Bum, whose name fits perfectly for many reasons, is obsessed with Sangwoo, a charismatic and attractive guy. His desire is so strong that Bum decides to stalk Sangwoo to find out where he lives. His curiosity pushes him to infiltrate his house and discovers that... oh you don't want to know. GO READ IT!
I believe this is Lezhin's masterpiece up to date. They really stepped their game up with this one and it can only be good in the long run, not only for the web magazine itself, but for us readers. This review is valid for the first season (19 chapters) of Killing Stalking. Overall I think this project is really impressive and I hope next season won't ruin everything that has been built up until now.
Goodness, where do I start? First of all, this is a highly intense manhwa. For literally every reason. Intense abuse, nudity, violence, language, torture, etc. BUT the characters and story are really well thought out and so fascinating. It's insane how scary and suspenseful the author paces this story. Every chapter gives me so much anxiety because of how unstable the characters are. You really never know who's gonna be alive or dead in the next panel.
Secondly, the relationship between Sangwoo and YoonBum is tragic, abusive, torturous...just really messed up. It's difficult to see Sangwoo torturing and beating up Yoonbum and then hugging and kissing him. It messes with your mind. You know you're not supposed to ship them, but the extreme contrast between the abuse and the affection makes you want some kind of happiness to happen....It's a horrible, horrible struggle.
Thirdly, both Sangwoo and Yoonbum have different mental disorders. Of course, Sangwoo has the most dangerous (Borderline Personality, Anti-social Personality) disorders.... Yoonbum has his own personality disorders (stalking and obsessing...later seemingly developing Stockholm Syndrome). Again, you just want happiness for Yoonbum and a prison-cell for Sangwoo... but the more chapters you read, the more attached you get to the characters. WHICH SUCKS.
Fourthly and finally, the art and color is amazing. Which is what I suppose makes it even more intense and graphic, but nonetheless incredible. The character designs too are attractive. I mean, Sangwoo....he's so attractive, the devil... especially when he wears glasses and an apron... SHIZZZ I mean remember the context, remember the context, remember the context (ಥ_ಥ) Yoonbum is adorable. You just want to give him happiness and love. Which is non-existant in this Manhwa. Anyway, hope this review helped give another perspective on Killing Stalking. Just.... keep the lights on when you read it (Ｔ▽Ｔ)
*Editing Note: Koogi, the creator of this Manhwa (Korean Manga), in a recent interview said that Yoonbum does have Borderline Personality Disorder, which surprised me. Majoring in abnormal psychology, I found Yoonbum really only protrayed 3-4 out of the 9 character traits of BPD, which isn't quite enough for him to be diagnosed with BPD. However, Sangwoo, who posseses 5-6 out of the 9, to me, fits BPD better... Just throwing my two cents out...If you want to read more on this, check out what the DSM V says about Borderline Personality Disorder (the diagnostic criteria especially)
This review contains possibly spoilers. Don't read this if you can't handle physical and sexual abuse. This is not a Yaoi, this is a disturbing abusive relationship.
I remember reading it back in Early 2017 and following it till it ended in Early 2019. I was quite obsessed with it in the beginning, I thought it was purely a psychological thriller and I read like, all chapters which were out at the moment in one night, which was like, the first season, I think? My opinion to it changed quite over time however. First of all, the fanbase is probably one of the worst, most toxic ones I've seen so far. Shipping a Serial Killer, Abuser and Rapist with the victim is a big no-no. Fans, Sangwoo Stans and Fujoshis don't care though. Many of Sangwoo stans even went so far to victimblame the Character Bum.
Art: The Art is good tbh, but there were many panels were characters wouldn't have faces, or the Author would sometimes forget things in the panels. Sangwoo's eyebrows literally look like they wanna fly off his goddamn forehead, idk how someone could call those eyebrows lmao. The backgrounds were also lazy/boring as hell, looking back at it. And while the Art itself became way better with each season, I prefer Season 1's art style over the other ones, it suits the atmosphere perfectly.
Characters: The Characters Bum and Sangwoo were deep (Sangwoo not so much, there is literally no reason why he started kidnapping, abusing, raping and killing people), but I was amazed every time with how stupid the Side Characters and Police were. Also, Seungbae deserved more love.
Yoon Bum is the Protagonist, a pitiful loner type guy who is a victim of severe abuse throughout his whole life. I liked the way the Author showed how his Obsession slowly turned into Stockholm Syndrome due to Sangwoo abusing him. Besides his PTSD and Stockholm Syndrome, Bum suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder and as someone who suffers from BPD myself, the way Bum acted-or-reacted during the story hit me hard. The Author did a good job at showcasing Bum's BPD. People who suffer from BPD are hyper-empathic, extremely sensitive to the emotions and energy of people, animals, and to the elements in the environment. They experience emotions intensely which can lead to them obsessing over things, may it be over how they look, what they eat or over a person they love. It's different for everyone, but most of the people who suffer from BPD experience it unintentionally often. Bum, who lost his parents and got verbally abused by his uncle, bullied school and sexually abused in military, gets easily attached when shown affection for once. The reason WHY Bum became obsessed with Sangwoo at first makes completely sense as Sangwoo saved him from a rape attempt in military once, that was however before Bum knew Sangwoo's true nature. Even his lack of needed education from his parents was shown. In Chapter 26, the flashback chapter about Bum's traumatized past due to his uncle, he was shown holding a spoon in the wrong way, he didn't even know how to normally hold a spoon. It's honestly just sad asf. I felt so bad for him the whole time, his parents died when he was a toddler, his uncle who was supposed to care for him after Bum's parents died, verbally abused Bum physically and sexually for years, he was bullied in school, sexually abused in military and don't even get me started on all the things Sangwoo did to Bum. Bum was abused by LITERALLY everyone during his life.
Sangwoo is the second Protagonist, the Antagonist. I'm really, really not a fan of him due to how abusive, narcissistic and homophobic he is and his Fans didn't make it any better. Dude's a sociopathic Abuser, Mass Murderer and Rapist, yet you got sickos excusing his behavior. It's the Ted Bundy Situation all over again. I don't think that I ever despised a character more than him. Fangirls of his think that Looks=Good so they ignore/deny the fact how he kidnapped, beat, tortured and killed women or beat, tortured and raped Bum. Endeavor from MHA was literally hated by everyone cuz he abused his wife and kid and then went through a redemption arc, yet Sangwoo, who is a hundred times worse and beyond redemption since the beginning, is beloved by horny Yaoi Fans who ignore the personality, but are in for his looks, despite him being the equivalent of human garbage. I can admit that there was also more to him though, although it never changed my opinion over him, he was a selfish, abusive piece of shit to the very end and his death wasn't as satisfying as it should have been. It's ridiculous how people think that a "sad" past justifies Sangwoo's domestic abuse on women, his severe abuse on Bum, his serial killings and him raping Bum. Koogi literally never showed us how his kidnapping, abuse and serial killings on women started, he just did it because he felt like it and that's what throws me off, it's poor writing. For example, Albert Fish, a real life Serial Killer, Rapist and Cannibal had a fucked up past, but I don't ever have seen anyone excuse his actions. Why? Cuz the dude was a major piece of shit and ugly. Sangwoo is a piece of shit, but he ain't ugly, so everyone starts apologizing his crimes just because of his looks, being hypocritical asf. Sangwoo would immediately get the death penalty if he was real, he's that much of a bastard. I disliked Bum's uncle more, yea, but a Abuser, Rapist and Serial Killer (Sangwoo) is morally worse than a Abuser and Rapist (Bum's uncle). People glamorizing serial killers isn't rare, Ted Bundy'a sick fangirls are the best examples and that was because of his looks. If Sangwoo was a ugly mofo like Bum's Uncle, then nobody would give a flying fuck about him, dude is beyond unlikable as well as badly written.
^And to everyone who thinks "oH bUT wHAt aBoUT tHiS aNd tHaT, iT wAs sTiLL a rELaTiOnsHiP" Please grow up. Sangwoo is hetero and homophobic, so he's obviously not into Bum. At times when he wasn't physically abusing Bum, he was manipulating him, not being sweet. That's common in abusive relationships, they're manipulating their victim so they stay with them. Sangwoo is also a sociopathic, narcissistic Serial Killer, so it was for sure that he'd try to kill Bum again. Remind you, Sangwoo broke Bum's legs and locked him up, beat him up for accidently dropping a plate, beat him up again when Bum tied to escape and then hang Bum in the basement, nearly drowned him and cut his chin, forced Bum to talk about his traumatizing past with his uncle and accusing Bum of having "consensual sex" with his uncle which broke Bum and made him attempt suicide, nearly drowned Bum just because Bum was feeling uncomfortable, lied to and manipulated Bum, raped Bum several times, brought Bum's uncle to Bum and let him beat up and nearly rape Bum again, kept physically abusing Bum and tried to kill Bum in the end again. It was a shithole of traumatizing experience for Bum who was already enough traumatized from his uncle's abuse and what happened to him in military. Sangwoo lost every chance of Redemption at the moment he broke Bum's legs. Bum was just too naive, mentally ill, still obsessed with the Sangwoo who saved him in military, and suffered from Stockholm Syndrome. And no, Sangwoo doesn't suffer from Lima Syndrome (Kidnapper falling in love with captive). He never gave a shit about Bum, abused, tortured, manipulated and raped him and only saw Bum as replacement which was confirmed by the Author in her notes. You can easily tell so as in the end, he began beating and sexually abusing Bum again, used Bum as bait to kill Seungbae, then abuse Bum in front of Seungbae when he refused to kill Seungbae and was about to kill Bum had it no been for Seungbae saving Bum. If Bum looked more "manly", then Sangwoo wouldve already killed him in the beginning of the Manhwa. Sangwoo was only selfishly using Bum in every abusive way and even told Bum that Bum should kill himself if he ever dies. Sangwoo is such a toxic piece of shit that I find pure evil characters like the Joker more sympathizing than Sangwoo's bitchass.
Seungbae is the Tritagonist, basically Sangwoo's enemy and the only one who could save Bum from his situation. He goes through some Development over the story, but he had more potential and could've been better used tbh. I'm glad that he had a happy ending tho.
Since it's a Manhwa, there was no Music of course, but I remember that the Song Deep Horrors was used for a specific chapter (Which was also my favorite chapter).
As for the Genres, it ain't Yaoi. There is no love nor romance, it's a abusive relationship and Sangwoo is homophobic, confirmed by the Author to be hetero and doesn't give a shit (Not like the abuse/torture/rape scenes were making that clear enough for the Fujoshis lmao) about Bum, only using him as replacement. Yoon Bum is bi. I'm myself bi as well, so I have no problems with Yaoi, I do in fact actually adore it (As long as it ain't toxic like here).
Conclusion: Overall, I basically have a Love Hate Relationship for it. Personally, my favorite season was the first one due to the Mind Games which is why I guess part of the reason why I'm giving it the lowest rating. It all went downhill at the end of Season 2 imo. Season 3 felt almost like filler, there was too much nonsense fanservice for the fangirls. Stop fuckin romanticizing abuse and rape. What many fail to understand is that Abusers in abusive relationships can also abuse someone mentally in a way to break them even more. In S3, Sangwoo pretended to care about Bum which was only because he was preparing Bum to meet his uncle (Without Bum knowing). Sangwoo, despite knowing how heinous Bum's uncle is, brought the uncle to Bum, let him beat Bum up and almost rape Bum again JUST so he can kill the uncle in front of Bum. Sangwoo never gave a shit about how it would affect Bum. He then began physically Bum again, but hey, Sangwoo looks so good so him physically abusing and raping Bum is fine, right? Many things were also left unexplained till the end. Plot points which came up in Season 1 were retconned in later seasons as it never happend. Then there were characters who were forgotten for a majority of the Manwha (Seungbae for example, he was barely there during the third season). Many Rape Scenes felt like "Sexual Abuse Porn" for the Fujoshis. It also felt like that the Author was contracting herself for what she was actually going for, as some of the Special Chapters felt like Fanservice for the toxic Shippers, trying to put Sangwoo in a different light. And it's not just Koogi, but the fans as well. Best example is when Bum's grandma is trying to excuse Bum's uncle disturbing abuse on Bum, because the Uncle had a sad past. Koogi was literally pointing at all the Readers and Shippers that a sad past is no excuse for Sangwoo's crimes and abuse on Bum, but they all were either too delusional to catch that, or didn't give a shit. I think the Manhwa was special, but not only got worse with each season, but also had the wrong fanbase, unfortunately. I know it sounds weird and while I probably will never re-read it, KS feels very nostalgic to me, waiting each week for a new chapter and being pulled into it. I really wish that I could have given it a better rating because it was one hell of a complicated ride, but there were too many things that bothered me over time.
No, it having triggering things in it isn't the reason for the rating. Rainbow Nisha is my fave anime and that shit got tons of triggering things in it but it is WELL DONE.
With Killing Stalking, it's because of how badly and cliche it is done. Sangwoo's past which took DOZENS of chapters left more questions than it answered. It never explained WHY he started kidnapping, beating and killing all these women. There is no motivation nor justification, so Koogi's reason for Sangwoo's crimes was apparently that Sangwoo simply wanted to take his anger out on innocent people. Sorry, but that is such poor writing. What's worse is how people buy it and mourn the fucker's death even though he literally beat Bum black and blue before that, sexually abused Bum again and then attempted to kill Bum and Seungbae. Sangwoo is NOT in any way a likable character nor a well written one, his looks carry his sick fanbase.
All in all, it has too many plot holes for me to give it in any way a higher rating. It is by no means a masterpiece.
This is not a romance. There is no compasion, they are not in love, this is a story about torture. Don't romanticize it.
That being said: it's really good! It's actually got me scared for the main character and I really wonder where the story will go. Sangwoo is absolutly terrifying and his posessive nature is twisted, but he's really good at manipulating Yoon. There's no telling what will happen next but I'm hoping for some justice.
The story does a good job of not a romanticizing the kidnapping. There's the typical things that captors do to create a sense of dependancy in their victims, but it's clear he's psychotic. Both main characters are really well explored, I think. And the suspence is really well done as well. There is some R rated stuff sexually and gore wise, but definately worth the read if you can handle that.
This manhwa is a psychological train wreck- you can't look away.
The story itself is interesting and unconvential but well written, so it makes for a valuable read. The characters undergo very real physical and mental struggles and the artist creates suspense flawlessly. Explicit. Heart-breaking. Realistic-style artwork and gore.
As a word of warning, do not start reading this web comic if you need to love a character or their relationship and please realize that what is depicted is unheathly at the very least.