TITLE: Goblin, the Lonely and Great God
IN A NUTSHELL: (a slightly opinionated summary of the story)
Once upon a time, one thousand years ago in the Joeson Empire, there lived a great warrior. His name was Kim Shin. He was a loyal servant to the King, a loving brother to his sister, Kim Sun, and a confident adversary to all who wished to invade their kingdom. All the people loved him.. all, that is, except the young king, Wang Yeo, and his confidant, Park Joong-heon. Because of jealousy and insecurity, and at the advice of Park Joong-heon, Wang Yeo had Kim Shin killed (stabbed with his own sword), along with Kim Sun (shot with an arrow) and all their relatives (beheaded or stabbed in the back). What was Kim Shin’s crime? Treason. And because Kim Shin refused to acknowledge his sin and repent, God made him immortal as a Goblin until such time that his sins were paid or until the Goblin’s Bride set him free.
Nine hundred years later, in present day, Kim Shin is still walking the earth and encounters a Grim Reaper, who somehow rents his house for 20 years; a high-schooler named Ji Eun-tak, who always seems to be getting into trouble; and a chicken restaurant owner named Sunny, who has a “Devil may die” attitude about her life; all of whom come into his life just when he is resigned to yet another 20 years of searching. Inevitably, in any fictional story, they each turn out to be someone significant in helping him with his mission: Sunny is the reincarnation of Kim Sun; the Grim Reaper was once Wang Yeo, the stupid king; and Ji Eun-tak is the Goblin’s Bride, whose sole task for living is to remove the sword stuck in Kim Shin’s chest and free him so he can move on to the other world.
Simple, right? Wrong! First, Ji Eun-tak does not admit that she could see the sword, hence the confusion whether or not she really was the Goblin’s Bride. Then, when she finally admits it, she refuses to pull out the sword because she wants to get the best deal out of the situation. Talk about having an ulterior motive. By the time she is ready, it is Kim Shin’s turn to become hesitant. That is because he is slowly, but surely, falling in love with her, and he wants to live longer to be with her.
And while all this is happening, a sad and tragic, but cute love story unfolds between the Grim Reaper and Sunny. It is sad because how can a Grim Reaper fall in love? Aren’t they supposed to be spirits that serve Death? It is cute because Sunny is the epitome of her name – Sunny, and she literally brings light into any dark room, even if she is kind of laid back much. It is tragic because the two could have had a beautiful relationship if it weren’t for their cursed marriage in their past life. Alas, it was cursed from the beginning because Park Joong-heon was already too strong for whatever the previous king, the older half-brother of Wang Yeo, instructed Kim Shin to do. Even though Wang Yeo was already in love with Kim Sun. Even though Kim Shin had an undying loyalty to his country. Even though Wang Yeo was already feeling that something was wrong with his mentor’s beliefs and teachings.
Towards the end, Ji Eun-tak, with the help of Kim Shin, removes the sword and he becomes the wind, the snow and the rain. But long before that, he’d asked God to erase her — and all significant people’s as well — memories so that she wouldn’t feel guilty. So for ten years, the poor girl develops depression and does not understand why she gets emotional whenever it rains. Then by accident, she blows out a candle and Kim Shin appears. What happens after is a wee bit predictable – he goes around insisting he’d existed before but nobody believes him. Then Ji Eun-tak does remember him and their love, so they get married and live happily for a short while before her “luck” as a Missing Soul runs out.
After many, many years, the Grim Reaper and Sunny meet at a movie set and fall in love instantly. Apparently, they will have a happy ending at last. Ji Eun-tak is reincarnated and meets Kim Shin as a 19 year-old high schooler once again.
MALE LEAD(S): Gong Yoo, Lee Dong-wook
FEMALE LEAD(S): Kim Go-eun, Yoo In-na
GENRE: Fantasy, Romance/Bromance, Comedy
MY SCORE: 8/10
WHAT LED ME TO IT?
- Who was I following? Gong Yoo
- What had I just watched? Coffee Prince
- IF COMPLETED, how many times? ———- 2 ———-
- If I’ve watched it more than three times, chances are it’s one of my Top 10 Favorites!
- This series has been reclassified from “Dislike” to “Like” (see My Preferences)
WHAT DID I LIKE ABOUT IT?
- It starred Gong Yoo. He is handsome in all his outfits and scenes.
- It is a modern-day fairy tale fantasy.
- The bromance between the Goblin (a. Gong Yoo) and the Grim Reaper (a. Lee Dong-wook) was so funny and heart-warming. It makes you grateful to have BFFs in life.
- The love story between the Grim Reaper and Sunny (a. Yoo In-na) was cute, yet tragic, and you feel like you want to root for them so bad, even though you know that bad history will not make it so.
- Korean Goblins and Grim Reapers are handsome/pretty and help people become better humans. It made me curious to know how else Korean folklore is different from Filipino and American folklore.
- The ghosts were kind and helpful, and those who needed help were grateful. Most of them, anyway.
- The pacing was good: I laughed at the jokes, I cried during sad scenes and I felt duly angry at Ji Eun-tak’s (a. Kim Go-eun) unbelievable aunt. The ghost of Park Joong-heon (a. Kim Byung-chul) was properly scary as well.
WHAT DID I NOT LIKE ABOUT IT?
- Ji Eun-tak was only 19 years old (and a senior in high school) when she met and felt the stirrings of love for Kim Shin, a 39 year-old ageless deity. Granted that love can happen at any age, to anyone, and at any given time, there are still rules that society and propriety allow. And after learning that South Korea’s legal age is 19, my decision was made: the lead female character is too young to be allowed to live in the same house with two adult men (albeit gods), much less allow her innocent stirrings to develop into a deep kind of love for the more handsome one (char!). At least she married him when she was 29.
- Ji Eun-tak is reincarnated and meets Kim Shin again.. as a high-schooler just the same. Why?!?
- In all 900 years of living, Kim Shin never had a girlfriend, never went on an adventure, never had a steady job and never left his comfort zone. No, he just stayed in one place at a time (20 year-increments) and waited, and suffered, and waited some more. He watched all his loved ones pass away, and then trained new ones to take care of him, only to watch them, too, pass away. What a boring and depressing life.
QUESTIONS THAT AROSE REGARDING STORY CONTINUITY AND OTHER DETAILS:
- Since when was treason the name for jealousy and the cause for a thousand-year punishment?
- In the scene where Ji Eun-tak is kidnapped by the loan sharks and the Goblin and Grim Reaper come to save her, all the street lamps are blown out, so the road is totally dark except for the light from the moon, which is clearly seen at the back of the vehicle, and the vehicle’s headlights. As the two deities walk toward them from the front, there is a bright light at their backs, casting a shadow against their faces and creating their silhouettes. Now, where did that bright light come from?
WILL I RECOMMEND IT? YES, the series itself was a great piece of work, well-thought of and well-played out. The show deserved all the rewards it received.
Disclaimer: I am not an expert in film or Korean culture. In fact, I only started watching KDrama in 2016 and have just 48 completed shows under my belt. My writings are my own opinion and not the opinion of the majority. I enjoy shows that a lot of people don’t seem to like, and I dislike a lot of shows that are tagged as “Must Watch”. There are exceptions, of course. My point is, don’t bash the commentator.