31 Shinbi's Apartment Ghosts!
DAY TWENTY ONE: PUPPETEER & SOULLESS CHASER
Written by Jonathan Wojcik
SEASON 02.02, EPISODE 03: working late one night, a department store employee stumbles upon an unidentified intruder casting a spell over the store's supply of spare mannequins. Though the demon hunter Kang-lim saves her and ostensibly defeats the puppeteer-sorceror, she has seen something she was not supposed to, and has been marked for death by the puppeteer's ultimate creation. This is only the second time one of these reviews warrants a second video clip:
For being in the wrong place at the wrong time, the young woman is now relentlessly pursued by a single magically transmogrified mannequin with razor-sharp teeth, equally sharp talons, an extending neck, a six-limbed insect-like configuration and the strength of a hundred people. It's a specialized hunter-killer that seems nearly unstoppable, the "Terminator" of haunted mannequins!
This episode is basically all action, with Puppeteer actually being the minion of a major demon villain and barely seen or referenced ever again, but that doesn't mean we don't have tragic backstory to talk about, and in fact, it comes to us in a format I'm delighted we can finally share!
Under the English title "Hari's Ghost Toon," this official video series is apparently known as "There Are No Evil Demons" in Korean, and is hosted by Hari's actual voice actress. She breaks the fourth wall by discussing the show, but she's also sort of in-character, as though we're seeing Hari grown up into a paranormal theorist. The main draw is that she provides background story to various monsters that didn't receive one in the series itself, and while it's presented as if she's simply guessing it all herself, the quasi-animated comic she presents is, as far as I've determined, considered canon for the time being.
So, what we now know is that while the Puppeteer is considered a demonic entity by the events of the main series, he was allegedly a human being 500 years prior; a carpenter and craftsman named Sunghwan who lived in a poor village with his kid brother, Sungyoon, who had recently survived smallpox, and was only allowed to remain in the village due to Sunghwan's usefulness.
When smallpox began to break out again in neighboring communities, Sunghwan was tasked with carving huge Jangseung totems to ward off the disease. Unfortunately, a plague victim exiled from his own village snuck in one night and coincidentally met Sungyoon, who remembered that the village had allowed him to stay and that his brother always taught him to be kind and welcoming. The child let the man hide in their home, and smallpox began to spread rapidly from there.
The younger brother was assumed to be the source of the disease, and was beaten by a mob. The older brother was accused of making ineffective totems, and was told his brother would be safe only if he went with a group of officers to retrieve medicine; all a trick to get him alone and execute him while the village slums were burned.
Sunghwan fought back, escaped, and lived only long enough to try and rescue his brother from their burning home. As he died, or would have died in the flames, the king of demons reached out to him, and the Puppeteer was born, a human turned demon whose magic and woodworking skills can create virtually anything.