Pocong goes international: Indonesian netizens spooked by ‘ghost sighting’ in hit K-drama series ‘Start-Up’

Poster for ‘Start-Up’ (L), and the apparent appearance of a pocong in the 10th episode of the K-drama. Photo: tvN Drama
Poster for ‘Start-Up’ (L), and the apparent appearance of a pocong in the 10th episode of the K-drama. Photo: tvN Drama

Many Indonesians have taken to binge watching K-drama to pass the time at home, with the new series Start-Up being one of the most popular dramas right now, as it is currently running and streaming worldwide on Netflix.

Starring idol-turned-actress Bae Suzy and Nam Joo-hyuk, Start-Up airs new episodes every Saturday and Sunday. The latest episode has turned into a hot topic among Indonesian netizens, after they took to social media to report the apparent sighting of a familiar supernatural creature.

“In one menfess account (Twitter accounts that generate tweets from submissions), I read that there was a pocong on #StartUp. After Mimin (admin in the first person) checked, apparently there’s something white [in the scene]. I’m torn between being scared or laughing out loud,” @infodrakor_id, an account that specializes in K-drama news, tweeted recently.

In a scene from the 10th episode, Nam Do-san (Nam) is staring at Seo Dal-mi (Suzy), who’s sitting under a bus stop across from him. What looks to be a pocong can be seen perched on top of the bus stop in the video below:

“I even went to look at it again and there it is. Pocongie,” the tweet reads, referring to pocong using Korean diminutive suffix “ie” as a sign of closeness or affection.

Another user tweeted the timestamp of the episode, for those of you who want to see this pocong yourself.

In case you’re not well-versed in Indonesia’s huge catalogue of mythical creatures, a pocong is basically the Indonesian zombie, wrapped up from head to toe in white cloth as is customary in Islamic burial rites, with only their faces uncovered. With their lack of limb mobility, they hop around from place to place.

We don’t actually know if pocong can hop their way overseas, but many Indonesian K-drama lovers (jokingly) congratulated the ghost for making its debut in South Korea. 

“Indonesian citizens should be proud, after Dita successfully debuted as an idol in Secret Number, now Pocong successfully made its debut in K-drama Start-Up.

Another user tweeted using the style of “hashtag clearance,” a method in the “Stan Twitter” (obsessive fans of any fandom such as K-pop) to “clear” associated keywords generated when someone looks up a name or a phrase in Twitter’s search bar.


“It’s fixed, Dosan didn’t move because he saw that pocong, not because he was looking at Dalmi.”

Start-Up is set in the fictional Silicon Valley of South Korea named Sandbox and tells the story of the people in the startup business: Dal-mi who dreams of becoming the Korean Steve Jobs who thought that Do-san, a startup founder, was her first love; and Han Ji-pyeong (Kim Seon-ho), a team leader at a venture capital who pretended to be Do-san during their childhood. The love triangle aspect of the story also made netizens wonder about where the pocong’s allegiance lies:

“I’m curious if pocong is a part of Team Do-san or Team Ji-pyeong.”

If you’ve been keeping track, this is actually not the first time that the pocong has appeared in Korean media. In early April, the story of men dressed as pocong in Purworejo regency, Central Java, employed to monitor their village’s self-isolation initiative, made it to the news in Korea by one of the country’s leading television networks, MBC.

Dare we say this pocong in Start-Up was an Easter egg put in by the showrunners as fanservice to the legions of Indonesian K-drama fans?


Also Read Men dressed as ‘pocong’ spook village in Central Java into self-isolation

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