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I recently watched a Korean drama titled My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox, starring Shin Min Ah as Gu Mi Ho/Park Song Ju and Lee Seung Ki as Cha Dae Woong.
Dae Woong is a carefree grandson of a rich grandfather, and has no purpose in life other than becoming an action star. He spends his grandfather’s money on himself and his “friends”, and blows off school to play an action star in homemade movies. When his grandfather takes his money away and threatens him with harsh measures, Dae Woong runs off. He ends up at a remote temple, where he frees a gumiho, who has been trapped in a painting for 500 years.
When the gumiho is freed, a supernatural being (half-human/half-monster, as he calls himself) begins to search for her, intent on trapping her back inside the painting. This being, Park Dong Ju, has lived for 500 years, choosing to remain isolated and on the move, so that he will not get too close to humans. Dong Ju knew the gumiho in another incarnation (as Kil Dal) and was forced to kill her at her request when she chose to protect the man she loved (and who had betrayed her) over her own life. The current gumiho was formed from Kil Dal’s flames/embers.
When the gumiho comes out of the painting, she finds Dae Woong injured. Deciding to save him, she puts her “bead” inside of him, thus saving him from certain death. Her bead fixes Dae Woong’s injuries and sustains him. When Dae Woong awakens, the gumiho begins to follow him around. Dae Woong believes that the girl is crazy because she believes that she is a gumiho and has lived for over 500 years. Getting tired of her, he orders her to leave him alone. When Dae Woong runs away from her, she promises to find him in Seoul because he has her bead inside of him.
The two meet up again. Ultimately, they make a deal where the gumiho will leave her bead inside of Dae Woong for 100 days. During these 100 days, Dae Woong will be able to do an action movie (which his hurt body would not have allowed him to do otherwise), and the gumiho will be able to turn into a human being when she retrieves her bead at the end of the 100 days. Park Dong Ju has promised Mi Ho that if she drinks his blood, she will begin to die, and when she gets her bead from Dae Woong at the end of the 100 days she can become fully human. What he fails to tell her is that Dae Woong will then die, having transferred all of his human chi into the bead.
Dae Woong and Mi Ho pretend to be a couple, wearing matching couple rings, and the gumiho warns Dae Woong that he must not mate with anyone else while he has her bead inside of him. Dae Woong begins to call the gumiho by a made up name, Gu Mi Ho. He sees that Mi Ho wants to be human, and gradually begins to like her even though she is a “scary gumiho”. At first he only teases her, and uses her for her special powers. But gradually, Dae Woong begins to appreciate Mi Ho for her openness, her honesty, and her desire to be human. When she disappears for long hours, or hangs out with Park Dong Ju, Dae Woong begins to get jealous. When he knows that the ending of the Little Mermaid will hurt her, he lies to her about it. When Mi Ho plans on disappearing, thinking that it would be better for Dae Woong, Dae Woong stops her. Eventually the two confess their love to each other.
It is then that both find out that Dae Woong will die if Mi Ho takes the bead from him at the end of the 100 days. When Mi Ho plans on disappearing, and not taking back the bead, Dae Woong finds her and tells her to take the bead back now (even though it has only been 50 days). He argues that they do not know what will happen.
After the transference, the two halves within Mi Ho (the gumiho and human chi) begin to fight, and the gumiho part continues to die. Park Dong Ju warns Dae Woong that at the end of the 100 days Mi Ho will disappear. But, if Dae Woong leaves her and Mi Ho’s desire to become human disappears, there would be a chance that Mi Ho could survive. Dae Woong believes this and cruelly dumps Mi Ho so that she can live.
A month later, we see that Mi Ho and Park Dong Ju are getting married. Throughout the drama, I never felt that Dong Ju had any kind of sexual feelings for Mi Ho. He loved her only because she was a part of Kil Dal, and he took care of her because he liked her, but I do not think it went beyond that. I think the wedding was a last ditch effort on his part to save Mi Ho, and, if not that, to give her wedding she’s always wanted. Unfortunately, Mi Ho is still dying, and has taken her bead out. She asks Park Dong Ju to get Dae Woong to swallow the bead, so that he can have a full life. Even though Dong Ju wants Mi Ho to live, like his Kil Dal would not, he is forced to watch the gumiho die once more. Knowing that the Mi Ho is dying, Dae Woong comes to her and asks that they spend her last days together. And at the end of the 100 days, Mi Ho disappears.
The legend of the gumiho goes that if the gumiho could find a human man to love her, the Sam Shin Grandmother would allow her to live on earth with this man. Because Dae Woong loves her and still waits for her, Mi Ho is allowed to come back to earth during a solar eclipse. Dae Woong and Mi Ho are reunited and live, we hope, happily ever after.
Lee Seung Gi played an able Dae Woong, but I found that Seung Gi never really grew on me. Maybe because I was not able to like his character that much. His selfishness at the beginning may have tainted my view of him. And I guess I’m more into Alpha male characters, and that is why I wasn’t able to fully enjoy the beta male character we had in Seung Ki.
Shin Min Ah made a wonderful Gu Mi Ho. She was able to play the character as both childlike and mature. She was able to be innocent and open, and then naughty and all knowing. I have liked Min Ah since I saw her in Punch (an older drama of hers), and I enjoyed her acting in this one. Shin Min Ah is a natural actress, and I enjoyed her portrayal of the gumiho.
No Min Woo played Park Dong Ju, and I ended up liking Dong Ju more than I liked Dae Woon, because he is the Alpha character that I enjoy watching/reading about. No Min Woo ably acted the part, but since all that was required of him was to be cool and controlled in all scenes with some scenes of being menacing, there wasn’t a lot of range exhibited by Min Woo. I found myself intrigued by Park Dong Ju, and would have loved to see more on him. I wanted to know how he fell in love with Kil Dal. Did Kil Dal love him at the end, when she asked him to kill her? I wanted to know what he had been doing for the past 500 years. I wanted to know how his life would change after he started mingling with people. Would he be able to find another love? As you can see, I was fascinated by Park Dong Ju’s backstory and future path. But, sadly, since he was not the main character, we only get to see him sitting alone at the end.
Overall, the drama was a fun watch, but not something that I would watch again. While I have vastly enjoyed other dramas by the duo that wrote this one (My Girl and You’re Beautiful), but I found that this drama was lacking something. I can’t quite put my finger on what that was. But, it was a new take on the old gumiho legend, and I enjoyed the retelling. I would suggest that you give it a watch, if you haven’t already done so.