Let's Fight, Ghost!
싸우자 귀신아
tvN (Summer 2016) 16 Episodes
Supernatural, Romantic Comedy, Grade: C+
Korean Drama Review by Jill, USA

The only reason I bothered watching this summertime Korean ghost drama aimed mostly at teenagers was because of its two leading actors, whom I love, Taecyeon Ok (Cinderella's Sister, Dream High, Who Are You?, Touching You) and Kim So Hyun (The Suspicious Housekeeper, The Moon Embracing The Sun, I Miss You, Birth Secret). If they hadn't been the stars it's a show I would have easily skipped because it was a ghost story very much derivative of prior ghost-themed romantic comedies that were done much better, like Master's Sun. Loosely based on a webtoon written by Im In Seu and adapted by new scriptwriter Lee Dai Il, the drama apparently didn't touch on some of the deeper issues brought up in the written / graphic format of the story. Though I haven't read it I did see comments like this one from someone who did: "I would have loved it if I didn't read the comic before watching this ... where the book shines with deep psychological questions on life and death as it tells interesting stories, the drama is simply a romantic comedy."
While I was watching it I accurately predicted ahead of time everything that would happen in the plot. I had to tell my daughter, "Honey, if you see me start to fall asleep on this drama please nudge me awake!" The two leading actors have lots of charm and managed to pull this one off more smoothly than it deserved, due to their great professionalism, but it's certainly not one of the better written K-dramas I've watched. This one was actually #286 for me, so of course I'm not a newbie just discovering these actors with delight for the first time, rather I'm a veteran viewer and I am a lot pickier about the dramas when I write my reviews now, so I can be honest with you and inform you about those shows which I think are either great or mediocre. I can't really recommend this show for anyone smart who is over twenty years old. It's not exactly intellectually stimulating. tvN's disclaimer actually stated it was for those fifteen years or older, which I thought very funny. They didn't go far enough and give you an end age after which you'd be more likely to fall asleep on it.

The cast of Let's Fight, Ghost!

Besides the derivative writing stealing from other K-dramas, possessing literally no sparks of uniqueness, there was another problem I had with this show: the ghosts were not sympathetic types, like they were in Master's Sun, rather they were filled with belligerence and anger (and we got no explanations as to why), and I got tired of all the fighting, especially in the first three episodes. I want to learn something about the characters first before I am assaulted with constant CGI fight scenes. I'm the same way with gangster shows, that's why I could never make it through a drama like Heartless City: after two episodes of men constantly fighting and killing each other, with no explanation as to why, I threw my hands up in the air and said, "Enough!" and even though I liked the two main stars in that drama I couldn't ever make myself go back to it. Introduce me to characters FIRST so I can CARE about them, and then if there are fights I can understand why and root more for the people involved and their reasons behind the fights. Violence just for violence's sake, to titillate an audience, bores me to no end.

Another reason I had troubles with this show is that I couldn't ever feel much sympathy for the side characters (and the best K-dramas always have side characters you love and care for just as much as the leads). The side characters here were either too silly or just didn't make much sense. The two male friends of the main couple (pictured above) didn't do anything for me; they were there for clown effects but their personalities left me cold. I didn't think they were funny, or even cute. Were they trying to suggest these two characters were gay? They were never clear on it. Fine if they were, but have enough courage in your script to boldly declare it instead of just thinly suggesting it, like having them holding hands entering a building. In strong storytelling let your nae be nae and your yay be yay. Don't beat about the bush in today's day and age, it insults people's intelligence.

The older father figure to the main male lead character was supposed to be some kind of a Buddhist monk but he never seemed to bathe and his clothes and hair looked filthy all the time. When I see monks portrayed in other K-dramas and K-films they are always fastidiously clean and they don't wear rags and they rarely leave their Buddhist temples: this guy was all over the city looking like a grown up Pigpen from the Peanuts' cartoons. LOL. I actually like the actor who played him,
Kim Sang Ho from City Hunter, but this character did nothing for me. Also the young actor who played the villain Kwon Yool (One More Happy Ending) seemed like he was walking through his part with one expression on his face: he needed to emote more, and that's the director's fault, not his. He also had a pasty complexion and the camera kept going in VERY CLOSE to his face during close ups. It's not so bad when an actor has beautiful skin but if he / she does not it can be rather painful to look at (for the audience and probably for the actor, too!).

The Story:

We are introduced to a high school senior named Bong Pal (Taecyeon Ok) who has been battling belligerent ghosts in his life since he was a little kid, when he saw his mother die before his eyes and a ghost laughed at him and tormented him afterward for crying. He has joined forces with two young friends who are interested in starting an exorcism business,
named In Rang (Lee David) and Chun Sang (Kang Ki Young). The title of their company, Blood Sausage, was gross and of course made people in the story think they were running a restaurant!. Bong Pal lives with a sunbae (senior) who takes care of him like a father would, a Buddhist monk and spiritual guide named Myung Chul (Kim Sang Ho). 

Then one day Bong Pal meets a female teenage ghost who seems a bit different than the other ghosts he has encountered, named Hyun Ji (Kim So Hyun). She has no memories of how she came to die, who her parents were, and she only knows her name because of the name tag pinned to the school uniform she wears as a ghost. She wants Bong Pal to help her learn the facts behind her death and how she can possibly transition to heaven instead of being stuck on earth, wandering around Seoul with no purpose or meaning. After some skirmishes he agrees to help her and of course the more they are thrown together the closer they become until their relationship merges into a romantic one. But can a human and a ghost ever have a permanent, fulfilling relationship?

During the course of their investigations it becomes clear who the person was who wanted her dead, veterinary medicine professor and hospital surgeon Hye Sung (Kwon Yool) who has also been responsible for other deaths as well. He has a malevolent spirit and finds it impossible to be happy. And -- surprise! surprise! (not) -- it becomes apparent that Hyun Ji is not really dead, but her spirit flits around Seoul because she has been in a coma for five years (I saw this coming a mile off). Suddenly her body in the hospital has a heart attack, CPR is done on her by the doctors and magically she becomes fully conscious. Only now she has no memories of what happened to her while she was a spirit, so she no longer remembers Bong Pal (who now is totally in love with her of course) or his two exorcist wannabe buddies In Rang and Chun Sang who had become her friends too (at least in their own minds, anyway).

How it all comes together so that the main characters are happy, and justice is served, makes for a bit more interesting story than all the set up we went through in the beginning. The last four episodes in particular rescue this drama from being a C to becoming a C+ grade show. I think this drama should have been a shorter one and it might have had more impact.

Again, I would say that if you are between 15 and 20 years of age and are pretty new to K-dramas you would no doubt be inclined to like this drama more than I did, so give it a try if you fit into those categories of K-drama fans. Better yet, if you like ghost stories then go to the best K-drama made on that subject,
Master's Sun. That's the show the wannabees try to duplicate but they can never quite achieve its brilliance. (Of course not, they don't have So Jisub and Gong Hyo Jin, and they are not written by the Hong Sisters!).