Sunday, October 21, 2012

Arang and the Magistrate Final Review

If you are wondering whether or not you should watch Arang and the Magistrate, I will save you the time spent speculating. WATCH IT! SPOILER WARNING beyond this point.

Lee Jun Ki and Shin Min Ah as Kim Eun Ho and Arang episode 1
Shin Min Ah is perfect, of course. She is beautiful, but also tough. I think that she is my favorite Kdrama actress after watching her as Arang. Lee Jun Ki is great as well, I was affected the most not by the love story between Arang and Eun Ho, though it was beautiful, but by the pain KEH went through as a child and adult because of his mother's desire for revenge.

Kim Eun Ho and Arang episode 19
Desire was the star here. What is your greatest desire? I really began to think about this while watching. The characters were living and dying by their desires. In fact Mu Yeon's greatest earning was to have desire. But does getting what you want really satiate the appetite? I think the answer is no. Wanting for something is human (and apparently nonhuman as well), and it is not a part of living that can be avoided. I think this is what made me feel sympathetic toward Ju Wal. Even though he was killing innocent people to live a comfortable life, I could see the sadness in him. He made a choice to want to have what others take for granted, he can't be blamed for choosing that path as a young boy.

I don't think the point of this story is to make desire seem evil or selfish, though, because Arang's desire in the end to keep her love alive through her or KEH's memories was something she was willing to sacrifice herself for. It wasn't a selfish want, she was earning to leave the least amount of pain for KEH as she could. KEH, on the other hand, learned through Arang that caring more about other people is the type of desire that can lead to the most satisfying result, if not to complete satisfaction of the want. The drama started with KEH ignoring injustice and disregarding his oppurtunity to help those who were suffering through his power.After his time spent with a woman who was constantly struggling between life and death and heaven and hell, he realized that desire can be the best motivation when used correctly, unlike his mother's want for revenge.

I could go on for days about Arang and the Magistrate because there are so many amazing characters, relationships, and plot lines to discuss. There is Mu Young and Mu Yeon's relationship, the Jade Emperor, Heaven and Hell, Dol Soe and the Shaman, ghosts, and Lee Seo Rim and Arang's shared soul, but I need to think more about all of this. I may write more about it later, though. But, I would like to touch on the ending. I found it to be beautiful and unexpected, and it wasn't rushed. I think it implies hopefulness because the sweet and wonderful memories in life are what sustain us through the rest of it. If we can hold onto those memories even beyond this existence (wherever or whatever that beyond may be), then we are not merely marching toward death, but collecting treasure that we will hold onto for eternity.

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