperor’s heart is touched. However, in the end, it’s Arang’s decision that will send her to heaven or to hell. The Magistrate might wish to sacrifice all to save lots of her, but she might find yourself caring more about him than she does for herself.

Ah, true love! Is it only in fairy tale stories that it exists?

If you’re keen on fantasy stories bound up with a decent crime mystery then Arang and therefore the Magistrate is for you! the 2 leads had nice gentle romantic chemistry together and that is vital to a show which explores ideas of the afterlife, of heaven and hell, like this one does.

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