The Stain
KBS2 (Nov.16,2022) 1 Hr. Drama Special
 Horror, Grade: B+
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

I stumbled across this newly added Korean drama special, The Stain (2022) on Viki and took the plunge, even though I didn't know what it was going to be about, but only because I recognized from the poster the young lead actor Cha Hak Yeon from the longer, earlier Korean dramas Tunnel and Children Of Nobody, and had been very impressed by him in those two stories. He wowed me in this drama too! I had no idea it was going to become a horror story when I started it: Cha Hak Yeon's character seemed so nice in the beginning: a poor, misunderstood college student majoring in classical piano. How does a screenplay writer develop a character in only one hour's time from an apparently nice kid to an insane criminal psychopath? Well, this writer, Yoo Myung Jae, succeeded in doing so, and so powerfully that by the end I was in tears. Fair warning though: if you do not like horror stories I would steer clear of this one: it might give you nightmares when you fall asleep at night! It definitely gave me a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde feeling.

The Story:

College student Gong Ji Hoon (Cha Hak Yeon) is majoring in classical piano, but rarely gets time to practice, since he has a part time job at a convenience grocery store after his classes are over for the day, and his family is far too poor to buy a piano for him. He desperately wants to win an opportunity offered at the college to visit Europe, to study his beloved instrument in more depth, but the music professor (Oh Na Ra, My Mister, Chip In), making the decision as to which student will be privileged to go on the trip to Europe, sees something negative in Ji Hoon, and keeps denying him the chance to win, even though he is brilliant at the instrument. "Practice more," he is told, but how can he? The rehearsal rooms at the school are almost always booked solid, and he rarely gets a chance to procure one for even an hour of practice time! All this stress chips away at his self-esteem. He rarely smiles. Life is just too stressful for him. His family doesn't seem to care about him at all, just the money he brings in from his part-time job.


One day he helps a fellow male student (Lee Si Woo), who gets wildly drunk at a party, back to his rich apartment to crash. However, when Ji Hoon gets back home he realizes he left his wallet at the rich kid's apartment. The rich student gives Ji Hoon his lock password to retrieve his wallet, and when Ji Hoon enters the apartment he falls in love with a grand piano inside and spends several hours playing it, until he collapses from exhaustion late at night. When he wakes in the morning he is sad to think he has to return home to the slum he lives in with his family.

Ji Hoon learns that this rich kid will be away for several weeks and he makes the fatefully bad decision to keep returning to that luxury apartment to play that gorgeous piano. (You'd think the rich kid would be smart enough to change his apartment's password afterward, but nooooooo ..... ).

Then during one of these practice sessions at the luxury apartment who should enter but the rich kid's ex-girlfriend, Joo Shi Young (Byeon Seo Yun, wacky performance!), and this strange girl threatens to call the police on Ji Hoon. He knows that if she does so his chance to win the contest to go to Europe will be lost for good, so he ends up tying this brazen girl in a chair, which causes her to become even more hysterical. At first Ji Hoon tries to reason with her, but she hates his guts, and threatens him again and again. Not very wise!

Days go by with the two of them playing cat and mouse with one another. Then suddenly who should return to the apartment early but the rich kid, who, when he sees TWO invaders in his apartment, starts to lose it as well. What will happen to this bizarre trio, who at one point in the story had seemed like rather normal college students, but who by the end completely lose control? And what could that "stain" be that is symbolic of the whole avoidable mess? I'll leave that for you to discover, if you're curious enough to check it out. :)