Drama Recaps
Arang and the Magistrate: Episode 1
by | August 15, 2012 | 137 Comments

Dangnabbit, this show is so silly, and so outrageous, but so my kind of thing. I mean, you have to go in knowing it’s balls-out insane. There are ghosts and reapers and kings of heaven and hell. But if you can buy into the mythology (or actively love worlds with dense mythologies like I do) then you’re in for a lot of fun.

It’s a comedy first and foremost, because despite the fantasy-fusion sageuk monikers, tonally this is a broad comedy. The subject matter might be ghostly, but the telling is comedic—everything’s told with a wink and nod, in broad humorous strokes. It’s not subtle, but damn if it isn’t laugh-out-loud funny.

Arang and the Magistrate premiered to 13.3% ratings against juggernaut Gaksital at 19.4%, and To the Beautiful You brought in the rear at 7.3%.


Arang and the Magistrate OST – “환상” (Fantasy) by Jang Jae-in [ Download ]

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We open with a crawl that explains that the walls that divide this life and the next have broken down, allowing ghosts to walk among us. Ghosts can see people; people cannot see ghosts.

But there is one man who can see them, and he is headed to Miryang, in search of his mother who disappeared three years ago.

That’d be EUN-OH (Lee Jun-ki), falling asleep in model-pose on a mossy rock, while his servant DOL-SWE stops for a potty break. He complains that his master was supposed to be a lookout for ghosts, but fell asleep on the job.

He sighs that he can’t get mad at master for things he doesn’t know how to do, like say “I’m sorry,” “Thank you,” or “I love you.” Eun-oh scoffs that those are things that serve no useful purpose in life. He looks up at the sky and predicts a storm…

Elsewhere in the woods, ARANG (Shin Mina) chases after someone or something, annoyed that they’ve been living and eating all this time thanks to her, and now they’ve run off.

She ties her hair back, hikes up her skirt, and leaps over giant boulders as she races through the woods.

A caravan passes through on the road, and suddenly ghosts appear out of thin air, behind the trees. Ah, it’s a gang of ghost-bandits, eyeing the caravan. One of the ghost minions worries that they can’t pull this off without Arang, but the leader tells them they’re going without her.

They sneak attack, which is easy considering they’re invisible—they do that creepy ghost thing of jumping onto people’s backs, *shudder* and suddenly people are choking and going down.

The rest of the gang gets ready to join in, when Arang jumps right in their path, fuming. They cower in fear, which is kind of awesome. The leader tries to pretend like they were waiting for her, only to get a fistful of Arang in his jaw.

She’s about to teach them all a lesson in manners, when something catches her ghostly attention. She looks up…

A giant net falls from the sky and the ghosts all scramble in terror. It traps three of the ghosts, who freeze on the spot. And then four grim reapers alight from the sky, on a hunting spree.

Okay, these guys are badass. They hunt with mystical ropes and canes, all of which do the same thing—suck in the ghosts, making them disappear. One in particular—MU YOUNG (Han Jung-soo)—zeroes in on Arang and she flees for her life. Er, un-life. Yunno.

Eun-oh and Dol-swe make their way through the increasingly creepy woods, and Dol-swe whines that they say this mountain is particularly crawling with ghosties. Eun-oh sighs, “There’s no such thing as ghosts!”

He whimpers: is master sure about Miryang being the last place that his mother was seen? Because there are rumors about that town, and about how every magistrate who goes there ends up dead…

Eun-oh hears a rustle behind him and stops. Dol-swe tenses up, and Eun-oh points to his shoulder, “A ghost…behind you!” Dol-swe freaks out and Eun-oh laughs at his own joke. Only, when he looks up, there’s Arang running full speed, straight for him.

He can see her and the reaper, and it’s clearly not the first time he’s seen otherworldly creatures. His hand tenses up and he looks straight ahead as she runs past him. The reaper’s cane comes flying past his face next, knocking Arang down.

Eun-oh braces himself and walks past them, not letting on that he can see.

Mu-young towers over Arang, and she asks what the head grim reaper is doing chasing after one measly ghost—or perhaps he shouldn’t have lost her in the Hades River in the first place.

He calls her by name and sighs, more like a parent with a wayward child than anything, and explains that he’ll have to pay for his mistakes too. But she must follow the laws of death. I do enjoy how calm and stately he is.

She scoffs that the thirsty dig wells—that is the law too, and takes a step back in defiance. He takes out his red rope…

She reaches under her clothes and asks, “You like peach flowers, don’t you?” and throws a handful of flower petals at him. He winces and covers his face, and the petals cut his hand.

When he looks back up, she’s gone. He screams, “ARANG!” It’s no Gaksitaaaal, but maybe we’ll get a few more As in there as he gets angrier.

Eun-oh hears the cry and shakes it off, as it starts to pour rain. They run inside an abandoned house to stay for the night.

Meanwhile Arang runs away, getting rained on too. She opens her hand, scarred by the peachtree petals, and the wounds heal over. She shouts up into the sky at the King of Heaven: You think you’re all that?!

And then up in the bridge between heaven and hell, the Great Jade Emperor (Yoo Seung-ho) scratches his ear, “Someone must be cursing my name.” HA.

He sits playing badook with his twin brother, King of the Underworld (Park Joon-kyu), who is single-mindedly obsessed with winning the game. The King of Heaven is much more interested in the angel? fairy? who brings him his tea and peaches. He smiles and compliments her new hairdo.

The fairy deadpans that she’s had the same hair yesterday, the day before, and for about a thousand years. Ha, King of Heaven got no game?

Hades snaps that it’s his turn, posturing that it won’t matter because he’s already won. Jade takes one look at the board and plops his piece down (I love that the badook board is water) and Hades gasps in horror.

Jade: “Oh. Oh, no, no… I’m sorry. I wasn’t really planning on winning this round!” Hahahaha. The king of heaven is a playboy AND an ass? I love it.

Hades fumes impotently and Jade quickly changes the subject, wondering if Mu-young caught “that child” by now. He saunters into heaven, leaving his brother screaming in rage on the bridge.

Heaven is predictably a garden of paradise, and the Jade Emperor talks to his goat, sighing that he really didn’t mean to win, it’s just that Hades tends to calculate every little thing, “And there are so many things in this world that do not go according to calculations, aren’t there?”

He waters the flowers growing from the goat’s back, as we cut to Earth, and the forest being doused in rain (nice touch). Arang runs under a tree and plucks a leaf to use as an umbrella, which makes me miss Gumiho.

As Dol-swe sleeps, Eun-ho tends to the fire and stays up thinking about his mother. We flashback to their last parting, when he argued that he wanted to live with her. She yelled at him not to be foolish—if he lives with her, he’s the son of a slave, and if he lives with his father, he’s a nobleman’s son.

He counters that it’s all meaningless and he’s neither one nor the other, so he’ll just live the way he wants, and be with Mom. She says it’s all “that person’s” fault, and when Eun-oh pleads and cries, she slaps him and tells him to go.

He leaves in a fit of anger, and when he returns the next day, she’s gone.

Back in the present, his brooding session gets cut short when Arang ducks into the house to get out of the rain. She passes through the wall and sits down by the fire, complaining that being a ghost doesn’t even stop her from getting rained on.

She sighs that other than not getting cold, there’s pretty much nothing different from being alive. Eun-oh tells himself not to let her see that he can see her, which doesn’t even occur to her as a possibility until she starts undressing by the fire.

His eyes grow wide and his mouth hangs open. Their gazes lock for a split second, and she quickly covers back up, “Can you… see me?” He answers her in his head: “I can’t see you!”

She waves her hand back and forth and then gets thisclose to his face, as he tenses up and tries desperately not to move. “Can you see me?”

Close-up on his eyes, with Arang’s face looming in his pupils. Heh. I like this director.

He doesn’t move so she raises her finger, and pokes him in the face, and the ghost-to-human contact gives off a blue glow. He tells himself in his head to hold it together because this could get really annoying if she finds out…

She gets nothing so this time she purses her lips, and starts blowing on his face… uh-oh he looks like he’s going to cave…

But Dol-swe snores loudly, breaking the moment, and Eun-oh internally sighs in relief. Annoyed, Arang sits on top of Dol-swe to shut him up. She sighs that there’s no way he’d be able to see her anyway, and wonders what his story is.

She sighs that it can’t be anything compared to hers, and then perks up, “Do you want to hear my story?” Eun-oh (in his head): “Damnit. Don’t tell me! I can’t hear you!”

This cracks me up. She has no one to talk to so she’s just talking aloud to herself and pretending he can hear her, while he’s desperate not to hear her sob story, but can’t let on that he hears her.

She tells him how she just woke up one day and she was being led by a grim reaper. Flashback to the moment she first woke up as a ghost, as the reaper walks her through the woods toward the river, tied up with his red rope.

But suddenly the rope comes undone, and she bolts in the other direction, the reaper none the wiser.

Back in the present, she sighs that it’s all so weird—she doesn’t remember who she was, or how she died. She looks up toward the sky and says that it’s all that Jade Emperor’s fault; she knows it. She grumbles, calling him an old fogey.

Ha, clearly you have not met His Hotness in person. Perhaps if the king of heaven advertised his face a little more widely, there would be fewer ghosts reluctant to cross over. Just sayin’.

She sighs that it’s too bad he can’t hear her, because she’d really like to ask for his help. That’s Eun-oh’s cue to yawn and go to bed. He’s had his fill of talky ghosts and their ridiculous requests. No more of that for him.

She pouts that he’s going to bed already, and then lies down next to him to go to sleep. Eun-oh squirms, wondering what is wrong with this ghost, while she just stares at his pretty face and smiles.

Her hand falls on his shoulder as she falls asleep, and he shivers from the cold. He turns over and then they sleep like that, side by side.

When he wakes up in the morning, she’s gone, and he laughs to himself. They head out in good spirits and arrive at Miryang.

When they get down to the marketplace, a procession literally stops traffic, just for one man—Nobleman Choi, whom Dol-swe describes as Miryang’s king (head honcho, not a literal royal). In the absence of a magistrate in this town, he pretty much is the law around here.

Trailing behind Dad is JOO-WAL (Yeon Woo-jin), who gets all the attention of the girls. Eun-oh watches as a townsperson pleads a grievance before Choi, who has him beaten for his trouble.

Eun-oh: “Dol-swe-ya, you know me, right? When I see injustice…” Dol-swe: “You just endure it.” Hahaha. That’s not heroic at all!

The man goes to Joo-wal to plead with the young master for help, and when the men move to beat him again, Joo-wal stops them. He gives the man a chilling glare and tells him to go, and he flees. Hm. Is he being kind or is he really scary?

Dol-swe says that they’re building a palace annex here, and on top of the river at that. It’s causing a lot of grief for the people working on the project, and citizens are getting ripped off in taxes to pay for it, and Eun-oh just wonders how Dol-swe always knows what’s going on.

Dol-swe suggests that his master should take some interest in the people as well, but Eun-oh argues that it’s not like he can do anything about it if he knows, and Dol-swe just sighs, used to his master’s jaded ways.

Eun-oh suddenly tells him to go on ahead without him, and slips away mysteriously. He heads back, darting through side streets with purpose, and then he suddenly turns, “Why are you following me?”

A group of ghosts jumps back, and an old man in the group says they’ve heard he can see them. He has a request concerning his daughter, and falls to his knees before Eun-oh to ask for his help.

But Eun-oh turns away coldly, “Get lost. It’s none of my concern.”

He walks away and the ghosts vanish. And then we see that Arang has been watching the whole exchange. Nice. She doesn’t seem surprised to get confirmation on her hunch, and scowls, “You’d trick a ghost?”

Eun-oh stops to ask a local innkeeper about his mother, and she remembers her staying the night here, but not where she was headed. He turns to go and suddenly whirls back and grabs a wrist… it’s Arang’s.

Startled, she asks if he can actually touch her too, not just see her. He belatedly recognizes her from last night and asks annoyed, “Are you following me?”

She wonders if he’s searching for someone—is it a woman? His mom? He glares at her, and she beams, “It is! Your face is totally I-lost-my-mom-face.” Haha. He leans in and threatens, “Wanna die?” She shrinks back at his reaction, but then remembers, “I’m already dead.”

He tells her to get lost but she trails behind him, admitting that she gets it—he probably gets a lot of ghosts asking him for favors and it’s probably really annoying. Eun-oh: “If you know, then get lost.”

Arang: “Still, we did sleep together…” That stops him in his tracks.

He blusters that they did no such thing, but she just gets closer, “Didn’t we sleep together, last night? Well, you know, it’s not like you have to erect the Great Wall every time, to say you’ve slept together.” Saucy!

She starts to tell him her story again and he sighs that he heard it the first time. She says it’s simple: she just wants to know who she is.

She clearly won’t listen to his verbal threats, so Eun-oh reaches into his sleeve as a last resort, and produces a handful of red beans. They make Arang shrink back in fear.

He says he doesn’t usually do this, but he reserves them for those especially pesky ghosts, and winds up for the pitch…

She ducks and he throws, missing her on purpose. He laughs, but then threatens that next time he’ll do it for real. She shouts after him angrily what’s the big deal about finding out a few letters—a person’s name.

He tells her to go ask the local government for that, and she says she would, but there’s no magistrate in this town. Eun-oh says that isn’t his concern either—he’s not a magistrate.

Arang: “Then if you do become the magistrate, will you do it?” He scoffs, “If I become the magistrate? Sure. If I become the magistrate, I’ll help you.” He walks away, thinking he’s finally got her off his back. But she smiles devilishly, “You promised…”

Joo-wal goes to see his father, who yells at him for interfering in the marketplace and showing mercy. Joo-wal says he was merely in a hurry to get on his way. Their relationship seems chilly at best.

They argue passive-aggressively about needing to find “her” and that time is running out. Hm, everybody’s looking for somebody in this drama.

Next we meet shaman BANG-WOOL, who gets called out for being a quack about two minutes into a reading, and has to refund her customer’s money. So… not so much with the seeing then.

But she does hear, and when Arang pops by for a visit, Bang-wool wails that she promised she wouldn’t come back. Arang says she needs a favor…

In the government office, we meet the Trio Lee-bang, Hyung-bang and Ye-bang. They’re an idiot trio, but also the only ones left to run the government office, in the absence of a magistrate. They wail that they’ll never fill the position in two days’ time.

But as luck would have it (or a devious ghost), Bang-wool comes to see them to say that she had a vision of someone who could be the new magistrate. They immediately perk up.

They find Eun-oh, and… knock him unconscious? Wait, are you seriously kidnapping the man so you can force him to be your magistrate? Hahaha.

They figure it’s just to fulfill the royal mandate since he’s sure to die anyway like all the magistrates before him, and carry him away in a sack as Arang watches from the rooftop, snickering that one shouldn’t make promises so lightly.

What’s been happening is that the magistrates in this town keep dying, on the first night they take office. Interesting. The local legend is that a ghost haunts and kills them.

The idiot trio just figures they’ll have done their jobs if they put a magistrate in office and well, they can’t help it if he dies like all the others. As soon as they put him in the room, they wonder what kind of coffin they ought to buy, and Lee-bang tells them to go with the cheapest. Heh.

Eun-oh wakes up in a nice bed… hog-tied. Lee-bang calls him “Magistrate” and tells him to get his rest and then flees. The candles starts to flicker, and Eun-oh just tells the local magistrate-hauntin’ ghost to get her ass out here, because he doesn’t have time for hide-and-seek.

Arang floats in upside-down, which hardly impresses Eun-oh. He rolls his eyes and tells her to get right-side-up or he’ll yank her by the hair. She rethinks her strategy and stands up.

She puts on her best aegyo voice and reminds him that he’s the one who promised that he’d help her if he became the magistrate. He orders her to untie him and tells her to stop with the voice that makes his skin crawl.

She pulls her hair to one side and says he’s not her style, but she was told to act this way to get what she wants. Eun-oh: “So when that didn’t work, is that when you killed them—all those innocent magistrates?”

She pouts and sighs that she feels really wronged on that account. Flashback shows us that in an attempt to be seen by the magistrates who can’t see ghosts, she took an herb that makes her visible to humans.

She visited the first magistrate, who was so shocked at her ghostly presence that he had a heart attack and dropped dead on the spot. Ha. She wondered if it was her ragged appearance, so for the second magistrate she did her best to appear pretty, except she only had half the herb to take…

…resulting in a top-half-only-Arang that made Number 2 drop dead. Number 3 was a warrior who called her out… but dropped dead as soon as he saw bottom-half-only-Arang.

She sighs that it wasn’t her fault, and she doesn’t know why they keep putting such weak-hearted old men in the position anyway. Eun-oh growls at her to stop with the aegyo voice and tells her that she wasted her time with him. He only listens to the living.

She cries that they’re both alike—he lost his mother, and she lost her parents. She wants to find out who she was so she can say a proper goodbye to her mother and father. She sheds tears, and he turns around…

But he snaps at her to get lost, and she immediately stops the fake tears. Heh. He scoffs that she doesn’t even remember who she was—what would she know about mothers and fathers? She leaves in a huff.

Joo-wal takes a walk in the moonlight, and lurches at the conversation between three girls who pass by. They talk about this moon being a yoon-dal, a rotted moon, and legend has it that it’s a time when heaven loses its grasp on the dead, and the dead (particularly missing girls) roam among them, no one knowing if they are dead or alive.

He’s clearly jumpy about this yoon-dal, and he strokes a giant black ring on his finger as he watches them go.

In the morning, the trio hauls a casket in to pick up the magistrate (ha), only now a little sorry that they picked a man so young with his whole life ahead. Oh, you’re only sorry NOW? Lee-bang carefully unlocks the room…

Eun-oh bursts out and scares the living daylights out of them, and starts beating heads.

Dol-swe races through town at the news and comes bursting in to ask if his master is okay, screaming that the three of them messed with the wrong person. The cowering trio ask who Eun-oh is, and when Dol-swe names his rich and powerful father, they cry, “Forgive us, young master!”

Arang eats with Bang-wool and complains that she did everything the shaman told her—she shed tears and played coy, but nothing. Bang-wool: “That can only mean one thing… you’re a very ugly woman!” HAHAHAHA. Because she can’t see her! Lol.

Bang-wool asks why she didn’t say so in the first place, but Arang says she didn’t know—she can’t see herself either, so there’s no way of knowing. They both sigh. Bang-wool says the only thing to do is to put on makeup and pretty clothes, to at least help her along.

Arang wonders where she’ll get such nice things though—ghosts can only have things that people give them. Then she realizes that Bang-wool could do the giving, only the shaman balks that she has no such money. Arang: “Oh, money? Is that what you’re worried about?”

Commence burglary spree. Bang-wool worries that she’ll end up in jail but Arang assures her that there’s no way to get caught with a ghost as your lookout, and promises her that she’ll stop haunting her if she does this one thing.

They grab the items they need and are almost free and clear… when Bang-wool walks straight into two policemen and drops her stash, as the merchants start screaming that there’s a thief. Uh…

She takes off running, but is quickly cornered. With no other way to save her, Arang starts beating up the people around Bang-wool to give her an exit. Eun-oh and Dol-swe happen upon the scene and Dol-swe laughs, because it looks like people are just falling all over themselves.

Eun-oh just tsk-tsks and goes on his way. But he notes that other ghosts start popping up near the scene in worry—Arang is making too much of a fuss, and they’ll never go undetected now.

Sure enough, the four grim reapers fly down from the sky and land with ominous purpose. They split up to capture ghosts left and right, while Mu-young goes straight for Arang.

She sees him coming and takes off, running past Eun-oh on the street. It’s then that he sees it—the pin in her hair—his mother’s, the one he gave her. It’s his first clue, and she’s about to get zapped by a reaper.

They zoom past him, and he takes a horse. He races into the woods on their trail, and then overtakes the reaper, and races toward Arang.

He reaches down and scoops her up onto the horse, and she looks at him in surprise.


Wow, that was a lot packed into one episode. It was a bit of intro-intro-intro where some characters just zoomed by, but I loved how quickly the hour went. I suppose it helps that everything is written for the funny, so despite cursory introductions to some characters, I’m interested in a good number of them, and already firmly with the leads. Arang is a great heroine, who sure, doesn’t stray too far from gumiho terrirtory, but she seems different enough that I’m not seeing her as Gumiho. Just a brassy ghost who kinda rocks my socks off.

I do like that Eun-oh is a slacker and a bit of a selfish prick, but is driven when things matter to him. The big arc for him will obviously be in getting him to care about other people, dead or alive, and for him to start giving a crap about the plight of those less fortunate than he is. I expected him to just come to town as the new magistrate, so when we meet him as such an I-couldn’t-care-less-about-you nobleman who gets kidnapped into office, I died laughing and already can’t wait for him to get his comeuppance.

The tragic mom backstory mostly made me cringe because the sequence felt shoehorned in and therefore really terribly acted—sudden melodrama dialed up to nine—whereas the everyday comical stuff is great. The comedic tone supports overacting, because the two things match tonally, but if they stay on that same dial when it’s drama, it makes me laugh in the way it’s not intending to. Hopefully those shifts get ironed out, because it makes the actors seem way over-the-top.

This drama’s strengths lie in the funny and in the visuals—it’s a colorful, animated, visually-arresting world, and I love (love, love) that everything is told visually. I think the writing can actually take it down a notch with the over-explainy dialogue because it should rest more on the visual storytelling. Seriously—you could watch this without sound and know exactly what’s going on. I hope they learn to trust that and really lean on the show’s strengths rather than overdoing everything.

I already love the chemistry and the relationship between Arang and Eun-oh, and I could pretty much watch the kings of heaven and hell play badook all day long. The reapers are awesome—badass and sufficiently frightening, but really intriguing too. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this world that feels lived-in and thought-out, and delivers on the funny. Myths and laughs—my two favorite things. It’s certainly enough to hook me, and I hope that the story follows suit. It’ll be nice to spend some time with these fantastic characters when they’re not expositing their entire life stories at me, and just being their hilarious selves in this rich and interesting world. Fingers crossed!


137 Comments from the Beanut Gallery
  1. stars4u

    Love love love

    • 1.1 Shin Haido

      oh yeahhhh i love this one tooo… can’t wait for more episodes to comee aw..aw..aw… >____<

  2. Corn Tea

    so good

  3. Quiet Thought

    OMIGOD . . . SHIN MINA is the MOST BEAUTIFUL ghost in the KNOWN UNIVERSE!!!!

    Okay, we can start the comments from that premise.

  4. Quiet Thought

    Lee Min Ki is obviously enjoying the hell out of himself, as is the rest of the cast. My only gripe is that the show’s production looks cheap here and there. Pretty sure I saw an asphalt parking lot next to the Joseon village, and reinforced concrete footings holding up the porches suggest that this was shot in a tourist trap.

    Also, it bugs me whenever I see someone who is allegedly travelling through the woods to get somewhere and it is patently obvious that they are walking around a well-groomed park, with no road or trail or underbrush in sight. I could do better than that shooting home video.

    • 4.1 meecheellee

      Aha! So I’m not the only one who noticed, hehe. I was staring at the staring scenes that are in the woods and then I was like… this is a pretty neat/tidy lookin’ park you guys have there in Miryang. (;

      • 4.1.1 Quiet Thought

        Heh . . . Typical scene from a cheatp American, Australian, or Chinese TV series: “I have traveled many days on these roads to find you, Beastmaster” . . . “No, lady, you’re wearing an immaculate, flowing ankle length gown, walking daintley across carefully trimmed park grass, no pack or bag, no trail in sight, and you are obviously no more than a few seconds away from your make-up and hairdressing team.”

    • 4.2 Jewel

      What’s the name you described?? Don’t destroy this great production with such cheap reasons!!

    • 4.3 Shin Haido

      Lee Min Ki? isn’t it Lee Jun Ki?

    • 4.4 oramylove

      hi there! its not lee min ki but Lee Jun Ki…

      • 4.4.1 Quiet Thought

        Okay, I admit I wasn’t paying that much attention to the guy in the scene . . .

    • 4.5 janet

      It’s not exactly a tourist trap, although I’m sure tourists come by often to ogle the drama sets. There is a specific area made to look like a Joseon village that basically acts as a drama set located a few hours outside Seoul. There is a parking lot pretty close by and stuff.

      It’s not really possible to go film this in an authentic village with absolutely no signs of modern civilization around, since you need some way to transport all the film equipment and extras and stuff.

      I can kinda understand why they’d want to keep costs down, though – I was there as an extra for a day, from about 4am to 7pm, and while I was there they shot the whole time but the results of that day ended up only being like maybe 10 minutes of the first episode. After paying the actors and extras, I can see how costs could add up really quickly. Of course, that’s not an excuse for not paying attention to things like what you mentioned, but I’m just giving another perspective.

      • 4.5.1 sam

        agreed. i’ve been that tourist and seen lots of filming sites. not all of them are film lots, some of them are actual national parks, forests, etc.

        with the rise of kdramas and hallywuwood, they’ve had to build these film lots with the pretty parking lots. not all them are in seoul. we travelled once/twice 4 hours south by bus to a filming lot to meet a star. the next day, apparently the star was back in seoul filming somewhere else. that’s a hard life. that’s why they constantly get into traffic accidents speeding on those highways to the next gig. everyone is in a hurry.

        and they sometimes do have 30 to 50 people sitting extras sitting around waiting their turn for a 2 minute shot, so convenience is a huge factor in saving costs, and getting that episode to you the next week. they film 18-20 hours a day. this is not north america and there are unions….. so if you really want your dramas: quick, fast, on time for tomorrow’s viewing, expect them to randomly have a set blooper.

      • 4.5.2 jyyjc

        You were an extra there O__O

        • Kiara

          Lucky girl :).

          • janet

            yup, haha. i’m in the scene where the noble and his son come out in the market, but i look absolutely terrible, lol. slicked back hair is not a flattering look. 🙁

            @sam: yup, that’s pretty much what happened to me – they called me out at 1am, and I didn’t get back home until 9pm that day. I spent a ridiculous amount of time just sitting around, but it was out of the city, so you can’t just leave after you’re done with your scene, which by itself can take foreverrrr… I got a really ridiculous forehead tan that day 😛

          • Shin Haido

            yes, she’s lucky… reading this make me appreciate them so much. it’s not easy to life like that. salut to you 😉

      • 4.5.3 Dix

        That sounds so inefficient. Why does it take so long to shoot a 10mins scene?

        They seem ahead of schedule though since Ep2 has preview for next week. When did you shoot your scene?

        • Korazy Lady

          It’s pretty common for shoots to take that long. My daughter was in a commercial when she was 15 so I had to accompany her to the shoot. I could not believe how many hours they spent on a school hallway scene, no talking, just kids coming out of class, for what was literally a blink of the eye in the commercial.

        • janet

          I shot my scene about two-three months ago, so yup they’re ahead of schedule, although with the time it takes to shoot a scene who knows how long that’ll last…

          In my case, it was because we had many many retakes of a shot, and a lot of finicky details to deal with, like who goes where at what timing with who else. The director or casting director pretty much has to tell every person in the scene where to go and he signals them for every take. If he doesn’t like how someone walks, if he thinks it seems unnatural – retake. With the village scenes where there are a lot of extras, there’s a much higher chance of someone messing up. There’s also the expected flubs from the actors that mess up their lines. We also had to stop for planes passing by overhead, which happened rather frequently. There’s also daylight to consider, since lighting should be consistent through a scene (and probably why you’ll see weird lighting changes in dramas pressed for time), so if you’re filming an early morning scene and don’t get it right before afternoon, you have to push it back another day. And those fancy shots where you have multiple camera angles? Those have to be shot several times, making sure it syncs to audio and action of the previous angles.

          I would never want to be a director…

      • 4.5.4 Gom

        I got all giddy and excited when I read the word extra. EXTRA? ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I would’ve palpitated right then and there. That is so awesome!

  5. Dee

    Make my place first, then runaway to read it!

  6. Marni

    So so so cute! Arang and Eun oh cracked me up!

  7. Rashell

    Ohhh, I love this “fantasy” kick that is happening in Kdrama land. My first impression of this drama is that it simply LOOKS beautiful. It’s colorful and rich scenery are amazing. And the banter between the two leads is fun and fresh. It doesn’t hurt that they are both stunning to look at as well. The two “Gods” are fabulous already, and I can’t wait to see more of them. The reapers are creepy, but not evil which I like.

    I agree that this drama is best when it’s funny and not trying to be “serious”. I’m definitely in for the next episode.

    Thanks GF for the re-cap.

    • 7.1 Kayleigh

      You’re right! I’d like to think when we all look back on 2012, we’ll remember it as the year of the fusion Sageuk and argue over which was the best of the lot (good luck Arang and the Magistrate).

  8. nostalgic noodles

    I watched this episode and then re-watched it. Totally have to agree that everything is just so pretty and visually awesome. I can’t wait to learn more about this world.

    So much funny in this one episode. Can’t wait for the next one!


  9. Miss D

    I love Shin Mina! My girlfriend is a gumiho is totally one of my favorite dramas! I also saw a Love to Kill, and while it…uhm…had quite an interesting ending, her acting is still phenomenal. I hope this show is just as good…FIGHTING!

  10. 10 Stardust

    I LOOOOVE this new drama! It captured me in a way Faith sadly didn’t ( despite LMH ) …

    The characters are beautifully written, and LJK’s reluctant Haley Joel is just so funny. And the hero is wrote as such so that there will be room for character development for the future, when he will be a more willing and helpful magistrate for the living, and the dead.

    Shin Min Ah is really adorable, and this role is different from the Nine tailed fox because she is a ghost, and she is not all powerful, she has human ‘friends’.

    It tickles me that the all powerful reapers have to chase the ghosts ON FOOT. HAHHAHA The ghosts also run, instead of fly, so there is no weird gravity defying flying all around which is very refreshing.

    Thank you girlfriday! So grateful that you and javabeans keep churning out these new recaps, despite still having the old ones like Gaksital to write up. We LOVE YOU all, dear recappers!!

    • 10.1 Stardust

      I forgot to say that I really like the chemistry between Arang and Eun oh ♥♥♥

    • 10.2 Betty

      “I LOOOOVE this new drama! It captured me in a way Faith sadly didn’t ( despite LMH ) …”

      Yeah same here. I loved Arang from the start and it got me hooked from the begining but for Faith it’s different, it’s almost like I want to force myself to like it loll

      • 10.2.1 Stardust

        Hi Betty,

        we will have new ep tonight! YAAAY! =D

        • Betty

          YAYYYY!!! Moooooore of this please!!!!!!!

  11. 11 Dara


  12. 12 WoW

    This piques my interest A LOT, but there’s something in me that secretly hopes Gaksittaaaaalll will still rule in the rating games ^^ Well, that aside, 13+% for Arang’s first episode is pretty impressive no? Love leejunki and shinmina’s overflowing chemstry!! 😀

    • 12.1 red

      I loved this so much and I am one of thoes die hard Lee Jun Ki fans, I remember being on the verge of tears when Jun Ki was drafted lol.

      But I hope that Gakistal holds and increases in ratings through to the end of its run. It deserves it, and they lose can’t even sell it to Japan.

      But Joo Won and JunKi are two of my favourite korean actors and there are only 4 on that list.

  13. 13 Brittni

    I like that he can touch her because that will really heat up the romance and make things harder for him when he finally falls for her ( which we know he will ) I was curious about the whole loving a ghost thing since it seemed far fetched but if he can see her, hear her and touch her then in his mind shes pretty much real. He could technically go on his whole life pretending she’s alive. So I think that will add an interesting element into it when he will eventually have to give her up since she’s ya’know dead.

  14. 14 ilikemangos

    WOO! it’s here!
    Thanks GF for the fast recap, considering there’s so much you guys are recapping!
    this is gonna be such a nice show to watch alongside gaksital. takes away the heavy.
    off to watch it at viki! 🙂

  15. 15 Maya

    Thanks GF, reading the first 3 paragraphs of your recap made me want to start watching this show sooo much, but I guess I’m going to put this on the back burner due to Gaksital. Definitely will watch it from Friday onwards.

  16. 16 shirubang

    AHH! i’m so tempted to read this!

  17. 17 Lizzie

    LOL we had Gaksittaaaaalll

    Now we also have Araaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang

    • 17.1 dany

      I love both shows, too.

  18. 18 Kiara

    First , thank you so much GF :).

    Lee Jun-ki you still have in you man <333333333.

  19. 19 noonajumma

    New drama crack. Rehab delayed.


    • 19.1 Kiara

      Haha same here.

    • 19.2 green panda

      lol I feel you..right before school too. aish.

    • 19.3 Ladytron33

      HAHAHA! I was starting to feel withdrawl symptoms thanks to the forced Olympics break. The anticipation every week for this and Answer me 1997 is going to kill me.

  20. 20 slfowie

    I am waiting for it to be subbed because it seems this show rocks!
    Thankx so much for the recap!

    • 20.1 PhoenixFan

      Hulu has subs that have upped the silliness – the grim reapers aren’t translated as reapers, they’re called . . ., well, who ya gonna call, ghost busters!
      Now I’m waiting for an Eun-oh sub to say “I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”
      And maybe some pink slime.

  21. 21 Noemi

    thanks GF! So excited to watch this!

  22. 22 ilwoo_aein

    Great drama! It reminds me of ‘my Girlfriend is Gumiho’ which is my favorite drama all the time..Look forward to watch the next episode ^^

  23. 23 Dee

    Yes, you are right, it doesn’t need to do much, even watching it Raw, but the visual technical of story telling made me understand the whole story!!! And yes, My Lee Joongi has cone back!!! Two years more in waiting is worth it!

    I love everything in this drama, every thing, the music background, the Red epic camera effect, the Gods who look so adorable each other, and mist of all the OTP! They just superb!

    Thank you for the recap^^♡

  24. 24 Mar

    Lovely, lovely visuals, strong acting, and good flow. I was concerned about the pairing. LJK has such a delicate impish face. The two leads, to me, are not the best fit physically together when looking at them together, but it is going to work for me after seeing them act together. I knew Shin Mina would bring “it” to her role, but I’ve only seen My Girl and part of The King and The Clown-I liked Lee Jun-ki in both, and he’s got a whole lot of pretty in that sweet face, but he was not a known quality to me really. And it is hard to look hot or manly in the pretty clothes. (The only one that ever did it for me in the hanbok and top knot was Park Yoochun in SS. It was the shoulders, and well, things) Anyway, back to AATM, LJK had me when he started crying when speaking with his mother. And he’s really good with the physicality of the role.

    I do agree with Quiet Thoughts post, there is a little bit of sloppy in the filming, as she mentions with the asphalt and the concrete.

    I noticed when checking for subs that this drama is not getting the sub love or fan attention that Faith and To The Beautiful You is getting. What a shame. I am liking Faith, but based on this first episode, AATM is going to be a fun ride too. The first episode was so fun it scares me, because halfway through stuff that starts out so fun, you are generally ready to hurl half way through. I’m still getting on the ride lol. Putting my hands in the air and yelling woooooo!

    • 24.1 Dee

      Ckckckc…. He can be the prettiest man and the most HOT guy easily! You had never seen him being so damn HOT??? Go to watch Time between wolf and dog! In that drama, i saw the most Hot guy ever in Kdramaland, even Lee min ho cant beat him! (sorry, i am Lee Joongi BIAS!)

      • 24.1.1 houstontwin

        Yes, he was so so handsome in Wolf and Dog. I was just thinking that his face, post military, has regained that manly lean quality that he had back then.

    • 24.2 mtoh

      I never had doubt about SMinah and LJK acting, I knew they’ll bring all. But mostly two good, dreamed actor/actress don’t have expected chemistry. Here, stars have line up and we have beauty and deliver acting.
      LJK change his voice as he change his face and SM is looking cute like she was in MGIAG. They’re really bring it.

  25. 25 cv

    Thanks for the recap GF! I really like this first ep of Arang and the Magistrate. Great introduction to the characters–fun, light, dark, storyline so far so good and love the visual of the drama.
    I love the shot of the chase between Arang and the reaper in the woods. No shaking equal no headache for me =awsome–was intense–wanted her to escape. lol

    I’m liking Arang very much. I hope it stays this way.

  26. 26 crazedlu

    totally get what you said about the stunted melo scenes with the overdramatics. lol-ed while watching. haha. yes, i do hope they work on that.

    otherwise, i’m LOVING what i see so far.

    yoo seungho… never leave. =D!!

  27. 27 Aliiiiiiiice

    Yayyyyyyyyy! Awesome recap!

    I love all the main and supporting characters! Big win! Super excited and happy about this one!

    I do agree on the mom backstory. There was just so much to cram in that they unfortunately didn’t take their time to really honor that.

    That said, the worlds are beautiful, interesting and wonderfully arresting.

    MUYONG. WHO is HE? Vereee intrigued. He seems so sad. And tired. I wonder what he did. And if he’s somehow tied to Arang when she was a living being. With all the other ghosties, it’s all business, but there’s definitely a note of real regret every time he comes face to face with Arang. Was he somehow related to the reason she died? Does he know something? Can’t wait to find out!

    And the dude with the black ring. CAN he see ghosties, too? Obvs he’s tied to Arang in some way and is looking for her. Why else would he be so interested in hearing the girls talk about the rotted moon and the young girl ghosties walking around among the living? Does the ring give him power? Is he half alive, half dead? Some magical spell action going on? Some vow he made during a near death experience?

    This feels a lot like a fantasy manhwa — with quicker pacing — in a good way.

    Kyaaaaaaah. I wish they’d make a sugary breakfast cereal based off this premise. With peach yogurt coated bits in the shape of peach blossoms and rice flakes in a rainbow of hi-definition colors. That would totally rock my mornings.

  28. 28 zack32

    what an opening! way better than Faith. will definitely looking for next episode!

  29. 29 foolishdrjin

    i luff this drama…

  30. 30 dls

    Thanks for the recap! Ep1 hooked me in, so I’m on board with Arang and Eun Oh. They have great chemistry, and the story is just so funny.

  31. 31 racheose

    dol swe.. sounds familiar lol isn’t swe dol a name in LJKs iljimae? now i have to watch this before i read all of the recap.. *goes away to look for eng subs*

  32. 32 lotluz

    Thank you, girlfriday, for the fast posting of this recap. You made my giggles, while watching the raw version, into full on ROTF fits of crying laughter. Shin Mina and Lee JunKi’s chemistry is just off the charts for me. The entire kidnapping of a magistrate scene had me in tears. Thank you, thank you!

  33. 33 Moataz.Egypt

    I am downloading it in HD , but I don’t understand korea, I am waiting for Subtitle :'(
    I love Shin Min Ah
    thank you for the recap

  34. 34 ajj

    I super love this. Faith is funny but a bit bland while this one is awesome in everything. Maybe because Arang has a totally different story from all the drama’s we’ve seen lately that plots are kind of the same I hope Faith is the last of it.
    Welcome back Lee Jun-ki.

  35. 35 binbin

    i like these drama way better than Faith the two main characters is perfectly fit together love how the guy dismiss her and shin minah is totally adorable and great…the director and writers know how to combine fantasy and reality without making it confusing like Faith liking these drama the most daebak

  36. 36 binbin

    I guess thats why Lee Junki drop Faith its bec… he thinks it not that great and ofcourse bec of her leading lady Shin minah love them thats how you call chemistry huh I could also see Lee Minho and Shin Minah go together

    • 36.1 Jewel

      Both Joongi & Mina become a great couple not only because of their looks but also with their superb acts. If Lmh with Mina, I think he can’t compete with Mina’s good acting skills. So, they won’t have a nice chemistry though.

    • 36.2 addylovesbwoowd

      i totally agree, i kinda wished lee min ho was offered the lead role in faith. he wud hv been great with shi mina plus she’s alot younger than the lead in faith. Faith was highly anticipated and it just failed to catch my interest the way Arang did.

  37. 37 fifi

    thanks a lot for he recap~ I love you GF 🙂
    *cries* I want to watch it so freaking badly 🙁

  38. 38 Ivoire

    Thank you for the recap!

  39. 39 Frances

    Yey! Been patiently waiting for this! Big thanks!

  40. 40 Jagi

    Thanks, GF. What a great start!

    Not much suspension of belief is required because this fantasy world feels real. Kudos to the writer, director and the cast for creating such a believable world.

    Looking forward to episode 2.

  41. 41 JenJen

    the aegyo scene was hilarious. haha so far i luff this drama

  42. 42 Noelle

    Gah, I love her! Her character is fantastic. And to think I thought I could love no other character but Miho… So glad to be wrong.

  43. 43 Jules

    I haven’t yet seen the episode so, um, haven’t read the recap, but… okay, I admit that I had thought HeadsNo2 would be picking up Arang, mostly because if you and JB are recapping alternating eps with this show, too, that means you’re doing three a week. THREE. Or wait, FOUR if we count 1N2D. Not to mention all the daily posts. And that’s… an insane amount of work.

    (And it’s not that I don’t appreciate it, because I really, really do, but… how are you going to survive the next few months? My mind, it is boggled.)

    • 43.1 girlfriday

      It’s the fourth dimension! Wormholes make all things possible! (Though not recommended for anyone wanting to retain any degree of sanity.)

      We don’t have a choice in the matter, seeing as how we live here and don’t really know the way out. *taps on glass*

    • 43.2 tarianant

      FIVE!! Don’t forget about Answer Me 1997, that awesome gems. The last subs available is for ep 4. I’m dying to know what the heck they were talking about in ep 7-8..ahhh the agony.

      Thanks for the recap GF. Loved Arang. Now I know why people crazy about LJK.

  44. 44 kakashi

    thanks so much for the recap!

    In contrast to Faith (kinda have to make the comparison since both dramas have been on my is-it-middle-of-August-already-waiting-list), Arang is much ‘slower’ and not as easily approachable for someone like me with very basic Korean language skills.

    Faith can be watched without subs easily, since it’s more action and less dialogue based. Arang, I felt, had a lot of rather quiet scenes with a lot of dialogue, like between the two gods in (wonderful Teletubbies) heaven or between Arang and the (reluctant) Magistrate. That’s probably the reason why I wasn’t sucked in and emotionally invested right away.
    What I liked MUCH better immediately, however, was the score!

    Other than girlfriday, I was reminded of Gumiho a lot – probably too much for my taste, though I like Shin Mina. I can’t find any fault with Lee Jun-ki – but I was wondering 10′ into the drama whether we would ever see him with his hair untied and when we would see his abs. The Mane of Glory usually only gets screen time when the characters go from Nobleman to Outlaw, no? These writers better come up with some opportunities to undress the Magistrate!

    As for them together, I think this is going to work really well; both are good actors and able to show a range of emotions – it’s not likely going to be an easy relationship, so I’m looking forward to that!

    And finally, I dig the Grim Reapers – particularly Han Jung-soo.

  45. 45 Waca

    Thank you for the fast recap!!!!

    As you said, I’ve watched the episode raw and while I don’t understand korean, I still understood more than I thought I would!

    I agree the visual of this drama is very nice and beautiful, and I absolutely loved the grimreapers and the two twin gods!

    The characters seemed so natural to me I already love them all (even Joo-wal, despite the fact his unblinking eyes bugged me :D)! The chemistry between Arang and Eun-oh already feels great too! Loved his face when Arang started undressing!

    Happily I didn’t notice Quiet Thougts’ concrete and parking lots, and I do hope I still won’t now that I now they are there…

    I liked Faith, but I am already getting more attached to this one…the comedy is just perfect here, and Arang is a much more likeable female character than the doctor. Oh and the music, too. Much better in Arang and the Magistrate.
    I did cringe, however, with the failed attempt at a sad scene with the mom flashback. That…was really poorly acted. 🙁

    Can’t wait to watch it subbed!!!! 🙂

  46. 46 jellyfish

    Amazed at how cool the troop of grim reapers looked every time they appeared. *_______*

  47. 47 Nanakitty

    Loved this first episode; the mythology, music, mystery and especially the two main characters. Shin Mina reminds me of Miho especially when she widens her eyes or tries to put on the aegyo, which isn’t a bad thing, but most of the time I forget especially as Arang is so feisty and saucy. Love, love, love!

  48. 48 k-soup

    so far, so good ♥

  49. 49 blokkoms

    OMG this sounds amaaazing – but will have to subsist on your/jb’s wonderful recaps until subs – THANK YOU!

    And speaking of which, wow, realised that all three of the Wednesday-Thursday shows are being recapped… Aja aja hwaiting!

  50. 50 Cinderella

    Shin Min-ah and Lee Jun-ki are absolutely brimming with chemistry! I can’t wait to watch more of this!!

    On a side note, how I wish Lee Min-ho and Kim Hee-sun’s chemistry could be as crackling and entertaining as this couple… Not that Faith isn’t entertaining but I just find that Lee Min-ho is solely carrying the drama on his shoulders while Kim Hee-sun is simply riding along.

    It isn’t like Shin Min-ah and Lee Jun-ki whereas I find myself tuning in even when it’s just one of them onscreen, and even more so when it’s the two of them. Unlike when I’m watching Faith where I only really tune in to Lee Min-how’s scenes and completely zone out on Kim Hee-sun’s.

    • 50.1 Sajen

      ” I just find that Lee Min-ho is solely carrying the drama on his shoulders while Kim Hee-sun is simply riding along.”

      I have to disagree with you there I feel the opposite to me Kim Hee Sun is carrying Faith on her shoulders by actually being able to act which she is doing. Whereas Lee Min Ho is doing his normal ” I couldn’t act to save my life but no-one cares because I’m pretty” thing.

      • 50.1.1 Jill


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