This one is another highly anticipated drama thanks to the stellar casting of Daniel Choi, Park Eun-bin, Lee Ji-Ah, and Kim Won-hae. While I’m not the biggest fan of horror and thriller dramas, this one I definitely had to check out because of the actor names attached to it.
‘The Ghost Detective’ stars Daniel Choi as Lee Da-il who works as a private investigator. Together with Yeo-wool played by Park Eun-bin, the two work together to solve different mysteries and cases, often involving the spirit of Sun Woo-hye (Lee Ji-Ah).
The Ghost Detective: Episode 1 Recap
Episode one begins with Lee Da-il (Daniel Choi) buried in the mud and struggling to pull himself out of the ground. After a few attempts, he’s finally able to push himself up and escapes from the mud that he was trapped in just seconds earlier. He stares at himself in confusion and fear and finds himself abandoned in the muddy tracks of a paddy field. Da-il is uncertain as to how he got there or where he is.
The drama then takes us back to two days before the incident. Da-il is busy moving things out of his detective agency along with colleague Han Sang-seob (Kim Won-hae). As they bicker back and forth about the couch that they’re selling, Da-il notices a car passing by that arouses his suspicion. He urges Sang-seob to place the couch back inside the building where it belonged so they hurry and take the item back inside. Unlike what they originally thought, they no longer will have to sell the couch. They’ve got clients who need their help.
Upon meeting the client, Da-il and Sang-seob learn more about the case the client wants them to pursue. She starts off her story about two missing children named Eun-yool and Ga-ram so Sang-seob assumes she wants them to help her find the two kids. However, Da-il gets right to the chase and is aware of the real reason why she’s here. The woman they’re talking to isn’t the client but rather just a proxy. The real client is the CEO of a company who lost his own daughter and wants our two detectives to find her.
Da-il heads outside to where the CEO is patiently waiting inside his car. Da-il is aware that the CEO is being threatened by his daughter’s kidnapper and asks for the letter given to the CEO by the kidnapper. After reading it, Da-il suggests that the CEO report his driver to the police. The driver might not have done the kidnapping, but he did write the letter and stole some of the CEO’s money. The driver took advantage of the situation to earn some benefits.
At the police department, chaos ensues upon news that the CEO’s daughter is missing. Some detectives are ordered to search the CEO’s driver’s house while some others are to study the letter that he wrote.
Da-il and Sang-seob agree to solve the case involving the CEO’s missing daughter for 2 reasons: 1) they too don’t trust the police force and 2) they don’t want to move out. If they successfully find the culprit, they won’t have to move out of the building nor ever pay rent for it ever again. Even if the CEO’s daughter Ha-eun is found dead, the contract still remains valid. The two investigators are also to prepare a lawsuit against the kindergarten that the three kids attended since they’re working for the CEO’s legal team.
Police investigator Park Jung-dae (Lee Jae-kyoon) and his team head to the driver’s house to search for any clues or hints as to the disappearance of the three kids. Though they find nothing in the house, they do discover a bag of money hidden in the trunk of the car. They conclude that the driver was paid money in exchange for delivering Ha-eun and her two friends to the kidnapper. In his interrogation, the driver denies any accusations of committing ransom. He claims that Ha-eun had disappeared by the time he arrived at her ballet practice to pick her up.
Da-il and Sang-seob visit the playground where Ha-eun’s friend was last seen. The mom searched both exits to the playground, but the kid was no where to be seen. That meant that there must have been another exit that the kidnapper took to escape the public eye. That’s when Da-il and Sang-seob then discover a path in the bushes leading to an underground sewage. Sang-seob questions how a person can fit through the small pipe, but Da-il adds that it might not have been a person.
The two private investigators continue their search by stopping by the ballet academy that Ha-eun attended. While Sang-seob interviews the ballet teacher, Da-il talks to Se-rin, one of Ha-eun’s schoolmates. She shares with Da-il her fear: she’s afraid she’ll be visited by Bori. Though it’s unclear who this Bori is, Se-rin confides in Da-il the secret that many others don’t believe her for. Witnessing the conversation between the two is Jung Yeo-wool (Park Eun-bin) who’s stopped by the ballet building to deliver some yogurt drinks.
Da-il finds security camera footages of the three missing kids’s kindergarten teacher. In the clip, she dozes back and forth in the classroom. Da-il and Sang-seob visit the daycare the next day posed as move-out specialists. While Sang-seob keeps the principal busy, Da-il searches around the classrooms for any evidence. They then meet the kindergarten teacher herself and strike up a conversation with her about the class dog named Bori. Da-il notices the remnants of dog hair still hanging on her clothes that he also saw scattered around the playground the day before. They claim their imaginary friend Myung-sik can help find the missing dog if she just reveals to them when it was last seen. After flipping through her journal, the teacher shares that Bori was last seen the day before the kids went missing.
Da-il and Sang-seob can’t seem to fathom or understand why three kids from the same kindergarten would go missing. They also try to gather more details about the missing dog Bori. After studying enough of the kindergarten, they exit back to the building and pass by a working Yeo-wool. Da-il has something else he needs to check up on first.
Yeo-wool makes her way to the police station where Jung-dae and his colleague works. She drops off some ginseng extract to the two men before leaving. On her way out, she encounters Se-rin and questions why the little girl is here. Se-rin hands Jung-dae a picture of her with Eun-yool and Bori and claims that Eunyool chased after Bori the day she went missing. Detective Jung-dae doesn’t buy Se-rin’s story so easily, but Yeo-wool notes that it’s worth following. However, Jung-dae isn’t persuaded and he pleads for Yeo-wool to leave.
With the hints gathered about Bori, Da-il revisits the playground where Eun-yool was last seen. He imagines the moments leading up to her disappearance and sure enough, he concludes that Eun-yool did chase after Bori into the bushes only to also disappear into the bushes right after.
In the basement of a building, a woman storms down to check up on three separate boxes who she’s trapped our three kids inside. As she yells at the kids inside the boxes to quiet down, she opens up one of them and freezes upon what she sees.
Da-il updates Sang-seob on the new details he’s discovered. Eun-yool indeed did follow Bori and was kidnapped afterwards. The buttons found near and inside the sewage belonged to Eun-yool’s outfit. Da-il predicts that the kindergarten teacher must have been the one who abducted the kids. The dog hair also near the sewage was seen on her clothes the day they visited her at the daycare. Maybe the teacher abducted the kids out of revenge against the principal or parents or it could have also been a case of child abuse. Regardless, the chances of her being the culprit are high. She took the kids on a museum the day before they went missing so they can check the security camera footages planted there.
At that moment, the two investigators are interrupted by a visit by Yeo-wool. She’s come for an interview based on the job ad that Da-il posted. The chief detective interviews Yeo-wool and she presents to him all her work experiences and skills. She attempts to persuade him to hire her, but there’s just one more question that she needs to answer if she wants to be accepted. Da-il never posted a job ad about his private investigative agency; he knows that Yeo-wool discovered him after seeing him at the ballet academy and outside of the kindergarten. So then, why does Yeo-wool want to work for Da-il? What is it that she wants?
Yeo-wool is recruited onto the team with Da-il and Sang-seob. In order to obtain the security camera footages of the kids’s visit to the museum, Da-il and Yeo-wool create a scene inside the museum and fake a scenario that requires them to check the CCTV recordings. The two are granted permission and view the security camera clips of the little kids with the kindergarten teacher at the museum. As predicted, the kindergarten teacher is seen yelling at the kids to be quiet and to behave.
The teacher and the principal get into an argument about the teacher’s decision to leave the job. This investigation only began because she was irresponsible in taking care of the kids properly. With the principal’s back turned towards the kindergarten teacher, the teacher suddenly feels the urge to strangle and murder the principal. However, she stops when she finds the teacher talking to her with black possessed eyes and a deep, dark, and evil voice. A ghost wearing a red dress creeps up from behind the kindergarten teacher and taunts her to kill whoever is investigating her.
After discovering the CCTV footage of the kids with the kindergarten teacher, Yeo-wool suggest they report the teacher to the police for child abuse. However, Da-il refutes that they can’t just yet because they don’t have enough evidence. He sends Yeol-wool home while he resumes with the investigation.
Da-il returns to the daycare and revisits Bori’s doghouse. He ventures a little further and finds an entrance to the basement. There, he discovers a petrified Bori and digs even further into the basement. Meanwhile, the kindergarten teacher battles her inner voices and demons. A part of her wants to kill the kids, but another part of her wants to let them go.
Da-il finally arrives to the location where the three kids are. He finds the three boxes that they’re trapped in and quickly opens them. Da-il gets Ga-ram and Ha-eun out of the tunnel first and tells them to run as far as they can to get some some help. He then heads back inside the tunnel to save Eun-yool, aware that the kindergarten teacher has seen him rescuing the kids.
He returns to the restroom which was where he made eye contact with the kindergarten teacher as he was rescuing the kids below in the basement. It’s completely dark and the teacher is no where to be found. He then opens the shower curtains and sure enough, Eun-yool is laying there unconscious. Just as he’s about to rescue Eun-yool, a possessed Bori attacks him and bites him in the arm. Dae-il manages to push Bori away by biting the dog in the neck, but that’s not the end of it. Dae-il is attacked by the kindergarten teacher with a hammer and falls unconscious on the floor.
That’s when we’re shown how Da-il found himself isolated out on the muddy tracks in the paddy field in the beginning of this episode. He was dragged and buried by the kindergarten teacher to the field. Combined that with the pouring rain and Da-il was trapped inside the mud. Thankfully, Dae-il manages to wake up and pull himself out of the mud, still alive.
Ai yai yai, this drama is going to be a hard one to recap. LOL. Just right off the bat, with this first episode alone, I had a difficult time recapping it for several reasons. It wasn’t because the drama wasn’t good or because it wasn’t impressive or for anything bad really. I would just like to describe the drama as excited for its many future episodes to come so it jumped right into things with this first episode which was difficult to catch up on. Plus, as a thriller/horror drama, there were many small details I had to catch, pay attention to, and include in the recap.
Despite my doubts and concerns with this drama just based off of this first episode (which I’ll talk about later), I have to say that ‘The Ghost Detective’ wasn’t bad. I didn’t really watch the teasers and am really only checking this out for Daniel Choi and Park Eun-bin so I had no expectations or clues as to what I was getting myself into. I’m glad to say that this first episode wasn’t as bad as I was afraid it was going to be. As a thriller/horror drama, I was afraid that the drama was going to overdo it with all the ghosts and demons stuff or that the cinematography and filming was going to lack the punch that the drama needed to stay intense and suspenseful. So far, everything seems to be going fine as seen in this first episode which I’m relieved about. Even with the rushed plot and the sometimes questionable details or decisions, the drama maintained a constant and stable tone throughout the hour and I liked that.
My only concern with the drama so far is how rushed the drama seems to be. We probably (and hopefully) will receive more context on this later on as the drama progresses, but a little bit more context on our characters would have been nice. We learn that Da-il and Sang-seob are private investigators running their own agency because they don’t trust in the law and police officers. With this first episode, we witness them doing their jobs as best as they can and taking on a new case. I think what threw me off though was that the drama rushed into the cases and wanted to show us our two investigators doing their jobs as soon as possible. I’m aware that they’re investigators. I know this is their job and this is something they’re passionate about and the two are probably in this for their own separate reasons (which I hope we’ll also learn later on in the drama).
However, you don’t need to show me that so early into the drama. The case with the three missing kids was a little confusing, messy, chaotic, and all over the place, and I’ll admit that it was difficult to follow at times because of how rushed it was. Our characters jumped to conclusions and discovered details pretty quickly without having done much. However, moving that aside, I wished the drama had taken its time in making Da-il and Sang-seob jump into action and instead introduced them to us a little bit more. A simple recap of past cases that they might have taken on or covered would have been nice. Something small to show us who these two detectives are would have been great, but yet the first episode chose to immediately throw them (and us viewers) into this investigation of three missing kids and it was a little abrupt, sudden, and confusing.
I don’t think the drama will go there, but I’m especially hoping that the drama won’t turn into the Korean adaptation of ‘Criminal Minds’ where every episode is procedural and nothing about the drama is humane. I want to know and learn more about our characters and why they’re doing this. Why did Yeo-wool decide to join the two investigators in their agency? Why doesn’t Da-il trust the police? Why did he eventually create his own private investigation agency? What are Sang-seob’s motives and reasons for working with Da-il? Who is the lady in the red dress who continually shows up in this episode at the worst times possible? There are many questions I have about the characters, and I’m sincerely hoping that the drama will explore these questions throughout and give us the answers that we seek.
I’m afraid the drama will be procedural which I’m not the biggest fan of. Dramas where things are procedural and case-by-case can get repetitive, boring, and dry for me, and a procedural drama really has to know how to switch things up to still be engaging. I’m hoping ‘The Ghost Detective’ will know how to do this if it chooses to go the procedural route, but it would be even better if it chooses to just focus on a select few cases throughout the 16-episode run. I wouldn’t really want to watch a new case for every two episodes as that can get kind of boring and repetitive. I’d rather watch our three investigators tackle thoroughly and passionately a few select cases than watching them tackle on a new case every episode that’s rushed and executed half-heartedly.
As I mentioned earlier, I’m really only watching this drama because of our stellar cast and as expected, they don’t disappoint in this first episode. I can already sense a wide range of chemistry between Daniel Choi and Park Eun-bin in this drama who I feel generally creates chemistry with their co-stars regardless. They’re such talented actors individually, but they’re also great when paired up together. Since this is a horror/thriller drama, I’m not so sure how much romance we’ll be getting, but anything with the both of them will be fine with me. The small glimpse we got of Yeo-wool working with Da-il in this episode was highly entertaining and funny. I absolutely cannot wait to see more of that in the future.