Edited by Hong Hyun Jung
Translated by Kim Hoyeun
Despite it being a rom-com series, their romance doesn’t make my heart flutter. This 16-part series has already reached its turning point and aired its 10th episode. But still, it doesn’t bring much excitement and only gives us boredom. Although the romance between a gumiho (nine-tailed fox) and a human being was dealt with multiple times, it can still be an interesting subject. But unfortunately, the romance between Shin Woo Yeo and Lee Dam failed to attract viewers. As a result, it only remained as their own affectionate love story.
Even before its premiere, My Roommate Is a Gumiho received high expectations from prospective viewers. Not only was it an adaptation of a popular webtoon, but also Jang Ki Yong and Hyeri, who look just like the characters, joined as the lead actors. Especially, the couple photoshoot released ahead of the premiere received explosive reactions for the two actors’ real couple-like vibe. On top of that, the collaboration of What’s Wrong with Secretary Kim co-writers Baek Sun Woo and Choi Bo Rim and 100 Days My Prince, Kkondae Intern director Nam Sung Woo tripled the trust we have for the work.
The series illustrates the romance between Shin Woo Yeo, a gumiho who ended up with a nonchalant attitude towards the world after existing for 999 years, and Lee Dam, a college girl who has to say what’s on her mind. When Lee accidentally swallowed Shin’s marble, the two start a cohabitation. And the more time they spend with each other, the more their “contract” relationship becomes a romance. The topics of gumiho and cohabitation may be familiar, but a combination of the two will for sure be heart-fluttering even if the story unfolds exactly as we expect.
However, these exciting setups seldom shine. The biggest problem is the characters. The characters on the page are attractive, but the video versions of them remain one-dimensional. They only rely on actors’ appearance that’s quite similar to the cartoon and barely show any three-dimensional charm that captivates people. You can’t tell the time 999-years-old Shin Woo Yeo had to endure, and Lee Dam, who never beats around the bush, seems more “cute” than “honest.” The interesting storytelling of an old gumiho and a cool college girl is completely overshadowed. Yes, the actors’ insufficient acting fails to bring out the best of the character. But the directing and adaptation don’t help them at all.
Amid loose development, the director’s pretentious and childish directing prevents the immersion. Even considering that it is a light romantic comedy, it looks like the series is building the emotions of the two characters as images rather than narratives. Scene after scene paints out wonderful moments, but it forces the character’s emotion on us without sufficient persuasion. Maybe this is the point where you need the so-called “the power to endure the cringe.” However, the story is not fun enough for us to feel the excitement just from the actors’ good looks and beautiful scenery.
The fact that there’s not that much story even up to episode 10 is another hindrance. In episodes 9 and 10, Shin and Lee finally confessed their feelings for each other. But if I summarize the previous eight episodes, it’s just Shin’s denial of his feelings and Lee’s crush on Shin. The flat characters already made the overall plot so dull, but the slow development piles up the frustration. In particular, it’s all the more disappointing that Lee’s candid charms are halved as her relationship with Shin is stalled. And to be honest, Shin doesn’t look alluring enough to make Lee anxious.
While the main couple continues to disappoint us, Yang Hye Sun, who became a human after hundreds of years as gumiho, showcases a shining presence. Kang Hanna’s solid acting skills flawlessly reinterprets the character and creates a perfect harmony between the sassy and clumsy charms. The moment Yang shows up, the series comes to life. Plus, her relationship with Lee’s best friend, Do Jae Jin, is refreshing. When she slowly opens her heart as Do’s innocence influences her, the heart-fluttering moments we expect in a rom-com surface.
Now, My Roommate Is a Gumiho has to show Shin and Lee overcoming their difference as gumiho and human and completing their romance. The more Shin stays with Lee, the stronger his desire as a gumiho to crave human energy gets. And to make things worse, Lee and Gye Sun Woo are now linked together by a red thread by the mountain spirit. I know that those two will eventually overcome all the difficulties and become a lovey-lovey couple. But I do dearly hope that the series gives us some room to immerse in the remaining episodes.
Verdict: The regression of K-fantasy romance (5/10)
Edited Hong Hyun Jung: I am a K-content guide who publishes various articles for people to enjoy Korean movies and dramas deeper and richer. I’ll introduce you to the works that you can laugh, cry and sympathize with.
Translator Kim Hoyeun: If you are a fan of K-drama, K-movie, and K-pop, I am your guy. I will continue to provide you with up-to-date K-entertainment news.