Killing Stalking is a manhwa (Korean comic) written and illustrated by Koogi and has been published online in Korean, English and Japanese by Lezhin Comics. Admittedly, I had no idea about it’s existence until fairly recently, but today I’m going to be reading it and giving you my thoughts as I go along.
Warning: There will be major spoilers in this post! This is NOT a review, but an account of what’s happening within the story and what I’m thinking as I’m reading it. If you haven’t already read Killing Stalking, please bear this in mind before reading any further!
TW: Mentions of physical abuse and sexual assault are also present in the post.
The story begins with a prologue and introduces a girl who admits to obsessively following some boy’s social media. I can’t really comment here, as I’m sure plenty of us have been there before, right? Immediately, I notice that the art style is super nice to look at and really detailed, as seen by the creases in her clothes. But hey- PLOT TWIST. Koogi introduced the main character as a girl, but we’ve just discovered it’s a boy? This revelation takes up an entire page – simple but effective in its delivery. The main character admits to sneaking into the guy he likes’ house (which is honestly a little creepy) and we see a little bit of the house, but mostly just the stairway before we then cut back to see the protagonist on the floor, the guy who he likes behind him with a baseball bat and then-
It turns black.
Again, I like this. An entire page is completely black. No typography. Nothing. It’s effective in creating a dramatic atmosphere, as well as giving the reader some time to process what in the world is happening. This is only the prologue, after all. It’s a bit action-packed, huh? We go from pitch black to a gradient background with the guy holding the bat saying “Welcome to my home.” If that isn’t menacing, I don’t know what is. By this point, this manhwa has my upmost attention.
The first chapter begins in a similar way to the prologue – it’s the same art, the same story – but we get more details about the main character. We know for a fact now that they like the guy they’re stalking. We know they’re called Yoonbum. Excellent. This makes writing this post a lot easier. What I liked here, though, is that they added something about heterosexual relationships and how they have two options due to traditions and expectations, but most importantly it highlights that it’s different if you’re not heterosexual. It highlights that it’s harder for you to approach such things if you’re part of the LGBT community. Particularly, I imagine, in a country like South Korea where those in the LGBT community still face legal challenges and discrimination from others.
The art depicts Yoonbum’s emotions incredibly well, close-ups of him on the train as he contemplates messaging The Boy. Yoonbum wonders what his relationship is like with her, implying that The Boy has a girlfriend, that he’s in a heterosexual relationship. It’s here that I notice how short the sentences are. One frame literally has two words – “I can’t.” – which gives a massive impact on the reader. Most people have been in such a situation, making this comic, thus far, somewhat relatable…if we forget about the house situation that we saw in the prologue.
It’s in the frames after this prominent sentence that Koogi shows off his art and I don’t necessarily blame him. I really do like the art style that he’s used for this comic, the landscapes in these frames being some of my favourite frames yet. I feel that this is a mostly visual comic, not very dependent on language, as it’s a while before I see any text that isn’t some Hangul on a shop front.
There’s no dialogue for a fair amount of pages. But then we’re greeted by four digitals in a big Arial font – 2, 4, 5, 8. A piece of paper with loads of crossed out combinations are shown. “Why am I doing this?” Yoonbum asks himself, before justifying it as doing for love, leading us to believe that the apartment he’s at is The Boy’s and not his own. Koogi then gives us flashbacks of different periods of Yoonbum’s life as he keeps justifying that he’s done this for love. I really want to know what happened in these different periods of his life, so I hope Koogi treats us to more about these. Yoonbum questions his actions, addressing who I can only assume at this point to be The Boy (Sangwoo) repeatedly saying his name as he masturbates.
The words “Borderline Personality Disorder” is written in italics on the next frame – the only thing to appear there, but this doesn’t exactly seem to properly fit in, nor do we actually get an explanation. A quick Google search upon finishing the chapter and it’s evident that this could be applied to both characters. I guess we find out more about this in future chapters, so I’ll leave that at that.
We can now finally begin to put an age on both male characters as Yoonbum begins to question whether it was in the army that he met Sangwoo or whether it was college, which he also states that he entered four years late. In South Korea, considering this is a manhwa, military service is mandatory for those aged 18 to 35. Koreans also leave high school at the age of 18 (following international ages, not the Korean age system!), thus we can safely assume he’s probably over the age of 23, if we’re considering his late enrollment to college.
He lists off the qualities of Sangwoo that he likes – that he’s empathetic, considerate and gentle… The usual, stereotypical traits that people like in a person. And, of course, Sangwoo was the popular guy who Yoonbum could never imagine to be with. Again, this is a little cliché. He began imagining how Sangwoo would have sex, states that he was aroused by him, all before states that their only contact was when they looked at each other in the eyes one time and how even that made him feel a small connection with him.
Sounds like a standard fanfiction to me.
Yoonbum was made an active duty soldier in the military (despite him thinking he was going to be assigned to the public interest service due to him being underweight), yet he wasn’t worried about this at all. That was until he got called in by his Sergeant. Marked. He was made an outsider in his own platoon. Yoonbum was bullied and sexually assaulted by his fellow comrades. That is until Sangwoo realises and saves him, therefore marking the start of Yoonbum’s obsessive crush on him.
By the end of the chapter, we’re back to where we ended in the prologue, but something’s not quite right. Yoonbum is at the door of Sangwoo’s apartment, there’s a policeman who approach Sangwoo, watching him with great suspicion. This character, to me at least, is suspicious in himself, and I really want to know what happens with him, especially considering him being suspicious towards both Sangwoo and Yoonbum. That’s not the only thing that is suspicious in the latter part of this chapter, though…
Yoonbum, whilst being a little obsessive in Sangwoo’s apartment, finds a woman completely naked, blindfolded, gagged and tied up in Sangwoo’s basement. Rightly so, this prompts a lot of questions in not only Yoonbum’s head, but the reader’s head as well. Who is she? Why is she tied up? What is she doing in Sangwoo’s basement? Continuing on, we reach the point where we’re repeating the prologue again – Sangwoo hitting Yoonbum over the head with a baseball bat. Just what is happening here?!
Regardless of what’s happening, I’m definitely intrigued. The first two chapters of this manhwa have definitely captured my attention, so much so that I could write an awful lot more about it. I’ll definitely be reading more of this. Perhaps I can make reading this into a series of posts, who knows? There’ll definitely be a review of this after I do finish it (which probably won’t take me long considering how hooked I am), but, even at this point, if you like psychological, horror dramas, and don’t mind the odd bit of nudity and sexual content (and you’re aware of the fact it contains depicitions of abuse and violence), I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy this too.
This post was written as the seventh installment in my #12DaysOfAnime posts! #12DaysOfAnime is a challenge taken on by loads of anime bloggers, vloggers, podcasters and other people on many different platforms. We just have to post twelve consecutive posts about anything anime-related for the twelve days leading up to Christmas!
Keep an eye out for my other posts that will be a part of the #12DaysOfAnime Challenge! These will cover a variety of topics such as anime reviews, conventions and much more, so there’s going to be something a little different every day!
Hope to see you around!