Q3 Pitstop: The Kdramas of 2016

Let’s Fight Ghostlfg00

The gist

Park Bong-pal is a smart but aloof college student who has the ability to see and touch ghosts. He works part-time as an exorcist, saving money to eventually have his gift removed. He meets a teenage ghost who thinks she can’t cross over because she wasn’t able to take the SATs before dying.

 The good:

– The perfect balance of scary and funny. I’m a total chicken when it comes to horror, but somehow this show worked for me. It doesn’t hold back on the scary though – the ghosts freaked me out and there were senseless deaths. But it found the right timing to switch to (slapstick) comedy and steer the mood back to positive. Kang Ki-young and David Lee did a great job in providing the much-needed comic relief, but were capable of admirable and heartwarming acts as well. Caution though that this may not be everyone’s cup of tea.

– The refreshing characters and their adorable chemistry. I like how main characters veered away from the typical frustrating drama tropes, and had the opportunity to naturally grow. It’s awesome to have a cute but badass female lead who knew what she wanted and was not afraid to say how she feels (which is really the root of all drama conflicts). Same goes with Bong-pal, who can sort out his feelings on his own and was quick to act on them. It enabled the show to resolve conflicts more efficiently and move along the bigger plotlines.

Full disclosure: I have a soft spot for Ok Taecyeon, and I couldn’t bring myself to criticize his acting like I would with any other actor. While still lacking in emotional scenes, this is an improvement from his Cinderella’s Sister and Dream High days. He suits lighter roles (with bubbly moments) like this, and he’s got the loveliest chemistry with Kim So-hyun even though she’s 11 years younger. Speaking of his leading lady, this is the cutest role I’ve seen her in, and she handled the emotional parts of the script very well. But I shouldn’t also forget the comedic duo of Ghostnet/Soondae Soup – Kang Ki-young and David Lee – who stole the scene with their antics and bromance. They played such an important role of balancing the overall tone of the show; they really should’ve made it to the official posters.

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The bad:

– The rather slow main plot progression. Others may not find it so, but I sometimes just want to hit fast forward on the big mystery that was getting pieced together rather slowly. Allotting airtime between the featured ghost of the episode and the main storyline can be tricky. While clues about the overarching plot were getting more obvious to the point that the audience already pieced them together, the show took its time getting there that nothing was a surprise anymore. Looking back, it might have been a deliberate move to stall the reveal and stretch out the material. If we take away the fun moments and the action, the angstier/darker parts of the show can be a little dragging.

– Some loopholes and blurred details. With so much to uncover, it’s understandable to have some plot holes and undisclosed secrets. But it’s a bit weird that the hero’s backstory was revealed in scraps when it was the very root of the central plot. While we get pieces of the villain’s identity throughout, Bong-pal’s significance is dumped towards the end (and incompletely at that). The show could have given the audience a better understanding of his gift and more importantly, of how it affected him and his family at a deeper level.


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The verdict

Summer nights are perfect for ghost stories, and this drama’s timing couldn’t have been any better. Based on a webtoon, Let’s Fight Ghost was an interesting take on the ghost-related stories we’ve already seen. Naturally it would be compared to similar dramas like Master’s Sun, Oh My Ghostess (especially this drama!), or even 49 Days, but the drama showcased a different kind of appeal to the audience. The premise sounds ridiculous at the onset – the part about beating up ghosts, among others – but the production treated it in a way that is still appealing and entertaining. At the very core though, you have the timeless story of good vs. evil, and the power of one’s will in choosing the right path. It may have had a combo of drama tropes we love to roll our eyes on, but somehow Let’s Fight Ghost delivered them in a believable way. I’d like to credit that partly to the clever writing and attention to detail (I even love their PPL’s, so smart), and partly to the cast we cared about all throughout.

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