This post was ten episodes shy of being titled “Goblin, My Unpopular Opinion”, as when I watched the first few episodes of Goblin: The Lonely and Great God, it was pretty slow to me and I did not understand the hype. I found the female lead annoying, and somehow did not see the amazing charm of the male actors.
Thankfully I continued as I thought, this had to be one hell of a drama for it to do better than the 2016 hit drama that swept drama land not too long ago, Descendants of the Sun. And after I watched the Goblin special and realized that this masterpiece was in fact created by Kim Eun Sook, the same woman that created Descendants of the Sun, I thought daebak! That makes so much sense as both dramas were legendary in their own respect.
There were many things that crossed my mind as I watched Goblin and took in the amazing effort and detail put in by the cast and crew, and I’m going to tell you exactly why this drama took me by surprise.
Disclaimer: Spoilers lie ahead. Tread at your own risk.
1. The Male Leads
When I first started watching Goblin for some reason I wasn’t exactly starstruck or even the least bit enamored by the obviously handsome faces of the male leads. Maybe it was the place I was in mentally when I began watching the series, who knows. The point is that as I got deeper into the drama I fell so hard for both of them, specifically Kim Shin. In a combined effort they both made me swoon at their cool lines and actions, and even more than that I appreciated how they could be so brooding, and at times dark, yet still be childish, chummy, and bring their own personal humor and charm to their characters.
Their bromance was adorable as we saw them get closer with each episode. The creator definitely got lucky by casting them as they both fit their roles SO well, and I could not see either of them being played by anyone else.
2. The Spot on Acting
There are so many ways that this drama could have been spoiled and lackluster with bad actors, as the plot and setting is one in which if you are not completely committed, it could easily end as a bad pre-school fairy-tale.
Kim Shin (The Goblin)
Actor Gong Yo had to find a way to seem cool, and still show the innocent chumminess of first love at the same time, and let me tell you, he nailed it! With his beautiful smile and puppy dog like eyes, he was able to add so much warmth to the drama, yet still managed to be completely serious when it called for it. He played a Goryeo man so well, and the way he was able to transition through different time periods appeared so effortless.
The Grim Reaper
I can praise actor Lee Dong Wook a million times for getting this part right and interpreting it the way he did. He appeared cool and lightheaded, but not too cold as he showed being a grim reaper was merely a job in contrast to the belief of the popular cliche that the grim reaper is in cahoots with the devil and naturally evil. Though he was not evil, he showed when he meant business without even doing much but giving a look and telling one to “look into his eyes for a moment“. His transition into a modern society seemed so genuine as he played the part of being naive in those situations really well. When he was not wearing his monotone face, like Gong Yo, his smile was to die for and if it was in correlation to my health I would just as well be dead.
Ji Eun Tak
I’m not going to lie, her character rubbed me the wrong way in the beginning. I thought she was too happy, too sweet, to bubbly for what she saw and what she had been through? But as time passed I realized that this was her biggest charm, and it was the most admirable one of all.
For someone to continue to light up peoples days and still be a caring and giving person was so refreshing to me compared to the people in my own life who used their circumstances as an excuse to be bad people. The way she was able to stay so positive and accepting even in death made me realize that she was too good for this world. In the beginning I questioned just why The Goblin was falling for her, but as I found myself just as well swooning for this sweetheart, I no longer trivialized his affection for her. Actress Kim Go Eun did an amazing job of playing this role without making me want to jump into the Han River, because with the wrong casting, that easily could have been the case.
Sunny was just that, Sunny. Every time she appeared on the screen she shined, and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. She was such a unique character in the way that she was confident yet questioning, seemed naive but was calculating, kept to herself yet was a hopeless romantic, and hesitant yet giving. Towards the end of the drama I realized how brilliant she was and wanted to have a conversation with actress Yoo In Na in which she gave me a detailed play by play of just how she managed to make this character larger than life itself.
How she could take any emotion and atmosphere and portray it so well, especially highly emotionally driven scenes. How she let her inner spunk out to give viewers the Sunny we love and know so well. How she managed to steal the show without even trying to.
Among many other characteristics, I admired Sunny’s immeasurable confidence, and I wouldn’t want anyone else to play the role of not Sun Hee, but Sunny!
I was first introduced to actor Yook Sung Jae in We Got Married and thought he was so much fun and absolutely hilarious. I heard about how well he did in Who Are You: School 2015, and he definitely did not fall short in this drama either. He played the role of a naive, amusing, proud, playful, bright eyed heir so well. And in the few scenes in which his body was taken over by who I am assuming is a deity, the switch to a brooding all knowing character was spot on.
With his youthful lightheartedness, he definitely added to this drama in a positive way.
3. The Refreshingly Pure Love Stories
In the beginning of Goblin there was an obvious age gap between Ji Eun Tak and Kim Shin. In fact, I wasn’t sure what route the drama would take. Whether it would continue to only hint at a slight romance due to the age difference, or if it would become a full blown love story. Well neither of those happened. Rather, a story about what true love is was shown over time as Kim Shin and Ji Eun Tak transcended from two strangers with boundaries, to a couple who were both learning the ropes of love together in the most adorable way with many sweet moments and kisses in between, to a marriage of two people who could not, and would not see life without each other if they could help it. And whenever the circumstances of life did threaten to pull them apart, they managed to overcome this not only once, but twice, by waiting for each other no matter what.
I did not ship the two in the beginnning, or dislike them either. Rather I was interested in what kind of chemistry they would build over time, and exactly how the writers would make their love story one worth seeing, and by the end it more than was. For me it reinforced that that urge to love someone and be with them no matter the circumstance is real, and I could only sigh wistfully and watch with a smile on my face as I envisioned a love of my own.
The love story between Sunny and The Grim Reaper was not only interesting, but perhaps one of the most heartbreaking things throughout the drama for me. Not only did these two have an ill fated love due to their past lives, but they both spent a better part of their time together trying to figure out exactly who the other was, feeling natural pain when who they were in their past lives was revealed.
Before the heartbreak settled in, I loved watching these two interact. The confident Sunny remained patient and loyal and tried to guide The Grim Reaper through love by being understanding and explaining to him what things meant and the basics of dating. The Grim Reaper wasn’t sure what he felt, or what all this meant, but all he knew was that Sunny was someone who gave him a good feeling. A person he wanted to spend a lot of time around, a person whose smile made him smile, whose sadness made him sad. A person he wanted to be better for.
I love this so much because it showed that even without labels, love is still love and when someone loves someone it will show in the way that they care for them, what they say to them, and how they view their lover.
The story of these two became tragic as The Grim Reaper realized that Sunny was his lover in their past life and he had killed her with his own hands. When Sunny realized this as well and was forced to live with the pain, she decided to set herself free and punish him by never letting him see or hear from her again.
Of course my heart broke for the obvious repentant, regretful Grim Reaper. On the other hand, not only did I support Sunny’s decision, but I also found it inspirational due to the fact that it has become some kind of a culture (seen in dramas, books, and real life) to instantly forgive someone and act like nothing happened all in the name of love, so it was refreshing to see that it’s possible to love someone from afar while knowing that they were no good for you even though their were good moments. The pain they caused you was still unbearable and time was needed for your own mental health. That is something I am completely HERE for.
4. Such a Light But Heavy Plot
As I watched Goblin I couldn’t help but think that though the atmosphere was often cold, sad, and even dreary, it still managed to literally make me laugh out loud and smile more times than I can count. The plot was not in any way a happy one from the jump with Ji Eun Tak losing her mother from such a young age, and the tragic story that took place in the Goryeo era between Kim Shin, his king who betrayed him in conjunction with betraying his own lover. Coupled with scenes filled with vengeful ghosts, grim reapers guiding people to the after life, and Ji Eun Tak facing life ending situations every five seconds, this drama had a lot of well, drama. Even with all the heavy things in the plot, the writers still managed to make the script completely humorous and light hearted, and with the help of the amazing actors who each added a bit of their own selves the characters, I was not disappointed and spent a lot of time marveling at how they pulled off the perfect combination so well that it almost seemed like a crime.
5. The Aesthetic
The fashion here had me so enamored that I had endless google search queries in my history that went something like: “Goblin inspired clothing” or “Where to buy clothes like Korean drama Goblin”. The stylist of this drama could pick out my wardrobe any day.
The Cinemography, Scenery, and Editing
They say a picture holds a thousand words. Well all I can say is wow, a similar reaction to the one I had while taking in the amazing sets and beauty of the scenery in this drama.
Here are a few songs that I really think tied the drama together well.
“Round and Round” – by Heize featuring Han Soo Ji
“And I’m Here” – by Kim Kyung Hee
Winter is Coming – By Han Soo Ji
“Stuck in Love” – by Kim Kyung Hee
6. The Realistic Depiction of an Alternate Way of Life
I love the fantasy aspect of this drama so much! And it’s not even just because of the fact that Gong Yo and Lee Dong Wook look so good as Goblins and Reapers either. Rather, I was so invested in the idea of having past lives and future lives and four lives and anything related to being able to live another life if the one I currently had did not turn out to be everything I wanted it to be. As someone who romanticizes most everything, the way they made having multiple lives seem so casual left me breathless. I loved how this drama normalized the idea of other beings living amongst us with trials and tribulations of their own.
Specifically, I loved how it did not make ghost seem like something that one had to avoid, rather as people who were once living with various personalities and motives. I loved how friendly Ji Eun Tak was to the ghosts’ that surrounded her and how great of a bond she had with them. For someone who gets creeped out at the thought of ghost, it made the idea of them less burdensome. I also loved how in this alternate way of life, there was a reason for every single thing that happened, from the The Goblin having a wife, Ji Eun Tak being a special case and dying at a certain age, to why people became grim reapers, how people ascended to heaven, and how ones present life correlated to ones past life, and so forth.
7. The Flawless Shifting from One Era to Another
The backstory of people’s past lives had me so hooked that I wouldn’t have minded watching a separate drama that went deeper into that story, as I have a weak spot for historical dramas as well. The actors were flawless, the set was gorgeous, and the story did not take away from the main story at all, and instead enhanced it. The way both of the stories intertwined so beautifully was just brilliance! The actor that played The Grim Reaper in his past life was too cute, and Lee Dong Wook made one hell of a good looking Goryeo man if I do say so myself.
8. The Roller Coaster of Emotions
When I was not crying because of this drama I was laughing out loud, and when I was not feeling melancholy I was smiling. All of these things happened often and at various times all through the course of one episode. There were so many things that made me laugh during this drama that I can’t recount them all.
Instead, here are some particular scenes I remember that really touched my heart made me cry:
- When The Goblin returned to nothingness.
2. When Eun Tak was graduating high school and the deity came in and gave her a bouquet of flowers and hugged and congratulated her.
3. When Eun Tak found out that her ghost friend was actually her deceased mother’s friend from childhood.
4. When Eun Tak got into a tragic car accident and died. The way this scene managed to be devastating yet so beautiful in the way that it was portrayed haunted me. Well done guys.
These were just some of the reasons I could not get over Goblin: The Lonely and Great God after watching it. Whether it be The Goblin’s charming smile, Sunny’s bright face, Eun Tak’s cheery demeanor, The Grim Reaper’s adorable ways, or the OST’s I can’t seem to get out of my head, this is definitely a drama I am glad to have given a chance. It is also one that will definitely take a long time to get over, as I am already suffering from the withdrawal symptoms.
What were your first impressions of Goblin? What did you think about the age gap between Eun Tak and Kim Shin? What were some of your favorite moments, scenes that made you laugh the most, and cry the most? Let me know in the comments section down below!
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With love always,