Gyeongseong Creature Season 1 Review – A gripping K-drama about the horrors of colonisation

Season 1

 

 

Episode Guide

Episode 1 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 3 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 4 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 5 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 6 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 7 – | Review Score – 4.5/5
Episode 8 – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Episode 9 – | Review Score – 4/5
Episode 10 – | Review Score – 4/5

The Korean entertainment industry has been booming, coming out with a host of dramas that any one viewer couldn’t possibly keep up with. They span many genres, from romance to horror and fantasy. Among this plethora of stories, Gyeongseong Creature is a thrilling, multi-genre spectacle that stands out as a must-watch.

The series brings horror, fantasy, mystery and even romance together and wraps it up in a historical setting. It is set in Gyeongseong in the year 1945, as Seoul was known back then during the Japanese occupation. A wealthy pawnshop owner, Jang Tae-sang, finds himself in a pickle when a Japanese officer threatens him into finding a missing Korean woman. If not, Tae-sang will lose everything he owns.

He ends up taking the help of master sleuth Yoon Chae-ok, who in turn will take Tae-sang’s aid in finding her mother who disappeared ten years ago. Their investigation leads them to a hospital which seems to harbour dark secrets as well as one terrifying monster.

If this sounds like a puzzling set of disconnected events, that was my initial impression from the show’s synopsis as well. But the exposition sets us up nicely — incidents line up, one leading to the other, ensuring a smooth take off for the drama. What follows is even more intriguing.

The more Gyeongseong Creature Season 1 delves into its core, the more you realise it’s not really about a fantastical creature wreaking havoc beneath a hospital. The story is really about the Japanese occupation of Korea and all the injustices that were carried out in the name of it, from torturing civilians for information to indiscriminate beatings to experimenting on the ‘lesser’ locals.

With every passing episode of Season 1, Tae-sang’s eyes open further to the oppressive nature of the Japanese and his fighting spirit grows. This patriotic vein of the show grows slowly and organically to ultimately make a strong statement on the subject of colonisation, prejudice, power and greed.

At the same time, these themes are not thrown in the viewer’s face. The patriotism comes alongside the thrill of an illegal investigation, a conspiracy around missing women, the tension of a prowling monster, and the love between a mother and daughter.

In this way, it is interlaced with a truly compelling storyline and supported by exceptional writing, where each episode is neatly segregated and comes with title cards that indicate what theme the story will be following. Together, they make a highly gripping season of television.

Part 1 of the season, which primarily takes place inside the hospital, makes perfect use of the confined space to deliver an engaging story — tension peaks, emotions run high, and there is a lot at stake. There is a fixed trajectory the characters move in and watching them change along the way makes for an incredibly enjoyable watch.

Gyeongseong Creature Part 2, however, slows down and the writing loses its footing. Without the fixed setting of the hospital, the script loses direction. The finale does deliver a powerful climax but it closes with deliberate loose ends, some of which even change the tone of the drama itself. In this case, a firm ending would have served the show better but it’s clear that the priority was to keep a path open for the next season. 

Overall, Gyeongseong Creature Season 1 provides a captivating story, authentic three-dimensional characters and an absolutely stunning production. The sets and costumes in particular do a great job of plunging viewers into the past and bringing the historical setting to vivid life.

Music plays a big role in establishing the moods and tensions of each moment. The fight scenes are well choreographed, ensuring they are exciting to watch but also easy to follow. All in all, the drama has a highly polished feel that makes it even easier to get lost in the show.

And then there’s the fantastic cast — Park Seo-joon and Han So-hee offer powerful and evocative performances. Their portrayal of the main leads is credible and emotional without ever leaning towards the dramatic. The rest of the cast, including renowned actors like Kim Hae-sook, Jo Han-chul, and Wi Ha-joon, also deliver nuanced and authentic performances.

The K-drama isn’t without its flaws. Every now and then, there are a few gaps in logic or parts of the plot that could have been explained better. While Tae-sang and Chae-ok’s chemistry is palpable, their romance is rushed and not given the time to grow organically. But these are little things in the face of a drama that has used its solid production value to offer a poignant and moving story.


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  • Verdict - 9/10
    9/10
9/10

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