This show was mostly just fun before, but now it has my heart. What a lovely episode about facing death and challenging fate. Arang finally gets some answers, but it comes as a heartbreaking revelation, both to her and to us. You’d think we’d be prepared for a ghost to face her own mortality, but it turns out death is hard on everyone, even the dead.
SONG OF THE DAY
Arang and the Magistrate OST – “Black Moon” by Shin Mina [ Download ]
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Arang moves in for the kiss… and just as their lips meet… Eun-oh wakes up from his dream. Drat! You and your vivid dreams. He wakes up saying he’s gone insane, and in thoroughly modern slang at that.
He sends trusty servant Dol-swe to deliver a letter to young master Joo-wal (Arang’s pre-ghost fiancé) asking for a meeting today, and Dol-swe just asks how long he’s going to keep “playing magistrate,” like he’s twelve and making pillow forts. Eun-oh assures him it won’t be long.
The Jade Emperor and the King of the Underworld have a lovely afternoon fishing up in heaven, and Jade Emperor tsk-tsks that Hades has upped his wrinkle count lately. Well now you’re just rubbing it in.
Hades says it’s all those renegade ghosts running amok on his watch that are messing with his energy, and then chides, “What about those souls that disappeared? It’s been four hundred years!”
Jade Emperor clears his throat guiltily and pats his hand, “I do feel sorry about that.” Hades says he promised to go down and fix it, but why hasn’t he done that by now?
Jade Emperor: “Do you know why you’re so slow to mature but so quick to age? It’s that hasty temper of yours. Just wait.” Hahaha. Yoo Seung-ho just called Park Joon-kyu immature. Aaahhh, I love it.
Hades warns that if he doesn’t take care of it soon, he’ll do things his way.
Kinda-shaman Bang-wool brings in a brand new hanbok and makeup for Arang, who lights up at all the pretty things she gets to have. She ditches her old worn clothes and puts on the finest from head to toe and makes up her face… only to check the mirror and still not see anything. She pouts.
Outside, Eun-oh paces back and forth, wondering what’s taking her so long. She finally comes out… and he goes slackjawed at the pretty. It’s so cute.
She and Bang-wool both ask expectantly if she looks any better, and he blusters that whatever, she just looks like a slightly less terrible-looking ghost. Mmm-hmm. He tells her to stay put until he comes to get her.
Bang-wool pleads with Arang to leave her alone now—isn’t it enough that she made her into a thief? Were they enemies in a past life? Doesn’t she have a conscience? Arang quietly slips away, hanging her head. Aw.
She decides to go wait for Eun-oh and daintily picks up her skirt hem so it doesn’t touch the ground. Eun-oh shakes his head as he walks through town, muttering to himself that he can’t get used to it—it was better when she was hanging upside-down and being a scary ghost.
He credits the clothes, saying they really are like wings. He sighs, “That’s it, I have to stick around. Who knows what kind of trouble she’ll cause? Until she regains her memory, even if I don’t want to, we have to be together.”
Pffft. You just keep telling yourself that it’s for HER good. He whirls around and heads back.
Arang heads into town and realizes a plan that doesn’t involve the magistrate—she can just take the magic herbs that make her corporeal and figure out her own mystery without Eun-oh. She figures that she’ll just be moving on to the afterlife anyway; what’s the harm in bending the rules for a bit?
So she goes to see the blackmarket dealer, not realizing that she’s picked up three angry ghosts on her tail. They ambush her in the abandoned barn, upset about her getting involved in that scuffle over the appeasement food.
She scoffs at the petty dispute, and throws the first punch. I love this girl. They attack and the thing she’s most upset about is them ruining her new outfit. She puts up an impressive fight… but more and more of this gang’s ghosts appear and soon she’s thoroughly outnumbered.
She knocks them down, kicks, head-butts, all the while screaming, “I said don’t step on my clothes!” But soon she’s getting slapped around, and they hold her still for the leader to raise his arm…
When suddenly a kick sends him flying. It’s Eun-oh! He kicks and then in the same motion, pulls Arang out of the fray… and right into his arms. Who says you can’t kick ass and have your romance too?
He finally remembers himself and pushes her away, wondering how it is she lives her life that she’s constantly surrounded by people who all want a piece of her. And then he notices her ripped up clothes and has a mini freakout about how much they cost.
The ghosts just stare: isn’t that… a human? He threatens them with his bag of red beans and they all take a step back. He empties the bag dramatically into his hand, producing One. Tiny. Bean. Hahaha.
Commence fight. Oooh, badass! Eun-oh tears through the ghosts with one awesome move after another, and it’s Arang’s turn to have her slackjawed moment.
I love that she fights back too, and he runs to her side to ask if she’s okay. But these guys are ghosts, and they just keep getting back up. Arang warns them that they’ve messed with a human, so reapers are on their way.
They gang up on Eun-oh up in the rafters, and he takes out his fan (non-magic, just handy) to use as a weapon. Okay, I could watch these fight sequences all day, cheesy wirework and all. It’s so fun.
He sees Arang being strangled and fights his way over to her, and they get backed into a corner. Man, these ghosts really don’t die. Er, stay down.
But just in the knick of time, two reapers come floating down from the skies and start attacking. Eun-oh grabs Arang and they take off running. She goes spectral as soon as they’re in plain sight, and Eun-oh just looks like he’s running with his arm hanging behind him.
Once they’re safely away, she breaks free from his grasp and looks down at her muddied, torn hanbok with a long face, not wanting to go meet Joo-wal that way. He snaps with annoyance, “Oh, you won’t go looking like that?”
She cries that Joo-wal can’t see her anyway so it doesn’t matter, and stomps off. It even starts to pour rain to fit her down-in-the-dumps mood, and Eun-oh wonders what he’s doing, tailing after a rain-soaked ghost.
By the time they get to the meeting place, Joo-wal has already gone. Arang sighs, “Why is there nothing that goes right in my life?” Eun-oh agrees, naming the string of unfortunate things, like dying young, having ghost amnesia, not being able to make a new outfit last a day…
He leans in close, “It probably feels so unfair that you can’t go on to the afterlife this way, right?” Aw. You want her to stay.
Arang screams in his face (but directed to the heavens): “What did I do that was so wrong?! YOU MEAN OLD FOGEY! YOU MEAN OLD FOGEY!”
Her cries ring up into the sky and through the clouds, up to the bridge where the Jade Emperor starts at the noise. Hades chuckles that someone’s looking for him, and Jade Emperor counters that she said “old fogey,” so it was clearly not directed at him.
As they resume their badook game, he hears her cries asking what she did so wrong, and smiles to himself knowingly. As he puts down his stone, the clouds roar down on earth, and suddenly up from the soaked ground floats up a red ribbon…
As the rain stops, someone comes running into the magistrate’s office up in arms. The same at Joo-wal’s house…
Eun-oh runs into Dol-swe panicking along with everyone else and asks what happened. Dol-swe: “They found a dead body. A young lady…”
Eun-oh arrives at the crime scene, where a body that was buried in the ground was uncovered from the massive rainfall. Hm, did the king of heaven make it rain like that on purpose?
They’ve identified her as the former magistrate’s daughter who disappeared three years ago. The servant Eun-oh met outside her room now wails by the body. He sees the familiar hanbok and knows it’s her.
He crouches down to uncover her face, and there’s something so shocking about the realization that she’s really dead. I knew she was, but it didn’t seem so real until this moment. The others wonder what ghostly magic kept her preserved so well for three long years.
He scans her corpse and doesn’t see his mother’s hairpin. Curious, that.
They tell him she was likely murdered—stabbed with a knife, and he remembers Arang telling him she felt a pain in her side. He turns around… and finds her standing there.
He blocks her view, “Don’t look. Don’t look.” But she pushes him aside…
And sees her cold, lifeless body on the ground. Oof. Her eyes fill with pain and shock, and her step falters. She whispers, “Why am I… why… why am I…”
She turns and runs in the other direction. Eun-oh starts to go after her, but stops when he sees Joo-wal arrive.
Arang runs and runs through a field, as we hear her cries in voiceover: “Why, why do I have to be lying there, like that? Why did I have to die?”
Flashbacks show us how she went from her first days as a ghost, in shock and starving from hunger, eventually learning the ways to survive in this world. She learned to fight back, take what she could, always be on the run.
As we cut back to her in the field, she cries her heart out, tears falling as she runs full force, like she might never stop.
She finally runs all the way to the river, and collapses to the ground in sobs.
Joo-wal stands over the body of his fiancée, still stoic, still cryptic. His servant announces that they’ll be taking the body, but Eun-oh puts a stop to that. This is a murder scene and he won’t have anybody moving anything.
They ask who the hell he is to challenge Master Joo-wal. Eun-oh: “Me? Magistrate.” Haha. You tarzan, me magistrate? The Bang Trio nod their heads to confirm the unfortunate truth. He is the magistrate.
Joo-wal asks about the missed meeting earlier, and Eun-oh says he wanted to ask him something, but it seems a moot point now. Joo-wal doesn’t press him on the matter but puts up a fight about the corpse—he’s on Father’s orders to deal with this quietly.
Eun-oh counters that if his fiancée was murdered, this is a matter of clearing her name and recovering her honor (since she was presumed to have run off with a scoundrel out of wedlock). Isn’t that important to him?
But Joo-wal says their family is more concerned with keeping people from talking about this issue all over again. Really, gossip is your big concern? What is your deal, buddy? I’m so damn curious.
Eun-oh understands that he must’ve held a grudge over the last three years thinking that she left him, but Joo-wal corrects him—he felt nothing. He hardly knew the girl, and saw her face only once after being betrothed.
He can barely remember what she looks like, and “one must have feelings for another in order to feel resentment.” Ooooh, interesting. Eun-oh takes this all in with a wary eye.
Joo-wal says he doesn’t care what the magistrate does with the body, but his father might feel differently. He says it like a warning, with a hint of a smile.
Arang cries herself to sleep at the riverbank and wakes up at nightfall.
Eun-oh stands by as her servant burns her clothes in tears, apologizing that she has to send her this way, hoping she’ll go to a better place. He sighs that he told Arang not to look at the body, wondering where she ran off to alone.
Dol-swe says he moved the body into the agasshi’s room and asks what Eun-oh plans to do now. He doesn’t really know, but says he’ll ask. Dol-swe thinks he means Lord Choi, but Eun-oh means Arang: he’ll have to ask what she wants to do, whether it’s recover her honor, capture her killer, or just bury it all.
The agasshi’s body lies in her room in burial clothes. Arang comes through the wall and sits by her side, staring at her face for a while. “So this is what you look like. That’s what your eyes look like. And your nose. And your mouth. You were pretty.” She says it so sadly, with a tear brimming in her eye.
“But why were you in such a cold, dirty place? Why were you just lying there like a victim? What happened? Who did this to you?” Tears drip as she pleads with her to know the answers. “Why don’t you know, stupid? Why don’t you know?”
She wipes away her tears and vows: “You wait. I’ll find out for you.”
She sits on the roof and looks up at the moon. “Old fogey! I don’t know how to pray… but listen anyway. You were looking down from up there, so you can see everything. What happened to her? Just tell me what you saw. Please just tell me.”
She decides that’s not enough and folds her hands and closes her eyes, “King of Heaven, every bad thing I did up until now… I was wrong. And the cursing too. If you just tell me, I won’t do anything, and I’ll be good and go on to the next life. Okay? … Okay? … OKAY?!”
She throws her hands down in exasperation. “So you’re not gonna tell me, is that it, you old fogey?!” Her cries echo in heaven and the Jade Emperor jumps again.
This time Hades tells him to leave it alone: “That one’s all mine, particularly with aggravated punishment.” Jade Emperor says she promised to come quietly if he tells her, and he sometimes answers prayers.
Hades argues not to keep messing with the balance, because whenever things go awry he’s the one who has to clean up after him. And then he gets labeled the “bad god” while the Jade Emperor gets to be the “good god.”
Hades: “Is there anything less fair in the whole world?!”
The Jade Emperor looks up in surprise, “Do you really think about those things?” Hades fumes and yells to cover up his embarrassment, and Jade Emperor just chuckles. You cheeky. I actually feel bad for the king of hell.
Eun-oh sits with the body, wondering where Arang went.
Bang-wool prays to be struck with shamanistic powers and crumbles at the sound of Arang’s voice, here for another favor. Next thing you know, she’s creeping through a spooky, deserted part of town in terror.
She comes to a door sealed off with a talisman. Arang appears beside her and asks what it is. Bang-wool says it’s like a door to the other side—it’s the only place where they can do what Arang is asking. Oooh, dark magicks? Things are getting interesting…
They creep inside and then Bang-wool opens up her spell book, warning that if things go wrong, they’re both dead. She’s alive so she’ll just end up a ghost, but Arang’s already a ghost… so she’ll just disappear.
Arang says she’s already dead so what’s the diff? But Bang-wool means that she’d become someone who never existed at all, and there’s a huge difference between having existed and died and never existing at all.
Eun-oh can’t handle waiting any longer and leaves Dol-swe in charge of guarding the body and heads out to look for Arang.
Joo-wal seems obsessed with that moon; he stares at it all night. Dad comes out to belittle him for not even managing to handle one thing, and then says something curious—that he’s wearing the form well. Like… his body, or just metaphorically his outerwear? WHAT ARE YOU?
He warns that despite being dressed in the finest, “People can always tell the difference between real and fake.” Did you replace your son with a robot? A cylon perhaps? Is he another Joo-wal from another dimension?
Dad wonders if he can cope with the full moon and warns that if any misfortune befalls his house because of him, he won’t let it go. Wait is it not the full-full moon yet? Then is werewolf still on the table? So is plain human, of course, since they could be cryptic for cryptic’s sake.
Back to Mystery Spell Central. Bang-wool feels around for a while and then uncovers a hidden wall, with a strange pattern burned into the wood. A gust of wind blows Arang back. It’s the same mark on her neck—the one the dead all share.
Bang-wool takes out another pattern that she brought with her, that Arang couldn’t touch. She hangs it up. She asks Arang to tell her what exactly they’re trying to catch—it would help if she knew. But she doesn’t answer.
Instead, she blows on Bang-wool’s face, and suddenly her skin is covered in boils. She screams and cowers in the corner. What just happened?
Arang says she’s sorry, and wonders to herself if that was enough for them to come. Oh, are you calling the reapers? The scary reapers??
She says in a defeated voice that she’s decided to go to the afterlife, and thanks Bang-wool for making her time here bearable. Bang-wool does seem happy at the news that Arang will finally be leaving, but then asks, “Does this mean I’ll never get to see you again?”
Arang resigns herself with a yes, and then feels the air change. She turns around, “Have you come?”
Mu-young appears behind her, “Are you ready to return now?” Arang says she’ll go and he can sleep peacefully now—only she has one request. She’ll go if she can meet the Jade Emperor.
He tells her that’s not possible, and she argues that those are the terms. He starts to inch toward her with that red reaper’s rope, and she eyes the wall behind him.
She says she has to ask that old fogey something, and yells it over again suspiciously, like a code word. Finally Bang-wool snaps out of her trembling fear and pushes one seal over the other… creating a giant vortex into who knows where.
The wall opens up and sucks Mu-young to the wall, where he hangs on by the edge. Arang gets sucked in too, and clamps onto his chest. He demands to know what she’s doing, warning her that she’ll get sucked in and disappear too.
She says it doesn’t matter—she has nothing left to lose. But he’s different, since he’s a high-up grim reaper with lots of work left to do. She demands to see the Jade Emperor.
Up in heaven, the badook game is not going well for the Jade Emperor and he sighs that trouble’s afoot. Hades laughs that it’s all over.
Mu-young struggles to keep them from falling into the abyss, and asks why she’s going to such lengths. Arang says even if she told him, he wouldn’t understand. He stands his ground and says he doesn’t make deals with ghosts, and struggles to untie the seal to close the portal.
Back up in heaven, Hades chuckles that it’s in the bag… and the Jade Emperor puts down the last stone to win the game. He shrinks back in horror; he was so close to winning! He pleads with his brother to take back just one move.
Jade Emperor asks oh-so-mischievously: “Then what’ll you do for me?”
Suddenly the King of the Underworld’s voice rings down from the heavens, “Mu-young!” We don’t hear the message, but Mu-young grits his teeth and tells Arang that he’ll honor her request.
She tells Bang-wool that it’s done and she un-hooks the seal. They fall to the ground, safely on this plane of existence.
Mu-young growls at her never to pull a stunt like this again, and she hmphs that they’re never likely to be in such proximity anymore.
Up in heaven, Jade Emperor takes back the one fateful stone and smiles. Hades grumbles and resumes the game.
Eun-oh runs everywhere in search of her, “Amnesia, where have you gone?”
At the same time, Mu-young leads her somberly through the woods, to take her to the afterlife.
I love this episode. How great is it to have the kings of heaven and hell mess with the fates of lower beings over a freaking badook game? I was waiting and hoping for the integration between the two worlds, because there’d be no point in creating the characters if they weren’t going to matter, but the way they were used in this episode just made my day. Arang and Mu-young are fighting for their lives, facing absolute disappearance into the abyss of never-been-born, and they’re trading souls like chips in an amusing little game. The Jade Emperor’s particular brand of cheeky manipulation is so fun and though I don’t think he’s quite as benevolent as everyone believes him to be, I love his calm against his brother’s seething impatience. They make for a great pair.
I didn’t expect to be so moved by Arang discovering her body and facing her death, and perhaps it’s because she has no memory that it hits her as if it’s just happened, but when she sees herself lying there and then cries asking Why me? it’s such a powerful moment. I knew she was dead, and she knew she was dead, but somehow the uncovering of the body brought the supernatural back down to earth. It felt real, and tragic, and I felt like Eun-oh, wanting to shield her from having to see.
What struck me was how she kept talking about herself—her dead body—as if she were someone else. She talked to her like she was speaking to another person, and that divide felt right to me. Arang the ghost has developed her own personality, with no memory of who she was, and became a girl who fights back to survive in the world. When she asked why the other girl didn’t fight, why she just fell victim and died like that, I realized how different Seo-rim and Arang really are. Seo-rim’s story is tragic, but it’s Arang who makes me root for her—the girl who looks the grim reaper in the eye and challenges the king of heaven to make it right. (Also, I cannot wait till she meets The Pretty in person. What will she change his nickname to? Flower Boy Gramps?)
My absolute favorite thing about her is that she takes matters into her own hands, fate, gods, and the universe be damned. And that sort of gutsy heroine just gets me *right here.* The idea that she might be more than just a ghost trying to solve her own mystery, but someone who changes the course of fate opens up a whole new world for the story. I’m so intrigued by characters like Mu-young and Joo-wal, who are so judiciously doled out one slice at a time. It makes me crazy with the curiosity in the best way—I want to know everything, but am so glad they’re biding their time with the side characters.
Eun-oh didn’t get as much to do here since it was Arang’s story taking center stage, but it’s great to have him develop feelings for her this early in the game. He’s clearly attracted to her and searching for reasons to make her stay, even if he can’t admit it, so as far as the rom-com element of the story goes, it’s full-steam ahead. They’re a great couple—sizzling chemistry, great comic timing, and now they can add action duo to their roster. I’d like very much to see them fight their way through town to knock some answers out of people. Well, in between the bickering and the smooches.
Show, if you keep the magic coming, both in the story and out, I’m all yours.
- Arang and the Magistrate: Episode 2
- Arang and the Magistrate: Episode 1
- Introduction to the mythical world of Arang and the Magistrate
- More promos and character stills from Arang
- Meet the otherworldly beings of Arang and the Magistrate
- Arang and the Magistrate’s poster and behind-the-scenes photos
- Arang and the Magistrate releases teaser, pushes premiere date
- On the set of Arang and the Magistrate
- Interviews with Arang and the Magistrate’s second leads
- Shin Mina becomes ghostly Arang
- Lee Jun-ki gets into character as the magistrate