Do you want some eerie Halloween feels way before it starts? Turn your TVs on or use up that monthly subscription from your favorite provider and watch 방법 or The Cursed. If you are a fan of stories that involve curses, shamans, necromancy, and the like, this 12-episode drama is for you! But a word of warning, this drama is not for the faint-hearted.
Warning: Spoilers Ahead
The story follows the connected fates of a tenacious journalist, a sixteen-year-old orphan with a gift, a social media conglomerate possessed by an evil spirit, and his trusted shaman. It starts with two ladies visiting a strange house in the middle of a mountain where a mother and child live.
The mother is a shaman with weakened powers who relies on her child, Baek So Jin (played by Jeong Ji So), to perform the curses. To do this, all they need is a photo, a personal item of the one to be cursed, and their name written in Chinese characters.
The curse is enacted but this has a physical toll on So Jin, stigma in the form of red marks all over her arms. Her mother pleads and cries for her as she does this. She keeps on muttering the words “this will be the last one” indicating that she hopes for and plans for a better future with So Jin, away from living off curses and shamanism.
Little did they know, that would be the last curse that they will perform. That fateful night, a group of men led by a mysterious woman came to their house as So Jin’s mother drank in despair. So Jin sees as a man rushes towards her mother and kills her with one hit. The other men pour gasoline all over the house and set it on fire as the perpetrators – Chairman Jin Jong-Hyun (played by Sung Dong-il) and his shaman Jin Kyung (Jo Min-Soo) – watch the house ablaze.
As she runs for her life, she commits to memory the faces of those present that night as well as a promise of revenge that will take her years to enact. Here are the things that made me stick to the end with this drama:
The Normal and the Supernatural
Throughout the series, you would be taken into a journey of dissonance between believing things based on concrete evidence and facts versus unexplainable occurrences that are heavily leaning into the supernatural.
Since Jin-Hee (played by Uhm Ji-won) is a journalist married to Sung Joon (played by Jung Moon-sung) who is a policeman, you would already have an idea that both of them rely on the truth through facts and evidence to write and solve crimes.
Jin-hee and Sung-joon are torn between the choice to solve the crime with facts to incriminate Chairman Jin and his men or resort to the use of So Jin’s ability which also risks her life.
Social Media Madness and Empathy (or lack thereof)
This drama also tackles a rampant issue about social media etiquette of internet users. As the story progresses, it is revealed that the final procedure that will be performed by the antagonists is a curse that they will enact through the use of a social media platform called “Forest.” This app allows people to post hate comments and upload a photo of someone they know – from bosses, to friends, down to people who just simply annoy them.
With the current situation on social networking sites now, this gleans into one problem that is the lack of respect for one’s opinion and lack of empathy for others. We know that the internet is a space where you can express yourself freely but let’s not forget that a little kindness and lots of respect go a long way.
Another thing that made me enjoy the show despite the creepiness is the mention and critical plot point use of Japanese folklore like the inugami and tsukumogami. Inugami is a cursed dog spirit made by burying the dog up to its neck, the head is spared and then lured with food until it dies of hunger. The vengeful spirit that remains is what becomes the inugami.
A tsukumogami on the other hand is a spirit that resides within an object that is more than a hundred years old. The older the object, the stronger tsukumogami it manifests. The show accurately depicts important details with regard to the spiteful inugami and effectiveness of tsukumogami as hundred-year-old spirits.
In Japanese folklore, it was believed that those possessed by an Inugami showed markings like scratches of a dog in their bodies – the same ones seen in the hands of So Jin and Chairman Jin Jong Hyun. It was later revealed that they are possessed by the same spirit making things more complicated!
These are just a few things that made me watch this drama until the end and I’m sure you’ll have a thrilling yet satisfying experience too! Again, I wouldn’t recommend this for those who get squeamish with gory scenes – coz there’s a lot!
Penned by the director of Train To Busan, The Cursed will definitely give you chills and keep you on your seats as the story progresses. The ending of this drama may have opened a lot of possibilities for a new season but we just have to wait for it and see this drama now for ourselves.