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Arang and the Magistrate (2012) Episode 1 RECAP
We open up with an introduction that explains why the Yin and Yang gradually broke apart from each other which means that the border dividing this world and the other world had collapsed. This permits the ghosts to walk around in this world.
Ghosts could see humans while humans couldn’t see ghosts. There was only one person who can see ghosts and he’s on his way to Miryang to look for his mother who disappeared three years ago.
Cue for EUN OH (Lee Jun Ki) to show up. He’s falling asleep on a rock in the middle of the forest while his servant DOL SWE (Kwon Oh Joong) stops to poop. Dol Swe calls him for falling asleep when he was supposed to be a lookout for ghosts.
He asks Dol Swe if he needs to tell him that he’s Sorry. Dol Swe quotes Eun Oh’s grandfather who says that not doing something because you didn’t know is not your fault. He adds, “I’m sorry,” “Thank You,” or “I Love You”, these are sentences that Eun Oh doesn’t say them because he doesn’t know them.
Eun Oh agrees and adds that there’s no point in learning those sentences. He looks up and predicts a storm.
Somewhere in the woods, ARANG (Shin Min Ah) seethes. “Who do you think helped you survive all this time? All of you are so dead.” She ties her hair and hikes her skirt up before leaping over giant boulders in an almost action-like setting.
Meanwhile, a caravan passes through the woods and we see ghosts suddenly appearing behind the trees. One of the minions worries that they might fail without Arang but the leader insists that the plan will push through without Arang.
They started to attack by jumping onto the men’s back and suddenly the men started choking and fall down. The rest of the gang prepares to go all out when Arang suddenly appears in front of them.
Just one look and they all cower in fear. HA! Feisty!
The leader tries to deceive Arang by saying that they were actually waiting for her. But Arang isn’t buying any of those. She throws him a punch in the face. The leader stands up and prepares to give her a lesson but he’s no match for her. She’s about to teach him a lesson but something caught her attention. She looks up and sees a giant net falling from the sky and everyone runs in fear. The net catches three ghosts who freeze once the net touches them.
Arang trips and she sees four grim reapers emerging from the sky and starts to hunt the ghosts. The three grim reapers hunt the other ghosts while MU YOUNG (Han Jung Soo) goes after Arang – who runs for her ghostly-life. These reapers are pretty flighty and they use canes and ropes to suck in the ghosts and make them disappear – probably make them go to the after-life.
Eun Oh and Dol Swe continue to walk through the creepy woods. Eun Oh stops as he hears the noise from the group of ghosts. Dol Swe complains that every time they take the mountain road, it feels a little creepy. He asks if master is sure that Miryang is the where they can find his mother because there are rumors about that town being spooked by ghosts.
Eun Oh just dismisses the idea but Dol Swe isn’t about to give up just yet. There have been several new magistrates who all died of fright on their first night in office. Eun Oh counters him, “There’s no such thing as ghosts.”
Eun Oh hears a rustle behind them and looks back. Dol Swe frighteningly asks what it is and master points over his shoulder, “Behind you, there’s a ghost!” Dol Swe freaks out while Eun Oh laughs at him.
But when he looks up, he sees Arang running towards them at full speed. Behind her is the grim reaper. It definitely looks like it’s not the first time he’s seen ghosts and reapers. He tenses up but Arang just passes by.
Mu Young’s cane come flying past him, knocking Arang down.
Dol Swe stands up, calls his master and starts walking. They won’t arrive at their destination at this pace. Eun Oh prepares himself and walks past them, not letting on that he can see them. (Though, I wonder if the grim reaper really doesn't know.)
Mu Young towers over Arang as she asks what the general grim reaper is doing chasing after ghosts. Perhaps he shouldn't have lost her in the Hades River in the first place.
Mu Young calls her name in a rather endearing and calm voice. It’s like he’s talking to a little child. He explains that he’ll have to pay for his mistakes but she must also follow the rules. She messed up the rules of this world and so her punishment won’t be light.
She stands up in defiance saying that the law is that the thirsty one digs the well. If he doesn’t like it then he should do it for them. He takes out his rope.
She reaches under her clothes and asks, “You like peach flowers, right?” and throws a handful of petals at him. He covers his face and a petal cuts his hand. Ah. So this will be like Arang’s protection against the reaper.
When he puts his hand down, Arang is nowhere to be found. He screams her name.
Eun Oh hears Mu Young’s cry but shrugs it off. It starts to rain and they run inside an abandoned cottage to stay for the night.
Arang, who just fled from the reaper, is still running in the woods and she’s getting rained on too. She opens her hand and sees cuts from the petals. On the upside, the wounds heal quickly. She looks up into the sky thinking about the King of Heaven and shouts: “You think you’re all that?” Cheeky!
Cue for our King of Heaven - the GREAT JADE EMPEROR (Yoo Seung Ho) to appear together withHades - the KING OF THE UNDERWORLD (Park Joon Kyu). They’re up in the bridge between heaven and hell playing badook when the Great Jade Emperor sneezes and scratches his ear, “Someone must be cursing my name.”
Hades is concentrating on winning the game while Jade Emperor is more laid back and more interested with fairies who bring him his tea and peaches. He smiles and compliments her new hairdo.
She blocks his advances and tell him that she had the same hairstyle yesterday, and the day before that, and for about the last thousands of years. HA! No can do, Jade Emperor.
Hades calls his attention since it’s already his turn, saying that it doesn’t matter because he’s already won. Jade Emperor takes a piece and placed it on the watery badook board and Hades looks at the board in shock.
Jade Emperor registers his shock and stammers, “Ah. This… I am sorry, Hades. I really didn’t plan to win this time.” LOL. Why so funny? He quickly changes the subject and wonders aloud if Mu Young caught ‘that child’. He goes to the heavenly kingdom leaving Hades fuming like crazy.
He talks to his goat saying that he really didn’t plan to win this time. Hades’ problem is that he tries to calculate everything when too many things in this world do not go according to calculations.
He waters the bed of flowers growing at the back of the goat. Back to earth, where Arang is soaking wet from the rain. Such a subtle way to make the connection. Nice! She seeks refuge under a tree and plucks a leaf to use it as an umbrella.
Inside the cottage, Dol Swe sleeps while Eun Oh stares into the fire remembering his mother. We see a flashback to their argument about wanting to stay with her. Mom yells at him for visiting her and being foolish. If he’s going to die, he should die at his father’s house. He counters that he doesn’t like living with Father, he wants to live with Mom.
If he lives with her, he’ll be the child of a slave whereas if he lives with his father, he’s a son of a nobleman. Either way, he’s just a nobody so he may as well live the way he wants to – be with Mom. She counters his idea by saying that she came from a prominent family as well. “If it wasn’t for that bastard…”
Eun Oh pleads for her to stop but Mom slaps him and tells him to go and be a good son to his father. “Forget me.” He cries and tells her, “If I had known this, it would have been better if I never had a mother.” He angrily leaves her and when he came back to visit her the next day, she’s already gone.
Back in the present, his thoughts got cut short upon hearing some noise outside. It was Arang running towards the cottage, seeking for refuge. She passes through the wall and sits down by the fire as she complains that she’s already a ghost but she still gets wet. “Except for not getting cold, it’s the same as being a human.”
Eun Oh talks in his head and tells himself not to let her notice that he can see her. Arang, on the other hand, didn’t even consider the idea. She starts undressing next to him. His eyes grow wide and they lock eyes in a split second. She quickly covers her shoulders, “Can you ... see me?”
He answers in his head, “I can’t see you!” She waves her hand saying she’s pretty sure their eyes just met. She comes closer to him until they’re faces almost touch and he desperately tries not to move. She pokes him in the face which gives off a glowing blue light as a manifestation of the ghost-human contact.
He talks in his head and tells himself to just endure it because it will be annoying if she finds out. She gets no response from him so she starts blowing on his face. When he was thisclose in giving in, Dol Swe loudly snores, breaking the moment. He sighs in relief while she scoffs and sits on top of Dol Swe in order to shut him up.She talks to herself saying that there’s no way he can hear him. He’s not a shaman. She wonders what his story is and then sighs thinking that it can’t be anything compared to her story. She perks up and talks to him, “Do you want to hear my story?” He answers in his head, “I don’t want to! I can’t hear you!”
She starts to tell him her story. One day, she opened her eyes and found that she’s being led by a grim reaper. We get another flashback to the time when she was tied with a red rope and being led by Mu Young. The knot suddenly comes loose and she gets to run away.
There’s something strange though. No matter how hard she thinks about it, she can’t remember who she was. She doesn’t know her name or how she died. She talks to herself saying that it would be nice if he can see her. Then she can ask him for a favor.
Eun Oh yawns and goes to bed having his fill of ghosts with ridiculous requests. She’s not yet done talking though. She goes near him and says, “This is all... the fault of the Jade Emperor. After I go to the next world, I’ll tell that old fogey a thing or two.” HA! Old fogey? He is old but with that face, it just doesn’t match up.
She tries to talk to him but gets no response so lies down next to him. Eun Oh (in his head): “Go away! You crazy ghost!” She stares at him with a smile on his face and goes to sleep. Her hand falls on his shoulder and he shivers from the cold. He turns to his side and they sleep beside each other.
Eun Oh wakes up the next morning and looks around. Arang was nowhere and he smiles to himself. Feeling good, he wakes up Dol Swe to leave for Miryang.
They arrive at Miryang and come across a procession for Nobleman CHOI (Kim Yong Gun) – Miryang’s king (head, not royalty) as per Dol Swe’s description. He was sent here as a demotion. In the absence of a magistrate, he acts as the law in this town. Behind him is his son, CHOI JOO WAL (Yeon Woo Jin), who gets the attention of all the girls in town.
They watch as a man pleads before Nobleman Choi, who was forced to do labor even though the law states that he was exempted. The man was beaten in front of everyone.
Eun Oh: “Dol Swe, you know me, right? When I see injustice..” Dol Swe: “You just endure it.” HAHAHA. I didn’t expect that. How will you be a magistrate then?
The man pleads to Joo Wal next. The men moves to beat him again but Joo Wal stops them and he tells the man to leave. The man tries to explain but Joo Wal gave him a cold stare. It looks like a good deed from the people’s view but the man got scared and flees for his life. This guy looks scarier than his father.
Dol Swe informs Eun Oh that they are building a palace annex on top of the river which is causing a lot of grief for the people who are being forced to work. The citizens are also paying for it in taxes. Eun Oh notices that Dol Swe really takes an interest in what is going on in the world. Dol Swe suggests that he take some interest too but he argues that even if he takes interest there’s nothing that he can do.
Eun Oh tells Dol Swe to go on without him and slips away mysteriously. He heads back and turns from one street to another as if looking for something or someone and suddenly stops and turns around, “Why are you following me?”
A group of ghosts jumps back. The old man says they’ve heard that he can see ghosts and he has a request about his daughter. He fall to his knees before Eun Oh but he coldly turns them away. “Get lost. It’s none of my concern.”
He turns his back and ghosts vanish in thin air. Then we see Arang on a rooftop, watching everything. She doesn’t look surprised at all. Instead, she gets a confirmation of her hunch. “He really can see us. You’d try to trick a ghost?”
Eun Oh goes to a local inn and asks about his mother. The woman remembers her staying the night but she doesn’t know anything else. He goes to leave but suddenly turns back and grabs a wrist. It’s Arang’s, who’s shocked that he can touch her aside from just seeing her. He recognizes her from last night and asks if she’s following him.
She wonders if he’s looking for someone. Is it a woman? His mom? He turns and glares at her and she beams, “I’m right? You have the ‘I-lost-my-mother-face.” He leans closer and asks, “Do you want to die?” She looks down and meekly answers but then realizes that she’s already dead.
He tells her to get lost but she just follows him – openly admitting that she understand why he’s being like that. He probably gets a lot of ghost requests and it must be troublesome, right? Eun Oh: “If you know, then get lost!”
Arang: “How can I get lost? But still, we did sleep together.” He stops and looks at her with shock. “Didn’t we sleep together last night? Anyway, it’s not like you have to build the great wall every time to say you’ve slept together.” HA! I love her already!
She starts to tell him her story again and he stops her, saying he heard it last night. She says it’s simple, “You just need to help me find out who I am.” He reaches under his sleeve and shows her a handful of red beans. She steps back in fear.
He says he doesn’t usually do this but to get rid of pesky, clingy, despicable ghosts like her he will use it. She ducks and he throws the beans, missing her on purpose. He laughs but threatens that he will throw it at her next time. She shouts angrily at him. “I’m just asking you to find out my name. Is that so hard?”
He tells her that she should go through the local government. She would like to do that but there’s no magistrate in town. He says it’s not his concern; he’s not the magistrate, after all.
Arang: “Then if you do become the magistrate, will you help me?” He gives her his word, “If I become the magistrate? Sure. If I become the magistrate, I’ll help you.” He walks away leaving her with a new hope. Arang: “You promised.”
Joo Wal enters his father’s room and he gets an earful for showing compassion in the marketplace. Joo Wal counters him that he was simply trying to go about his own way. His father talks about the need to find “her” and they’re running out of time. They exchange sharp words before Joo Wal leaves. They don’t seem like the normal father-son tandem. Interesting?
Cut to shaman BANG WOOL (Hwang Bora), who’s giving a reading and is called out for being a fraud. When the customer left, Arang makes her presence known. Bang Wool can hear Arang’s voice but she couldn’t see her.
Bang Wool wails upon hearing Arang’s voice, “You said you would never come back.” She greets Bang Wool and tells her that she needs a favor. Hmmm.
In the local government’s office, we meet our TRIO – who are the only ones left in the office. They cry and discuss about not being able to fill in the magistrate position in two days.
Suddenly, Bang Wool peeks through the doors. She came to talk to them about a vision of someone who should be the new magistrate. They immediately stand up and listen to her. Next thing we know, they knock Eun Oh unconscious and kidnaps him. LOL. Is that he will be the new magistrate here?
They think they’re just doing it as per the Bang Wool’s vision. He’s going to die tomorrow anyway – like all the magistrates before him who died on their first night of being a magistrate. Arang watches everything from the rooftop. “That’s why you shouldn’t make careless promises.” Sweet!
Eun Oh wakes up, his hands tied together. One of the TRIO calls him magistrate and welcomes him to his new position. He hopes that he get a good rest and then leaves. Outside, the trio discusses what they need to do and decides to tell the palace of this new development to save their lives.
Eun Oh felt Arang’s presence and tells her to just show herself since he doesn’t fell like playing hide-and-seek tonight. Arang emerges from the ceiling in an upside-down manner. Eun Oh doesn’t seem entertained by her antics and just tells her to come down nicely or else he’ll tie her hair to the doorknob.
She stands up and in a seductive voice, reminds him of his promise. He tells her to stop using that voice that makes his skin crawl and to untie him. She tells him that someone told her to use this style in order to get what she wants.
He asks, “And if the other person doesn’t do what she wants, then you just kill them? All those innocent magistrates?”
She sighs in disappointment. She feels wronged. Ghosts cannot just show themselves whenever they want to. She only wants to appeal to them for help. But wasn’t able to make them see her. In a flashback, we see her taking an herb – Boyi Gura – that would make her visible to the human eye.
She visits the first magistrate, who looks so shocked at her messy appearance and dies of a heart attack. Thinking that the cause of the first magistrate’s death was her appearance, she tried her best to look pretty upon showing herself to the second magistrate. Unfortunately, she only had one pill of the Boyi Gura left and only ate half of it. The second magistrate only sees the upper part of her body which again results to the death of the magistrate. The third magistrate was a warrior who calls her to come out but he also died upon seeing only the lower part of Arang’s body.
She sighs and says that it wasn’t her fault. She wonders why they keep sending elderly men with weak hearts as the magistrate. Eun Oh comments on her voice again and tells her to just use her normal speaking voice.
Eun Oh: “If you want to ask a favor, then come back as a human. I detest ghosts.”
Arang: “If only I could, that would be nice.” Awww. You poor little thing.
She reminds him about his mother and tells him that they’re just the same. She also lost both of her parents. She also wants to find them – just like him. She wants to say goodbye before leaving. When he turns him back around, he sees her crying and asking him for help.
He counters her pleads and tells her to get lost. The tears automatically stop. HA! You got caught my dear ghost! How can she know about mothers and fathers when she doesn’t even remember her own name? She wipes her tears and leaves.
Joo Wal stands in the middle of a bridge, looking at the moonlight. A group of girls pass by and about the full moon and wonders if anything will happen. This month is the “rotten moon” – a leap month – which is said to be the day that the Gods are not keen in watching the people. There was also a belief saying that when there’s a rotten moon, any missing girls from Miryang can walk amongst the people and you wouldn’t know if they’re dead or alive.
Joo Wal hears the whole conversation and he looks edgy. When the girls mention about the ‘missing girls’ story, Joo Wal touches a black ring on his finger with uneasiness.
The next morning, the Trio carries a casket in for the magistrate. They feel sorry since they chose a promising young man. Eun Oh suddenly comes out of the room which scares the hell out them. He throws the magistrate clothing back to them and orders them to give him back his clothes.
Meanwhile, Dol Swe creates a ruckus while running throughout town once he hears the news about his young master. He bursts in to ask if Eun Oh is okay. Then he goes about screaming at the Trio for messing with the wrong person. “Do you even know who my young master is?” When they ask who the young master is, Dol Swe names Eun Oh’s rich and powerful Dad – the previous Prime Minister. They cry for forgiveness.
Arang eats with Bang Wool and complains that she did everything – cuteness, tears, sniffy nose – that Bang Wool told her but got no response. Bang Wool: “That can only mean... you’re a very ugly woman!”BWAHAHAHA. If only you could see her!
Bang Wool asks why Arang didn’t inform her earlier on but Arang counters that she didn’t even know. Ghosts can’t see themselves. They sigh in disappointment. Bang Wool says that men will always fall for the pretty girls so there’s only one thing that they can do – to put on makeup and pretty clothes.
Arang sighs and wonders where she would get those things. Ghosts can only have things that people give them. She beams upon an idea. Bang Wool could just give it to her. The problem is, Bang Wool doesn’t have that kind of money. Arang: “Money? Is money the problem?” and smiles.
Arang’s idea is to steal stuff from the townspeople. Bang Wool is scared of they’re about to do but Arang confidently tells her not to worry. How will she get caught when she has a ghost as a lookout? Arang promises that she will stop haunting her if she does this thing.
Arang watches the people and just tells Bang Wool when to grab the things. They already have everything they need when Bang Wool walks straight into two policemen and drops everything. Just then, the merchants start screaming that there’s a thief.
Bang Wool runs off but is cornered by the policemen and the people. Arang looks up to the sky, having second thoughts. But she’s left with no other choice; she saves Bang Wool and starts beating up people to give Bang Wool a way to run.
Dol Swe and Eun Oh witnesses this commotion and Dol Swe laughs at the men, thinking that they’re falling down by themselves – as he doesn’t see Arang. Eun Oh on other hand sees everything. He hears some ghosts nearby who talks about what happening. They are scared that this commotion might call the reapers down and they’ll be all dead...err, yunno ghostly-dead.
In a few minutes, the reapers comes flying down from the sky and lands with purpose. They immediately split up to capture the ghosts while Mu Young goes after Arang. She hears notice him and runs away – running past Eun Oh.
Eun Oh notices the pin in Arang’s hair – it’s the pin he gave her mother the night before she went missing – which is enough reason to make him run take a horse and chase after Arang. He rides past Mu Young and races toward Arang. He reaches down for her and scoops her up to ride his horse. She turns around to look at him in shock.
I am so glad that this show didn’t disappoint me, at least not yet and I’m hoping that it won’t disappoint me until the end. I’m crossing my fingers.
What I don’t like: The runaway mother premise. Seriously? Don’t you have anything else better to use? Or maybe it’s okay to use that premise as long as it is presented in a way that would make the viewers care. As of now, I don’t really buy it but I’ll go along and see where it leads us. Please make this storyline as useful as possible. Probably a link to Arang’s terrible death?
What I love: Everything else! I love the visuals and worlds that the show has created. I love how the Jade Emperor and Hades were presented. I also love their characters! The old looking Hades is the temperamental one and the younger looking Jade Emperor is a playboy! HA! And I love that they’re actually twins!
Aside from the visuals, the show did a good job in giving us the FUNNY. I’ve always loved Min Ah and Jun Ki from their other dramas but they are both striking in this show. We can the chemistry between them whenever they share a scene.
And I also love the second-leads. Joo Wal leaves off a mysterious – in a creepy way – vibe. Dol Swe and Bang Wool on the other hand helps in bringing out the funny scenes.
Oh, I also love that Eun Oh is such a passive person who doesn’t do anything even when he sees a man being beaten in front of him. It means that he starts out as not the heroic-type but since he’s the story’s hero then there are a lot of character developments that we can see in the long run.
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