The Pale Horse (창백한 말)
By Hae-Yun Choo
I read a review about this South Korean webtoon, and I just had to check it out.
The Pale Horse is an ongoing South Korean webtoon created by Hae-Yun Choo. The story is set in France 1835. Rose Dupre lived the first twelve years of her life as a normal country girl despite being labeled and ostracized as the witch’s daughter. It is rumored that Rose’s mother kills and eats humans. However, Rose’s friends Marie and Pierre don’t believe that the gossip is true.
So I had to do some research as to why this webtoon is called, The Pale Horse. The Pale Horse refers to Death, one of the four horsemen of the Apocalypse in the Bible. The title is referenced at the end of the first act when the real witch is finally revealed. The reason why the witch is also known as “The Pale Horse” is because her existence brings nothing, but death and destruction. The witch, who happens to be Rose, lives as an immortal and she must kill and eat humans as a way to live. It isn’t a choice for her, but a necessity for survival.
What’s interesting about this webtoon is that every character has their imperfections. In the beginning, we feel sympathetic towards Rose because society fears her for being the daughter of a said-to-be witch. Later on, we hear Rose’s back story. Again, we feel bad for her when she is revealed as the witch because it is told that she lives a lonely life due to her immortality and the fact that she has to eat humans to live. Yet at the same time, she does a complete turn-around in regards to her personality once her true self is awake. Instead of a poor, helpless, and innocent girl, we see Rose become someone wicked. Does she not have feelings for Pierre anymore? Has she truly gone mad? As readers, we begin to question whether she is a protagonist that we can trust or is she the enemy. In fact, throughout this series, I felt like there isn’t really an antagonist you can easily point out to go against. Every character has their flaws, which kind of makes you question your morals. A character’s persona and actions influence our views of the character and our perception of morality. Each person’s morals is subjective, and there isn’t a right or wrong answer towards whether you should feel sympathetic to Rose based on her emotions and actions, but this it is fun to contemplate whether Rose is a character that we should give our sympathy and love to or our hatred.
Furthermore, as readers, we begin to question the motives of Rose’s servant, Guiness. In the beginning, he could be seen as Rose’s loyal servant and ally. He does anything to protect her and her secret from humans. Yet at the same time, we question his intentions because it seems that he has strong feelings for Rose. Is he doing this out of love or does he have something up his sleeve? The series is still ongoing, but Guiness’s character is somewhat of a mystery that still needs to be fleshed out.
Later on in the series, we are introduced to the nobility and explore more of the Hunters’ origin. It is no surprised that the Hunters—the ones that kill off the quarries and monsters—are treated as scum by the rich high class. The Hunters go on dangerous missions to protect humans, but why should they do such a job when no one appreciates their work. The issue between the Hunters and the rich shows the division of values and roles among social classes.
Like I said before, The Pale Horse is an ongoing series, and most of my thoughts are primarily impressions. Yet it is a webtoon that one should definitely check out if you like the fantasy, supernatural, mystery genres.