Gyeongseong Creature

Gyeongseong Creature

TV-MA

netflix

Monsters are less scary than colonial occupation in this period mystery-romance

7.1

TV Show

South Korea
Korean
Action & Adventure, Mystery, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
2023
JUNG DONG-YOON
Claudia Kim, Han So-hee, Jo Han-chul

TLDR

To be honest, the show isn’t as scary as expected – it's definitely tamer than fellow creature drama Sweet Home – but it’s still thrilling, especially in the later episodes.

What it's about

Gyeongseong, Spring 1945. Japan struggles to maintain its control over Joseon. While wealth and information insulates pawn broker Jang Tae-sang from war’s full horrors, a high ranking officer coerces him to investigate his mistress’s disappearance, which leads him to team up with hardened private eye Yoon Chae-ok, and discover the monstrous secret of the Ongseong Hospital.

The take

More lush period piece than scary science fiction, Gyeongseong Creature promised a terrifying creature, but it starts slow, dedicating more of its time to its humans than immediately battling monsters. This helps establish the romance, especially as hardened private eye Yoon Chae-ok appeals to privileged pawn broker Jang Tae-sang’s sense of duty, as well as the historical context behind the story. In doing so, the show confronts the violence of the Japanese occupation of Korea through implication rather than directly recreating these horrors. It’s all the more satisfying when the action begins, as Chae-ok and Tae-sang shift their priorities from doing a job to actively undermining the evil hospital’s efforts. Gyeongseong Creature might not let its creature loose early, but its true horror lies not with the monster created, but with the abuses permitted by war.

What stands out

Korea was occupied by Japan before World War II ended, and during the occupation, horrific war crimes happened, including disappearances, human experimentation, and forced sexual slavery by the Imperial Japanese Army. The missing women of Gyeongseong Creature may have a different reason to their disappearances, but there’s a similar fear and terror at being unable to find one’s loved ones, and being unable to fully comprehend the horrors ahead of you. The first few episodes does, admittedly, take its time to get there, and it starts calmly, slowly, on the safe side of the discussion, but it’s still an interesting approach to tackling a painful and hard-to-discuss time period in Korean history.

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