Ghost Stories

Krasue is the Girl with Serious Detachment Issues

This gruesome ghost teaches us her coping mechanism for contemporary society.
Krasue Illustration
Illustration by Dini Lestari

It seems this girl has perfected the art of composed femininity by day, but when night falls, her pretty head floats off her body, followed by a cluster of vital organs and a tangled trail of gleaming guts. Cursed with a voracious appetite for cattle, carrion and unborn children, she paints the countryside red with her bloodlust.

A ghost by any other name would smell as rotten, and these girls go by many - known as Krasue in Thailand, she’s also called Ap in Cambodia, Penanggalan in Malaysia, Leyak or Kuyang in Indonesia, Manananggal in the Philippines, and she even bears strong similarity to Nukekubi from Japan.

The horrific image of Krasue’s disembodied head is firmly imprinted on the Asian psyche, yet her origins are murky. The first of her kind may have been a Cambodian Khmer princess sentenced by her aristocratic husband to burn at stake for her affair with a lowly soldier. Her only salvation against the oppression of a patriarchal society came in the form of a black magic spell, which unfortunately kicked in a little too late, and sustained life in her only unburnt remains: her head and viscera.

She may be accused of deviance and witchcraft, or shamed for a perverse hunger for flesh and feces, but in a world where the feminine body can sometimes become a liability, Krasue breaks free. She tosses aside the crutches of convention, and detaches completely from the logic of the corporeal.

The antithesis to the caring mother, the faithful wife or the docile daughter, she’s sick of playing by the rules, and her aberration is her liberation. She is all our wild thoughts wandering in the darkness, our collective frustration and vengeance, and our sublime redemption as she wipes her blood-stained mouth on crisp white laundry that has been hung outside to dry.

It’s little wonder then that so many fear the uprising of these disembodied Krasue girl gangs of Asia - they’ve got spirit and they’re not afraid to let their freak flag fly.