The Guest main poster
The Guest main poster
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A threatening spirit caused a tragedy that left three broken young souls. Twenty years later, these people, still haunted by their horrific experience, meet, and together they face the same malevolent spirit. Their bond grows stronger, with friendship developed, and eventually good wins over evil.

This is the 2018 K-drama “The Guest”. It is a horror series from South Korea directed by Kim Hong-Sun, the PD of top-notch thrillers ‘Liar Game’ and ‘Voice’, which alone is enough to get all excited. This drama is mainly about a spirit named Park Il Do that shows up every few decades and starts a wave of serial killings in a town. It also explores the depths of ugliness in humans and spirits alike. The main characters, Kim Dong-Wook is the psychic, Kim Jae-Wook is the priest, and Jung Eun-Chae is the cop, and the three of them band together to unravel the strange mystery surrounding the murders. Anyone have goosebumps yet?

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The characters

Kim Jae-Wook takes on the priest’s role, named Choi Yoon. Cynical and cold, this priest specialises in exorcisms and was chosen to do so because of his strong determination and will against evil with a traumatic childhood experience. He might play for the good guys, however, that doesn’t build him all that friendly. Also, he prefers to go at it alone and is reluctant to get involved in different people’s lives. In the teaser of ‘The Guest’, he commands a demon to go back to hell as scenes of people with signs of possession are shown.

Then there is Yoon Hwa-Pyung played by Kim Dong-Wook, who has both shamanistic and psychic abilities. Which are certainly helpful in his mission to seek out those who are possessed and chase out the ghosts from their human hosts. Coincidentally, he also had a traumatic childhood experience that burdened him with a darkness in his heart. His character lives a relatively normal life at least on the outside. Maybe he adjusted better as he comes from a generational shaman family. Despite his “normal life,” he’s been attempting to find an evil spirit that lives within the past and the present together with his psychic abilities.

And last but certainly not least is Kang Gil-Young played by Jung Eun-Chae, who’s a hard-hitting detective, whose energy and dedication to her cases exposes her to the physical danger that even makes veteran male detectives flinch. While she doesn’t initially believe in the supernatural, through her association with the two male leads she starts to fear the unknown and get more involved with the priest and the psychic, and fight supernaturally-related crime.

Kim Dong-Wook, Kim Jae-Wook, and Jung Eun-Chae, the three main characters deliver very believable performances that work perfectly with their individual characters. Each of them has their own personal vendetta against this supremely wicked spirit and together, they’ll look for Sohn (The Guest) a term utilised by Hwa-Pyung’s hometown to refer to people possessed by evil spirits, particularly those haunted by Park Il Do.

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The spirit

As part of the drama’s great narrative, the evil spirit Park Il Do is certainly a really memorable one. Not only did he manipulated lives, but he also preyed on peoples’ fears and tested their faith. His manner of manipulating individuals displayed how twisted Park Il Do actually was. The spirit’s background story gave a glimpse of how he became such a vengeful entity. His mind worked differently from the beginning that caused his family to isolate him. The years of his family’s indifference and neglect caused the then-human Park Il Do to conceal ill-feelings and malicious thoughts. Which caused his family to eventually die with him.

The spirits refer to themselves as ‘we’ and even have names and this attracts heavily from the Bible and makes us believe that the writers have done their homework, taking note to completely different religious beliefs on demons and spirits in order to deliver something new however not entirely extraordinary. The script and plot are each extremely intriguing as it correlates with Chinese traditional knowledge about a water ghost or demon and is influenced by The Exorcist. It additionally combines traditional folklore and mythology with Catholicism, the exorcising practices and beliefs regarding demons stemming from a Christian perspective.

There are numerous intriguing factors regarding the demon Park Il Do since the murders and possession occur once night falls and since it comes from the sea. The demon also requires water and thirsts for it throughout its weakest moments. These aspects to the story really give it a movie atmosphere, further darkening the atmosphere of the show and questioning your saneness for thinking you’d be able to watch this in the dark.

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Moral of the drama

This series is targeted on eerie supernatural events that may or might not transpire in real life however all throughout its entire run, it's focused on just one subject – humanity.Faith, friendship, loyalty, sacrifice, hope, and the will to survive, are just some of the things that make us human. And ‘The Guest’ was able to touch on these things and even the darkest sides of each.

Although the events are fictitious, the message is clear that there is no evil that can’t be defeated. Humans make mistakes and may feel deep anger towards somebody but good always prevails. We will face challenges that make our firm resolve but, in the end, it is always our choice whether we will let evil consume us or face it head-on to achieve results for the good of all.

It might be strange to think that a horror-filled show could be a source of hope and peace — but in a way, it was. It showed that people who come together for a common goal to eradicate some aspect of evil, despite all being from very different backgrounds and experiences, might actually be triumphant. Yes, there could be some losses and injuries along the way. But by working together, trusting one another, be willing to sacrifice for one another, this unlikely trio was able to prevent evil from destroying more people’s lives, including their own. It’s a dark show, but they're strangely is still a lot of light to it.

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Reasons to watch it

Horror fans are finally going to get what they’ve longed for because this show is all about the occult, set as a dark, gritty, and oppressive thriller. And this combination of characters isn’t common for K-dramas, so we’re presented with something we’d normally find in a wild novel or the characters of a horror manga or anime. In this regard, the content is new and bold.

This is a sort of drama that grows on you. Sure, the premise is dark and horrifying that may be a reason enough to scare some people away. Which made ‘The Guest’ a real horror masterpiece. Combined with the great narrative, it absolutely was enough to encourage even the faint of hearts or non-horror fans to watch and end the complete series. From the start to its last episode, there have been no uninteresting moments. The employment of flashbacks strengthened the plot points that added to the drama’s hook. There are enough light-weight moments to provide contrast to its dark theme. However, each episode manages to keep your attention and makes you eager to know what would happen next.

Always remember that, all bad things eventually start from the hearts of people, which is what we wanted to depict. If you have some ill-feelings and malicious thoughts about something or somebody then you should definitely throw away that thoughts right now. Otherwise, who knows, you can also be the human Park Il Do which is not good for anyone, not even you.

Rumaiysa M Rahman is a 10th grader at Viqarunnisa Noon School and College, Dhaka