Gumiho: Tale of the Fox’s Child

Yeon Yi and San Daek

Country of Production: South Korea
Korean Title: 구미호: 여우누이뎐 / Gumiho: Yeowoonuidyun
Vietnamese Title: Ngụy Tình Hồ Ly

So, I watched bits and pieces of this Korea drama. Just want to say, what a frustrating way to tell a story. I have watched 30-40 episodes drama that’s less draggy than this 16 episodes drama. Since I only caught some parts of it and have no motivation to go back and finish the rest, I will write of my impressions about this show instead of a full-blown review. Disclaimer: some parts of what I am about to write came from discussions with my father and not from 1st hand experience, so I apologize if anything is off.

A while back, a nine-tailed fox spirit (Goo San Daek) met and fell in love with a human being. She told him of her origins and advised him to keep it a secret for at least ten years. After the ten years, she will become a human and stay by his side forever. They eventually got married and she bore for him a baby girl (Yeon Yi).

Goo San Daek’s stay with this man was not a prosperous one. He was a deadbeat gambler who could not provide for this wife and child. The night before the ten years was up, the man accidentally verbalized the secret, which broke the spell that would have transformed her into a human being. Feeling betrayed, Goo San Daek left her family.

Yeon Yi left home in search of her mother. When they reunited, they both returned home to find that the man had hung himself in remorse. Unable to stay in the village, the mother and daughter pair left to find a better life for themselves.

Eventually, Goo San Daek became the mistress of a magistrate (Yoon Doo Soo). Unfortunately, while he was very attracted to her, he also had another motive for taking in Goo San Daek and Yeon Yi. He had a daughter (Yoon Cho Ok) who was very sick and was destined to die at the age of ten. In order to save her, he had to feed her Yeon Yi’s liver.

Goo San Daek’s life with this man was not a happy one. He had a wife (Lady Yang), a very selfish and jealous woman, who tried everything in her power to get rid of the Goo San Daek and her daughter. Throughout the whole show we get a repeat of kidnapping, attempted murder, and then actual murder.

What I learned from this show is that parents are very selfish where their kids are concerned and that you really should kill your enemies in one clean swipe if you were given a chance, because the longer they lived, the more you will suffer.

The last several episodes where Goo San Daek got vengeful was definitely the best section of the show. The beginning and middle parts were boring because they keep going back in circles. How many times are you going to chase, drug, drown, or lock up someone?

I actually enjoyed watching the downfall of the murderous Yoon family. The positive thing about this show is that almost everyone got what they deserved (exceptions: Yeon Yi, Chun Woo, and Jung Kyu)

My thoughts on the characters and their portrayals:
* Han Eun Jung as Goo San Daek (Gumiho): A major impression I got from this show is that Goo San Daek is a very pathetic fox spirit. If I was her, I would have taken my daughter away from that family ages ago. If you hear that people want to harvest your beloved daughter’s liver, why would you stick around? After your daughter was given a second chance to live (after her spirit took over Yoon Cho Ok’s body), why don’t you run away with her? The only thing I could think of is that she doesn’t want to work for a living. Probably like the modern-day gold-digger: after she was given a taste of the good life, she doesn’t know how to fend for herself. Why else would she stick around in a house full of kidnappers and murderers?

I have never seen Han Eun Jung in any other dramas, but she was not very good in this one. I could tell that she’s quite pretty, but the way she was styled here makes her look kind of sickly. I tried really hard, but could only identify three facial expressions from her: sad, dazed and smiling. Most of the time, she was dazed. She really should take some direction from Hong Kong actress Irene Wan on how to be a seductress. I for one wasn’t convinced that she was a Gumiho. Her acting got better later on, but it was almost too late.

*Jang Hyun Sung as Yoon Doo Soo: Not really sure what he actually does for a living. He is supposedly a high level magistrate, but I don’t really see him doing anything work-related as he’s too involved with his personal family business, yet he knows nothing about what’s actually going on in his family. Also, it was really strange that a magistrate saw two bodies in the forest, declared that they were maimed by wild animal and then left. I would assume a decent human being would bury them (I guess since he killed an eleven year old girl in cold blood, we can assume that’s he’s anything but “decent”). As a magistrate, I would assume he’s obliged to bring back the bodies for investigation or confirmation of the cause of death. He’s the number one hypocrite in this show as he killed a bunch of people and always placed the blame on others to justify his actions.

Jang Hyun Sung is quite good actually. There’s a lot to the character of Yoon Doo Soo and Jang Hyun Sung portrayed him quite excellently.

* Kim Yoo Jung as Yeon Yi: It’s very hard to find a likable adult in this show and a lot of the kids were quite obnoxious, too, but Yeon Yi is definitely the redeeming factor for this show. She is decidedly my favorite character in here. She’s a very pitiful girl who was quite kind and courteous, but must suffer the actions of self-serving adults. Poor girl, she got “killed” at least 3 times that I saw (there’s probably more, but I only watched part of the show). One of those times, she was dissected. If she was older, I would say her romance story in this show was very sweet, but since she’s so young, I disapproved. I wouldn’t mind watching a movie about their relationship that continued to a next life (where they are older).

Kim Yoo Jung is a pretty girl, so it’s not hard to believe she is the daughter of Gumiho. From her filmography, I can see that she does have quite a bit of experience under her belt; no wonder she was such a good actress. Good luck, Yoo Jung. I foresee greatness in your future.

* Seo Shin Ae as Yoon Cho Ok: She’s not only spoiled and bratty, but she’s actually quite itchy with a capital “B”. Yoon Doo Soo has two sons, so I wonder why he loves Cho Ok so much. Everyone can see that she’s quite horrible, but she’s the gem in her parents eyes. Cho Ok hated Yeon Yi, because Yeon Yi stole the heart of the one she loves, and then later seems to steal her father, so I can see why she hates the girl. But Yeon Yi can’t help it: Yeon Yi was prettier and waaaayyy more likable.

Arguably the best actress in this whole drama. She cries convincingly and reacts appropriately for every situation I see her in. When she goes fox form, she’s the scariest of the three. I hated her as Cho Ok, but really liked her as Yeon Yi. Seo Shin Ae has a versatility that’s amazing for her age. Acting-wise, I think she was only out-acted by Jang Hyun Sung.

* Kim Jung Nan as Lady Yang: I can’t decide if she’s more hate-able or her daughter, Cho Ok. Probably her because she gave birth to Cho Ok. Don’t know why Yoon Doo Soo let her get away with all her antics.

Kim Jun Nan was a good actress. I was convinced that she’s a selfish wife and a selfish mother, but I didn’t pay attention to her scenes very much as I hated the character.

* Kim Gyu Chul as Steward Oh: Is he a good servant? Is he a good father? Not sure. Don’t really care for him very much.

Don’t like the actor. There’s something strange looking about him. He actually reminds me of Hong Kong actor Sean Lau.

* Suh Joon Young as Chun Woo: The only likable adult here. He was very self-sacrificing for San Daek. He was one of those characters where I felt his ending was not deserved.

No comment acting-wise as I didn’t really pay attention to his acting all that much. Nothing to praise and nothing to complain.

* Chun Ho Jin as psychic: This character didn’t have a lot of emotions throughout the show. You knew he wasn’t human, so if you are like me, you would be sitting there guessing at what he really is. Of course, you will also be guessing at what his motives are. For a while, I thought that it’s probably because he was bored with life, so he did all the things he did to amuse himself. Once his motives are revealed (in the last episode), you get an epithany moment that’s quite good. I personally like his ending the most. Definitely the creepiest looking character in the show.

I can tell he’s a good actor, but his character is required to stand in a trace most of the time, so he doesn’t get the opportunity to display his acting chops.

* Park Soo Hyun as exorcist: One of those frustrating dudes who see the world in black and white. As long as it’s a demon, he deems its bad; therefore, it must be destroyed. At least the other characters had understandable motivations to do what they do. This guy needs a hobby. He’s also a very poor fighter. San Daek should have killed him in the beginning instead of giving him the opportunity to mess with her life.

Have to say, he’s not a very good actor. Well, there’s not much to do with this very one-dimensional character, but there’s something off about him. Not convinced he was an exorcist. I think Park Soo Hyun looks too modern or something, and I don’t think all the blame should be placed on the stylist.

* Yoon Hee Suk as Jo Hyun Kam: Greedy magistrate who wants to take Yoon Doo Soo’s fortunes and position. He also wants to “sell” his son for a better station in life. Very pathetic and just not up to par with the other characters in evil plotting, but he’s still quite conniving.

Acting-wise I have nothing to say as this is one other character I didn’t really care for. Only comment I have is that he looks really good in modern-day images but kind of bad in the ancient garbs.

* Lee Min Ho as Jo Jung Kyu: One half of the cutest couple in this show if not for their young age. It was quite heartless of him to want to die with Yeon Yi as he still hasn’t repay his parents for the life he was given. Where’s your filial piety, boy?

Very cute looking kid, but too young for me. I thought he matched very well with Yoo Jung. The last scene they had of him showed that he can express emotions quite well, so I see potential in him.

* Jung Eun Pyo as San Daek’s husband: Didn’t really watched the scenes with this guy. All I can say is that he’s not a looker and apparently he’s quite a loser also, so I wonder why a Gumiho would want to spend her life with him. My father probably left something very vital out when he summarized the beginning for me.

For more details about this production, check out the DramaWiki page here.

You can watch the viet version here.