Last year I tried to find a spooky drama for you to watch on Halloween night and failed miserably. This year, however, my pick was right on the money. The Ghost Detective is in no way disappointing. In fact, when it was over I said out loud, “Excellent.” It’s definitely the Kdrama for you to watch in October!
This is one of those shows that needs to remain shadowy before you begin it so as not to ruin the surprising elements in the story. Please be understanding as to why my plot review is so lacking in detail.
Because of financial difficulties, partners Han Sang-Seop and Lee Da-Il’s detective agency, A Few Good Men, is in danger of having to close its doors for good. After a wealthy and prominent businessman’s daughter goes missing, his attorney approaches A Few Good Men to request they find the little girl since her father doesn’t trust the nation’s law enforcement. Happy to have a client, Chief Han and Da-Il agree to take on the case that, more likely than not, has something to do with two other missing kindergarteners. Just in time to aid in the investigation, a lovely young woman named Jung Yeo-Wool is hired, on a trial basis. And so, in a race against time, Da-Il begins his search for the children, completely unaware of the fact that the suspect he’s after is quite literally a heartless serial killer.
While Lee Da-Il was a staff sergeant in the army, a soldier tragically passed away and there was a big trial surrounding his cause of death. Although the Supreme Court found Da-Il innocent from having anything to do with the death and compensated him for the time he spent in jail during the trial, he was refused re-entry into the army and was discharged. He then moved back in with his elderly mother. Sadly, one day when he walked into the house the record player was on but she was nowhere in sight. In his search for her, he was shocked and completely devastated when he finally found her body, fully clothed, lying in the bathtub full of her own blood. On the bathroom mirror, she had scrawled a message, a warning to her son to not listen to anything “that woman” says. No matter how much Da-Il insisted his mother had been murdered and pled with the police to find her killer, they saw it as a suicide and closed the case. Da-Il knew his mother would never have taken her own life and wondered who the woman she warned him about was. Now, five years later, he works for Sun Woo-Hye, whom he refers to as “big brother,” at A Few Good Men Detective Agency. Da-il is extremely intelligent, fearless, sympathetic, and quite handsome to boot.
Ever since her younger sister died in her arms, Jung Yeo-Wool wanted the person responsible for her death to be caught and punished. Because people had watched in horror as her sister slashed her own throat, there was nothing left for the police to do but rule it an obvious suicide. Yeo-Wool, however, saw the lady in red her sister had pointed to seconds before she passed away (as she begged Yeo-Wool in sign language to run and not listen to the woman) and knew she had something to do with the terrible deed. Later, while talking to the police, Yeo-Wool was confused and realized something was wrong when she saw the footage of the incident, from a CCTV, and there was no trace of the woman she knew had been there. Time has passed, and in desperation, Yeo-Wool lands a job at A Few Good Men with the intention of asking them to help her track down her sister’s killer.
Han Sang-Seop, affectionately known as Chief Han, loves Lee Da-Il like a son and highly respects the young man’s natural investigator instincts. At one time, Chief Han had been married but is now a widower, his wife passing away as a direct result of an illness. Still, after several years, he can’t help but feel guilt due to her passing. Chief Han has the heart of a detective, so much so that there’s even a Sherlock Holmes coat and hat on display in his office.
The officer Yeo-Wool talked to when her sister passed away is Detective Park Jung-Dae. Since all the evidence pointed to her sister committing suicide, it was impossible for him to believe someone had killed her, no matter how much Yeo-Wool had insisted otherwise. As soon as he gets proof that what Yeo-Wool had told him was true, he regrets not having believed her and vows to help her capture her sister’s killer. He has feelings for Yeo-Wool but keeps them to himself.
At just 10 years old, Gil Chae-Won developed the ability to communicate with ghosts. Because of her amazing gift, her parents sent her off to be trained as a shaman but, surprisingly, when she turned 15 her abilities suddenly began to wain. She is now a medical examiner and has discovered she can often “read” the deceased people that are brought to her examining room.
As a little girl, Sun Woo-Hye went through the heartbreak of having her mother leave her and her little brother. Then, at the age of just 12 years old, she lost her father and younger brother to what police say was a murder/suicide. Shortly thereafter, she attempted suicide herself by jumping off a building but failed and has been in a coma for the past 25 years. This bitter, vengeful girl has become an extremely powerful evil spirit that roams the city, hell-bent on torturing and killing as many people as she can.
Daniel Choi is absolutely brilliant in his role as Lee Da-Il, his acting winning him an Excellence Award, Actor in a Miniseries award. I have loved him for years (ever since I saw him in The Musical) but his acting in this drama finally landed him a spot on my favorite actors list. You can read about him in my review of Jugglers. Although I don’t choose my favorite actors on looks, I do need to point out that Daniel Choi is absolutely gorgeous. His facial features are perfect, like a sculpture chiseled from stone, and his smile is adorable!
I’ve liked Park Eun-Bin, the gal who plays Jung Yeo-Wool, ever since the first time I saw her act, which was in Operation Proposal. But it wasn’t until I saw her in Hot Stove League that she made her way onto my favorite actresses list. If you’re interested, I have a little information about her in my Judge vs. Judge review. The more I see Park Eun-Bin, the more I like her!
As I said in my opening paragraph, The Ghost Detective is a perfect drama to watch in October. In fact, the show was aired two years ago (2018) throughout September and October with the last episode being shown Halloween night. This show has a really evil ghost whose sad eyes and sinister smile combine to make a very unsettling look that really creeped me out. Don’t get me wrong, she isn’t zombie-ish scary. She looks just like a regular person you’d meet on the street but her eyes and smile are just plain chilling. The scariest thing about her is how she calmly and quietly gets people to do things they would never even think of doing themselves. Her main weapons are guilt and anger. By using those negative emotions we all feel, she is able to get people to make decisions of horrifying consequence. It’s quite unnerving. I think the writer wanted to tell us how dangerous it is if we don’t keep our anger and guilt in check. Well noted.
Although The Ghost Detective’s plot is about trying to stop an evil ghost, I wouldn’t call it a horror story. It’s better classified as a clever, crime, mystery, thriller whose main killer happens to be a ghost. So if you’re someone like me who stays away from terrifying movies, you’re safe with this one because it isn’t in the horror category. It is ghostly, but I’m pretty sure it won’t give you nightmares.
I really dislike it when a writer tries to make the audience feel sorry for the bad guy. This story explains Sun Woo-Hye’s thinking in a way that doesn’t make us say, “Oh, it wasn’t her fault. It’s understandable she would turn out like this.” Scriptwriter Han Ji-Wan helps us understand the antagonist without making us feel sympathy for her, and I think that’s the best way to do things.
There are some impressive special effects (after all, it is a ghost story) in this show. Ghosts disappearing, objects moving on their own, an arm going through someone… excellent.
Although the ending is very good, I was personally hoping for something else. My way of ending it wouldn’t have necessarily been better but it would have explained and solidified a statement that had been made early on in the story.
Lee Da-Il and Jung Yeo-Wool’s chemistry is simply excellent. There’s never any out-n-out confession from either of them, and the “skinship” is kept to a couple hugs (sorry, no kisses), but their eyes scream, “I love you!” It would be fun to watch some behind the scenes filming to see how Daniel Choi and Park Eun-Bin interacted with each other out of character.
I’m going to give you something to ponder. The Ghost Detective – It’s a very clever title that can be interpreted in two ways. Hummmmm…
Watch for a slip-up at the end. Yeo-Wool has on a backpack that has a strap buckled around her waist. However, without unbuckling it, she throws it off her back and starts running. “Oops!”
The Ghost Detective’s music is excellent. Joy (from Red Velvet) and Mark (from NCT) blend their voices, she sings and he raps, in the beautiful ballad Dream Me. It’s a great song, my favorite on the soundtrack. You, You, You (aka My Love, My Love, My Love) is another pretty ballad. Yoon Mi-Rae’s voice is a bit lower than the extremely high female voices we usually hear, and I like that. Lee Bo-Ram performs One Day, another sweet-sounding ballad. Twinkle (also called Shining), a sad, thoughtful sounding ballad is sung by Cha Ji-Hye. I love how she’s able to do a peaceful crescendo. That’s not easy. Spica’s Park Na-Rae performs the more upbeat To You. The ballad The Reason I Have Waited is the only song sung by a male – Choi Whee-Sung (aka RealSlow). I’m not thrilled with the high notes he sings at the end, but the rest of the song is very pretty. It has a desperate kind of sound to it.
Abandoned buildings, the hospital, A Few Good Men’s office, a huge field of weeds… the story unfolds all over the place, but it’s not overwhelming. Everything fits perfectly! Great job, location scouts! Oh, watch for a really neat area that has bushes cut into animal shapes. That’s not something we usually see in Kdramas.
The Ghost Detective is 32 half-hour episodes long so it’s not something you can watch all the way through on Halloween night. You’ll have to start it around the middle of October if you want to take it at a moderate pace and still finish it before the 31st. It’s an excellent ghost story that will definitely put you in the Halloween mood. Happy haunting!
Lee Da-Il and Jung Yeo-Wool’s chemistry
Daniel Choi’s award-winning acting
Unsettling (but not spooky) evil ghost
Doesn’t make us feel sorry for the antagonist
Great for Halloween
Ghost story without being scary
EXTREMELY clever title (which can be taken two ways)
Not a ton of physical affection