I watched 2010's romantic comedy-fantasy K-drama My Girlfriend Is A Nine-Tailed Fox (aka My Girlfriend Is A Gumiho) on Netflix (as of this writing it is now sadly removed) after seeing a wonderful movie the lead actress Min-ah Shin was in called Sad Movie (2005), one of my top favorite Korean movies ever! I was mightily impressed with her poignant performance as the scarred, mute girl who fell in love with an artist, knowing their relationship would never last. I wanted to see her in more films and dramas and so I gladly put Gumiho on, expecting to fall in love with the actress all over again, which I surely did! She is absolutely amazingly beautiful and PERFECT for this effervescent role of a legendary creature longing to become human.
Written by the talented Hong Sisters (who wrote The Master's Sun, another one of my top favorite Korean dramas), they scored big with this show, which received excellent notices and ratings throughout Asia. It's a pure fantasy all the way, but if you are open to those types of shows give it a try. I promise you will smile and laugh a lot, and maybe even shed a few tears by the bittersweet ending!
A gumiho is an old Asian legend about a female fox with no tail who, after living 1000 years, grows nine tails and develops an insatiable appetite for meat (mostly the hearts and / or livers of men!). Think of female Dracula or female Werewolf folklore. She can then transform herself into human form and seduce the hearts of young men in order to eventually consume them. "Supper Time!"
Beautiful Min-ah Shin as a girl who is really a Gumiho, a nine-tailed fox -- who craves cow!
Do Gumihos really exist?
College aged student Tae-woong Cha (Seung-Ki Lee from Shining Inheritance) is about to find out! He is a likeable but rather spoiled young man who doesn't really want to finish college; what he loves most of all is being a stuntman in the movies with the eventual hope of becoming an action hero. His wealthy grandfather Poong Cha (Hie-Bong Byeon) wants Tae-Woong to finish college and choose a better field for himself than acting. When Cha Poong learns that Tae-Woong spent his next semester's tuition fees on an expensive motorcycle, he calls the police and reports the motorcycle stolen, and Tae-Woong is pulled over. Cha Poong then picks Tae-Woong up from the police station and attempts to drive him to a remote boarding school (in Tae-Woong's mind a prison) but Tae-Woong manages to trick his grandfather and escape.
A Buddhist monk happens to pick him up while he's hitchhiking and brings him to his monastery to stay the night. There is a temple in the middle of a beautiful lake and it almost seems to beckon Tae-Woong to it. This temple contains a shrine with an ancient scroll painting showing a fox with no tail. Suddenly Tae-Woong hears a spooky female voice, that seems to come from his dead cell phone, telling him to take a pen and draw nine tails on the fox in the old drawing. "Couldn't I be arrested for defacing an ancient artifact?" he tries to ask her, but still, in fear, he does what she commands him to do. Once Tae-Woong draws the nine tails on the fox he unwittingly frees the legendary Gumiho (Min-ah Shin) from being held prisoner in the temple, where she has been secluded for centuries.
Tae-Woong at first doesn't believe her when she states that she is a Gumiho, until in short order she proves it to him with her supernatural abilities. He shortens her name to Mi-ho, and despite being a bit afraid of her, he thinks she is extremely pretty and admires her courage, spirit and strength. She in turn seems to like him a lot too, thinks he is cute, and even saves his life from a wild boar that tries to attack him. It turns out Mi-ho the Gumiho is really not threatening: she just wants to be loved (and eat lots of beef!). Tae-woong treats her to some Korean barbeque and never gets a bite in edgewise! He sells his motorcycle and pays for the next semester's tuition, which appeases his grandfather for the time being. Mi-ho follows Tae-Woong to college and appears to others to be his girlfriend.
A mysterious veterinarian named Dong-joo Park (drop dead gorgeous actor Min-woo No from Pasta and Midas) seems to be searching for the lost Gumiho so that he can put her back into the painting. In reality Dong-joo is a supernatural being too, who has a human appearance but who has a tragic history of his own; someone he had loved hundreds of years in the past named Gildal had seemed to betray him and he had killed her by his own hand; when he meets Mi-ho he sees that she looks like his old love and he begins to suspect she is the same person. He wants Mi-ho by his side, not Tae's.
When he meets her he tells her she'll be able to turn into a human being permanently if she drinks some of his blood that he gives to her in a vial, and if she places her supernatural fox bead into a human being's body for one hundred days. If she does these two things she will slowly lose her supernatural abilities and eventually become fully human when at the end of the one hundred days she reclaims her bead from the human.
However, diabolically, Dong-joo neglects to tell Mi-ho that the human who accepts the bead into his body will die at the end of those one hundred days, and that if Mi-ho doesn't get the bead back she will die.
Actor Min-woo No plays the malevolent "veterinarian" Dong-joo Park; he has
to be one of the most gorgeous second male leads in K-drama history!
Tae-Woong and Mi-ho strike up a deal: she will give him her miraculous fox bead for one hundred days so that he can possess superhuman energy to do all the movie stunts he wants to do to become an action hero, and he in turn promises to care for her as his special girlfriend, forsaking all others (like prospective rival Hye In Eun, played by Soo Jin Park), giving her a ring to seal their pledge. (Mi-ho doesn't tell him that she will become human at the end of the one hundred days).
Without fully knowing all the consequences that might befall them at the end of the one hundred days they begin to truly fall in love with one another and the drama takes a more insidious turn with an approaching conclusion that will have you reaching for the Kleenex.
To lighten the mood again the Hong Sisters give us two very wacky romantic misfit characters as comic relief, Tae-Woong's sexually repressed aunt Min Sook Cha (Yoo Sun Yoon) and the creepy but ruggedly handsome man who seems obsessed with her, following her around with a constant match in his mouth, and dark sunglasses camouflaging his eyes, Doo Hong Ban (character actor Dong Il Sung). I swear this actor was trying to do a 1960's French actor Alain Delon imitation!
At the end of the one hundred days will True Love Conquer All between the Gumiho and the Man, or will tragedy dash their unique romance forever? Stay tuned until the end of the sixteen episodes to find out.
All the actors were so sincere in their roles; this is very hard to carry off with such a strange fantasy plot. I immediately warmed to lead actor Seung-ki Lee in this drama, his character was completely endearing from the first moments to the last, and of course I adored the innocence of Min-ah Shin's lovely performance as the Gumiho. If you love these actors you will find this K-drama to be delightful, and if you enjoy the Hong Sisters' writing then be sure to watch The Master's Sun too. They have the magic touch when it comes to the fantasy stories! Enjoy!