[HanCinema's Drama Review] "Drama Special - A Strange Relationship"
By William Schwartz | Published on
With "Who Are You - 2013" and "Master's Sun" there's been plenty of drama lately about people who can see ghosts and how it affects their lives. In "Drama Special - A Strange Relationship", the lead character has a rather different reaction. That is, he has almost no reaction at all to the fact that he moves into an apartment, discovers a ghost, and just stands around talking to as if this spectral entity was just a normal uninvited houseguest.
It's a pretty creepy ghost, too, I'd like to add. She's surrounded by unsettling lighting and a booming, barely comprehensible voice. Everyone else in the apartment building seems frightened just by the abstract possibility that this ghost might exist. And yet here is detective Lee Soo-Hyeon (played by Park Sung-woong), reacting to this situation in a strangely detached way, ruminating more about the drama in his past life and the present murder mystery than the existence of scary ghosts.
This drama special is, at its core element, a mystery. Who murdered the ghost woman and why. But it's the overall situation with the detective that takes on greater narrative focus. Soo-Hyeon seems less like an actual, normal human being than a man who desperately wants to prove something, but it's never particularly clear what. A lot of credit must be given to Park Sung-woong's performance- his poker face is excellent, and doesn't give even a hint about the story's further revelations.
The drama falters somewhat in its horror elements. It's not particularly scary, even though all the elements are certainly there, from the dark, moody lighting, to the scary ghosts, to the way most of the cast emotes terror. I still didn't feel particularly scared, though, mainly because we know so little about the characters. This may be appropriate, though, as Soo-Hyeon doesn't really know or care about this stuff either. Even if Soo-Hyeon was present for the killings, I'm not sure he'd bother dropping his calm, super cool guard.
The quality of the mystery is difficult to gauge, since the drama goes to such lengths to make us question whether the real mystery is about the detective or the ghost. The title certainly got that part right- there is a definitely a strange relationship going on between the two, and it's not the kind of curiousity that can last much more than this drama's single episode runtime. Still, for what it is, this is a quality mystery with good performances, and definitely worth watching if only for that curiousity.
Review by William Schwartz
Staff writer. Has been writing articles for HanCinema since 2012, having lived in South Korea since 2011. Started out in Gyeongju, then to Daegu, then to Ansan, then to Yeongju, then to Seoul, lived on the road for HanCinema's travel diaries series in the summer of 2016, and is currently settled in Anyang. Has good tips for utilizing South Korea's public bus system. William Schwartz can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org. He also has a substack at williamschwartz.substack.com where he discusses the South Korean film industry in broader terms and takes suggestions for future movies to review.