Foxy Lady: My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho

He freed her heart and soul.

Even mythological creatures need love.

I didn’t fly through this week’s romantic Kdrama as fast as I did with previous series such as Boys Over Flowers or Lie To Me. To be honest, I wasn’t drawn in for the first several episodes. However, like the characters in the story, I grew and evolved to the point where this series became very dear to me, and now I might even go so far as to call it my favourite Kdrama yet.

This is Dae-Woong’s “thinking” face.

The story gets set up pretty well in episode one, but the overall gist is this: Cha Dae-Woong is an aspiring actor who is rather selfish and spoiled by his aunt and grandfather. One day he runs away from his family and ends up in a temple outside of Seoul. There he hears a voice command him to draw nine tails on a painting of a fox. He does so out of fear, then runs away. What he doesn’t realize is that he has freed a five-hundred-year-old gumiho, aka a nine-tailed fox spirit. The gumiho follows Dae-Woong and discovers that he’s fallen down a cliff and severely injured. She gives him her energy bead, which will allow him to stay alive and heal without pain. However, because of this she has to stay near him so she won’t lose her bead. When Dae-Woong comes to and hears her story, he assumes that the girl following him around is crazy and tells her so. She becomes angry and warns him that she will find him, make him believe in her, then take back her bead, which will kill him.

Mi-Ho’s cuteness is as infectious as her love of meat. Seriously, I’m a pescetarian, and even I wanted to eat beef after I watched this series.

The strange girl’s words haunt Dae-Woong as he rides the bus back to Seoul. Sure enough, later on that night the gumiho appears, showing her nine glowing tails in the moonlight. She begins to take back her bead, then has a change of heart both because Dae-Woong freed her and because she liked him from the moment she saw him at the temple. Now that Dae-Woong believes her and realizes he needs her bead until he recovers from his fall, he promises to take care of her bead in exchange for housing the gumiho and feeding her. He introduces her to his friends as Gu Mi-Ho, and now has to deal with her constant demands for meat. Enter the antagonist, a super smokin’ hot guy named Park Dong-Joo, who also happens to be some sort of mythological creature (though we never find out exactly what kind). He has come to put Mi-Ho back in the painting, but when he finds out that her desire is to become human, he changes his mind and instead helps her. Dong-Joo explains that if Mi-Ho drinks some of his blood and leaves her bead in Dae-Woong for one hundred days, then takes back the bead full of human energy, she’ll become a human. What he neglects to tell her is that when she takes the bead back, Dae-Woong will die. Mi-Ho, excited at the prospect of becoming human, goes back to Dae-Woong and strikes a deal with him: he can keep the bead, which is healing his injuries (thus allowing him to pursue his stunt acting career) for one hundred days. In the meantime, in order to explain her constant presence, Mi-Ho will pose as Dae-Woong’s girlfriend. Thus begins a whole new chapter of shenanigans as Mi-Ho tries to learn how to act like a human, and Dae-Woong learns how to grow up as well as open his heart.

Ironically, Dong-Joo’s hotness makes *my* eyes fill with tears.

There are tons of other side stories, from the bitchy girl who likes Dae-Woong and suspects that Mi-Ho is not what she seems, to the fact that Mi-Ho resembles someone from Dong-Joo’s past, to Dae-Woong’s aunt finding romance, but the main story is about the developing relationship between Mi-Ho and Dae-Woong. Part of what made this series difficult to get into was the fact that Dae-Woong is so very spoiled and bratty in the first few episodes. Luckily Mi-Ho is adorable pretty much from the get-go, so she was able to carry the series on her own merit until Dae-Woong evolves a bit. And boy does he ever! It’s incredible how a character that started out as such a conceited jerk can become so responsible, romantic, and endearing in only sixteen episodes. Also, having the gorgeous Dong-Joo as a foil helped fill in the eye candy quotient that I was missing. I was slightly peeved that he remained such an enigma throughout and that we never find out much more than his name and occupation, but I can also see how his background wasn’t that relevant to the main story. It probably just annoyed me so much because of my crush on him.

Nothing like gettin’ a little tail! (Yes, I made that joke with Spice and Wolf, too. Still works here, imho.)

The story is great, very emotional and involving, but in subtle ways. I was often surprised by how caught up I was in the lives of the characters and their emotions. Only one little side story about a false pregnancy seemed superfluous, but luckily it resolved itself in just one episode. The music is fantastic, a great blend of sexy Kpop (for Dong-Joo’s theme) as well as upbeat and dancey Kpop (for Dae-Woong’s theme). And the love theme, “Fox Rain,” by Lee Sun Hee, is my favourite Kdrama love theme ever. It’s soft and sweet without becoming cloying or cheesy (as so many Kdrama love themes are wont to do). Every time I hear it, I get a little catch in my throat because it’s so lovely and filled with longing. The actors are all excellent and really played their parts well. I’ll especially keep my eyes peeled for more from Shin Mi Na, the adorable girl who played Mi-Ho, as well as the smoldering No Min Woo (Park Dong-Joo). My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho is a very funny comedy, as well as a great drama with loads of folklore and supernatural elements, but at its heart it’s a pure romance, and one of the best, in my opinion. You can’t go wrong with this Kdrama, as this Gumiho has a tail that appeals to everyone.

Mi-Ho stakes her claim on Dae-Woong. Beware of crossing a gumiho!

Rating: ★★★★★ Watch it, buy it, watch it again. And again and again and again.

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First Impressions: My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho

She’s no ordinary foxy lady.

This girl might love or kill you.

Yup, another first impression post this week. I’m at the point where a bunch of series have almost ended, at which time there will be a flood of full reviews. Until then, time to start lots of new series, wheee! Today’s first impression is another Kdrama, and one that I’ve actually wanted to check out for quite some time: My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho. I adore folklore, fairy tales, and cultural tidbits from all over the globe, so a comedy about a girl who is actually a nine-tailed fox is something I couldn’t miss.

Meet Dae-Woong, our everyman hero. You can tell that he’s “of the people” by his flannel and Dark Knight t-shirt.

In episode one we meet Cha Dae-Woong, a student and aspiring actor who survives on the money that he begs, borrows, and steals from his wealthy grandfather. Since he’s an orphan, he’s been raised by said grandfather and his aunt, both of whom spoil him to a degree but also try to push him in the direction of growing up to become a respectable person. However, when he uses his tuition money to secretly buy a motorcycle, his grandfather has had the last straw, so he forces Dae-Woong into the car and tries to make him go to boarding school. Dae-Woong fakes needing to use the bathroom and manages to escape in the back of a produce truck. After he sneaks out of the truck at a gas station, he manages to hitch a ride with a passing monk who takes him to the temple where he lives. Dae-Woong borrows the monk’s cellphone and tries to remember his aunt’s phone number, but the reception is bad so he makes his way down to a secluded part of the temple that’s devoted to the Goddess of Childbirth. While there the phone dies, but he hears a voice that commands him to go inside and draw nine tails on a fox sitting in a painting with the Goddess. Understandably he’s freaked out, but Dae-Woong does what the voice tells him to, then bolts out of the temple and into the woods…where he soon falls off of a cliff.

See my nine tails? That’s the last thing you’ll ever see if you mess with me, pretty boy!

The fox disappears from the painting, and a pretty girl comes across Dae-Woong’s body. Her nine tails swish in the moonlight, and she blows an energy bead into Dae-Woong’s mouth. The next morning Dae-Woong wakes up and isn’t even hurt, and the pretty girl explains that she’s a gumiho (a nine-tailed fox spirit) who gave him her energy bead which prevented him from dying. Dae-Woong thinks that she’s crazy, and demands to see her tails. She says that she can only show them to him in the moonlight. At that Dae-Woong keeps trying to lose her (first in the forest, then later on in a nearby town) but the gumiho keeps finding him, saying that she has to stay with him because he has her bead. Finally Dae-Woong yells at her, telling the girl that he doesn’t believe what she says. The girl becomes serious and says that she’ll find him again, make him believe, and then he’ll die. This actually gets under his skin, and he keeps thinking about the girl as he rides the bus back to Seoul.

If you guessed that this guy is our villain by his villainous haircut, you’d be correct. Angled haircuts are to Kdrama villains as black hats are to bad guys in old Westerns.

Meanwhile, a man who seems to be a vet visits the temple where the painting resides in order to check on the monk’s dog. When the monk explains that the fox is no longer in the painting, the vet gets a strange look on his face. When he leaves, he tells his cohort that they’ll be hunting a new kind of creature, a mutant of sorts, but one that’s adorable. When Dae-Woong arrives back at his school he talks to his friends and learns that his aunt wants him to stay away until she can smooth things over with his grandfather. One of his friends notices sever bruises on Dae-Woong’s back, and he wonders why he doesn’t feel pain. Dae-Woong begins to slowly believe what the girl in the woods said. The other friend says that he can stay in the room above the gym that they’re in, then Dae-Woong is left alone. After playing basketball by himself for a time, the gumiho shows up. She unfurls her tails in the moonlight, then tells him that she’s going to take back her energy bead, which means that his previous injury will kill him. She leans in and begins sucking the bead out of his body…and that’s where the episode ends!

Oh, well, if you’re sure you’re fine, I’ll just take this old thing back. Thanks!

I enjoyed this episode, though I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It’s been more of a straight-up comedy than a romance, the latter of which is usually what has been the basis of the Kdramas I’ve seen thus far, but I’m enjoying it. One scene involving the aunt farting in an elevator had me laughing uproariously. (What can I say? Fart jokes are universal.) I like all of the actors, and the two leads are cute but not too precious. So far they’re both selling the story well. The music is typical K-pop, bouncy and fun. I really enjoy the folklore of the story, and I hope that more legends are explored or shared further in. There are some cheesy effects, but also some really nice ones, most notably a scene that looks as though wood carvings have come to life (very reminiscent of the exquisite video game Okami). And the temple of the Goddess of Childbirth looks like it’s borrowed straight from Faerie Tale Theatre, which I adore. Overall, My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho isn’t quite as romantic as I expected, but whether it keeps barreling down a path of pure comedy or if it blooms into a slow-building romance, I can’t wait to watch more. In fact, I think I’ll do so right now!

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