The Best Characters in K-Drama: Joo Wal, Arang and the Magistrate

Color me tortured. Joo Wal was the bad guy that was, the bad guy that somehow left me full of pity and sympathy. It is rare to see a character who has committed such wholly evil acts as a slightly sympathetic creature, a person that you wish a semi happy ending for (evil is still evil after all). I give half of this credit to one of my new favorite actors, Yeon Woo Jin. The other half goes to Arang and the Magistrate’s excellent writer(s). Kudos to both, you made Joo Wal one of the most fascinating characters to grace the drama screen in 2012.

Joo Wal

Actor: Yeon Woo Jin

Drama: Arang and the Magistrate (2012)

Joo Wal’s origins were steeped in hunger and abandonment. Alone and starving the young Joo Wal was taken in on the promise of having a mother and an end to poverty. Unfortunately the woman who took him in was a thousand year old evil supernatural hag…oops. One thing led to another and pretty soon the pitiful young orphan was a serial killer. A direct opposite to our Magistrate lead, Joo Wal gave viewers a contrast in character studies, all while giving us enough thought provoking similarities.

How is this tale worthy of pity? Sheer character growth and emotional acknowledgment in the deepest ways drove this methodically structured man forward. Before long viewers learned one fact after another that set Joo Wal up to be an effigy of bad luck: constantly controlled, unknowing, and unwillingly unfeeling.  Joo Wal is a character that should have us all wishing he was the son of Momma Kang. However Joo Wal had an emotionally kind side that was revealed gradually. Protecting the girl he came to love, realizing the girl who truly loved him, understanding what he had done. His acts caught up with him in a slow torturous drive towards humanity. In the end Joo Wal made a choice that was logical in certain ways and tragic in others. In the end the heavens caught up with him, a central theme to this drama. A testament to naivety and desire, Joo Wal was a great character indeed.

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