With My Roommate is a Gumiho that’s currently on air, foxes are back in fashion. For those not living in K-Dramaland, a gumiho is a mythical nine-tailed fox. Rural legends, myths, folklore—all have contributed to the creation of K-Drama characters that range from mermaids to nine-tailed foxes to vampires. It’s quite a mix of superpowers and emotions as their worlds collide with mere humans. For those who’ve only recently discovered this space, here’s a primer on all the otherworldly fantasy beings you’ll encounter as you dive deeper into dreamy Korean TV series.
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Korean legends look unfavourably upon these usually-female creatures as they’re known to devour human livers. The first time we see male leads play a gumiho is in Tale of the Nine-Tailed, and I bet you can’t find more handsome foxes than the immensely popular Lee Dong-wook and Kim Bum. In My Roommate is a Gumiho, Hye-ri’s character shares the house with a foxy male lead. Seasoned actress Shin Min-ah too plays one in My Girlfriend is a Gumiho, complete with nine, white and bushy tails!
We’re introduced to Doom, a completely new entrant to K-Dramas, thanks to Doom at Your Service, that’s currently on air. So far, we know that Doom (Seo In-guk) is a supernatural being who’s responsible for all the destruction in the world. But of course, he’s paired with the petite Park Bo-young, and we’re already seeing them fall in love.
K-Dramaland’s most famous mermaid is the adorable and outlandish Shim Chung from Legend of the Blue Sea, played brilliantly by Jun Ji-hyun. The story goes that mermaids can trade their tails for a pair of legs to walk on land, but their true love must love them back soon, else their heart hardens, and they die. But hey, their tears turn to big fat pearls, so I’d say Heo Joon-jae (Lee Min-ho) got lucky here.
Alive since 900 years, Gong Yoo’s character in Guardian: The Lonely and Great God is doomed to be a goblin as a punishment for committing sins as a human; he can only die once he finds his fated human bride. But our goblin leads a good life—he lives in a palatial house, was friends with Louis IV, can manipulate the weather, and possesses a sword with magical powers. At this point, I wouldn’t blame you if you’d want to be a goblin!
5. Grim Reaper
Responsible for collecting souls once people die, grim reapers in Guardian: The Lonely and Great God also have boring paperwork to fill out and work conferences to attend. Lee Dong-Wook has immortalized the character with his flawless poker face and comic timing in Guardian. Hotel Del Luna also sees a grim reaper in a supporting role.
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Steely-eyed Lee Tae Ri plays an imoogi—the lesser dragon—in Tale of the Nine-Tailed, bringing the creature into global popularity. With fewer powers than a dragon, the villainous imoogi is more like a serpent who can shapeshift. Their favourite snack? Humans, of course!
Creating waves among fans currently is Lee Soo-hyuk in Doom at Your Service, who shot to fame in 2015 for playing the sexiest (yes) vampire that K-Drama fans had ever seen. Scholar Who Walks the Night’s evil vampire Gwi sports a goth look, shows abs and struts in flowing robes. His go-to drinks order? Blood, of course, but make it royal.