In this episode: The team is asked to investigate a young woman’s death in her small isolated hometown, but they encounter disturbing events at nearly every turn.
Episode Guest Stars
(I apologize for the not-necessarily-flattering quality of these photos – I mostly work with GIFs, so it’s a little harder to screenshot good images than I thought. But the aim is really just to give names to faces here.)
***Recurring Guest Appearances: Yoon Jonghoon, Stephanie Lee (mentioned), Tae Hangho (mentioned)
An Important Note
I’ve tried my best to summarize everything in these recaps, but sometimes there are parts of an episode or the overall story that aren’t clear to me. I’m in Korea, so I have Korean Netflix – they have English subtitles for all the dialogue, but not necessarily all of the captions and titles they put in the show. I’m sure that sometimes I miss things, and sometimes I may arrive at the wrong conclusion. But I’ll make sure to highlight the parts where I’m confused or unsure about certain details.
***WARNING!*** THERE ARE SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE EPISODE/SERIES AHEAD. These recaps are written summary style – I’m writing as if I’ve watched these episodes for the first time, but this is primarily aimed towards people who have seen the series before and want to refresh their memory or find answers to certain questions. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE SERIES AND ARE PLANNING TO, READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!!
First of all, I personally find this episode rather scary. Not necessarily in terms of jump scares or straight up horror – although there are elements of both – but more that there’s a really dark and unsettling vibe the whole time. Busted usually mixes the more serious moments with some comic relief, but the balance is definitely skewed this time. Even the cast members are constantly mentioning how scared they are throughout the episode. Honestly, there’s only one episode that bothers me more than “Curse of the Shaman.” (It’s in Season 3, so we haven’t gotten there yet… but I’m lowkey dreading it.) To be fair, you probably won’t have this issue if you actually watch and like horror stuff. And now that I’ve seen this episode several times, I do find that the novelty of the scares has worn off. But if you’re like me and you’re not a horror fan, you might want to be cautious when watching this episode. And definitely don’t watch it late at night, like I foolishly did.
Also, I want to make a disclaimer: I find this episode’s plot very confusing. There are a lot of details thrown at us, and at least half of it is just never fully explained. Even though I’ve watched this episode four times, which is three more than I really wanted to, I still can’t manage to put together the whole story. I tried my best, but I just don’t have the same level of comprehension and clarity about this episode compared to previous ones. I’ve talked it over several times with my best friend/fellow Busted watcher Jess (Jei’s Kulture Notes), and we’re both similarly stumped. So for this particular recap, I’ve mostly just written everything exactly as it happened without too much commentary – though sometimes I’ve cut out the cross-editing between two locations and just focused on one at a time. And then I talk a little bit about some of my own theories at the end.
On to the story! The team heads to Jeolla province (which is in southwestern Korea) to visit a small village called Guiyi. “Gui” means “ear” in Korean, which will be important later. Jaewook isn’t initially with them, and arrives about halfway through the episode. Jaesuk recounts why they’ve all come: someone sent an urn to their office, and he received a call from a young woman named Jiyeon shortly after. She was in hysterics and wept about how the ashes in the urn belong to her friend Hyewon; and they grew up in Guiyi village together. Hyewon supposedly committed suicide due to depression, but Jiyeon didn’t think that was true. Hyewon had previously told her she might die, and that someone was after her. Jiyeon requested that the team investigate the village and find out the truth.
If you thought the vampire island village of last season was creepy, this one is at least ten times more so. It’s really hard to capture the level of unsettling the village is in writing, but the production definitely did a really job of making everything feel quite sinister. The place is eerily quiet – almost abandoned – and the only inhabitants are women dressed in white mourning clothes. They’re not overly friendly, and they don’t respond when spoken to. As the the team explores more later in the episode, they realize that’s because they’re all deaf (hence the name of the village).
All the people in the village pretty much look like this.
One woman frequently runs away from the team. They pursue her, only to stumble upon the body of another young woman. Now that I think about it, this is probably why I reacted so badly to this episode at first… because it’s a really gruesome sight. The corpse is severely burned, and her skin is red and flaky all over (but her clothes are still somehow intact). “I can’t do this! I really hate stuff like this!” Jaesuk exclaims as he grabs at his teammates for support. Honestly, I wholeheartedly sympathize.
A group of villagers approaches, led by the local shaman (Lee Yongnyeo). Unlike the shaman from the vampire episode, who was a bit of comic relief to the all creepiness, this one seems to amplify everything that’s disturbing about this place. She talks about how the gods were angry and saved this girl’s soul (by killing her?) and prays that she be absolved of her sins “so that her soul won’t fall prey to the ghosts.” As the villagers take the body to the crematory, the team tries to ask about the shaman about the urn… but she just laughs maniacally and exits stage left cackling all the while. Yeah, that’s not terrifying at all.
Jaesuk wants to investigate the shaman further, so he takes Jongmin to go meet her. The others decide to explore the village and split up. Sehun and Sejeong are walking with the urn when they’re approached by a wailing woman who turns out to be Hyewon’s mother (Kim Yeongran). She leads them to her house, where she hands them a pad of paper to write out their questions because she’s deaf like everyone else. She doesn’t know why Hyewon died, but warns them to be careful because the village is wary of outsiders… especially MEN. She doesn’t know why they all wear white mourning clothes, but it’s been like that for a while. When asked about the shaman, she shudders and says she doesn’t want to talk about her.
The woman leaves to bury Hyewon’s urn, so they take the opportunity to look around the house (and are eventually joined by Seunggi and Minyoung). They find a calendar marking all the disappearances of the girls. Hyewon’s name is there, marked with a red X. The name Sohyun is written under the current date, which means she’s the dead girl they just found. Someone, presumably Hyewon’s mother, wrote a note asking, “Could it be the curse of the shaman?” When they further explore the room, they see that there are stacks of calendars going back to 2015 – all marking female victims. Hyewon’s mother also apparently burns incense sticks with all of the victims’ names, so they wonder if the shaman put her up to it. Other details about this room include weird marks on the wall, a white powder on the floor that appears to be some kind of pest killer, and a photo of five young women with three crossed out. (They remark how one of them looks like the shaman.)
When they go into Hyewon’s room, they find her journal and find a picture of a girl with a man. She seems to be one of the girls in the photo they previously found. Note that the team thinks this girl is Hyewon, but I’m not so sure. (I will elaborate on this later.) Hyewon’s journal says: “Today, some women said something strange at the well. I didn’t get the first name, but the last name was Park. They said it began when Mr. Park came here. Apparently, that man and a shaman in our village fell in love with each other. But exactly what began? And who did that man fall in love with?” They surmise that the man in the photo is Mr. Park. When they turn the photo over, it says, “The village was ruined because of him.”
Meanwhile, Jaesuk and Jongmin bring us the only truly funny segment of this episode. They happen upon the shaman about to prepare an offering. She gets mad because they apparently ruined her spell, so she makes them get new sacrifices for her. The offerings are in balloons hanging way up high; one of them has to jump on a trampoline and use ceremonial swords to pop them. (Some balloons also contain flour, which is a lovely surprise.) The trick is that the person has to jump to the beat of the drums – if he messes up the rhythm, then the shaman angrily splashes the other one with water. Jaesuk has some trouble, but Jongmin’s even worse… so he has to do it until he finally manages to pop the right balloon. The shaman dramatically proclaims that this village was cursed. She gives them water infused with leaves from a peach tree branch and says that it will rid them of evil spirits, then retires for the night.
This is another one of those tasks that seems like it’s designed for them to fail a bunch before succeeding.
Back at Hyewon’s house, Sehun finds a letter from one Jeongah Lee with a return address from the US. She wrote Hyewon about how she was able to leave the village thanks to her, and she’s living a new life and has changed her name… to Stephanie. The show previously hinted at this when Yoon Jonghoon called Stephanie “Jeongah” in Episode 4, but this letter makes it explicitly clear. And not only is Stephanie originally from the village, she might be tied to this episode’s mystery. Jaesuk and Jongmin find another letter from her while searching the shaman’s creepy shrine – it turns out that Stephanie is the shaman’s daughter!!! She writes, “Back then, you wanted to run away with me. You knew something, didn’t you? That’s why you helped me run.” HMMM…
Hyewon’s mother eventually returns and offers peach tree water to the other members – just like how the shaman offered some to Jaesuk and Jongmin. Everyone drinks it except for Minyoung, who notices a white substance at the bottom of the glass and quietly dumps it. She really is the smartest one of the group. Minyoung asks about Jeongah (Stephanie) and Jiyeon, because the group had found a picture of Hyewon and her three friends. (The fourth one is Sohyun, the victim they found earlier.) The mother says that she’s sure they’re still alive somewhere, and asks the team to find them and bring them to her.
Now for something truly disturbing: Jaesuk and Jongmin open a door in the shrine to find a small room filled with taxidermy birds and talismans… which is creepy enough, but there’s also a hidden alcove dedicated to all the dead girls. Like, their urns and pictures are all there, along with items like bloody shoes and ribbons. NO THANK YOU. Jaesuk and Jongmin realize that all of the victims are young, and all of the women they’ve seen in the village are at least middle aged. Some pictures of the girls don’t have an X over their name, meaning there must still be some young girls left in the village… but we haven’t seen them. Jaesuk really freaks out when he spots an urn labeled “Jiyeon,” aka the young woman who called him. While there are many times when it seems like Busted is just an alternate reality from our own, there’s one key difference: supernatural things are apparently real. For example, last season we were led to believe that the doctor on the mysterious island actually was a vampire in the end. So in this case, I think we’re similarly supposed to accept that Jaesuk really did receive a call from a ghost.
There’s also a picture of the same man from Hyewon’s journal; his full name is Park Yido. He has a red X over his name, and you can spot his urn if you pay close enough attention. So, he came and died here for reasons that are never fully explained. To make things even more unsettling than they already are, we cut to Jaewook arriving at the village in a taxi… driven by none other than Park Yido. In case there’s any doubt it’s him, he’s wearing the same clothes that he was in the two pictures we’ve seen of him. Yido says he’s been to that village, and many strange things occur there. It’s apparently a shaman’s village, which might explain why they’re all women… maybe they’re all training to be shamans? As we know, there used to be many young girls, but they all died. He tells Jaewook something really important: only the young girls of the village tell the truth, because they’re still innocent. All of the older women lie. So now we have to go back and question everything we learned, and everything gets a bunch more confusing. Yido says he’s telling Jaewook this because he’s worried about him. He drops Jaewook off and promptly vanishes into the night.
Park Yido in the photo that the team found at Hyewon’s house.
Park Yido driving Jaewook to the village.
Jaewook meets the team, who fills him in on the case. As they compare notes, he’s understandably shocked to find out that his taxi driver was actually a ghost. Again, NO THANK YOU. And now they know the story about Yido bringing ruin to the village is a lie, as is the villagers’ claim that all the women who fell in love with him died AND their statement that Jeongah and Hyewon committed suicide. (But I feel like there must be something about about Yido that we never found out, because I feel like *some* drama had to have gone down there.) One of the villagers said that all of the young girls died, which means that’s also a lie and the team needs to find them.
Jaesuk and Jaemin found a key and some scrolls at the shrine, and they show them to the team. Each page has a cryptic passage that points to a specific location in the village. For example, one says, “Make rice cake and alcohol with freshly harvested grains. Then the gods will emit the white scent of chrysanthemums.” This is a reference about a flower mural that they passed earlier in the episode. The team goes through the pages and looks for each spot together. They come to a fork in the road, so they split up into groups and go in both directions. Jongmin, Seunggi, Sehun, and Sejeong end up taking the correct path, because they manage to find the girls at the last location the pages indicate – whichis a scary rundown looking building, because of course.
A map of the village and the final location the papers indicate.
They use the key and enter a dark room with the missing girls sitting in rows with their hair draped over their faces. The girls seem possessed, as they roll their heads in slow circles and whisper ominously. I personally would have noped right out of there, but these guys are all like, “What are they saying???” and just stand there confused. Well, it turns out the girls were whispering, “Lock up all visitors.” So in a moment straight out of a horror movie, they suddenly rush our detectives and lock them up.
N O P E
Meanwhile, Jaesuk, Jaewook, and Minyoung happen upon the the crematory at the end of the second path. It’s locked by some mechanism of four buttons, with each button representing a different animal. Jaesuk glances through the window and and sees a man tied up inside. (His face is covered with a sheet, so we don’t know his identity yet.) To unlock the door, they have to take down the nearby hanging talismans and put them together like a puzzle. When properly assembled, they show a version of the ladder game – or as they call it , the ghost leg. So they must follow the trail for each animal to see how many times to press its respective button.
The solution to the lock puzzle.
When they free the man, they’re surprised to see none other than Yoon Jonghoon. He was looking into Hyewon’s death, and he came down to investigate because something about it seemed off to him. And then he got attacked and imprisoned by the villagers because he’s a man and all. (I don’t know why the police in Seoul are looking at cases on the other side of the country, but okay.) Jaesuk is about to tell him that they found out Stephanie’s from the village, but ever sensible Minyoung shuts him up. Can’t go spilling all the intel! It doesn’t matter though, because Jonghoon also tries to gossip to them about that like five seconds later. He declares that they don’t get along, but the team is like, “We already know that, tell us something new.” Jonghoon explains that he finds Stephanie super suspicious, so he’s been investigating her on the side. When he found out she was connected to Hyewon, he was even more motivated to come here.
The group notices that Sohyun’s body is still there and hasn’t been cremated yet. Jonghoon examines it and finds signs of dehydration on her lips, as well as some foam around her mouth. Having seen Hyewon’s autopsy reports, he can confirm that both girls died the same way – ingesting a fatal amount of boric acid, which is apparently what makes their bodies look all burned and flaky. Minyoung mentioned that she saw white powder on the floor of Hyewon’s house, and Jonghoon confirms that’s boric acid. He warns them not to touch or ingest any, because they could die… but it turns out the peach tree water the shaman and Hyewon’s mother was spiked with boric acid, and they have no way of knowing if it was a lethal dose or not. So, five out of seven members might possibly be poisoned. Uh oh.
By the way, the group asks Jonghoon about his connection Tae Hangho and tells him they overheard the calls between the two. He says that Tae Hangho’s a dangerous man, but he had to approach him for something related to a case. Then he’s immediately like, “Okay, thanks for saving me~~~” and dips to call the authorities. *Suspicious*
Let’s get back to the other half of our team. Jongmin’s group has been locked in a room with all black walls and a bunch of gross objects on the ground – like fake disembodied hands and HEADS, and fake dead rats. They see a red cat, and remember the instructions from the papers: “Next to a red animal, the red sky covers the place that is full of gods’ protection and blessings.” The “red sky” means some red lightbulbs on the wall. They realize that parts of the wall are magnetic and that the objects can be stuck to the wall, so they use the objects to find the shapes the magnets form. They’re three numbers: 3, 5, 7. Then, they have to light those numbers of incense sticks in each corner. They figure this all out while Jaesuk’s group was talking to Jonghoon, but they call them for help to troll them and get them locked up too. Heh.
The final puzzle room.
When the team solves the puzzle, there’s a minor explosion and the walls fall down. The detectives are freed, and the girls appear looking decidedly less possessed much more coherent. They say they were locked in the building because of a prophecy, but we never find out exactly what that entails. The girls locked the team up in turn because they were startled by their appearance. (Um, that doesn’t explain the unsettling Ring like behavior, though…) They inquire if the team has drank the peach tree water, and say that their friends died when they drank it. Also, there is no curse – someone is using that as an excuse to manipulate the villagers into killing the girls.
Jaesuk gets a text from Jonghoon: “As I expected, the victim was murdered with boric acid. I called the police. They will arrive in ten minutes, so secure the culprit until then. A problem might arise, so please find the killer.” They decide to send Seunggi and Sehun to find the sacred water that will cleanse them, which is hidden in the middle of a dark and spooky forest because why not. Though the atmosphere is indeed chilling, nothing scary happens to the two of them. They do, however, drink most of the water and leave a tiny bit left for the others as a prank. It seems like Seunggi’s persona on this show is quite the trickster, and he’s starting to influence Sehun a bit.
The remaining detectives debate over whom to arrest. The two suspects are the shaman and Hyewon’s mother, both of whom gave different team members peach tree water. Sejeong thinks the notes on the calendars were all lies, and the mother is the killer. She also thinks it was the shaman who locked up the girls in order to protect them, which tracks because the instructions to find them and liberate them were at the shrine. The men argue that the shaman could be the killer because her daughter is the only survivor. Hyewon wrote in her journal that she wanted to escape the village with all of her friends: “Our village is cursed. It’s no longer safe. I want to live a long life with Jeongah, Sohyun, and Jiyeon.” But only Stephanie (Jeongah) is still alive… so they guess the shaman might be the killer because she only protected her own her daughter. And she *DID* have all of the urns in her shrine.
They go back and forth over which suspect to pursue, but eventually land on the shaman . They find her at the abandoned house that she lives in, and she seems to be crying over something. She declares that she has failed to protect the village, and tells the team to look after her daughter. She lets herself be arrested the police without protest, but she reveals one last secret before she goes: when the women of this village having their coming-of-age ceremony, the shaman makes them go deaf. But now, that tradition will end with her. *Shudder*
When Sehun and Seunggi return with the holy water, they’re surprised to learn that the group chose to arrest the shaman. They thought the culprit was Hyewon’s mother, reasoning that the shaman couldn’t be the murderer because she hid the cure for the poison. (But then why would she poison Jaesuk and Jongmin in the first place? I’M SO LOST.) Something doesn’t feel right to the detectives, so Minyoung suggests calling the police and asking them to protect the girls… which once again proves her good instincts, because the real culprit does indeed show up. And yes, it’s Hyewon’s mother. We see a flashback where she gave the peach tree water to Sohyun, who died after drinking it and scratched the wall in her death throes. Then she dragged Sohyun’s body out and left it where others would find it – presumably to perpetuate the idea of a curse. There’s also a suggestion that she can hear, despite her claiming that she’s deaf. And she most definitely tried to kill the detectives. The ending titles say that the team didn’t get the right culprit, but the police arrived in time to apprehend her. So at least there’s that.
Like I said, this episode was SO confusing. I feel like a lot of the details were just there to make everything seem extra scary, and they didn’t have any major narrative purpose – like the white mourning clothes, the complete absence of men except for one who was murdered, and how many of the villagers were forcibly made deaf. Another thing that confuses is me is the whole Park Yido thing, because I feel like that was really important but was also abandoned halfway through the episode. Plus the revelation that the older women lie just makes even harder to tell what parts of the story were true. Most importantly, I don’t really understand WHY Hyewon’s mother was the killer and what her motivations were. Did she really kill her own daughter??? Was it because Hyewon found out she was behind the murders, or because she was trying to leave the village and the mother didn’t want her to? Are we supposed to accept that she did everything because she wasn’t necessarily all there mentally? Or is it something else I completely missed.
I have a theory about some of this stuff, but it’s 100% speculation on my part – so please don’t take it as fact or canon! My idea goes back to the different pictures that the team found at Hyewon’s house. I already put the one of Park Yido and the girl in the post, so let’s call that Photo A. But there were two group photos, which I’ll show below. There’s one of five young women with three crossed out, so we’ll call that Photo B. And then there’s one of the four girls central to the story: Sohyun, Jeongah (Stephanie), Hyewon, and Jiyeon. We’ll call that one Photo C.
So it’s a little hard to tell from these screenshots, but these photos are not of the same group of people. I had to look *really* closely multiple times, but I’m almost certain of this. We know that Photo C is of Stephanie and her friends – aka the more recent victims – so they can’t be the girls in Photo B. Now, let’s go back to Photo A. The detectives mentioned that the girl there is the same as one of the girls in Photo B. Even though the detectives initially believed the girl in these pictures was Hyewon, we have to remember that Hyewon wrote, “The village was ruined because of him” on the back of Photo A. And what she wrote in her journal made it seem like she didn’t know who Yido was. So, I don’t think the girl in Photo A or B is Hyewon.
The girl in Photo A and Photo B.
We only get a brief glance at Park Yido’s urn, but if you look close enough, you can see that his birth year is in the 1970s. (It’s either 1975 or 1976, but I can’t remember.) This would make him around twenty years older than Hyewon at least, given that Stephanie is in her mid twenties and is presumably around the same age as Hyewon was. Which makes it even less likely that she’s in the photo with Yido. Given that Photo A looks pretty old and that it was found in Hyewon’s mother’s room, I personally believe that she’s the one in the photos.
So here’s my theory: long before the events of this episode, Park Yido came to the village for reasons unknown. And even with the plot device about how older villagers lie, I think there’s some truth to the story that several young shamans fell in love with him and that he did cause problems for the village. I think there was something between him and Hyewon’s mother, and possibly with the shaman (Stephanie’s mother) as well. The detectives mentioned how one of the girls in Photo B looked like the shaman, so I believe that Hyewon’s mother and the shaman used to be friends. Maybe there was a love triangle, and Yido got between them. Whatever drama happened back then, I believe that this point was the start of Hyewon’s mother’s crimes. My theory is that she killed Park Yido, probably out of jealousy or because he betrayed her. Maybe she killed the three crossed out girls in Photo B if they were involved, too. And while she couldn’t kill Stephanie’s mother – maybe because she had already become the great shaman – she decided to sabotage her by murdering all these girls and making it look like Stephanie’s mother cursed them.
As I was writing this, it actually just occurred to me that maybe Jaesuk and Jongmin weren’t poisoned by the shaman at all. Maybe the shaman really does give peach tree water to people to dispel evil spirits, and the white stuff in those glasses really was sugar like Jaesuk’s. Hyewon’s mother could have taken advantage of the shaman’s habit to poison her own source of peach tree water, because she knew most of the girls would trust her and drink it. I also think the shaman was aware that someone was murdering the girls, but either she didn’t know who or couldn’t prove it. So she hid the holy water and locked the remaining girls up to protect them, but that’s all she could really do.
Again, please keep in mind that none of my theory is official or even correct at all. This is really just me trying to find the missing connections between all of the information about the characters and the village that we learn throughout the episode. I could be completely and totally wrong – and I probably am – but this was the most coherent explanation I could come up with after watching this episode four times and thinking about it for hours while writing this recap. I’d be interested to hear if anyone else has any theories or spotted anything I missed!
Next episode: the team gets caught up in an inheritance war between three chaebol brothers, and the competition gets intense.
NOTE: All photos and GIFs are screenshots or screen captures from Busted! Season 2 Episode 6 on Netflix. Nothing belongs to me, and all images are used here for illustrative purposes only.