[2010] My friend is a gumiho Drama Recap by dramabeans

143 August 11, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 1

by javabeans

Annnnnd we have a winner! What a cute first episode to start off what looks to become an entertaining, zippy ride.

Both leads are adorable, but more than that, the story is fresh and innovative. It takes some familiar elements and mixes them with creations that are pure Hong Sisters Originals.

(If you’re coming to this series totally new to the whole gumiho concept, you might want to bone up on the lore with this Pop Culture post.)

SONG OF THE DAY

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho OST – “정신 이 나갔었나봐” (Lost my mind) by Lee Seung-gi
[ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
CHARACTERS

CHA DAE-WOONG (Lee Seung-gi) is in his early twenties and dreams of being a movie actor — an action star, specifically. He’s still a university student, but in his immature way of thinking, he feels he’s about to get his big break and would rather quit school and start his career. He’s a big man on campus and he plays the part to the hilt, which is helped by the fact that he comes from a rich background, and therefore does not lack for sycophantic followers.

Then there’s the gumiho (a mythical shape-shifting fox with nine tails), who comes to be called GU MI-HO (Shin Mina). She isn’t given a name to start with, so for all intents and purposes, her name is now Mi-ho. Personality-wise, she is friendly, curious, and very frank in a way that is very 4-D (fourth-dimensional, which is to say eccentric in a cute way). We’ll get into her origins a bit later.

EUN HYE-IN (Park Su-jin) is Dae-woong’s school sunbae and his crush. We haven’t seen much of her and she seems sweet and friendly, but her character description indicates a sly streak. (It’s an interesting reversal to make the gumiho the candid one and the sweetheart the fox-like one.)

KIM BYUNG-SOO (Kim Ho-chang) and BAN SUN-NYEO (Hyo-min) are Dae-woong’s schoolmates and sidekicks. Sun-nyeo’s father runs the action school that Dae-woong attends, and she nurses a pretty enormous crush on Dae-woong, in that dreamy starry-eyed way. Byung-soo, meanwhile, seems to like her but she remains oblivious. It’s a classic triangle rife with angst possibilities, but this drama will probably play it for comedy. Thankfully. (Side note: Sun-nyeo means fairy. Perhaps some mythological details will work their way into her character. Or not.)

Orphaned at a young age, Dae-woong was raised by his aunt and grandfather, the latter of whom now has to deal with the results of indulging the boy: Dae-woong is impetuous and a bit cocky, although he’s also good-natured and charming. He’s always getting into scrapes, and Grandpa tries to lay down the law in the only way that works — with his bank account.

Last but not least, we have PARK DONG-JOO (Noh Min-woo), a mysterious man who is tracking down the gumiho.

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

Gu Mi-ho waits patiently outside the school campus, looking lovely and chipper, and as soon as she spots Cha Dae-woong, she waves and calls out enthusiastically. Far from being glad to see his girlfriend, he immediately whirls around, trying to ignore her as he fakes a phone call and starts walking the other way.

Being a supernatural being has its perks, however, and speed is one of them. Mi-ho comes at him from the opposite direction, and despite the sunny innocence with which she accepts his excuse that he didn’t see her, I’m pretty sure she’s sharper than she looks. She says with complete earnestness, “Well I’m sure if you didn’t want to die, you wouldn’t have lied and pretended to not hear me, right?” It’s not a true threat to kill him, but it IS the trump card she holds in this relationship, which she doesn’t scruple to use when it suits her. I love this about her.

Mi-ho grabs Dae-woong’s hand and leads him to her “very special discovery,” while every man on campus goes gaga for her. A typical characteristic of the gumiho is beauty but her appeal is more than just skin deep, and she has an especially alluring aura that captivates men. Thus Dae-woong is the object of every guy’s envy… only he would beg to differ.

With a flourish, Mi-ho points to her big discovery: A restaurant is serving a freshly killed cow, and she’s just dying to eat some. This is a familiar routine for them, and today Dae-woong puts his foot down — no! He can’t afford beef!

At his flat denial, Mi-ho raises her eyebrows in an “O rly?” expression, then leans in close to whisper, “Then I’ll want to eat you.” That puts the fear of god into Dae-woong, who cowers. She starts to sing a little ditty, asking, “Fox, fox, what’s up? I’m eating rice. What are you eating it with? Some Dae-woong side dishes!”

She playfully asks, “Did he die? Did he live?” He gulps fearfully, and she declares, “He lived!” and runs off exuberantly to eat some beef.

So how’d he get here? Now we jump back in time.

Dae-woong records a video at action school with the aid of Sun-nyeo and his buddies. In stark contrast to his timidity of the opening scene, here he puts out a strong, masculine energy as he swoops across the gym on wires and brandishes a sword menacingly. He’s doing this in the hopes of putting it online and becoming a success story, and needs it to look cool.

The whole group hangs on Dae-woong’s every word, and he clearly enjoys being the leader. He’s also got that rich-boy carelessness about him, such as when he buys everyone ice cream like he’s the star of a drama treating the staff. He brags about the movie role he has almost, just about won — he’s a finalist and his last audition is coming up.

He brings his buddies Sun-nyeo and Byung-soo to his grandfather’s hair salon and promises them free perms, and gets his own hair set in anticipation of his audition. Too bad the manager calls in Grandpa, who growls at Dae-woong for abusing his status as the owner’s grandson yet again. Thinking fast, Dae-woong hastily pretends he’s going to pay this time. And then runs away.

He speeds away on his flashy new motorcycle, paid for with tuition money furnished by Grandpa — who needs an education when you’re just about to become a movie star? However, he is pulled over by a cop because Grandpa has reported the bike as stolen, so Dae-woong is hauled in to jail. Where his big worry is that his hair will be over-permed. LOL.

Aunt Min-sook bails him out and takes Dae-woong’s side, as she’s more lenient than her father. Grandpa is determined to straighten Dae-woong out, however, and announces that he’s sending him off to a rigorous academy to get some education. He orders him to re-enroll in school.

Dae-woong protests wildly — what about his audition? Grandpa is unmoved, and says that until Dae-woong becomes a person (meaning, a mature adult), he’s grounded. He means it, and won’t even let Dae-woong out of his clutches to go pee.

This will not do. Dae-woong offers up one shoe as collateral that he won’t run away, and that buys him a little space when they drop by a rest station. He hides himself in an empty garbage bag, so when Grandpa comes searching for him, he assumes Dae-woong fled out the window.

Grandpa yells in frustration, and Dae-woong sneaks onto the back of a grocery delivery truck. Escape complete!

Now for our gumiho origin tale, told by a monk to visitors of his temple as he refers to a wall scroll, upon which an old woman and a fox have been painted. This drawing depicts the story of a gumiho who wanted to become a human.

The fox drawing turns human and our Mi-ho comes to life from within the picture, floating down to earth in human form to live amongst the people. However, such was her unearthly beauty that she sent men sprawling at her feet, gaping in awe, everywhere she went.

The men went positively mad for her, and this became problematic. For one, the ladies didn’t like it. Believing the gumiho’s attraction to lie in her nine tails, they prayed to the old woman in the scroll, the god of birth (or grandmother spirit), to get rid of the tails.

The grandmother spirit found herself in the middle of all this strife, and believed that if she found the gumiho a husband, this problem would be settled. A man was selected and the gumiho happily prepared for her wedding day.

Alas, no woman wanted to give up a man to the gumiho’s clutches, and they spread rumors that the gumiho eats men’s livers in hopes that consuming a hundred of them would make her human. Naturally this scared everyone off, and on her wedding day, the gumiho was jilted.

The grandmother spirit cut off the gumiho’s tails and locked her up in the scroll forever, where she now resides, tailless.

After hitching a ride in the truck, Dae-woong alights somewhere along a mountain road. It’s dark and rainy and he signals a car, begging a ride. The driver is the monk, who brings him along to the temple and puts him up for the night.

Dae-woong borrows his cell phone to call his aunt Min-sook and tries to guess her phone number (ah, the perils of cell phone address books). Reception is weak in these woods, so he holds up his phone and wanders in search of a stronger signal.

This takes him to the isolated temple that houses the painted scroll. He finally finds reception just outside the building and tries a few more times to call his aunt. He gets a wrong number, but the last caller asks him not to hang up, so he stays on the line.

She makes a few curious remarks, like how he looks better with his hat off. With growing dread, Dae-woong looks at his phone — it’s off, but the voice is coming from it. What’s going on?

He starts to edge away, but she warns him that if he runs, she’ll be very angry. She has a task for him to do, and invites him inside. (She remains invisible to him, and speaks to him mentally via his phone, which is why he can’t locate the source of her voice.)

Mi-ho directs him to the scroll, and tells him to draw nine tails on the fox. He resists fearfully, but she orders him to hurry, so with a lot of misgivings, he starts to draw. As he does, Nature senses a disturbance; the skies thunder and the watchdog barks furiously. The monks realize something is wrong, and hurry to the gumiho’s temple.

When Dae-woong finishes drawing, Mi-ho is finally free, and boy do the Heavens protest. The storm freaks Dae-woong out and he runs, only to fall down a rocky hillside. He lands hard and is knocked unconscious.

Mi-ho finds him there and peers down at him curiously. He won’t wake up, so she decides to help. He drew on the painting for her and could become useful, so she she may as well save him; leaning over him, she breathes a mystical energy into Dae-woong, which she calls her “fox bead.” As she does, we see her nine tails gleaming in the moonlight.

In the morning, Dae-woong awakens in an odd position — he’s hanging on a high tree branch and only remembers up to the part where he fell down the mountainside. When Mi-ho approaches, he doesn’t recognize her, even when she tells him they met last night.

(By the way, I LOVE Mi-ho’s explanation for why he’s hanging in the tree. She says matter-of-factly, “The boar wanted to eat you, so I put you up there so he couldn’t.” She’s adorable.)

However, a few key phrases trigger Dae-woong’s memory, and he realizes she was the girl on the phone. He freaks out, thinking her a ghost, but touches her cheek and confirms that she’s human. She takes that as a compliment: “Do I really look like one?”

Now he grows indignant, believing that she was playing a prank on him the night before. He leads her back to the temple to confess about the scroll, which he considers mere vandalism.

Mi-ho speaks honestly, but the story is so fantastic that Dae-woong interprets her words in more mundane ways. For example, she complains that she doesn’t like that temple — she got locked up there by ol’ grandma and finds it excessively tiresome. Dae-woong interprets that to mean that she’s a troublemaker who is serving punishment, which is easy to believe since (1) hello, crazy antics, and (2) his grandfather would do the same thing.

He asks how long she was shut in the temple, and she answers, “Five hundred years.” That stops him short, so he asks for details, and she supplies them. The grandmother spirit is a well-known story and she introduces herself as a gumiho, so he guesses she’s spinning tall tales — or crazy.

She explains that she helped him, too. The reason he isn’t in any pain is because she gave him her fox bead, which is in his chest. She reaches under his shirt to point it out, and he pushes her aside, convinced she’s literally insane. He says she should have nine tails, and she answers that they’re only visible in moonlight.

Enough is enough. Dae-woong heads off on his own, directing her in the opposite direction, and starts walking. Only… remember that pig Mi-ho mentioned? It comes back.

HA!! What is it with the Hong sisters and their pig-fearing men? (It would have been mildly funny on its own, but the callback to You’re Beautiful elevates it to effin’ hysterical.)

Despite Dae-woong’s deep wish to be rid of the crazy girl, he can’t just leave her to the pig’s mercies and he comes back to get her. She’s not the least bit scared of it, but he grabs her and starts running.

Meanwhile, the mysterious Dong-joo, Gumiho Hunter, makes his appearance at the temple. He somehow sensed the disturbance and inspects the vacated temple, murmuring that he’d taken all these precautions to make sure she stayed locked up.

In the nearby town, Dae-woong separates from Mi-ho and sells a necklace for some cash. He surmises that if his grandfather pays his school tuition, he is safe to return home. (At home, Grandpa pays his tuition, then wonders, “Wait. Does this mean I lost this time, too?”)

He calls his school and gets the confirmation, which means he is free to return to Seoul. Mi-ho perks up her keen ears to pick up the details of his phone call, and starts to follow him.

Dae-woong assumes that he can ditch her freely since she doesn’t know anything about him… so when she calls out his name, he’s shocked. She recites the list of personal details, and asks for him to buy her lunch. Sigh. He’s stuck with crazy girl a little longer.

He takes her to a grill restaurant, where she eagerly anticipates her first taste of meat in 500 years. She almost takes a bite of raw meat, but exerts her self-control to refrain — she has worked really hard to appear human, and that’s not human-like behavior.

Humoring her belief that she’s a gumiho, Dae-woong notes dryly that his grandfather’s always telling him to try harder to seem human himself (as in, “Be a man”). That’s one thing they have in common. He asks after her family, only to hear she has nobody. That makes him feel an unexpected pang of sympathy for her — it’s another point in common.

He excuses himself to go to the bathroom, but in actuality slips away, rationalizing it since he bought her lunch. When he doesn’t come back, Mi-ho goes off in search of him — then marvels at all the chairs in the bathroom. She opens up one porcelain throne, marveling at its beauty, then decides it’s a well! And she happens to be thirsty…

To my GREAT relief, she decides that it’s a pretty well but not very clean. Meat is a different matter, however, and when she drops it into the bowl, then accidentally flushes it down, she flips out. Noooo! She starts to reach in to retrieve it, but catches the scent of her pursuers in the air (the monk, Dong-joo, and policemen) and hurries away.

Dong-joo hears that the girl was here with a young man — whose description sounds a lot like that guy at the temple last night — and guesses that they’re together. Once he fixes the monk’s broken phone, he can see who he called and track him down.

I love how Dong-joo is totally affecting this too-cool-for-school, I-am-so-good-at-this mystique as his car drives RIGHT BY Mi-ho. (Who is having her first startled taste of soda.) To be fair, he has never seen her, but he trusts that he’ll be able to identify her from her beauty and her aura.

There’s a silly scene involving aunt Min-sook (oh, Hong sisters and your love of toilet humor), wherein she farts in an empty elevator. But then she panics because the smell lingers in the air when the doors open to let in another mysterious man, to her mortification. (We aren’t told who he is, but this is the owner of the action school.)

He pretends not to notice the smell, and when two ladies get on the elevator and gag, he takes the blame, muttering that he’s sorry. Min-sook is very touched at the gesture, and nods a thank-you in his direction. He, in turn, finds her cute.

Dae-woong is eager to take the next bus back to Seoul, only to be followed there by Mi-ho. He thinks she was stalking him all this while, not believing her explanation that she followed his scent. She declares, “I like you. I’m going to follow you.”

Now he’s really exasperated and accuses her of being a scary stalker, a type of person he is well used to because people are always clinging to him for his money. He sneers at her story and mocks her explanation of being a gumiho, and his meanness hurts her feelings.

With one last patronizing comment, he turns to leave. In a hardened tone, Mi-ho vows to get him to believe her: “Then, you’re dead.”

That’s…. unsettling. He takes the bus back to Seoul and heads to the action school, but he’s filled with paranoid fear and imagines that Mi-ho is lurking around every corner.

It’s with relief that he meets up with his friends Sun-nyeo and Byung-soo. The former is eager to please her crush and gives Dae-woong the keys to the building so he can spend the night there.

It’s only now that Dae-woong sees the horrible injury to his back, which looks incredibly painful. He hadn’t noticed because it didn’t hurt, and now he recalls Mi-ho’s explanation of her fox bead’s power.

Dae-woong starts to confide his strange experience to Byung-soo, saying that he met a weird girl who called herself a gumiho, then recalls that she made him promise not to tell. Byung-soo warns him (half-jokingly) that if a gumiho tells you not to tell, you’d better not tell or risk death.

Dae-woong tries to shake it off and starts shooting some hoops. But when the ball rolls away from him, it rolls back. He convinces himself that it bounced off a wall… which is when many more balls start rolling toward him, of their own accord.


From the shadows emerges Mi-ho, who has tracked him here, as promised.

Nervously, he gives her a weak thumbs-up at her proficiency, and she reminds him that she said she’s a gumiho. She looks up at the sky and announces that the moon is about to come out. Now she can prove it to him.

She steps into the moonbeam as clouds part and reveal the moon. And sure enough, when she faces him, there are nine mystical tails floating in the air behind her.

Stunned, Dae-woong gapes. Mi-ho tells him, “I am a gumiho. Give me back my fox bead.”

With that, she approaches him and leans in to retrieve it…

 
COMMENTS

Oh, such a cute first episode!

I have a pretty high tolerance for formulaic romantic comedies and cliched setups, but I will always appreciate a fresh, creative idea over a hackneyed one any day. And the Hong sisters are wonderful at bringing a buoyant, vibrant energy to their dramas. I love the fantasy element, I love the twist on the old legends, I love the dynamics.

Most of all, I’m loving the characterizations. They’ve always been good at building compelling, complex main characters (though not so much with supporting characters), and building winning main pairings. They do that again here.

First off, Dae-woong. There’s something very Jae Hee-esque about Lee Seung-gi here, which is a GREAT thing in my book. He exaggerates his expressions a bit, but I’m not overly bothered by it because I enjoy his contradictory traits so much. In the company of his followers and friends, he acts all cocky and cool, talking big and putting on airs. And then he faces his gruff grandfather and becomes this immature, reckless troublemaker. In Mi-ho’s company, he’s a big ol’ wuss.

I was set to love the wimpy aspect of his character because it’s high time we have heroes who aren’t proud and misunderstood Mr. Darcys. But having Dae-woong be simultaneously wimpy AND cocky makes it even better.

Shin Mina is winning and charming as this innocent gumiho, but she’s no bland sweetheart type. I dig how she manipulates Dae-woong with veiled threats to eat him up, which I’m sure she can’t mean, and it’s hilarious. Then, take her intense stare, above right, when Dae-woong takes the last piece of meat on the grill. She suddenly turns menacing — nobody comes between a girl and her meat! — and warns him to give it back. Gulping nervously, he does. Smart boy.

Her child-like wonder gives her a refreshing appeal, and when Dae-woong mocks her at the bus station, the drama even elicits a moment of emotion-tugging sympathy. She’s a grown woman and also she’s a lost little girl.

I have a good feeling about this one! Stay tuned for girlfriday‘s recap of Episode 2.

RELATED POSTS

210 August 12, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 2

by girlfriday

I freakin’ LOVE this show. I don’t even care if it breaks my heart or pistol-whips me later and leaves me for dead. Show, you complete me.

 
EPISODE 2 RECAP

After revealing herself in her gumiho form, Mi-ho takes back her healing fox bead and Dae-woong slumps to the ground. She floats above him, saying that she saved him, but he tossed her away, so she doesn’t know him anymore.

He starts to deteriorate quickly, as a dark black smoke surrounds him. Mi-ho hovers above him, a little sad to let him die, but starts to leave. She flashes back to the pig incident, remembering how he so bravely came back for her and tried to protect her from what he thought was a very scary pig.

So she returns, her white energy dissipating the black cloud, and says that since he came back for her once, she’ll do the same. Aw.

And rawr! How much do I love that she’s the one doing all the kissing?

Dae-woong wakes up in a daze, startled to see Mi-ho staring at him like a shiny new toy. He runs and hides (heh), so Mi-ho muses to herself that she’ll have to put the fear of god into him to make him stick to her side. She watches with amusement as Dae-woong tries to action-sequence himself out of there, failing hilariously. Mi-ho: “Do you want me to help?” Hahaha.

There’s an extended sequence where imaginary-action-stuntman Dae-woong does all these crazy stunts to get away, and encourages real Dae-woong that he can do it. There’s nothing more revealing about how dorky a guy is than the superhero version of himself giving him the thumbs-up.

He gets stuck in mid-air right above her, and to top it off his grandfather calls and he drops his phone. Mi-ho peers at it curiously, and hearing a voice, she answers. Grandpa asks where Dae-woong is, and Dae-woong responds with grunts and heavy breathing as he tries to hold onto the rope, and Mi-ho says matter-of-factly: “Dae-woong? Is on top of me.” Tee-hee-hee!

Mi-ho tells Dae-woong to come down now, but he insists rather than get eaten up, he’ll just die up here, thank you very much. She threatens to pluck him down herself, and Dae-woong scoffs that she can’t pluck him like an apple. So Mi-ho demonstrates another of her gumiho powers, and flies up to retrieve him.

She lands on top of him (all right, Mi-ho!) and Dae-woong acknowledges that she’s a gumiho. Dae-woong: “Okay. You’re a gumiho. Since you plucked me, you can eat me.” Kyah, all these thinly veiled sex jokes are making me giggle like a schoolgirl.

Mi-ho: “Can I really eat you?” Dae-woong: “You can eat me. But just know this. If there are gumihos in the world, then there must be ghosts too. So I’ll come back as a ghost and get my revenge!” He braces himself for death with false bravado, not listening to her question of why he never asked to be saved.

She says, “Okay, but if you asked me to save you, I would have let you live…” Immediately, Dae-woong gets on his knees (ha!) and begs for his life.

Gumiho hunter Dong-joo figures out the phone number pattern that Dae-woong was going for, and reaches his aunt. He pretends to be Dae-woong’s friend and asks to confirm Dae-woong’s cell number.

At the rooftop room above the action school, Mi-ho chomps down on some chicken, as Dae-woong apologizes for not being able to get beef at this late hour. He reconfirms with her that until she can safely retrieve the fox bead that saved him, she has to stick by his side. This could be true or just an excuse she made up to be near him, and it doesn’t much matter to me either way. I sort of like the idea that she could make anything up about gumihos, and he’d have to believe her now.

When the camera pulls back, we see that Dae-woong is still sitting on his knees. He tries to figure a way out of it, but is scared back when he sees her tearing at the chicken bones with zeal. Mi-ho: “Dae-woong-ah, while you have my fox bead, I can’t let you go. You’re MINE.” She smiles, pleased as pudding, and Dae-woong laughs nervously. He starts calling her Gu Mi-ho-sshi and being polite out of fear. He’s using a funny mix of heightened honorifics with banmal, because he both fears her but reacts to her as if she’s a child.

He goes inside and decides that for now, if he keeps her well-fed on beef, then she won’t try to eat HIM. While practicing his sword skills in case he has to defend himself, he comes upon a movie costume of armor and wears it for protection. Mi-ho wonders if she’s really that scary, since all she did was save him. Dae-woong says that still, what if she sees his exposed liver and gets hungry?

She gets offended: “Have you ever seen me eat a liver? Have you seen me scoop out someone’s liver and eat it?” Dae-woong replies that she IS a gumiho, after all….to which she just sighs and gives in. Mi-ho: “Fine. I’m a gumiho. Watch your liver.” And with that, she goes to sleep.

Dong-joo the gumiho hunter finds Dae-woong’s information easily online, and smiles to himself that it’ll be an easy hunt. He reveals a wall of gumiho-related information (what’s with everyone and their Big Boards lately?) and takes out a mystical knife with ancient carvings. He sneers, wondering why the gumiho ran away to become human, instead of staying put where she belongs.

Dae-woong sleeps in his suit of armor outside, and Mi-ho watches over him. She says that she had fun today because she got to be with him, so she’s happy that while her fox bead heals him, she gets to stay by his side longer. She notices mosquitoes hovering above him, so she gleefully catches them all, and tells the sleeping Dae-woong that neither the mosquitoes nor she will eat him tonight, so he can sleep soundly. She looks out at the city from the rooftop, and marvels at how beautiful the world has become.

Grandpa and Aunt Min-sook worry over Dae-woong, and Grandpa bemoans the fact that while Dae-woong always caused all sorts of trouble, he’s never caused any GIRL trouble…until now. He tells her to cut off his credit cards. Min-sook wonders what on earth the girl said over the phone, and Grandpa says it’s not for her unmarried ears to hear. She gets in a huff about his bringing up her singledom and leaves.

Dae-woong’s card gets declined at the restaurant right after Mi-ho eats her weight in meat, and he’s forced to fork over what little cash he has left. She stops him to buy her a soda on the street, and I love how her expressions can range from innocent and clueless to I-will-eat-your-liver-for-breakfast-and-polish-it-off-with-this-bubbly-water.

His coin gets stuck in the machine, so he starts kicking it, and she joins in. with one swift kick the whole vending machine comes crashing down, and soda comes popping out of it. They grab and dash.

Min-sook takes a sip of her iced coffee in front of the elevator and gets an ice cube stuck in her throat. Just then, Chow Yun-fat Lite gets off the elevator and discovers her choking, so he slings her over his shoulder, and jumps up and down until the ice cube pops back out. Well I have never seen someone do the Heimlich maneuver like that! Min-sook dies of embarrassment and the man walks away, his fantasy soundtrack blaring.

Dae-woong takes Mi-ho to school with him, and she marvels at the university, knowing at least from visitors to the temple that it’s a prestigious place where everyone prays fervently to attend. She thinks Dae-woong’s pretty cool for going to one, which his fragile puffed-up ego enjoys very much. He tells her that people at university are very smart, so she’ll have to pretend to be human and not do anything to be detected. She promises to act human, and asks Dae-woong eagerly if she really looks human, if she stands still and doesn’t do anything. Heh. He admits that she does, which pleases her.

He goes around to all his friends to ask for some money, which he assumes will be no big deal since he’s spent so much on them. But one by one, they lie that they’re broke and leave him hanging. Mi-ho can smell the money in their pockets (making for a hilarious bit of butt-sniffing), so Dae-woong is doubly embarrassed to be confronted by the fact that his so-called friends are…well, not so much.

Mi-ho asks if he doesn’t believe her, and asks why he’s doing nothing when all his friends are lying to him. Is he scared? At that, Dae-woong goes back to his friend, and hands him all the cash in his own pocket, telling him to eat lunch with that. Mi-ho is extra confused now—why did he give his money to the lying friend? He tells her angrily that sometimes it’s better NOT to know things, and that pretending is less embarrassing. He snaps at her that she’s not human, so not to meddle in human things, making her pout.

She tries to follow him into the library, but he tells her she can’t go inside without an ID, and since she’s not a person—no name, no social security number—she can’t follow. She pouts again, and tells him not to look down on her because she’s not human, and he counters that because she’s not, he’s afraid of her. Once he leaves her there, she sighs, wanting so much to go someplace where only humans can enter.

Inside, Dae-woong frantically starts researching the gumiho legend. He looks for some way to make her leave him, thinking that it must be similar to exorcising a ghost. But, being the slacker that he is, gets bogged down in all the old-timey language and gives up. He complains out loud in the middle of the library that these old dudes have never even SEEN a gumiho, so what do they know? And why, of all people, did she have to choose him?

A light bulb goes off as he remembers the temple. He looks it up and finds a news story with the two scroll paintings side by side—the original, and the one with the missing fox. He realizes that he freed the gumiho by drawing the nine tails.

Outside, Mi-ho runs into one of Dae-woong’s lying friends, and she returns his runaway basketball…full-force right at his head. He goes down and she walks away, realizing that she just insulted the guy for following Dae-woong around and getting stuff for free…which is exactly what she’s doing. But then she consoles herself that she’s neither human nor Dae-woong’s friend, so it’s okay.

He asks her if she’s really the fox from the painting, and she answers yes. He remembers being so scared that night and making a mistake with his pen—and it turns out that the dot became a mole on her shoulder too. He’s crushed to confirm that he can’t complain why-me anymore, since this was all his own doing.

Mi-ho offers that because he set her free, she gave him the thing that was most precious to her, as she puts her hand on his chest. She says to think of it like he’s taking responsibility for her, which of course has an entirely different meaning in Korean, where sex = responsibility.

His friends Byung-soo and Sun-nyeo burst in, only hearing the tail end of their conversation. Sun-nyeo runs off crying, taking the words to mean only what they could to normal people: she gave him her virginity, so now he has to take responsibility. Byung-soo congratulates him like a typical dude.

He explains to Byung-soo that her name is Gu Mi-ho, and that she’s staying with him for the time being because of extenuating circumstances. Byung-soo seems to be Dae-woong’s only real friend, as he offers up the cash in his wallet to help him out, since he knows what being on the outs with Grandpa means.

Mi-ho overhears the conversation and later asks Dae-woong why he called her Gu Mi-ho. He starts to just say he made it up ’cause it sounded like a name, but she starts to scowl. So he quickly adds that since she wants so much to be human, she needs a name, and Mi-ho sounds nice and it suits her. She beams, saying that she loves it when he calls her by her new name. He tells her that she can’t mess with his friends, just as basketball dude gets hauled away on a stretcher behind him. She averts her eyes and nods that of course she won’t.

Dong-joo arrives on campus and baits Dae-woong with a call to the administrative office. He awaits for the gumiho to arrive with him, and watches his mystical dagger for the glowy sign of gumiho-nearness. Dae-woong comes in alone, but once Mi-ho sits down nearby, the dagger glows and Dong-joo takes off running.

Mi-ho senses something coming towards her…and she turns her head, and we cut back to Dong-joo running down the hall.

Cut to Mi-ho as she says, “It’s a chicken!”

AHAHAHAHAHA!

She takes off running after the chicken on a motorcycle, and Dong-joo chases after her. He catches up, and as his dagger lights up in her presence, she turns to look in his direction, and he’s startled to see her face. No, it isn’t just her staggering beauty—he recognizes it immediately, and it stops him in his tracks.

He wonders, his whole body shaking, why she happened to return with the same face. He flashes back to centuries ago, when he killed her the first time, and then held her in his arms, both of them crying as she faded away into ash.

Aw, the gumiho hunter in love with a gumiho! Seriously guys, I love this stuff. I don’t even care if it’s epically cheesy. That’s what makes it AWESOME.

Back in the present day, Dong-joo convinces himself, with a tear in his eye, that she can’t be the same gumiho. No, he killed her by his own hand. She just looks the same. That’s all.

Dae-woong tries to ask Mi-ho about the painting and where he can find the Grandmother Spirit that trapped her in there. She doesn’t want to give up any information, so he devises a foolproof plan: get her drunk and then she’ll talk! Silly boy. Do you know nothing of supernatural constitution?

He knows her penchant for bubbly drinks, so he shakes up the beer to make it extra foamy and they toss ’em back. And boy, she’s a drinker. Just wait till he introduces you to carbonated makgulli. He drinks maybe less than half of what she does, tossing his beer out while she isn’t looking, or playing rock-paper-scissors and telling her that scissors beat rocks, so she drinks. He even tries to teach her to crush the cans, which she does handily, but he struggles with (heh).

He thinks she’s probably drunk, so he starts laying it on pretty thick, about how he feels really close to her now, and she’s much better to be around than his fair-weather friends. He says that she’s prettier than most girls, and that he was startled when he first saw her. She frowns at that, saying that she actually doesn’t like that, because in order to appear human, she’d rather just be average-pretty. HA. Dae-woong’s expression of really, princess? is perfect.

He rolls out compliment after compliment, one of them being that she eats more than Kang Ho-dong, which if you know Lee Seung-gi from his variety shows, is a shout-out to his hyung. He says that as long as she doesn’t try to eat him up, he’d love to be friends. That puts her on cloud nine, and she wonders if they can be friends even if she’s not human. Dae-woong’s like, if E.T. can do it, so can we! She asks how they become friends, so he teaches her the E.T. handshake.

She’s so excited that she does it over and over again, and Dae-woong starts to feel a twinge of regret at lying to her when she so clearly wants to be his friend. But that doesn’t stop him from getting to his objective. He starts asking her about her gumiho powers, and finds out that she’s weaker in her abilities because he’s got her fox bead, which must be the source of her power.

He asks if she’s got any weaknesses? Nope. Heh.

Any fears? Yes—she says she’s afraid of large bodies of water, now that she doesn’t have her fox bead. He stores that tidbit away, wondering how he’s going to drop her in a lake somewhere.

Mi-ho comes running down, saying that the beer put her in such a good mood that her tails are dying to come out. She wants him to come outside so she can show him, and they go back in forth in a hilarious bit using euphemisms like, “But I’m not ready,” and “But we did it once before.” She coaxes him like she’s luring him to bed, and he gets dragged out, saying, “Gently, slowly…treat me well…” Hahahaha. This sexual role-reversal metaphor is killing me. It’s the best thing since sliced bread.

In the subsequent days, she wants cow for breakfast, lunch and dinner, day after day. We catch up to a scene similar to the one that opened Episode 1, were Dae-woong tells her that they can’t have cow today. Her eyes glow blue and he cowers in fear, and when a lady above them drops her potted plant, Mi-ho flies up in the air to kick it away, and the flower lands perfectly in her hair. She adds a little agyeo (cute factor) and does a little “Woong-ah-ah” much like the famous oppa-pout-wiggle. I know you’re a fox, but where did you learn agyeo? I do love that she calls him “Woong,” short for Dae-woong—it makes him sound even less manlier than he already is.

Min-sook returns to the department store, hoping to run into the mysterious Chow Yun-fat Lite again. She finds him eyeing a new trenchcoat, and is about to walk up to him, when Sun-nyeo comes bounding up, calling him Doo-hong-sshi. They act cutesy together, and Min-sook stares agape, then runs away.

Doo-hong goes after her, and Sun-nyeo calls out, “Daddy!” Okay, I know it makes for a good misunderstanding, but who calls their dad by name? That could be misconstrued as icky, so let’s get your college-aged daughter to stop doing that, shall we?

He catches up to her, where she happens to be hiding out in the men’s underwear department. A sales rep asks her if she’s shopping for men’s underwear, and to save face, she answers “Yes.” His face falls, and he keeps walking, both of them thinking the other is unavailable.

At the park, Byung-soo and Mi-ho play a guess-which-hand-the-coin-is-in game, which of course she wins every time. Byung-soo calls her “jae-soo-sshi,” which is a moniker for your brother’s wife, and what close friends call each other’s girlfriends or wives. Dae-woong sneers at that, but lets it pass, and wonders to himself if he threw her in a lake like this one, he’d probably end up dead.

Byung-soo tells him to stop feeding the carps so much because they’re rare fish, and Dae-woong says they’re not the rare kind, like the ones Grandpa raises. Another light bulb goes off—that’s where he can get more money! Oh, you and your hare-brained schemes. He sneaks in and manages to catch one, but Grandpa catches him in the act. He takes off running, with Grandpa and Aunt Min-sook chasing behind, and then while he’s not looking, a truck comes screeching to a halt in his path.

Aunt and Grandpa scream, and the fish goes flying…

Cut to the hospital, where Grandpa begs the doctor to do something to save him. The doctor says nothing can be done. Dramatic music plays…

And Dae-woong comes walking out, just a band-aid on his forehead, and we see that Grandpa was pleading with the doctor to save his fish. Haha.

Outside, Grandpa tells Dae-woong to come home, and he refuses, finally shouting out, “If I don’t stay with that girl, I’ll die,” which is a great use of a phrase that all love-addled teenagers say in earnest, except he actually means it literally. He asks for money so that he can stay with her and take care of her, and Grandpa flips his lid that Dae-woong’s lost his mind over a girl.

Finally, Grandpa and Aunt tell him to bring the girl over, so that they can meet her, and decide if Dae-woong can marry her. Now it’s Dae-woong’s turn to flip out: “I’m not crazy enough to marry her! Why would I marry her? I’m just going to live with her for a while, then send her off.” Hahaha. Grandpa slaps him across the face.

That jolts all of them, as clearly this is the first time Grandpa has ever shown any really harsh discipline as far as Dae-woong is concerned, and Dae-woong clutches his cheek from the emotional blow. Grandpa tells him to live however he wants to, and gets in the car.

Dae-woong walks the whole way back with his hand on his cheek, still reeling from the disappointment. Sun-nyeo runs into him to say that she doesn’t want him living at the action school with his girlfriend, so she kicks him out. She adds that Hye-in came by and ran into Byung-soo and Mi-ho, at which he takes off running.

Hye-in meets Mi-ho, who introduces herself as Dae-woong’s friend, but she reads between the lines and asks if she’s his girlfriend. Dae-woong runs toward them, telling Mi-ho not to say anything, but Mi-ho answers “Yes.”

Dae-woong arrives, declaring loudly that she’s NOT his girlfriend.

Uh-oh. She doesn’t look happy about that.

COMMENTS

I really love both main characters, and I think the actors play them to the hilt. I haven’t seen Shin Mina in much, but I adore her take on this character. And I have such an affinity for Lee Seung-gi that I’m probably blind to all the overacting comments some people have been making. It’s slightly hammy, but he’s so cute and expressive that it totally works for me. So far Hye-in is the only character on my To-Hate List, but we’ll have to see if she lands in In-hee Bot territory (delightfully hateful), or just hateful.

I like that they’re reinventing the mythology of the gumiho here. It’s smart to present all the commonly-known lore as false or unverified rumors that people have spread throughout the centuries either in fear of the gumiho, or in jealousy. I’m looking forward to their take and hope that it’s going to be a version of the legend that I can get behind. I also love that Mi-ho uses all the fear and misunderstandings to her advantage, to keep her boyfriend in line. Ha.

As of now, I’m curious to know if she’s the world’s only gumiho, since the way they talk about it, she seems to be the one and only. The way the gumiho hunter is talking about her, it might be that she is reborn in different guises but there is only one at a time. I’m also interested to know if her ‘good’ powers—beauty, healing—are counterbalanced by anything detrimental to her, other than being lonely or misunderstood. Her energy seems to be mostly good (purely based on the very simple metaphor of white glowing energy vs. black smoke of death), but she also has a mysterious edge and a dark side, which is great.

Her desire to be human is such a good premise. Taking a centuries-old creature and then making her new in the world is such a great trope, rife with potential. It sets up hilarious comedic situations, while being such a great contrast to Dae-woong’s arrogant but bumbling character. She’s older and wiser, but unfamiliar with human ways, so in essence they will be teaching each other how to be human. If you’re familiar with Buffy, you’ll recognize that it’s the Xander-Anya relationship, played for both comedy but also surprising insight into what it means to be human. She even has an affinity for money, which is an amusing similarity.

I can’t wait for all the antics, the lore, and the epic hilarity. All aboard the love train, people. You know you want to!

RELATED POSTS

230 August 18, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 3

by javabeans

It’s a wonderful feeling to be excited about a drama again. To be excited to download the new episode, enthusiastic to share thoughts about the newest happenings, and eager to see what happens next.

Also: How adorable is this couple? The Hong sisters are so solid at delivering compelling and engaging main pairings, often to the detriment of the secondary couplings. But who needs an angsty love triangle when the lead romance is so strong?

SONG OF THE DAY

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho OST – “여우비.” The title means “sudden rain” or “sunshower” but if you take the etymological roots it literally means “fox rain,” in keeping with the gumiho motif. Sometimes a drama’s effect is greatly enhanced by the simplest of things, like a background song, and for this drama this track is it. I LOVE IT. It almost brings a tear to my eye on its own, but within the drama’s context it’s that much more powerful. [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 3 RECAP

Dae-woong rushes to assure his noona Hye-in that Mi-ho isn’t his girlfriend. Byung-soo shoots him a worried look, and the ladies don’t look too pleased at his clumsy insistence, either.

Pointedly saying that she (Hye-in) has no right to be upset with him for being wrapped up with a new girlfriend (you know, since they’re nothing to each other), Hye-in leaves. Stricken, Dae-woong chases her down in to explain, providing enough half-truths to mollify her.

His story: He went to the countryside for a few days to get away for a spell, and Mi-ho put him up while he was there. Because of her scary-strict grandmother, Mi-ho followed him back to Seoul, which he didn’t realize till she was already here. He feels sorry for her because she knows nobody here, plus she did help him out while he was in the countryside.

Hye-in sighs that Mi-ho took advantage of his soft-heartedness, but at least she no longer thinks Suspicious Thoughts about the relationship.

Meanwhile, Byung-soo clucks in disapproval at Dae-woong’s disgraceful treatment of his girlfriend in front of his noona. Mi-ho, being from a previous era, doesn’t immediately know what “girlfriend” means but she guesses that the word signifies “the one you want for a mate,” and that Dae-woong’s reaction means “he has no intention of taking me as his mate.” Then she grumbles that she doesn’t want him for her mate, either.

Byung-soo urges her to do something and not just let Dae-woong pursue his noona, whom everyone knows he likes. At that, Mi-ho exclaims in dismay, “No, he can’t do that!” and hurries off to act. Byung-soo wishes her good luck.

Dae-woong is happy to escort Hye-in to lunch, but as Mi-ho approaches. Hye-in’s easy attitude becomes pettish in the presence of a rival. (Not that she has decided to return Dae-woong’s affections, but she’s that annoying type of princess who must monopolize his affections, even if she doesn’t return them.)

Dae-woong scuttles over to Mi-ho to press her to stay away while he goes out to lunch, but she gets straight to the point: “Do you like her? Are you going to mate with her?” (Part of Mi-ho’s abundant charm is the way she uses jarringly frank language, much like Anya of Buffy lore, as girlfriday previously pointed out.)

He protests and asks if she’s jealous. Touching his chest, Mi-ho tells him he can’t carry her fox bead and “share his ki [energy]” with another woman, “because that hurts my fox bead.”

He asks for a definition of “sharing ki” and gets back the answer: “to mate.” She won’t allow him to go off with Hye-in, especially since she can see that he was ready to not only share his ki but practically give her his entire soul.

Mi-ho decides she’d better go with him, or he’ll have to give back her bead. Not really much of a choice, is it? She simplifies the choice: “If you go, you die.” Literally.

Honestly, I don’t know if her explanation (“I have to protect my bead”) is truth or whether it’s Mi-ho just elaborating as an excuse to get her way, but it doesn’t matter. In fact, I’d find it hilarious if she’s dressing up the gumiho mythology to suit her purposes (since he has to take her word for it).

Tired of waiting, Hye-in gets pissy and drives off, ignoring Dae-woong who chases after her car.

Glumly, he looks for the silver lining in being ditched: It would have been more embarrassing to tell Hye-in he couldn’t go with her, so it’s better that Hye-in left him behind first. Mi-ho perks up at this admission that he wasn’t going to follow her.

He barks back at her in annoyance, but Mi-ho says in a hurt voice that she’s just trying to save him: “I want to save you from dying, so I’m giving you my really precious fox bead.”

He feels a stab of remorse and says with exasperation that he’s upset because his pride has taken a hit. “Me being upset won’t save your bead, so please just keep your distance and leave me alone.”

Mi-ho’s hungry again, but supposes that asking Dae-woong for more meat will just make him more angry with her. She wonders if his bad mood is because he doesn’t want to buy her food, and trails him at a short distance. She’s starving, but doesn’t want to pester him to feed her.

Watching at a distance is the tortured Gumiho Hunter with the asymmetrical haircut, Dong-joo.

On the other side of town, Aunt Min-sook is determined to bring Dae-woong home with force if necessary, and heads to the action school, where Chow Yun-fat Lite conducts business. (His real name is Ban Doo-hong, or Director Ban.) Min-sook enters just as a stunt is being rehearsed, and in the excitement of the stunt falls from the second floor. Reacting swiftly, Doo-hong lurches forward to catch her, and both parties belatedly recognize each other.

In the ensuing conversation, Min-sook clarifies that the young lady she’d seen him with was his daughter. She’s excited to hear that he’s a single father, and does an adorable dance of glee to realize his availability. On the other hand, he still thinks she’s got a man and tells himself to get over it.

This gives Min-sook an ulterior motive to announce to Dae-woong’s Grandpa (her father) that they should leave Dae-woong alone for the moment. Instead of dragging him back home, she’ll make sure to check on him. Every day.

On the bus, Dae-woong takes a seat as far from Mi-ho has possible, and casts a sidelong glance as she (literally) salivates over an ad for a meat restaurant. She looks at him pathetically, but he pretends not to see and texts Hye-in a “Please accept my apology!” message.

Mi-ho watches the twosome sitting in front of her: A mother tells her cute daughter that she just wants to “eat her up.” Mi-ho wonders why a woman would want to eat her child, and when the girl looks over at her, Mi-ho jokes that she might eat the girl herself. Dae-woong, seeing Mi-ho raise the girl’s hand to her mouth as though to take a bite, panics and drags her off the bus.

Mi-ho says she was just copying the mother’s behavior, reminding him that she doesn’t eat people. Feeling abashed, he realizes he overreacted — until she argues, “If I were hungry, would I eat a little dog? I’d eat something bigger like you.”

Unfortunately, he’s left his cell phone on the bus. He asks strangers to borrow their phone, and while he’s busy pleading with them, Mi-ho takes off running after the bus. Thus when he uses a stranger’s phone to call his own, hoping that a stranger will pick up, instead he gets Mi-ho on the line. She had managed to track down the bus, and brings his phone back, thanks to her superhuman speed and hearing.

He gets a return text from Hye-in that agrees to accept his apology. Note that her response is worded rather haughtily (as though saying, “I’ll accept exactly this much of your apology, but no more”). But since this is Episode 3, silly Dae-woong is still under her spell and exults. On the other hand, Mi-ho is proud of herself for doing something helpful and prods, “Dae-woong, this time you’re glad because of me, right?”

Dae-woong sees that she’s out of breath, a little surprised that a gumiho experiences the same physical reactions as a human. She explains that since he has her bead, she feels the physical exertion more than normally. It’s not until this very moment that he understands, “The bead really is very important to you.”

She’d said as much, but he hadn’t realized it because he can’t sense the bead’s power the way she can. So Mi-ho gathers him up in a hug and tells him to pay attention, and he’s able to feel its pull. He finally understands that she’s a different being — even the passing of time felt different in that moment.

Mi-ho reiterates that he has the most precious part of her inside him, and requests, “Promise me that you’ll treat it carefully and make sure it isn’t injured.” He promises.

That evening, Dae-woong is stuck at home, unable to accept his friends’ invitations to party. He sighs, “Where did my life go? While she’s with me, I can’t do a thing!”

Hye-in drops by while Mi-ho is napping, so he sneaks out quietly to talk with her outside. With a perceived rival now on the scene, Hye-in asks him to declare his feelings for her, giving him encouragement — holding his hand and embracing him — to pressure him into making his declaration.

Dae-woong gives in to the temptation and leans in for a kiss… until he imagines Mi-ho sternly reminding him he isn’t free to do anything of the kind. In his horror-fantasy, Mi-ho growls, “I told you not to mate!”

And he wakes up from this nightmare.

Mi-ho is starting to understand the whole money = meat situation, and also that the chicken place has a promotional deal wherein ten proofs of purchase can be exchanged for a free meal. They’ve got eight, so she heads off to a streetside trash can to find more.

On her way there, she darts in front of a car, which bumps her as it screeches to a halt. It’s Doo-hong, who calls out after her to see if she’s okay.

Mi-ho finds a coupon in the trash, but a gust of wind sends the coupon flying through the air, so she leaps up among the treetops to retrieve it.

A fascinated Doo-hong can’t believe his eyes as Mi-ho leaps in the air among the branches to grab the coupon. As an action director casting a new project, such a display of physical prowess is impressive, particularly without wires or tricks. Finally, he has found the “real action” hero he’s been searching for!

Audition day for Dae-woong. He asks Mi-ho for her opinion on shirts, and she chooses the brown one: “That’s the color of cows!” Dryly, he holds up his other shirts in turn, asking, “So is this pig color [pink], and this one chicken [yellow]?”

Without a hint of irony, Mi-ho agrees, and goes one step further to rate them in order of preference: first place is cow, second is pig, third is chicken. She urges him to choose the cow color, to which he retorts that he’ll wear “grass color” so as not to appeal to her appetite.

As Dae-woong leaves for his audition, Grandpa arrives and overhears his conversation with Mi-ho. His words (that he’d better do well in order to keep her in beef) have a different ring to Grandpa’s ears, particularly when Dae-woong declares that this is all “to support you.”

At first Grandpa is dismayed, but he recalls scenes from Dae-woong’s spoiled youth — such as when the young boy announced that since Grandpa’s so rich, he has no need to find a way to support himself. Or when the adolescent Dae-woong ditched school and said he could just set up his own billiard hall with Grandpa’s money. Or when college-aged Dae-woong asked Grandpa to set up his own management company, so he could become a star, declaring, “I don’t like difficult things. I want to hit it big!”

In that context, Dae-woong working hard to put food on the table for his girlfriend isn’t SO horrible. In fact, Grandpa’s rather pleased at this transformation.

Mi-ho’s superhuman sense of hearing picks up on Grandpa’s murmured remarks, and she tells Dae-woong that someone’s talking about him — someone’s proud of him for his sense of responsibility. (Then Dae-woong shrugs — it must be a different Dae-woong. HA!)

Doo-hong’s assistant prepares him for the day’s auditions and points out the leading choice for female lead, but he’s distracted by thoughts of his mysterious real action heroine from the night before.

In fact, Hye-in is auditioning for a supporting character with a lot of action scenes, but she overhears the assistant saying that the director wants to cast a rookie for the lead — something about long hair and a white dress.

On the way to the audition, Dae-woong sees that Mi-ho looks distressed. She explains that they’re passing by water (the river), which is upsetting since large bodies of water are her weakness. He can’t do anything about it, so he draws her to himself and puts her hand on his chest — to put her closer to her fox bead.

She smiles and rests her head on his chest, then wonders, “Woong, what’s a couple?” (Woong is a way of shortening his name, Dae-woong.) He asks why, and she says, “People are calling us a couple” — her sensitive hearing has picked up on the comments of the other bus passengers. Dae-woong balks and pushes her away, so she decides, “It must not be a good thing.”

He fumbles for an excuse to keep her at arm’s length, saying it sure is hot, oh ho, she’d better stand away from him. Wouldn’t it be great if it rained and cooled the heat?

Mi-ho answers that for rain to come on such a clear day, she’d have to cry. (This is a reference to the term “sudden rain” — also the title of the song above — or literally “fox rain.” There’s a Korean saying that the sudden sunshower comes on the fox’s wedding day. I believe there are variations on the tale, with one that explains that the tears come from the jilted fox, others that say that it’s the tears of the lover who has lost the fox on her wedding day.)

Dae-woong asks with some surprise if Mi-ho cries, and she answers yes: “When it rains on a clear day, it’s because I’m sad.” She pouts that she’s about to cry… because she’s so hungry. Dae-woong is in an amenable mood, and suggests they stop by for lunch on the way, bringing an excited smile to her face. (She is so cute.)

How does Dae-woong propose to feed her? Supermarket samples! Since she’s not human, he tells her she doesn’t have to worry about being judged for eating more than one sample, and urges her to eat as much as she wants. Eagerly, Mi-ho makes her way down the aisle, chanting, “Cow! Cow! Cow!”

Gumiho Hunter Dong-joo is also in the store, watching Mi-ho. With a smile, he thinks, “You must be enjoying human life, Ms. Gumiho.” And although he didn’t say it aloud, Mi-ho hears his comment and looks around for the source of the voice. He continues, “You’ve been locked up for a long while — the world has changed a lot, hasn’t it?” He tells her not to worry, as he isn’t intending to hurt her right now… although that suggests he does intend to at a later date.

He challenges her to try finding him, curious to know if she’ll be able to pin him down in the crowd. Following her senses, Mi-ho wanders up to the department store level, where she meets eyes with Dong-joo. The sight conjures up a long-buried memory of her past incarnation, and she makes her way toward him.

Mi-ho can feel their connection but doesn’t recognize who he is, and asks if he was the one who called her. He confirms it. She touches a hand to his face, then decides, “You’re not human, either.”

In turn, he raises a hand to her face and says, “And you’re not the girl I knew, either.” He explains that there was another supernatural being who looked like her, and she asks if that makes him one, too.

Mi-ho supposes that even so, she’s probably stronger than he is, but he contradicts her — while she’s missing her bead, he’s stronger than her. In fact, she has been weakened so much that she can’t recognize his true nature, and if he tried to capture her, she wouldn’t be able to resist.

Mi-ho displays her childlike faith in Dae-woong, assuring Dong-joo that her bead is nearby and safe. Shrewdly, Dong-joo asks if she really trusts Dae-woong not to run off or ditch her. He gives her one piece of advice — don’t trust humans.

As he leaves, he promises he’ll come find her later.

Dae-woong had headed up to the cosmetics counter to primp while Mi-ho ate her fill, and there he runs into Hye-in. She has changed into a white dress and affixed hair extensions in hopes of fitting the director’s idea of a female lead, and greets him enthusiastically.

Remembering Mi-ho’s warnings, Dae-woong tries to disentangle his arm from Hye-in’s naturally, but she notices. When she suggests that they head to the audition together, he hastily makes up an excuse for her to go without him. She doesn’t understand why he’s playing hard to get, but she gets pissy at his reaction, not not knowing that he bemoans the necessity of pushing her away.

Dae-woong returns to the meat counter to retrieve Mi-ho, while she’s upstairs in the clothing department. There, Hye-in sees her (sniffing a leather jacket, then tentatively trying to take a bite), and guesses that Dae-woong had pushed her aside because of Mi-ho.

With her claws out in strike mode, Hye-in approaches Mi-ho and offers patronizing comments about Dae-woong leaving without her. Mi-ho can sense otherwise and is confident that he’s nearby, looking for her, and cheerily contradicts her.

Hye-in counters, “He stood you up. Are you saying I’m lying to you?” Mi-ho doesn’t register her snideness and replies simply, “Yes. There he is!” and points to Dae-woong off in the distance. Mi-ho adds without an ounce of irony, “You must be a liar!”

That riles Hye-in’s temper, and she takes a menacing step toward Mi-ho, who sidesteps her easily. This misstep sends Hye-in sprawling to the ground, her coffee spilling all over her white dress. Dae-woong comes rushing to her side, and Hye-in blames it all on Mi-ho. She plays it up to the hilt, acting the aggrieved party, saying this dress was specifically needed for her audition concept.

Dae-woong jumps to set things to rights, urging Hye-in to go ahead to her audition. He’ll find a replacement dress, then bring it with him. He even calls aunt Min-sook for an emergency transfer of funds.

After buying the dress, he races to the audition building, where Doo-hong presides over matters, displeased with the applicants. Hye-in had actually already decided against the white dress, having heard that the director had a specific girl in mind, and auditions for the part.

By the time Dae-woong gets to the building, however, everything has ended. Worse than failing to come through for Hye-in, he has missed his own chance.

Over the phone, he hears that Hye-in made her audition, and tries to say that it’s okay hat he missed his, although he clearly feels horribly disappointed. In all this excitement, he hasn’t even thought about Mi-ho, but thanks to her gumiho senses, she tracks him down to the lobby where he sits in dejection.

She doesn’t understand that he blames her for all this, starting with the meat and the spilled coffee — Hye-in had made it seem like Mi-ho pushed her and ruined her dress on purpose, and Mi-ho hadn’t protested. With grim determination, he leads her away and arrives at a tourist ferry docked at the Han River.

Dinner service is being spread out by the restaurant on board when they arrive. She doesn’t like it, feeling uneasy to be surrounded by so much water, and pleads to go somewhere else. But Dae-woong tells her firmly that this is where he wants to eat dinner.

He leaves to go on a bathroom break, while Mi-ho anxiously stands alone, trying to tamp down her fears. When the food is set out, she helps herself to the dinner spread.

Being surrounded by water dulls her gumiho senses and leaves her feeling defenseless, but she doesn’t want to protest because Dae-woong is in such a bad mood, so she meekly waits. Therefore she can’t sense Dae-woong exiting the boat, running along the pier, and leaving her behind. She only notices when she looks out to the pier and sees Dae-woong speeding away from her.

Now starting to panic, she cries out after him.

Dae-woong doesn’t feel proud of himself, but he tells himself firmly that he doesn’t care what happens to her, that she’s the reason nothing’s working out for him.

On the boat, Mi-ho huddles off to the side, shivering. She realizes, “He abandoned me and left. And after he promised.”

Tears start to fall from her eyes, just as the clear skies suddenly cloud over and the sunshower (fox rain) starts to fall.

The rainfall stops Dae-woong in his tracks, realizing what this means: “Mi-ho is crying.”

 
COMMENTS

Aw, so sad and touching! I LOVE wimpy Dae-woong, and that he blames everything on Mi-ho and ditches her and is basically a big old coward. I’m sure he’ll regret his actions later, but I like that our nontraditional hero is so flawed.

The incorporation of Mi-ho’s tears into the familiar story of the origin of the sunshower is a nice touch — it’s an existing myth, but twisted with the Hong Sisters Touch to fit this drama. It’s like the fox bead, which adds another layer to the romance, because I’m pretty sure it’ll be used as a metaphor for Mi-ho’s heart — if Dae-woong tramples on her heart, or her bead, he hurts her both physically and emotionally.

On top of that, the Hong sisters have a way of making the romance compelling swiftly. In many dramas, I may not feel the romantic pull until Episode 8, or even 10, and that’s not a bad thing. But it’s a curious and admirable thing to feel it in Episode 3, and as strongly as this.

I really don’t have much to say today, because I just loved everything about the episode. It just works for me, and hits in all the right places, both funnybone-wise and heartstrings-wise.

RELATED POSTS

198 August 19, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 4

by girlfriday

When a show is fast, clever, AND heartfelt, I’m owned, heart and soul. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the wimpy hero, and the super-powered girl who turns his life upside-down. There are so many great reversals—the powerful girl looking up at him like a wide-eyed child, her transformation into a monster frightening herself more than anyone. The best part is, the mythology serves the story, and not the other way around, which is how it should be. It’s great to know right from the start that our couple is perfectly matched, and their journeys toward becoming human in various ways are parallel too; it’s just a matter of watching them clash their way towards each other, which means I can just sit back and enjoy the ride.

 
EPISODE 4 RECAP

Mi-ho realizes she’s been left behind on the boat, and cries out to Dae-woong. He runs without looking back, the guilt weighing heavily on every step. Mi-ho crouches down and starts to cry, and as her tears fall, the skies darken and it starts to rain. Dae-woong looks up, remembering what Mi-ho said about her tears causing fox rain. It makes him stop, but then he starts to reason, “That’s ridiculous. Then if she blows her nose, it snows, and when she sneezes, there’s a typhoon?”

He walks ahead, but then he starts remembering her declaration that they’re friends now, and his promise to protect her fox bead. He whines to the heavens why she’s using rain to hold onto him. And then he turns back, and runs to her in the rain.

It’s nice to bookend the two returns—Mi-ho’s return to save Dae-woong when he was dying, and his return to her on the boat—as caused by their own memories of the other’s adorableness. They are equally strange creatures to the other, but they’ve developed a fondness for one another, what in Korean we would call [우정], the love between friends.

On the boat, Mi-ho starts to lose control of her outward appearance, when a few factors are compounded: her fox bead is far away, she’s scared because of the water, and then a dog (ie, a tasty treat?) comes close. Her eyes change to a bright blue, and she hides in the bathroom, as her other fox-features start to come out.

Dae-woong reaches the boat when it docks, and overhears the family with the dog talking about the strange woman who looked like a monster, so he braces himself. He mistakes the dog with a fluffy tail for Mi-ho (HA), and then finds her in the bathroom. She’s happy that he’s returned, but she doesn’t want to open the door because she’s changing. He insists he’s seen her tails enough times to be okay, so she opens the door…

And Dae-woong can’t hide his freakout. He can barely look at her, but he drapes a tablecloth over her, and they get off the boat. Outside, she asks why he left her there. He feels a pang of guilt, but lies that he didn’t leave her; the boat left him. The one thing she picks up on is the fact that he came back because it started to rain. Her fox-blue eyes light up in glee. Aw.

The boat attendant follows them out to get his tablecloth back, and as he pulls it off of Mi-ho, Dae-woong swoops her close, and holds her tight. They spend a moment in a time-suspended mystical hug (I love how this is a metaphor for the way time passes when you’re madly in love), and then he says they’ll be fine if he holds her close the whole way home. Show, I may just die from the cuteness.

Mi-ho pops her head up and beams—she’s returned! They smile at each other (Dimples, Ahoy!) and she says that it’s because he came back for her. He thinks they’re good to go, but Mi-ho grabs his jacket and pulls him in for another hug, wanting to be close to her fox bead for a little longer.

Dae-woong is taken aback, but finds himself tentatively happy, as he gives in holds her for a little longer. He awkwardly asks if that’s long enough, but she’s not done (heh), so he holds on, petting her hair as she sighs blissfully. Seriously, I know they’re supposed to be uber-cute, but they are inhumanly cute. Like a pair of kittens. Wearing bunny outfits. Sitting in a teacup.

Dong-joo the Gumiho Hunter visits the temple, and tells the monk that the fox will be put back in her rightful place. No, Highlander Boy. You stay away!

Grandpa packs up Dae-woong’s things and sends Aunt Min-sook to deliver them, happy to support the new and improved, living-for-others Dae-woong. Min-sook waits outside the action school, falling asleep on the bench. Chow Yun-fat Lite discovers her napping, and the sun about to beat down on her, so he rushes over, and opens up his trenchcoat to shield her from the sun. He stands like that until he’s sweating from head to toe, and she’s none the wiser. I love his off-brand chivalry.

He waits later that night for another glimpse of the mysterious girl who can jump without wires, to no avail.

Mi-ho complains about dinner, “Chicken, again?” But Dae-woong says that in these circumstances, it’s shameless for her to ask for cow. She points out that he’s the one who told her that since she’s not human, she can be as shameless as she wants. Touché.

He laments that he can’t afford cow since his dreams were shattered. Mi-ho asks what an action star is, and he says it’s what he’s really good at. Mi-ho: “Running away?” Hahaha. Dae-woong insists with his misplaced bravado that although she might see him as a weak human, to other normal girls, he’s totally awesome, no really. Mi-ho adds with a thumbs-up that even she thinks he’s pretty cool.

With that, he gives her a demonstration of his action skills, in an imaginary swordfight. Mi-ho delights in the demonstration, while Dae-woong gets to show off. Imaginary manliner-action-hero Dae-woong is admittedly pretty awesome.

Mi-ho starts copying all of his sayings and gestures, which Dae-woong finds pretty amusing. At one point he kicks a brick wall, and so she follows suit…only she kicks it with so much force that it almost crumbles. The superhero-girl-who-doesn’t-know-her-own-strength trope never gets old for me.

Chow Yun-fat Lite happens to head that way to relieve himself, so they run and hide, and watch in horror (with Dae-woong covering Mi-ho’s eyes) as he starts to urinate on that very spot. Lo and behold, the force is just enough to send the wall crashing down, and on the other side is a very surprised lady. Maybe THIS is why you shouldn’t be wearing trenchcoats, eh?

He gets hauled away to the police station, where the cop (a cameo by Lee Seung-gi’s hyung from 1 Night, 2 Days, Lee Su-geun) accuses him of being a trenchcoat-pervert. Chow Yun-fat Lite insists he’s nothing of the sort, and says he was just urinating: “And it wasn’t even pee that I was holding. It was of the normal variety.” Hahaha.

Dae-woong comes to his defense, showing up at the police station and vouching as an eye-witness that all he did was pee. That gives him an in to introduce himself as Sun-nyeo’s friend, and the director is happy to give him another chance at his audition, as long as the night’s events are kept a secret.

Dae-woong comes out to find Mi-ho digging in the trash, with a rib bone in her mouth. He realizes that she’s looking a bit worse for wear, so he takes her shopping for toiletries and clothes. It’s adorable how he’s buying skincare products and dresses, and she’s picking out meat.

At home, he teaches her how to brush her teeth and wash up, although she mostly eats all of the cleaning products, to his dismay. I sort of love the meta of Lee Seung-gi teaching Shin Mina how to be pretty. Ha. She bathes and changes, leading to a classic “Oooh, purrrty” moment. He muses that she looks like a normal girl this way.

She shouts, “Woong-ah, I’m so happy because of you today!” He breaks her happy reverie by asking when she’s going to take back her fox bead. She immediately starts hemming and hawing, and gives the excuse that she’s too tired to eat and goes to bed. Aw, Mi-ho doesn’t want to leave him and give up being human. He’s too clueless to see that he’s hurt her feelings.

Dong-joo sits in his lair, stroking his magical sword (pffft), saying aloud that he doesn’t want to have to send Mi-ho back. He’d rather she went quietly, but he knows she’s not about to give in so easily.

While Dae-woong sleeps, Mi-ho checks on her fox bead, and realizes that he’s almost healed. She sighs that if she told him the truth, he’d send her away in a heartbeat. She wonders why she can’t just stay by his side, killing the mosquitoes for him while he sleeps, and realizes that it’s because she’s not human.

Grandpa finds Min-sook watching A Better Tomorrow, (tee hee) and catches on that she must be interested in a new guy, so he asks Dae-woong to come by to discuss it. I love that Grandpa is just excited that she’s interested in a new guy.

Today Mi-ho says she’s not going to follow Dae-woong around, so that he can do well on his audition without any trouble. He’s stunned, and she asks if she waits here, then he’ll always return to her, right? He doesn’t quite believe her at first, then keeps coming back to give her money for food, then to tell her not to dig in the trash, and to call him if anything happens. Aw, he’s worried.

Dae-woong finally leaves, but he feels uneasy about her staying behind, and realizes it feels a little strange without her following right behind him. She comes out and waves at him from the rooftop, and he waves back, but stops himself, saying that he has to stop growing attached to her.

From the rooftop, Mi-ho says to herself, “Dae-woong-ah, you’re all healed now. I have to take my bead back. But can I stay here?”

She spends the day digging through trash cans to find chicken coupons (hilariously believing that if you collect ten they turn into a chicken) and even fights with the neighborhood ajumma for the last one. Dong-joo finds her, and takes her for a drive.

Mi-ho is amazed to find that he’s got an ID, a social security number, and a cell phone—all very human, even though he’s not.

Dae-woong does well on his audition, and gets cast right away. He says to himself, “Tonight it’s cow and soda, Gu Mi-ho. No every week….but wait, then will your tails come out?” Heh.

Hye-in runs into him, and asks to have a congratulatory dinner together. He promised Mi-ho he’d return and treat her to cow, so he uses Grandpa as an excuse. She concedes that family is a good enough excuse (oh, okay, Princess) and lets him go.

Dong-joo takes Mi-ho to his apartment, where she marvels at his living like a human. He tells her that he moves from place to place every few years, changing his name and never getting too close to anyone, and that he’s been living this way far longer than she’s been trapped in that painting. She wants him to teach her how to pass for human too.

But Dong-joo tells her that by living his way, she can’t actually be close to humans in the way she wants—she’ll never have friends, or family, or love. She thinks that in the very least she’d get to be near somebody, but he shuts her down. “An immortal being like you can’t be with a human. Ever.”

He continues, “The way I’m living…it’s not that different from being trapped in that painting. You should return.” She hangs her head in disappointment, saying that she really, really doesn’t want to go back. Dong-joo throws down the gauntlet: “Then are you willing to die?”

Dae-woong, on the other hand, tells his friend Byung-soo that his days with Mi-ho are numbered. He goes on about E.T. having to return home, and says that they’re essentially from different worlds. Byung-soo hilariously misinterprets this as Mi-ho being a chaebol (rich heiress).

Dong-joo tells Mi-ho that there’s a way for her to become human, but in order to do so, her gumiho self must die. She needs two things: someone (or something) that can kill her, and someone who will share their humanness—ki, or life force–with her. Hm…last time, Mi-ho told Dae-woong that sharing ki was equal to mating…heh (pitter-patter).


With that, Dong-joo takes out his magical knife, and cuts his hand. His blood drips into a glass, and he tells her that this knife can kill her, and so can his blood. If she drinks it, and has her fox bead which has collected the ki of a human being for one hundred days, she’ll become human. She asks why he’s telling her all this. He says that it’s because of another girl who looked like her, and wanted the same thing. He’ll help her die, but wonders if Cha Dae-woong can be trusted to protect her fox bead for a hundred days.

He tells her again that humans can’t be trusted, and insists she forget it all and go back. What? You just told her all of the mystical ingredients for her to make Human Soup, and now you’re expecting her to forget it all? Are you taunting her, or just naïve?

Mi-ho leaves, the question hanging over her. She holds a vial of Dong-joo’s blood in her hand, as she watches people on the street below her. “Does dying mean disappearing? I just want to live down there.”

She walks home, and gets recognized by Chow Yun-fat Lite, who chases her down but can’t catch up. Hye-in sees this from afar, and puts the pieces together, pouting. Not only does Mi-ho have Dae-woong’s affections, but now she’s got the Director’s too, for that coveted lead role.

Hye-in decides to call Dae-woong to discuss it, and catches him in a lie (that he was eating with Grandpa) as he nears home with a bundle of meat in his hands. They sit down to talk, and Hye-in asks if he likes her, and says in a roundabout way that she’s been waiting for him to declare his feelings, and preparing her answer. Prepare? It’s not the LSATs—it’s a yes or no question, lady. She tells him that she’s losing her faith in him, and wavering in her feelings, and not to make her wait too long.

Dae-woong drowns his angst in soju, while Mi-ho eagerly awaits his return. She leaves him a voicemail, telling him that she has something important to ask him, and she asks if she can stay by his side longer. She smells his scent as he approaches (funny and gross), and runs to find him in the gym.

She comes upon him slumped over in the dark. He announces that he’s drunk, and slurs out, “The moon is out. Do you want to spread your tails and do a round of ‘hoi-hoi’?” Hahaha.

Dae-woong: “Mi-ho-ya, we’re friends, right? Then will you do me favor?” She looks up at him sweetly. “Will you…disappear?” Oof. Just carve out my heart, why don’t you. He drunkenly pleads with her to go away and stop making his life so difficult, as he slumps to the ground and passes out.

Her reaction is heartbreaking. She looks down at him, saying, “Dae-woong-ah, the truth is, you’re all better now. I’ll go, so you stop hurting.” She lets go of his hand.

The next morning Dae-woong wakes up in his bed, not knowing how he got there. He calls out to Mi-ho, but she’s nowhere to be found. He looks and looks, and then it dawns on him: she’s gone!

COMMENTS

I like how the main relationship is progressing, which is to say, fast in terms of adorable moments, and mutual attraction, but slow in their understanding of each other and how to be together. The gumiho-human hiccups are not only hilariously comical, but also insightful little beats that shed light on human desires and the things we take for granted.

As for the mythology, I don’t like that the mystical way out is given so early in the story; I’d rather they have to work a little harder to find a way for her to become human. But I do like that so far, we have no reason to trust Dong-joo, so this could all be an elaborate web of lies in order to trap her. If it’s not, and he’s just giving up the information for nostalgia’s sake, that’s a little lame, plot-wise.

So far Dong-joo’s pretty ineffectual at being scary or a real threat, so I hope there’s more to come from his character than emo hair and looking pretty, because if he’s just going to be her fairy godmother, then there’s no point in having a gumiho hunter with an elaborate backstory. Crossing my fingers for more on that score.

I can’t get enough of adorable-pants Seung-gi, who is showing great range so far. But Shin Mina is the real scene-stealer of this show, as she alternately makes me die of laughter, squeal from cuteness, and well up with sympathy. She is A-maz-ing.

Can’t wait to see Dae-woong missing Mi-ho while she’s gone. You deserve a little penance, my friend.

Until next time, hoi-hoi!

RELATED POSTS

210 August 25, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 5

by javabeans

I love a drama that makes use of nice, tight mythology. Even better, I love it when a drama using mythology ups the ante midway through and modifies the rules, keeping us on our toes.

This week brings a couple of familiar faces to My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho, with You’re Beautiful alumnae UEE and Park Shin-hye making cameos. UEE’s comes in this episode, while Park’s is slated for tomorrow’s Episode 6.

SONG OF THE DAY

Shin Mina – “Sha la la” from the My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho OST. You may recall that Shin Mina has sung before, such as this collaboration with rock duo Loveholics for “Miracle Blue.” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 5 RECAP

Dae-woong doesn’t immediately realize that Mi-ho is gone for good, thinking that perhaps she’s out scavenging from trash cans. But his suspicions grow, particularly upon seeing the beef still untouched.

Slowly his memory trickles back of seeing Mi-ho last night while he was drunk. However, he doesn’t remember the part when he asked her to leave. When he drops a heavy bag on his foot, he wonders why it hurts so much if he’s got the bead’s protection. Does this mean it’s gone? Does that mean Mi-ho is gone, too?

He rushes outside to look for Mi-ho, but finds no trace of her. Dae-woong comes back inside with slumped posture, looking disappointed, almost like he’s going to burst into tears…

…of joy. He exults, “The gumiho has finally left me!” He basks in his newfound freedom.

Hurriedly, he packs his things — he doesn’t want to press his luck in case she decides to come back. In the process, he discovers Mi-ho’s hidden stash of chicken coupons, just one short of the 10 needed. He’s unexpectedly touched by the gesture, then shakes himself out of it and heads off. He doesn’t see Mi-ho watching his departure, noting, “Dae-woong looks thrilled. Tch! Isn’t he overly pleased that I’m gone?”

Suddenly, rain falls despite clear skies, and that stops him in his tracks, making him think of Mi-ho… except it’s just a man washing his car. HAHA.

Still watching, Mi-ho says, “Woong, goodbye.” For a brief moment, more water sprays on Dae-woong, and he turns to complain to the car-washer — but there’s nobody there.

Dae-woong can’t shake this unsettled feeling, even though he acts like he’s perfectly happy. For instance, he tells Grandpa that since Mi-ho left of her own accord, he has done nothing wrong. Grandpa is dismayed at the news, because he credits Mi-ho with turning Dae-woong into a mature adult.

Dae-woong tries to relax in his room, but he’s bothered by this unease that he can’t quite understand. He describes the feeling as “empty and uncomfortable,” but as he’s still in denial that he might actually miss Mi-ho, he finds this mighty perplexing.

Hye-in is gratified that Dae-woong comes running when she calls. She advises him not to get involved with Mi-ho even if she returns, and is pleased at his answer that he doesn’t know where she went or how to reach her.

However, her smile fades as he continues complaining that it was rude of Mi-ho to leave without saying anything — shrewdly, she asks if he’s sad that Mi-ho’s gone. He insists that he’s thrilled, but somehow he’s not quite convincing.

Mi-ho has found her way to the university, where she lurks out of sight of humans and empties the vending machine of cider cans (“cider” is a false cognate, and in Korean it means lemon-lime soda similar to Sprite).

Now that she has her fox bead back, her heightened powers are also back, meaning she can move superfast, glide in the air, and basically terrify the students who come across her in darkened corners of the university like something out of The Ring.

For example, a student (UEE, in a cameo) paints in an art studio, not noticing Mi-ho’s darkened figure gliding by in the dark. A plaster bust is knocked to the ground, splattering the ground with red paint and making the students gasp in horror.

The purpose of this visit becomes clear when the students take a snack break and reach for their hamburgers… which are now missing their meat layer. HAHA.

Outside, Mi-ho happily munches on stolen burger patties. Yet when she sees an ominous-looking figure approaching — Dong-joo — she runs away.

He catches up to her, and a well-placed jab knocks her unconscious. Not only that, it propels the fox bead out of her body, and Dong-joo grabs it.

Unaware of all this, Dae-woong goes out for a drink with his friends to celebrate his movie role. However, the smile leaves his face when Byung-soo asks if Mi-ho knows the good news. They urge him to invite her over, so he retorts in frustration, “Even if I wanted to, I can’t!”

That night, Dae-woong drops by the action school looking for Mi-ho, carrying some beer, hoping that she might have come back. He tries to convince himself that he’s glad she’s not here, then sits outside to drink the beer alone while wondering what made her leave.

He starts to sing a song, making up the lyrics as he goes: “Mysterious Mi-ho, Mi-ho, Mi-ho… My friend Mi-ho, the cute — the scary gumiho… Hoi-hoi… The gumiho is my friend…. Hoi-hoi… Mi-ho is my scary friend.”

It’s so cute and sad.

Dong-joo has taken Mi-ho to his apartment, where he presents her with two vials: her bead in one, his blood in the other. Contrary to her belief, he wasn’t out to kill her; he merely wanted to take her bead for safekeeping to prevent her from causing trouble. He points out that she’s been terrorizing students and stealing their food — “Aren’t you ashamed?”

Dong-joo guesses that Dae-woong rejected her request to help her become human. She admits that she didn’t even have a chance to bring it up: “Dae-woong said I was his friend, but he must really have hated me for being a gumiho. He asked me to disappear.”

He asks if she has given up on her desire to become human. She hasn’t decided yet.

Dong-joo lays out her two options: fox bead versus his blood. Or, put another way, a blue pill vial and a red one. (This cracks me up so hard. Trust the Hong sisters to turn an important plot point into a pop-culture parody moment.)

Drinking from the red vial represents choosing the human path, because his blood has the power to kill her gumiho side. If she takes the blue vial, she’s reclaiming her fox bead and must return to her temple. He gives her time to think it over, allowing her to stay in his place for the time being.

Dae-woong signs his film contract, which in turn earns him talent agency interest (via Hye-in’s own manager). (Trivia! The agency name — Dodo — was also the name of Uhm Tae-woong’s company in Delightful Girl Chun-hyang.)

Riding high on this upswing in events, Dae-woong’s already halfway back to his spendthrift ways. He won’t be making tons on this movie, but he calls his salary “spending cash” and is confident Dear Grandpa will buy him a new car.

An almost-collision with a motorcyclist sends Dae-woong to the doctor with minor scrapes, but the doctor can tell from his X-rays that he was recently in a huge accident. Although he has healed, he is advised to take it easy for the sake of his weak bones.

Dae-woong is relieved to be given the okay to film a movie — “unless it’s a very demanding action movie.” If he injures himself in this condition, he might find himself unable to walk.

Dae-woong wants to protest, but that’s a pretty dire prognosis. Loath to give up the movie, Dae-woong mumbles that the bead had previously kept him healthy, and now he realizes, “I need Mi-ho with me.”

Dong-joo watches soccer on television, saying that the game explains all about human nature, so Mi-ho settles down to “study” alongside him. He says that when it’s World Cup time, the whole world watches that ball being kicked around. To which Mi-ho giggles to herself, exclaiming, “Wow, then it would be such a blast to pop that ball!” Seeing his expression, she adds, “But I won’t.”

(I LOVE HER.)

TV programming turns into drama hour, and Mi-ho is perplexed by the plot: “Why does that old woman keep yelling at that young woman?” Dong-joo’s explanation? “That’s a mother- and daughter-in-law. That’s just what they do.”

When a couple starts getting amorous onscreen, Dong-joo looks over at Mi-ho, waiting for her to ask about it. With a knowing smile, she tells him, “I know what that is. They’re mating.” He gives a little uncomfortable cough and changes the channel.

The next program — a report from a cattle farm — reminds Mi-ho that she’s hungry, and she starts to cast longing looks in Dong-joo’s direction. She whines plaintively, “I want to eat meat.” Alas, he’s immune to her attempt to manipulate him.

She goes out to eat some cow, and packs away ten servings. She doesn’t have any money to pay for it, though, and tells the restaurant owner, “Since I ate like a human, I’ll cover the cost like a human.” Which means… washing the dishes.

She’s so fast and thorough that the owner is impressed, and offers her a job. She turns him down, because she’s not ready to make connections or “belong” to any affiliation. As a gumiho, she’s may get to live in the world, but can’t be connected to it.

With her meat craving satisfied, time for some cider! She faces off against a vending machine, and announces, “I could just hit you and make you throw up the bubbly water, but I’m going to settle this like a human.” Which to her means lifting up the machine with her superstrength to retrieve the coins underneath.

The catch? She has been seen by two little girls, who stare in amazement. Mi-ho decides she’ll have to settle this matter like a human, and hands them one of her coins. She understands enough to know that being human = paying people off. (I love when the Hong sisters get sharply satirical.)

She’s proud of herself for pulling off the human act successfully, but as she contemplates the red vial, she says that being truly human would be even better. Looking around at the families and couples at the park, she decides that she’ll have someone with her, too (as in, someone to “belong” to): “It would have been nice if it were Dae-woong.”

Dae-woong returns to the action school loft to search for clues about Mi-ho’s whereabouts, but the only thing he finds are the chicken coupons. Disappointed, he sighs, “Gu Mi-ho, how could you leave like that? After I called you my friend…”

That word — “friend” — finally triggers his memory, and now he remembers his drunken request. With shock, Dae-woong realizes that she left because he asked her to.

Taking a cue from her movie studies, Min-sook tries the femme fatale look and dresses in black leather to invite Doo-hong to lunch. A clumsy step sends her toppling over into a statue… leaving a pink lipstick kiss on the statue’s ass. Wildly, she tries to wipe it off, just as Doo-hong comes upon her. Awkward!

She insists she’s not some weird pervert who goes around kissing the butts of statues. I do think these aunt-director scenes could veer on tiresome, but the reason I don’t mind (thus far) is because I find the twisted gallantry so very amusing. Case in point: Doo-hong sees how embarrassed she is, and offers to solve the problem himself. Removing a medicated patch from his arm, he transfers it to the statue to cover up the stain.

This gives Min-sook the courage to drop some hints, and when she catches wind of Doo-hong’s “You’re too refined for me” sense of inferiority, she hastens to assure him that she likes rough, unrefined things. She’s not an Audrey Hepburn, as he believes, but a tougher Angelina Jolie type.

Screwing up the nerve, she invites him to lunch with her, but Doo-hong resists, still believing her to be married. With a parting metaphor about how Angelina Jolie has Brad Pitt and how he doesn’t romance women who are taken, he leaves.

Dae-woong finds him in his office to ask about the filming schedule, trying to figure out if there’s a way he can shoot his scenes last so that he doesn’t have to quit. Seeing the director’s grim reaction, he retracts his request, and is instructed to show up to action school tomorrow for “bone-crushing training sessions.”

Doo-hong also sends Dae-woong off to scrub the lipstick from the statue, adding that his aunt may be embarrassed so he’d better keep it a secret from his uncle. At that, Dae-woong is confused, saying he doesn’t have an uncle; Aunt Min-sook isn’t married.

This gives Doo-hong a jolt, both of hope and of dismay at having mucked things up with his misunderstanding. Meanwhile, Min-sook drives away crying the makeup off her face, hurt at this perceived rejection.

Trying to locate Mi-ho, Dae-woong tries calling the temple to inquire if the missing fox from the painting has shown up. Belatedly, he recalls that Mi-ho once left him a voicemail message, and calls the number. It is answered by the lady who owns the chicken restaurant, with whom Mi-ho had once gotten into a fight over the coupons.

Mi-ho finds a tenth coupon and takes it back to the action school loft, adding it to Dae-woong’s stash. Glumly, she figures he won’t come back here anymore, and says, “I really, really miss Dae-woong.” She thinks to herself, as though addressing him:

Mi-ho: “I can see really far and hear very well, but since I can’t see or hear you, you must really be far away. I’ve been living for so long that I didn’t know how time flowed, but after I met you my heart began to tell time. While I was with you, I would think, ‘Just a little longer’ while the time passed really quickly. But without you, time goes so slowly as I think, ‘I miss you.’ You know what, Dae-woong? It feels like my heart has been bewitched by you and counts time all on its own.”

As she thinks this, Dae-woong races back toward the loft, ostensibly having spoken to the chicken lady. As Dae-woong arrives in the neighborhood and runs toward her, she catches his scent and cheers up, exclaiming, “Dae-woong is coming toward me!”

It’s really quite adorable how happy both of them look when they finally meet again. Dae-woong in particular — he may make up excuses for himself, but in this moment he’s just happy. Mi-ho asks hopefully, “Were you looking for me?” She loves hearing him answer yes.

Dae-woong first says that her departure left him really sad, but she points out that he was really happy when she left. He admits that yes, he was happy at first, “But it was for a really short while.” He starts laying it on thick, saying that he felt really empty after she left.

We know he’s buttering her up because he needs her bead, but Mi-ho takes him at face value and her face lights up. Even so, it’s worth pointing out that everything he’s telling her — which he thinks he’s saying just for Mi-ho’s benefit — was actually stuff he honestly felt.

Plus, it’s interesting that he’s abashed when she catches on to the fact that he had come here repeatedly looking for her — he can deal with faking affection, it seems, but is uncomfortable confronted with evidence of real affection.

Mi-ho takes this moment to work up the nerve to ask how he’d feel about holding on to her bead for just a little longer. Not knowing that this is exactly the goal he’s angling after, Dae-woong eagerly agrees.

I LOVE THIS. She thinks she’s tricking him into holding on to the bead so she can become human, and he thinks he’s tricking her into letting him have the bead so he can do his movie. They both are using each other, feeling guilty, growing more attached to each other… IT’S FANTASTIC.

The bead is with Dong-joo, so Mi-ho has to retrieve it from his apartment. While she does that, Dae-woong goes back home to pack his things now that he’ll be moving back into the loft.

I generally don’t feel sorry for the Gumiho Hunter, but there’s a moment that hints at greater angst to come when Dong-joo cooks meat for Mi-ho, against his better judgment — he’s vegetarian — and notes that it’s been an awful long time since he has waited for someone. His smile fades when Mi-ho bursts in excitedly and tells him that Dae-woong came back.

Grandpa is thrilled to have Dae-woong move out, as this is the first time Dae-woong is leaving home with the intention of working hard instead of running away from problems. Grandpa tells Min-sook to take Dae-woong to the action school, but she’s nursing her wounded pride (and about a gallon of ice cream) and refuses.

Belatedly, Dae-woong recalls that he has dinner plans with Hye-in, who is looking forward to having his attention firmly fixed back on her. Of course you are, Princess. Before the meeting, he goes shopping for couple rings, eager to clear the air and make his intentions clear with Hye-in.

And how much do I love that on his way out, he’s distracted by a huge stuffed toy of an oversized chicken leg? He comments that “It’s just Mi-ho’s style” and, deciding he’s in a generous mood, buys it too.

Hye-in hears from Sun-nyeo about his medical issues and calls in a tizzy. He assures her that things will work out and reaches for the rings to make his big declaration. However, she’s too wrapped up in what this means for HER HER HER, and cries that she recommended him to her agency. If he can’t act in the movie, she’ll be made a fool! She’s still a rookie actress and can’t afford to have people thinking she lied to her agency on behalf of her boyfriend.

Dae-woong deflates. Disillusionment running through his voice, he tells her that he will make sure she isn’t misunderstood about lying on his behalf or him being her boyfriend. He puts the ring box away.

Trudging back home in dejected spirits, he sighs, “I didn’t mean to lie to noona. The one I was meaning to lie to was Mi-ho.”

At the Gumiho Hunter’s lair, Mi-ho has made her decision. She’ll choose the red vial: humanity. Dong-joo asks what she’ll do if Dae-woong runs to another woman during the 100 days he has to keep her bead, to which Mi-ho answers that she trusts him. Dong-joo tells her that the woman she resembles also answered in that way: “She wanted to become human and loved a man, but in the end she was betrayed by him and disappeared without a trace. Can you die like that, too? Can you really endure death?”

Mi-ho nods.

Dong-joo accepts her decision, but leaves her with one bit of advice: Don’t tell Dae-woong she is trying to become human. She’ll need to keep a little fear in him to prevent him from running away too readily.

So here are his instructions: When she drinks his blood, she will start to die, gradually. Her gumiho energy will slowly empty away while her bead will live in the human for 100 days and take in his energy. When she reclaims her bead, she will become human.

Dae-woong waits up for Mi-ho, hugging his chicken leg. Omg, if the Hong Sisters give it a ridiculously cute name I am their bitch forever. Oh, what am I saying, I already am.

He finds Mi-ho outside, contemplating her vial, and she confirms that he is willing to keep her bead again. He eagerly agrees, but she warns him that while he carries her bead, he can’t run far away. He can’t share his ki with another woman, and he has to stay with her for 100 days. He can’t quit midway through, either.

Now that alarms him; 100 days is too long! She’s not even his girlfriend — it’ll look weird.

The solution seems simple enough to Mi-ho: “Then I’ll be your girlfriend!” There’s something very cute and absurd about the way she pouts, “Dae-woong, let me be your girlfriend~~”

He refuses and storms back inside, freaked out at the thought of being a gumiho’s boyfriend.

His reaction tells her he isn’t ready, and Mi-ho realizes that he won’t do it after all. Mi-ho tells him sadly, “I’ll leave. I’ll go back to where I used to be. If I leave this time, I won’t be able to come out into the world again. I won’t come to you anymore.”

Faced with the other extreme, Dae-woong feels another pang — that means he won’t be able to see her again? And she’s leaving now?

Conflicted, Dae-woong tells her that she misunderstands one thing — he lied to her, and the reason he was looking for her was because of her bead, not her. “Can you still give me your bead?”

Mi-ho nods, but oddly, that doesn’t make him feel any better. He prods, “Don’t you even feel bad?” She answers that although it would be nicer if he needed her, her bead is still one part of her. Plus, if he needs her bead so much, he won’t leave her while he has it.

Half-reluctantly, Dae-woong confirms that it’s just for 100 days, and agrees to do it. She asks excitedly, “Then am I your girlfriend now?”

He still feels bad about all this, and says with dissatisfaction that this is all wrong. He heads back into the house, making Mi-ho think he is calling this off. But he isn’t backing out, and comes back carrying the ring.

Dae-woong tells her, “Since I’m a human, I’ll do this human-style. Gu Mi-ho, please be my girlfriend.” And with that, he slides the couple ring on her finger, and she marvels at it happily.

In fact, she’s so happy that her nine tails pop out.

However!

Adding an ominous tone to this moment is Dong-joo, who murmurs to himself, “The most painful death to a human isn’t his own, but the death of a loved one.”

As Dae-woong and Mi-ho take a drink of their respective vials, Dong-joo reveals one last detail that Mi-ho hadn’t caught on to: that after the 100 days are over, when the human surrenders the bead back to the gumiho, the death that the newly humanized gumiho must face isn’t her own…

It’s Dae-woong’s.

 
COMMENTS

One great aspect of this gumiho premise is that Mi-ho gets to fall in love without really understanding it on a cognitive level, so her head doesn’t interfere with her feelings. I love the analogy she draws about her heart telling time — and because she’s like this alien being who doesn’t interpret the signs like we mortals do, we can feel her falling in love. It’s palpable, instead of just telling us she’s in love without showing it in a real way. (Which happens in so many dramas.)

This is the first episode that I felt anything for the tortured Gumiho Hunter, which is a good sign. I do find Noh Min-woo to be very pretty, but hadn’t found anything in his character to connect with on a deeper level, so this is a welcome addition. Frankly, I tend not to connect with second leads in Hong Sisters dramas, no matter how kind and benevolent and beautiful they are.

I hope this character will do justice to a mythology that is set up to be, imo, quite intriguing. I love that he seems to have genuine care for the gumiho, and that he isn’t outright malicious about his intentions. However, this latest twist shows that he’s got a darker edge. I don’t think he’s evil, but I like dark and complicated. Bring it on.

And HOW GREAT is this dilemma? It’s the whole “one cannot live while the other lives” crisis that, in a romance, is as epic as you can get. If Mi-ho wants to spare him, she has to die. If she wants to live, he has to die. AGHHH! I love it! (Naturally I’m expecting a late-stage twist to Make It Work so that nobody dies, but even with that expectation I love the angst.) It’s Buffy and Angel, it’s superhero in love with a supervillain, it’s Harry and Voldemort (well, without the romance angle).

RELATED POSTS

230 August 26, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 6

by girlfriday

It’s my favorite of all k-drama tropes: the fits-of-jealousy as a stand-in for early declarations of love. It’s angst, love, denial, and pettiness all rolled into one, and I for one, can’t get enough. The Green-Eyed Monster takes center stage this episode, and turns everyone right-side-up, then upside-down, providing hysterical laughter, adorable hijinks, and lots of pouty lips.

 
EPISODE 6 RECAP

Mi-ho marvels at her couple ring and declares that she’s Dae-woong’s girlfriend now. He can’t help but smile, and gives in. They bump their be-ringed fists to seal the deal. Mi-ho jumps up and says there’s always something she’s wanted to do, once she got a boyfriend…

And she shows up dressed as a bride! Oh my god, she cracks me up. Dae-woong stops her mid-bow, totally floored that now she’s made him her boyfriend, she’s trying to sneak marriage in there too. The look on Mi-ho’s face when he refuses to marry her is So. Cute.

He starts to walk away, and she pouts, saying, “Fine. Then do you want to mate?” AHAHAHAHAHA.

Dae-woong literally stops in his tracks, shaking his head like he must’ve heard wrong. He checks—nope, she meant it all right. He starts to laugh nervously, and Mi-ho mistakes it for giddiness at wanting to mate with her.

His nervous energy once she brings up mating is just priceless. He declares that rather than mate with a gumiho, he’ll throw up the fox bead. She just smiles at his futile gestures of playing hard to get, saying, “You can’t throw it up like that. You’re MINE NOW.” Omigod, I can’t even describe the depths to which I love her.

Dae-woong decides to beat her at her own game. So he takes the alpha male approach, and grabs her, backs her up against the wall, and leans in close, saying, “Is this…what you want?” She backtracks shyly, saying she was just kidding…only this is Dae-woong’s imagination of what a normal girl would do.

What actually happens is, he leans in close, and Mi-ho grabs in a hug that sends him running away and begging for mercy. HA! Y’all know I love this sort of dynamic, but this? Is my own personal heaven.

Dong-joo, magical-knife-wielding-liar-liar-pants-on-fire-emo-boy, turns over the mystical 100-days hourglass on his desk. Handy, that. He says, complete with Very Intense Stare at no one in particular, that as one side empties, the other one will fill up. I might have to rename him Metaphor Boy.

Dae-woong tries to lay some ground rules with Mi-ho, saying that their arrangement isn’t so much a relationship as it is a contract. Yeah, that’s how all the great romances start, don’t ya know. She promises not to do anything he doesn’t want, so he requests that she stop looking at him like she’s going to eat him up. (This has a double meaning in Korean as it does in English.)

Mi-ho defensively says that she hasn’t looked at him like that at all…lately. Dae-woong: “Lately? Then, there was a time when you wanted to eat me?” She tries to play it off, but he can’t let it go. “Tell me the truth. Was there ever a time when you looked at me and thought, ‘Dae-woong looks tasty today.’?” Pwahaha.

She tries to deny it, but confesses to having thought it…once. No, twice. What commences is a hilarious rendition of a standard dramatic breakup scene, with phrases like “I think we need some distance,” all the while talking about the fact that she wanted to eat him. Heh. Dae-woong goes to bed angry and Mi-ho regrets saying anything.

Dae-woong is woken up in the middle of the night by sounds of Mi-ho crying. Her wails sound otherworldly, so he creeps up cautiously to find her in the bathroom, not knowing what to expect…as it turns out she’s crying because she drew her wedding makeup on with a permanent marker, and now it won’t come off. Dae-woong lifts up her face to see the damage, and then goes online to find a way to take it off. Quite the hero in cases like this.

He fixes her face (love all the excuses for him to hold her face in his hands), and she tells him about how five hundred years ago she wanted to paint her face like that and get married, but because of all the bad rumors, no one came and she got locked up in that painting. To make her feel better, he promises to make a movie someday to clear her gumiho name. He remembers the other present he bought for her, and goes up to present her with the giant chicken leg doll. I don’t know who’s happier about the chicken leg—Dae-woong or Mi-ho. They KILL me.

The next day, Byung-soo decides that he’ll tell the director about Dae-woong’s injuries in order to protect him, but finds that Dae-woong is not only healed, but performing action stunts well enough to move the director near tears. Dae-woong convinces his friend that he’s fine, and Byung-soo notices the couple ring on his finger.

He promptly tells Sun-nyeo about it, who then runs to check Hye-in’s finger, to see if she’s got a matching ring. My, this grapevine is fast. It’s like DSL speed up in this world. Hye-in huffs at the mention of Dae-woong having yet another girl, and then gets metaphorically bitchslapped when she finds out that he’s doing the movie after all.

Mi-ho goes to see Dong-joo, and shows off her couple ring, saying that people only give these when they like somebody. He counters that Dae-woong doesn’t see her as a human or have any reason to like her, so she starts rattling off all the things Dae-woong praised her for, like her super-speed and strength. He answers that those things aren’t so important, in a world with cars and airplanes. Fine, then, she eats a lot. Dong-joo tells her that it’s not really a good thing to cost so much to feed. So she goes to her last line of defense: “But, I’m pretty.” Ha. Even Dong-joo can’t argue with that. He warns her not to rely too much on her looks and throw herself at Dae-woong (possibly trying to keep them from ‘mating,’ for secret nefarious reasons) and offers her some advice, to try and do stuff that he wants to do.

At home, she tries to ask Dae-woong what he wants, but mostly he just wants her to be quiet while he learns his lines. They get interrupted by workers ready to clear out the attic room where they’re staying, so Dae-woong pleads with the director to let him stay there for the duration of the shoot. He promises to do extra cleaning, and Chow Yun Fat Lite is of course delighted to think that Dae-woong’ aunt might come by if he stays here. He asks about the girl in white, the action star of his dreams, and Dae-woong pretends not to know, and warns Mi-ho to run away if she sees the director.

They head out and run into the chicken shop lady, and Dae-woong is surprised to see that Mi-ho has made friends in the neighborhood. He’s proud of her, until his phone rings and it’s Dong-joo on the other line. He asks to speak to Mi-ho, and Dae-woong’s jaw drops as she answers the phone cheerily to talk to this strange man.

She sneaks off to talk to him, and the look on Dae-woong’s face is gold. Oh, jealousy—you never fail me.

He tells her to talk right here, but she steps away, and he sees her smiling and being coy, which raises his blood pressure. He stalks over and wonders that they must be really close. She calls Dong-joo her friend, which makes him even more pissy. He tries to warn her in that fake it’s-for-your-own-good-and-not-because-I’m-jealous way that she has to be careful around people who don’t know her true nature. She cuts him off, saying that she doesn’t want him to ask about Dong-joo, and that she’s not going to do anything bad to him. He balks, “So you were going to eat me, but you’re going to be nice to HIM?” Hahaha.

He’s like, fine, don’t have him calling my phone. She agrees readily, saying that she’ll just go visit him then. That stops him in his tracks again.


At the bus stop, the entire gaggle of men (and even an ajumma) waiting for the bus marvel at Mi-ho, gaping at how pretty she is. Mi-ho is busy staring at a picture of beef, while Dae-woong shakes his head at their naivete, for being fooled by her beauty. That is, until one of them gets up to talk to her. Dae-woong glances sidelong in anger, and steps up to Mi-ho, putting his arm around her right in front of the guy, and sticking his hand out to show the ring. Swoon. God, I could watch this stuff for fifty episodes. Bring on the Cute!

On the bus, they sit an aisle apart, but then another guy sees Mi-ho and decides to get up and sit next to her. Eagle-eyed Dae-woong sees him and beats him to the seat, silently taking her hand and holding it up, to display their matching rings. The guy hangs his head in defeat. I have never seen the point of couple rings until now. Seriously never thought that a pair of cheesy rings could bring me such endless glee until it became a plot point.

Mi-ho asks why he’s sitting next to her now, when he kept telling her to keep her distance, and he answers with puffed up bravado that he’s selflessly doing it to save humanity and protect people from her, much like his childhood idol, Batman. I may have just died.

They get interrupted by none other than Go Min-yeo (a cameo by Park Shin-hye, reprising her role in You’re Beautiful), who happens to be a high school junior of Dae-woong’s. She recognizes him, and they’re happy to see each other, saying how they’ve both gotten better looking.

And now it’s Mi-ho’s turn to stake her jealous claim. Min-yeo has to get off at the next stop, so she asks for Dae-woong’s new phone number, but when he reaches for his phone, Mi-ho grabs his ring hand and holds it up defiantly, in the same gesture that he just used. Min-yeo apologizes for intruding when he’s with his girlfriend, and leaves. Heh. And aw.

And Go Min-yeo, what are you doing asking for Dae-woong’s phone number? I know he’s an old classmate, but Hwang Tae-kyung is most definitely going to purse his lips at you for that. I suspect poor Pig-Rabbit is in for quite a beating.

Mi-ho muses that the ring is quite handy—it has the power to send any unwanted girls running in the opposite direction. She says she wanted to stop him in case he liked that other girl and ran off to mate with her. Haha. Dae-woong assures her that he’s not that easy, and declares that no matter HOW POPULAR he always was (heh) he only ever had eyes for one girl. Mi-ho frowns when she realizes that he means Hye-in.

She asks why he didn’t make Hye-in his girlfriend right away then, and he lets it slip that he was going to, with rings and all. She looks down at her ring, as it dawns on her that it was never meant to be hers. Hooray, Show—I love how quickly you’re revealing things. Your truthiness is downright huggable.

Dae-woong can’t hide the fact that he did buy the rings with those intentions, but he assures her that they’re not second-class rejection rings. He never even got the words out to Hye-in, nor did he ever offer her the rings. Mi-ho still pouts that it’s not right, and he shouldn’t be like that. He concedes. Heh. I love that he knows he’s being an asshat right now.

He reverse-psychologizes her that he’ll take his ring off then, and she lunges to stop him. Oh, you two.

He leaves her outside while he goes in to a people-only school building, but once inside, he starts to feel guilty for leaving her all alone out there. Aww. He tries to shake it off, but he ends up turning back to go get her. He takes her with him to class (He’s attending class! Like a real student!) and she’s super nervous and excited to be going to class like a real human. He goes to get her some bubbly water (it’s what Dae-woong and Mi-ho call the lemon-lime soda, which is adorable since he only does that for her benefit).

Outside, he runs into Hye-in, who is angling to check out his ring finger. He quickly hides his hand and pulls the ring off. It drops to the ground, but he swiftly kicks it under the soda machine in a panic. She sees his bare hand and smiles to herself. While he’s fishing for the ring once she’s gone, she heads to the lecture hall with a sandwich for him, near-missing Mi-ho sitting inside.

Dae-woong rushes her back out, and when she offers to attend class with him, he lies that class got canceled. She then wants to take him out to lunch (oy, woman!) so then he rushes back to Mi-ho and LIES that he has to go run an errand, and leaves her there. To his dismay, Hye-in wants to drive elsewhere for lunch, and he gulps, wondering if it’ll be okay if he goes.

At the restaurant she orders a multi-course meal, putting him on edge, but he can’t say anything. Meanwhile, Mi-ho gets caught raising her hand in class on accident while catching a fly, and gets kicked out, so she waits and waits for Dae-woong outside. When he doesn’t show, she heads home on her own. Director Ban sees her while he’s dropping Sun-nyeo off, and Mi-ho, following Dae-woong’s instructions, flees.

Director Ban chases her in his car, delighting in her speed, but she manages to give him the slip. Her heart races, and she gets flushed, making her wonder what’s wrong with her.

Dae-woong rushes to eat his meal with lightning speed, and runs back to the lecture hall to find it empty. I love that he goes from feeling guilty one second, to mad that she didn’t even wait for him in the next.

Mi-ho has gone to Dong-joo instead, clutching at her heart and saying that something is wrong with her. He explains that she’s slowly becoming human, and that’s what it feels like to hurt—human beings hurt easily, and often. He asks if she can endure it, and she smiles to hear that it means she’s adopting human traits, and insists she can handle it. He cooks her a steak, and when she notes that he doesn’t eat meat, he says he prepared it for when she came to visit.

At home, Dae-woong also prepares a plate of meat, and waits for Mi-ho. A man who waits at home with bbq at the ready? Did I fall asleep and dream this up?

He even has an entire tray full of bubbly water chilled for her. He waits and waits, but she doesn’t show. Serves you right. You SHOULD have to wait for her once in a while. He finally heads down to wait for her outside, but on his way down the stairs, he sees Mi-ho walk in with Dong-joo.

He’s surprised that Dong-joo looks like a normal guy (although most people here would scoff at your use of “normal”), and balks to overhear her saying how much she loved the meat he cooked for her. She asks if it’s expensive, and when he answers that it is, she muses that Dae-woong won’t get it for her then.

Dong-joo puts his hand on her forehead to check her temperature, popping Dae-woong’s jealous lid. He walks off angrily.

Dong-joo asks why she calls him “Dong-joo Teacher,” and she says it’s because he’s teaching her how to become human. He slyly asks if she trusts him completely, and when she asks very innocently if he’s ever lied to her, he says pointedly that he’s never said anything false, but he has yet to teach her…everything. She takes it at face value and runs off to find Dae-woong.

She finds him grilling up meat (mmm….gogi, gogi) and in a pissy mood because she ate expensive meat elsewhere with another man, and then came home to him. Keh. She smiles, knowing he overheard her conversation with Dong-joo, and he chastises her for pretending to be a sickly weak girl, putting on an act to get expensive steak.

While he’s busy being righteous and indignant, Mi-ho notices that he doesn’t have his ring on. Oh crap. He forgot it in the midst of all the crazy. So they head back to school and she lifts up the soda machine and he gets his ring back.

He tries to roll right over it, but she isn’t going to let it go. Mi-ho: “How did the ring end up there??” He finally has to tell her that he took it off because he didn’t want Hye-in to see it. She realizes that he left her at school today in order to hide her from Hye-in, and asks outright if that’s what he’s planning: to hide her like he hid his ring.

He answers truthfully that he would like to, and asks if his wish (her offer earlier to do anything he wanted) could be to hide her existence from Hye-in. She shakes her head—no, anything but that. Ha. I like that she stakes her claim and doesn’t budge on that.

She starts to shout, angry and hurt that he clearly doesn’t think of her the same way that she does. She asks him what he wants, and he declares that there’s nothing he (a human) could want from a gumiho. She wonders, with a stricken look on her face, if there’s nothing he wants from her other than her fox bead. He hangs his head with a pang of guilt, as he says that she knows that’s the truth, so why ask? He walks away, leaving her deflated.

Director Ban has a drink with the crew and spills his red wine down his shirt in a fit of angst, and then does a Better-Tomorrow-blood-spattered-walk to the bathroom. He runs into Min-sook, who is out to meet friends, and he comes up to her in a back hug, while she feigns protest. Only when he doesn’t budge, she realizes he’s fallen asleep, and she’s piggybacking him! Hahaha.

Hye-in and Sun-nyeo meet up, and after finding out that Dae-woong is back at the action school, Hye-in decides to head over to clear up this couple ring mystery once and for all.

Dae-woong, meanwhile, can’t sleep because his chest hurts, wondering if maybe it’s indigestion. Couldn’t it be, say, your conscience? No? Okay then.

He peeks in on Mi-ho, but she’s not in bed. He looks outside, and is shocked to find her drunk, with her tails hanging out. Dae-woong: “What are you doing with your tails out?” Mi-ho: “I’m a gumiho! From now on, I’m going to spread my tails out and live proudly as a gumiho!” Haha.

Dae-woong realizes she’s pretty far gone, and gasps when he discovers empty soju bottles among the beer cans. He convinces her to put her tails away, and she’s so happy to finally be asked to do something, that she complies, and asks what else he wants. He gets her to hammer in a nail with her bare hand, and howl at the neighbor’s dog to shut him up, and kill the mosquitoes.

She does so happily, and tells him that the mosquito part is something she already does, so that they don’t eat him up. Seriously, this is so Korean, but that’s moving—to both Dae-woong and to me. He smiles up at her sweetly, and they play a round of catch the mosquito.

All the while, Hye-in is on her way up, up, up…

Mi-ho smells her coming and says as much, but Dae-woong doesn’t know who she means. Without explanation, she steps up on the ledge with her hands out.

Mi-ho: I’m going to give you what you really want. Because I like you.

Dae-woong looks up at her, startled at her declaration. Hye-in enters behind him, and when he looks back at her, Mi-ho jumps off the ledge and disappears.

Dae-woong realizes she’s gone and he rushes over, shouting, “Mi-ho-ya!” He sees Hye-in standing there, but breezes right past her, on his way down to find Mi-ho.

COMMENTS

What a great twist at the end—we’re set up for the classic discovery moment, thinking we know exactly what to expect, but there’s a reversal, and it sets up an even more dramatic situation. Now Mi-ho has declared her feelings, done something truly for Dae-woong’s benefit, and even though he would never admit as much, we can tell by his actions where his heart is heading.

I love how epic their romance is on a mythology level—it’s the type of fiction I’m most drawn to, a sci-fi-meets-epic-love story—but I love even more how their tiny day-to-day interactions are imbued with a simple chemistry and charm. Individually they’re awesome, but together, they’re magical.

I know that Mi-ho’s forthrightness and her forwardness are attributes that she’s allowed to have because she’s a gumiho, and there’s definitely a pre-existing mythos of the gumiho-as-man-eater (sexually and literally), so it’s not necessarily reinventing the wheel in terms of making her the sexual aggressor. Except for one very important thing: here those things are attributed to her because she’s a gumiho, but she herself isn’t EVIL.

So through her character, those things that used to be associated with the dangers of female sexuality (in the gumiho myth) actually get re-appropriated. She’s cute, innocent, and alien, but a sexual being, which reclaims some of the territory back from the patriarchy. And for that, among a host of other reasons, I love her to bits.

RELATED POSTS

224 September 1, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 7

by javabeans

Such a sweet episode — I awwed repeatedly throughout. I suppose this is where the romantic angle gets going in earnest, but truth be told that doesn’t even matter that much to me. I’ve gotten so much delight out of the growing friendly rapport between Mi-ho and Dae-woong and the mythology aspect that the standard romance stuff is icing on the cake.

SONG OF THE DAY

Vanilla Acoustic – “내 남자의 자격” (My man’s right) [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 7 RECAP

In the spirit of granting Dae-woong everything he wants her to do, Mi-ho declares, “I’m hiding!” just as Hye-in appears on the roof, and jumps off the ledge.

Alarmed, Dae-woong brushes right by Hye-in and runs downstairs, where Mi-ho’s perfectly fine. She asks why he followed her out when she was hiding for his benefit.

He’d momentarily forgotten that she isn’t human, but that very fact makes the cut on her arm that much more jarring. She’d hit it against the action school sign when she jumped.

Mi-ho smells Hye-in approaching (snerk — there’s something so funny about that) and moves to hide again, but Dae-woong holds her arm and tells her to stay. Ooh, looks like our immature hero just put on his big boy pants!

Hye-in sees Dae-woong grabbing Mi-ho’s wrist (urgh) and scowls. She asks accusingly if Dae-woong lied about sending Mi-ho away, and whether they’ve been living together here all this time.

Contrary to his previous eagerness to please her, now Dae-woong answers solemnly without excuses: He was the one who asked Mi-ho to stay. He has to stay with her for now, so he can’t go to Hye-in.

Picking up on the attitude change, Hye-in asks if he likes Mi-ho. Dissatisfied with his answer that he promised to be with Mi-ho, Hye-in leaves in a snit. Buh-bye!

Dae-woong’s in a melancholy mood, so Mi-ho hangs back uncertainly. He says this wasn’t her fault; he just got tired of lying. He recognizes that he’s never been a particularly good guy, but he’s still bummed that this situation turns him into the bad guy with Hye-in.

He notes the irony that he, who has never been a great keeper of promises, has made an unbreakable one with Mi-ho. Contemplating his ring, he sighs that the promise he’d intended to make was with his noona…

So lost in thought is he that when it starts raining, Dae-woong doesn’t even notice until he puts a hand down and feels the wet bench. The reason he hadn’t noticed? Behind him, Mi-ho has been holding the fallen school sign over his head — and for quite a while, at that. (Gah, that is so sweet.)

I love the following exchange: Dae-woong asks if the sign is heavy. With her strength diminished, Mi-ho winces and starts to admit that it is, but he misses that and supposes that since she’s a gumiho, this must be easy for her.

Dae-woong plans to think for a little while longer, so he tells her to keep holding the sign for him. Not wanting to intrude or object, Mi-ho agrees, all the while grimacing in discomfort and alternating arms to deal with the ache.

Finally, Dae-woong reaches a conclusion and wraps up his thinking session. Figuring there’s nothing to hide, he puts the ring back on his finger.

Rising from his seat, he takes the sign from Mi-ho, and I appreciate the symbolism of the gesture: At first she thinks he’s going off alone, but when he indicates that she should come along, she races to join him.

Not only that, she grabs him around the middle and hugs him enthusiastically. Then she sees his reaction — perturbed — and backs off sheepishly, settling for grasping his shirttail.

Dae-woong sets to work to fix the fallen sign by gluing fallen letters back on it. Mi-ho marvels at the sticking power of the glue, which Dae-woong warns her about, since it’s superglue and won’t let go once it’s applied. In fact, it’s rather like her. (Hee. Another Hong Sisters extended metaphor is born.)

He finishes the gluing, satisfied that the letters will never fall off again. That perks her up, but he reminds her that the letters won’t separate, but they will after 100 days. She pouts at the way he makes a point to say he’s going to be counting down the days carefully.

To be exact, they have 95 more days together. Tellingly, Dae-woong says to himself, “Five days have already passed,” as opposed to something more along the lines of “It’s only been five days.”

Mi-ho glues a picture of meat to her bed, chanting, “Don’t fall off, don’t fall off…”

Remembering the cut on Mi-ho’s arm, Dae-wong tends to it with ointment. She tries suggesting that she would heal faster to “hug her bead” than to apply medication, which is hilarious. This fox bead thing is such an awesome excuse for skinship, and I love that Mi-ho is aware of this. But so is Dae-woong, who declines her suggestion by saying it’s okay for her to heal slowly, since they have plenty of time.

When Mi-ho points out another cut and sucks on it, Dae-woong lets out a little laugh and compares her to his family dog. That puts her off, until he says that Ddoong-ja (“Chubby”) is his best friend.

Mi-ho wants to be his best friend too, and he humors her by saying he’ll keep it a secret from the dog (who would get jealous). Patting her hair like she’s a dog, he shakes her hand as though it’s a paw.

Dae-woong and Mi-ho hang the fixed sign on the building, which is when they see Min-sook arriving with a drunk Doo-hong, whom she drags inside with much difficulty. Min-sook is NOT in a romantic mood, and all this trouble has got her on a short fuse.

She can’t get in contact with Dae-woong, so she deposits the director on the rug, and happens to catch a glimpse of Dae-woong’s phone. The background photo is of Hye-in, and Min-sook assumes this must be the girl he’s living with. (I’m sure we all see the sign that reads WARNING: Plot shenanigans ahead!)

Min-soo starts to rise, but finds that she can’t. Her butt is stuck to the carpet — with glue! Without a better option, she leaves her pants on the carpet and goes home wearing his trench coat.

With the director snoring away in the loft, Dae-woong and Mi-ho decide to spend the night in the gym. Mi-ho’s curious about this whole movie business, particularly the ones that involve non-human beings. Are there any of those stories where the non-human falls in love with a human, marries, and lives happily ever after?

Commence reenactment! Dae-woong cites one movie between a female ghost and a man, but she doesn’t like the ending because the female ghost disappears, “since she’s not human.” Mi-ho clarifies, “What about one without a stupid girl like that?”


Thinking again, Dae-woong comes up with vampire movies — say, the kind where a sexy vampire (that would be him in the reenactment) seduces an innocent human (Mi-ho), and they fall in love. But instead of marrying, as Mi-ho would like, the vampire is hit by sunlight and goes poof.

She asks for a movie with a happy ending, disappointed when his examples all end with death. Dae-woong gets a little kick out of teasing her, but seeing how she’s genuinely bummed, he tells her that’s just a movie, and reminds her that they’re friends. Hoi-hoi!

Dae-woong can’t think of any examples that end well for the non-human, so she decides she’ll have to ask the “very smart Teacher Dong-joo” for an example. At mention of this name, Dae-woong’s attitude changes, particularly as she extols Dong-joo’s virtues, though he can’t admit that he’s jealous. Acting like he doesn’t care, he tells her to go ask him then. Fine. Harrumph. Whatever.

Not picking up on his tone, Mi-ho answers readily that she already told Dong-joo she’d be by often. When she asks Dae-woong what type of movie he’s filming, he retorts, “Why don’t you ask your Teacher Dong-joo? He may be really smart, but I bet he won’t know that.” Oh, you!

Dae-woong sleeps on a tall stack of mats, while Mi-ho sleeps next to that on a lower mat. In the morning, his body hangs close to the edge of the mat, and Mi-ho chants, “Fall… fall…” and wills him to roll down to her mat.

He doesn’t budge, so she gives him a hand (er, foot) by kicking the stack so he rolls down to her mat, at which point she eagerly snuggles up to him. AS IF I DIDN’T LOVE HER ENOUGH ALREADY.

Unfortunately for her, Director Doo-hong has also awakened — finding himself on the rug next to Min-sook’s glued trousers — and heads to the school to look for Dae-woong.

This cuts short her moment of basking in Dae-woong’s (admittedly unknowing) embrace, and Mi-ho quickly hides out of sight. That doesn’t stop her from glowering at Doo-hong for ruining her moment, though.

In frustration, she kicks the wall, which sends the precariously hung sign crashing down. It hits Doo-hong on the head, and although he isn’t knocked unconscious, it does jolt his memory back, and he recalls being drunk and inappropriate with Min-sook. Goodbye blissful ignorance, hello shame.

Dae-woong returns to the loft and finds Mi-ho eating more meat, and notes the dirty frying pan with chagrin. He tells her to start washing up after herself, and suggests working out a system of living together.

He’d promised the director to look after the action school in exchange for staying here, but seeing as he’s quite busy, he proposes that Mi-ho take on the role of groundskeeper. Understanding the way to her heart, he makes it a point to stress that the position he’s offering her is something reserved for people, which, naturally, makes her eager to do it.

Funny enough, the one instruction she grimaces at is the one to use elevated language (jondaemal) with elders. All this time, Mi-ho has been using banmal with everyone, which appears rude. She protests, saying it chafes her pride to use jondaemal, because she’s a gumiho who has lived much longer.

Dae-woong’s solution? He bows and says in honorifics, “Then please preserve your pride, Gumiho Grandmother,” and she bursts out that she’ll do it. HA. I love that they can manipulate each other equally.

She brags about her new position to Dong-joo, happy that Dae-woong is treating her like a human. Dong-joo guides her through a bookstore to show her more examples of stories involving non-humans.

Flipping through a book with a photo of a panda, she marvels at all the animals she hasn’t seen before. He says knowingly, “There are a lot of things to eat, aren’t there?” She snaps (defensively?), “I wasn’t looking because I wanted to eat it!”

There’s one section she knows about already, and she smiles as she picks up a magazine. She declares, “Mating!” and we see the title: Hustler. HAHAHA.

Dong-joo points her toward the fairy tale section and picks out the Little Mermaid for her as an example of a character who wanted to turn human. He gives it to her as a gift and tells her to read it.

Doo-hong is so impressed with Dae-woong’s fighting sequences that he increases his scenes in the movie. Alas, those scenes have to come at someone else’s expense, and in this case it’s his daughter’s. An agitated Sun-nyeo bursts into the room, ineffectually held back by Byung-soo, to complain about her role being shrunk. (I haven’t mentioned it much because they’re not very plot-significant, but I do enjoy this pair. I like that idol star Hyo-min is playing a dork, and that Byung-soo is the beta male’s even beta-er sidekick.)

Sun-nyeo also asks pointedly if Dad really spent the night at Dae-woong’s — rather than, say, with some hussy — and Dae-woong reads the look in the director’s eye and confirms it.

When Hye-in arrives to ask for a moment with the director, the air is strained between them. Dae-woong leaves to give them room, but doesn’t acknowledge her.

He joins his friends outside, where Sun-nyeo pokes and prods about his deal with Mi-ho. He had told them Mi-ho was nobody and had gone out of his way to hide her, so what’s going on?

Since Dae-woong has decided to stop hiding her, he comes clean and declares, “From now on, Mi-ho is my girlfriend.” As he walks off, Hye-in overhears the announcement.

Oh no, princess, whatever will you do without your vassal-on-a-puppet-string jumping at your every whim? (Truth be told, I never like Hong Sisters second leads, but they are such delicious fun to hate.)

Grandpa drops by the action school where Mi-ho is busily engaged in her new cleaning duties, which he reads as an indication of her kind character. He’s a little alarmed when Mi-ho picks up a meat skewer she has dropped, intending to eat it, but is relieved when she drops it again (she remembers that Dae-woong instructed her not to eat things off the ground).

The shaky sign falls from the wall again, and Mi-ho leaps to stop it from hitting Grandpa, earning her some more brownie points in his book.

Because of her promise to speak politely, Mi-ho upgrades her speech enough that Grandpa is pleased with her address. He heaps praise on her and offers her some organic juice (which makes her grimace — ugh, vegetables!).

He asks some basic questions about herself and fills in the blanks himself. For instance, he clucks in pity to hear she doesn’t have parents. When he gives her a second bottle of juice, she asks if she can give it to someone else in a bid to avoid drinking it. Instead, he interprets that as proof of her generosity. (Ah, we really do see what we want to believe, don’t we?)

Dae-woong drops by home and indulges in a little complaining — his home is pleasant and nice, while the action school has its share of discomforts — which is designed to loosen Grandpa’s purse strings. Thanks to his pleasant interaction with Mi-ho, Grandpa’s feeling quite generous and agrees to let Dae-woong have use of his car, and to reinstate his credit card.

Mission accomplished, Dae-woong drops by the department store with his old friend Mr. Plastic, and goes on a shopping spree. Admittedly he doesn’t think of buying Mi-ho anything until a free gift gives him a cell phone ornament, but he decides to buy her a phone as well.

In a great mood, Dae-woong comes home intending to give Mi-ho her gift right away. However, he notices the book in her hands, which she identifies as a gift from Dong-joo.

Immediately his mood sours, and instead of handing her the phone, he just brings out some beef he bought. So petty, little man-child.

Doo-hong has an awkward meeting with Min-sook, where she returns his coat and he returns her pants. He’s too mortified to make an overture or ask her to stay, so she gets up to go in a miffed mood.

However, Min-sook is particularly accident-prone around Doo-hong, and this time is no different: She collides with a waitress and juice splatters all over her white outfit. Humiliated and feeling rejected, she bemoans her awful luck, about to break down in the middle of the cafe.

Doo-hong swoops in to cover her with his coat in a chivalrous gesture, which reveals his patched-up arms. HILARIOUSLY, the medicated patches aren’t because he’s hurt — he explains that since she said she likes their smell (which she’d said to be polite), he put them all over himself.

Apologizing for his lack of glibness, he bows respectfully and turns to leave. But this admission gives her the encouragement she needs, and Min-sook shyly asks him to stay with her and talk. And thus begins the romance (officially) between this bumbling pair.

Back at the loft, Dae-woong spots Mi-ho’s book lying around, and is provoked enough to use it as a coaster for the frying pan. Ha! Not jealous at all, are we?

He feigns ignorance and pretends he didn’t know he was using her book when she looks at the scorch mark it creates. But Mi-ho’s not upset — in fact, she enjoys having her book imbued with the aroma of meat. Petty revenge thwarted!

He tells her to eat up, but she tells him she already ate tons of meat for lunch — at Dong-joo’s. Irritated, he sniffs that she ought to be best friends with Dong-joo instead of him, then.

In her artless way, she tries to explain why that’s not possible: “If I have to make a comparison, then Teacher Dong-joo is just meat, and you’re cow meat.” Snort! Only in this drama would that be a romantic declaration, and one that makes me aww.

Dae-woong is mollified, then tests the waters by adding that he’d be okay being at chicken level. She assures him, “No, Dae-woong, you’re my very favorite Korean beef!” Thumbs-up.

Gah, not only is the sentiment adorable, so is the way that this totally dissolves Dae-woong’s miffed mood. It cheers him up so much that he decides he’s ready to give her that other present after all, and tells her to retrieve it from inside.

Once indoors, a phone starts to ring, and Mi-ho follows the sound to the source. When she answers the phone, Dae-woong tells her that this is her phone. Furthermore, he points out the dangling bead ornament — it’s his gift to her, since she gave him her bead.

Mi-ho is so thrilled that she doesn’t have the words for it, and there’s no reply when Dae-woong asks if she likes it. But that’s because she’s running outside, overcome with happiness.

She launches herself at him and hugs him, thanking him for treating her like a human and giving her gifts that people give to other people. The sudden hug takes him by surprise, and there’s a little extra awareness mixed in — awareness that unnerves and surprises him.

Mi-ho runs off to test the phones from a distance, and he finds himself waving to her automatically before catching himself. Perturbed, he wonders if he’s crazy to be so excited to be called a piece of meat.

Meanwhile. Hye-in’s manager gives her tickets to a VIP movie screening and tells her to go with Dae-woong. The manager hopes Hye-in can sway him into signing with their company, although Hye-in evades the topic now that she knows she’s lost her hold over him.

At the loft, Dae-woong rehearses his lines while Mi-ho reads her book. She relates the basic plot of The Little Mermaid, and Dae-woong isn’t blind to the thematic similarities. For instance, the mermaid saved the man, whom she likes, but her feelings aren’t reciprocated.

Dae-woong says defensively that the mermaid hid her true identity, but Mi-ho identifies with the situation and argues that she had a reason for not telling him.

Taking this opportunity to test Dae-woong’s reaction, she asks if the man would like the mermaid back if she admitted she could become human. The answer isn’t the one she wants to hear, as Dae-woong guesses no. He reaches for the book to check the ending, but she grabs it and insists that she’ll read the book on her own. Mi-ho wishes for the mermaid to become human and live happily ever after.

Dae-woong knows the story is tragic, and finds himself worrying about Mi-ho’s reaction to finding out the ending. Finally he gets up, takes the book while Mi-ho is sleeping, and rips out the last part. YA BIG SOFTIE.

Meanwhile, Emo Gumiho Hunter flips through his own copy of the book, musing that the most difficult moment for Mi-ho will be in deciding whether to die herself, or to kill the one she loves.

The next day, Mi-ho is distressed upon discovering her missing page(s). But she doesn’t know how it ends yet!

Dae-woong offers to tell her the ending, ignoring how Mi-ho claps her hand over her ears in protest, and declares, “IT ENDS HAPPILY.” He starts to sing a line from “Under the Sea,” telling her that there’s a famous movie about this story, and the mermaid becomes human, marries her prince, gets the baddies, and lives happily ever after.

This renews her hope, and she breathes a huge sigh of relief. (I take from her reaction that despite not knowing for sure, she suspects it does not end well.)

Now that the subject of movies has been broached, Dae-woong suggests that they go watch one sometime. How about today?

Anything that humans do is welcomed by Mi-ho, so she looks forward to their plans to meet up later that evening at the theater.

Mi-ho shows Dong-joo her phone and says happily, “I’m going to become like the mermaid.” That doesn’t quite add up, so Dong-joo asks if she read the whole book. She says no, but Dae-woong told her everyone winds up happy.

He wishes her a fun first date, and Mi-ho wonders what she can do in preparation. Dong-joo rattles off all the usual activities, all of which she’s unable to do — pay, hold sparkling conversation, be amusing. All she can do is dress up and look pretty.

She’s not satisfied with that (that’s my girl!) and asks if there’s anything more she can do, so Dong-joo advises her to give Dae-woong something he likes.

She mulls this over as she walks home, which is when her supersensory hearing picks up on the distressed cries of the chicken shop ajumma. The woman is arguing with a group of thugs at a billiard hall who refuse to pay for their order.

The ajumma screams at them to pay, which prompts one thug to throw a tissue box at her — which is intercepted by Mi-ho. If there’s something Mi-ho understands, it’s the importance of paying for your meat, and she stands with the chicken lady to teach them a lesson.

We don’t see the fight itself, but the next thing you know, the men bow meekly and hand over the cash, sporting wounds.

Nothing like a gangster brawl to forge some bonds, and afterward the chicken ajumma offers to cook up a chicken for her. You know it’s serious bizness when Mi-ho turns down chicken to get ready for a date. Ajumma looks Mi-ho up and down and offers to lend a hand — she’s on her way to get a perm, and takes Mi-ho with her.

I’m going to assume from the context and the reactions that Mi-ho’s hair is supposed to look good, but let’s just say that requires a bit of suspended disbelief. Example: When Dae-woong gets his first look at her that evening at the VIP screening, he has that dumbfounded look that suggests surprised approval.

Even Sun-nyeo gives her grudging props for her looks (“You went to some effort today”), and Mi-ho returns the compliment.

While Dae-woong is away getting drinks for everyone, Sun-nyeo spots Mi-ho’s new phone and oohs over it. The wallpaper is set to the picture of the mermaid, and Mi-ho says she’s going to become like her. Sun-nyeo asks, puzzled, “Are you saying you’ll die?”

Mi-ho realizes that her idea of the story is the wrong one, and her mood takes a further hit when Byung-soo clarifies that it’s not so much that the mermaid died, but disappeared.

When Dae-woong rejoins them, he hears that Mi-ho went off to buy a book downstairs, and heads to the lobby to look for her.

There, he runs into Hye-in, and they’re both tired of the tension between them and suggest that they should try to be on good terms. It’s not a romantic conversation, but in light of her latest revelation, Mi-ho interprets it in a different way.

Dae-woong turns in time to see Mi-ho standing in the glass elevator, holding a new copy of the book, but rather than stepping out, she stays in as the elevator doors close.

The lights and the bubbles — courtesy of a passing troop of schoolchildren — produce a lovely effect that syncs with the theme, which is narrated to us by Dong-joo as Mi-ho ascends:

Dong-joo: “The mermaid watched the happy prince with the woman he loved, turned into a bubble, and disappeared entirely into the air.”

Mi-ho finds a seat on the roof and sits glumly with her book. Thinking Dae-woong wants Hye-in, she tells herself, “I decided to give him something he likes, so I have to stay here.”

Dae-woong finds her and closes the book. Mi-ho says he lied to her: “She never becomes happy, does she? She disappears, right?”

He kneels down in front of her and says warmly, “She doesn’t disappear. She survives and lives happily. Don’t listen to anyone else — my words are true, so just trust in them.”

And slowly, she smiles.

 
COMMENTS

Seriously? I might just be dead from all the sweetness.

What I love about all the cute moments is that they aren’t there purely to stoke the romantic flames. Some of them are, and I got a huge laugh out of Mi-ho kicking Dae-woong off the mat so she could cuddle with him, because honestly? Where else would you see that happen? A woman who is frank about her wants and not coy about them is a rare thing in a kdrama, and the gumiho aspect gives this one a great framing device for Mi-ho’s directness about her feelings for Dae-woong. And as girlfriday said in a previous recap, it’s also clever in the way it works with the existing gumiho lore about the sexually forward woman — only, with a friendly twist.

But there are plenty of moments where it’s as much about friendship and plain ol’ caring. Dae-woong is making all the stuff up about Mi-ho being his best friend, but I’ll bet at some point he’ll be startled to realize that she has actually become that to him. The ripping out of the storybook pages and his last words in this episode are out of concern and, dare I say it, love. Yeah, I said the L word, but I mean it in a platonic sense. It’s the kind of deeply thoughtful thing you do for a beloved friend — trying to shield them from emotional distress because the thought of their pain brings you pain — not just something you do for someone who makes your heart go thumpity-thump.

It’s interesting that the drama has built this gumiho-turns-human bit around 100 days, which is a significant number in Korean culture. The 100-day birthday is a baby’s first milestone, which is taken from back in those days when the infant mortality rates were high. If you made it past the first 100 days of life, you’d crossed a big hurdle, and that was celebrated. 100 days is also the first big marker in a dating relationship, and the first big “event” that couples commemorate.

The drama is taking a bit from both sides — the romantic sense and the human-survival sense.

RELATED POSTS

192 September 2, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 8

by girlfriday

“She works hard for the money / So haaaard for it honey / She works hard for the money / So you better treat her right.” Never truer words, my friend. This episode, Mi-ho learns the value of a Dollar Won, and Dae-woong learns the value of a gift from the heart.

The last episode’s Little Mermaid metaphor just worked on all counts for me, but more than the metaphor itself, I loved Dae-woong stepping up to be a hero, to shield her heart from the tragic ending in her fairy tale. In this episode he continues to step up when it counts, and Mi-ho? She just continues to be awesome.

 
EPISODE 8 RECAP

Dae-woong tells Mi-ho that The Little Mermaid ends happily, and to believe his words, not anyone else’s. He sweetly wipes a tear from her eye, as he says, “So don’t cry; it’ll rain.” Swoon. His sudden assertiveness since the last episode, especially about the ending of that book…it KILLS me.

They get up to go, and she leaves the book behind. Aw.

They missed the premiere, so Dae-woong stands in line to get tickets to another movie (Cyrano Dating Agency. Jealous.) While waiting for him, Mi-ho sees another couple on a date, and starts mimicking their actions. She sees the girl primping, and making cheesy wink-and-finger-guns gestures at her boyfriend, so she does the same to Dae-woong.

When she sees them share a drink with two straws, she gulps down her soda and then surreptitiously sticks her straw in Dae-woong’s drink, lying in wait. How cute. Dae-woong jumps back when he sees her, and scolds her for stealing his soda. Stupid boy.

Next, she sees the couple walking together, and the girl has her arm around the guy’s waist. So Mi-ho follows suit, putting her arm around Dae-woong, and reaching her hand (Omo) right into his pocket. Rawr!

He jumps, clasping his hand over hers. She smiles up at him like, hey baby. God, I love her. He’s startled at first, but then smiles right away, saying, “You couldn’t wait?” And then to her dismay, out of his pocket, he pulls out…a sausage! PWAHAHAHAHAHA.

A sausage? In your pocket? You have a Sausage in Your Pocket. I can’t…even….my head is about to explode from the number of jokes that are clamoring to get out. Suffice it to say, the man’s not squeamish about pulling a tiny sausage out of his pants. Pffft. Yes, I am twelve. I know.

Mi-ho gets foiled time and again for her attempts at skinship, but then during the movie Dae-woong tries to take a piece of popcorn out of her hair, and she manages to take charge of his arm for the rest of the show. Afterwards she tells him that dates are fun, and Dae-woong balks at her use of “Date.” He declares (protesting too much, I doth say), that this isn’t a date; it’s a walk, like taking the dog for a walk. And instead of taking her by the hand like she asks, he leads her away by her bag strap like a dog. Sigh.

They end up in the electronics department of the mall, where Mi-ho marvels at all the strange new gadgets, and Dae-woong stops in front of a display, drooling over the camcorder he’s been wanting. Dae-woong’s amused that she finds all the newfangled appliances interesting, so he uses the opportunity to poop on Dong-joo Teacher’s range of knowledge. He tells her that the stereo is a mind-reading device, the bathroom scale is an age-indicator, and the calculator is a human-remote.

He plays a trick on her with the vacuum like it’s eating his hand, so she rescues him by throwing it on the ground, where it breaks into pieces. He’s forced to purchase it in penance.

While waiting for him, Mi-ho runs over to the fans, playing with the sound of her voice and letting her hair fly in the breeze. Dae-woong sees her, and in a moment of reverie, says to himself that he was silly to think she would ever eat him up. He muses that like this, she looks just like a normal girl, and realizes that his mind keeps forgetting—that she isn’t. He watches her, and his heart starts to beat in his ears, and he begins to see her in a new light.

He snaps himself out of it, and turns the fan off (as if that’s the source of his feelings, HA) and walks away. He keeps looking back at her, knowing what he’s feeling, and we can see his mental process as he convinces himself that he’s crazy for even thinking it. I love that this entire process, from the discovery of his feelings, to the denial, is delivered silently, but we can read it plainly all over his face.

Hye-in meets with Byung-soo and Sun-nyeo, plying them with lunch to get information about Mi-ho. She finds out that Mi-ho doesn’t go to school or have a job, and since she knows that Director Ban is chasing her for the lead role in the movie, her antennae go up about Mi-ho’s unusual stunt abilities. She wonders if that night at Dae-woong’s place, Mi-ho actually jumped off the roof…but then realizes that would be crazy…

At home, Dae-woong grills up some meat while Mi-ho sits in front of the fan. Thankfully, her perm wasn’t very permanent at all, although she wishes it had lasted longer. Dae-woong watches her warily, almost willing her to keep doing crazy things, to disabuse him of the idea that he could develop feelings for a gumiho.

She asks when they’ll go on more dates, saying that she likes to do stuff with him, and Dae-woong asks her leading questions like, “You like me because I buy you meat, right? You like meat, therefore you like me.” He declares that he’s going to stop buying meat, thinking she’ll decide that she doesn’t like him, but to his dismay, she says it’s regrettable, but she’ll deal. Heh.

He starts overreacting that she’s a gumiho—how can she be so cavalier about him not buying her beef? He tells her that she should be scary and threaten him—she’ll scare, he’ll be frightened, and he’ll REMEMBER that she’s a gumiho, and not a human. Mi-ho says that she doesn’t want to scare him anymore, and to just think of her as a person then. He’s not having any of that. “You’re a gumiho! You’ve got to live up to your tails. You have nine of them!”

He forces her to act the part, so they go through the motions of taking away her beef, threatening to eat him up, then fearing for his life. Mi-ho pouts, and Dae-woong goes to bed chanting to himself that the lines have to be kept clear, and he repeats over and over, “Gumiho, gumiho.”

Dong-joo, Fairy Godmother, wakes up from a nightmare about his long-lost love, Mi-ho’s doppelganger from centuries past. In the dream she tells him that she’s fallen in love with a man and asks for a way to become human. He then tells her to kill the man that she loves, which she can’t do. She asks Dong-joo to kill her instead, and he complies. He wakes up shaking and in tears. Gold star and dance of joy for those of you who guessed this angle on the backstory.

Dae-woong puts up a countdown board for the remaining days of their contract. He tries to convince himself that this helps put things in their place and tries his best to put some distance between himself and Mi-ho. He explains to her that this is the extent of their relationship, and that when the 100 days are over, he won’t concern himself with where she goes or what she does. He leaves and she waves goodbye, which he forces her to change to a threatening fist wave instead, and acts out his part of the fearful human, promising to bring home beef. Mi-ho frowns at his coldness.

She goes to see Dong-joo Teacher, and wonders if she should just tell Dae-woong that she wants to be human. Dong-joo, bitter from his nightmares, tells her that she shouldn’t expect Dae-woong’s affections, since she has nothing that humans want—money, talent, ways to get money, etc. He spits out angrily that he can’t understand why she would want to give up being a special, powerful being, to be a lowly human. Interesting. I like this angle on his character a little more, although if he’s so against it, I don’t know why he helped her so willingly.

Mi-ho wonders if he’s feeling okay, and puts a hand on his cheek and asks sweetly if he’s sad. His tears well up, but he says nothing. She offers him the vegetable juice that she was saving for Dae-woong, and leaves. It’s nice that both men are becoming increasingly affected by Mi-ho in different ways, and against their will, at that.

Hye-in and Dae-woong both get called to meet with Director Ban, and while waiting in his office Hye-in decides to pull some shenanigans in order to break the ice with Dae-woong. She purposely trips and knocks over a bunch of DVDs (the severity of which I don’t get, really) and they scheme to put them back while distracting the director. This suffices to get them talking on friendly terms again.

Mi-ho goes back to the department store and looks at the camcorder that Dae-woong wanted. She fantasizes about buying it for him, earning his respect as a human and making him happy all at once.

At home, Dae-woong looks at his ring and at the calendar, sighing that only 93 days remain, and that time is passing faster than he’d thought. Aw.

He wonders why Mi-ho isn’t home, so he calls her. But Mi-ho is busy washing dishes at a restaurant, so that she can earn some money for the camcorder. Dae-woong sits at home waiting and waiting, growing annoyed at the thought that she might be hanging out with Dong-joo. Heh.

He even considers calling Dong-joo, but decides against it for the sake of his pride. She finally calls him back, and the concern is audible in his voice. He asks where she is, but all he gets is a curt, “I’m busy. Don’t call me. Don’t wait up.” She hangs up to get back to work, leaving him stunned and yelling at his cell phone in disbelief. He says with pettiness, “See if I ever call you again!”

And then he waits up for her all night. Kyah, so cute!

He calls her again. Mi-ho: “Why are you calling me? I’m busy.” Dae-woong: “You’re a girl and you’re out at all hours of the night.” Mi-ho: “Woong-ah, I’m a gumiho.” He catches himself forgetting again, and swears he’ll never call again. He takes the battery out of his phone, and goes to bed.

He wakes up in the morning to find that she’s home, but she gets ready and leaves again right away. Dae-woong insists that it’s not like he was waiting or anything, but he wants to know what she’s doing. She doesn’t have time to talk, and rushes off saying that she’s busy. I sort of love that the tables are turned now, and he waits around for her, stewing in his own feelings.

He eats alone, complaining that she’s late again today, and lets out a deep sigh as he crosses another day off the calendar. Poor puppy. He calls her again, but this time she has her phone off.

He wakes up in the morning to discover that she never even came home last night. He thinks again about calling Dong-joo, but decides he can’t, and just then, Mi-ho walks in. He grabs her by the wrist (oy, Woong-ah) and demands to know where she’s been. “Have you been with Dong-joo all this time?” She smiles, finally having the upper hand, and declares that she has. He tells her if she’s going to be out every night, to get out, and without skipping a beat, she says she’ll go to Dong-joo then. “If you’re regular cow, then Dong-joo is wild cow!” Hahahaha.

This is of course a dream, but it’s awesomely telling. He wakes up and chastises himself for dreaming such things. He decides it’s because he’s been waiting up for a gumiho—it’s causing him to dream crazy cow dreams. He regretfully crosses another day off the calendar and convinces himself that he’s better off not concerning himself with her.

Mi-ho counts her money with the chicken shop ajumma, and pouts that earning money is hard. The ajumma notes that she’s a good eater, so she’s got the perfect job for her. She takes her to the set of the home shopping channel, where they’re filming a commercial for beef. All they have to do as extras is eat meat—the perfect job for Mi-ho. She does so happily, and Dae-woong meanwhile misses her television debut, while wondering where the hell she is.

Byung-soo notices Mi-ho onscreen, and Dae-woong is shocked to see her, while annoyed that she looks like she’s having the time of her life (heh). He sees Director Ban and his aunt on their way in, so he blocks the tv from their view.

He goes home to find Mi-ho waiting for him, and she declares that it’s been forever since they’ve seen each other, and she’s missed him. That appeases him a little, but he still petulantly tells her that she looked like she was having fun eating on tv with the chicken shop ajumma, and that she can spend all her time with Dong-joo if she pleases, but to answer her phone.

She says that there were too many grill plates to answer the phone, outing the real reason she’s been so busy. She tells him that she’s been working hard to make money, so that she could buy him the thing he really wanted—the thing he picked out that day after the movies. He’s so impressed with her that he can’t help but smile, and she declares that he’s going to be so surprised by his gift, and runs upstairs to get it.

He waits with a chuckle, saying there’s no surprise if you tell him what the gift is. She bounds upstairs and with much fanfare, she presents him with…

…the SIGN for the camcorder that he wanted! AHAHAHAHAHA! Oh my god…she thought he wanted the SIGN! I’m seriously busting a gut here.

Dae-woong totally sees why her very literal mind interpreted things this way, and he very sweetly doesn’t let on that she’s bought him the wrong thing. He praises her gift-giving skills, and tells her proudly that he’ll put it right next to his bed, and it’s the very thing he’s always wanted. AW.

He asks her if it was hard earning money, and when she tells him how much the restaurant paid her for washing dishes, he’s shocked, and marches over there to give the owner a piece of his mind. He gets the remaining wages out of him and hands it over to Mi-ho. She frowns that he must’ve taken advantage of her because she seemed stupid, but Dae-woong reassures her that she’s not stupid—she’s just different, because she’s a gumiho. He tells her not to let her tails droop.

Hye-in buys herself that same camcorder, and decides to buy one for Dae-woong too. Sun-nyeo conveniently lets slip another piece of information: that Dae-woong isn’t so much healed from his accident, as working through the pain, “for love,” because of Mi-ho. Hye-in grumbles at that.

Dae-woong heads into the studio for a costume test, and tells Mi-ho to wait for him, and that he’ll take her out to eat tonight. She perks up, saying, “A date?” He tells her it’s going out for a walk, and she frowns.

Director Ban and Aunt Min-sook come back from a lunch date, and she hooks her arm into his as they coo back and forth at each other. But then Sun-nyeo appears with Hye-in around the corner, and Doo-hong freaks out, pushing Min-sook away with such force that she ends up flying a few feet and landing on the floor. Sun-nyeo comes bounding up, commanding Daddy’s attention, and Doo-hong can’t bring himself to acknowledge Min-sook in front of his daughter. Min-sook agonizes over her plight.

Hye-in happens to see her and asks if she’s okay. Min-sook recognizes her face from Dae-woong’s phone, so she asks if she’s Dae-woong’s girlfriend. Hye-in cops to just being a friend, but when Min-sook admits to knowing very little about said girlfriend, she sees an opportunity. Hye-in lays it on thick that she’s not one to judge, but she thinks that Mi-ho latched onto Dae-woong with a plan to use him for his money, and tells Min-sook that Dae-woong was seriously injured, but is continuing to do the movie at Mi-ho’s urging. Gah, hateful bug-eyed girl!

She gets up, proud of herself for her masterful meddling, but then jumps out of her skin to find Mi-ho standing right behind her. Awesome. Mi-ho confronts her about her lies, and when Hye-in defends her position, Mi-ho resorts to scaring her. Love it.

Hye-in leaves in a huff, wishing she would’ve said more. She decides to use the camcorder to send a message to Mi-ho. It gets delivered to the house, and Mi-ho opens it up, to realize that this is what Dae-woong actually wanted. She looks at her gift, and Hye-in’s, and it dawns on her just how lacking hers is. Breaks my heart. Couldn’t you just let them pretend, Show?

Across town, Min-sook tells Grandpa about Dae-woong’s accident and Mi-ho’s involvement in pushing him to do the movie against the doctor’s wishes. Grandpa fumes.

Mi-ho goes to see Dong-joo, and she tells him glumly that she thought she was just different, but she realized today just how lacking she is. Dong-joo tells her that even if she becomes human, she can’t be with Dae-woong. With other people, who just think she’s dumb or short a few marbles, she can learn and get by, but with Dae-woong who knows that she’s fundamentally different, it’ll never work. She hangs her head in defeat.

As Dae-woong finishes his work, he turns down Byung-soo’s invitation to go out, saying he received a gift from Mi-ho, so he’s going to bring home some beef, the cut of which is called “flower.” Byung-soo thinks it’s amusing that Dae-woong is bringing home flower beef instead of flowers, and Dae-woong insists that “my Mi-ho is different,” and that she doesn’t like flowers. Or…wait…he realizes that he doesn’t really know, since he never asked.

So he comes home, wielding a giant bouquet of flowers. Adorable. He pauses in the entryway, thinking it’s a little ridiculous to present flowers to a gumiho, but then he sees his camcorder sign in the trash. He brings it back in, and sees Hye-in’s gift, realizing that Mi-ho must’ve found out that her gift wasn’t exactly what he had wanted.

Mi-ho comes home later that night, and is surprised to walk into a darkened apartment. In the middle of the room is one floodlight, above the camcorder sign. Dae-woong steps out from behind it, and asks why she threw it away. She says it wasn’t what he wanted, which he acknowledges—it wasn’t what he originally wanted, but it’s a gift from her, so now it’s what he wants, and he’ll learn to like it.

With that, he presents her with the flowers. She lights up, saying that she loves them, and he’s surprised to see that against his preconceptions, she does like flowers like a regular girl. He says that he didn’t know, since she’s different, but he’s glad that she likes his gift. Mi-ho still lingers on the fact that she didn’t get him the gift that he wanted. He corrects her—she’s wrong about that, just as he was wrong about what her likes and dislikes are. He declares that they’ll correct those things by learning about each other, and living to match their tastes. Gah. WHY ARE YOU SO CUTE?

Mi-ho says that from now on, she’ll ask him everything, and true to form, she starts right away.

Mi-ho: Right now, how much are you afraid of me?
Dae-woong: Honestly, I’m not afraid of you at all. I was pretending before.
Mi-ho: Do you hate being with me?
Dae-woong: Honestly, I don’t hate it. I guess I’ve gotten used to you.
Mi-ho: Then…from now on…is it possible that you could start to like me? Even if I’m different from you, couldn’t you…like me?

Dae-woong looks up at her darling face, brimming with eagerness at his response. He gulps, weighing it in his mind. And as he starts to think that maybe he really could, a petal falls from the bouquet and he catches it in his hand. He clasps it, about to respond…

…when Grandpa charges in, breaking up the moment. Aw, Grandpa! Couldn’t you have waited like THIRTY SECONDS?

He declares that it’s over—they’re to break up, and growls at Dae-woong to pack his bags. Ruh-roh!

COMMENTS

I love how fast we’re progressing plot-wise, and yet how slowly the relationship is developing between our leads. They’re slowly learning how to trust each other, how to figure out what the other person wants—it’s such a realistic portrayal of what happens in a real relationship, once you get past the puppy love stuff, when trying to figure out how to live together in the real world. Well, minus the supernatural stuff. But that’s why I love this kind of story—because the “difference” that they’re speaking of is such a great metaphor for the distance we go as human beings to truly understand one another.

Hye-in bugs me, of course, but she doesn’t bug me as much as a classic second lead, because she really has no traction here. There’s no room for her in this couple, and her ploys always fall flat, and so far, they usually serve to give our couple yet another excuse to bond, so as a plot device, I’m all for Hye-in.

Her latest stunt with the family will probably muck things up for a little while though, seeing as how Grandpa seems more irate than the time his precious fish died. I would think Dae-woong could find a way to reason with him, but I wouldn’t mind a little angst to separate them for a little while, as long as it made them miss each other like crazy.

I love that Mi-ho is consistently open about her feelings for Dae-woong and that she isn’t afraid to ask him the kinds of things that it would take other drama heroines centuries to put into words, if ever at all. It’s so refreshing to have them both be so forthright, because the source of angst for them is in the mythological, not the mundane. As long as that giant elephant is still in the room—love or death—then the little conflicts are free to be resolved and we don’t have to feel like the little misunderstandings that drive other drama plots are running this one. See? I love this show for reasons other than the cuteness. I swear.

Oh, who are we kidding. If I had a stuffed doll of Lee Seung-gi’s left dimple, I’d nibble on it like Mi-ho with her stuffed chicken leg. Nom, nom.

RELATED POSTS

110 September 8, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 9

by javabeans

A cute episode, though not my particular favorite. We get some of the standard machinations of the supporting cast, and a few more wrenches thrown into the plot. Thankfully there are, as usual, a number of cute coupley moments to buoy us through these waters of Necessary Plot Complications.

Ratings: No big shakeups, so the numbers are as expected. All three dipped slightly, but I suspect Thursday will bring them back up: Baker King was still far in front with a 43.3%, while Gumiho stayed firmly in second with 10.8%. Playful Kiss (ouchhh) stayed at its low of 3.5%.

SONG OF THE DAY

Kim Gun-mo – “울랄라” (Ooh la la) from the My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho OST
[ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 9 RECAP

Angry Grandpa bursts in at a conveniently inconvenient moment, which is when Dae-woong is about to answer Mi-ho’s request to like her back. Thanks to the wily maneuverings of Bug-Eyed Bitter Betty, aka Hateful Hye-in, Grandpa and Min-sook are under the impression that Mi-ho is a crafty gold-digger who is pushing Dae-woong to endanger his health by doing the movie.

Grandpa orders them to break up and for Dae-woong to pack his bags. Dae-woong protests that he’s perfectly fine, and that “If I stay here with Mi-ho, absolutely nothing will be wrong!” Which, to them, sounds like he’s making excuses because he’s been blinded by twoo wuv. Or at least post-adolescent infatuation.

Waiting below, Mi-ho hears the dictate to separate with distress and rushes out to speak up, but her heart starts to act up. These pangs are part of her de-gumiho-ifying process, and she stops her in her tracks, frozen with pain.

Dae-woong stands up to the adults, saying that his grandfather was always telling him to “be a human” and a man, so how can he tell him to just quit? “I’m going to take responsibility through the end as you wished and not give up.”

The adults sputter in outrage, but they’ve come prepared with a contingency plan. After Dae-woong heads back to the loft, Grandpa shoots Min-sook a wink to signal the beginning of their planned bit.

Inside, Dae-woong finds Mi-ho slumped on the ground and asks what’s wrong. Just at that moment, a groan sounds from outside and Min-sook screams for Dae-woong. (Oh, I love that they’re playing off the overused scenario of a supposedly tough elderly man collapsing at the first sign of the hero’s opposition! How like these writers to make Grandpa a faker, subverting yet another familiar cliche.)

Dae-woong tells Mi-ho he’ll be back soon, then races outside to take Grandpa to the hospital, ironically leaving the real sick person behind while the healthy one feigns illness.

Mi-ho sits in pain, her blue eyes indicating that she’s losing control of her shape-shifting properties like she did on the boat, as a result of a prolonged separation from her fox bead.

As Mi-ho stumbles to her bed, she knocks the camcorder on the ground — which turns on and starts recording. She collapses and moans, “It hurts so much.”

In his Emo Lair, Emo Hair observes his slowly emptying sandglass and predicts that tonight marks “the first death.” Just as one of Mi-ho’s tails disappears. (Hm, interesting. It’s like a cat with nine lives…)

Mi-ho sees her tail fade and says, “I must really be dying.”

In the car, Grandpa reveals that he hadn’t truly collapsed, but uses that as emotional blackmail: if Dae-woong doesn’t want him to truly collapse, he’ll follow quietly.

Remembering Mi-ho, Dae-woong asks his aunt to pull over, and threatens to jump out to force her to stop. He tells them he’ll only confirm that she’s fine and then head home.

He runs all the way there, but when he gets to the loft he finds her looking much better, though her forehead is alarmingly cold. Mi-ho makes a few weak excuses that she’s better, and that it’s just because she worked too hard cleaning grills.

Now that he’s checked that she’s okay, Dae-woong has to go back home until he can be assured that his grandfather won’t fall ill again. Mi-ho tells him not to worry, and to come back “to our home” when Grandpa is better. It isn’t until Dae-woong turns his back that she lets herself grimace; she’d been hiding her pain for his benefit.

The words “our home” have a sobering effect on Dae-woong, who feels a jolt of surprise for letting himself feel so comfortable with her. Therefore he is conflicted when she asks if he’ll be able to return before her flowers wilt, because he doesn’t want to feel this attachment to this “home” they’ve cultivated together.

This also makes him remember the petal that fell from the bouquet, which I suppose can be interpreted in a few ways. In this scenario it serves as a reminder that there’s a time limit to how long he can hesitate, and that she can’t wait forever before she starts to wilt, too.

Then the lights start to flicker, which mirror Dae-woong’s indecision. His grandfather calls, and he interprets that as a warning to come back to his senses. After he leaves, Mi-ho finds that the light is out entirely — indicating that he has made his decision (for now).

Once back at his family mansion, Dae-woong reminds himself that this is his real home, where the lights are bright. He tries to convince himself that it’s better this way, with distance between himself and Mi-ho.

On the other hand, Mi-ho announces happily to Dong-joo that she lost her tail, so now she’s not a gumiho but a palmiho (gu = 9, pal = 8).

Dong-joo says it must have been incredibly painful. She agrees that it was, but has since forgotten the pain. Yet some of her cheer fades when he cautions that she’ll have to go through that pain eight more times, each time more severe than the last.

Mi-ho is reluctant to show her pain to Dae-woong because she can’t reveal her plan to become human yet. She is optimistic that she’ll be able to tell him soon, though, because Dae-woong is warming to her.

Dong-joo considers the flowers a good sign, but calls her request for Dae-woong to like her a mistake — it drove him to run away from her. (On one hand, I’m glad that the second lead isn’t clinging to her with lies, but on the other hand — dude, killjoy much? Let the girl bask in her flowers!)

Mi-ho has also had enough of this buzzkill, so she bursts out, “Teacher Dong-joo is bad! You’re a crap teacher!” The word she uses is literally “dog teacher” and he notes that she’s picked up on the Korean slang of adding “dog” to turn words into swears, and she puns right back that he’s a dog teacher literally (i.e., vet), which makes him a crap teacher as well.

As she visits with the chicken shop ajumma, Mi-ho plucks the petals off a flower, alternating between “He’ll return” and “He won’t return.” Unfortunately the flower predicts it is not to be, so she pouts in frustration… and then chews up the petal. LOL.

Chicken shop ajumma tells Mi-ho she’s done for if the in-laws have taken a stance against her. A similar scene unfolds on the drama playing on the TV, where a woman pleads with her future in-laws to accept her. Mi-ho watches in dismay, as all of those objections apply to her as well. For instance, she’s older than Dae-woong, and by at least six hundred and some years. Brings new meaning to the term noona-killer, huh?

Dae-woong has been unusually quiet over the past few days, which perplexes his grandfather and aunt. He’s trying to remind himself of Mi-ho’s true nature, because forgetting means he’s seeing her as a woman, which indicates growing attachment.

To this end, he loads a photo of a fox on his phone and tells himself that she’s a scary fox. But then he notes that the fox isn’t really scary after all. He thinks, “Its eyes are round and it’s cute… It kind of looks like Mi-ho.” (It might’ve worked if he actually picked an ugly photo, but he uses a damn cute one — he’s not even trying that hard to resist, is he?)

And then he suggests to the dog, Ddoong-ja, that he’ll take her to see Mi-ho. Excuses, excuses.

The block of ice that passes for Hye-in’s heart warms to hear that Grandpa heard about Dae-woong’s injury and insisted he return home. This gives her the opportunity to check out some of her suspicions, and she heads to the action school roof to see the spot where she thinks Mi-ho jumped. Noting how high it is, she decides it’s impossible.

She runs into Dae-woong, who arrives with the dog, and is put out to hear that he’s here to visit Mi-ho. He evades her questions about Mi-ho’s background, and this piques Hye-in’s curiosity even more.

Dae-woong retrieves the camcorder she gave him and returns it, which puts her in a mighty snit as she drives off angrily. She almost hits a pedestrian, but somehow avoids making contact, and looks up in shock to see Mi-ho standing there, perfectly safe.

I love that Mi-ho has taken to calling Hye-in “ahk-pul,” completely without irony and based on one of Dae-woong’s earlier explanations. The word means malicious internet comments, and Mi-ho figures it applies to Hye-in, since she’s a force who makes other people feel bad. (This is also why she calls chicken ajumma a fashionista, after one of Dae-woong’s wry remarks.)

Hye-in checks the camcorder to make sure it wasn’t broken, and therefore comes across the footage of Mi-ho with all of her tails out.

Not quite sure of the entire story but certain she’s on to something big, Hye-in beelines for the director’s office to ask about the woman he’s been looking for. She hears about the girl who can jump high and run superfast, then starts piecing the various facts together.

As luck would have it, her father happens to be a doctor, and she asks him to pull strings to get Dae-woong’s test results.

At the empty loft, Dae-woong finds Mi-ho’s phone, which she has left behind to charge. His mood turns annoyed to see that she’d called Dong-joo in the morning, and he leaves feeling rather miffed.

But not so miffed that he doesn’t indulge his curiosity — he heads for Dong-joo’s clinic. Not to see Mi-ho, oh of course not, but to get the dog checked out. Oh, you transparent boy. Your jealousy is showing.

After a brief checkup, Dae-woong leaves the clinic feeling better than when he arrived, because Mi-ho wasn’t here after all.

Dong-joo, on the other hand, wonders if this is indication that Dae-woong is starting to care more for Mi-ho. He’s not particularly pleased with the prospect and muses, “Will that human not betray her in the end, and die?”

Taking the reverse route, Mi-ho makes her way to Dae-woong’s mansion to see him. She waits on the front steps of his house for a while, but finally decides that she’d better not get caught by Grandpa and rises to leave.

Elsewhere in the neighborhood, Dae-woong trudges home, disappointed that he didn’t get to see Mi-ho and passing it off on the dog yet again. (He apologizes that Ddoong-ja didn’t get to see her, because apparently it would totally kill his pride and sense of equilibrium to just admit that he missed her, already.)

And, of course, they just avoid seeing each other as they turn adjacent corners. Argalkdhg;askdg. (Most hated cliche ever.)

But thankfully Ddoong-ja barks, and Dae-woong catches sight of something on the ground. Looking closely, the flower petals spell “Woong” — and not only that, they’ve been GLUED onto the ground. (I crack up at the thought of Mi-ho carrying around her tube of superglue, along with her flower bouquet, “groundskeeper” badge, tube of moisturizer, and other random personal effects.)

Dae-woong catches up to Mi-ho while she’s still in the neighborhood, and her face lights up at the sight of him. She launches herself at his chest, hugging him tightly. He doesn’t even protest much this time, smiling as she clings to him.


Dae-woong makes a half-hearted attempt to get her to stop hugging him, saying that there are a lot of “watching eyes” in this neighborhood. Adorably, Mi-ho jokingly covers his eyes in response.

When Mi-ho asks about his grandfather’s health, Dae-woong explains that he’d grown more fearful after his parents died in an accident. He’d been hurt as well and everyone thought he’d die too, and it was a miracle that he lived. Apparently Grandpa stayed by his side for 100 days holding his hand. Mi-ho smiles, “Then your grandfather was your fox bead.”

Commence cute date walk sequence!

Dae-woong shows Mi-ho how to play badminton — which she knocks out of the park, literally — and buys her a burger after seeing her drooling after another couple’s lunch. He even gives her his meat, making the excuse that he’s full — again I say, YOU BIG SOFTIE — and this time, she even shares it with the dog.


As their afternoon winds down, Dae-woong lets slip that he dropped by home, which excites her because it’s proof that he missed her. She wants to hear him say it out loud, though, and prods him to admit it.

Dae-woong blusters and denies it, but she can tell that she’s right. Enthusiastically, she declares that she missed him “so so so so soooo much!” and that she likes him “so so so so sooo much!” She caps this off with her awkward finger-guns.

Still, he’s not ready to admit his feelings, and he overreacts when his grandfather asks if he went to see Mi-ho because he missed her. Dae-woong bursts out, “I didn’t miss her at all! Seriously, what’s with everyone?” Smooooooth, dude.

Mi-ho sings to herself while skipping along, “Dae-woong said he missed me, because he likes me. Then I should tell him too, that I’m going to be a person.”

Dong-joo shows up, thinking she could use some company, not expecting to find her in such a great mood. His smile fades when she announces she’s going to tell Dae-woong that she’s going to become human.

Min-sook voices her worries to Doo-hong, asking if he can persuade Dae-woong to drop out. He’s disappointed, but agrees to help. (I laugh at the movie poster behind him, titled “Slave.” A nod to Sung’s previous role in Chuno, perhaps?)

Now that the awkward and bumbling phase of this courtship is over, frankly I don’t find the adult romance very interesting. Perhaps that’s why they hit a rough patch to spice things up; their flirting is interrupted by Min-sook tripping yet again, spilling coffee all over his autographed DVD set — of (what else?) A Better Tomorrow. Hehe.

This pushes him over the edge, and he loses his temper, scolding that she should have been more careful. His outburst is so over-the-top that Min-sook feels affronted and storms out in a huff.

Over a dinner of fancy steak, Mi-ho confidently asserts that Dae-woong won’t run away if she tells him about the whole humanizing process, eager to get everything out in the open.

Dong-joo feels somewhat reassured that Dae-woong won’t betray Mi-ho, but that just addresses only one of the obstacles. He asks what she’d do if she didn’t have Dae-woong with her once she’s human. (Because of the whole death and all, although Mi-ho remains ignorant of that bit.)

Mi-ho answers, “I can’t be without him. I’m not staying with him because I need him, I’m staying because I like him. And my biggest reason for wanting to be human is because of our Dae-woong, too.”

Dong-joo tries to reason with her, saying that it’s better not to be with someone who knows her true identity; she’s better off leaving him after the 100 days.

She balks at that, which introduces a hard edge to Dong-joo’s voice as he says that if she doesn’t agree with him, he can’t help her any further. On top of that, he reminds her that he didn’t tell her the full truth yet. “In order to become a human safely, you absolutely need my help. I hope that you get what you want safely, without dying.”

Mi-ho refuses to agree to blindly follow Dong-joo’s orders, and insists that she’ll stay with Dae-woong as long as he doesn’t object. After she leaves, Dong-joo says, “It’s because I don’t think you could handle his death.”

Grandpa wants Dae-woong to get himself checked out by a doctor tomorrow, and Dae-woong agrees. This has all been cleverly laid out by Hye-in to serve her own ends, but she’s managed to fool Min-sook into thinking she’s sweet and kind, and much better than that Mi-ho. Thankfully, Grandpa remembers that he’d initially liked Mi-ho, showing that perhaps there’s hope for her yet.

Hye-in also tells Byung-soo and Sun-nyeo to bring Mi-ho to the hospital, but to make sure Dae-woong doesn’t know about it. She makes it sound like this is for Mi-ho’s benefit, though we know better.

And what is her sly, secret plan? Hye-in intends to force Mi-ho into a physical checkup as well, to get to the bottom of her identity.

Dae-woong calls to check with Mi-ho that his body is healed now, wanting to make sure that his physical returns normal results.

Mi-ho tries to suss out Dae-woong’s feelings by asking how he’d feel if she wasn’t with him after 100 days. He’s not prepared to answer, and hastily hangs up, unnerved at the idea.

The reason for his reaction is because he’s once again been thrown into “confusion” — his way of wording his growing attachment to Mi-ho. He keeps “forgetting” her identity, and to reiterate an earlier motif, he plays with the light — on, off, on, off — indicating his indecisive mind.

Mi-ho doesn’t find his reaction very reassuring, and glumly sighs that in order for her to insist to Dong-joo that she will stay, he’s got to miss her.

The next day, Dae-woong checks into the hospital for his full-body physical, while his two sidekicks collect Mi-ho and bring her there as well.

Hye-in leads Mi-ho to Dae-woong — or so she says — while Mi-ho looks around anxiously, uncomfortable. Hospitals smell strange to her, and mask her ability to find Dae-woong, so she has to trust that Hye-in is taking her in the right direction.

Which, of course, she’s not. Hye-in leads Mi-ho to an exam room and says with false concern that she wants Mi-ho to get an exam, to make sure that nothing is amiss from the almost-car-crash.

Not giving Mi-ho a chance to react, she locks her in the room to await a doctor, and asks, “What are you? Are you a monster?”

She’s rather proud at herself for orchestrating this whole scenario, but she didn’t anticipate one thing: Mi-ho’s super-strength. The door bursts open and Mi-ho runs away, knowing that she can’t undergo testing and bring more trouble to Dae-woong.

Chasing her through the hallway, Hye-in calls out her demand for Mi-ho to present herself, threatening to tell everybody about her.

Mi-ho shows herself to ask confusedly, “What does it matter what I am? Why are you acting like this to me?” She hasn’t done anything wrong, and she’s not a bad person.

Hye-in jumps to conclusions, accusing her of feeding Dae-woong some strange hoo-doo medicine or doing otherwise sketchy things to him to bring about his miraculous recovery.

Mi-ho insists that she’s not bad, and asks, “Can’t you just leave me alone?” And that gives Hye-in an opening to state what she really wants: If Mi-ho disappears, she will keep her mouth shut.

The test results declare Dae-woong perfectly fit, to everyone’s relief and bewilderment, given his previous dire diagnosis. Dae-woong, on the other hand, reminds them that he’d said he was fine, and rushes off to return home.

He arrives at the loft in fantastic spirits, bearing meat for a celebratory dinner with Mi-ho, only to find that she’s not there.

Instead, she exits from the hospital after making her deal with Hye-in, telling herself that she’ll have to disappear. She has no choice.

Dae-woong answers her phone call with a smile, teasing her when she asks if he can come home early tonight. He jokes that he didn’t miss her very much and therefore hadn’t intended to come home soon, which she accepts at face value. She sighs, “You didn’t miss me much at all. That’s a relief.”

Dae-woong starts to correct her and admit that he’s kidding, but she interrupts with something important to tell him:

Mi-ho: “Even if I don’t scare you, you’ll take care of my bead, won’t you?”
Dae-woong: “Yeah.”
Mi-ho: “Even if you don’t need it, you’ll take care of it, right?”
Dae-woong: “Yes. Do you still not trust me?”
Mi-ho: “I trust you. So even if I’m not with you, take good care of it.”

His eyes widen — the meaning sinks in — and she tells him, “Dae-woong, I think I’m going to have to disappear from your side.”

 
COMMENTS

Out of nine episodes, this was the first to sort of feel a little flat for me, but it’s not really a complaint so much as it’s an observation. Every drama has to find a lull and we need a tone shift to correspond to the growing conflicts. So rather than feeling disappointed with this episode, I’m more impressed at how well this drama has been able to carry its zippy, energetic sense of fun for eight episodes straight.

On the upside, I enjoy how Dae-woong stands up to the adults all episode, but particular in the first scene. As Grandpa sensed, Mi-ho is the catalyst by which Dae-woong will become a man, and we’re starting to see that maturation in the way he respectfully but firmly tells his family how he will act. And for once, he’s not acting out of selfish desire, but by what he believes is the right thing to do. It’s a big change from the guy who used to run every time he was faced with the consequences of his irresponsibility.

As for Dong-joo, he’s not my favorite character, but I do like that he’s breaking from the mold of the standard second lead for once. This drama has the expected love triangle, but I like that Dong-joo isn’t being set up as a romantic rival. He has a reason to keep the couple apart and he’s being devious and manipulative, but it’s for a reason other than “But I really, really want her.” It’s refreshing to have a major romantic obstacle be something that’s not romantic at all.

RELATED POSTS

204 September 9, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 10

by girlfriday

The recap in which girlfriday dies a thousand deaths. From The Cute.

To everyone’s relief, the separation doesn’t last very long, and our couple spends the entire episode trying to kill me with their cuteness. They pretty much succeed, and truth be told, I’m not too upset about it.

In this episode we have angst, declarations, makeovers, and a transformation from adorable-pants Dae-woong to awesome-pants Dae-woong.

 
EPISODE 10 RECAP

Mi-ho calls Dae-woong to tell him that she has to leave his side. The look on Dae-woong’s face, angry and brimming with tears…breaks my heart.

Dae-woong: Don’t come back! Are you doing this because I didn’t say that I missed you? Last time you left without saying a word, and now you’re going to make nothing but a phone call and disappear? You…go ahead and TRY to disappear like this. Where are you? … Did you follow me all the way to the hospital for my check-up? And how is someone like that going to disappear from my side? Don’t move a muscle and wait right there! I’ll come find you.

Eeeeep! I’m a minute in, and I’m already squealing like a pig-rabbit. Gah! Decisive and manly Dae-woong KILLS ME.

Mi-ho worries that she needs to disappear, and tells herself not to cry, otherwise it’ll rain. I know it’s such a simple metaphor, the tears and the fox rain, but it’s so evocative of mood that I love it. She says that she can come back to Dae-woong when she can stand in front of him proudly, as a human being. She starts to walk away, but then, of course, she doesn’t want to leave…

Just then, Byung-soo and Sun-nyeo show up, asking why she’s there all alone. She’s getting ready to leave, but they insist she come with them to eat some beef. You said the magic word! Off they go, to eat.

Mi-ho hurriedly shoves the beef in her mouth, mumbling that she has to disappear. Dae-woong arrives at the hospital and calls her. She answers, and she won’t tell him where she is, except that she’s eating, and he hears Byung-soo’s voice in the background. She quickly eats one last piece and says goodbye. She schleps down the street, wondering where on earth she’s going to disappear to. She’s fighting with Dong-joo Teacher, so that’s out.

And then, another interruption on her road to Disappearance Town—Grandpa and Aunt Min-sook pull up next to her, and Grandpa apologizes for the misunderstanding and tells her to get in the car. They take her home and feed her more beef, which she eats up in two seconds flat. Grandpa dotes on her and feeds her more, asking Min-sook to pack up some food to take back and share with Dae-woong. Aw. Mi-ho doesn’t answer Dae-woong’s calls, and can’t say no to Grandpa or to beef, so she’s stuck.

Meanwhile, Dae-woong finds out from Byung-soo and Sun-nyeo that Hye-in orchestrated something shady at the hospital today, and that Mi-ho must be acting this way because of something Hye-in said. Nice. I love that characters are told these sorts of things instead of having people suffer in noble silence. Down with noble silence!

Mi-ho leaves Grandpa’s house with bundles of food, so she tells herself dejectedly that she’ll just drop these off at home for Dae-woong, and then she’ll disappear. On her way, she gets stopped by the chicken shop ajumma, who worries that Mi-ho seems so sad. I sort of love that in her attempt to disappear, Mi-ho gets stopped one by one, by all the human beings who are in her life, who keep her tethered to this world. It’s a nice symbolic motif, and a great build-up to Dae-woong finding her.

Dae-woong then does something awesome—he goes straight to Hye-in, to ask her what she said to Mi-ho. She tells him everything, and says that she asked her to disappear, and sighs in relief, thinking that she saved him from some disgusting monster. Dae-woong: “She’s not disgusting, or a monster. And Mi-ho, unless somebody forced her, would never leave my side. I have no intention of having her leave me, so don’t concern yourself with her, or what she is.” Hye-in calls him crazy, and he confirms that he is (yay, feelings!) and insists she just leave them alone.

At home, Mi-ho hugs her chicken leg, pouting to herself that she’s out of excuses now. But she doesn’t want to leave. She cries like a little girl, “Woong-ah, I don’t want to go,” as tears fall. It starts to rain, as Dae-woong talks to Hye-in. He turns around to see that it’s raining outside, as his heart drops.

He runs outside, and calls Mi-ho, who finally answers. Dae-woong asks her to stop crying, but she can’t stop the tears. Dae-woong: “I don’t want to get rained on. You have to stop crying…so I can go to you.” Ack! I swear, if he keeps being this awesome, I’m not going to get through this recap.

He realizes there’s only one way to stop her from crying. Dae-woong: “I…miss you.” She stops crying immediately in shock. Dae-woong: “I miss you like crazy. Stop crying, so I can get to you quickly.” He hangs up, and the rain stops. He looks up and smiles at the sky, and takes off running. Best subversion of rain cliché ever.

Shady Emo Hair meets a shady contact, to get new papers for Mi-ho. He asks him to prepare a house in Japan, and tells him that she’ll be going to Japan in a few months’ time, with this new identity. Oh, we’ll just see about that, Dog Teacher.

Mi-ho sits at home and waits, deciding that she can’t leave now, when Dae-woong’s finally confessed that he missed her. She realizes the only thing to do is to “take care of that woman.” She gives an evil look of purpose. Ruh-roh. Hye-in might end up being dinner!

She finds Hye-in in the parking lot and scares her by moving a parked truck with her bare hands. Hye-in tries to run away, thinking that Mi-ho is here to threaten her, but it turns out she’s here to…ask for a break. Haha. How cute. She tells her everything (unnecessarily, but whatever) and says that she could’ve scared her, but she wanted to do the human thing. Hye-in sees yet another opportunity to turn this in her favor, so she asks if Mi-ho will do anything she asks.

She takes her to Director Ban, and introduces Mi-ho as her friend. She sets it up so that Mi-ho will only be the stuntwoman for the lead role, and only if her “friend” Hye-in is cast as the lead. Sneaky. And a solution I’m totally fine with, since I care not about the movie.

Dae-woong shows up to the studio (with a tip-off from Byung-soo) and walks right in between the two girls and grabs Mi-ho’s wrist (aargh) and stands between her and Hye-in, demanding to know what Hye-in is doing to her. She gets indignant, asking if he’s got it backwards, at which he slides his hand down to hold Mi-ho’s hand. Eeek!

He takes her by the hand and they start to walk away, but Hye-in gets the last word in. She says she’s found that Mi-ho is useful after all, and that she’ll be using her, just as Dae-woong is. That stings them both, and Hye-in walks away, triumphant.

Dae-woong feels really guilty about it, and apologizes to Mi-ho for using her. She says it’s okay—she did threaten to eat him up in return. He says he’s really really sorry.

He helps her prep for the movie, and he tells her to always wear wires even if she doesn’t need them, and to pretend that she’s tired. She fakes being a weak girl, and I love the mockery of that. They go over the script, which is of course a story that mirrors their own—a tragic love story between a woman who gives her heart to a man and disappears, and a man who must endure alone without her.

Mi-ho gets to a point in the script where her character gets undressed in a love scene, and Dae-woong spits out that she’s not doing scenes like that! “You’re just doing the action scenes! Don’t even read that part!” HAHAHA. God, I love his overreaction.

Mi-ho wants to hear him deliver some of the lines in the movie, so he starts to recite:

Dae-woong: At first, when my clothes were wet with your tears, I told myself I would just wait until they dried. But then, the clouds grew bigger, the skies darkened, and rain that blocked my path came down. Rain that can’t be stopped, can’t be avoided, falls down on me…Where do I go? I’ve lost my way. [He pauses as the words become his own.] Though I try to run far, I keep coming back. I want to protect you, and treat you well. I must’ve been rained on…and lost my mind.

Mi-ho leans on his shoulder, moved by his words. He shrugs her off, asking what she’s doing. She says it’s her character’s reaction, and when Dae-woong says that’s not in the script, she says that his last words weren’t in there either. He says, tears still brimming, that he messed up his lines then, and runs away to his bed. Oh, you can’t fool us, you Big Softie Chicken Leg, you!

Mi-ho goes to see Dong-joo, who worries about Hye-in knowing her identity. He presents her with all her new papers to start her new life as a human, but warns her that in order to do so, she has to leave Dae-woong and everyone around him, who know her as Mi-ho. She frowns as the words sink in.

At home she looks at all her new official documents, fantasizing about life as Park Sun-joo: driving, graduating university, having lots of money. But she shuts down her own fantasy, saying that none of that matters if Dae-woong isn’t next to her. Aw.

Rehearsals begin on the movie, but Director Ban is too engrossed in his own love life to be more than grumpy pants day after day, since Min-sook is refusing his calls after the coffee-on-precious-dvd incident. He finally tries one last grand gesture. He invites her to a ceremony where he’s receiving an award, and in preparation, he retires all of his A Better Tomorrow accoutrements, crying dramatically as he says goodbye to Chow Yun-fat. Haha. Oh, the things we do for love.

Hye-in sees Dae-woong and Mi-ho being cute together, and gets all bug-eyed (even more than usual) with jealousy, so she tells Mi-ho not to come to the awards ceremony party. The other stuntmen start paying attention to Mi-ho, trying to bring her drinks to flirt. Dae-woong puts a stop to that right away, with one can of bubbly soda and a flash of his couple ring. Keh, keh.

She asks if he worries about her when she’s around other people, and he starts to say, it’s because she’s so pret—but then catches himself before “pretty.” Ha. She tells him to go ahead to the party and that she’ll meet him there.

When he accepts his award, not-so-Chow-Yun-fat-Lite-anymore signals Min-sook with his silly head roll, and says that he hopes that “someone” will know his true feelings. Min-sook squeals in delight and starts to cry, as Grandpa laughs.

Mi-ho sits at home, dejected that she can’t go to the party, and ends up going out with Dong-joo. She’s sad about missing the party, and rejects his offer for her to become Park Sun-joo when she becomes human. He tells her it’s because she’s never lived life as Sun-joo yet, so he takes her shopping for a new outfit (obligatory makeover scene!) where she picks a brown shirt because it’s her favorite color—cow. He then takes her to a university alumni party that she can attend with her new identity.

Meanwhile, Dae-woong wonders what’s taking her so long, and Sun-nyeo gets drunk and tells Dae-woong that she’s done having feelings for him now, but wants to say goodbye with one last kiss…

She grabs his face and leans in, and Dae-woong has just enough time to grab a neaby squid (HA) to put in front of his lips. He freaks out to Byung-soo to keep Sun-nyeo away, and that she was too close for comfort. Byung-soo thinks he’s overreacting, but Dae-woong says that it’s not him he’s worried about—something very bad will happen to Mi-ho. Hye-in overhears this, and realizes that there’s some connection with physical contact with other women, and Mi-ho’s fox bead.

Dong-joo buys Mi-ho a purse that goes better with her outfit, and even though she hesitates to give up her bag from Dae-woong because it holds things that are precious to her, he tells her that this new bag completes the look, and hands her a wallet with her ID as Park Sun-joo. She enters the party, giving that name.

Hye-in comes up to Dae-woong, asking if he’s still mad at her. Hye-in: “I’m really worried about you. I mean it.” He counters, “I’m worried about Mi-ho. I mean it.” Oh, snap! He goes to find her, leaving Hye-in huffing.

Mi-ho comes out of her party right away, saying that people treated her like the real Park Sun-joo, and it made her uneasy. She tells Dong-joo that when she’s with Dae-woong, who knows the real her, it’s so comfortable, but when she’s pretending to be someone else, it feels like a lie. Dong-joo gives her a passport, saying that she can go anywhere with this. He tells her to leave on the hundredth day, and that he’ll help her.

Director Ban wonders if Min-sook saw him on tv, when she saunters into his office, dressed as Chow Yun-fat Lady. She tells him that she liked everything about him, and that he needn’t give this up for her. They embrace, knocking over all his memorabilia. Heh.

Dae-woong comes home and wonders where Mi-ho is, since he tried the chicken shop and she’s not answering her phone either. He gets up to go find her, but then she walks in, still dressed to the nines. He stops in his tracks, startled at her purty duds, and asks where she went dressed like that. She realizes that she left her stuff with Dong-joo, who tells her he’ll bring them back next time. Dong-joo muses to himself that she needs to forget one thing at a time, just like this. Well that’s not the fastest plan ever, but I see where you’re going with this.

Dae-woong gets huffy about her being out dressed like this, partying with Dong-joo, and wonders exactly how close they’re getting. Mi-ho asks Dae-woong what he’s told his friends and family about her. He hasn’t said anything yet, but plans to come up with a story soon enough. She apologizes that he has to lie because of her.

Dae-woong looks her up and down again, still annoyed about Dong-joo….and then he realizes a solution. He tells her that just like his sharing his ki with another woman is harmful to her fox bead, he can feel that it has the same effect if she’s with another man. HAHAHAHA.

She doesn’t think that’s right, but he insists he can feel it. Oh my god, I’m dying. This is so funny. He says that particularly when she’s with Dong-joo, he can feel something hurting in his chest. Yeah, that would be your HEART, buddy. She totally falls for it, wondering if she’s been physically too close to Dong-joo. Dae-woong: “You were CLOSE?! That’s why I feel this way! At least 5 meters…no, no…10 meters distance from now on!” You’re killing me Show. And I love it.

She puts her hand on his chest, wondering why her fox bead is acting up, and he totally loves it. He directs her, “No, I think it’s…over here…” reveling in the physical contact. Seriously, how can two people be so CUTE? It defies the laws of the universe!

Later that night, Mi-ho looks over her documents, contemplating the huge decision ahead. In his Emo Lair, Dong-joo looks at Mi-ho’s phone, full of calls from Dae-woong. He muses that it’s going to be hard to forget like this. The next day he sets out to return Mi-ho’s bag.

It’s the first day of the movie shoot, and Dae-woong doesn’t have any scenes, but he’s here to watch Mi-ho. In the dressing room, Hye-in tells Mi-ho to leave her ring behind, and when she does, she tries it on herself. Mi-ho catches her and gets it back, letting it slip that the ring was initially Hye-in’s to begin with, which just makes her angrier. Hye-in threatens to harm Dae-woong and the fox bead, in order to harm her.

Mi-ho entrusts her ring to Dae-woong and climbs up on a scaffold to prepare for her first stunt.

Dae-woong gets some bubbly soda for Mi-ho, and when he looks for her, he sees Hye-in from behind in the same costume, and assumes it’s Mi-ho. He goes right up to her, which is when Hye-in swings around and grabs him for a kiss. No!

She plants one on him, and he pushes her away, shouting, “What are you doing?” but it’s too late. Mi-ho feels the pang from her fox bead, and faints, falling from the scaffold…

COMMENTS

I love the heightened drama of his kiss with another woman—it’s not just a betrayal or fodder for jealousy, but a matter of life and death. When you raise the stakes that high, it shifts the dramatic weight of everything, which I totally dig.

That’s not to say that I don’t love the jealous bits, because those continue to be my favorite. How awesome is it that Dae-woong is using the fox bead to keep Mi-ho away from other men, just because he’s jealous? Adorable. His growing assertiveness is really a sight to behold, since he started out so pathetic and cowardly. It’s also great that we’re not skipping too far ahead in their relationship, because I like the gradual steps, and seeing them work through all the obstacles. That way, they’ll truly earn each other’s hearts, once they get there.

Once again, all the forthright declarations make my day, as I don’t have to stew over silent noble idiots in this drama. Even that ring, which I thought for sure was going to end up in Hye-in’s clutches, was returned right away, which drew a huge sigh of relief from me, since I know how the Hong sisters are with trinkets. That’s right, pig-rabbit’s hairpin, I’m talking to you. So glad we don’t have to go through a round of Find My Precious.

As expected, I continue to be owned, heart and soul, by this drama. I may have to marry you, Show.

RELATED POSTS

198 September 15, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 11

by javabeans

Yay, a good episode! I was a little nervous that the drama might start to falter, what with the stresses of the live shoot and last week’s disappointing Monday episode. But this episode was chock full of emotional developments, which have been building steadily to this point, and I always love when latent conflict bubbles over to the surface.

SONG OF THE DAY

Lyn – “자기야 여보야 사랑아” (Jagi, yobo, love). “Jagi” is what you call a girl/boyfriend, “yobo” is what you call a spouse. Hm, I hope the title isn’t supposed to be a chronological progression. [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 11 RECAP

Feeling the damage to her fox bead, Mi-ho loses consciousness and falls off the scaffolding. Thankfully she lands on the safety mat below, but the injury is more about her bead than the fall.

Dae-woong shoves Hye-in off his lips angrily. The commotion grabs his attention, and his eyes widen to see Mi-ho lying unconscious on the mat.

The director wants to call for a doctor, but as that would cause more problems than it’d solve, Dae-woong manages to persuade him against it.

When Mi-ho wakes up, her expression contains no hint of her usual sweetness — instead, she looks PISSED. Her eyes are ringed with blue, the sign that her gumiho nature is slipping out of her control.

Hye-in finds her exit path blocked by Dong-joo, who wears a forbidding expression on his face. He tells her she’s been very foolish — her ki has damaged the bead, so Mi-ho will now try to kill her. Ominously, he warns, “If you want to live, run away.”

Thoroughly scared, Hye-in hurries off the set, where Mi-ho tracks her down and prevents her escape. Mi-ho sends boxes crashing down around Hye-in and corners her in a dead end. Glaring with her blue eyes, Mi-ho growls at her, “Die.”

She reaches for a heavy prop to throw at Hye-in, which is when Dae-woong jumps in front to take the brunt of the force.

He pleads with Mi-ho to stop, but she tells him grimly to move aside. Her shove sends him flying into more props, and something falls out of his pocket — her ring, which she’d asked him to hold for her.

Advancing on Hye-in, Mi-ho repeats, “Die.” But as she reaches for her adversary, Dae-woong runs to intercept her (trampling the ring in the process) and grabs Mi-ho in a desperate hug. (Best use of the back-hug ever!)

He turns her around to face him but maintains his tight grasp as he tearily says that he’s sorry. The blue light flares in her eyes, then goes out, bringing Mi-ho back to her normal self.

As Hye-in flees, Dong-joo grabs her to deliver one more warning: “If you do something stupid like this again, I’ll kill you.” He says her stupid jealousy “shattered the hope and expectations in her heart,” and for once Hye-in looks like she regrets her actions.

Weep, little scrunchy-faced brat, weep.

I admit to never finding Dong-joo that compelling as a character (or actor) despite the pretty, so I love that he gets so fierce here. Wounded emo Gumiho Hunter’s a little weak, but pissed-off vengeful Gumiho Hunter? Way hotter. (Also more interesting, narratively speaking.)

Mi-ho’s bead didn’t break from the kiss, and she downplays it as a small injury. Seeing that Dae-woong’s bleeding from when she shoved him, she worries that she hurt him. What’s compelling and moving and complicated about this moment is that both are feeling guilty for their part in hurting the other, and it imbues the scene with added tension.

For instance, Dae-woong waves aside his head injury and asserts that this was all his fault. Mi-ho contradicts him, saying that she could have killed Hye-in today, and hurt him: “Like she said, I was a scary and hated monster.”

Dae-woong insists that she’s no monster and that she’s not the least bit scary, but she says that him running in fear of her feelings is the same as Hye-in running in fear of physical harm. Mi-ho has realized her nature, and now feels burdened with guilt over how she must have scared him all this while with her forwardness.

Furthermore, Mi-ho takes the blame for today, because Hye-in was reacting to finding out that the couple ring was initially meant for her. She apologizes for clinging, “But since I can’t leave right away either, I’m sorry for that, too.”

I love Dae-woong’s response, even though Mi-ho doesn’t buy it: He says that she did nothing wrong today, and this “monster-like” side was totally normal. She acted like a girlfriend, since this is the way a real human might react if she thought her boyfriend had cheated. It’s doubly meaningful that he frames her behavior as human, to diminish the distance between them and frame this incident as something they can overcome.

Realizing that he has dropped Mi-ho’s ring, he tells her to wait as he returns to the set to look for it.

Byung-soo sees the dried blood on his forehead and freaks out, but Dae-woong is so intent on finding the ring that he waves the head wound aside impatiently and asks for help in his search. He explains that because Mi-ho’s feelings have been hurt, he has to start with healing that. There’s a nice double meaning to that, since it works on a literal level as well as on the figurative one; Mi-ho’s spirit needs to literally heal from the damage to her bead.

Dong-joo finds Mi-ho and again tries to convince her that she must leave Dae-woong at the end of the 100 days. He plays off her self-hatred of showing her “monster” side in saying that someone who knows her true identity will always see her as a gumiho.

Mi-ho’s trembling voice kills me, because she’s like a child realizing a painful truth for the first time. She admits that she’d been hoping that if she liked Dae-woong enough, he’d like her back. She’d never even considered leaving at the end of the 100 days, but now she’s starting to believe she may have to. Dong-joo advises her to start “practicing” how to live without Dae-woong.

Dong-joo warns Mi-ho that her second death is coming. She’ll start losing her powers, but she’s already aware of her hearing and smelling losing their sharpness. And in fact, she doesn’t react at all to Dae-woong’s arrival behind her, not able to smell him this time.

Dae-woong reacts with some jealousy to see Dong-joo looking after Mi-ho, and the air is strained with an abundance of male ego as he confronts his rival. Dae-woong pointedly thanks him for taking care of “our Mi-ho” and says he has to go to “our home.”

Dong-joo returns that he heard a lot about Dae-woong, and says just as pointedly that he knows they’re in a contract relationship. Those words are rather jarring — Dae-woong concedes that he had used those words, but his reaction indicates that it’s been a while since he’s thought of them in those terms.

Mi-ho looks at the world with new eyes, noticing that everyone else is working hard to earn a living: “But aside from liking Dae-woong, I haven’t done anything.” Deciding to take Dong-joo’s advice and practice for life without Dae-woong, Mi-ho picks up some work from the chicken ajumma and brings home dolls on which to glue eyes.

At home, Dae-woong tells her apologetically that he couldn’t find the ring, but assures her he’ll get it tomorrow. Her response shocks him, because she tells him that he doesn’t have to, nor does he have to wear his ring. Taken off-guard, Dae-woong replies that he’ll find her ring, and keep wearing his.

Her despondent mood worries him, and he’s further surprised at her plan to earn her own living. She explains, “Since coming into this human world, I’ve been acting without any plans — just liking you, following you, and trusting in you. I think I was only living to look good to you. Now I have to prepare how to live without you.”

Trying to cheer her up, he offers to buy her some prime quality beef, but she turns that down, too. She’s going to feed herself now, and bought eggs on the way home — she can’t afford meat yet, but she’ll make do with this. Dae-woong insists, “I’ll buy you meat,” but she returns, “For how long?”

Stumped by Mi-ho’s new attitude, Dae-woong wonders if the injury to her bead has also broken her faith in him, and watches her working in puzzlement.

Meanwhile, Dong-joo finds Hye-in much more agreeable now that he’s struck the fear of God into her. She pleads to be left alone and offers to stay away from Mi-ho and to quit the movie in exchange. But Dong-joo answers that she has to do something for him, and instructs her to keep acting as she has been. He wants her to continue to interfere with the couple, in order to help Mi-ho get over Dae-woong.

Repulsed, she asks if he’s “like Mi-ho.” Dong-joo answers that he’s half-human.

Trying to figure out how to return their relationship to normal, Dae-woong tells Mi-ho that he didn’t share his ki with Hye-in, and that she took advantage of him. Mi-ho believes that, so he doesn’t understand what the problem is.

She answers that even if he doesn’t like another woman, he can’t like her. He can give her food, but not his heart. She realized today that it was wrong of her to ask him to like her, and says she won’t give him any more trouble — after the 100 days are over, she’ll go.

Dae-woong’s first reaction is to take the route of denial, as though he’s happy with her answer. Yet her easy agreement doesn’t make him any happier, and he storms out in frustration.

Then he storms right back in to take issue with the way she confided in Dong-joo and told him about their contract relationship. Dae-woong is obviously dying to ask her to stay, but he hasn’t let his brain catch up to his heart yet and is taking out his frustration on her.

Despite Mi-ho’s calm, pragmatic words, it’s likely that a small part of her was still hoping he’d contradict her and say that she’s wrong, that he could give her his heart. She notes sadly that he still wouldn’t say that he could like her.

The next day, Dae-woong returns to the set to look for the ring, but he cuts the search short when he feels pangs in his chest. He wonders if it’s the bead acting up, which means Mi-ho might be in trouble, and rushes home.

He’s right: Mi-ho lies at home in extreme pain as she experiences her second death. Dae-woong finds the front door locked, and as he doesn’t have the key on him, he’s unable to get inside.

Hearing Dae-woong at the door, Mi-ho covers her mouth to contain her cries of pain, but one slips out anyway. That spurs Dae-woong into action, and he kicks the door in, rushing to where she lies on the ground clutching her heart.

Frantic, Dae-woong goes to Dong-joo to ask for painkillers, with the excuse that it’s for the dog. Dong-joo plays along although he understands what’s really going on, then gives Dae-woong the advice that being with her will be more helpful than the medicine.

Dae-woong tends to Mi-ho through the night, and takes her hand to say that he’s sorry. When she wakes up in the morning, he’s still holding her hand, asleep at the bedside.

He wakes up later that morning in his own bed, in time to hear Mi-ho thanking Dong-joo for the medicine. He’s further bothered when Mi-ho says that the next time she’s sick, she’d like Dong-joo with her.

I love that Dae-woong tells Mi-ho that he was actually the one who helped (all while saying, “I’m not sure if I should say this, but…”). It’s like he knows it’s not classy to demand credit, but damned if he’ll step aside and let Emo Hair accept her misplaced gratitude!

He’s mollified when Mi-ho thanks him, but she hastens to cut their encounter as short as possible. He offers to accompany her to the film set, but she leaves so quickly so that he can’t.

He’s let down at her eagerness to get away, but we see the reason for it as she runs down the street, thinking to herself:

Mi-ho: “Woong-ah, I like you so much that now, I can’t stop there. I can’t pretend I don’t like you, either. All I can do is not show you that I like you. All I can do is keep from begging you to like me. If I’m going to slowly distance myself from you, I think I’ll have to run really hard.”

Back in the loft, Dae-woong sees that the pictures of meat that Mi-ho had glued to her bed are about to fall off. Symbolism! (I can’t tell you how much I am hoping he busts out his trusty superglue to plaster more pictures on that bed, and if that happens, your ears may all tingle with the force of my squee.)

More adult romance. It’s funny that every time Mr. Chow Lite and the Aunt of Uncontrollable Bodily Responses pop up onscreen, I find myself groaning “Not again…” but in the end, I concede that the scene worked because of one joke or new angle that kept it fresh.

Such is the case this time: Min-sook is invited to the set, and Director Ban is finally ready to put on his Big Boy Pants and tell his daughter the truth. So when Sun-nyeo approaches, he starts to make the introductions… at which point Min-sook lets out a small, but audible, fart.

Sun-nyeo wrinkles her nose, and Min-sook, mortified, runs from the set. Director Ban chases her down to declare that there’s no reason for her to run, and when she asks, “Aren’t you ashamed?,” he vows that he’s not. She asks, “Doesn’t it… smell?” Again, he says no.

These two have been making a string of cheesy puns/jokes about filming their own movie in their minds, and as silly as their romance can be, I can appreciate the way the corny excess of their melodrama fits the movie motif. They’re not the stars of this drama, but I suppose you could say they’re the stars of their own lives, so they’re playing out the narrative of their grand romance.

Left at home, Dae-woong broods about Mi-ho’s newfound independence, wondering, “Do I have to prepare for life without her too?”

He refers to the countdown chart to see how many days are left, and is alarmed at how fast they’re zooming by. Making the excuse that he’d made a mistake, Dae-woong erases a whole row of red X’s (aw!) to buy them another ten days or so.

On the movie set, Hye-in approaches Mi-ho with friendliness for once, although Mi-ho notes that Hye-in is scarier when she smiles. Hye-in is pleased to hear that Mi-ho’s only going to be around for three months, but the smile is wiped off her face when Mi-ho informs her that Dae-woong still wouldn’t pick her, because “Woong knows how horribly mean you are.”

Hye-in tries to regain the upper hand by saying at least she’s human, but Mi-ho isn’t offended and agrees. “Since I’m not human, I know all sorts of things.” Then she waves her hand in a pseudo-mystical gesture and says some gibberish words, throwing in a “hoi-hoi” for good measure, tapping Hye-in on the head like she just cursed her with some voodoo.

Hye-in asks what she just did, and Mi-ho declares, “You’re going to get gradually uglier.” Hye-in blusters that Mi-ho’s joking, but Mi-ho tells her to wait and see, then whispers, “Be careful.” (Love her.)

Mi-ho is asked to fill out a form for her employment, which poses a bit of a problem — unless she uses the name Park Sun-joo, as Dong-joo advises.

Dae-woong perks up at the sound of someone arriving at the loft, thinking Mi-ho’s home, but it turns out to be Grandpa. This gives him an idea, because Mi-ho is less likely to turn Grandpa down, so he suggests that he call Mi-ho for a meal out.

Mi-ho declines at first, but Dae-woong prods Grandpa into playing the Weak Old Man card to get Mi-ho to agree. When she arrives, however, Grandpa’s gone (supposedly he got too hungry and left early).

Mi-ho notices the board has been erased, ignoring Dae-woong’s unconvincing protests that she’s mistaken. Getting out the red pen, she re-marks the days to bring them back to the previous count, then adds another to represent today. Moodily, he points out that she’s being very cool-headed about this. When he starts singing his song again, he amends the words to “My friend Mi-ho is a heartless gumiho. She’s a totally mean gumiho.”

As she works on gluing doll eyes, Dae-woong tries to think of a way to get her attention. He sees the camcorder ad and shows it to Mi-ho, reminding her that they’d wanted to travel to a place like that. Since she’s an undocumented gumiho (ergo no traveling papers), they can’t go abroad to the location itself, but he has managed to find a place that looks just like it, which is near his school. He’ll take her tomorrow.

Excitedly, Mi-ho agrees, wanting to see it. Then she remembers her new decision and changes her mind, making up the excuse that she’s busy and can’t go. Dae-woong presses her to reschedule, but she tells him, “I have to leave after 100 days. If I keep going places like that with you, it’ll be harder later. I said I was going to practice for leaving.”

Hurt, he demands to know, “Is your practice to quit the things I give you, and to look away when I talk to you, and refuse to go when I want to go somewhere?”

Keeping her gaze averted, she says yes. Dae-woong tells her that leaving is something you don’t practice for — you do it all at once.

After he leaves, Mi-ho starts to cry, saying, “Practicing is too painful. It hurts more than losing my tails.” Looking at the ad, she thinks, “I want to go [to] there.”

Remembering the lost ring, Dae-woong heads back to the set with a flashlight to look for it. He’s unsuccessful, and Byung-soo finds him hunched on the set in the morning, having spent the night there.

Thankfully, Dae-woong finally finds the ring, smiling in relief. Just then, he runs into Hye-in but declines her request to talk, saying shortly, “I have nothing to say to you.”

She asks him if it’s true that Mi-ho is leaving within three months, excited at his confirmation. Until he tells her firmly, “No, I don’t want to get free of her. I’m going to ask her to keep her hold on me.”

Face hardening, Hye-in declares that he’s been possessed by her. He admits plainly, “Yeah, I’m possessed and I’ve lost my mind. So you and your sane mind shouldn’t bother trying to understand or care.”

Everyone, a round of applause for our hero, no longer a man-child!

Mi-ho fills out her work application with Park Sun-joo’s information, then meets Dong-joo for a celebration of Park Sun-joo’s birthday. It’s both in a literal and figurative sense, since it’s the official date on Sun-joo’s record, but also Mi-ho’s first day living as her.

Dong-joo presents Mi-ho with a cake and congratulates Sun-joo on being born.

Mi-ho is grateful for Dong-joo’s help in securing her a new identity, but tells him she won’t accept the other stuff (money, job, etc.) She wants to take care of that herself, even if it’s difficult.

It’s a little heartbreaking when we get to the real motivation for this decision, because Mi-ho asks hopefully that if she does that, “Even if it takes some time, will it be possible to return to Dae-woong?”

Now it’s time for the other shoe to drop; Dong-joo replies, “Cha Dae-woong won’t be in this world then.” But he says it in a vague way, adding that he means they’ll be in separate worlds, leaving her to interpret that in the standard metaphorical sense.

Dae-woong comes home thinking of Byung-soo’s comment regarding Mi-ho’s employment forms, and finds her envelope of documents. Inside, he sees the passport and papers bearing the name of Park Sun-joo, and starts putting the pieces together.

He also finds Mi-ho’s cell phone left behind, and a text from Dong-joo with the address of their meeting place. Carrying the documents, Dae-woong heads directly there — but passes Mi-ho on her way out. (Urgh! I suppose it wouldn’t be a Hong sisters drama without the dramatic just-barely-missed-each-other scenario, would it?)

Dae-woong finds Dong-joo sitting alone at the table and demands to know who Park Sun-joo is. He’s startled at Dong-joo’s answer that the name will let the gumiho live as human, because he hadn’t known that Dong-joo knew about Mi-ho’s real identity. Furthermore, Dong-joo explains, “Half of me is like her, a non-human.”

Dong-joo informs him that Mi-ho is preparing all the details to live on without him: “So when she wants to leave, all you have to do is let her.”

Dae-woong mulls this over and over, wondering if Mi-ho was intending to live with Dong-joo with her new name. And if she never returns to their loft, what then?

Thinking of the building near school that was supposed to be their stand-in for the picturesque ad, Dae-woong heads there alone. He thinks back to all of Mi-ho’s declarations of liking him, and finally arrives at the truth of his own feelings: “Mi-ho, I like you.”

And then, he looks over to see Mi-ho standing nearby, having had the same idea to visit “their” spot.

Approaching her, he tells her, “Mi-ho, don’t go. Don’t leave me. Stick close to me.” Elated but cautious, Mi-ho asks, “Is it okay that I’m different from you?”

He answers, “It’s not okay. It’s absurd and outrageous and crazy, but I like you. I don’t like you because it’s okay to like you — it’s that because I like you, everything’s okay.”

Finally, the declaration! This gives Mi-ho the assurance to confide in him, and she says, “Because you like me, now I can tell you. I’m going to become a human.”

Happily, she explains that the bead will let her become human. He asks, “Did you use me to become human? Did you like me because you needed me?”

She shakes her head no, assuring him that she could have used any person to hold her bead, “But because I liked you, I needed you. It’s not that I needed you to like you.”

But it doesn’t matter to Dae-woong, and he says, “If you need me, use me. But in exchange, take responsibility for me.”

Eee! There’s something so Korean about those words, “take responsibility,” that elicits this mad fangirl rush in the cockles of my heart. It’s such a loaded phrase, and has been used to euphemize marriage, pregnancy, care, and/or partnership — basically, a serious commitment on an emotional level that transcends the legalities of, say, marriage or parenthood or whatnot.

That night, she explains the details of the bead transfer, although she still remains oblivious to the part where Dae-woong dies upon giving it back to her. She also explains that “borrowing” the name Park Sun-joo will help her become human in the legal sense, and revels in her birthday activities like receiving presents and a cake.

Dae-woong notes that she didn’t get a song, and offers to sing one for her. He stops after one line of “Happy Birthday,” declaring that she ought to get a special song, and then launches into his ditty about his friend the gumiho.

This time, he switches the words again — she’s back to being the “cute gumiho” rather than the heartless meanie. To cap things off, he ends the song on “I like her, my girlfriend.”

Mi-ho wonders what “girlfriend” means… so he holds her hand and pulls her toward himself for a kiss.

 
COMMENTS

My favorite thing about this episode wasn’t the cute romancey stuff — though that never hurts — but the reversal it presented in the relationship. I am a big fan of reversals and twists, and it makes the buildup preceding it that much more satisfying when we finally change up the rules a bit.

For example, Dae-woong finally stops being the pursued and becomes the pursuer. I love that Mi-ho’s decision to withdraw forces him to confront his feelings, and it makes up for his earlier actions which were, let’s face it, selfish and a little conceited. Part of why I loved him regardless was because I knew this point would come, and that makes it so much more enjoyable to see him grow a pair, tell his noona to screw off, and declare his feelings openly. (Also, mad props to the spoiled man-child for being so bold and straightforward with the declaration, instead of hiding behind pride and facades. He didn’t half-ass it, even though he could have and still gotten what he wanted.)

I also like that this drama gives the second leads additional reasons for their actions other than pure jealousy or possessiveness. I have seen way too many dramas where they’re just interfering because they want the hero/heroine for themselves, and let’s be honest, that gets tiresome. At least here, they’re both operating on other motives, like Hye-in’s ambition to be a movie star, and then out of fear of Dong-joo’s retribution.

Dong-joo, on the other hand, is an interesting character because he doesn’t fit into an existing archetype, which is a great thing in my book. He isn’t in love with Mi-ho, he doesn’t want her for himself, and he isn’t purely benevolent, although he’s not perfectly selfish, either. I sort of equate him to the Disapproving Best Friend — you know, the girlfriend who thinks her best friend is dating a loser and keeps telling her to break up with him, ignoring the friend’s feelings in her own distaste for the hated boyfriend. This best friend might be acting out of concern, but I’m sure we all know the girl who takes this a step too far and starts acting out of her own motivations rather than genuine care for her friend, right? Call her the Spiteful Cockblocker. It’s definitely an interesting dynamic.

RELATED POSTS

275 September 16, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 12

by girlfriday

It’s time for the ultimate showdown: Libido vs. Fox Bead. Who will win? Who will lose? Who will make girlfriday cry?

You know which horse I’m backing, but it looks like Show might have a mind of its own. Gah. What’s a girl gotta do for some smoochies ’round here?

Oh, Show, you big tease.

SONG OF THE DAY

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho OST – “지금부터 사랑해” (Love starts now) [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 12 RECAP

Dae-woong sings Mi-ho the gumiho song and pulls her in ever so gently by the hand for a kiss. Girls and their mothers swoon together. Grandmas join in. Mi-ho smiles at him brightly, and he takes out her ring. He tells her that it’s for real this time, and slides it on her finger.

And then, he puts his hand behind her head and goes in for another (omo!) kiss…but is thwarted by the fox bead, pounding away in his chest. Damn you, fox bead! You have the worst timing ever!

He grabs his chest in pain, and Mi-ho assesses the damage. She says that the fox bead isn’t done healing from the time he shared his ki with another woman, and it’s acting up now because he’s “genuinely thinking about mating.” HAHAHAHA. If only all men came with such supernatural indicators.

He lurches back in shock and embarrassment, spitting out that he wasn’t thinking about THAT, nope, not him! Mi-ho smiles at him devilishly, saying that he doesn’t have to lie—the bead tells the truth. She then frowns, realizing that until the bead is done healing, they can’t mate. She pouts, like someone just took away her candy. God, I love her.

Dae-woong holds his chest as the disappointment registers on his face. “Why does the bead have to do that?” Oh. My. God. I think I just fainted.

Dear Fox Bead, I hate you with the fire of a thousand suns. I was thisclose to recapping heaven, and then you snatched it away from me cruelly. Twice. But as a plot convention, I concede that I like you, because you set up a roadblock, making their sexual tension build and simmer. I admit that you’re useful. But I still hate you.

Mi-ho whines that it’s because he’s been defiled by another woman. He balks at that, insisting that he was attacked. Heh, he makes it sound like a wild animal came at him like a snack. Her eyes get wide, as she deduces that if the fox bead isn’t healed yet, he must’ve “done it for real.” Dae-woong: “I pulled back right away!” Keh. And what a great use of the ki / fox bead as a metaphor for sexual experience, or even past loves.

Mi-ho pauses for a moment, and then says, “Woong-ah. If you can take it [the pain], then we can…” Seriously, I love her. Girl wants her lovin’. Whatchoo gonna do?

He nods, bracing himself, and goes in for another kiss. Thwarted again. Mi-ho pouts, then lures him back in for another try, with her best come-hither smile. He goes again, but reels in pain, and finally tells her to sit further away. Ha. It’s like watching a teenager try to initiate foreplay without getting too…excited. Comedy!

Needless to say, Fox Bead: 4 / Dae-woong: 0

Emo Hair turns out to be quite the stalker, having followed Mi-ho and Dae-woong earlier that day, when they met in front of the chapel. He says to himself that he wanted to protect her from Dae-woong’s death and save her the pain, but he can’t stop it now.

At home, Mi-ho writes down a life plan, a list of goals for when she becomes human. They read as follows:

1. Mate with Dae-woong [when the fox bead heals]
2. Marry Dae-woong [when the 100 days are up]
3. Have child with Dae-woong [one year later, then one every year]
4. Live a long and happy life with Dae-woong

Haha. Dae-woong smiles at first, but then when she gets to the kids part, especially at the rate of one a year, the fear sets into his eyes. He starts imagining the progression, ending with a row of kids chanting “Daddy, buy us meat!” He breaks out of his reverie shouting, “NO!” He tells her that he can’t abide by a life plan that has him married at 21 and a baby daddy by 22, and runs away to his room. He secretly thanks the fox bead for putting the breaks on Mi-ho’s life plan.

The next day, Mi-ho asks the chicken shop ajumma about it, who tells her to take it slow on the ten-year plan. She hears that nearby construction tore down a giant tree last night, and Mi-ho wonders what the tree’s inhabitants will do. Cue creepy little boy who sees Mi-ho walk past, and immediately sees that she’s a fox. He follows.

Mi-ho goes to see Dong-joo, who isn’t the least bit happy to hear about her reconciliation with Dae-woong. He sighs that she’ll stop listening to him now, and tells her that he can’t stand by and watch anymore. He’s stayed too long in one place, and is preparing to leave.

She asks if it’s because of her. He admits it outright, adding that because of her, he’s broken a lot of his own rules, getting involved where he shouldn’t. He apologizes for not being able to watch over her till the end.

When he says that he’s thinking of going somewhere remote, like an island, she sighs that she can’t visit him then, because of her fear of water. He’s surprised to hear that, wondering why when other animals are afraid of fire, she’s afraid of water. She tells him that the Samshin Grandmother made her out of fire, which is why her tails glow blue like flames. She tells Dong-joo that before they say goodbye, she’ll show him her tails, by moonlight. She calls moonlight “dal gil,” which you’ll remember is his past love’s name in reverse. He doesn’t react, but I’m thinking that can’t be a coincidence. When they part, he sees the boy follow Mi-ho, and puts on his serious face.

On set, Dae-woong hears that the funding might come through for the movie to shoot his action scenes in China. He frets over the possibility of being separated from Mi-ho for two months.

Hye-in has grown a giant red zit overnight (karma’s a bitch that way), and Mi-ho relishes the coincidental victory. Hye-in tells her she has no shame or pride, sticking to Dae-woong again when she said she’d leave, and Mi-ho responds matter-of-factly that she doesn’t have those things, which is why she’ll marry Dae-woong and live happily ever after. She adds some more hocus pocus and leaves Hye-in stewing.

Dae-woong invites Mi-ho to his grandfather’s house for dinner that night, and the little kid sees right away that Dae-woong is keeping Mi-ho’s fox bead. He does a bump pass, and discovers that the bead smells of goblin fire. He licks his chops at the thought of stealing such a delightful treat. He trails Dae-woong, but Dong-joo nabs him mid-hunt, saying he knows what he is. The kid says, “Then you know I’m a goblin?”

Dong-joo pulls him aside to kill him, but the kid pleads for his life. He insists he was just trying to befriend the gumiho, since her bead smelled of goblin fire. Dong-joo reels at his words. It’s the first concrete proof he’s given that Mi-ho and Gil-dal are linked. The kid sees his chance and runs, while Dong-joo stands agape, wondering if it’s possible that their sharing the same face isn’t a coincidence. Dude, you’ve lived centuries. Have you ever met a coincidental doppelganger?

At Grandpa’s house, Mi-ho plays the flute and does a traditional dance, to the utter delight of everyone. It’s the perfect audience for her old-school talents, as Grandpa especially enjoys traditional culture and artifacts.

She eats well, but only sticks to beef, which makes Aunt Min-sook a little upset, as she worked really hard preparing the rest of the dishes too. She insists that Mi-ho try the vegetables and rice, so Mi-ho picks up a pickle, looking at it like it’s poison. Dae-woong comes to the rescue, distracting Aunt and Grandpa, and Mi-ho feeds him while their heads are turned. Gah. Cute.

Upstairs in Dae-woong’s room, Mi-ho is really pleased that she got to use the things she learned when she was waiting for a husband centuries ago…on her future husband’s family. He takes stock in the fact that she really has lived for hundreds of years, making his twenty seem like a blip on her radar.

He asks if she isn’t scared, at the thought of aging, and eventually dying. He says that these are things that she’s never had to face since she’s lived for five hundred years, but that human beings are universally afraid of. Mi-ho says, “I wasn’t living…I was just existing. I want to change, and fill my time as I live.” She tells him that when she was trapped in that painting, she heard so many people’s wishes, and all she ever wanted was to have wishes like theirs. She admits that her life plan may seem trivial and ordinary, but it’s what she’s witnessed as the things that all people ask for.

Dae-woong promises to make new memories with her, and they take a picture together.

Dong-joo visits the Samshin temple, and asks the Grandmother in the painting if she made Mi-ho out of Gil-dal’s goblin fire. Angry tears form, as he asks desperately if he’s repeating his mistakes all over again. He cries as he remembers having to kill Gil-dal. Ooh, I like this development in his character. Much better. I like the dilemma it poses for him, and now he has to factor in his responsibility in the mess. The tortured emo thing is a better fit now, because it’s got some weight behind it.

On their way home, Mi-ho and Dae-woong pass by a couple with their arms around each other, and Mi-ho pouts that even though they’ve become a couple, nothing’s different for them. She accuses Dae-woong of using the fox bead as an excuse to keep her away. Ha.

Dae-woong decides that they’ve started now, so he’s got to up their level (of physical contact). He puts out his hand, and she gives him hers. He checks, and the fox bead seems okay with that, so then Mi-ho links arms. That seems okay, so then she pulls his arm around her shoulders.

He feigns the fox bead’s unhappiness with that, just to mess with her, and keep from over-doing the PDA. She pouts, but when he takes her hand again, this time interlocking their fingers, she smiles, and they walk home swinging their hands back and forth in their usual explosion of adorableness.

Dae-woong stops at the store to get something, and sends Mi-ho home ahead of him. When she arrives, Dong-joo is there waiting for her. He loses himself for a moment, talking to Mi-ho as if she were Gil-dal, saying that it’s been a long time, and that he’s missed her. Mi-ho wonders if he’s here to say goodbye, but no, he’s here to say hello, and says he’ll be staying, to watch over her. He touches her face lovingly, tears in his eyes. Oh dear. Get ready for the angst, people! This isn’t going to be confusing at all.

Mi-ho says that he needn’t worry. She’ll become human and live happily with Dae-woong. That brings more tears to Dong-joo’s eyes, and he says that this time, he’ll protect her till the end.

Dae-woong develops their first photo and buys an album to put it in. He says to himself that they can fill it together, starting now. Okay, I need a new word for adorable. Woongtastic.

On his way home, he runs into Dong-joo, who tells him that his plan to leave has been delayed. Dae-woong cuts to banmal, telling him that’s fine, as long as he still leaves. Dong-joo tells him to keep the fox bead safe, and Dae-woong scoffs, thinking he’s over-stepping his bounds. Dong-joo adds, “And when it comes time for her to leave, let her go.”

Dae-woong: There won’t be a time when Mi-ho wants to leave, and I have no intention of letting her go. From now on, Mi-ho and I are going to live happily, for a long, long time.

Dong-joo watches him go, wishing that someone else were keeping the fox bead, to protect Mi-ho from the inevitable heartbreak. Yeah, you me both, buddy. He realizes that he’ll have to protect Dae-woong while he carries the bead, so he decides that the little goblin must be killed.

The next day, Mi-ho and Dae-woong eat at home, and Dae-woong tries to get her to eat a more balanced diet. She says she’ll start once she’s human, and eyes the veggies suspiciously. Dae-woong tells her that she can eat like this now because she’s a gumiho, but if she keeps this up, “you’ll go straight from a fox to a pig.” Hahaha.

He tells her that eating vegetables will be good for her skin and make her prettier. Mi-ho: “How could I possibly be any prettier? I’m satisfied now.” HAHAHA. Her blatant acknowledgement of her own beauty just cracks me up. And Dae-woong’s reaction just makes it all the better.

Dae-woong gets the call that the China shoot is on, which means he’ll be abroad by himself for two months.

Hye-in spills the news to Mi-ho, telling her that Dae-woong is hesitating because of her. Dae-woong finds Mi-ho, as she’s pouting, “Wooooooong-ah, Wooooooog-ah” by herself. Sighing, she tells him to go, and not to worry about her.

He sees how dejected she is, so he makes up a list of his own: Nine Reasons Why It’s Good to Have a GU-miho Girlfriend. 1) she’s unique in all the world; 2) you can wander around at any time of night because she’s strong; 3) she doesn’t play coy because she’s frank and honest; 4) if she likes you, she shouts it wherever she wants; 5) this one makes him nervous too, “but have you seen a girlfriend so pretty?” she’s confident; 6) she’s considerate; 7) she knows that two-timing equals death; 8 ) he can trust that she’ll never leave his side; 9) “I just…really, really, really, really, really like you.” He adds the finger guns at the end. How cute that he confesses the same way she did, which is exactly what she wanted. Belated, but all the better for it.

Mi-ho swoons in utter bliss, and as the camera pans, we see that they’ve had not one, but two eavesdroppers. Dong-joo looks pained, while Hye-in just looks pissed. She doesn’t want to keep meddling anymore (it injures her pride), but Dong-joo insists they have to keep them apart.

When Mi-ho visits Dong-joo later, asking if she could maybe go along with Dae-woong if she used her new passport, Dong-joo uses the goblin as an excuse to send Dae-woong away and keep Mi-ho here.

It’s time for Dae-woong to leave, and Mi-ho shows him that she’ll be eating her vegetables like a good gumiho. He gives her the photo album, and tells her to fill it with lots of pictures, so she can tell him about everything she did while he was away.

He leaves, and turns back to say one last goodbye. She looks so sad that he comes back and swoops her for a kiss on the cheek. He promises that once the fox bead is done healing, he’ll kiss her properly. Atta boy!

The look on her face, anticipating that real kiss, is just perfect.

While Dae-woong is gone, Mi-ho documents her time, playing with Ddoong-ja, bonding with Grandpa, Aunt Min-sook, the chicken shop ajumma, Sun-nyeo, and eating her vegetables. After yet another plate of veggies, she declares to herself, “Ah, so tasty…NOT.” Heh.


Dae-woong arrives home on a four-day weekend, excited to surprise Mi-ho. Meanwhile, she’s at Dong-joo’s house, where he shows her the house he’s prepared in Japan. He tells her that he’s going to move there…with her. She sighs in exasperation, asking if he’s going to tell her to leave Dae-woong again. She says that she has lots and lots of life plans with Dae-woong, so he can just forget it. He tells her that because of the goblin, she has to stay away from Dae-woong until the hundred days are up.

While Dae-woong waits outside for Mi-ho, the goblin finally finds his opportunity. He pretends to be hurt so that Dae-woong will come close, and then he whammies him unconscious.

Just then, as Dong-joo drives Mi-ho home, he senses his magical knife start to act up, so he pulls over to go catch the goblin. He tells Mi-ho not to follow, since the knife’s power will affect her too. She realizes that Dong-joo really is a hunter, who catches things like her.

In the gym, the goblin wonders how to get the fox bead out without damaging it. Dae-woong stirs awake, surprised to hear the kid talking about his bead. The goblin surmises that he got tricked by a fox to carry her bead, and tells him that if he carries it, he’ll eventually die. Why thank you, Exposition Goblin.

He asks for the bead and when Dae-woong refuses, he starts to attack him. Dong-joo appears just time, putting his own blood on the dagger, and then throwing it at the goblin. He misses, but he does knick him. The goblin manages to get away.

Dae-woong returns the dagger, asking Dong-joo what that was. He asks about what the goblin said—is it true that he’ll die?

Outside, Mi-ho catches the goblin, who’s too injured to squirm out of her grasp. He tells her the same thing, calling her evil for using her fox bead to steal the ki of a human being. He not only tells her that the human will die when she takes the bead back, but that Dong-joo knows all about it.

She stands there frozen, letting it sink in that if she takes the bead back to become human, Dae-woong dies.

In the gym, Dong-joo LIES to Dae-woong, telling him the goblin meant that if he refuses to give the bead back after the hundred days, Mi-ho will die. He warns him one more time to keep the fox bead safe. Dae-woong spits back that he needn’t ask for things that Dae-woong already said he’d do.

In the park, Mi-ho thinks back to Dong-joo’s cryptic words about living in a world without Dae-woong, and she starts to cry. As her tears come flowing out, it starts to rain, and she asks, “Woong-ah, what do I do?”

At home, Dae-woong catches up on Mi-ho’s days without him, and he looks at the 100-day calendar now with hope, smiling that they’re almost halfway there, till she’s human. Heartbreaking. He sees “Mi-ho’s Life Plan” glued to her bed, and adds “Dae-woong and—” with a heart to the top. Aw.

Mi-ho goes to see Dong-joo. She doesn’t reveal what she knows, but asks what happened to Gil-dal to keep her from becoming human. He says bitterly that she mistook betrayal for love, and he’ll never let that happen to Mi-ho. He admits that he told Dae-woong that if he doesn’t return the fox bead that she’ll die.

Mi-ho looks down at his dagger, asking in a haunting tone if it would kill her. He says it will, and moves it, thinking nothing of her question. When he leaves the room, she decides, “I have to disappear.”

She comes home to an excited Dae-woong, who wonders why her reaction is so muted. He admits to coming home because he missed her, and asks why she didn’t tell him about the fact that she’d die if he didn’t return her bead.

He says that he’ll be faithful and return it on the hundredth day, as promised. Mi-ho looks up at him in tears, “I’m sure you would.” Thump. Heart? Meet floor.

Dae-woong wonders why she’s crying, and she says it’s because she likes him so much. He wipes her tears, saying, “When you’re near me, it stops hurting, right? I’ll never leave your side.”

He places her hand on his heart.

Dae-woong: I’ll protect you.
Mi-ho: And I’ll protect you.

COMMENTS

Aaaaack! How can my heart be torn in two directions by one turn of phrase? His declaration to protect her is the ultimate manly declaration of love, the perfect bookend to his squee-worthy “You take responsibility for me” in Episode 11. But then her use of it is soul-crushing, because she knows that to protect him, means to give up her life.

This is the kind of dramatic tension that I love. It’s mundane on the surface, but epic in consequence.

How can one mother-frakkin’ fox bead do this much damage to two hearts?

RELATED POSTS

185 September 23, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 13

by javabeans

Oh, My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho just kicked it up a notch. Yeah, I cried like a baby in Episode 13.

Ratings-wise, this week was a real hit, since Baker King is out of the picture. Numbers shot up to 15.2% for Episode 13, then even more to 19.2% for Episode 14, which aired back to back on Thursday night. (For consistency’s sake I use AGB numbers, which are more readily available, but TNS numbers for these two episodes were even higher — 19.4% and 22.5%.)

Meanwhile, Playful Kiss had a 5.8% (6.0% TNS) and Baker King’s special drew a 16.8% (17.9% TNS).

Special request: I know you’re all probably itching to discuss both episodes, but we’d really appreciate if you could keep the commentary in this recap to this episode. We promise the next one will be up for you to talk about soon!

SONG OF THE DAY

Suki (숙희) – “Missing You” [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 13 RECAP

Mi-ho is coming to terms with the idea of dying in order to protect Dae-woong, so the remaining days take on heightened meaning. Dae-woong had thought she’d want to cross the days off the calendar quickly to get to the human part, but she explains that every day with him is precious.

She wants to go for a “walk,” but now that Dae-woong’s all grown up and accepted his feelings, he calls it a proper date, taking her hand as he asks her out.

Adorably, when Dae-woong orders ice cream mash-ups for them, he uses terms Mi-ho understands best: cow color, mixed with some pig color and some chicken color. Mostly cow.

Then, Dae-woong notices an affectionate couple nearby — the ones who taught Mi-ho her cheesy finger guns — and gets the idea to feign tiredness as an excuse to lean on Mi-ho.

But Mi-ho takes him at face value and looks at him worriedly, then picks him up to carry him on piggyback. How appropriate for this drama to reverse another gender stereotype after giving us the wimpy hero and the assertive heroine. I love it.

Dae-woong sees the girl feeding her boyfriend, and opens his mouth to signal that he’d like some of that action… only to find that Mi-ho’s all done with her ice cream. How great that Dae-woong’s getting a taste of his own medicine, after Mi-ho tried to cozy up to him earlier.

Mi-ho looks over and sees the cheesy couple making hearts with their hands, and Dae-woong demonstrates a big one, lifting his arms over his head. In response, Mi-ho puts up V signs, which disappoints him — after his heart, all he gets is another cow reference?

Mi-ho’s explanation turns him around, though — she learned it from Aunt Min-sook, and they represent her “heart’s antenna,” always pointed in his direction. Aww.

Speaking of whom, Min-sook meets with Director Ban, who has come back directly from film shoots in the Chinese desert. So directly, in fact, that he smells. Min-sook suggests gently that they clean up and start fresh with a day at the saunas, so off they go — where Dae-woong and Mi-ho have also ended up.

Dae-woong has come back to Korea without the director’s knowledge, so he hurries to keep out of sight, and he and Mi-ho take refuge under a towel together. Director Ban sniffs at the public display of coupley affection, but Min-sook finds it sweet.

As they walk along, Dae-woong notices an elderly couple walking hand in hand and says that they’ll be like that in fifty years, which is a thought that dims Mi-ho’s mood.

Dae-woong shows Mi-ho how to toss a coin into a fountain to make a wish, and she thinks of how she has to leave him in order to save him:

Mi-ho: “But after I’m gone, don’t be too shocked or hurt. Even so, call for me every once in a while… Then I’ll live in your heart forever. Right? You’ll remember me forever, right?”

Hye-in is peeved to hear from Byung-soo and Sun-nyeo that the happy couple plans to go to China together while the movie finishes filming. Knowing Mi-ho’s identity, she doesn’t understand how Mi-ho could have a legitimate passport, but she suspects that Dong-joo’s behind it.

Dong-joo owns up to making the documents, but he intended to use them to send Mi-ho away. Since Mi-ho won’t budge, he decides that they have to work on Dae-woong, and tells Hye-in to scare him, to insist that he’s in danger and needs to stay away from Mi-ho. Hye-in resents being forced into this, but she’s still scared enough of the Gumiho Hunter to comply, albeit grudgingly.

Mi-ho sees that Dae-woong has posted up their life plan, and he’s fully onboard now. However, she grabs it down, saying they’ll have to put it away for the time being; she rushed into things, and she can think about those things after she’s human. Right now, she should think of what to do in the remaining 52 days of being a gumiho.

Dae-woong is a little concerned as he make sure that she doesn’t mean to get rid of the plan for good. She can’t answer that, so she deflects. As they flip through their photo album, Dae-woong things of all the things they can do to fill it, like going skiing in the winter, or preparing for Christmas.

Mi-ho knows it won’t snow within the next 50 days, but she agrees to his plan to fill the album with new photos. For instance, she wants to go to the zoo, which for some reason makes Dae-woong uneasy, and he suggests the aquarium as a substitute.

At the very end of the night, Mi-ho finally allows herself to cross that day off the chart. She even finds sleeping time to be a waste, and wants to stare at him all night.

The next day, Hye-in finds Dae-woong to try to dissuade him from bringing Mi-ho along with him, not convinced that it’s safe for him to keep the fox bead. She’s not doing this because she wants him, she says, but because she’s truly worried — she is positive that Mi-ho and Dong-joo must be hiding something. He’s being used by them for something, she can sense it.

To her surprise, Dae-woong admits freely that Mi-ho is using him, and that he told her to do so.

Dong-joo sees that he can’t stop Mi-ho, and just asks her to be sure to come back in a month. He makes an excuse to run an errand, asking Mi-ho to stay behind to wait for him, and she eagerly agrees. The reason being: She had actually followed Dong-joo when he went to put away his magical dagger, to make a note of where he kept it. With some time to search his place for it, she heads down to his Emo Lair.

Dong-joo’s no dummy, and he suspects that Mi-ho has figured out that she can kill herself to save Dae-woong. He waits a few minutes outside before heading back inside.

Mi-ho finds the case on the desk and opens it, and the blade starts to emit some sort of energy. Dong-joo’s voice cuts in to warn her not to touch it, and Mi-ho sees that she’s been caught. But she doesn’t make excuses or defend herself; she tells him, “I need your knife.”

Dong-joo asks whether she’ll kill herself if he tries to force the bead out of Dae-woong, and she nods. He confirms that she’s going to give herself up for him, and she answers, “I have to protect Dae-woong.”

This frustrates and angers Dong-joo, who calls her actions too one-sided, deciding everything on her own. She may love Dae-woong enough to die, but does he feel the same? Dong-joo believes not.

He tells Mi-ho to ask if Dae-woong could die for her, guessing she doesn’t have confidence in his answer. And given that, isn’t it too unfair and wrong for her to die for him? Furthermore, if Mi-ho dies without telling Dae-woong, he’ll soon forget her and another woman will take her place by his side.

Mi-ho asserts that Dae-woong would never forget her, but Dong-joo disdains her “immense fantasy about love.” Even if Mi-ho says she doesn’t feel that it’s unfair, he urges her to confirm it.

So she goes home and tries it out, presenting Dae-woong with a few what-if scenarios: What if they’re about to drown and there’s only one wooden plank? What if there was a fire and only one person could safely escape? What if they were clinging to a cliff, and there was only one rope?

Not understanding her motivation, Dae-woong laughs off the scenarios, saying that they’d never happen anyway. When she grows increasingly agitated, he concedes that he’d give her the cliff-rope, but he’s just humoring her and she knows it.

Calming down, Mi-ho consoles herself with the thought that he doesn’t have to want to die for her for their affection to be real: “That’s not what I want. All he has to do is keep remembering me. That I’m sure of.”

But even that conviction takes a hit when forgets that he already bought sneakers for her. She tests his memory, asking what they were running from when they met, and what he called her. His memory is intact but a little fuzzy on the details — like whether the leaves on the tree she put him in were pointy or round.

Mi-ho gets more and more worked up, and Dae-woong guesses that she must be worried that a fading memory is part of her de-gumiho-ifying process. She retorts that he’s wrong: “I remember everything!”

Again, a little time to calm down is enough to get her to convince herself that it’s okay if he forgets some things. She suggests that they go out today and make sure to remember everything about it, and he agrees. But he needs to be reminded of where she said she wanted to go yesterday, and that freaks her out again:

Mi-ho: “If you can’t remember what I said yesterday, what in the world will you remember? You’ll forget everything, and you won’t give me the rope, and you’ll be with Internet Slander [Hye-in] and Melong [“neener,” aka Sun-nyeo], won’t you? If that’s true, then it really will be too unfair to me!”

Mi-ho broods, asking the chicken ajumma if people just live on happily after someone dies. The ajumma says of course — the living have to keep living. If we all clung to our memories, we’d be crying all day and never be able to move on.

She realizes the wisdom of that and heads home to make up with Dae-woong, but finds the door locked. Thinking he’s mad at her, she apologizes to him through the closed door, but Dae-woong won’t open it, so she breaks open the door and heads in — where she finds that he’s surprising her with a packed lunch for their trip to the zoo.

They drop by to see Grandpa after their outing, and Grandpa surmises that Mi-ho must really be special to get Dae-woong to go to the zoo. After all, his parents had died in an accident after they were coming home from the zoo, and ever since, he hasn’t liked them.

She hadn’t known this, and it makes her reconsider things: “I just wanted you to remember me. I didn’t think of how painful that memory would be.”

As she and Dae-woong cross off Day 51 from the calendar, this puts them square in the middle of the 100-day process. She says, “I’m sorry if you feel pain, but I want to give you a lot of things to remember. Then I won’t feel wronged at all.” She thinks to herself that she’ll be satisfied with 50 days “that are more beautiful than 500 years.”

Day 50 marks the day of their departure for China, and the couple plans to meet at the airport, because Mi-ho has a few errands to run first. She makes the rounds saying her goodbyes to Dae-woong’s family and the chicken shop ajumma. While the others assume she’s saying goodbye for the duration of her short trip, she knows it’s for good.

Hye-in finds her to make one last attempt to stop Mi-ho from joining Dae-woong — she just has a bad feeling that something will happen to Dae-woong if Mi-ho continues to stay with him. She even threatens to reveal that Mi-ho is a gumiho, but Mi-ho laughs at that, since everyone will just think she’s crazy, especially since Mi-ho is now a documented citizen.

Hye-in snaps that Dae-woong’s the one who lost his mind. How did she bewitch him? Mi-ho replies simply: “By liking him. Because I liked him so so so so much, he liked me too.” If Hye-in wants to get a guy to like her, she out to try telling him she likes him so so so so much, too. And she teaches her the finger guns.

With that, Mi-ho says goodbye to the loft and gets ready to leave — which is when Dong-joo finds her, knowing she must have made up her mind to disappear in China.

Mi-ho asks if he thinks she looks pathetic for dying instead of Dae-woong. Dong-joo doesn’t see why she would do that for one measly human, but she thinks she’s rather impressive for doing it and asks him not to stop her.

Mi-ho: “I’m a gumiho and I can’t end up as a human, but to the one person I like, I can give everything. I like that me.”

Now Dong-joo reveals his motivation for trying to prevent Mi-ho from trodding down a path that, to him, is all to familiar:

Dong-joo: “I believed that doing what the other person wanted was love. I did that, and for more than a thousand years I have regretted it. I don’t want to repeat the same mistake.”

Mi-ho tells him, not unkindly, “I’m not your Gil-dal.”

Hye-in tells Dong-joo that there’s no stopping the couple, who are determined to leave together. So finally, Dong-joo brings out his last card, and says that the only thing he can do is tell Dae-woong the full truth.

He explains the whole gumiho-turns-human concept, including the part where the human who gives the bead back to the gumiho must die. Thus armed with the truth, a shocked Hye-in is instructed to stop Dae-woong from leaving with Mi-ho, at all costs.

Hye-in cuts off Dae-woong’s van as he’s leaving for the airport, and urges him to run away. By now he’s tired of her meddling, but this time she has important information to reveal: That if he stays with Mi-ho, he’ll die.

While they’re having their tete-a-tete, Dong-joo finds Mi-ho at the airport, waiting for Dae-woong, and tells her he can’t let her go after all. He drops the bomb that Dae-woong has now been made aware of the conditions of borrowing the bead.

Mi-ho is upset — why did he do that? She’d wanted to make sure he never found out the truth. She never wanted to put Dae-woong in the position of making that choice between dying or living for her.

Dong-joo insists that Dae-woong won’t come once he knows he’s dying — he’ll run far from her. Even if he came now, as death looms over his head, he’d run later. Once again, he calls her faith a foolish fantasy, and says that he’s here to shatter the illusion. That’s exactly why she can’t give Dae-woong the chance to make that choice honestly, because then her grand illusion of love will shatter. She needs to protect herself, and once she realizes that Dae-woong won’t come, she can accept the reality and live on (with the bead, of course).

Now Dae-woong understands the choice they face — that at the end of the 100 days, either he dies or Mi-ho dies. Hye-in thinks Dong-joo had his own reasons for telling her the truth, and Dae-woong deduces that this must be his way of breaking up the couple. He understands that he is expected to run.

Instead, he decides to go to Mi-ho, which prompts a shrill outburst from Hye-in, who can’t understand why he’d do that when being with Mi-ho would make him die. Dae-woong bursts out, “I won’t die!”

With that, he runs to the airport while Mi-ho waits for him, growing ever glummer the longer the wait grows. (One word, people: PHONES!)

All the while, Dong-joo keeps watching, and makes another, gentler push for her to listen to him. If she leaves it to him, he’ll take care of everything, and they can go together to Japan. She can rethink her decision over the next 50 days.

Dejectedly, Mi-ho agrees to try it his way, and walks with him as he leads her to buy new plane tickets. Except, the moment his back is turned to ask for directions, Mi-ho bolts. She races toward the exit, aided by a crowd that keeps Dong-joo from spotting her running away. As she runs, so does Dae-woong, speeding toward the terminal just as she’s leaving it.

She’s not quite sure where she’s going — I think she just wants to get away to think for herself — but she tells herself it’s okay even if Dae-woong doesn’t come, because her feelings aren’t fantasy.

And then, Dae-woong’s voice calls out to her from across the street. With purpose, he walks into the crosswalk, pausing at the halfway point to ask, almost angrily, “Are you just going to run? Even though I’m here?”

Her reaction mixing worry with relief, Mi-ho makes up her mind, and starts walking toward him, meeting him halfway. (Agh! All this symbolism about meeting in the middle? IT KEELS ME. In the good way, not in the OMG what do you mean Dae-woong’s gonna die? way.)

He confirms that it’s true that one of them must die, and challenges, “Since that’s all decided, you want me to just sit still and accept it, or to save myself and run away?! Well, I can’t do that. I won’t!”

He turns his head to see Dong-joo watching, and tells her he won’t accept those two options: “Half of the 100 days have passed. Mi-ho — take the bead now.”

What in the WHAT? Mi-ho’s scared of that prospect, and Dae-woong admits that he doesn’t know what’ll happen. “But,” he adds with a pointed look at Dong-joo, “that guy won’t know either.”

Dae-woong: “We’ll make the decision and take it how it goes. I’ll give up half my life, and you’ll give up becoming human, and we’ll see what happens. I don’t know if we’ll live or die.”
Mi-ho: “Then we’re both grabbing the only rope.”

Dae-woong nods.

Dae-woong: “Mi-ho. I love you. So I won’t die alone for you, and don’t die for me either.”
Mi-ho: “Dae-woong, I love you. I won’t die for you, and don’t do it for me either.”
Dae-woong: “As the person who loves you, this is my decision. Who knows where this will go, but let’s do it together. If we live, we both live. And if we die, we die together.”

With that, Dae-woong kisses Mi-ho while a tear falls from his eye.

He pulls back momentarily, then moves in close again — and this time, a blue light starts to glow between their mouths as Mi-ho retrieves her bead.

Dong-joo looks at this in angry disbelief, while back in his lair, this cosmic disturbance sends the Sandglass of Doom toppling — with the sand divided perfectly in half, equally among both chambers.

 
COMMENTS

AH! This episode KILLED me. I was completely onboard, hook, line, and sinker, which I realize is a total mixed metaphor but I don’t have enough brainpower to think of one that makes sense right now.

Actually, it wasn’t until the latter half of the episode that the awesome really happened, because in the first half, I thought things were cute but wondered when the story would really kick in. But then the second half happened, and BOY DID IT EVER kick things up a notch.

I’m glad Dae-woong found out the truth one episode after Mi-ho did, because I hate these noble idiots who always decide to shoulder big burdens without telling the other person, thinking they’re sparing them pain. And I love that the growth is as much an emotional, mental thing as it is a romantic one — as the story progresses, the more Dae-woong is becoming assured of himself. His speech at the end? HOT DAMN it was fantastic. As I mentioned in the recap, the motif of “halfway” was done particularly well — it was built into multiple aspects of this episode with the 50 days, the crosswalk, the sandglass.

I’m sure we’ve all harbored our own theories and suspicions about what would happen with the fox bead, but I was still happily surprised by Dae-woong’s decision to remove it now. I wasn’t expecting him to be so decisive or commanding, but he really impressed me with his reaction. I was not surprised that he ran back to Mi-ho instead of running away (that was a gimme), but his conclusion about taking that step together was a very nice twist on that expectation.

It has the added benefit of flouting known gumiho lore — Dong-joo can’t interfere because he doesn’t have all the answers — and this sets up a metaphor I particularly enjoy: they’re heading into the unknown together.

RELATED POSTS

239 September 24, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 14

by girlfriday

Episode 13’s game-changer was a tough act to follow for sure, and I was a little worried that we’d sap all the dramatic tension out of the story once all the rules went out the window. Thankfully, the dramatic tension still abounds, but sadly, it means that the old rules just get replaced with new ones. As it turns out though, it doesn’t much matter what the macguffin is, since these characters, without fail, make me laugh out loud and clutch my heart as they race toward the finish line. Get ready for the angst, people. It’s a-comin’.

 
EPISODE 14 RECAP

After the epic tears-falling, fox-bead-exchanging kiss, they check on each other in relief, thinking they’ve beat the odds. Dae-woong smiles as he says they’re fine…and then slumps unconscious in Mi-ho’s arms.

Byung-soo helps rush him to the hospital, where he and Mi-ho watch helplessly as Dae-woong gets carted into the emergency room. Dong-joo the Lovejoy Killer shows up just to point out that her choice was a stupid one. Yeah, that’s not helping right now.

Mi-ho gets called to Dae-woong’s room, and she walks cautiously with each step. She sees Dae-woong lying there, almost dead, and decides she’s got to give the fox bead back. Dong-joo stops her, saying that it’s too late, and there’s nothing she can do. He holds her firmly by the hand.

Just then, Dae-woong stirs awake. The first thing he says? “Let go of that hand.” HA. Nothing like jealousy to bring a guy back from the brink of death.

He tells Dong-joo to let go of Mi-ho’s hand because he’s perfectly fine, and that fortune tellers have always told his grandfather that Dae-woong would live till 120. He figures he’s still got 50 good years left in the aftermath of the ki-halving. Heh.

Dong-joo walks away defeated for now, wondering to himself if his course has now been changed by one human being’s decision. “One person’s decision…for another person.” He thinks back to Dae-woong’s declaration at the airport and the choices they made for love, which are earth-shattering to Dong-joo’s worldview. I do adore the idea that their love is something that changes a thousand-year-old being’s view of love and sacrifice.

Mi-ho worries, but Dae-woong insists he’s fine. He checks on her, but the fox bead’s keeping her safe. She wonders if it’ll end up re-growing the four tails she’s lost. Dae-woong pulls her close (Swoon.) and says that he was cool with her being a gumiho, so he’s fine with an oh-miho (oh = five). God, how cute are you?

They worry that traveling to China will be hard on them, so they decide to use the hospital visit as an excuse to earn some time from Director Ban. Mi-ho pats her tummy, telling the fox bead to be safe in there…

Which is of course right when Grandpa, Aunt Min-sook, and Byung-soo arrive on the other side of the curtain. Grandpa demands to know what “bead” they’re talking about. Dae-woong freaks out at first, not knowing how to explain his way out of this one…until Grandpa finishes the sentence for him. “How can you not tell me about my great-grandchild?”

HAHAHAHA. The look on Dae-woong’s face goes from scared to WTF, as he realizes that Grandpa thinks they’re talking in cutesy terms about their unborn child. He tries to convince them that she’s not pregnant, but nobody believes him. When Grandpa insists they go get Mi-ho examined by a doctor right away to be sure, Dae-woong steps in front of her, and announces, “It’s true. She’s…carrying my bead.” Hahaha. Oh my god, this gag coming out of nowhere cracks me up.

Grandpa shoves Dae-woong aside to hug Mi-ho in delight, while Byung-soo claps and Aunt Min-sook silently judges.

Dong-joo and Hye-in commiserate on the state of affairs. Hye-in can’t believe that Dae-woong would risk his life that way—that’s not the Dae-woong she knows. Dong-joo says that he must’ve changed because he met someone who was willing to give all of herself…and so he became that kind of person too. Yeah, thanks for that. Steal a recapper’s thunder, why don’t you. That’s MY job, the commentary, thank you very much.

He does add one tidbit of gloom and doom: he doesn’t know what will happen, since Mi-ho still has his blood in her system. Good to know all the dramatic tension hasn’t vanished with the kiss.

Grandpa declares that Mi-ho is to stay at the house from now on, what with the “bead” to take care of. Dae-woong will stay for a few days and then head to China, and Grandpa plans to look after Mi-ho while he’s gone. They head upstairs to Dae-woong’s room, and Mi-ho looks up at him expectantly, “Are we…staying together…in one room?”

He perks up at the implication of sex, but Mi-ho starts to shake her head. She’s already taken half of his ki—she can’t take any more. Dae-woong reasons that she’s taken half and he’s fine, so he thinks it’ll be okay to take some more. She shakes her head no. Too dangerous. Dae-woong and I both sigh.

Dae-woong: “I wasn’t even thinking about that.” Mi-ho: “I think about it…a lot.” Pwahaha. I love her. He starts to pout, and Mi-ho says they’ll have to wait out the hundred days to be sure that it’s safe.

She tells him he has to be patient, and he counters that she’ll be the one who has to be patient, since she’s the one always jumping him. Heh. Even she can’t argue with that. In order to keep her mind off of mating, she kicks him out of his own room.

Aunt Min-sook calls Director Ban to thank him for giving Dae-woong some time off, and I don’t even know what else they’re saying because I’m laughing so hard at him wearing his Kill Bill tracksuit. It turns out that Min-sook’s true source of angst isn’t in judging Mi-ho, but in becoming a grandmother before ever becoming someone’s wife or mother.

Hye-in drowns her sorrows in beer, and then makes a rash decision to send Aunt Min-sook the picture of Mi-ho’s tail, telling her to keep an eye on her. It does make me laugh how ineffectual this second lead is.

Mi-ho starts to feel feverish in the middle of the night, and Dong-joo notes in the presence of his visual aid, the half/half mystical sandglass of ki, that if the fox bead and human essence can mix safely within her…she might end up half-human like him.

She wakes up, eyes glowing blue and possessed by the fox bead’s voracious hunger for human ki. She steals into Dae-woong’s room, getting handsy till he stirs awake. She gets on top of him and leans in close, “Let’s share our ki.” Whoa. Hubba-hubba. Startled, Dae-woong scoots back and reminds her that they have to be patient. But he sees her blue eyes and realizes that she’s under the influence of the fox bead.

She ends up chasing him around the room, wanting to mate. (Seriously, how hilarious and awesome is it that I get to write that sentence?) Dae-woong hears his aunt looking for them, so he tries to get Mi-ho to calm down. She starts getting angry about losing four of her tails, so Dae-woong thinks quickly and grabs one of his aunt’s fur coats (made of fox tails, of course) and that’s enough to calm Mi-ho down and put her to sleep.

He carries her back into his room, now that she’s asleep and back to her normal self. As he puts her down, she wakes up, and seeing Dae-woong above her, she jumps up and pushes him off the bed. Hahaha. She yells at him, thinking he couldn’t even wait one night, and chastises him for letting a gumiho beat him in the waiting game.

Dae-woong sets her straight, reminding her that she’s the one who came to his room wanting to share her ki. She doesn’t remember, but Dae-woong brushes it off as a side effect of getting her bead back, and says that he’ll look after her.

And then he sits by her bedside, watching her sleep.

Mi-ho: Woong-ah, what if I change like that, every single day?
Dae-woong: Then every single day…I’ll watch over you.

Aw. Seriously. AW. He holds her hand and tells her everything’s going to be okay.

The next morning, there’s no meat at the breakfast table, and Mi-ho’s eyes turn blue, as she starts zombie-chanting for meat. Dae-woong sees it in time and leads her away, covering her eyes.

He asks if she’s okay, but then she looks down at Ddoong-ja, chanting, “Meat, meat…” NO! Don’t eat the dog! Seriously, move her out of there before she eats your dog in a fit of fox-bead-induced hunger! Aunt Min-sook comes by so he holds her close, pretending to play games with her, which of course makes his aunt want to vomit from the cute.

Dae-woong decides that they’ll have to tell Grandpa the truth and move back into the loft, and goes to see Dong-joo to ask about Mi-ho’s condition. He doesn’t like that he has to be there, but he knows that Dong-joo will know more about her state, and tells him that he doesn’t care if she goes back to the way she was, as long as she can live.

Dong-joo says he doesn’t know anymore either. What he does know is that she’s got half human ki and half gumiho ki inside her, while the blood of a half-human that could kill both, runs through her veins. Well that’s a whole lot of mystical mumbo jumbo mixing around a girl’s insides.

Dong-joo tells him that if the two kis can mix properly, then she’ll become a half-human, like him, and his blood will stop killing her. If they don’t, then she’ll die. Aw, man. I KNEW IT, Show. I knew you were going to throw away one road for her to die and just put another one back in its place.

Dae-woong asks for a way to be sure. Dong-joo tells him that on the 55th day, the fifth death will come. If she doesn’t lose a tail, then his blood will have stopped killing her. If she does, then by the end of the hundred days, she’ll surely die.

After taking a family picture, Dae-woong tells Grandpa the truth, leaving him devastated. In getting back to their loft, they leave a wake of disappointed people, making Mi-ho feel guilty that she’s made everyone in Dae-woong’s life mad at him. He assures her that it’s not because of her, but she isn’t convinced.

Byung-soo wonders why Dae-woong made up such a backwards lie (because most people would lie that they weren’t pregnant), and asks if he’s really going to marry Mi-ho within the year. He reminds him of his dream to live like Brad Pitt (haha), but Dae-woong responds that he’s got to live twice the life in half the time, so he’s got none to waste. What a great distance you’ve traveled since your days as a lifelong serial slacker.

Dong-joo comes by on the 55th day, to remind Dae-woong of the stakes. Dae-woong shoots back that he knows what day it is, without Dong-joo having to come here to point it out. This pair being at odds is so great because it’s not just jealousy and bravado, but those things infuse all the life-and-death talk with lots of character nuance.

Dae-woong comes home and frets over Mi-ho, declaring that “they” have to mix well so “it” stops. Mi-ho doesn’t understand what he’s saying, so she thinks he means that she has to stop changing into her gumiho form. He just begs her to hold on till the hundred days are over, and to stay an oh-miho.

That night, he watches over her from his balcony as she sleeps. She darts awake in the middle of the night and runs to the bathroom. He runs over to the door to see if she’s okay, but she comes out smiling…she’s lost another tail. She beams, thinking this means that she’s still on her way to becoming human, but Dae-woong’s heart drops a thousand feet.

He sits outside, processing the truth—she’s dying.

Mi-ho wonders if she’s made him worry, but he can’t tell her anything, (Gah, WHY?) so he rushes off to meet Dong-joo. They meet on a rooftop…to battle it out for her heart? No, just a pretty place to meet. Dae-woong asks for a way to stop it, to keep her from dying.

Dong-joo tells him the one way that she can be saved: Dae-woong has to leave her side. What? WHAT, now? Show…we were doing so well. So. Well. Don’t turn into Cancer on me now. Don’t do it. Don’t turn into Noble Cancer Death, complete with Forced Separation For Your Own Damn Good I Swear.

Dong-joo tells him that the two kis are having a hard time mixing because Mi-ho is still holding on to her hope of becoming human. Oh, really? You sure do know a lot about her new condition all of a sudden, Emo Boy. He says that the only way for her to live through this is to give up that dream and the life she was planning with Dae-woong. Should we be trusting this guy? Where’s the exposition goblin when you need him?

Dae-woong declares that he doesn’t care what Mi-ho is, gumiho or whatever else, and she knows it too. He can’t believe that they’ve gone from only-one-survives, to separate-to-survive. Yeah, me neither, buddy. He can’t accept that the only way for them both to live…is to be apart.

Dong-joo points out that this is his own doing, since Dae-woong is the one who made the decision, universe be damned, to find a way for both of them to survive. This is the consequence. Damn it, Dae-woong! You messed with the Universe! Now look what you did. But the sharing of the kis, the meeting halfway—it was so poetic, so perfect. This can’t be the consequence!

Dong-joo tells him to weigh his decision carefully. He adds that if Dae-woong leaves, he’ll take his place by Mi-ho’s side and teach her how to live in this world, as someone like him. Oh. No. You. Di’n’t, Dog Teacher.

Dae-woong heads home to find Mi-ho waiting for him, and she continues to be excited at the prospect of losing all her tails and becoming human. Dae-woong tries to tell her that he’s happy the way they are now. “Can’t you just stay like this, by my side?” But she tells him not to give up on her becoming human. Which is why you should TELL HER. If it’s just a state of mind, then wouldn’t knowing that human = death compel her to want the other thing?

He tells her that she’ll grow old and die, but she wants to do all those things, with him. He realizes that with him by her side, she’ll never give those things up, and he could never ask her to.

Dae-woong stays up watching her sleep that night, knowing what he has to do. He comes down and takes her hand, holding it lovingly, tears forming in his eyes. He kisses it ever so sweetly as he holds back his tears. Gah. Okay, I will concede. The plot shift is not my favorite, but for a bout of angst from Dae-woong? It might be worth it.

The next morning he takes Mi-ho for a drive, and she asks brightly if they’re taking a trip. Don’t go to the ocean! Nope, not a trip. Oh, whew. To Grandpa’s house, then? Nope, not there either. Then where? To Dong-joo…oh crap.

Mi-ho asks why they’re going there, which is when Dae-woong starts his rehearsed breakup speech. With tears welling up, he tells her that he’s not okay with it anymore—the changing, the following him around, the having to lie to everyone in his life. He uses her gumiho-possessions as an excuse to say that it scares him, and that he can’t do it anymore.

Mi-ho immediately says that she’ll stop all of it; she’ll do anything. Ack! Someone, make the bleeding heart stop.

He pulls over and tells her to get out. He grits his teeth and deals the final blow: he’s grown attached to her, but now there’s no guarantee that she’ll ever be human, and he can’t go on like this. He asked her to leave once and she did; he asks her to leave quietly again, because he can’t stand to see her anymore. I really don’t know who to be more heartbroken over right now.

Mi-ho stands there in the street, shell-shocked as Dae-woong drives off. Once inside the car, he starts to cry as he leaves her behind, her reflection growing smaller in his rearview mirror.

Mi-ho tries to convince herself that Dae-woong is just having a hard time, and that it’ll all be better if she tries harder. Oh my god, you’re breaking my heart pieces into even smaller pieces right now.

Dae-woong starts pounding soju, and Byung-soo tries to stop him. He grabs the bottle back, saying:

Dae-woong: I have to lose my mind. There’s no way she’ll leave in one go. She’ll come back, and when she does, I have to completely lose it, and act like a crazy bastard.

Gaaaah, I mostly hate Noble Idiots, but you’re starting to win me over, Angsty Dae-woong. Your motives are pure and you wear your heart on your sleeve, so I can’t help but be all melty.

Mi-ho runs into Hye-in who doesn’t say anything new, but lays it on thick about her being a monster, kicking her while she’s down. When she gets home, Dae-woong is already there, passed out. Byung-soo tells her that he drank because he’s having a hard time over something, and tells her to take good care of him.

When he wakes up in the morning, Mi-ho greets him eagerly. He tries to be gruff with her, but she’s her adorable self, reminding him that she’s like super glue—did he really think he’d get rid of her that easily? But he can’t chicken out now. He declares that if she isn’t going to leave then he will, and walks out.

She stops him, asking to go with him, pleading to just be angry if he’s angry, and do whatever he likes, just as long as she can stay by his side. He falters for a second at her words, but regains his composure, and tells her that he doesn’t see her the same way anymore, because he knows her true nature.

Mi-ho: “Then what do you see me as?” His lips quiver and angry tears form, hating himself as the words come out: “A monster.”

Ooof. That was a sucker punch, Show. That hurt. But I appreciate that you went to the dark place—if we’re gonna go, let’s go all the way.

Dae-woong runs as fast as his legs will carry him, as Mi-ho watches from the rooftop. She starts to cry as she watches him leave her, and rain comes pouring down. Dae-woong stops in his tracks when it starts to rain, and he stands there soaking wet, crying as he feels her tears fall from the sky.

One month later, Dae-woong returns from China with the rest of the cast and crew, having completed the overseas shoot. He arrives home at Grandpa’s house and unpacks, sighing as he takes out his couple ring, now kept in a box. His heart sinks as he says it’s already the 88th day. Aw, he’s kept count.

He goes to Dong-joo’s vet office, but finds that it’s been closed for a while now. He muses that they really must’ve picked up and moved somewhere far.

Mi-ho gets stopped by someone in the street, and we see that she isn’t wearing her ring either. When asked her name, she turns and says, “Park Sun-joo,” with a smile.

COMMENTS

I don’t usually fall for the mega-angst. Mostly because I traded my heart once for a mystical bead and when I wanted it back, the gypsy said no. But MY GOD, I’m so riveted by the angst, and I’m not even entirely sure why. I usually hate the noble idiot, and the forced separation. Okay, I still hate the forced separation, but I’m willing it go with it because it makes for some great moments of heightened drama, and we’ve already fast-forwarded past the separation period. And perhaps it helps that this noble idiot is played by Lee Seung-gi. But I don’t think that’s it. (Or all of it.)

Granted that the supernatural rule-changing is more than a little clumsy (such a crutch that Dong-joo just knows everything), but within this world, the rules are the fabric of the story. They’re not artificial conflicts, because the heightened premise allows for these do-or-die scenarios. But more importantly, the emotions are organic to the characters. They’re swept along by this larger-than-life dilemma, and Destiny is no longer an abstract idea—it’s an actual obstacle for the couple, to battle the universe and to make their own fate. And that? Is gripping, and heartbreaking, and beautiful.

What I hate is when characters do this sort of thing without sufficient reason to do so, just for the sake of angst. In those cases, Angst is the driver and the characters get taken for the ride. But here, the reason is still life-and-death. It’s not as compelling a dynamic as one-must-die-for-the-other-to-live, but it’s still high-stakes, which is what matters, narratively. Here the characters and their organic emotions are the driver, and Angst is along for the ride. And so am I.

RELATED POSTS

156 September 29, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 15

by javabeans

I was expecting a lower-key, sort of mellow episode today, and sure enough, we get the typical Episode 15 lull. The episode contains some necessary moments and does truthfully need to go through some of this stuff before heading into the finale — otherwise the ending feels unearned and jammed together — but it also makes for a quieter watch. A calm before the storm, perhaps.

SONG OF THE DAY

Lee Seung-gi – “면사포” (Bridal veil) [ Download ]

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

 
EPISODE 15 RECAP

So here we are, one month after the breakup, and Mi-ho is very much alive and well and using Park Sun-joo as her name. Upon his return to Korea from the film shoot, Dae-woong sees that Dong-joo has closed up shop and figures that they’ve moved on together.

Dae-woong reacts when a cafe waitress’s name is called — Park Sun-joo — but it turns out to be another woman. Shaking his head, he reminds himself that there’s no reason for her to still be in Seoul, which is when Mi-ho walks by behind him.

Her name gets called out too (Park Sun-joo, that is), and Dae-woong again looks for her. His view is blocked by a taxi and another person, so he figures disappointedly that Park Sun-joo is a common name.

He walks on as her taxi passes right by him, neither aware of the other’s presence.

Dae-woong returns to the action school loft, which has remained untouched since he has been away. Seeing mementos of their time together still there, he tells himself it’s a good thing that she left everything behind.

Mi-ho meets up with Dong-joo for lunch on their way to take care of errands for their upcoming wedding. But Mi-ho doesn’t show any excitement for the big day, and relegates all the decision-making to him.

Dong-joo wants to pick everything according to her preference, but Mi-ho tells him to choose everything, from the food they order to the dress she’ll wear. It’s almost sad seeing him trying to please her and having her sit glumly through it, until you remember that Dong-joo is an interfering butt who is blocking the path of True Love, and then you figure he’s getting off easy.

Dong-joo tells Mi-ho to be sure to invite Dae-woong to the wedding, so that he can see that she’s doing well. If she can be assured that he’s fine, it’ll help her forget him and move on herself. Dong-joo says the last bit as though he’s trying to convince himself, actually; it’s no secret that Mi-ho has lost her spark since leaving Dae-woong.

Dong-joo has, at least, come clean about what her disappearing tails means, and that continuing to lose them indicates that his blood is continuing to kill her. All this time, he has remained hopeful that if Mi-ho is able to forget Dae-woong and accept her half-blood nature, her gumiho side will strengthen and she will stop the dying process. However, to date it hasn’t happened, and he notes with some concern that another death is scheduled for tonight. If this tail dies, too, she only has one left.

Mi-ho isn’t sure if she’s gotten over Dae-woong enough to stop the process, but in any case, they’ll find out tonight. Hmm, interesting — it’s a clever device of measuring the state of her real feelings, since the tails don’t lie.

But! Surprise of all surprises! Mi-ho has removed her fox bead.

She sneaks down to Dong-joo’s lair and takes out a vial from its hiding place. She says, “I can’t stop — I’m going to disappear. It’s a good thing I took out the bead that contains Dae-woong’s life, because this won’t disappear.”

Aww. It’s heartbreakingly sweet that she’d rather die than continue living a blank human-like existence, because she knows her love won’t ever change.

Dae-woong takes Ddoong-ja out for a walk, stopping by the convenience store for a beverage. He leaves the dog out in front, who trots off to meet someone off in the distance — Mi-ho, who dangles a treat for her.

This is their usual routine, since Mi-ho has been coming out to meet the dog every day when Aunt Min-sook walks her, without Min-sook knowing. She chats with the dog for a moment, then gets up to leave before her owner returns.

Dae-woong emerges from the store moments after Mi-ho walks away, so they miss seeing each other, but Ddoong-ja starts to bark and refuses to move at Dae-woong’s prodding. Instead, she takes off running.

And this leads Dae-woong right to Mi-ho.

Well, this is awkward. They’re both doing the thing where they believe they’re acting for the other person’s benefit while withholding the truth, and while this sacrificial Noble Idiot Syndrome is par for the course for a kdrama, it still drives me batty. Dae-woong thinks that staying apart will save her life, while Mi-ho has to keep up the facade that she’s over him so he won’t feel bad about breaking her heart. And her bead. And my brain.

She explains her presence in Korea by saying that she’s got a few things to take care of before she leaves. He asks if she has given up her hope of becoming human and is planning to live like Dong-joo, and she says yes.

She gives him a bunch of lies about how she is comfortable living among people who don’t know what she is, and how Dong-joo’s a big help. In fact, she likes things (so so so much) the way they are now.

Mi-ho takes out the invitation and hands it over, telling Dae-woong that he can rest assured that she’s fine and doesn’t have to feel guilty. He looks at it, but hands it back, saying he doesn’t need it. And then we see that she’s accidentally given him a voucher for cosmetics. Ha! (And not a moment too soon — we needed some levity to undercut some of this melancholy.)

Mi-ho fumbles in her purse for the right envelope, but Dae-woong realizes that the dog has wandered off and starts looking for her. Thankfully, a call with Grandpa confirms that Ddoong-ja found her own way home.

However, Dae-woong finds it odd that Mi-ho couldn’t smell the dog’s scent, or hear his phone call with Grandpa. Thinking that this means she’s continuing to die, he asks if her powers really are that weak now. Mi-ho makes the excuse that she’s deliberately hiding her abilities to mix in with people, but he knows the truth and is alarmed at the signs of her deteriorated powers. She can’t even break free of his grasp when he holds her back, and he urges her to shake him off to prove that she’s just faking her weakness.

Mi-ho pointedly says that she chooses not to, so people won’t call her a monster like he did, and his grasp slackens at that reminder. She uses that barbed tone to keep his questions at bay and heads off. But with his suspicious on high alert, now Dae-woong is determined to find out how many tails she has left, and decides to stick close to her till he can check in the moonlight.

At least one couple’s still happy, although Director Ban has to do some sweet-talking to coax Min-sook out of a sulk because he’s trying to plan their wedding around his filming schedule. (She thinks it should be the other way around.) She feels hurt at their slapdash engagement, but haste is a big consideration since she is pregnant.

Although I’m not a fan of this subplot, I’ll give the drama credit for making it ridiculous and over-the-top, because at least it has that cheesy-entertaining factor. Without it, it would just be boring. Case in point: Director Ban’s way of winning her over is to tell her that he after meeting her, his favorite activity (drinking coffee) has diminished considerably, because “You fill the emptiness inside — you’re love’s coffee.” (Groooooaaaaaan, am I right?)

In order to make sure Dae-woong receives Mi-ho’s wedding invitation, Dong-joo gives it to Hye-in, who in turn fobs it off on Sun-nyeo and Byung-soo. The latter two are shocked, because they’d figured that the couple would work things up and get back together.

They wonder at Hye-in’s involvement in this, but she sighs for them to drop it; it’s so unbelievable that they’re better off not knowing. Naturally, this just piques their curiosity further, and they envision possible scenarios.

Like… Dae-woong crashing the wedding to grab Mi-ho, leaving Dong-joo stranded at the altar.

But they recall that Hye-in said the story was unbelievable, so they reimagine the scene… only with Dae-woong grabbing Dong-joo out instead. Bwahaha! (I was expecting this twist since I’ve seen it done on Nonstop, but it still gets a guffaw, especially with the absurdly moony look Dong-joo is giving Dae-woong.)

But no, they’re sure Dae-woong doesn’t swing that way. So a third scenario entails Dae-woong bursting in to stop the wedding… because the three of them are all siblings! Together, they must unite to avenge the enemies of their parents.

You’ve got to give it to the Hong sisters; they know dramas, and they do love to poke fun at their own profession. No cliche is sacred, no convention above mockery.

Dae-woong keeps following Mi-ho, latching on to any excuse to kill time while he waits for the moonrise. Insisting on eating meat together has two purposes: the first is to pass the time, but it’s also to remind her of things she liked and to test her lies.

Korean language sidebar: Mi-ho balks at his hovering, saying that they’re nothing to each other now. Dae-woong agrees, saying he doesn’t even know what her last name is now, which is a reference to the changing of her tails. He’d named her Gu Mi-ho out of the word gumiho, and gu means nine, as in her original number of tails. As each one died, she’d jokingly changed her moniker accordingly — palmiho (eight), ohmiho (five), and so on. He wants to know what her “last name” is now — Sa (four)? Sam (three)?

Dae-woong he refuses to leave until she buys him meat; since he bought her mountains of it, she can do that much. He grills each piece one by one, knowing he’s testing her endurance as she pretends she’s not interested.

Mi-ho turns it around on him, calling his bluff that he can sit here for hours eating meat, forcing him to live up to that. Uneasily, he chokes down bite after bite, knowing he’s got a long way till nightfall.

Afterward, he asks for cider, and the vending machine eats her coin. Unwilling to wait for a repairman, Mi-ho kicks the machine. It coughs up her coin, but Dae-woong is concerned at how weak her kick has become — she used to be so strong cans would come popping out from one blow.

Dae-woong feigns a headache to appeal to her sympathy, explaining that he feels better now that he’s close to her bead. Knowing that’s a lie, Mi-ho calls him on it and says that she’s going to tell everyone he’s a stalker if he keeps following. He only wants to check on her tails, but she retorts that that makes him a pervert, plus he’s a mooch on top of it.

That hurts a little, but it’s not enough to shake him loose. He follows her onto the bus.

But Mi-ho thinks fast and quickly steps off the bus, trapping him on it. By the time he races back to the bus stop, she’s hidden herself out of sight. He looks around frantically for her as she says, “You can’t know what condition I’m in. You have to think I’m living happily.”

Dong-joo tells her that Dae-woong will get the invitation tomorrow; he’ll get the message once he sees Mi-ho marrying and leaving. Mi-ho apologizes for messing up his plans to live unobtrusively, but he says that her very existence makes things okay, since we know he’s still feeling burdened by his old mistake.

With one death occurring every eleven days, today marks Day 88 and Death 8. Mi-ho starts to feel the onset of pain and does her best to hide it from Dong-joo, excusing herself when the pain grows too strong.

She heads to the basement to retrieve her fox bead and holds it to her chest, doing so quietly because she knows it would upset Dong-joo to know she removed her bead.

Dae-woong is also aware of the schedule and worries at home, hoping Mi-ho is okay. Finally, her eighth tail disappears, and her pain starts to subside. Mi-ho puts the bead back into its hiding spot, at which point Dong-joo appears in the doorway. He’d grown suspicious and come to check up on her.

She makes up an excuse, but Dong-joo catches on and asks if she lost another tail. She confirms it.

Seeing his reaction, she asks him to let her go now so they can go their separate ways, but he refuses to give up on her. As long as she has a tail left, she still has life in her, and that means she still has a chance. (A chance at a long, healthy, and miserable life.)

Unable to tamp down his worry over Mi-ho’s potential eighth death, Dae-woong hurries out of the house. He’s stopped by Grandpa, who wants him to accompany his aunt as she goes about her wedding preparations, and with reluctance, he complies. He’s so impatient for the errands to end that Min-sook is put out by his eagerness to leave.

We can see the chess pieces being moved into place, with the Park party also finalizing their plans at the wedding hall. Yep, that’s the look of an excited bride, all right.

The two parties just miss each other (of course), and Dae-woong and Min-sook take a seat with the event planner. While looking through the calendar, Dae-woong notices the names Park Dong-joo and Park Sun-joo, but he shrugs it off as yet another coincidence.

But he runs into them as they exit the hall, and he is both stunned and hurt to realize that they’re marrying. Harshly, he says that she was doing fine after all, feeling foolish for worrying.

Now Mi-ho gives him the invitation and says a casual bye, saying she’ll see him at the wedding. With tears in his eyes, he asks if she thinks he’ll really go to her wedding, so she offers up her goodbye here.

Driven by hurt, Dae-woong says, “Yeah, let’s not see each other anymore.”

He blinks back his tears as they walk away, and tells himself that it’s all for the best.

Min-sook reads between the lines and guesses that it was Dae-woong who was dumped, not Mi-ho. She shares this with Grandpa, who notes that she was around the same age as Dae-woong when she was first dumped, and she recalls fondly how Dae-woong was always around to console her.

A brief series of flashbacks take us to her first dumping, in 1991, punctuated by the distinctive strains of one of the hit pop songs of the era — Shin Seung-hoon! Zipping forward to another breakup in 1999, the soundtrack lands on G.O.D., and finally ends with a Yoon Do-hyun ballad in 2005. Cute.

Min-sook decides to return the favor by consoling him, so she and Grandpa dote on him at lunch and treat him with extra care. Alas, the mention of meat brings Dae-woong down; she’d forgotten that that was Mi-ho’s thing.

Byung-soo urges Dae-woong to get over Mi-ho, offering to clean out the loft for him. The director has decided to clear it out and they’ll need to throw out the things left behind.

Mi-ho looks through a photo album, which has been filled with snapshots of Dae-woong taken secretly while he was filming his movie. Unbeknownst to him, Mi-ho had followed him to China and watched from the sidelines, and now she muses that the reason she knows the words stalker, pervert, and mooch is because she learned them while following him around.

For instance, she saw a lurker being chewed out by a crew member and called a stalker and pervert, while she herself was called a mooch for freeloading food from the staff.

Dong-joo comes upon her looking at the album, and reminds her that the wedding was her idea. Mi-ho realizes she has to go retrieve one last thing, and Dong-joo tries to stop her. He appeals to her to leave it behind — that’s the reason they’re going far away, and while she still has life, she still has a chance to make it. But she needs to leave everything behind here.

Mi-ho won’t be deterred, and shakes off his hand.

Sun-nyeo looks through photos taken in China, and a figure in the background looks an awful lot like Mi-ho. Byung-soo wants to pretend that it’s not her, for Dae-woong’s own peace of mind, but just then Dae-woong appears by his side to take a look, curious to see what they’re looking at.

Immediately he recognizes Mi-ho, but Byung-soo loudly protests, saying it can’t be her. Dae-woong plays along, saying that it isn’t her, though clearly he doesn’t really believe that.

The thing Mi-ho needs to retrieve is the old photo album — the one full of happy pictures — and she finds it back at the action school loft. Upon seeing the chicken leg, she decides she’ll just add that, too — but then she sees the digital camera ad poster and doesn’t want to leave that behind, either. Worrying that at this rate she won’t be able to leave anything behind, she puts the other things back and only takes the album.

Seeing the incomplete calendar on the wall, she marks through the rest of the days that have passed, stopping at Day 9.

Hearing someone approaching, Mi-ho ducks into the bathroom just as Dae-woong arrives, here to clear things out. He’s puzzled at the missing album, and then sees the calendar, freshly marked. There’s obviously only one person who could have done it, and conveniently, this also tips him off that she came by today.

Mi-ho hears the front door close, and cautiously comes out, thinking it’s safe — only to run into Dae-woong right in front of the door, waiting for her.

Mi-ho hides the album behind her back, but he sees it and grabs it from her. She tries to maintain her attitude of being indifferent to him, but he’s on to her now and asks if she followed him to China. He doesn’t believe her weak denial.

Again, Dae-woong asks to see her tails, needing to know the state of her health. She makes a break for it, running down the stairs, through the hall, and into the gymnasium. Dae-woong catches up to her there and demands to know her real reason for avoiding him, not believing any of her excuses. He guesses that her deaths aren’t stopping — she’s continuing to lose her tails, isn’t she?

He says he has to know how she really is, and tells her to show him.

In a melancholy echo of Episode 1, Mi-ho steps into the moonlight as she tells him to look closely: “See how I am, how my heart is.”

And when she shows him her true state, all she has is one lonely, sad tail waving in the moonlight.

Holding back tears, she tells him, “I couldn’t stop.” Although he suspected the truth, being confronted with it is a blow, and Dae-woong asks with alarm, “Then you’re still dying?”

She nods. “I’m going to disappear.”

 
COMMENTS

Like I said, it was a low-key, almost humdrum episode for me, which was saved by the bits of forward plot movement. Like realizing that Mi-ho had decided to die anyway, regardless of whether she could have fought her dying process as Dong-joo so desperately hopes. And that she followed him to China, and that they (finally, thankfully) get things into the open at the end of the episode.

Most of all, I love the end moment where the state of Mi-ho’s tail provides such eloquent proof of the state of her emotions. In other dramas, the nature of human emotion means that you can talk about how you feel and emote through facial expressions, but that’s your limit. With this drama’s fantasy element, however, we get this lovely imagery and symbolism that goes beyond mere words, beyond even acting. Her tails are dying = she still loves Dae-woong.

I was appreciative of the few moments of levity we got, but truthfully I was hoping for more. I can see that the tilt toward angst necessitates a more somber atmosphere, particularly at this crucial stage, but that’s never stopped the writers from tweaking a serious moment for a laugh before. Like the imaginary wedding sequence wherein Dae-woong and Dong-joo run away as lovers.

Even so, I’m looking forward to seeing how the finale wraps everything up! You’ve gotta give it to them, for a romantic comedy, this drama has really done a great job of keeping us guessing about the ending, when rom-coms are usually the most predictable of stories. (They get together, the end. Right?) I’m firmly convinced we’ll get our happy ending, but I have no idea HOW. And that’s a good thing.

I don’t know if/how Mi-ho’s death process can be reversed, but it’s funny how Dong-joo, for all his strenuous efforts to keep her alive, seems to be hastening her death. I’m intrigued by his motivation in the whole process — he doesn’t love Mi-ho in a romantic way, but romantic love (for his lost love) IS a key part of his driving force, because he feels burdened by his old mistake. It’s like he’s forcing Mi-ho into the role of his atonement, and he doesn’t see (or care) that it’s unfair to her because he needs so badly to forgive himself. But it’s at her expense, which is ironic since it’s supposedly in order to save her.

RELATED POSTS

496 September 30, 2010January 24, 2016

My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 16 (Final)

by girlfriday

Dear Show,

How do I love Thee? Let me count the ways.

1. Your hero is Woongtastic.
2. Your heroine is the cutest thing since cats started having babies.
3. You do crazy things, but then you recover with The Cute.
4. You hurt, but you hurt so good.
5. You speed along like a bullet train, and make me wish time passed more slowly.
6. I find myself flipping through pictures of our time together, remembering you fondly.
7. You break my heart, and then put it back together again.
8. I can’t quit you, even if I tried.
9. You love me…just as I am.

 
FINAL EPISODE RECAP

After revealing her only remaining tail in the moonlight, Dae-woong asks her with angry tears, “Then…you’re still dying?” The thought that this is only occurring to him now makes me want to smack him with a large encyclopedia. She responds that she couldn’t give up the desire to become human.

Emo Hair is busy staring holes into the sandglass of mystical ki, which he has put upright again. He watches as Mi-ho’s life slowly pours out, leaving very little left. He begs for her to hold on a little longer. Is that the best you can do? Don’t you have any mystical powers other than your glowy knife and milky skin? Now’s the time to break them out, Highlander Boy. We’re in the finale.

Dae-woong can’t believe she’s still dying. After everything he had to do to let her go, she’s STILL dying. Yeah. Hence the moniker Noble Idiot. Don’t you watch dramas? Mi-ho says that it’s not just because of love—she couldn’t give up the desire to become human, and she feared that by his side, she’d have done anything to stay alive, even take the rest of his life if she became desperate.

At that, he gets up and puts her hand on his chest, saying, “Then take it. Take it all.” Ack! Crushing. My. Soul.

She looks down, stricken, pulling away from him. That’s treating her exactly like what she doesn’t ever want to be—a monster. Dae-woong doesn’t care—he’ll do anything to save her life. He says that she’s a scary gumiho, and he’s a human under her spell, so she should play the role and just take his life. He grabs her by the wrist (gah) and yells at her to take it. [And here’s where I start bawling and hardly let up all episode long… –javabeans]

Mi-ho can’t even look him in the eye as she steps away. She says he really is an immature human, and that she’ll come back then, and really take his life. She leaves him with a half-hearted death threat.

She returns to Dong-joo and confesses to removing her fox bead. He reels at the realization that since the moment she came to him, she had already given up. She can’t become human, or even half like him, so this is the extent of what she can do, to protect Dae-woong. She asks him to return the bead to Dae-woong, and lie to him so that he’ll take it back. Great. Just what we need. Two Noble Idiots running about. [Why can’t they just cancel each other out? Sigh. –jb]

Dong-joo meets Dae-woong on a rooftop and feeds him the lie—if he takes the bead back, and fills it with the rest of his ki, Dong-joo will kill him at the end of the hundred days and return the bead to Mi-ho, saving her. He starts to say that he understands if he hestitates…

…and Dae-woong downs the bead in one shot. Without so much as an ounce of fear or hesitation, he tells Dong-joo to come to kill him alone, and to make sure that he returns the bead to Mi-ho safely. As if I didn’t already love you enough, you’re going all gallant-knight-in-shining-armor on me now. How’s a recapper to stay focused with all of the swooning?

As Dae-woong leaves, Mi-ho appears around the corner, having witnessed it all. Thank heavens for that. Dong-joo is floored from Dae-woong’s unflinching conviction to give up his life for Mi-ho. I love that wimpy Dae-woong became the kind of person to shake up Dong-joo’s belief that humanity is selfish and weak.

Mi-ho comes up to him, smiling as she gives him a big fat I-told-you-so, about her fantasy-love being the real deal. Aw. But then she continues to be a Noble Idiot, insisting that they go far away, and never appear in front of Dae-woong again.

Show, are you TRYING to kill me? [Just your sanity… –jb]

Dae-woong prepares to give up his life for Mi-ho, as Mi-ho prepares to leave. He cries, as he regrets not being able to be there for her, but is satisfied with being able to protect her with his life. Dong-joo watches him from afar, amazed at his bravery in this act of love.

Dong-joo shows up at the airport to meet Mi-ho, and he asks her one last time if this is what she really wants. He tells her that he thought love was doing what the other person wanted, but then regretted it for a thousand years. He swore to never make that mistake again, but this time, he’s retracing his steps. So he did the only thing he could do to protect her, because even if he gave his own life, it wouldn’t save her. Well, that answers that question.

He told Dae-woong the truth. APPLAUSE for Dog Teacher! [And thank jeeves for that. At least that Big Misunderstanding is finally cleared, and she knows Dae-woong lied in order to break up. –jb ]

Mi-ho’s eyes fill with tears, as she hears him acknowledge that their love is true. “Why did you do that? You’re cruel. I hate you. But…thank you.” Aw. He tells her that he’s not the one to stay by her side till the end. That person…is right there…

Dae-woong runs into the airport right on cue. Dong-joo tells her to go to him, and leaves them to fate. Well, you didn’t actually turn out to be very useful, mystically, but points for killing the Noble Idiots, anyway.

Mi-ho goes to Dae-woong, who says with tears and trembly lips:

Dae-woong: You’re really…a terrible evil gumiho. You put a human under your spell and took his ki, and now you’re ripping his heart to shreds, you scary gumiho!
Mi-ho: I’m sorry. But even if being with me is scary and painful, can I stay by your side?

He pulls her in for a hug, as Mi-ho finally lets herself cry in his arms. Gawd, these two kill me. I’m such a sucker for the angry blurting of hurtful things to mask true feelings. [Seriously. Bawling. –jb]

At the temple, the monk explains the painting to a group of ladies, as he recounts the promise the Samshin Grandmother made to the gumiho: if she found a husband to give his life for her, she would allow her to live in this world. One of the ladies turns around, musing to herself that a promise is a promise…

Ten points for Team Samshin Grandma! You are free to take your victory lap now.

She appears to Dong-joo first, as she asks him what he thinks is right: “I’m sorry,” (Gil-dal’s last words) or “Thank you,” (Mi-ho’s last words to him). He smiles as he realizes who she is, and says that “Thank you” is the right answer. She smiles as she tells him that he’s fine then. Sad that it took him a thousand years for Mi-ho’s thank-you to heal the wound from Gil-dal’s “I’m sorry,” but it’s a nice bookend for his character.

Dae-woong and Mi-ho walk hand-in-hand, but their happiness takes a dip as they walk past an elderly couple, knowing that they’ll never make it that far. They tell each other, “Right now, being with you—is the greatest happiness.”

They return to their loft and eat together. Dae-woong tries to get her to eat kimchi, which she doesn’t like, but he insists that she’s got to, if she’s Korean. Yeah, that’s what my parents used to tell me when I was a kid and didn’t like kimchi. It’s cultural identity peer pressure! She asks for a kiss on the cheek if she eats it, and he offers her one on the lips, so she plans to eat up all the kimchi on the table. Yay, Cute, you’re back! We’ve missed you! [I bet you would’ve tried that kimchi if you had similar motivation… –jb]

Mi-ho shows him the tea set that she bought for Aunt Min-sook’s wedding gift, and he praises her for knowing his aunt’s taste. She wonders if it’s not right for Director Ban, but Dae-woong tells her that it’s better for the man to match his tastes to his wife’s. Okay, can I marry you now? [Only if you’ve got the confidence to square off against a possessive gumiho. Sorry babe, I’m putting my chips with her. –jb]

They wonder if they should’ve bought a set for themselves, but then realize the heartbreaking fact that they’ll never be married and picking out china. Mi-ho makes an excuse about them being too breakable, and decides that they should buy ones that don’t break so easily. Dae-woong agrees: “Let’s get ones that never ever break.”

It’s Min-sook’s wedding day, and while the bride worries about her nervous farting habit, Director Ban shows up in his usual trenchcoat-and-sunglasses garb. Really, Chow Yun-fat Lite to your own wedding, huh? But thankfully Dae-woong intervenes and helps him out of his nervousness, calling him Uncle.

The wedding commences, where of course the point is not so much the bride and groom, as it is the best man and maid of honor, making moon eyes at each other. Samshin Grandma makes an appearance in the crowd, eyeing the pair with an air of disapproval and worry.

As Grandpa gives Min-sook away, she trips and Director Ban catches her, asking if the baby is okay. Whoops. Egg’s out of the bag. Grandpa rejoices, and everyone cheers.

After the wedding, Mi-ho walks around and stops when she sees a bride and groom dressed in traditional hanboks, and remembers her own lonely wait as a bride five hundred years ago. Dae-woong asks if she regrets not meeting her match then, but she of course doesn’t regret a thing, since she had to be trapped in that painting to meet Dae-woong now.

Knowing how much she’s always wanted to be a bride, he takes her by the hand and gets her some red dots for her cheeks, and they take a picture to commemorate it. Adorable.

Later, Mi-ho puts the picture in her album, as she declares to the universe, “In five hundred years, I’ve finally found my groom. Because he loves me so so so so so much, he can give me everything. I’ve found him.”

The fateful hundredth day arrives, and Dae-woong tells himself that he won’t count the time, or cry, and that he’ll spend this last day with her in happiness. He swallows back his tears and puts on a brave face. There’s…something…in my…eye. [There are a hundred somethings in mine. –jb]

He comes out and asks if there’s anywhere she wants to go. She asks if he isn’t tired, since they haven’t slept for days. (From wanting to spend every waking moment together? That’s so cute!) She takes out the lotion that Dae-woong bought her, and puts some on his face, and the look in his eyes…Oh my god, now I’m really crying. Gah! People crying buckets of tears does not move me as much as someone trying their damnedest NOT to cry…it crushes my heart into pulp.

They wonder what they should do, thinking that maybe they should replay their first date and go see a movie…except the only passes Dae-woong has are all for future days. They decide to go see the chicken shop ajumma, but then she’s away in the country, so she won’t be back till tomorrow. Ack, their struggle to find something to do on their last day without acknowledging the pain is so heartbreaking.

Dae-woong wonders why everyone, even Aunt Min-sook and Grandpa, are away until tomorrow. Mi-ho then finally says the words out loud: “Tomorrow…I won’t be here.”

They decide to go to the fountain that Mi-ho likes, except when they show up, it’s off for repairs, until…yup, you guessed it…TOMORROW. Mi-ho says it’s okay, but it’s enough to put Dae-woong over the edge. He starts shaking as he says it has to be today, and walks off, angry.

With his back turned so that Mi-ho can’t see, he cries. She watches him, knowing what a brave face he’s putting on for her benefit. He pushes his tears back, and then turns around, smiling as he reaches out his hand to her. I swear, I’m not crying. I’m NOT!

They go home and light some fireworks, and Mi-ho lights up in glee. They spend the rest of their night in the gym, because that’s the place where Dae-woong saw her true nature, for the first time.

Mi-ho: Were you really that scared, back then?
Dae-woong: Yes. But as scared as I was then, I’m a hundred times more…right now.

He clutches her hand. She covers his eyes as he starts to cry. Tears streaming down her face, she tells him to think of it all as a dream, from the moment she appeared. That way, when he opens his eyes, it won’t hurt. They cry, with her covering his eyes to keep him from having to watch her disappear.

Dae-woong: Don’t go.
Mi-ho: Forget all the scary stuff. And remember me as a really really really really good dream.

With that, she gives him a kiss, and her tail comes out in the moonlight. It fades away, as the last grains of sand trickle down in the hourglass, and just like that, Mi-ho disappears.

Dae-woong uncovers his eyes to see that she’s gone, and his sad tears turn to angry ones, as he says to himself, “A dream? When I open my eyes, it won’t hurt?! It hurts this much…how can you be a dream?”

He slumps to the ground, sobbing. If there’s any more sadness to be had, I’m going to have to borrow someone else’s tears, because I’m fresh out of my own. [I’ve got buckets to spare. –jb]

Back at the temple, Samshin Grandma has returned to the painting.

Dae-woong wakes up the next morning in the gym, having cried himself to sleep in that position. He realizes that she’s gone and left him there all alone, and he refuses to let it go that way. He runs, as he says in voiceover:

Dae-woong: Mi-ho-ya, you must be crying, but it doesn’t rain anymore when you cry. No matter how sad you are, I have no way of knowing…because you’re not here anymore. Mi-ho is gone. Mi-ho is gone. Mi-ho…is gone.

He cries her name out one last time, and then…stands in the path of an oncoming truck. WHAT? WTF Dae-woong?! Aaaaaaaargh!

He lies there in the street, still conscious, as he cries a tear. It starts to rain, and he clutches his heart, happy that she’s still here, somewhere in the universe. Can you please be happy AFTER you attend to your gaping head wound?! Show, you’ve been itching to pull some crazy stunt like this, haven’t you? Are you testing me?

I suppose since he has the friggin’ fox bead, he’s not going to die or anything. But still. Reckless, party of one?

Dong-joo and Samshin Grandma sit in the park, and Dong-joo asks what she’ll do with Mi-ho. She says that she can’t return a gumiho who’s lost her nine tails and given her ki to a human, but says that if they wait, perhaps the heavens will intervene.

Some months later, Dae-woong’s movie comes out and it’s a big hit, making him and Hye-in stars. Aunt Min-sook has her baby, Byung-soo and Sun-nyeo are dating. Dae-woong lands on the cover of magazines, and Hye-in shoots a CF with…Hong-ki? Hong-ki! We’ve missed you! What’re you doing here, puppy? He’s here as Jeremy, of course, although it’s unfortunate that he’s here alone to represent A.N.Jell. Well, you were my favorite anyway, so I’m pleased as punch.

Sun-nyeo knows that Hye-in has a crush on him, so she tells her to get off her high horse and do something about it…otherwise she’ll end up like she did with Dae-woong. That’s enough to scare her, so she swallows her pride and practices Mi-ho’s tactic: “I really, really, really, really like you.” Complete with finger guns. Ha.

Byung-soo has come up in the world too, making his own movies. He shows Dae-woong the script he wrote, using his idea—a love story between a human and a ghost. Dae-woong tells him it’s supposed to be a gumiho, but Byung-soo balks that a gumiho requires too much CG, for nine tails. He went with ghost instead. HA. I love the meta.

Dong-joo appears on the set, and Dae-woong is pleased to see him. He’s still posturing, of course, because he’s Dae-woong, but they’re friendly as they catch up. Dong-joo is a professor now, having decided to live amongst people. He asks if Dae-woong is still waiting. He clutches his heart, saying of course he’s waiting…because she’s not gone yet.

Dong-joo tells him that today there will be an eclipse. “The sun and the moon—they can’t exist in the same space. But they break that rule, and come together, in the eclipse.” Nice imagery.

He tells Dae-woong that it’ll come today, the day when the heavens go crazy. Sure enough, as the eclipse begins, Dae-woong’s phone starts ringing. Only he realizes it’s not his phone, but Mi-ho’s. He answers it, and it’s Mi-ho, using the eclipse to speak to him.

He runs around looking for her, asking her where she is, but she just answers that she’s watching him, and that she’s close to him. The eclipse passes, and their connection is lost. Dae-woong and I both curse the heavens for their cheap trick, and he sheds a tear, asking angrily if that was it. [You and me both, buddy. –jb] He thought the heavens were supposed to go mad—doesn’t that mean Mi-ho would be returned to him?

He cries in disbelief. And then, from a distance, he hears her voice. “Woong-ah!” He looks up, and Mi-ho stands there, calling his name. Hooray~! [I LOVE this mirroring of the very first scene of this drama — such similar scene setups, but with such different emotions underlying it. How far we’ve come. –jb]

He walks over to her, not knowing if he’s hallucinating, and pokes her face, just to be sure. She cries a tear at his touch. He asks if she’s a ghost, and she’s about to answer, but he hugs her, saying it doesn’t matter. [More callbacks to the beginning, when he poked her cheek thinking she was a ghost. Yay for continuity and emotional throughlines! –jb]

Dae-woong: It doesn’t matter if you’re a ghost, or a gumiho, or a person. It doesn’t matter. It’s enough that you’re in front of me. If you’re back, that’s enough.

Gah, it rivals: “Whether you’re a man or an alien.” Really. Such a perfect thing to say to her.

That night, they return to the loft and sit together in the moonlight. She asks if he isn’t curious whether she’s returned as a human or a gumiho. He says it doesn’t matter, but he is curious. Mi-ho: “The moon is out and everything. Should we do a round of hoi-hoi and find out?” YES PLEASE.

Dae-woong’s pleased to see that she’s tail-less, which makes Mi-ho upset that he’s not actually fine if she’s still a gumiho. She confesses to having one tail left, as she wraps it around his waist, with her best come-hither look in her eyes.

Now THAT’s what I’m talkin’ ’bout.

They get snuggly, as Dae-woong says in voiceover, “As always, my girlfriend, she’s still…a fox.” Haha. Cute!

GIRLFRIDAY’S COMMENTS

What a great resolution. It would have left me unsatisfied, if she just became human, and didn’t retain any of her gumiho-ness. I love that Dae-woong’s ultimate confession of love is that it doesn’t matter what supernatural creature she is—he just loves her, for being her. It’s the best kind of declaration in my book, because he adores her exactly as she is, no more, no less.

I honestly wasn’t expecting this much angst in the finale, because I thought the mystical whozit would get resolved earlier, but I don’t mind it at all, because the angst actually played out so beautifully, and moved my ice-encased heart to tears. I thought that knowing they’d get a happy ending would have lessened my reaction to their last day, but it turned out not to matter—what moved me was the fact that they didn’t know it wouldn’t be their last day. So their brave front in the face of such crushing loss was epic, and romantic.

What I love about a story like this (and why my heart belongs to Buffy) is that the mystical mumbo jumbo is just a device—it’s a metaphor on a large scale that allows the high-concept life-or-death choices to drive the story, while forcing characters to face basic questions about mortality, self, sacrifice, and love. Their epic love story can have the dramatic tension found in all dramas, but the supernatural element provides a framework to justify the angst—it’s story-driven, and calls out Fate as the main operator in the universe, whereas other dramas use the same elements without giving the same level of narrative justification.

It’s my own bias, for sure, since this kind of story isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But for me? This show owns me, heart and soul. I may have found a new favorite. Of. All. Time.

JAVABEANS’ COMMENTS

I agree with everything Girlfriday just said, but still, I must offer a slightly different take on the ending and the drama as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed so much about this drama. But I think my reaction to the wrap-up is a bit less enthused.

A few criticisms:

As you well know, I’m a big fan of the Hong sisters. I’ve seen all their dramas, I’ve enjoyed all their pairings, and laughed at their jokes. They have a way of telling fun, funny stories in an accessible way that doesn’t talk down to you or try to be what it was never meant to be. Their style can dip into slapstick or hammy humor, but it never gets pretentious. Major kudos for that.

That said, there is a difference between a trademark and a crutch. The Hongs do both, and while I love the former, the latter can suck the zest out of a show.

Hong sisters trademarks: Pop culture parodies. A middle-aged couple finding love. Tongue-in-cheek references to famous dramas and/or movies. Cute catchphrases (“Bassha,” ‘I lub you,” “hoi-hoi,” “kkoraji hagoneun,” “You will be blessed”) and quirky-cute terms for things (“cow” rather than beef, “bubble-fizz water” instead of soda).

Crutches, on the other hand, are what you get when writers fall back on certain plot devices, conflicts, or resolutions, which feels more like a lack of creativity than an intentional callback. That’s why in my book, Delightful Girl Chun-hyang will always be my favorite Hong sisters drama, because everything was fresh, fun, and new back then. My Girl was super-peppy and entertaining, but it doesn’t rank as high in my book because there were certain recycled elements from DGCH that lacked the fresh factor. They broke with those patterns, thankfully, for Fantasy Couple — which is why I have a lot of respect for that drama even if it’s my least favorite of theirs. Hong Gil Dong took them further from their stable of favorite cliches and setups, but then You’re Beautiful brought a portion of them right back. (As in, extended separations, overhyped melodrama forcing the couple apart, dastardly meddlers, toxic parents, hapless second leads who never get the girl.)

What worked marvelously the first time doesn’t hold up as well the fourth time around, which is what I felt with the past few episodes. Like with Dae-woong following Mi-ho around (which we saw in DGCH and My Girl) and one character telling a huge lie to spare the other pain, which ends up keeping them apart (also from both DCGH and My Girl). I adore these writers, but for their next drama they’re really going to have to explore some untrod territory.

THAT SAID, I actually think Gumiho works despite those recycled elements because its fantasy angle is SO interesting and clever. By giving the conflict a true life-or-death gravitas, these elements are given a bit of a twist, so ultimately I accept them. I just can’t feel excited about them.

Regarding the ending: I’m generally satisfied, or at least as satisfied as I can be with a huge deus ex machina swooping in to save the day. As far as deus ex machinas go, it was done pretty well — I’m glad that they didn’t have Samshin Grandma merely wave a mystical wand and bring Mi-ho back, as I feared about halfway through this episode. If she did that, all the angst and conflict of the previous several episodes would have been moot, and that would have made me bitter. No, we are told that even in this fantasy world, there are supernatural laws, and Mi-ho cannot come back since she has given literally everything of herself. So only in this freak occurrence when “heaven goes crazy,” when the sun meets the moon, does she have a chance of crossing the cosmic divide and rejoining Dae-woong. But he has to earn it by waiting for her steadfastly, and it appears that a few years have passed since she disappeared.

I appreciate that the angsting had a narrative purpose (other than to keep them apart), because both had to prove that they would give up their lives for each other in a real, tangible way rather than just saying that they would in hypothetical scenarios (as Mi-ho tried to get Dae-woong to do). The lore says that only when the gumiho meets a man who is willing to give up everything can she step into the human world. They had to go through that trial by fire so that in the end, there is not a shadow of a doubt that they earned their happily ever after.

RELATED POSTS

Comments