Thursday, September 29, 2011

intro info: My Girlfriend is a Gumiho (Korean)

내 여자친구는 구미호 (Nae Yeojachinguneun Gumiho)

Lee Seung Gi as Cha Dae Woong
Shin Min Ah as Gumiho (Mi Ho)
No Min Woo as Park Dong Ju
Park Soo Jin as Eun Hae In

While the title as well as the official series poster sounds and looks like they would belong to some cheesy comedy flick, the actual sixteen episode drama series is truly an amazing, enchanting, lovable and emotional journey. But as anyone can see, I chose not to use the official poster just because I'm not too fond of it. So instead, I chose a different titled picture which just so happens to be one from the original soundtrack... but we all get the idea, right? If anyone is interested in seeing the official series' poster that is used everywhere else, you can always go to My Girlfriend is a Gumiho @ dramawiki to see it. Without even realizing it, upon watching the story unfold, you easily grow attached to it, so much so, that the ending will leave you yearning for so, so much more. Unfortunately, there tend to be a lot of dragging scenes that don't stand out as too memorable; however, the overall effect of the series as a whole... I would definitely place this one on my list of re-watchable series because of the effect it had on me, personally.

My Girlfriend is a Gumiho roughly starts off as a more comedic, fantastical telling of a Nine-Tailed Fox (a gumiho) who's one wish is to become human and live among the human world. But circumstances surrounding her dictated that she would not receive that wish very easily and ends up trapped in a painting for 500 years until the day that fate brings an ignorant fool to unlock her cage.

Lee Seung Gi is Cha Dae Woong, a young college boy who has dreams of fame and fortune through action movies. Unfortunately, he has no intention of working for his ambitions, simply wanting a free ride through his grandfather's wealth, ditching classes, spending money, and just having all the fun he wants to have. One day, after running away from his grandfather again, he ends up in a country-side temple where the Gumiho, played by Shin Min Ah, frightens him into freeing her from the Three Gods Grandmother painting by drawing nine tails onto the fox. Following, Dae Woong rushes off in fear and ends up severely injured after tumbling down a cliff onto a riverbank. Since she owes him her freedom, the Gumiho gives him her most precious bead, which is pretty much like her fox's soul and energy which will keep him alive, slowly heal him as well as keep him from any other kind of damage. However, the effects of keeping this fox bead in his body means that Dae Woong must remain by Gumiho's side and never "share his energy", as she puts it, with any other woman. In other words, he is restricted from doing anything that can be defined as cheating, because while he has the fox bead in his body, he pretty much belongs to Gumiho. Doing anything of that nature would damage the fox bead and Gumiho, as well as bring grave trouble to the woman who shared that energy.

And so during this time, Gumiho ends up living with Dae Woong in the Action School attic room, is named Mi Ho by Dae Woong, and slowly learns how to become more like other humans in the human world. Meeting Park Dong Ju who is half-human also helps as he can directly explain to her everything she needs to know according to her own knowledge.

The story then leads into Mi Ho and her plan to become human using the method formulated by Park Dong Ju (No Min Woo). By drinking his blood, Mi Ho will slowly die within the next 100 days and during that time, her fox bead must be kept within a human body without damage or being removed. After that 100 days is up, Mi Ho can retrieve her fox bead and finally become human. What Mi Ho doesn't know, however, is that by the end of that 100 days, the human container for her fox bead will die when the bead is removed because it has absorbed all of that human's soul.

This was a truly beautiful scene, if only because of the way it was shot.
Just check out that lighting.

And thus begins a tragic love story of gumiho and human as Mi Ho and Dae Woong slowly fall for each other, not realizing that after 100 days, only one of them will be allowed to live in the human world.

To be totally honest, even with my own half-baked summary above, I think I would still be hard-pressed to watch this series if it hadn't been due to random curiosity. Because THAT was really one of the only reasons I even chose to watch this series in the first place: I was still trying to figure out what to watch next, I was picking up random series and viewing first episodes, and I was a little curious about Lee Seung Gi.

Every time I went through the list of Korean drama series, My Girlfriend is a Gumiho never once crossed my mind as something I would be interested in at all. I figured that, maybe if I were wanting to watch a cheesy comedy flick, then I would pick it up for fun. The official series' poster looked kind of unappealing and the summaries given sounded too outrageous for my liking. But as stated already, this series turned out to be so much more.

As for Lee Seung Gi, he is not known to me aside from the select few episodes of Shining Inheritance that I caught glimpses of while my parents were watching the Cantonese dubbed version of it. He came off as a fairly charismatic main lead, although having only seen bits and pieces of the series, it wasn't like I was enamored with him... at least not until I watched My Girlfriend is a Gumiho.

Needless to say, Shining Inheritance will soon be one of the next series on my "To Watch" list.

The summary at was spot on when it said that this series boasted two of the most charmingly endearing Korean drama series stars known. Even if the story line had been without substance (which was definitely not the case anyway), the series would have still survived on the wonders of Shin Min Ah and Lee Seung Gi and their stunning, attractive chemistry with each other.

Shin Min Ah is absolutely adorable with her innocent and bubbly, yet straight forward and kickbutt portrayal of Mi Ho, the lovely Gumiho. Judging from the poster and her first appearance in the first episode, I had expected her character to be somewhat of a sassy, sneaky, manipulative vixen who just crashes into the life of the main male lead without any shame or hesitation. This is how a lot of Nine-Tailed Foxes are portrayed in Asian culture story-lines. In historical times, the fox spirit was always a vile woman who came from evil and stole men and caused havoc.

While the crashing into the main male lead's life without hesitation is true, Mi Ho's level of cuteness and childlike carefree spirit is not at all like my expected impression of her. Instead, she is readily lovable and it's hard not to smile and cry with her when following her little sixteen episode tale to the very end. Needless to say, I pre-judged Shin Min Ah because this is the first series I've seen with her presence.

As for Lee Seung Gi, while there is a slight bit of unnaturalness to his acting at times, this fault is very easily overlooked due to his character's enthusiasm and charm as well as the fantastical and comedic mood of the story line. Cha Dae Woong is the typical misguided hero with a heart of gold, starting off as a spoiled rich boy with no ambitions in his life and slowly turning into a more responsible human being who any grandfather would be proud to call his own. In my personal opinion, Lee Seung Gi isn't the most handsome man I've ever seen and I really didn't care too much for him in the first few episodes. But for some strange reason, the moment that Cha Dae Woong shows the first signs of falling in love with Mi Ho, somehow, Lee Seung Gi suddenly becomes so much more handsome and so much more attractive. With some actors, there is just a certain charm to them that cannot be described, and upon the unofficial joining of our couple, that charm that Lee Seung Gi has seemed to suddenly burst ten-fold.

Is it the effect of knowing his sudden change? Is it the demeanor at which it happens? Or did Lee Seung Gi somehow completely become the Cha Dae Woong in love, thus projecting a sense of attractiveness that he would have otherwise not had? Because people say that a lot of women look the most beautiful when they are in love. Does the same apply to men? Do they look more handsome when they fall in love? Do their demeanors change? Does the look in their eyes suddenly captivate everyone in sight? If so, then Lee Seung Gi's ability to become his character role and bring Cha Dae Woong to life was absolutely astounding.

The pairing of Lee Seung Gi with Shin Min Ah is delightfully beautiful. After Gumiho happily attaches herself to Dae Woong and the two end up living together, the combination immediately became a sweet new relationship, even in spite of Cha Dae Woong's continued protests and consistent annoyance with Mi Ho's naivette about the present day world. It was simply natural how the two started off as a funny "master-slave" relationship, slowly became friends, and then finally entering the tragic love story when Dae Woong could finally admit his feelings, getting over his fear of Mi Ho being a non-human.

This series was absolutely amazing from beginning until the end and even the supporting characters were enjoyable to watch. The love rivals, of course, were the typical formula of an annoyingly evil female love rival, Eun Hae In, who selfishly wanted everything to be hers, even Dae Woong; and the good man third wheel, Park Dong Ju, who readily loved Mi Ho for his own reasons, calmly doing whatever Mi Ho desired in order to make her happy, even if his first intentions had been to just quietly observe what she was up to in the human world. Park Dong Ju, however, was a complete enigma to me as I wasn't really sure what it was he was up to; but for the most part, anyone could tell that while he was the guy who hunted and killed supernatural beings like Gumiho, he truly DID keep her happiness as his number one priority the more he got to know her.

Forming a teacher-student relationship, even though Park Dong Ju ends up caring for Mi Ho as more than just a student or a friend, they still gave off more of a brother-sister air about them. Mi Ho was the whiny but excited cute little sister while Park Dong Ju was the loving, wizened elder brother who was there to protect her. In it's own way, it was pretty sweet.

Dae Woong's two best friends, Kim Byung Soo and Ban Seon Yeo were pretty much nonexistent and useless (as like most of the main male leads' best friends). The crazy little side romance between Cha Min Suk (Dae Woong's aunt) and Ban Doo Hong (Seon Yeo's father) reminded me a LOT of the strange love story in My Girl between Jang Il Do and Bae In Sun due to over-dramatization and weird antics.

Needless to say, this is another extremely successful Hong Sisters' Production and seeing as how I have already seen and enjoyed four of them, I will continue to look forward to more series under their names.

My Girlfriend is a Gumiho is a very surprisingly wonderful gem among drama series. Because I had gone into the story line with low expectations, I was greatly ecstatic about what I ended up getting out of it in the end. It isn't perfect by any standards at all; in fact there were moments that, once gone are simply history and you don't think about them anymore. The story has a lot of innocent humor, charming actors and actresses, and an extremely emotional climactic turning point and ending. Despite the fact that we have an idea how the ending will happen and how much more heartbreak there will be just to get there, when everything suddenly presents itself, the story line really DOES hit where it hurts the most. But because of the way it is executed, it's all extremely memorable and worth the sixteen episode journey.

The series also showcases music by the main lead, Lee Seung Gi, who originally debuted as a singer at the young age of 17 in 2004 before making his first acting debut in 2006. Other music was very in tune with the mood of the series and I especially liked Fox Rain by Lee Sun Hee which sounds very like traditional Asian music. This is definitely a series worth watching even if you're in the middle of catching up with other current series.


Hoy hoy!

Related articles:
thoughts: My Girlfriend is a Gumiho -- **coming soon** -- Look forward to a more in-depth look at this series in discussion


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