Look Back: Arang and the Magistrate

This review was written for Korean Quarterly, 1st quarter 2014 issue.

Here is some advice before viewing the fantasy period drama, Arang and the Magistrate: let the story unfold like any good ghost story told before a crackling fire on a dark and stormy night, but pay attention! There are hundreds of little plot details that are laid out in each episode. In fact, this drama unfolds like a complex mystery novel, or perhaps a better analogy would be painting a picture. You begin with an initial sketch and the composition is interesting, it tells a story, but as the layers and layers of paint are added the image becomes richer and more nuanced. As each incremental piece of the tale is revealed, you become more and more engaged in it, wanting to know why someone is a particular way and what will happen next… and then bam! You get the answers, and they shock you!

In an opening that is reminiscent of Charles Dickens’s “A Christmas Carol,” in which the reader is told that it’s important to believe that Jacob Marley is dead (or else you won’t believe in the miraculous tale that unfolds), the drama begins with a similar explanation. There is something odd about things these days; the barriers between the living and the dead have altered and now ghosts roam freely among the living. Oh, and ghosts have the advantage of being able to see humans but not the other way around. Except for one person, that is: a young man by the name of Eun-oh.

Continue, to read more of this review (plot-related spoilers content: low)

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A Fairy Tale Setting for an Adult Fairy Tale

We spoke of rewatching this just a few weeks ago!


Written for the Korean Quarterly

Full disclosure: “Lovers in Prague” is one of those dramas that will always have a top position on my life list of favorite dramas and I hope that you will say the same thing when you have finished watching it as well. I’ve pressed it on friends who have grown weary of their diet of increasingly predictable and hyper sexed Spanish-language telenovelas and they’ve fallen on it with the eagerness of the long parched finding an oasis of pure water, then they email me after every episode to proclaim their love. “Ah! This is how romance is supposed to be!”

Yes, it’s that good.

Why does this drama resonate so? Let’s explore the many things that it does so well, beginning with the authentic flavor of its opening episodes in the city of Prague in the Czech Republic. Too often dramas or movies are set…

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