Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Cho EK
It is nice to see a cheerful and brave female hero figure. Here, we are talking about Ga Doo Shim, who was born with an unwanted fate. Although she wished to live a normal life, she has inherited a mysterious power from her grandmother, Myo Shim, to fight evil spirits. The Kakao TV original drama The Great Shaman Ga Doo Shim tells the story of Doo Shim, who wants to escape from her destiny. Yet, she encounters an evil spirit that haunts students at her new school.
Song Yeong High, a prestigious school that snares Doo Shim into an irresistible fate, is rumored to be haunted and the students who achieve the lowest grade are said to have been cursed to commit suicide. Doo Shim witnesses the student with the lowest grades jumping off the rooftop from the first day at her new school. However, she is not interested in the tragic case, the school trying to cover up and minimize the incident, or her classmate’s suspecting eyes pinned on her.
When her grandmother died, her last words to her were, “If you safely turn eighteen, you will live a happy life.” Doo Shim, who took her grandmother’s last words to heart, is determined to survive the age of 18 without any trouble. Moreover, with the label of ‘a shaman’s daughter’ that followed her, she wants to keep her profile low as much as possible in her new school.
Doo Shim, who wants to brush her abilities under the carpet, strangely resembles Ahn Eun Young, a school nurse who saves the students by hunting “jellies” with a tired look on her face. Although Ahn accepted her fate, she did not like it. So, it’s likely that Ahn must have spent her school days working hard to become an ordinary student as Doo Shim does now. The two are, in a way, in the same boat because they both see their extraordinary abilities as obstacles in living their normal lives rather than positively accepting them. In addition, the two characters witness paranormal activities at the school that haunts students, and they get to meet an assistant who boosts their abilities.
The schools in the films and dramas, including those in the Whispering Corridor franchise, have always revealed glaring inequalities in our society. The Great Shaman Ga Doo Shim tells its story in the same vein. Under the setting of the school where the students with the lowest grades commit suicide, the drama series blatantly criticizes the social environment that prioritizes academic achievements over anything else. Thus in this drama, the teenagers in the fierce “college admissions war” stand against the system created by adults and flips the narrative in their point of view.
It seems like Kim Sae Ron has met the best role ever on the 13th year of her debut after her first and most memorable work, The Man from Nowhere. She pulled off her cynical character Doo Shim, who stays cold and indifferent to everyone around her to hide her hidden wounds and secret abilities. It is impressive to see the moment when Doo Shim invites Woo Soo to her world of spirits, saying, “Welcome to my world.” Not to mention her enlightening choice of breaking free of playing dark characters, her as a lively teenage character makes us wonder and look forward to seeing her future activities.
Nam Da Reum, a former child actor like Kim Sae Ron, also supports the series with his stable acting skills. He played Woo Soo, a model student who meets Doo Shim and opens his eyes to a new world. As a squared away student, he creates remarkable chemistry with Kim Sae Ron. When Woo Soo, who unintentionally hugged Doo Shim after being possessed by Myo Shim, started seeing ghosts, he embraces her once again. And he goes, “I’ll only take the memories,” making the viewers’ hearts fluttered just like Doo Shim’s.
The Great Shaman Ga Doo Shim is a mid-form drama that runs about 20 minutes per episode. Its running time isn’t long enough to fully unfold the story in-depth, but it’s a good light series to watch. The drama’s theme, which combines high school exorcism with a bit of a romance, is fresh to watch. Plus, the process of two characters getting along and the mystery behind the evil spirit in Song Young High School unravels intriguingly. Since the episodes stay short and concise, the show is fast and easy to follow.
Doo Shim and Woo Soo, who now sees the same world, will fight against the evil spirits dwelling in the school, starting with stopping the crisis heading its way toward their friend, Il Nam. We wonder how the two will tackle the principal, who has made a deal with an evil existence for the sake of the school’s reputation. And we can’t wait to see if Doo Shim would be able to safely turn eighteen in the future.
Verdict: An enjoyable drama with a novel theme and great actors. (6/10)
Edited Hong Hyun Jung: I am a K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.
Translator Cho EK: I’m a big fan of Korean dramas and movies