I find myself experiencing the Baader Meinhof effect when it comes to my content consumption lately having watched Monster which begs the question of who is the monster in a complex, yet simple situation of misunderstandings. I entered 2024 watching one of the latest Korean series on Netflix, Gyeongseong Creature, which takes place in 1945 during Japan’s occupation of Korea. In this supernatural tale, we find the titular force to be a victim of Japanese military science and cruelty. Similar to how the story of Frankenstein asks audiences who the true monster is, the being known as Frankenstein’s monster or its creator, Frankenstein himself, Gyeongseong Creature captures the inhumane treatment the people of Korea felt while under Japanese rule.
Throughout each episode, we find moments like Korean citizens disappearing without explanation, the Japanese police force blatantly ignoring injustices faced by the Korean people, and of course imprisoned Korean people being treated as experiments for science under the guise of Japan’s advancement. However in the face of such dark times, there is a light found in the protagonists.
We first meet Jang Tae-sang, the entrepreneur who made his fortune with his pawnshop, the House of Golden Treasure. He initially comes across as a playboy of sorts whose only focus is to survive the unfortunate circumstances he was born into. When asked by his close friend to put more of his wits and efforts towards the rebellious resistance efforts, he refutes. But for those who stick around, it becomes apparent that while he has chosen to stand proudly as a Korean citizen in his own way, albeit not actively part of the resistance movement, he helps his fellow people of Korea however he can with his wealth, resources, and influence. By the end of Part 1, he really embodies the idea that resistance as well as aid can come in different forms and that it isn’t always about the loudest voices or the largest acts.
Tae-sang is joined by Yoon Chae-ok played by Han So-hee, a sleuth with a penchant for finding people and driven by her own desire to find her mother. When Tae-sang is hesitant to go beyond the demands of the task at hand, Chae-ok is the voice of moral reason who leads them in saving the imprisoned Korean people at Ongseong Hospital.
As Chae-ok and Tae-sang began working together closely I found myself more invested in the series, the storyline, and its characters. And as I hesitated to say that once again I was getting strung along by the romantic elements of another Korean series, I realized Gyeongseong Creature was appealing to my Dorkaholics passion for Batman.
Bear with me now. We have one half affluent orphan deploying his resources and skills to assist his people with surviving the monsters inhabiting their land, and one half daring detective rescuing the innocent from unknown dangers. If that doesn’t sound like Bruce Wayne and Batman to you, then I don’t know what would.
Even without drawing these parallels, I’ve really enjoyed learning more about Korean history, especially Korea-Japan relations in the past, something that I only started being aware of with Pachinko on Apple TV+. Gyeongseong Creature is ultimately a series about maintaining your humanity despite inhumane treatment from the world and that’s a storyline I’m always interested in, because just like choosing to be Batman in a city that took away your parents, remaining steadfast in doing good in a world that continues to show you bad is what I consider being a hero.
Gyeongseong Creature: Part Two is out now on Netflix.
Where to watch Gyeongseong Creature
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