I feel very immediately defensive – being a fan of Korean dramas and Korean pop nowadays perpetuates a certain stereotype which I am disdainful of, to say the least.

Mr. Buckwheat is the result of ardent fangirling over a Korean drama, 도깨비 GOBLIN. A intriguing mix of Korean mythology, novel love lines and well-drawn characters, Goblin is already slated to be my favourite drama of 2017.

In the drama, Mr. Buckwheat, or 메밀군, is a goblin whose looks were too fearsome, so he decided to cover himself in his favourite food, buckwheat jelly, to appear less so. Goblin has sparked an intense fascination over Korean deities and mythological beings – Samshin Granny (삼신 할머니), goblins, grim reapers, etc.

Some interesting facts about goblins (in the Korean context):
– They have a pathological fear of horses and dogs, which explains Kim Shin’s reaction when the Grim Reaper left a message for him on a towel smeared in horse blood (Ep 4?)
– Goblin fire is blue fire because it’s the hottest fire of all, in contrast to Grim Reaper’s powers, which are cold and frosty
– They can create gold, which explains Kim Shin’s wealth maybe?
– Goblins are usually derived from inanimate objects like brooms, so maybe Kim Shin wasn’t just drunk-blabbering about becoming a broom

By and large, Goblin was a great drama for me because of how well the characters were drawn. We have the titular goblin Kim Shin, whose dignified appearance gives way to petty tiffs with Grim Reaper and squealing in the cinema, the stoic Grim Reaper who’s adorably awkward before Sunny, the cheerful and effervescent Ji Eun-tak whose optimism and snark play complement to Kim Shin, and chic Sunny whose sharp, straightforward remarks hide a gentle, compassionate heart. I can’t help but love this combination of characters – I have never seen a cast with so much chemistry and heart. 🙂

The lessons Goblin taught me were important as well. I am by far the most impatient person I know, and Goblin’s millennia-long wait leaves me wondering if I can do the same faced with an equally valuable endeavour. The Grim Reaper’s indomitable spirit and his punishment for past lives, the way he endures it, also makes me wonder how many of us could bear it with as much grace as he did. The common running thread: of revenge and redemption (Ji Eun Tak vs. Evil Aunt, Goblin vs. Grim Reaper, both of them vs. Elder Wol Ha), of love (basically every pair, including Elder Wol Ha and Samshin Granny vs. the main cast) are very universal themes that the drama rejuvenated with fresh storytelling and stellar acting.

Did I also mention the amazing job the writer did with foreshadowing? I’m guessing a lot of us encountered Elder Wol Ha with slacked jaws because nobody was suspecting it to be Deok Hwa despite the overwhelming gut feel. In hindsight I realized Deok Hwa’s colour theme constantly involves blue and red (Elder Wol Ha’s representative colours in folklore, also Korea’s national colours.. is there a link?) and small moments like when he deciphered Ji Eun-tak’s letter made me wonder how a himbo like him could have done it and when it all came together.. voila.

Overall, a very well-written drama, and one that I won’t be in a rush to get over. Going to keep Mr. Buckwheat on my work desk for as long as I can, a reminder to keep hacking away because some legacies live past a lifetime! 🙂

도깨비 – 쓸쓸하고 찬란하신
Goblin – The Desolate and Brilliant God
Starring Gong Yoo, Kim Go-Eun, Lee Dong Wook, Yoo In-na, Yook Sung-jae

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