Sunday, 13 October 2013

Review on K-drama: My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (내 여자친구는 구미호)

Name of the show: My Girlfriend is a Gumiho
Genre: Fantasy, Romantic Comedy
Lead Actors:  Lee Seung Gi and Shin Min Ah

 I was updating my Facebook page recently and they asked me name my inspirations. Out of the names that I filled out, most have been (according to me) extremely gifted women writers. Among them, I listed the Hong Sisters. Why? Well, primarily because I love their shows, all of them! Then there is this thing that I've learnt from life thus far and also from the creative writing classes that I took: writing comedy is very tricky. Learning to make someone laugh, truly laugh, is an art and a difficult one at that. And in this art the Hong Sisters really excel. But more on that in another post. I've been lazying around & not been blogging much lately plus my blog has a backlog of K-drama reviews (for those who have been asking me persistently: "k-dramas" is short for "Korean dramas" and I am their own personal bitch).

So on to my The Most Favorite Hong Sisters Drama EVER........

My Girlfriend is a Gumiho. Also go by the names My Girlfriend is a Nine-Tailed Fox and 내 여자친구는 구미호.

Before I start yapping about this amazing 2010 drama, I think I should try an explain what a Gumiho is. Gumihos are mythological creatures in the folklore of South Korea (and China and Japan etc) that are basically nine-tailed fox who can change into very beautiful humans at will. While in some (and mostly earliest) versions of mythology, gumihos may or may not have been nice creatures, since quite a while now, they have been exclusively portrayed as blood-thirsty and extremely evil beings. As time went by, folklores surrounding gumihos came about that gumihos could change their appearance into a woman of unparalled beauty who would try to eat the heart of a hundred human men. This she did for a variety of reasons, depending on what version you're familiar with but the most popular version declares that a gumiho has to eat the heart of a hundred men if she wants to turn into a human. I have also heard of a version where a gumiho can turn into a human if she reveals her true form to a human (male) and if then that human keeps this secret with him for a hundred days.

Basically there are numerous stories and facts (some of them contradicting each other ever so slightly) surrounding the gumiho legend. The main point is: shape-shifting nine-tailed fox who can change appearance at will into every bit of gorgeous but is Evil.

The earlier stories had gumihos changing into handsome men as well but as time went on, gumihos became almost exclusively women who tried every bit to seduce poor, innocent men. I feel that gumihos and the legends surrounding them were cautionary tales portraying female sexuality has unnatural and evil (where as male sexuality as natural....all those men who get seduced at the slightest provocation are not judged. They are men!). Basically every bit the vixen and a lot worse.

This is where the Hong Sisters turn thr gumiho legend (using the similar legend) and make it so much fun!

The story goes thus:

We see a rich, orphan guy called Cha Dae Woong (Lee Seung Gi)

who lives with his grandfather and aunt and lives on his grandfather's abundant wealth. He is lazy, not caring about his future and spends money like water. His dream is to be an actor, preferably an action hero. Like a true hero, he has his two faithful sidekicks--- Byung Soo (Kim Ho Chang) and Sun Neyeo (Hyomin).

Like, all heroes, Dae Woong has a love interest, a crush. This would be his sunbae Eun Hye In (Park Soo Jin). Hye In seems every bit the perfect girl---pretty and very well spoken but even in the first episode we suspect her to be the vixen (in terms of her inner self).

Meanwhile, in a temple a little away from Seoul,
is a painting of a tail-less fox with an old woman who is called the Three Gods Grandmother. It has its own little legend--- Long ago, there lived a very beautiful gumiho (Shin Min Ah) who desired to be a human more than anything else.
All the men in the village were awestruck by her divine beauty, something that did not sit very well with the women of the village. So one day, the men and women of the village sat down and prayed to the Three Gods Grandmother who decided that the solution to this problem is to get the gumiho married. The women are still jealous and that's when they spread a (false) rumour that the gumiho is so desparate to become a human that she will eat the hearts of a hundred men to get that. We all know how a rumour spreads eailsy and ruins the life of the victim... the gumiho is left heart-broken on her wedding day, dressed up like a bride and no groom shows up.
To further salvage the rumour and gumiho's reputation, Three Gods Grandmother cuts off gumiho's tales and traps her in this painting where she's been living since 500 years.

Dae Woong, in the spriti of rebilious-rich-kid, manages to run away from home and somehow ends up at the temple and on hearing the callings of a mystical female voice, draws nine tails on the painting of the fox, thus releasing the gumiho from the painting.

The gumiho starts following Dae Woong around and due to some turns of many, many events, Dae Woong ends up having to call her his girlfriend.



The story also contains a gumiho-hunter (who himself is half-mystical being but still continues to hunt his own kind) with a lopsided hair cut and a background score of his own. And his obssession with hour glasses and magic potions that remind me of the video game called Prince of Persia that I used to play when I was a child. His name: Dong Joo.



Then there is the secondary plot of the romance between the film director Ban Doo Hong and Dae Woong's aunt Min Sook. Usually I don't like secondary plot lines that much but this drama makes me laugh out loud even here.

The main theme of this show is Mi Ho's struggle to be human which is juxtaposed with the humans acting quite inhuman. While we see humans like the women 500 years earlier spreading crap lies about Mi Ho and then people like Hye In, we see Mi Ho who is a nice person but wishes to be human (incideantally, a scene shows her dealing with two kids the way a human would: by bribbing them!). While our gumiho acquires a human name (Gu Mi Ho) to sound more human, she years to find out if there has been a story written about a non-human/mythological being falling in love with a human who ended up with a happily ever after. Sadly no one is Mi Ho's surroundings has ever heard of the Twilight saga and she ends up with The Little Mermaid, which oddly mirrors what she may end up like if Dae Woong ditches her. In a beautiful scene, we see Mi Ho going up the lift as Dae Woong and Hye In stand downstairs, just as Dong Joo's voice in the background narrates the part about the little mermaid disappearing into bubbles. And just then, we see a group of school children blowing out soap bubbles. Awww.
The mermaid watched the happy prince with the woman he loved, turned into a bubble, and disappeared entirely into the air...


I won't go more into the story line even though I am tempted to do so. But I do adore how the show goes.

Shin Min Ah makes up for a very adorable gumiho...I want to adopt one! So. Cute. I mean, this is one show where I adore the female lead.



I love how the subject of sexuality is treated in this show. First of all, its done with immense respect. Then there is the naturalisation of female sexuality, which...yay. In My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, we see Hye In apparently showing the morality of a typical K-drama heroine... not displaying her heart on her sleeve, being scandalised at the hero showing the slightest bit of PDA and so on. But Mi Ho,  who is truly the more innocent one, happily talks of mating and has no qualms about intimacy. Lovely.

I also like how little little things are indicated in this show. The bond between Mi Ho and Dae Woong is materialised in the Fox Bead and when Mi Ho is in pain, so is Dae Woong.

This show is a romantic-comedy but watch it if you're a sucker for cuteness. I anyways love two things this show has: fox and rain.

My ratings for My Girlfriend is a Gumiho: 9/10

Other K-dramas:

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