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Sell Your Haunted House: Episodes 1-2 (Review)

As predicted, Jang Nara can do anything, including make this story of an exorcising realtor come to life, which is the plot of KBS’s Sell Your Haunted House. The drama offers a little bit of everything — comedy, drama, ghost and ghouls, and a heroine whose attitude is as caustic as it is lovable.

Note: This is an opening week review only, coverage will continue with recaps.

 
EPISODES 1-2 REVIEW

I enjoyed the premiere week of Sell Your Haunted House much more than I expected to, and that’s all thanks to our heroine HONG JI-AH (Jang Nara) and the glimpse into her world. Jang Nara’s heroine looks a little bit like a 90s TV character, with her array of black outfits, black combat books, black nail polish, and dramatic makeup. Even better than her look, though, is her no-nonsense attitude (and online shopping habit).

We meet Ji-ah and her business partner JOO HWA-JUNG (Kang Mal-geum) at their headquarters for Daebak Realty. It’s spooky, rundown, and positively awesome. (I’ve come to have really high expectations for K-drama sets, and this drama does not disappoint.) Of course, HQ is a bit of a fancy term for the old-fashioned house whose downstairs is an office, and whose upstairs is where Ji-ah lives… with the ghost of her 20-years-deceased mother.

The crux of Ji-ah’s story is this: she has had exorcist powers since she was young (which presumably her mother passed on to her). Currently, she makes her living by performing exorcisms in properties that are haunted. Ji-ah handles the exorcism, and has her procedure down to a science, and then Mal-geum does the rest, which is the actual selling of the now-ghost-free property.

We see one such operation in full swing when the drama begins, and learn that Ji-ah’s powers alone are not enough to perform the exorcism: she also needs a psychic. According to the drama’s logic, a psychic is a person that is easily possessed by ghosts, and Ji-ah needs them to embody the ghost so she can fight it off. Victory requires her to stab the possessed psychic in the chest with her binyeo, which contains a scroll of the ghost’s birth name, and thus holds a supernatural power.

The level of detail the show put into this process really works — or rather, is what makes it work — and we see Ji-ah performing each exorcism with the same studied regularity as other people type up memos or bake muffins.

Each ghost she exorcises has a story, and we do see those in some detail every time Daebak Realty takes on a new case. This brings me to the downside of the drama, which (for me anyway) is two-fold: it’s full of creepy CGI ghosts, and its structure is verging on the episodic. Both of these elements are not unlike the famous Master’s Sun, which I enjoyed despite both of those things, so I think it’s possible to enjoy Sell Your Haunted House as well.

CGI ghosts aside, the weekly ghost stories actually fit the pace of Ji-ah and her bustling realty business, so despite my not loving that structure, I think it’s effective for the story. And, luckily, there’s also enough overarching story to keep us going. Because if you’re anything like me, that’s essential for any drama worth investing your time into.

Ji-ah’s story is one of an unsolvable problem, or an Achilles heel that she can’t seem to master. It’s archetypal and delicious, adding just enough shortcoming and worry to humanize our otherwise fearless, almost disaffected heroine — you know, the kind that doesn’t have time for BS, can quickly read people like a book, and has a heavy back hanging in the middle of her office for any frustrating moments that might occur.

Ji-ah’s problem is that she’s unable to exorcise her mother’s ghost from their old house, although she’s been trying for years. She’s not strong enough to do it on her own, and she can’t seem to find a psychic that’s able to bear the weight either…. until now. That’s where our hero comes in.

Our hero (or is that anti-hero) is OH IN-BUM (Jung Yong-hwa). Like Ji-ah, he has a delicate and occult operation going on. He also has a business partner, HEO JI-CHUL (Kang Hong-seok who always seems to be effortlessly adorable), and together they impress with their Stanford credentials (lol), and the fancy infrared device that they’re using to research and log paranormal activity.

The idea is to prey on people that are vulnerable by first freaking them out, then offering to pay them to install their ghost-repelling equipment, and then making the client reliant on it enough to pay for it (even though it’s a hoax). In other words, unlike Ji-ah’s business (rooted in real exorcism), In-bum’s is rooted in pranks and playing off of people’s fears. He’s a conman, and he cares primarily about making money.

Ji-ah and In-bum get thrown together (exorcism is a small world, after all), and butt heads in the expected fashion. Although their motives and ideals are different, Ji-ah soon sees enough of In-bum to realize that, unbeknownst to him, he has a powerful psychic energy. Ji-ah, of course, wants to harness this to let her mother’s ghost be at peace… and that’s the basis on which they form a temporary partnership.

The story will ride as much on their clash of personalities as it will the supernatural powers that they have in common. There’s also a few threads in each of their pasts that tie them together in a mysterious way, so even though we don’t know the details yet, it’s obvious that there will be much interconnectedness. Both our leads have a complex and dark past, which links to their occult abilities, so I’m interested to see if they will use those powers to clash with each other, or truly join forces at some point.

I love Jang Nara in this role without question, but Jung Yong-hwa I’m still warming up to. It’s been literally years since he’s been in a drama (because reasons), and I almost want to like him here more than I actually do. Still, I think he’ll win me over entirely before long. He’s got an interesting feel to him that’s a bit different than other leading actors I could see in this role, and I like how he’s totally overpowered by Jang Nara/Ji-ah — it fits their dynamic.

With all the more serious dramas out there right now, I didn’t expect to be most interested by this almost campy tale of a weary heroine, a cocky hero, and a bajillion blue-hued ghosts — but I actually am. If I could kick back and binge watch this entire drama right now, I would.

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Jang Nara can sell me anything and I am HERE for it!!

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I kept to write something similar to this, I just love her!!!

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One thing that gave me a mild chuckle. At one point they went from the scene of 9(?) year old Ji-ah at her mother's death to present day Ji-ah saying it happened 20 years ago. No, I thought, 20 years ago you would have been twenty. The male lead would have been eleven at the time. Do we have a noona romance series in disguise?

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I had the same thought 😄 I guess she is playing a younger character

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I really liked everything in these 2 first episodes. I liked the world building, how exorcism works, her office, the CGI, the humor, the dead mother controlling her daughter's purchase.

JNR is great as a badass exorcist and I really liked JYH too. His last drama was The Package that was really a little gem (France, actors, stories of each character, humor), then he went to the army. I think he did a great job as a conman who doesn't believe at all in ghost. I'm curious what happened between the uncle and the mother.

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THE PACKAGE really was a gem and JYH did very well in it - I am glad to see that he has not lost his touch.

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The Package is an underated gem. I think JYH has a reputation as a bad actor from his earlier dramas but I think he did alright in The Package and here too based on these two episodes.

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Surprisingly this was the premiere I enjoyed the most last weekend: it was funny, well paced and I liked all the cast.

Aside all tropes involved and what you mentioned about the predictable structure of the episodes, I’m all in.

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I thought this was a really great start; it looked cool, the world building was really solid, I like the whole cast so far.

The ghosts are creepy though. I’m a huge wimp when it comes to ghosts and had to make my husband watch Master’s Sun with me so there may be some Kdrama watching in his future.

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I loved these two opening episodes. Often I hate 'fated childhood connections' but here it seemed fundamental to the story. Or maybe that's purely because I fell in love with Ji-ah's combat boots and therefore am willing to accept whatever plot the drama throws my way.

I'm guessing that Ji-ah's Mum and In-bum's uncle worked together as an exorcist/medium pairing too? If there isn't going to be a Big Bad Evil Ghost to battle at some point, I'll be disappointed.

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Oh oh another PID , I should tune in

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The vibe is very different but I think you'll like it!

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Thanks cloggie I'll try to find time to start it , by the way did you watch Sweet Home ???
Did I ask you about it ??!
I can't remember if I did 😅🤔

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I second pretty much everyone here as well. Jang Nara is selling, and I am buying the house. It seems to strike a good balance of familiar and new, and the episodic nature works for me. It's off to a good start, and the strongest of the recent premiers IMO.

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Loved opening episodes . It is a crazy story but somehow very believable :) Jang Nara is super as a bad ass women .

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I'm watching 4 Wed-Thursday dramas right now but when I realised today was Wednesday, the only drama I was excited about watching was this one. I don't know if that's a compliment to this drama or an indictment of the others...

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Just noticed that the review has been updated to say that "coverage will continue with recaps" and the show has also been added to the currently recapping section.

I'm glad. It's early days still but it looks like a fun show to discuss and theorise about.

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Goth kick-ass Jang Nara ROCK!!! She is just so consistently good 😍 I'm girl crushing so bad...

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Jang Na-Ra yeeeees! I’m a huge fan of hers and while I don’t always make it through her shows, she’s always excellent. Fated To Love You is still a favourite of mine.

As for this show, I’m not CRAZY about the premise in general, but it’s got enough flavour of it’s own that I’m really liking what we’ve seen so far. The ghosts/spirits themselves are kind of bland but there are little quirks to everything, like our FL’s mother haunting her in a mostly benign way, bugging her about buying new clothes/shoes.

I also wasn’t crazy about the fight scenes either. There’s some so/so cuts when the stuntwoman does her thing, coupled with some shaky cam. That I’m still super excited for this week’s episodes means they’re doing something right though (cast, chemistry, ongoing mystery, all have me hooked).

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Like most Beanies here I also enjoyed these first episodes! The only minor issue I'm having is with the male lead. While he's not terribly awful, I think it's going to take me some time to really be enthusiastic about him. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to what happens next!

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Thank you for this weecap @missvictrix. I'm sorry you won't be recapping the show on a regular basis as I enjoyed the first two episodes.
Of course Jang Nara in black boots, online shopping for more black boots and standing up to everyone is so much fun. But I'm looking forward to our con man growing up and growing on us as viewers. Can we have more shots of him lounging in the pool please?

However it was such a pleasure to see Kang Hong-seok again. He is so much fun in every role, but I still see him as the King in Pegasus Market.
Will DB have an open thread so we can all chat about this show at least?

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The first two episodes are solid. Love funny Nara but badass Nara is even better.

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In the first episode, Nara's character came off as too dark, brooding and self-loathing until she went into action mode (even though the fight scene was too choppy 70s marital arts). I found no chemistry with the fraudster lead so I hope later on there is no forced romantic fate trope.

As for the world building, it still has to flesh out some more ghost rules especially on how and why psychics can "hold" spirits so Nara can expel them.

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I love the Master’s sun vibes I’m getting from this show. Will binge watch this when I want to be scared a little!

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The ghosts look a lot like the ones in THE MASTER'S SUN. Just scary enough to be fun.

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It is nice to have a genuinely FUN show around. That is what this is and I really love it. These simply do not happen often enough.

Jang Na-ra is one of my favorite actresses- she always delivers.

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I enjoyed episodes more than I thought I would. The main reason is Jang Na-ra. I like her no-nonsense, badass character. I love Ji-ah’s interaction with her mother. Not even death will stop a mother from scolding her child for spending too much money on shoes.
There are few hiccups though.
I am not too fond of episodic ghost of the day format but it is just first two episodes. I want each exorcism to make impact on our leads, not be something like run of the mill job.
I find editing bit choppy. It is more noticeable during action sequences. I have not warmed up to In-Bum yet. He comes across as bland compared to Ji-ah but it is not stopping me from enjoying the show.

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That's the fate of all male leads opposite extravagant female characters. Remember Man-wol and Chan-sung?

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While one brilliantly surprised everyone in her new role, hardly anyone would be impressed enough to compliment her counterpart. For me, ruined by mediocre and bland acting on one side couple with poor directing to what could have been an interesting script.

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I think the male counterpart is doing his job well with his job. I like him in this role.

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Love Jang Na-ra, her boots and her sang-froid. No idea who Jung Yong-hwa is, but so far he seems a pretty good fit for this show. My fave bit: him squealing "omoooooo" when Ji-ah tells him that he can literally raise her body temperature.

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I love how well-loved Jang Nara is here on DB. She doesn't have a huge international fanbase but I hope this drama gives her that. She always delivers, whatever her role is. I'm excited for this show!

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Casting Kang Hong-seok as the con man sidekick seems like a bit of 'stunt casting' as he was part of the cast of Hotel Del Luna. He's doing a perfectly capable job, and this role will be added to a growing list of character roles on his resume. But still, you can't help think 'Hotel Del Luna'. when you see him

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Honestly when I think of Kang Hong-seok, the first thing that comes to mind is his role in 'What's Wrong with Secretary Kim?'. I completely forgot about his role in Hotel Del Luna. Too bad SYHH isn't on tvN, I could totatlly see the network throwing in some Hotel Del Luna cameos.

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Watched all Jang Nara's drama starting with Successful story of a bright girl (Liked Jang Hyuk because of that drama as well) Been a fan korean drama viewer since 2004 and I can say that Jang Nara is one of the reason i love kdrama of course Rain is the one that really got me into it but in all the actress Jang Nara is my all time fave :) and I can watch anything with her

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I LOVE that you must be a virgin in order to be a psychic in this universe. It's funny to have a good-looking virgin con-man and I like the role reversal of the man being the virgin. But this means that if he had sex he wouldn't have to worry about being possessed anymore, right? Sounds like a great reason to me.

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Loving this show. Male lead extremely handsome but not much chemistry at the moment but it's better when it develops slowly. Jang Nara is such a wonderful actress, she broke my heart in VIP, and I love all the black makeup and the obsession with buying black boots online. Just one very small raised eyebrow - there seems to be standard image for a ghost, black eyes, black makeup and haloed with black smoke. It would be nice to see a coloured ghost in later episodes, perhaps? A nice green one, or blue? if we're going to get a lot of them. Just saying...............

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Just now caught up with the se episodes. I felt that this drama would be fun and I'm glad that I'm right. This drama is fun. Watchjng jang nara for the first time and I really like her. I had very low expectatiins for the male lead but he is doing fine. A pleasant suprise for me. I really like the story and has enough mystery to keep it going. Other than msters sun I'm also getting HDL vibes here. Have to watch the next next week's episodes now. Glad to have a drama like this to look forward to.

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I have never agreed to watch any ghost-related dramas, but somehow I chose to try the first episode of this show today.

The result was pretty exciting. I know I had a soft spot for Jung Yong-hwa (CNBlue) since We Got Married, and I am so happy he's as much of a darling as in those old days. He is sweet and kind, and always worried about how short he is lol. I just finished watching episode 4, and I can just say that he is doing so fine in this one. I did help a lot by having Jang Na-ra as his co-lead. She is fabulous, and I completely understand the undying love Beanies have for her. Never watched her projects, but she is growing on me now.

What I love in this show, besides the leads, is how well the world building is. I love that there were not head-scratching moments when all the logic seems to have gone with the wind. Everything seemed like it was able to be explained by the world building rules, and that was a relief for me as a viewer. I guess that was why I found watching this one a fun and comfort watch. It's the type of show that can bring back the comfy feeling the same way that the classic Kdramas could years and years ago.

The only con might be my heart isn't strong enough to watch this one at night. I'll have to wait for the daytime to arrive again before continuing the next episodes. 😅

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Oh you are so right in saying that it is like an old school kdrama and is just so comforting to watch. I'm loving it.

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Ooohh... Jang Nara is super fun to watch here. It brought me back to the days of I Remember You where she also convincingly played a kick-ass heroine despite her petite figure. I agree with @missvictrix that Jung Yong-hwa being completely overpowered by her charisma and presence is perfect for their dynamic here.

As for the central mystery, there must be something wrong with either Ji-ah or In-bum's recollection of the death of their respective family member, because there's just no way both memories were right. So, they misremembered the incident because of how traumatic it was, or someone planted a false memory or manipulated the incident for one of them (or both of them?). Anyway, I'm excited for the reluctant partnership that await us in the upcoming eps.

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