Seishin & Maeda’s Relationship In ‘Gyeongseong Creature,’ Explained

The titular character of Gyeongseong Creature is a repugnant monster created as a bioweapon by the Japanese military conducting their experiments on Korean nationals. Loosely based on the Unit 731 experiments, the show takes fictional liberties to personify the horrifying atrocities that took place during that period. It is those with the toughest minds that get the most pain inflicted on them. When Seishin drinks the Najin, she’s calm like the eye of a storm, despite the massive pain she’s enduring. The other woman in her position can’t control the fight with the Najin and ends up harming herself, desperately removing it from her body. Seishin is thick-skinned; even in the hospital, she looks after other people too. Maybe this is why the anthrax serum has such an effect on her, enhancing her strengths and making her massive in size.

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Seishin’s story begins with Seong-Sim. While we don’t ever learn anything about her childhood or her life before her family, we do know that Seong-Sim was a very beautiful woman. We can imagine she was happy dedicating herself to her husband and daughter. When Chae-Ok is 10, Seong-Sim gets taken away by Maeda’s people to Gyeongseong, to the infamous Onseong Hospital. Maeda and Seong-Sim used to be friends during Maeda’s time in Manchuria. We learn that Maeda was betrayed by Seong-Sim back when they were friends. It seems like Maeda’s always had a thing for men who like other women. She’s so insecure about herself that when her more beautiful “Joseon” friend is picked by the man she likes, she immediately feels betrayed. I’m not quite sure why it took her 10 years to separate her from her family, but having a child simply makes it more painful.

In the future, Maeda’s Japanese husband (the somewhat useless Ishikawa) picks a Joseon courtesan to have a child with, not simply because she’s a courtesan but because she’s beautiful. Maeda’s obviously a very insecure woman; we can even see this from the way she dresses and carries herself and the bright red lipstick she wears. Not only does she want to appear elegant, upper-class, and very Japanese, but she also wants to show everybody that she’s a fierce woman who can boss everybody around. The red lip is striking in comparison to the subtle rosy colors worn by the Joseon women. It’s just a facade for her to hide behind.

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The third time Maeda feels betrayed is when Tae-Sang picks Chae-Ok over her. Maeda was always attracted to the rich and handsome Tae-Sang (of course it’s okay that he’s Korean), but when he chooses Seishin’s daughter and his people over a luxurious life with her, it’s the ultimate betrayal. Maeda is so focused on herself that it never really matters what’s happening around her. Oh, the hospital is failing to keep its experiments in check; shut it down. It doesn’t matter what they’ve done all these years. It doesn’t matter how they’ve treated other human beings, as long as the people she needs to keep in check are taken care of. The only reason Ichiro is able to convince her to keep the hospital running is when he shows her the ugly form her “friend” Seishin has taken.

It’s like the ultimate reward for Maeda because the beautiful Seishin is now ugly. However, what Maeda doesn’t know is that Seishin’s husband and daughter have been looking for her for 10 long years. She’s never experienced that kind of dedication or love before. This is why Tae-Sang and Chae-Ok’s relationship is especially wounding to her. Now that I think about it, it’s a very petty life she’s lived. Or it’s the story constructed around her that isn’t very satisfying. Maeda’s whole life is spent worrying about how other people view her and the people she feels most insecure about, yet they don’t care for her at all.

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On the other hand, Seishin fights so hard for her life that when Chae-Ok calls her mother, she immediately comes back to her senses. She’s waited so long for her that simply saying the word is the ultimate act of love. Seishin forgot who she was because of the Najin, but a little nudge is enough for her to bring out her human side. Of course, the ultimate reality is that Maeda is the real monster in it all. So, at the end of the series, when Kato offers her the Najin, we can imagine that she will drink it. She’s already lost her looks, thanks to Tae-Sang, so this will be the best direction for her to take revenge. Maeda loses everything that she ever wanted: beautiful looks, a family, and a life of luxury. She’s left with a burned face, a paralyzed body, and the choice to become a monster. Of course, she’ll choose the latter.

On the opposite side of the spectrum is Seishin, who watches her loving husband sacrifice himself and her for the future of their daughter, only for it not to work. While he perishes in the flames of the explosion, Seishin is left with one arm missing. She decides to go save her daughter from Maeda as her last mission; however, she ends up killing her by accident when she attacks Tae-Sang. Chae-Ok’s final goodbye is a request for Seishin to end the killing and leave the hurt behind. Apart from saving the country, Chae-Ok also just wants her mother to stop hurting. So, Seishin chooses to give Chae-Ok the Najin, willing her back to life. Seishin’s last act as a mother is to give her daughter a future, despite it being a rocky one. I suppose she knows that Chae-Ok can fight the Najin and also has people around to love her and protect her from herself. This is the only way she can fulfil her duty as a mother. 

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Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika Bhat
Ruchika, or "Ru," is a fashion designer and stylist by day and a serial binge-watcher by night. She dabbles in writing when she has the chance and loves to entertain herself with reading, K-pop dancing, and the occasional hangout with friends.

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