My Girlfriend is Gumiho, episodes 4 to 12

Something is off about this drama. This is the only drama I’m currently paying very close attention to, but for some reason I’m just not really into it like I have been for past Hong Sister dramas. I know what I really love — Lee Seung-gi and what he’s doing with his role — but everything else doesn’t seem compelling.

Let’s start off with what — or rather, who — I really like: Lee Seung-gi.

I think he’s the perfect guy to play the anti-hero hero. Kind of a wimp, doesn’t really accomplish anything great, has a bigger sense of his own abilities than what reality may suggest, and may be a little insecure at times.

But at the end of the day, he’s the kind of protagonist that audiences love, because he does the right thing despite not wanting to, and it’s oddly comforting.

I don’t know if the Hongs have personal input into who gets casted for the main roles, but if they do, they’ve been spot on with picking the right guy to be comedically brilliant as well as dramatically believable. Kang Ji-hwan was flawless. Jang Geun-seok has been steadily improving in all his projects and I think so far “You’re Beautiful” was his best. And now, Lee Seung-gi. All guys who have a surprisingly good comedic timing but can turn around quickly if a scene calls for more seriousness.

And Lee Seung-gi is just incredibly likeable. It feels like he probably is Cha Dae-woong in real life, and I kinda wanna squish him. I think I’m more impressed with the actors in Korea who can do comedy moreso than those who can do drama because I think on the whole, dramatic acting is a Bigger Deal and being able to cry good tears is like some second coming of Jesus. It’s so easy to get “funny” wrong if you overdo by just a little and that’s why getting the beat down is so important, and Lee Seung-gi definitely has all of that down, despite never having acted in a comedy before. So huge props to him.

But I can’t solely attribute Cha Dae-woong to Lee Seung-gi, I also have to give props to the writers for cranking out a good character. For a Hong Sister drama I feel this is a vice and a virtue. Hong Sister dramas tend to have well-written primary characters and shit secondary characters. (And then even within the primary characters there’s a hierarchy: the guy is usually a more well-rounded character than the girl. This bugs me to no end but I’ll talk about that later.)

So. Good actor for a well-written role. Big ups.

But then the big downs: the story, all the other characters.

This is a story about the gumiho living amongst humans, so of course a certain degree of fantasy is to be expected. I really don’t think that the goal was to flatten the fantastical elements of the mythology, because this is the kind of story that relies on those elements in order to create conflict. I don’t have a problem with that, but what I do have a problem with is one specific plot-line in the story, involving Noh Min-woo’s Park Dong-joo.

Dong-joo is pretty much where the crux of the conflict comes from. He’s tipping the scales one way, but what the audiences want, presumably, is for the circumstances to tip the other way. We’re twelve episodes in, but who is Park Dong-joo?? We know he’s a “hunter of the supernatural,” but what the fuck is he? We know he’s lived a past life that involved another version of the gumiho, but who the hell was she? They had a lover’s relationship, that much is clear, but what is that relationship? How did he get reborn and have complete memories of his past life in tact, when the gumiho doesn’t?? These are vital character details that should be included. I also know that he’s on a mission to separate Mi-ho from Dae-woong to prove his point that humans are not to be trusted, but what the hell triggered this?

I just think that this part of the story has been obscured for so long that it’s annoying me that I still don’t know what happened. It also really doesn’t help that, directionally-speaking, all of Dong-joo’s scenes are freaking annoying to watch — the constant talking to self, mumbling vague and ambiguous details about the past in a roundabout way, the use of exceptionally lame music (come on guys, get another song with a less annoying guitar riff). It all is off-putting to watch and I’ve dreaded watching Noh Min-woo’s scenes, even though I’ve generally really liked all of the second leads in a Hong drama, whether it’s the character himself or the actor playing the role.

(I also just feel that Noh Min-woo is still a little green as an actor. That usually happens when you go from playing a minor, but pretty, role in another drama, and then jumping into a supporting role that requires a lot more subtlety. He has none of that. Pains me to say this seeing as he’s just so pretty (and an ex-Trax member!) but he’s quite bland and I feel no attachment to him at all.)

Story aside, there’s the little problem of all the other characters in the story.

This is a pretty big bone to pick, because essentially, other than the scenes with Dae-woong and Mi-ho, I’m completely uninterested in anything else. I also know how I am as a viewer and will have no problem admitting if a relationship is the only thing I’m watching a drama for, but this is not a drama where I ship the main couple so much that I don’t care about anything else. It really is a problem of me not caring about anything else that’s happening in the drama.

Dae-woong’s aunt with Director Ban? Could not care less.

Any scene with Dae-woong’s grandpa? Who cares.

Dae-woong’s friends? Kind of annoying and Hyo-min should stop acting.

And then the ultimate bad character comes in form of Eun Hye-in. I have very little tolerance for Park Soo-jin, who plays Hye-in. She was pretty awful in “Boys Before Flowers,” was pretty blah in what I saw in “Loving You a Thousand Times,” and this drama just makes me wanna scratch her eyes out.

For some reason the actresses picked for the second leads in a Hong drama seems to get progressively worse. They also get progressively more annoying. Seriously, look at the culprits:

– Park Shi-eun in Delightful Girl Chun-hyang (2005)
– Park Shi-yeon in My Girl (2005)
– Park Han-byul in Fantasy Couple (2006)
– Kim Ri-na in Hong Gil Dong (2008) (imo, she’s the only good actress on this list at the time she took on the role)
– Uee in You’re Beautiful (2009)
– Park Soo-jin in My Girlfriend is Gumiho (2010)

Seriously, you’re killin’ me, dudes. SUPER annoying roles (clingy, manipulative, hugely deceptive, mean-spirited, sadistic) played by actresses that can’t even begin to try to make their villainy compelling. (Again, only exception is Kim Ri-na in Hong Gil Dong. And I guess Uee was pretty good at Hye-yi in You’re Beautiful, but I’m forever marred by bad second female leads.)

My final complaint is that of Gu Mi-ho. Gah. Well. I guess this is more of a complaint I repeatedly have with a good number of Kdramas, and I mention it a lot on all my other drama posts, so I won’t do it so much here — but I hate that girls are always written as having one undying love for another boy forever.

Things being taught and reinforced in Korean society: loyalty, dedication, and obedience. (True for male-male friendships/relationships, and even truer in male-female relationships.)

Girl must always have one heart for one guy. Must never look another way. Will be disloyal/non-virtuous if they do so. Can’t see any other option but to be with that one person.

Sigh. It gets tiring to talk about this over and over, so I will stop here, and show you caps from my favorite scene in the series thus far:

  • tiacosas

    OMG! Hah, the first time I read someone talking about this particular point:

    “but I hate that girls are always written as having one undying love for another boy forever.”

    I was thinking about this when watching the drama, and my discomfort grew with yesterday’s episode when Mi Ho says to female 2nd lead “Because I liked him so much, he liked me too.” That’s so completely wrong. She’s been literally following him like a pest until the guy finally liked her. We’ve seen this dynamic a lot in kdramas, the clingy but good girl that in the end, after insisting so so much, gets the boy she absolutely adores, worships and loves with aaaaallll her heart.

    I have a love-hate relationship with this drama. The Cute makes me go awww, but then, that Cute is so overly done and superliminal that it becomes childish and exhausting. I know I’d feel awkward near a girl like Mi Ho in real life – 100% of time doing those childish gestures and showing no respect for herself, just spending time “liking” someone. I have to say that I’m there with you: Lee Seung-gi is the best thing in this drama :D

    • Amy

      Yes yes a thousand times yes to your comment!

      I think Shin Min-ah is cute as a friggin button and I’m just like AWWWWW at so many of her little gestures, but it’s a little ridiculous.

  • hapacalgirl

    I am having the same issues with the drama and I think I have lost some interest for the same reasons as you. While I do love the main couple , in fact they are probably the only thing keeping my interest in this show, the fact that they are the only ones with any backstory is making the plot seem lacking. They have introduced all of these side characters yet we know nothing at all about them which makes the story seem to be missing something to me. Although I have to admit part of my lessening interenst in MGIAG is because of my increasing interest in Sungkyunkwan Scandal.

  • pengork

    it’s because i don’t care much about the other characters that i don’t mind them not being expanded on much. they’re clearly superfluous, just to fill up the world so it’s not just the main quartet, and they don’t really try to make them more than that. i get that; the hong sisters focus on what works.

    as for miho herself… God but shin minah is gorgeous, and adorable, and charming, and with her and seunggi both being so adorably adorable, i can overlook the stuff that i object to. miho’s single-minded liking for daewoong is pretty objectionable, but it doesn’t bother me much because of her forwardness and honesty in liking him, and because before the confession she realised that all she did was like him. i’d have liked more focus on that and what it means for miho to be human barring daewoong completely (maybe it’s come? i’ve only seen upto 11 yet), but for now the cute and the couple keep me satisfied. i don’t expect too much more, and the hong sisters don’t try to make it more, they work with what they’re good at, so i prefer this to them half-assing it or being pretentious about it, really.

  • tailorstitch

    A big problem for me is Dong-Joo also, I really don’t know what the heck he wants or why he does anything. I just wish that someone along the way would have been kind enough to let us all know, but then maybe at the end we’ll find out *shrug* by the I doubt I’ll care.

  • Sunni

    I can’t agree more. I kind of get tired of MH overdone cuteness. it just become harder and harder watching her native and childish nature week in and wek our with no progress of her real being ie the GUHIMO ! The wicket amd evil side of her. I was expecting that to happen by ep 8 , not those comical no plot develpment. I have since stop and waist for the final episode to decide whether to continue. I would be more cheese off if they change the original ending because of the flooded request to the station to do that. That will be it for me. LSH is the only thing that got me to ep 8. I hope the ending is believable and fit into the original plot from ep 1