‘Killing Stalking’ contains intense, twisted characterization

Horror stories usually consist of a recipe that includes an innocent victim and a crazed killer, but in the webcomic “Killing Stalking,” both characters are twisted in their own ways.

“Killing Stalking” is a webcomic written and illustrated by Koogi, and published online by Lezhin Comics. It’s a psychological, incredibly twisted and graphic story following characters Yoon Bum and Oh Sangwoo. 

After completing his mandatory military service, the main protagonist Yoon Bum finds himself searching for his crush Oh Sangwoo, a member of the same military unit who stood up for Yoon Bum when their commander abused him. His crush soon turns into obsession, and Yoon Bum finds himself stalking Sangwoo and even entering his house one day when he’s out. However, after discovering Yoon Bum in his home and that he’s uncovered his secret of being a serial killer, Sangwoo decides to hold Yoon Bum captive, and what follows are multiple attempts of escape from Yoon Bum and the formation of a toxic relationship.

This story kept me on the tip of my toes the whole time. Every chapter is intense scene and build up after another, never calming until the very end. When you have the two main characters as twisted as they are, it’s hard to relax at all. Both come from backgrounds of horrible abuse. One minute you’re feeling immense sympathy, the next you’re recoiling from intense graphic elements and horrifying aspects of what they’ve become.

Yoon Bum is a sensitive and broken individual who’s been exiled from society and treated as an outsider. As a result of abuse, he’s developed Borderline Personality Disorder, making it difficult for him not to get attached to any who show him affection. It’s understandable why he’s grown so attached to Sangwoo, despite the other man ultimately torturing and abusing him, because he was one of the only people who have ever shown him kindness. 

When Sangwoo holds him captive, Yoon Bum tries so earnestly to escape, knowing he shouldn’t care about Sangwoo, but unable to help it. He’s in love with Sangwoo, but also so terrified of him and what he can do. There’s definitely a theme of Stockholm syndrome that is portrayed very realistically, making the plot even more complex and gritty with the difficult, life-changing choice Yoon Bum has to make.

The reader can’t help but pity Yoon Bum and all he’s been through, yet the author also makes the reader feel tugs of discomfort and borderline disgust, which is how most of the other characters in the story react to Yoon Bum. It drives in the fact that he is an outcast, making this feeling distinct and pushing the reader to almost fade into the same crowd as the characters who treat him as an outsider.

Sangwoo is very much a sadistic, manipulative killer. He kills for sport and often snags his victims by inviting them home. Similar to Yoon Bum, Sangwoo also suffered from a life of abuse when he was younger, and now wishes to play the hunter instead of the prey. He’s a very charismatic character, but the reader never forgets his sadistic side, especially from the way the creator vividly illustrates the dark circles beneath his emotionless eyes. 

His character is very enthralling and inspires a hazy feel to the overall story, because like Yoon Bum, the reader may feel safe about Sangwoo in certain parts of the plot with the charm he’s able to draw people in with, but they’ll soon be reminded of his sick nature in a short matter of time.

The relationship between Yoon Bum and Sangwoo is what stands out the most in the story. Yoon Bum is already obsessed with Sangwoo when the comic begins, which is the cause of Sangwoo choosing to hold him hostage instead of immediately killing him. The two slowly develop an intense sexual relationship, which at times is too much, but also displays the messed up dynamic.

It’s obvious they both care for each other, but it’s in a heavily toxic manner that leaves the reader almost speechless and quizzical as to how they should feel. Sangwoo feels a twisted attachment to Yoon Bum due to the man reminding him of his late mother. In a way, the relationship seems to be commentating on the intense fetishization of sexuality often shown towards male pairings in manga or fandoms as a whole. 

Despite the fact that the relationship between Yoon Bum and Sangwoo is incredibly abusive and warped, there is a large part of fanbases fetishizing it simply for the fact that it’s a boy-on-boy story, rather than acknowledging the deeper, twisted aspects of it. This happens in other media as well, and throughout the plot, it seems the author hints at this issue in the webcomic/manga community.

“Killing Stalking” is a good example of a psychological story that shows the deep, dark impacts a life of abuse can have on individuals. The story of Yoom Bum and Oh Sangwoo is a twisted one and shares the idea that some monsters are definitely made. 

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)