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“Ghost” Will Haunt You…Or Maybe It Won’t

Ghost

*This post is as unspoilery as possible. Please refrain from leaving spoilers in comments or please label them appropriately as spoiler.

My drama backlog was paralyzing me. It was enough to have keep up with the three major broadcasting companies (MBC, SBS, KBS) but now with cable dramas stepping up their game, I was feeling completely overwhelmed.

So many dramas were sitting unwatched until I had a conversation with my mother yesterday. She told me Ghost (SBS), starring So Ji Sub and Lee Yeon Hee, was good. That was a recommendation I didn’t expect at all. My mother does not normally watch the thriller-mystery genre so to have her recommend it to me was a convincing selling point. She also said that So Ji Sub’s acting was good. I like So Ji Sub a lot and I think he is a good actor but I was getting tired of his dark and angsty projects that only ask for one emotion from the actor. So this drama wasn’t high on my priority list but thanks to my mother, I found that this drama isn’t that kind of drama. And now I’m hooked.

I started watching Ghost without any idea on what the story was going to be about except that it was going to be about cyber crimes. I didn’t even know which actor were going to appear except So Ji Sub and Lee Yeon Hee. After five episodes, I’m happy to report that the drama is about more than cyber crimes. There are a lot of layers, conflicts, and mystery to keep you interested.

 

It’s hard to give a review for this type of drama without giving anything away and to give anything away before you watch the drama would be a crime. We’re peeling onions with this drama and I refuse to skip a single layer with this review. Ghost succeeds in keeping the viewer coming back every episode through its storytelling structure. Every episode there is a mystery to solve but the drama isn’t episodic. These smaller mysteries are tied into a large crime arc which is still built into an even larger mystery. The drama also doesn’t drag out the crime-solving. Peeling the onion is a lot of fun so beware. Once you start watching an episode, it will be hard to stop until you’ve run out of currently aired episodes.

I’ll admit that the directing could be tighter for this type of drama because there are just some moments when I have to laugh at the obvious, but the tension is always kept high, which is what is most important. I was also afraid that the drama would feel cheap since the major broadcasting stations don’t seem to spend as much money on this kind of stuff as cable channels, but I am happy to report that SBS has invested enough money on this show. There were times when I thought the story wouldn’t go there because it would cost too much money to film it but it does and helps to create higher stakes.

What I appreciate about this drama is how character relationships are built into the larger mystery.  This drama isn’t about rooting for the good guys and hating the villains. It’s about watching different people working together or being the perfect foil for each other through their intelligence and flaws.

To those wary of So Ji Sub and Lee Yeon Hee- I have a been a long-time fan of So Ji Sub, back from when he used to comedy. So I knew he had the range but was sad to see how he had boxed himself into playing the angsty, cold character type. Thankfully he isn’t like that in this drama. So Ji Sub shows a wider range in this drama- cold, friendly, warm, haughty, playful, and conflicted. Lee Yeon Hee is serviceable. She can’t seem to get rid of her monotone line delivery but most of her dialogue doesn’t involve too much emotion. It also helps that the story is not character driven. We don’t have to be invested in the characters; we are invested in the truth instead.

Daniel Choi is also in this drama, although briefly. He’s a good actor already but I think he has a lot more potential for the future. I’ve seen him in Cyrano Dating Agency and a bit in High Kick but it was in this drama where I was immediately charmed by his presence. He keeps getting better.

It’s really easy to be nit-picky about this type of drama and I can’t say that this drama is without its flaws and laughable moments. But the plot is interesting and really, it’s rare to find that in K-dramaland these days where the same story keeps getting recycled. There is an over-reliance on actor appeal and character attachment in dramas these days which sometimes means that the drama will fall apart at the seams half-way and leaves viewers pulling their hair out. Ghost doesn’t seem to be that type of drama so I’m in it for the long run.

Give this drama a chance; it might be the perfect medicine for the QIHM withdrawal I know that some people are experiencing. It probably won’t be your next crack drama but it will keep you interested. The drama isn’t endorphin-enducing but hey, we can’t always be high.

*To people who have already watched this drama- I totally laughed every time when the Phantom of the Opera music came out. I know it was supposed to be menacing but honestly, it was hilarious. And I think they used the U.S. movie soundtrack because the Phantom (Gerald Butler) sounds awful. And about the Phantom in this drama… I totally knew who it was from just the side profile. I lol’ed at his signature mouth.

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26 Comments Post a comment
  1. So Ji Sub? Comedy? Wow, you will have to tell me one. I love the concept, at time, the stories are drawn out more than they should at times. The direction could be tighter which explains me falling asleep on a couple of episodes. Mad Cow drives me crazy! But definitely a good detective! I don’t even care about the romance, I am such a geek!

    July 1, 2012
    • joonni #

      He’s play brighter characters in older dramas like “Glass Slippers” and “We are Dating Now.” He’s quite adorable.

      Mad Cow drives me nuts too. So bullheaded. But I find that the pace of the drama keeps me from completely getting frustrated.

      I don’t care about the romance either.

      July 1, 2012
  2. Chillyperson #

    LOL I’ve been keeping up with this drama recently and yes I laughed whenever they played the Phantom of the Opera. It’s just so… cheesy? I’m glad that they didn’t play it since the magician case ended. Ghost is probably my favourite out of the three dramas I’m watching now (along with Big and Gaksital). I agree that the plot is very unpredictable, like an onion with lots of layers.

    July 1, 2012
  3. WeWe #

    Hmm..
    I confess that I plan to watch this after watching the commercial in KBSWorld last night. I always watch SJS in mello drama and movie but the drama execution in the commercial looks good so I’m tempted.
    Having cable tv is not a bad choice afterall *grin*
    Ah,last thing,I love spoiler but I don’t think I can spill the beans for you since I don’t open the can…..yet *wink*
    If you plan to recap this, I might end up read it :)

    July 1, 2012
  4. I tried to watch. I think I went up to ep 6. Like you said SJS is good, and very easy on the eyes, btw.
    But I kept falling asleep, and we all know how hard it is to follow a subbed show with your eyes closed…LOL

    Maybe I will go back later, if enough people insist that it was great.

    July 1, 2012
    • joonni #

      LOL.
      I think I have I a thing for men with single eyelids. So Ji Sub is very easy on the eyes so I wish he would smile more.

      July 1, 2012
  5. britener #

    I’m not crazy about Ghost at all. It just feels like something to keep myself busy with. I’m not that entertained by the characters or the plot. The villain is the only reason I am still watching this show. I’m very curious about him and plus, he looks cute here (better than when he was in Scent of a Woman). Also, some romance would be nice but …..there isn’t much going on with that at all.

    July 1, 2012
    • joonni #

      I like that there is no romance. I prefer my crime dramas with no romance although I don’t mind if there is.

      July 1, 2012
      • newkdramaaddict #

        AMEN to that! All of the crime dramas that I watched, it seemed like they forced in the romance and was totally unnecessary. Crime dramas attract a certain audience who generally will watch simply if the story is good. That’s why I liked the Hong Kong dramas that I’ve watched , except for one, they were all about the action, no romance was even hinted! Loved Crime Story!!

        July 1, 2012
  6. Elena #

    It’s my first time to not really feel drama’s main characters, but to like second characters, for example Made Cow’s team (MC, his partner and Song Ha Yoon’s character – young journalist). I risk being harsh, but I found both Kim Woo Hyun and  Yoo Kang Mi characters too… monotone… even boring… which results in zero chemistry between them… I was also disappointed by So Ji Sub’s acting (and he was the reason for me to watch this drama coz I used to like him in Always movie)… It was OK at the beginning – it accorded well with Kim Woo Huyn’s cold, composed and lonely/work-concentrated personality, but then logically it was supposed to change coz he became another person… In fact I adore the kind of drama when the lead character pretends to be someone else (girl pretends to be boy, a boy has to pretend to be gay, kid “pretends” to be adult, etc). So the twist of PKY becoming KWH had very much potential in my eyes… I hoped that “renewed” KWH will keep the funny and charming side of Daniel Choi’s character (at least when he is tête-à-tête with Yoo Kang Mi) at the same time remaining the cold KWH on public and it will give us an interesting double-faced character, but for the moment SJS remains absolutely THE SAME and keeps this permanent “cosmic sorrow” face expression which makes me really miss Daniel Choi’s vivaciousness…. :(

    July 1, 2012
    • joonni #

      Really? I see Park Ki Woo in SJS’s acting. Hmmm….
      But yes, Kim Woo Hyun and Yoo Kang Mi characters are boring. But I don’t care that much for his drama.

      July 1, 2012
    • britener #

      I totally agree on your assessments!!! I keep hoping that Daniel Choi’s character would come out but nope. I do miss his personality and his actual face of course:). This is really my first time seeing SJS’s drama and I donno if it’s his character or just his acting, but I find him very boring.

      July 1, 2012
  7. Timescout #

    I concur to everything you wrote.

    For me Ghost is the surprise drama I didn’t expect to be watching at all, even though I love the genre (crime procedurals). But as it happens every now and then this is the one I’m enjoying the most of the currently airing dramas. Warts and all. :) Yeah, the directing could be tighter but at least it’s not frenetic or all over the place like with Sign. Hopefully the ending will be less rage inducing too. I don’t mind a bit of the silly or the ovious if the story is still interesting enough to keep me looking forward to each new epi. So far Ghost has done just that.

    I’ve only seen SJS in one film so anything I know about his acting abilities or the lack thereoff is 2nd hand but I don’t think he’s doing too badly here. But as you said, the characters are not all that integral here though I do like Woo Hyun, as one note as he tends to be. Actually I like most of the characters, yes… even Mad Cow and the baddies. Somehow they feel more real to me than say the lot in BM.

    Like you, I’m not missing the romance as I prefer my cop shows without the loveydovey, which in most cases just tends to mess with the flow of the actual story. The only times I can do with a romance is when it’s solidly built into the story from the beginning and somehow integral part of it.

    July 2, 2012
  8. jaz #

    I haven’t seen Ghost yet and I’m not sure if I like this type of drama…you know solving crimes. I’ve tried watching one, Crime Squad since I like ‘Mong’ Ji Hyo unnie. But then the plot turned out to be so predictable in the later parts…although I managed to finish it. But since where talking of So Ji Sub here…it would be an honor. He’s my very first oppa! I first saw him in Glass Shoes and he totally got me there! He was so funny and cocky at the same time in that drama. He was so passionate and loyal to the girl he loved but then it was unrequited. The worst part was the ending. Arghhh…horrible! I don’t even want to remember. That was my first heartbreak! LOL

    The second time I saw him was in Memories of Bali…and again that same horrible ending! Arghh! After that I haven’t seen any drama of him anymore. So I guess I could spare some time watching Ghost for my oppa…and because it has your recommendation Joonni! ;)

    July 2, 2012
    • joonni #

      LOL. So many bad ending dramas for you and So Ji Sub. Must be traumatic. Hopefully this drama won’t turn out like that.

      I see you are a big fan of Running Man. STRESS!

      July 2, 2012
      • jaz #

        It was traumatic! MOB gave me nightmares! Idk why he loves to accept dramas with tragic endings. hehe!

        Btw, YES I am a certified RM fan! RM is one of my stress relievers. The show just excites me. But I miss the bells though..they should try bringing it back sometime. STRESS! :D

        July 2, 2012
        • joonni #

          Did you see the Park Ji Sung episodes? I died laughing when they were playing the super power soccer game. Gary’s power was hilarious. I hadn’t laughed like that in a long time.

          July 2, 2012
          • jaz #

            I haven’t seen those episodes yet since my sister hasn’t done downloading it but I have read the recap of the 1st part in dramabeans. Their super powers just gets even better…or should I say funnier and even more embarrassing? Gary oppa’s power was indeed hilarious but it was a bit harsh for the PDs to give him such exhausting power! Imagine he has to carry all those balls in a backpack and then he has to pick it all up right after throwing it?! I think Haha’s power was kind of useless in that game. They should have let him be the Time Controller again but even so, I don’t think they would have still won. Park Ji Sung was awesome! How did he learn to play like that?!

            July 2, 2012
    • So Ji Sub and happy endings are an oxymoron? I really don’t expect one with aghast. does anyone really expect one? C’mon, it’s SJS!

      July 2, 2012
    • chihana #

      Hehe, you should watch So Ji Sub in “I am sorry I love you” to actually have heartbreak. I cried the whole morning, my tears just dropped time after time looking at the scenes, never ever watched any drama keep me crying that long and that much tears.

      July 3, 2012
      • newkdramaaddict #

        Everytime I hear a song from the OST, I cry! This was the last melodrama of this type that I watched. Not that it was not good (except for the ending), its too emotionally draining!

        July 3, 2012
    • chihana #

      Talking about crying because of dramas, this video clip about a little girl crying her heart out because of a Philippines drama, can’t stop laughing looking at her, poor little girl :))))) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1c66mOnDmMM

      July 3, 2012
  9. cv #

    I love Ghost also. ^_^ I think it’s one of the better dramas that’s showing now. hahah! That’s my 2 cents and I’m sticking to it.
    But yea, I was surprise Ghost was pretty good–keep you coming back wanting to know what’s going to happen. This is only one of the many dramas that can actually do that.

    As for the phantom of the opera music, LOL, yes it’s cheesy funny but it works in those episodes at the beginning. It’s nice to have some fun in this drama rather then keeping it serious and dark all the time.

    July 4, 2012
  10. I like So Ji Sub in a Police story with LMK (I forgot the name now act in Arang). The title of the drama is Wolves something….But in this drama he maintained to be cold. I love him…. Yes its true Joonni. After watching QIM this is the drama to build the tension of other type of emotions. I trully like this drama. Always make me wonder what’s going to be next. I started this drama after watching QIM. I also tried I Do I Do which also hilarious in some parts. You should watch this also. I like the heroin in most dramas she act. She’s very very good.

    July 4, 2012
  11. sb #

    Hm… I started watching Ghost the other day with my husband. We were looking for something to watch together and he’s not a big rom-com fan. Anyway, 2 “layers” in and I’m not sure if I like the show. Sure, the mystery is intriguing, but like others have mentioned, I find the two leads bland and boring. I’ve never see SJS before, so I don’t know if it’s him or the character. The commentor above who said wrote “cosmic sorrow” face is so right on. Can the man crack a smile or something?

    Surprisingly, DH hasn’t balked yet so I guess we’ll peel a few more layers and see if I can get vested. Otherwise, any recommendation on a drama I could watch with DH, something that’s not romantic comedy?

    July 9, 2012
  12. SakuraDreams #

    I’m hooked on this drama, actually and can’t wait for the final episodes. I agree, though, about the Phantom of the Opera music. It was pretty funny and not menacing at all. I would have liked to see more Daniel Choi, though.

    I’ve written a couple posts about this drama on my page, too. You’re welcome to visit!

    August 8, 2012

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