Isn’t this a curious thing? If I hadn’t let procrastination get the better of me, this post would’ve turned out quite different. First, it would’ve been much shorter because I haven’t really had all that much to say about the show as I’d been watching casually. Until last week that is, when Oh My Ghost became a whole lot more interesting. Like, A LOT more interesting and now I’m eager see how everything going to play out.
So, yay procrastination!
This isn’t to say I haven’t enjoyed the show thus far, quite the opposite. It’s just that what I’ve enjoyed most about show seemed to only emerge occasionally. Because oddly for a rom-com, I’m not particularly invested in the “rom” part of the equation (I know! I must be crazy!) though I do enjoy it, and I don’t find the “com” all that funny. I’ll get to the romance in a bit, but the comedy, since we’re on the subject, just isn’t what the show does best. It puts the heavy-lifting squarely on the shoulders of its actors, in which case an actor like Park Bo Young can pull off because she can effortlessly make whiny aegyo seem charming, while an actor like the guy who plays sous chef comes off as grating, like a flapping, squawking duck.
But back to what I like about the show. Oddly again for a rom-com, it’s its sadness and a light touch of melancholy in the air that I really love here. (Or maybe it isn’t so odd considering its rather macabre context?.) There’s a lot of loss in this show. Many of its characters have been marked by the loss of someone or something and carry it with them in ways not always apparent — for In Kyung, it’s the death of her husband (hinted at); for Sun Woo’s sister, her mobility and her career as a dancer; Sun Woo, his best friend (In Kyung’s husband); and most obviously, Soon Ae’s father.
The show really has had wonderful moments of quiet reflection where characters get to sit with their sadness, like in episode 3 where we saw a lovely juxtaposition of Sun Woo and Soon Ae narrating their sad regrets, each lost in their loneliness as walk past each other in the rain. After sending In Kyung back home and turning down her invitation for him to come in, we see a flashback that explains their dynamic, and he tells us:
“The reason why love is sad isn’t because two people are amiss.
It’s because the timing is amiss,
And once you miss the timing you can’t turn things back.”
And then we hear Soon Ae, rejected by her father and crushed after learning that Sung Jae is married, grappling with her liminality as she looks at a reflection that isn’t hers:
Yes I was briefly mistaken.
I’m not Na Bong Sun.
I’m not Shin Soon Ae either.
I’m just a ghost.
Oh Soon Ae! She really broke my heart in episode 10. Our ghostie has developed feelings for Sun Woo, human feelings, feelings she didn’t, couldn’t, experience when she was alive. Her deep regret was so plaintive and spilled out with so much genuine pathos that my sadfeels threatened to overwhelm me. As a personality who isn’t instinctively self-reflective, who has been up until now a whirling tornado of confident exuberance, to see her break down and grieve for a life that could have been, to be so torn, I just felt for her deeply.
And from what I gather from grumblings on the internet, I’m one of the few. Soon Ae hasn’t earned much sympathy from audiences. I can see how her relentlessness can be off-putting. She’s been reckless and her wonton disregard for boundaries is troubling. But she does nothing of these out of maliciousness. And she’s not the third wheel here. She doesn’t exist to solely get in way of Sun Woo and Bong Sun. It makes me sad that there seems to be so much resistance to her for reasons that miss this point.
Soon Ae’s greedy for time, hungry for life. Can you blame her? And isn’t the drama all about living after all? Of not letting time slip through your fingers because it can be so cruelly snatched away from you? Of not holding back and wasting chances because you can never go back? Who embodies this better than Soon Ae?
Or am I the one who’s missing the point? And this is where I have to side-eye the show a little. Is it deliberately toying with our expectations? Is the show fucking with us? Is it trying to do something unconventional while presenting itself in a conventional package? Because genre conventions dictate that Bong Sun is The One. But then the show pulled a bait-and-switch by not giving us much of Bong Sun, perhaps hoping we wouldn’t notice because it was all Park Bo Young anyway.
Whatever it’s trying to do, the show is unbalanced, and though it has established a connection between Sun Woo and Bong Sun outside of her possession by Soon Ae fairly well, it hasn’t allowed Bong Sun to develop as herself, and that is a huge missing piece of this puzzle. We know too little about her, a heroine the show is asking us to root for while she pursues her man by proxy. Which is a little bizarre if you think about it. It’s like the show is thwarting its own ship.
And perhaps this is the cause of all this animus against Soon Ae because shit’s confusing, man! There are So. Many. Questions. Like, what are the rules of possession in this world? One minute Soon Ae’s stuck and the next she isn’t. What happens to Bong Sun while Soon Ae’s possess her body? Where does she go? Is Sun Woo in love with two different people? Why do people on this show talk to themselves so much?
What is this show up to? Is this really a romance, with not just one heroine, but two? Or is the show just weak and I’m giving it too much credit and overthinking things?
And probably the most important question of all: what’s going to happen next?!