Watching a drama that i love from beginning to end perhaps is as hard as finding one with a great/satisfying ending. Achieving either is no easy feat and i am thus happy to add Oh My Ghostess to the list. I liked it at the end as much as i did at the start. I, however, am still unsure if i’m thoroughly satisfied with the denouement although by now, i should’ve gotten used to an anticlimactic epilogue; that’s how a story arc goes anyway — it goes up until the climax and moves downward afterward.
And for a show whose beginning reminds me a lot of other shows with similar premise and setting like 49 Days, Master’s Sun, and Pasta, its ending is pretty much a throwback to 49 Days‘ as far as thematic closures go. Which isn’t a bad thing given how much i loved that drama. Ghostess gave way more of 49 Days’ feels than anticipated, from the corresponding takeaways to how much they put my tear ducts to work during the farewells. Well, who would have thought a rom-com could make you wring out so many tears??
Let’s discuss things in order, shall we? So, the face-off between Soon-ae and possessed-by-evil-spirit Sung-jae. Strangely yet thankfully, he cannot get a hold of her (can see, can’t touch?) which buys her just enough time to run for
her life it. Unable to trace her, he targets Bong-sun instead. Why and what he gains from it is unclear. Is it because he thinks Soon-ae is inside her, or will come back to her? Or is it so that Soon-ae cannot possess Bong-sun again (when she can just possess other women)? If he wants Soon-ae to reappear, isn’t it more effective to have her dad instead? Regardless, Bong-sun’s disappearance mobilizes human, shaman, and ghosts in attempt to locate her, which makes for a nice teamwork AND a sight to behold. That’s the majority of episode 15 — dark, tense, and suspenseful — although i was amused by the fact that they’re all searching for Bong-sun instead of Sung-jae. They may not be 100% sure he kidnaps her, but what are the chances of it being the case? Show, please…
We also finally got the full picture of what happened on that fateful night three years ago. Turns out, the ‘hit’ was an accident though the ‘run’ was fully intentional. Soon-ae happened to witness the scene and reported the accident together with the culprit’s licence plate to none other than her cop crush. She called Dad while in transport and the rest is history. Tragic death indeed. Another curious detail is regarding Sung-jae’s possession. We saw black mist entering his adolescent body, but it seems he’s only repossessed three years ago following the hit. Sure, he has dark streaks in him but even when he was out to get his former foster dad, he had enough conscience to not give in to the evil urge, so it’s intriguing as to why evil takes over him when the hit was fully unpremeditated.
Speaking of the evil spirit, its qi is strong enough to scare Shaman Ahjumma and Soon-ae’s ghost girlfriend away; furthermore, it’s indistinguishable from the host, so i expect that it’ll be darn difficult to exorcise him… Nah. All it needs is a handful of beans to expel it from the body. Boy, was that one vile-looking ghost *shudder* And when you think Ahjumma has regained the power to ward off evil spirits, it was just strong enough to keep the shrill malevolent ghost in place for a few moments before it turns around, faces the utterly appalled Sung-jae and re-enters the body, and Ahjumma does nothing about it. Whyyy~
But Sung-jae resists really hard this time and seems to be in control of the body when he makes a split second decision and dashes toward the rooftop’s ledge, sends a-thousand-words look Ahjumma/Soon-ae’s way then lets himself fall to the ground.
Possessed Sung-jae is an awful character committing horrendous crimes, but it still saddened me to see the real Sung-jae resort to suicide, even if that may be the only way to put an end to those hellish nightmares. Frankly, in the long moments when he recalls the better memories of his life, i was pondering if there’s a way for him to move on with life after the malevolent ghost is banished… One can argue that the one going on murder spree wasn’t 100% Sung-jae so how he’s going to be punished fairly for that? Would anybody believe his mitigation that it was the works of an evil spirit? Unlikely. With that in mind, the decision to end his life is probably the best one he can come up with, when he is in his right mind and in complete control of his own body.
I thus couldn’t believe my eyes when it’s revealed that he, out of anyone, survived and looks whole despite amnesiac, whether caused by the fall or due to ghost un-possession remains unclear. That is arguably the show’s biggest twist. I couldn’t believe it went there aside from giving Eun-hee her happy-ish ending. Can she not love anyone else? I mean, we’ve been told that Sung-jae was fated to live alone (possibly because of Soon-ae’s early departure) so how that works out if she continues to stay by his side?
Oh well, that’s the thing about dramas i guess? When we love a good character so much we want him/her to live, they kill him/her. When hated an evil one so much we want him/her to die, they save him/her. It’s not that i’m entirely displeased to see our only not-so-bad guy alive, but things just don’t add up.
If you were surprised to see how fleeting the separation angst lasted, you might be as surprised to see how quickly the main mystery was resolved. When you put your mind to it, works get done a whole lot faster, huh? ‘Cuz it practically took Soon-ae around 2 episodes to suspect Sung-jae, regain the memory about how she died, and get him cornered that the rest seems to be made out of fluff. Like how she spends majority of her ghost-time chasing after the wrong thing. Lucky for her, she manages to resolve her grudge right before her 3-year period is up. All that’s left to do is saying goodbyes to her dearest circle: Ahjumma, Dad, Bong-sun, and last but not least, Chef.
“If people knew when death was coming and could say goodbye, how nice would that be? It’s just not possible and that’s why life is this way. That’s why you’ve got to live each day hard like it’s precious. […] Farewell, Shin Soon-ae! You lived a good life, Soon-ae-ya!”
Naturally, saying goodbye beforehand is impossible, but despite her cut short life, Soon-ae manages to do so the second time around before she departs for good. The biggest tear-jerker is obviously her moments with Dad (Lee Dae-yeon). That he’s able to see and talk to her in her real form is already sentimental, but then she goes on and adds it isn’t time for them to reunite yet and to meet again after he sees Kyung-mo marries and has kids, because then they can live happily together for thousands of years — how do you expect my eyes to stay dry at that, Ghostess??
Her final scene with Chef isn’t as emotional mainly because he still looks darn uncomfortable around her he doesn’t even make much eye contact and i spent every passing second wondering when she’s gonna stand her as herself. Yes, she’s inside Bong-sun one last time, and Park Bo-young conveys Soon-ae’s emotions acutely well, but i wanted Soon-ae to have at least one moment with Chef in her real form. It doesn’t hurt to have Kim Seul-gi there shortly after he realizes it’s her because she can definitely pull it off. Thankfully, in the end Chef calls her by her name “Shin Soon-ae” *tears* which is enough of an acknowledgement for her to go without any lingering regret.
The last one to bid her goodbye is Shaman Ahjumma though, which made me tear up one last time because you can feel she’s the one most affected by her departure being the one most attached to her, not Bong-sun although Soon-ae arguably is her first friend… Regardless, that marks the end of Oh My Ghostess story as what follows is a 50-minute epilogue, which allows lots of rooms for Bong-sun to grow as a person and a cook, beside or apart from Chef, and gives nearly everyone a happy ending, down to Stalker The Dog. LOL!
So how does it remind me of 49 Days? Both wandering souls are able to touch more lives in their bodiless form, namely unearthing, exposing, and putting an end to two-faced bad guy’s shenanigans; saving Dad’s life and business; imparting life lessons and zest to the lifeless host as well as getting her a new family (even though Bong-sun has Shaman Grandma). What they gain for themselves is the chance to experience true love, even though in Soon-ae’s case, it isn’t fully reciprocated. In the end, the hosts’ personalities mirror the ghosts a lot that you wonder how similar the two are, or how much a person can change.
Speaking of Grannie, i did wish she were more developed as a character other than the one bequeathing the ghost-seeing ability. There are times when i believed her percipient and supernatural abilities can be written into the story as plot devices. Because it’s weird that she can sense someone is coming beforehand but is completely unaware of Bong-sun’s plights especially when she was kidnapped. That said, what happened to Bong-sun’s ghost-seeing ability? Has she overcome her fears of spotting ghosts? Has she found meaning in that ‘gift’, like what Tae Gong-shil discovered in Master’s Sun? It’s dropped just like that sans satisfying closure as if it’s only a means to communicate with Soon-ae.
In the end, Oh My Ghostess is a show i’m sad to say goodbye to because it was fun while it lasted but also managed to swept me along and care for the characters. It also struck me as one of the rare shows with unnoticeable mid-series lull, although some of its plot points put me on the fence. There are plenty of zany, silly, swoony, heartwarming, and heartfelt moments that make every episode as enjoyable and addicting as it was. Add to that thoroughly engaging and solid performances from its cast, not only the main characters but also the side characters like Shaman Ahjumma (Lee Jung-eun), Chef’s passive-aggresive mother (Shin Eun-kyung), lovely non-manipulative second female lead So-hyung (Park Jung-ah), even Soon-ae’s spoiled lil bro Kyung-mo (Lee Hak-joo), not to mention the foursome Chefs who always provide comic relief and show great camaraderie and teamwork although quoting @OCDDee on Twitter: “I could do with a lot less Sous Chef (Kang Ki-young) and a heck of lot more Cordon (Kwak Si-yang).” Yup, no question about that 😉
Everybody is gushing about how amazing Park Bo-young, Kim Seul-gi, or Im Joo-hwan is, and i don’t beg to differ. Park Bo-young is superb in portraying the dual role even though the differences blur toward the end, especially during the D-Day scene; Kim Seul-gi is refreshing; Im Joo-hwan is killing his role; and Jo Jung-seok is stealing hearts. But an honorable mention should be given to Lee Hak-joo. Kyung-mo is annoying and super dramatic, but he delivers his lines, however short or ludicrous, with no less than an in-the-moment acting. Boy’s good~
Director: Yoo Je-won
Production: tvN, 2015
Cast: Park Bo-young, Jo Jung-seok, Kim Seul-gi, Im Joo-hwan, Lee Jung-eun, Lee Dae-yeon
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Fantasy, Supernatural, K-drama (16 Episodes)