Under The Black Moonlight
SOHU TV (2016) 2 42 Minute Episodes
Horror Genre
Korean - Chinese Production, Grade: C
Korean Drama Review by Jill USA

I only decided to watch this short horror K-drama because 1) it was on Instant Netflix and therefore easy to watch, 2) it featured a young actor I liked on Late Night Restaurant (2015) named Tae Hyun Nam, who played Min Woo the poor homeless boy so sweetly that I became an instant fan. He actually made me shed a few tears in the first episode of that superlative K-drama, which rarely ever happens with me, so I have never forgotten that (or him).

He made this drama Under The Black Moonlight a year later but I had never even heard of it till it showed up on Netflix in summer 2017 so I thought, "It's probably bad if I heard no scuttlebutt about it," and I was right. His character here was sweet too, in the beginning, but then a dark side came out and I was less than thrilled with how the writer wrote his character (he still tried hard to bring the complex character off but the dialogue was too sappy). When you're young and first starting up in the acting world I guess you take whatever is offered to you, even if it's not very good or memorable. I hope when I see him next in a K-drama it's much better than this show, which I only graded a C (and I was being generous with that, simply because he was in it).

I really don't understand why it's so difficult for the Koreans to make effective horror genre TV K-dramas, when they often excel so much at horror genre films that go first to theaters. Maybe there's more freedom to show violence in films than television dramas, but still, a good writer can surely come up with a solid horror story, aka psychological thriller, if they really put their mind to it, one that would be acceptable for the television market as well. All during this show I kept saying out loud, "It's always Christmas in the basement!" because this drama reminded me so much of another less than effective horror genre K-drama I watched a few years ago called Doll House (2014). In that one a young, innocent girl is threatened with her life, just like in this one, and the aura of the production was very similar. If you'd like to watch a better than average horror genre K-drama I would suggest Nightmare Teacher (2016) with Kim So Hyun, it has more to offer your brain than this mess, but even that I only graded a C+. Still waiting for the day when I can watch a well written horror K-drama.

The Story:

We are introduced to several characters who belong to a drawing - art club in their college, and two are dating,
Kang Woo (Tae Hyun Nam) and Wolha (Kim Soo Hyun, no not the MLFAS actor!). All seem to be good friends for the most part, although one new male student Seong Gyun (Yim Seon Woo) is far more quieter than the others, even though he actually seems to be the best artist of the group.

On a day excursion for the group to an arborateum to sketch, Seong Gyun approaches Wolha alone and tells her to break up with Kang Woo. "I smell wildflowers on you, if you stay with him you'll die." Wildflowers are commonly seen on graves in Korea. She is shocked at his words but does nothing to break up with Kang Woo, a decision she is soon to regret.

Seong Gyun's Warning Words Fall On Deaf Ears

It seems the reason why Seong Gyun dislikes Kang Woo is not due to jealousy but because he grew up watching Kang Woo from a distance because his father was grounds caretaker of Kang Woo's rich family's country estate. Kang Woo's mother (veteran actress Kim Seora) often made Seong Gyun's father bury heavy suitcases in their back yard. Uh oh! What's inside those suitcases? (as if you can't guess). When Mother gets wind that her only son Kang Woo has a new girlfriend in Wolha she is greatly displeased. An aura of incest is palatable between Kang Woo's mother and her son, who seems more and more disturbed now that Mom is back in his life after a trip away. He starts to ignore Wolha and she has no idea why.

The group of friends are invited to Kang Woo's rich mansion for a weekend and something goes horribly wrong. Wolha disappears. The friends hear from her mother that she died in a car accident. She shows the friends the bloody clothes Wolha was wearing when she died and tells them, "The cause of death can't be from a car accident, look at all the dirt on them, and not just blood." All the friends are spooked and start acting strange. Could one of them be responsible for Wolha's death?

Then a new girl student joins the club who looks just like Wolha but has a different name and personality. Turns out (spoiler) it really is Wolha pretending to be someone else in order to find out who tried to kill her and bury her body in Kang Woo's backyard. By this time Kang Woo seems totally insane but it would be too easy to consider him the primary suspect. Someone else is the attempted murderer, and it's not someone you would suspect at all. Just know that (tip) "The love of money is the root of all evil." - 1 Timothy 6:10

If you like to be surprised then maybe you'd enjoy this spooky K-drama more than I did. I really just thought it was corny and could have been better written and produced. Another odd thing about this mini-drama is that it's the third time that I remember the old American folk song Clementine being sung by characters during a K-drama. First was in Spring Waltz, second was Thank You, and now Under The Black Moonlight. Koreans must really have a "thing" for that song! (or maybe it's just because it's public domain so they can use it easily in productions).