‘Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938’ Review: The Spectacular Return with Upgraded Fun

Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938 review

Edited by Kim Won Hee
Translated by Kim Hoyeun

Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938 review
Credit: tvN

Tale of the Nine Tailed is back, plunging into a historical journey with our favorite Korean mythical creatures, including the gumiho. As the title of this new season, Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938, suggests, the story leaps back into a tumultuous era in Korean history—the Japanese colonial period.


Gumiho Lee Yeon (Lee Dong Wook), who had been living a delightful married life as a human, reverts back to being a gumiho again to revive his dead brother Lee Rang (Kim Bum). One day, a mysterious figure in a red-and-white mask steals the guardian stone, the barrier between the living and the dead, and flees to the past, and Lee Yeon, along with Goo Shin Joo (Hwang Hee), follows the thief into Joseon era under the Japanese occupation. Here, he encounters his brother, Lee Rang, and his childhood friend, Ryu Hong Ju (Kim So Yeon), a former mountain god. Pursuing the thief, Lee Yeon saves Lee Rang from another near-death experience but ultimately finds himself trapped in the year 1938.

Like the first season, the series showcases a range of supernatural beings from Korean folklore, expanding its scope to include creatures from across East Asia. First, Dongbangsak, played by THE BOYZ’s Younghoon, in episode one, is a creature that’s lived for thousands of years. Then there are familiar characters that enrich Yeon and Rang’s journey – the familiar mermaid; Jowang the god of furnace; the vengeful spirit Saetani born with a powerful curse in the body of a deceased child; and the money-collecting ghost Upsin.

Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938 review
Credit: tvN

Though the identity of Kato Ryuhei (Ha Do Kwon), head of the Japanese Government-General of Korea, is not fully revealed yet, he’s been hinted as a Japanese Tengu on the drama’s official website, promising the appearance of more Japanese yokai as the series progresses. Additionally, objects from well-known folktales, such as the sword of “Baby Warrior” Utori, the legendary flute Manpasikjeok, and the golden ruler that can revive the dead, add an additional layer of mystique to this K-Fantasy drama.

And unlike the previous season, which was introduced as a fantasy action romance, this season positions itself as a swashbuckling fantasy action adventure, focusing more on the relationships among the four characters: Yeon, Rang, Hong Ju and Moo Young (Ryu Kyung Soo). Firstly, when Yeon and Rang first reunite in the past, they clash quite fiercely due to the emotional resentment that Rang holds. However, the joy of Yeon, who was just happy to meet his dead brother again, openly shows his affection for Rang, bringing the two closer. The show satisfies the audience by showcasing a deeper bromance between brothers than in season one.

Yeon, Hong Ju, and Mu Yeong were friends who had solely relied on each other since their childhood, nurturing a dream of becoming a mountain god. However, their relationship takes a strange turn as Mu Yeong, who was thought to be dead, appears as a masked man intending to take revenge on Yeon, who caused the death of his brother. Moreover, the one-way love triangle also spices up the story – Hong Ju constantly makes moves on Yeon, who only loves Nam Ji Ah, while Mu Yeong has his feelings for Hong Ju.

The action scenes are impressive, fitting for the fantasy action genre. Despite the potentially heavy historical backdrop, it doesn’t miss the fun of an action-packed adventure by presenting various spectacles, from gun action reminiscent of The Good, The Bad, The Weird to comical barehand action and heavy, flashy sword fights. It also does not simply consume the Japanese colonial era as a subject matter, accurately depicting the oppression and violence the Japanese inflicted on Koreans and those who had to fight against the same Koreans who are now on the Japanese side, illustrating the pain and confusion of the era.

Besides, the visual pleasure that follows the previous season is also noteworthy. The glamorous costumes and visuals that make it look like a fashion show are satisfying, to the point where you could call the show the actors’ video pictorials.

Halfway through its run, Tale of the Nine Tailed 1938 still has much to unpack. From the significant narrative arcs like the past conflicts between Yeon and Mu Yeong and the standoff between Korean and Japanese yokai involved in the independence movement to smaller yet captivating details like the budding romance between Rang and the mermaid Yeon Hee and the mysterious identity of Sunwooeunho (Kim Yong Ji), the series promises to keep viewers engaged till the end. Here’s hoping that it continues to deliver the same level of excitement till its conclusion. (7/10)


>> 5 Otherworldly Romance K-Dramas to Binge After ‘Tale of the Nine Tailed’


Edited by Kim Won Hee: I am a person who needs more than 24 hours in a day because there are so many things I love. I am amassing various genres in the jewelry box in my heart.

Leave your vote

185 Points
Related Posts

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.