“My Girlfriend is a Gumiho” is a South Korean romantic comedy series starring Lee Seung Gi as Cha Dae Wong and Shin min-a as Miho a nine tailed fox who is in her human form, but I am getting ahead of myself. The series opens on our main character Dae Wong, a spoiled immature student who only wants to become an action movie star. Dae Wong is a constant disappointment to his rich grandfather who has had to baby him his whole life. When he reaches his last straw with his grandson he forces Dae Wong into the car and attempts to take him to a military academy. Dae Wong using his action skills manages to escape but with no way of returning home he seeks shelter in a temple. After being tricked into drawing nine tails on an old painting he releases a spirit of a gumiho who had been trapped for hundreds of years.
Obviously startled by seeing her appear from nowhere Dae Wong takes a great fall and becomes seriously injured. Miho wanting to return his favor implants her “bead” into his soul saving his life. But since Dae Wong now has a piece of her she can’t be too far from him or she will die. This is pretty much the set up for the main storyline in the series, Miho follows Dae Wong back to his home and he must keep her happy and supplied with her favorite food, cow, or there’s the ancient threat that gumiho’s eat people who upset them. A lot of the comedy comes from this tension Dae Wong has in needing to keep her happy out of fear.
Dark Korean revenge movies such as “The Chaser”, “Oldboy”, or “I Saw the Devil” are my experience in Korean culture so this romantic comedy K-drama revolving around a nine tailed fox who loves hamburgers and soda was a huge departure for me but it was still very entertaining. Besides the relationships all the characters share and the action movie Dae Wong is auditioning for throughout the series there wasn’t all that much of a story. There is so much romance in this drama between a bunch of characters, In fact it reminded me quite a bit of the Shakespeare play A Midsummer’s Night Dream because everyone it seems is in love with the wrong person and someone likes them who they don’t share feeling for yet. There are many characters who ultimately don’t affect the Miho/Dae Wong story too much and that got annoying sometimes. There is a mysterious man in black who is tracking Miho and eventually through him we learn much of what happened to Miho all those years ago and why she was trapped in an old painting. I liked this character a lot he was pretty interesting and his motives were revealed slowly and deliberately.
While the side love relationships didn’t interest me too much the relationship between Miho and Dae Wong is really fun to watch and the whole time I was invested in what was going on between them. On a recent Japan Cinema Suchi podcast Marie remarked how in K-drama romances (as opposed to American TV shows) you watch for 24 episodes to get a little kiss. That is very true of My Girlfriend is a Gumiho and the whole time they are growing closer its very subtle and drawn out. At first the pair is distrustful of each other and Dae Wong spends a lot of time trying to manipulate her to get her to leave, but with each episode they do grow closer as events occur that pull them together. Slowly it’s evident that the two are starting to care for each other and Dae Wong becomes a more respectable self reliant person under her influence. Their relationship is the primary focus of the show which would normally bore me to death but I think the genuine feeling of the characters made them very relatable and I liked it enough to continue watching.
The comedy in the series is awesome. There are so many moments that had me laughing it would be hard to mention them all. There are all sorts of comedy from awkward moments to hilarious lines and when this show wants to be funny it really is and the actors are all great in their roles. Miho is my favorite and I absolutely loved her characterization. I loved how wide eyed she is about human culture and her love of meat is very funny. She even goes as far to get meat as going through trash cans to find coupons. As a joke throughout the series is Dae Wong’s love of superheroes and he is always wearing something with an action star on it, but for an aspiring action star he is very clumsy and is seems is always getting hurt.
The series ran for 16 episodes with each episode over an hour long. My only complaint is that the show didn’t need to be so long. In terms of how much story actually takes place each episode I feel like it really could have used some editing down. At an hour long it’s kind of a bigger investment to sit through with not a lot of payout in story, unless you’re really into love based K-dramas. This series is currently streaming from Netflix and I do recommend you give it at least a chance, you will know before too long if it’s for you.