Possessed is a South Korean TV drama from 2009, combing elements of crime drama, mystery, psychological thriller and the supernatural into one of the best films that I’ve seen in a long time.
The story centers around Hana (hah-NAH), a high school student who once experienced a tragic event when she was little and now is troubled by visions of things that only she can see. Soon, she finds herself the unwitting vehicle of vengeful ghosts and a famous criminal profiler, who experienced his own trauma as a youth.
That’s the basic background, but there is so much more to this show. Integral to the drama is the issue of the modern criminal justice system, especially its failures and corruption. It’s a story of good versus evil, but, as the story progresses, this simple opposition of forces becomes more muddied and brings up questions of just how far justice against cruelty can go before the avenger has become corrupted into cruelty.
This presentation is pretty amazing, as are the actors. Lim Ju-Eun is a lovely young actress who does a fantastic job as Hana, as does Lee Seo-Jin as the profiler. I especially liked the role of Lee Jin as the girlfriend of profiler Shin Ryu: she does a beautiful job of portraying a caring woman coming to terms with being confronted by unremorseful cruelty against her idealistic support of the reformation of criminals. It’s clear that South Korea’s criminal justice system mirrors in many ways that in the U.S. There are issues here that are important that a society consider and re-evaluate.
Possessed does not seem to be available on DVD yet, but you can see it on Hulu in ten parts of an hour each. It is in Korean with English subtitles. Don’t be put off by the opening theme song, which I found rather annoying (sounding a bit like it’s sung by a cloyingly cute animated character). Some loose ends never seem to be entirely tied up and I found that the ending was a little unfulfilling, but it works well enough with the progression of the storyline. There is, however, much sweet, sweet revenge along the way. Perhaps you will find it worth your time.
[Edit October 14, 2018: Hulu has changed since the time I originally wrote this, so the old link no longer works and I doubt that the series is available (at least for free) on Hulu now. I did find a DVD version on Amazon; I won’t put a link here but the title at Amazon is listed as “Soul Aka Possessed – 2009 Korean TV Series – English Subtitle.” It has a current price of $49.95 and only available from third-party sellers. There are at least some parts of the series viewable on YouTube, but you may have to search around to find the complete show.]