KDrama Review “Strangers From Hell” : Humans Are The Scariest Creatures
Strangers From Hell tells the story of Yoon Jong Woo, who is a young guy in his 20s, who moved from the countryside to Seoul after his college friend, Jae Ho, offered him a job. While looking for a place to live, he stumbles upon Eden Gosiwon, a cheap apartment that shares the kitchen and bathroom with other residents. He is not thrilled about the quality of the place or the other abnormal residents, such as his next-door neighbor Seo Moon Jo, a charismatic dentist. Nevertheless, Jong Woo decides to put up with it for 6 months until he saves enough money to move out. However, mysterious events start occurring in the apartment, causing Jong Woo to start fearing the apartment’s residents.
A Sneak Peek Into “Strangers From Hell”
Currently in his early 20s and struggling with finding a good job and a better career prospect, Yoon Jong-Woo –– like many other youngsters in South Korea –– is moving to Seoul. Jong-Woo who has only ever lived in the quiet and peaceful countryside his whole life, is excited and at the same time a little apprehensive about upending his entire life and moving it to the capital of South Korea.
Whenever he would get nervous however, he would calm himself down with the thought that by living in Seoul, he is now living in the same city as his girlfriend. Not only they would be able to meet more often, there would definitely be more date nights too as they’re both living in Seoul now.
As soon as Jong-Woo arrived in Seoul, the first thing that he did was to look for apartments. While he was not surprised by the extremely high rent price for a decent living place and space, Jung-Woo was starting to lose hope as he scrolls through more and more apartment listings of the same pricing. It was at that moment that his eyes caught an advertisement for a cheap room for rent –– called goshiwon in korean –– in an apartment building called Eden in a city an hour or so away from Seoul.
Eden turned out to be a very different apartment building from all the previous ones that Jung-Woo had visited before. Where the apartment buildings before Eden were all lit up and clean, Eden was dingy, dark, musty and dirty.
The landlady who greeted him, introduced herself as Eom Bok-Soon. Bok-Soon was a middle aged lady with curly hair and seemingly very cheerful demeanor. She showed Jong-Woo his room to-be, which consisted of a bed, desk and a chair. Not only that the room was more worn down and dustier looking than all the other rooms that Jung-Woo had seen before, it also was literally only big enough to fit two single beds. Since Jong-Woo himself was not really in the position to afford big and lavish apartments, he was willing to look past the small room and gave it the benefit of the doubt.
It was until Bok-Soon gave him the full tour of the entire apartment building that Jong-Woo decided that even though he was tight on money, he would not lower himself to this level. The bathroom was absolutely disgusting and unkempt, with communal showers and kitchen that looked grimy and haven’t seen a scrub and soap in years. Not to mention, the halls leading to the rooms were very poorly lit and the walls were so thin that the neighbors could hear each other’s breaths.
The last thing that sent Jong-Woo rushing to the exit was the people who lived in Eden. One looked like a thug who’s ready to kill and rage at the drop of a hat, the other seemed to be a little bit cuckoo in the head as he laughed over every single thing, and then there was this quiet man who would leave his door open while he masturbated and drooled over pornstars all day and night.
Jong-Woo was out the door before the landlady could stop him. He sensed some odd vibes in the apartment and couldn’t drag his luggage fast enough to get away from Eden. Jung-Woo was muttering to himself about how crazy everyone in Eden seemed, and just at that moment, one of the wheels to his luggage broke and rolled down the hill.
Stunned and ridden with despair, Jung-Woo sighed and stared back at Eden. That’s just his luck, he supposed. Jung-Woo promised himself that he would just stay in that creepy apartment until he could save up enough money. Once he had enough to move to a new apartment, he would be out of here like a bat out of hell.
3 Words to Sum Up This Drama
DISTURBING, EERIE, DRAGGED-OUT
I have actually been eyeing this drama for quite some time. Even long before it was released, my interest was already piqued once I saw the trailer. And then it was intensified when a little birdie told me that Lee Dong Wook would be starring in this drama. What can I say, most of the times your girl is prim and proper, but then there are times like this when –– presented with a fine man –– the hoe side comes out to play.
To say Strangers From Hell was a bone-chillingly horrifying kdrama was an exaggeration, because it wasn’t. However, I do admit that there were a handful of moments in this drama where I’d have to hide behind the protection of my teddy bears because I wasn’t able to stomach what was happening in the show.
As we all know, Jung-Woo decided to live in Eden until he could scrounge up enough money to move to a better apartment. However, even just on the first day, the occupants of Eden have started to get to him. Them and their uncanny way to acting and speaking slowly but surely got to Jung-Woo. I mean, not even Jung-Woo, it even creeped me out and I wasn’t living in there.
To be honest, I have no idea what I was expecting when I decided to dive head first into this drama. I mean, I knew that it was going to be creepy, I more-or-less prepared mentally prepared for it but after the first episode, I don’t think any amount of mental preparation could help lessen just how terrifying some of the scenes could be.
The plot for the first 3 episodes were amazing and really well paced. Although, as soon as we start episode 4, things started to feel slightly repetitive and boring. There were so many elements of shock for the first 3 episodes that once we’re in episode 4 and it didn’t seem like things are moving along, it really started to feel stale. This feeling of “staleness” continued –– for me at least –– until the end of the drama. It made me wonder if they should have made this into a movie instead of a tv show.
Jung-Woo is an odd one. I can’t say that I root for him to be able to defeat the evil that is Eden, but at the same time, I can’t say that I dislike him either.
Personally for me, it doesn’t feel like Jung-Woo brings anything special to the table. His character is one of those that are easily forgettable. He wasn’t charismatic, or funny, nor was he intelligent or kind. Jung-Woo just seemed like one of those grey everyday people who dreamed of a better life but did nothing to try to better it.
As the story progresses, it’s obvious that the apartment and the people inside is getting to Jung-Woo. It was shown to the viewers through his gradual slip in his emotions, especially anger. I guess if you ask me what is one thing that’s memorable about Jung-Woo, that’s what I would say, his anger.
I like her, but then I don’t.
I appreciate that Min Ji-eun had enough of a backbone to stand up against her boss who seemed to try to go out of her way to make it hell for Ji-eun at work. While I admire her for that, the girl has a lot of shortcomings when it comes to being a good girlfriend.
I understand how demanding work can be in South Korea, with all the overtime and ass-kissing the boss and whatnot, therefore I get that Ji-eun must be tired having to deal with that 6 days a week. But, that doesn’t excuse how she treats her boyfriend Jong-Woo. There he is in the apartment, slowly losing his mind over his quite literally crazy neighbors and stressing over work, yet every time he called Ji-eun to vent, she would always cut him off. Excuses such as : not today, I’m tired or you should just suck it up and deal with it are one of the phrases that she would often say.
I mean hey, I have never read the Girlfriend 101 book, but I think it’s pretty rational to at least be able to lend an ear to her obviously distressed boyfriend. If you can’t even do that, how do you even call yourself a girlfriend?
JUNG-WOO’S WORK COLLEAGUES
To say that they’re assholes, is an understatement.
The reason why Jung-Woo moved to Seoul, was because one of his senior at college started a new company and decided to take him in and hire him as an intern. Since Jung-Woo was new and had no idea what he was doing at all, he was assigned to a senior who was supposed to answer his questions and teach Jung-Woo what he doesn’t understand.
But of course, Strangers From Hell isn’t a fairyland and it doesn’t tell a story about nice people doing nice things. Jung-Woo’s senior –– instead of being kind and understanding –– would randomly yell at him and call him stupid for not understanding simple things like how a powerpoint should be arranged. Not only that, he would sometimes deliberately follow Jong-Woo to the men’s bathroom to tell Jung-Woo that he’s a showoff who only acted nice but then talked badly behind their backs.
To add fuel to the fire, Jung-Woo’s senior from college who owns the company, apparently had a thing for his girlfriend and would constantly try to steer the conversation to her. He would be nice to Jung-Woo only to suddenly be crass and rude about how Jung-Woo is not working hard enough.
Like I said, to say that they’re assholes, is an understatement.
THE KIND DENTIST (OR IS HE?)
Seo Moon-jo, who moved into Eden later on in the story, works as a dentist by day and tortures his victims by forcefully pulling their molars for souvenirs before having them killed at night.
When he wasn’t doing that, he would be spending his time in the communal kitchen or wandering Eden waiting for Jong-Woo to get home. Seo Moon-jo has a vision of making Jong-Woo the next “serial killer” of sorts. I mean, he calls what he does –– killing, torturing, kidnaping –– as a form of art, so I guess we can say that he wants Jong-Woo to be his most successful artistic creation?
For some reason, despite how depraved and deranged he was, I can’t seem to hate him. I think it’s due to the fact that he seems to have a soft spot for Jong-Woo. Almost like tenderness, or even adoration. So I suppose that made it hard for me to dislike him –– despite what he does –– as he seems to be the only one who gave Jung-Woo the affection that he needs, in his own crazy ways.
Strangers From Hell, seems to be one of those interesting and unique drama that isn’t supposed to be taken at face value. Due to its bizarre ending, it made me wonder about some other, perhaps deeper meaning, that could be taken from this 10 episode Korean drama.
I’m not going to tell you the ending here as I don’t want to rob you off that face of confusion when you reach the end, if you decided to give this show a go, that is. For me personally, what I take from Strangers From Hell, is the fact that the people you surround yourself with matters a whole lot. For example Jung-Woo, he surrounds himself with crazy, sleeps with it, come home to it every single night. And where does that leads him?
You guessed it. Crazy-ville.
This just goes to show that, no matter how good or kind-hearted or intelligent a person is, if they surround themselves with people who are up-to-no-good, eventually that is what they will become. Your friends are a reflection of yourself so be very selective who you surround yourself with.
I read a lot of reviews saying that Strangers From Hell should receive more recognition for how good they are, and I suppose I agree to a certain extent. It definitely started off with a solid 10, however, it eventually went downhill as the story progresses.
My opinion that Strangers From Hell should have been made into a movie still stands, because after the first 3 episodes, there are just so many filler episodes in between that I eventually put the drama on x2 speed just to get to the juicy part.
Would I recommend this? I’d say yes. For those of you who enjoy a good psychological horror type of story, I think this one would be right up your alley. For those of you who wanted to dip your feet into horror however, I’d say this would be a little to extreme as there are quite a handful of scenes of torture which might be hard to watch. But then again, what do I know? If you still feel like giving Strangers From Hell a try, definitely go for it. You might have the best horror ride of a lifetime *wink*.
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