Published on South Korea’s comics.naver in 2011, the Bongchoen-Dong Ghost Story was written and illustrated by Horang. Very little is known about Horang but according to website Robot 6, Horang is the pseudonym for comic artist Jong-Ho Choi. Bongchoen-Dong Ghost Story begins much like the Smiling Man with a pensive protagonist and a late night walk. In the distance is a stranger with an ostensibly drunken gait. The story’s climax reaches into the roots of Asian horror.
The ghost story has been dubbed the scariest web page on the internet and the numerous reaction videos of people watching it attest to this fact. The mix of adrenaline and fear from reading it has never dulled though I’ve experienced the comic numerous times and know exactly what to expect. For full effect, one should read the comics linked below with speakers turned on.
The original Korean language comic can be found here.
An english translated version can be found here.
Bonchoen-Dong Ghost Story is a manhwa, the korean cousin of the manga. Both manhwa and manga are general terms used to describe comics and sometimes animation from Korea and Japan, respectively. There isn’t the same stigma associated with reading comics in asian countries as there is in English speaking countries, part of this is due to the plethora of genres beyond super hero action and adventure. In Korea and Japan there is a large market for romance, comedy, drama, and horror-based comics.
One of the reoccurring motifs in asian horror is the figure of the vengeful spirit, or ghost. Western audiences were introduced to it in the mainstream with The Ring, a remake of the Japanese horror movie, The Ringu. Like Samara from The Ring, or the mother in Bongchoen-Dong Ghost Story, this spirit when it was alive, had suffered greatly, leaving a psychic scar in the fabric of the world. The ghost is cursed to relive its pain experienced during life and inflict it on others. The spirit is often that of someone who was weak or powerless in life– often women or children, a spurned lover, abused orphan, or a barren widow.
Asian horror is often borne out of tragedy and its roots may stem from folklore such as Bancho Sarayashiki, a story of tragic love that ended with a haunting.
If horror manga interests you, Horang has another manhwe published on nevar, Ok-Su Station Ghost. If you find yourself too frightened to click any other links in this story, Horang’s YouTube channel contains a single animated music video, much lighter fair than his horror comics.