After a Japanese man arrives at Gokseong, a small village in the mountains of South Korea, a mysterious infection breaks out and causes the villagers to become deranged and violently kill their families.
One night at the police station, officers Oh Seong-bok and Jong-goo are discussing the Japanese stranger when a naked woman appears in the rain. They later discover the woman, infected, has murdered her family. At the crime scene, Jong-goo meets a mysterious young woman called Moo-myeong (“no name” in Korean), who tells him the Japanese man is a ghost and the culprit. Jong-goo steps outside to call Oh Seong-bok, and the woman vanishes. A local hunter tells them he saw the stranger with glowing red eyes, eating a raw deer in the forest.
Jong-goo has similar dreams about the stranger and decides to investigate with Oh Seong-bok. They enlist the help of Oh Seong-bok’s nephew, a Japanese-speaking deacon named Yang I-sam. They investigate the stranger’s house when he’s out and find pictures of the murdered villagers and their belongings, as well as a worship room. The stranger’s guard dog attacks them and stops when the stranger returns. Jong-goo and his team leave. On the way back, Oh Seong-bok shows his partner a shoe that belongs to Jong-goo’s daughter, Hyo-jin. Hyo-jin grows sick, with symptoms similar to those of the other infected. Jong-goo returns to the stranger’s house, but finds the evidence has been burned. Infuriated, he smashes up the worship room, kills the guard dog, and orders the stranger to leave the village.
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