For nearly a decade, Gong Yoo has been my favorite Korean actor. His rise to fame came with the gender-bending K-drama The 1st Shop of Coffee Prince. Since then, Gong Yoo has consistently delivered performances that demonstrate how seriously he cares about his craft.
This past summer, the zombie apocalypse blockbuster #TrainToBusan garnered worldwide success thanks to a solid cast led by Gong Yoo. The film's heartbreaking ending is both beautiful and worthy of recognition as we see Gong Yoo make sacrifices to save his daughter.
Back To The Small Screen
As of late, Gong Yoo has been a part of several great films, such as the Oscar-hopeful The Age of Shadows, the aforementioned Train To Busan, A Man and A Woman, and The Suspect, all of which showcase different shades of Gong Yoo's acting.
Through Goblin, Gong Yoo will return to the small screen after four years. His last drama, Big, was a success for fans worldwide and I agree that his nuanced performance was worthy of praise mainly because he kind of carried the whole show by himself. For me, it was difficult to watch Big because the logic of the story trailed off after several episodes. The gaps in the storytelling completely ruined the ending and made it impossible for me to actually finish it.
Both the writer (Kim Eun-sook) and director (Lee Eun-bok), the creative duo behind Goblin, have recently worked together on the record breaking K-drama Descendants of the Sun. This duo will now undertake what I consider to be a passion project with Goblin that I hope will resonate with audiences for years to come.
Past And Present
Goblin is a wonderful mixture of the past and the present. Gong Yoo plays Kim Shin, a Joseon warrior who has fought bravely for his country, only to be betrayed by a young King whose loyal companions urge him to kill Kim off in fear that his existence belittles the royal family's authority. Without a proper burial ceremony, Kim's body is laid to rest in a nearby field where his soul is destined never to rest.
His soul is eventually saved by his loyal subjects who prayed to no end that his soul rests in peace. Though his soul is saved, the blade by which he was killed was also used to kill other men who were the gods' creations. As punishment, Kim is given immortality and forced to watch his loved ones die before him.
Fast forward to today: Kim is a wealthy man living in present-day South Korea. Still alive and alone, he continues to search for his bride in order to end his immortality.
From the get-go, the dynamic between all of the characters in Goblin is palpable. From the first moment they step onto the screen, you witness these actors fully embody the characters they have been chosen to portray.
Kim Shin (The Goblin)
With Kim Shin, Gong Yoo is a delight to watch. I may be biased, but I can tell when an actor gives his all to a performance. He has proven time and time again that he can tackle any role, from romance to action. There's nothing he can't do, and this drama will further show that.
Wang Yeo (The Grim Reaper)
Wang Yeo is played by the charming Lee Dong wook. He's a grim reaper whose stance on death is cold and calculated. If he meets his quota without hassle, he's more than happy. An experienced actor, Lee Dong wook balances a comedy-driven bromance with Gong Yoo well. The dynamic between these two is lighthearted and fun so far.
Ji Eun-Tak (The Goblin's Bride)
Kim Go-eun's Ji Eun-tak is a young woman whose existence is a fluke. After her mother's death, her aunt and uncle only take her in so they can get their hands on her mother's life insurance money. She accidentally summons Kim Shin and both try to deal with the strange connection that ties them to one another. A seasoned actress, Kim Go-eun will surprise viewers with her mature naivety and fearless acting.
In a time where zombies and vampires are allowed to roam free in the teenage drama neck of the woods, Goblin offers a dose of fantasy romance without all the teenage angst. Kim Shin is a goblin hoping to finally rest in peace after 900 years, while Ji Eun-tak is a young woman whose life has barely begun, but has been met with such an unfortunate state of events (such as her mother's death and the constant emotional abuse she suffers at the hands of her aunt, her uncle, and her cousin).
Kim Shin appears to be in his mid-30s, while Ji Eun-tak is only 19. You might scratch your head wondering how this age gap will work. Trust me, it will. Why, you ask? Simply put: Love between two, consenting individuals age 18 and above should be allowed to be together regardless of class, race, ethnicity, gender, or supernatural affiliation.
Let us think back to the times of Jane Austen — her vibrant and independent young women gravitated towards older men because it was a different time. Kim Shin has existed for 900 years. The curse placed upon him is one from a different time, therefore this age gap would be normal during the Joseon era, and coincidentally would fit into Jane Austen's time frame for Pride and Prejudice.
I know this is a lot to grasp, especially if you're not an avid K-drama watcher. Still, I would love it if you would give Goblin a try. Not only will you experience a new culture, you will learn about a whole new world where goblins and grim reapers coexist. Starring the talented Gong Yoo, there's really no reason why you shouldn't at least give this drama a chance. If you loved Train to Busan and enjoyed Gong Yoo's performance, don't miss out on Goblin, available for streaming on Dramafever.
Watch the trailer below if you're still not convinced Goblin is for you:
Will you be watching Goblin this winter? Let me know in the comments below.