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First Impressions: “Arang and the Magistrate”

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I finally got a chance to watch the first two episodes of Arang and the Magistrate, and what can I say? I adore it. It’s a wonderful combination of comedy and mystery, and the drama speeds along, not wasting a single scene.


Lee Junki and Shin Mina are perfect for their roles of Eun-oh and Arang, respectively. Eun-oh is a surly, selfish yangban who wears a mask of disinterest to protect himself from a world, and the other-world, that wants too much from him. Arang is a rambunctious, tough, amnesiac ghost who is searching for her identity. Lee Junki and Shin Mina’s chemistry sparkles as they bicker and fight, and sizzles when they get physically close together. I know I am going to be weeping buckets later on in the drama when the angst hits this couple. She’s dead and he’s alive. Can there be a happy conclusion for our dear OTP?

A&M is funny when it wants to be funny and scary when it wants to be scary. The only miss is when it does angst. I laughed when Lee Junki screamed for his mother in the flashback scene. The acting was a little over-the-top there and I think the role of his mother was a miscast. Truth be told, I have some lingering feelings for that actress after watching her play the horrible mother in Can You Hear My Heart?  It’s hard to get over a character that you hated so much. Thus, in A&M, I don’t have any sympathy for her plight, and I don’t care very much for the plot of her disappearance.

I really love this other-world that A&M has built with ghosts, Reapers, and divine beings. The ghosts of A&M are molded from real Korean beliefs and experiences with ghosts, making the world of A&M relatable and believable. Koreans believe that ghosts can sit on people when they sleep so I loved it when Arang sat on Dol-swe in the little shelter in episode one. I also loved seeing Arang and the other ghost fighting each other for food given out to spirits during ancestor rites. I can imagine that as really happening in my world.

My favorite aspect of this drama is actually the soundtrack. It is so well utilized to enhance the mood of a scene, raising the degree of hilarity or eeriness.

Kudos to the costume designers of this drama. I especially love the look of the Reapers with their all black hanboks, with red edges underneath. They look both stately and wild, command respect as well as fear.

I am really surprised by how interesting the Joo-Wal character is. He wears this mask of pleasantness and beauty but we see hints of how truly ugly he is inside. He is a scary to other people but he himself seems to have something he fears. We don’t know if there is something supernatural to that fear yet but the way he keeps worrying about the moon- I want to call him “Wolf Boy.”

It tickles me to the bone that the Jade Emperor and the King of the Underworld are twin brothers, who differ so much in personality and looks. I hope they feature more prominently in the drama later on.

A&M reminds me of Sungkyunkwan Scandal in terms of tone and storytelling. A&M is a drama that is easy to love and digest. The energy of the drama is high and the story is kept close to the center. Both give off trendy-drama vibes; can we dub them the “trendy-sageuks”?

I don’t easily fall in love so I won’t declare love for this drama yet. But it’s taking me there and I have a feeling when that when it does, I’m going to fall hard.

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23 Comments Post a comment
  1. I’m hooked within the first 10min. I call Arang “fiesty girl ghosty”.

    And the size measuring part…totally sizzles with overflowing chemistry.

    MOARRRRRR~~~

    August 20, 2012
  2. Jasmin #

    It’s definitely better then Faith… period! :D

    August 21, 2012
  3. karen #

    Waiting for their sizzling chemistry tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!! Weeeeeeeeeeeee :D

    August 21, 2012
  4. Dee #

    I heard that The Jade Emperor will give arang a chance to be a live so that she can find out the truth about herself, but Dolswe doesnt like arang to be around of Eunoh kkkk it will be more intersting! Since if it is true, that means more skinship! And more jealosy

    August 21, 2012
    • cindy #

      Really? This will be interesting!

      August 21, 2012
      • joonni #

        Really? Hmm…. I can see why they would make that choice. It would make the visual storytelling of the drama much easier but there is a part of me that doesn’t want that to happen.

        August 21, 2012
  5. Reideen #

    Can there be an even cuter/good looking couple! OMG they are the perfect match! They look so damn good! She is gorgeous and he is so handsome!

    August 21, 2012
  6. jaz #

    Ha! The relationship of the Jade Emperor and the King of the Underworld totally cracks me up! I like how they are so opposite with each other in both good and bad ways. While the Underworld King is so uptight yet childish…we get to see the Jade Emperor being nonchalant and flirty! I’m definitely looking forward to seeing them interact more as the drama goes on. :D

    About LJK oppa and SMA unnie’s chemistry…no doubt about that they are sizzling onscreen. keke! However, while LJK is funny when he is being funny, there are times I feel like he tends to overact on some scenes. Nonetheless, A&M is watchable and super zany and I’m hoping that we will get to read recaps of this drama when the time comes that you’re going to fall hard for it…soon! :D

    August 21, 2012
  7. I am loving Arang! It just hits the right spot for me. An that measuring scene in episode 2…I have no idea taking someone’s measurements could be so utterly romantic and seductive!

    August 21, 2012
    • joonni #

      Tell me about it. It reminds me of a scene in the “Last Samurai” where the female character puts the warrior uniform on Tom Cruise. It was the first time that I found a scene to be sexy with people putting clothes on.

      August 21, 2012
  8. nonski #

    yay! i so love this drama already. i hooked! I agree with you, Arang has the funny and the scary and delivers them with effectively. and LJK and SM have impressive chemistry! i love the scene when Eun-oh measures Arang’s dress, awesome! You won’t know the girl was a ghost because the chemistry between the two is just so alive. I am already preparing myself for the worst cryfest when this drama ends. So in love with the OTP already. Here and silently praying that some twist of fate would bring Arang to Eun-oh in the end. *wishing and crosses fingers for the impossible*

    thanks so much joonni for sharing this with us.

    August 21, 2012
    • joonni #

      Crossing fingers to but I am also a fan of a good sobfest.

      August 21, 2012
      • nonski #

        lols me too but i am really for these two… i want to be greedy and have them end up together.

        August 21, 2012
  9. I always have the urge to listen to “Don’t fear the reaper” while watching/reading about the show…

    August 22, 2012
  10. sb #

    I love this drama thus far and I feel like there’s a richer tone that makes everything look prettier and richer, etc versus say Dr. Jin which (aside from the overal quality of the show) looked kind of flat. I think Faith which I like as well also looks a little flat. I never realized these things even mattered to me until it was absent.

    Anyway, I was wondering, I’ve heard “trendy” drama before and I still don’t know what that means. Can you explain Joonni please?

    August 28, 2012
    • joonni #

      As far as I know…the definition of trendy has expanded and changed a bit since its first use to describe a certain type of j-dramas that focused on modern, cosmopolitan life. Now it seems to generally describe dramas that follow a trend of hip storytelling that covers the elements of romance, modernism, and drama.

      I described AatM as trendy because it seems to be a drama targeted for urban people their 20s and 30s, with its high level of energy and modernism despite being a sageuk. It knows what the trend in Korea is right now and is playing to it.

      August 28, 2012
  11. nikureshi #

    Ugh. I’m there with you for that flashback scene of Eun Oh and his mother. And I dont like the mother either. Reminds me of CYHMH as well. Ugh. But! I just found out that she may be linked to the wolf-boy, so I dont think we’ll like her either in this series, so amen to that. LOL.

    August 29, 2012
    • joonni #

      Haha! So the hate continues? LOL.

      August 30, 2012
  12. Dana #

    Love this drama so far! The characters are great, and I love how the mystery deepens so that we keep guessing. Like the freaky, creepy parts, too, which perfectly balances the funny sections. So far, it has held my interest all the way. Tried watching Faith….couldn’t get through the 1st episode…

    August 31, 2012
  13. Vy #

    I love the drama, after a few episodes, everything became unveiled. It’s true that this drama is keeping to its center. I’m afraid that sato himself will have to choose between his mother and Arang at the end and it will break my heart.

    October 6, 2012
  14. Iluvlee #

    I gave it a try… it definitely had some funny scenes but to be honest I couldn’t make it past episode two… I had so much tears in me eyes while watching but that was due to me yawning so much. I was bored out of my mine I swear… It just isn’t the drama for me.

    October 6, 2012
    • joonni #

      I think at this point, I’m just going to wait for it to finish and marathon through it. Objectively, this drama is good but after six episodes, I don’t feel much for the characters so I’m going to wait until it finishes to watch.

      October 7, 2012
  15. waiwai #

    The BEST DRAMA + THE BEST ACTOR …..MUST SEEN DRAMA

    October 7, 2012

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