Co-posted at Still Just Alison
TV series – 16 episodes
Most men would be thrilled if the lovely Shin Min-ah followed them home, but not Cha Dae-woong (Lee Seung-gi). Possibly because she’s got nine tails and 500 years under her belt, but more likely because she threatened to eat him – that kind of thing does tend to put a damper on even the most modern relationship.
If you can get past Lee Seung-gi’s startling hairstyle and plenty of shameless overacting, this is an enjoyable piece of romantic fluff. It’s a fairly simple premise: Cha Dae-woong (Lee) stumbles into an ancient temple at the height of a storm and releases a gumiho (fox spirit) who’s been trapped in a painting for 500 years. The gumiho saves his life and follows him home, where she proceeds to be generally adorable and falls in love with him despite his fervent rejections, while the previous object of his affection acts like Ms Snidey Bitchface at every opportunity.
Meanwhile, the world’s most handsome vet (singer/musician No Min-woo) befriends Mi-ho, although it turns out he’s not just a vet but a half-human, half-goblin, monster-hunting immortal with an ulterior motive. Our boy Dae-woong is understandably suspicious, although blissfully unaware of the supernatural side of his competitor.
Despite the afore-mentioned overacting and some two-dimensional support characters, this does have some genuinely touching moments, as well as some real comedy. Lee shows some promise as a stunt-being which he later demonstrated with devastating aplomb in Vagabond, and Shin Min-ah is appropriately beautiful and cutely naïve as the powerful gumiho who just wants to live happily ever after with a human husband.
The yearning for a happy ending is exemplified by her crushing disappointment when the story of the Little Mermaid turns out to have a tragic ending, since she sees it as a precursor of her own story. The Little Mermaid is a favourite in K-drama – it featured in Silent Garden, as well as The Master’s Sun, and doubtless elsewhere. I’m not sure why – the story of great sacrifice for love being ultimately unrewarded is one of the most bleakly tragic in all literature, and the only lesson you could take from it is that love will take everything you have and leave you to die.
If you’re looking for great art or significant social commentary, then you should look elsewhere, but if you’re looking for a light fluffy rom com to keep you entertained and make you feel good, then this might just do the trick.
Alison blogs at Still Just Alison, where she writes about Korean drama, movies, music, and, very occasionally, things that aren’t Korean. But only occasionally.