Korean Drama Review of Arang and the Magistrate



Genre:  Historical, Romance

Number of Episodes:  20

At the time that I am writing this review, the series is only halfway through.  In other words, I am currently watching it, and I am liking it so much, I couldn’t help but review it. 


Story Premise:  Set in the Joseon period, a Virgin Ghost with amnesia shanghaies an apathetic Magistrate into helping her solve the mystery of her murder.

Synopsis:  Arang is a virgin ghost that died three years before the story begins.  She has no idea how she died, but she suspects it was murder since her ghostly body has a stab wound in her side.  Having escaped from the Death Chasers the night she died, she has wondered the hills and forests around her hometown trying to figure out who she is, if she has a family, and – most importantly – how she died.

Kim Eun Oh is a “Young Lord” who almost died as a child and has been able to see ghosts ever since.  As a child, he helped the ghosts around him resolve their grudges, but when people began to call him “the haunted child,” he decided he would no longer get involved with ghostly business – or even human business – ever again.  All he wants is to find his mother who abandoned him three years earlier because she did not want him to be raised as the child of a slave.  (In other words, his mother was a slave and his father was a lord.)  And yet, Eun Oh is determined to find her and spend the rest of his life living with her instead of his father.

However, when Arang finds out that Eun Oh can see ghosts, she continually badgers him about helping her find out who she is.  When Eun Oh makes a reckless promise to her that he would help her only if he ever became the Magistrate of the local town, Arang manages to maneuver things in the human world just enough to shanghai Eun Oh into becoming the Magistrate.  Still, even as the appointed Magistrate, Eun Oh has no intention of helping Arang, until he discovers that her death has a mysterious connection to his mother’s disappearance.  Together, the two work to find out Arang’s identity, how she died, and what mysterious connection it all has to his mother’s disappearance.


What I like about this K-Drama:  This has to be one of the most fascinating Korean Dramas I have ever seen.  The story is a really interesting blend of the Korean beliefs of life, death and the afterlife.  While I am not incredibly familiar with what Koreans believe, I have seen enough Korean Dramas to notice certain cultural rituals – like the way Koreans serve food to the dead on the day of their Death Anniversary – and this show explains a lot of the beliefs behind those rituals.  There are so many elements of the different beliefs (or mythology) mixed into the story that you can’t help but be fascinated by the whole tale in general.

For example, this story has explanations for Death Chasers (i.e. the Korean version of Grim Reapers), Ghouls, Ghosts, Shamans, Talismans, Yin and Yang and even the River Styx.  It goes into the belief of Heaven and Hell (or the nine rooms of Hell) and the two Gods pulling the strings on everything – The Great King Jade and the Great King Yeom La.  It is a really fascinating blend of a lot of supernatural elements, so if you like any of that kind of stuff, this is a great drama to watch.

Plus, there is a lot of GREAT Romantic Tension between Arang and the Magistrate.  

What I did NOT like about this K-Drama:  So far, there isn’t anything I don’t like about this drama.  It can be a little nerve-racking at times since it does get into the supernatural, but it is still mild on the “Scary Scale” in comparison to American shows.  If I had to say I didn’t like something, it would be how overprotective the character of Dol Sue is to his “Young Master” Eun Oh.  He treats his “Young Master” like a son when he is supposed to be a servant, and it can be a bit irritating at times.  But all in all, the character of Dol Sue does have an interesting subplot going on with a female Shaman, so it’s nothing bad enough to avoid the show.

Favorite Scene(s): There are a lot of scenes I like from this show, but without a doubt, one of my favorites happens right in the very first episode.  According to this story, ghosts are just like humans and they can be hungry or get rained on just like any ordinary person.  The scene I like is where Arang takes shelter in the same hut that Eun Oh and Dol Sue are taking shelter in, and she begins to take off her wet clothes, only to see Eun Oh staring at her in shock.  When she tries to test if he can see her, he pretends he can’t see and silently begs her to leave him alone.  It’s hysterical.  Click the Play Button below to watch.  (The scene starts ant 16 minutes and 19 seconds into Episode 1.)  

What Other Reviewers Are Saying: 

Going Immortal with Arang and the Magistrate Midpoint Review

Our last check-in with Arang and the Magistrate left us with several questions as Arang Shin Min-ah was delivered back to Earth to investigate her own death. This coming set of six episodes brought more magic questions.…

Arang and The Magistrate Couch Kimchi Blogs

There are many reasons to love Arang and The Magistrate and while the OTP chemistry is in the forefront the Gestalt aspect of the narrative keeps the show intriguing and the characters engaging. In other words the big.…


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