Possessed: Episode 1
Better late than never, and in this case, I feel the wait was worthwhile! Murder mysteries, ghosts, and an investigative duo that don’t necessarily see eye-to-eye? Add in a sprinkle of comedy and this is my favorite formula. OCN delivers as only OCN can with dark and suspenseful and our hapless hero will have his work cut out for him battling the Big Bad introduced this hour.
A woman lies bound on the floor of an abandoned building in the countryside. She startles awake and tries to make her way towards her purse, but freezes when an eerie whistling (to the tune of “Silent Night”) echoes down the hallway.
Outside, rain pours down as a car pulls up to the fence blocking the drive up to the building. The driver is Detective Kim Nak-chun and his radio crackles as another officer warns him not to go in alone. Detective Kim spits back that they should’ve been quicker before getting out and hopping the fence.
Back inside, the whistling man, serial killer Hwang Dae-doo, plays the song on a tape player. Pointing to a mirror, he tells the woman to watch for the moment death claims her. As he gathers his murder tools, Hwang tells the woman that the only fair thing in this world is that regardless of social standing–rich or poor, good or bad–no one has control over when their times is up.
Sharpening his hatchet, Hwang continues that life is short and thinks it’s better to die sooner than later. “Your heart will be at ease,” he concludes. Hwang asks if she’d like to choose and when he removes her gag, the woman begs for him to spare her.
Hwang muses that she could’ve been an actress, and then laughs. “You thought I didn’t know?” he asks. Meanwhile, Detective Kim navigates the maze-like building, searching for them.
Attacking the woman’s bag with his hatchet, Hwang grins when a flashing compact falls out (presumably a transmitter). He laughs that the woman is pretty for a cop, guessing she was sent in as bait. The woman spits in his face and tells him to go to hell.
He raises the hatchet, but before he can strike a warning shot rings out and Detective Kim orders Hwang to drop the axe. Hwang just says it’s nice to meet him after playing cat and mouse for 2 years, cursing the police for missing all the clues he’d left.
Detective Kim orders him again to drop the axe, but Hwang chides him for sending the female officer in as bait. He does set the axe down, but the tape finishes playing and hearing the sudden “click” Detective Kim whirls around.
Hwang snatches the axe back up and attacks the female officer. Detective Kim shoots Hwang in the leg and then the arm, but it’s too late. Hwang cackles that Detective Kim let her die and the detective falls on him, punching him repeatedly.
Still laughing, Hwang tells Detective Kim that pain and happiness are linked. He speaks of a mother and daughter he’d killed and that the husband and father left behind will suffer the most.
Detective Kim picks up the hatchet and Hwang eggs him on, wondering “What’s the difference between you and me?” Before he can strike, Detective Kim’s backup finally arrives and tell him to drop the weapon. He pauses, but then Hwang starts laughing again and he strikes…
But he doesn’t kill him because next we see Hwang Dae-doo’s official execution. As he sits before a panel, Hwang notes that both sides are killers but argues, “I let them feel the best happiness.” He wonders which side is worse and then laughs maniacally. He’s executed via hanging December 30th 1997.
20 years later.
A drunk Detective Kim causes a ruckus at a restaurant. Stumbling home, he stops short when an eerie whistling of “Silent Night” echoes down the street. A knife presses against his neck and a man says, “Long time no see, Detective Kim…” before plunging the knife into his throat, killing him.
As Detective Kim bleeds out, we see his wallet and the picture shows him with his wife and child (the same ones Hwang Dae-doo laughed about murdering). Detective Kim stares at his reflection in a mirror as he dies and his killer walks calmly away.
In the waiting room of a fortune teller shop, women gossip excitedly about the accuracy (and attractiveness) of the fortune teller, seemingly unperturbed by the lone man listening from behind a newspaper.
Meanwhile, the fortune teller is advising an aspiring actress that if she wants to succeed, she’ll have to continue for another year. “I cannot carelessly help humans like this, but your sincere heart touches me,” he sleazes. After she leaves, he giddily counts the stack of cash he’d conned from her, but hides it when the next client comes in.
It’s the sketchy newspaper man from the lobby, or as we’ll come to know him, Detective KANG PIL-SUNG (Song Sae-byuk). Sitting down, Pil-sung asks the fortune teller to guess his own future and it cuts to the fortune teller begging for forgiveness… only to suddenly deadpan, “You thought I’d say this?”
The man tells Pil-sung that what he’s doing technically isn’t illegal since he doesn’t actually charge the women money–they just give it to him. Pil-sung scoffs that he’s a playboy taking advantage of women and the man snidely reiterates that it’s not a crime.
Pil-sung grumbles, “You stand within the current legal limits, but you’re violating ethical principles.” The phoney fortune teller wonders if he’s really a cop, and Pil-sung flashes his badge, scoffing that the man should be able to tell with his “holy power” whether Pil-sung is a fraud.
He issues a warning, urging the man to stop cheating women, but the the man calls the station to report a gangster who’s stolen a police ID badge. Hehe.
Pil-sung stops by a bar to complain to the owner for making him chase after the man who’d betrayed her. (Ahh… so she was a victim of the fortune teller). She points out that Pil-sung owes her after destroying her bar and he weakly argues that he was trying to catch some thugs. The owner snaps that it looked more like he was getting beaten by them.
She tells him regardless, he owes her 3 million won (roughly 3000 dollars) and should pay her a third of it or she’ll officially file charges of destruction against him. Pil-sung gets a call from his superior so he has to leave, but the bar owner cheerfully calls out that she’ll see him later.
In a clothing warehouse, a young woman, HONG SEO-JUNG (Go Joon-hee) digs for satisfactory items. As she’s paying at the register, she spies another blouse and adds it to her haul. The cashier argues that she’s already run the credit card, and Seo-jung hands over a few bills.
The cashier tries asking demanding more, but something about Seo-jung’s stare jedi mindtricks her into accepting the bills. Turns out the clothes are inventory for the shop Seo-jung runs with her friend, Kim Ji-hang.
Seo-jung tsks that Ji-hang has marked the blouse she’d paid 2 dollars for as 200 dollars, but Ji-hang says that once they’re in the shop, they become designer items. She points out she and Seo-jung have a symbiotic relationship as business partners.
Seo-jung pegs the flattery and Ji-hang asks her to watch the store while she jets off to Hong Kong for the weekend with some “classmates” a.k.a men. A customer comes in and Seo-jung leaves without giving Ji-hang an answer. The customer watches Seo-jung curiously and then leaves without buying anything.
Two men, Detective Choi Nam-hyun, and rookie cop, Kim Joon-hyung, sit in their car on the lookout for a criminal. Detective Choi asks why Joon-hyung picked the violent crimes unit and gripes when Joon-hyung rattles off that he wants to protect and serve.
Detective Choi says he joined because he’d been inspired after watching a Leslie Chung movie in his youth. Suddenly Joon-hyung urges him to duck… but it’s a false alarm. Detective Choi answers a call from his superior Chief Yoo, asking about Pil-sung.
Detective Choi assures Chief Yoo that Pil-sung is already standing by in the area and Rookie Joon-hyung notes that he has yet to meet Pil-sung. Meanwhile, the man in question is roaming around a convenience store while he waits and grimaces at a lovey-dovey couple.
Chief Yoo spots the criminal and calls Detective Choi to come get him. They’re taking too long so Chief Yoo confronts the man himself, but is easily overpowered. The criminal takes off running and Detective Choi gives chase while Joon-hyung circles around with the others.
Detective Choi falls too far behind and calls Pil-sung to head the guy off. He finds they guy easily and the men grapple, fighting dirty. Seo-jung comes across the chaos and Pil-sung shouts for her to grab something and hit the criminal.
Unfortunately, she’s unsure who to help and ends up smacking Pil-sung in the head. The rest of the team arrives and rookie Joon-hyung races ahead… and kicks Pil-sung too the ground. He helps the criminal to his feet, mistaking him for his sunbae, while the rest of the team cries after him.
Down at the station, Seo-jung explains that Pil-sung looked like a criminal. Joon-hyung readily agrees, much to Pil-sung’s annoyance. Chief Yoo even orders him to clean up his appearance before coming to work tomorrow. Hee.
They forgive Seo-jung for her honest mistake, but reprimand Joon-hyung. Pil-sung barks that Seo-jung should be charged for hitting an officer, but he’s immediately shot down. All the while, Seo-jung continues to stare curiously at Pil-sung.
Since they live nearby, Chief Yoo orders Pil-sung to take Seo-jung home. In the car, Pil-sung asks about her job and when Seo-jung replies online retail, Pil-sung scoffs that there’s so many fraudsters out there.
He sighs as they pass a bunch of people quickly tearing down their illegal sidewalk stalls, but pauses on the next street to warn an old woman to clear up her vegetable wares because a patrol is coming through. As they drive, Seo-jung continues to stare at Pil-sung.
Growing increasingly uncomfortable, he tells her that last year a man was murdered for looking at people. Seo-jung asks why he’s not afraid of her. Pil-sung isn’t sure what she’s talking about and Seo-jung says that if he’s not scared, that means he’s pure of heart.
Pil-sung asks why she hit him, then, instead of the criminal if she can see the purity of someone’s heart. Seo-jung stutters that she mixed them up and Pil-sung pouts whether his face is really that bad… to which Seo-jung agrees. Heh.
While waiting at a light, another car pulls up alongside Seo-jung and as she peers at the driver (whose face is shadowed by a hat), she suddenly urges Pil-sung to go, visibly rattled.
Pil-sung drops Seo-jung off, but she pauses to asks if he senses anything when he sleeps or sees strange things. Pil-sung just scoffs, but Seo-jung hands him her card and urges him to contact her if anything happens.
Inside, Seo-jung looks around her room and whispers echo quietly. She marches inside and opens a window before pulling down a screen opposite–completely plastered with talismans–and sending the voices screaming out the window.
Pil-sung gets ready for bed, but Seo-jung’s words replay in his mind. He tries to sleep, but hears strange whispers so he turns on the TV and has to flip through several horror shows to find something to fall asleep to.
A woman heads out to her car after teaching a night class. She turns when she hears a noise, but nothing’s there so she gets into her car. As she drives down the highway, “Silent Night” plays on her stereo and we see that a man in the backseat has a knife to her throat.
They park by a bridge and the man sets up the rear-view mirror so she can see herself. She begs him to spare her as he pulls out a hatchet.
The next morning, Pil-sung arrives at the crime scene and Chief Yoo tells him the victim has a daughter. Pil-sung checks the car and notices the mirror on the floor. Detective Choi reports that CCTVs only caught the victim’s car coming in and no other vehicles or people leaving.
They assume the victim either arrived with the killer or met the killer there, but can’t figure out how he left without being caught on camera.
A surgeon, SEON YANG-WOO (Jo Han-seon) finishes up an operation and informs the grateful family it was successful. Out in the hospital lobby, he takes interest in one of the women there for a consultation.
Everyone else has cleaned up the crime scene and left, but Pil-sung is still staring at the river when Detective Choi and rookie Joon-hyung find him. Detective Choi reminds him that the criminal couldn’t have crossed the river, but Pil-sung turns around and stares at the tunnel under the overpass.
Armed with flashlights, the trio make their way into the tunnel and Pil-sung hears the whispering again. They split up to follow the way out and Pil-sung ends up in an alleyway.
Back at the station, Chief Yoo convinces the victim’s husband that they need the autopsy for evidence. Pil-sung goe out into the hall to sit with the daughter and compliments her doll. She happily tells him her mother is going to buy her a second doll today, but makes Pil-sung promise to keep it a secret from her dad (since they have so many dolls at home).
Her dad comes out and the little girl tells Pil-sung to keep their secret and kisses him on the cheek.
At home, Yang-woo holes up in his office. As he looks through news articles on serial killer Hwang Dae-doo’s crimes, trial, and death, he grows increasingly emotional until he flips to pictures of Detective Kim’s body and he smiles.
A flashback reveals that it was Yang-woo who’d held a knife to Detective Kim’s throat. We now see that Detective Kim had asked who his attacker was, and Yang-woo had replied, “I’m Hwang Dae-doo.”
Detective Kim argued that he can’t be, since Hwang’s m.o. was to murder those precious to his victims first so he could see people’s pain before killing them. Yang-woo had scoffed that Detective Kim was all bravado and offered to send him to Hwang Dae-doo, before ramming the knife into Detective Kim’s neck.
In the present, Yang-woo slides open a secret panel on his bookshelf to reveal Hwang Dae-doo’s ashes. He runs them through his fingers and tells Hwang’s photograph, “I’ll see you soon.”
Pil-sung drops in Seo-jung’s shop and balks at the 200 dollar blouse. He jumps when Seo-jung appears and she asks what he’s doing. Flustred, Pil-sung fibs that he’s shopping for his girlfriend. Seo-jung calls him out on it, and suggests they go get drinks.
At a bar, Seo-jung tries to focus as Pil-sung drunkenly brags his eyes are like ghosts (meaning he can see through people). Seo-jung asks if he’s ever seen a ghost and Pil-sung says the two things he’ll never believe are shamans and spirits.
Seo-jung argues that he should be able to see them and that ghosts really exist. She says she sees a ghost over Pil-sung’s shoulder now, but when he turns, he sees nothing. Seo-jung says there’s another by his other shoulder and Pil-sung jumps when something enters his periphery… but it’s just their server.
Pil-sung reprimands her for playing a prank and says what he hates most is people manipulating others’ emotions to deceive them. Seo-jung suddenly turns serious and says, “If you continue to do so, you will live all your life with a closed heart.”
She says Pil-sung bottles up all his anger and sadness while pretending to be easygoing. “A seven year old child was first to discover the body of his mother who committed suicide,” she continues, and tearfully wonders how painful that must’ve been.
Pil-sung jumps to his feet and shakily asks how she knows that…
A woman trudges up a mountain to a small shrine. It’s the same woman that pretended to be a customer at Seo-jung’s shop. She tells the woman praying that, “The lady is doing well by herself.” The older woman excuses her and continues praying only to stop, her eyes open wide as she mutters, “Bad things will happen soon.”
Oooooooohmygosh. I have been so psyched for this drama ever since it showed up on our roster and was heartbroken when it was looking like it might never get subbed. Luckily, things worked out and I am so glad because I am in love with this drama. Dorky heroes are my favorite kind, especially when paired with a sassy and savvy female counterpart. You just can’t go wrong with that dynamic in a duo, especially when Pil-sung’s goofiness in no way reflects his critical thinking abilities. He’s smarter than he looks and has a heightened attention to detail that’s definitely going to come in handy.
It came as a pleasant surprise how much backstory we’ve gotten right off the bat. Especially since my main frustration with Romance Is a Bonus Book has been the show withholding almost everything in regards to the mystery. Here, we saw the horrible events of 1995 that have seemingly lead to the rebirth of serial killer Hwang Dae-doo in 2017. As well as gotten a glimpse into the psyche of our hero and an even smaller peek at our resident medium’s story.
I’m not entirely sure of the mechanics of this world yet as far as the ghosts go. Hwang seems to be possessing Yang-woo (as the title kinda tells us) but for how long? Months? Years? A lifetime? And does Yang-woo have any consciousness? All I know is he’s heckin’ weird and I don’t like him! 10/10 super creepy.
Our detectives aren’t going to have an easy time catching him, but so far I like the little detective unit. Pil-sung seems to be a bit of a department screw up, with people mistaking him for criminals and criminals themselves not taking him seriously, but Chief Yoo and Detective Choi clearly have a fondness for him. The rookie and Pil-sung got off to the wrong foot, but I’m hoping Joon-hyung takes notes because as odd as Pil-sung is, he’s a good detective.
At first glance, I’d thought we’d get more of a ghost of the week format, and we still might since this episode was mostly introductory. I’m excited to learn more about Seo-jung’s abilities. From the epilogue, we can glean that she’s from a family of shamans and left home, but she can’t escape her power. The screen of talismans in her house was so cool, but it can’t be easy living like that.
Seo-jung had mentioned Pil-sung should be able to see things and it likely has something to do with his past, or the spirit she mentioned hanging around him. She did tease him at the end, but I have a feeling the first spirit was real. Who knows, it might even be his mom. Pil-sung has some serious wounds to heal and it seems Seo-joon might be able to assist him.