[PICK] The Love Worth Sacrificing Your Liver: K-Drama with a Nine-Tailed Fox as The Main Character

Edited by Cho Ye Eun
Translated by Na Young Gil

The nine-tailed fox is a subject that seems to resurface in a tv show just when you are on the brink of forgetting it. In the past, the fox, Gumiho, was portrayed as the formidable enemy of humanity. KBS’s Korean Ghost Stories can be the best example. The show’s Gumiho has long white hair and uses its sharp teeth and nails to attack human beings. Perhaps Gumiho might have eaten enough livers that he wanted so much. Because somehow, they shook off their scary images over time and became the friendly creatures that live with people under one roof. Here are the five best TV shows, which feature the mysterious nine-tailed fox, Gumiho


Tale of the Nine Tailed (2020)

Credit: tvN

tvN’s Tale of the Nine-Tailed puts a male Gumiho character as a lead, instead of the traditional female one. Lee Dong Wook’s unrealistically handsome looks allow viewers to understand the people in legends who sacrificed their livers. It’s about the unique romance between the Gumiho, Lee Yeon, who wishes his lover to live an ordinary life, and Ji Ah, who doesn’t hide her feelings for someone, the Gumiho, who saved her when she was a kid. The show brings fun by adding more oriental mythical elements like the monster serpent (Imoogi), reapers, and reincarnations. The series had a happy ending for the pair, Lee Yeon and Ji Ah. And it ended on a solid note garnering nationwide viewership ratings of 5.8%.


My Roommate is a Gumiho (2021)

Credit: tvN

tvN has come up with another Gumiho show. It features a male nine-tailed fox again, and surprisingly, he has lived for 999 years. My Roommate Is a Gumiho begins when a female college student Lee Dam swallows Shin Woo Yeo’s bead, in which he has been collecting human energy for centuries. However, Shin Woo Yeo, played by Jang Ki Yong, is so kind that he would sacrifice his own liver to someone. While Tale of the Nine-Tailed was about heartful fantasy romance, My Roommate Is a Gumiho portrays sweet and bubbly romance. Many viewers fall for Jang Ki Yong, forgetting the fact that Shin Woo Yeo is a Gumiho when they see him greeting Lee Dam with an umbrella for her. If you want something sweet and romantic, I recommend you to watch this show.


Gumiho Recipe (2021)

Credit: KBS

This one is a traditional Korean musical show about Gumiho living in Jeonju Hanok Village and his romance. Yo Hee, a go-getter when it comes to love, quickly notices that the perfect CEO, Yoon Ho, is a reincarnation of Jin Woo, whom she had a heartbreaking break up with a thousand years ago. However, unfortunately, he is currently with a fiancé, Seon Yeong. Seon Yeong is someone who believes that a guy who looks good on paper is everything. Since Yoon Ho fits the bill, she rushes to get married to him. The love story becomes even more interesting as firefighter Seung Hwan, who can’t move on from Seon Yeong, gets involved. It’s refreshing to see the four people’s journey to find true love with the traditional Korean sounds such as pansori, Korean folk songs, and gayageum.


Forbidden Love (2004)

Credit: KBS

This action-packed show is about the battle between humans and the Gumiho and the love born amidst chaos. It was a highly anticipated show due to the 10 billion won budget and it being a fantasy blockbuster. However, it didn’t meet the viewers’ expectations because of its poor CGI and weak storyline. For example, the show uses intriguing ideas such as the conflict between Gumiho warriors and Special Forces, the protagonist’s revenge against Gumiho that killed his family, and the fate of having to kill the one he loves. However, all those ended too abruptly, leaving a disappointment. But with the cast that remains impressive to this day, including Kim Tae Hee, Han Ye Seul, and Jun Jin, the series ended on a good note with viewership ratings of 19.5%.


My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho (2010)

Credit: SBS

This is a romance series about the love between an immature college student Cha Dae Wung and a nine-tailed fox who wants to be a human, Gu Mi Ho. In the beginning, it didn’t do well because the show had the same time slot as another popular series, and it had an inconsistent plot. But it did become a talk of the town. Many people especially picked the lovely and bubbly Mi Ho as Shin Min Ah’s best character. The show is quite similar to My Roommate Is a Gumiho because there is a bead they need to use to become humans. If you want to watch a protagonist, who’s innocent, lovely, and literally ‘acts like a fox,’ check out My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho.


Editor Cho Ye Eun: A sailor searching for creative insights. My interests center around Korean shows, web novels and webtoons.

Translator Na Young Gil: ZAPZEE is the best Korean pop culture community, and I’m happy to be part of it.

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