My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 3
It’s a wonderful feeling to be excited about a drama again. To be excited to download the new episode, enthusiastic to share thoughts about the newest happenings, and eager to see what happens next.
Also: How adorable is this couple? The Hong sisters are so solid at delivering compelling and engaging main pairings, often to the detriment of the secondary couplings. But who needs an angsty love triangle when the lead romance is so strong?
SONG OF THE DAY
My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho OST – “여우비.” The title means “sudden rain” or “sunshower” but if you take the etymological roots it literally means “fox rain,” in keeping with the gumiho motif. Sometimes a drama’s effect is greatly enhanced by the simplest of things, like a background song, and for this drama this track is it. I LOVE IT. It almost brings a tear to my eye on its own, but within the drama’s context it’s that much more powerful. [ Download ]
EPISODE 3 RECAP
Dae-woong rushes to assure his noona Hye-in that Mi-ho isn’t his girlfriend. Byung-soo shoots him a worried look, and the ladies don’t look too pleased at his clumsy insistence, either.
Pointedly saying that she (Hye-in) has no right to be upset with him for being wrapped up with a new girlfriend (you know, since they’re nothing to each other), Hye-in leaves. Stricken, Dae-woong chases her down in to explain, providing enough half-truths to mollify her.
His story: He went to the countryside for a few days to get away for a spell, and Mi-ho put him up while he was there. Because of her scary-strict grandmother, Mi-ho followed him back to Seoul, which he didn’t realize till she was already here. He feels sorry for her because she knows nobody here, plus she did help him out while he was in the countryside.
Hye-in sighs that Mi-ho took advantage of his soft-heartedness, but at least she no longer thinks Suspicious Thoughts about the relationship.
Meanwhile, Byung-soo clucks in disapproval at Dae-woong’s disgraceful treatment of his girlfriend in front of his noona. Mi-ho, being from a previous era, doesn’t immediately know what “girlfriend” means but she guesses that the word signifies “the one you want for a mate,” and that Dae-woong’s reaction means “he has no intention of taking me as his mate.” Then she grumbles that she doesn’t want him for her mate, either.
Byung-soo urges her to do something and not just let Dae-woong pursue his noona, whom everyone knows he likes. At that, Mi-ho exclaims in dismay, “No, he can’t do that!” and hurries off to act. Byung-soo wishes her good luck.
Dae-woong is happy to escort Hye-in to lunch, but as Mi-ho approaches. Hye-in’s easy attitude becomes pettish in the presence of a rival. (Not that she has decided to return Dae-woong’s affections, but she’s that annoying type of princess who must monopolize his affections, even if she doesn’t return them.)
Dae-woong scuttles over to Mi-ho to press her to stay away while he goes out to lunch, but she gets straight to the point: “Do you like her? Are you going to mate with her?” (Part of Mi-ho’s abundant charm is the way she uses jarringly frank language, much like Anya of Buffy lore, as girlfriday previously pointed out.)
He protests and asks if she’s jealous. Touching his chest, Mi-ho tells him he can’t carry her fox bead and “share his ki [energy]” with another woman, “because that hurts my fox bead.”
He asks for a definition of “sharing ki” and gets back the answer: “to mate.” She won’t allow him to go off with Hye-in, especially since she can see that he was ready to not only share his ki but practically give her his entire soul.
Mi-ho decides she’d better go with him, or he’ll have to give back her bead. Not really much of a choice, is it? She simplifies the choice: “If you go, you die.” Literally.
Honestly, I don’t know if her explanation (“I have to protect my bead”) is truth or whether it’s Mi-ho just elaborating as an excuse to get her way, but it doesn’t matter. In fact, I’d find it hilarious if she’s dressing up the gumiho mythology to suit her purposes (since he has to take her word for it).
Tired of waiting, Hye-in gets pissy and drives off, ignoring Dae-woong who chases after her car.
Glumly, he looks for the silver lining in being ditched: It would have been more embarrassing to tell Hye-in he couldn’t go with her, so it’s better that Hye-in left him behind first. Mi-ho perks up at this admission that he wasn’t going to follow her.
He barks back at her in annoyance, but Mi-ho says in a hurt voice that she’s just trying to save him: “I want to save you from dying, so I’m giving you my really precious fox bead.”
He feels a stab of remorse and says with exasperation that he’s upset because his pride has taken a hit. “Me being upset won’t save your bead, so please just keep your distance and leave me alone.”
Mi-ho’s hungry again, but supposes that asking Dae-woong for more meat will just make him more angry with her. She wonders if his bad mood is because he doesn’t want to buy her food, and trails him at a short distance. She’s starving, but doesn’t want to pester him to feed her.
Watching at a distance is the tortured Gumiho Hunter with the asymmetrical haircut, Dong-joo.
On the other side of town, Aunt Min-sook is determined to bring Dae-woong home with force if necessary, and heads to the action school, where Chow Yun-fat Lite conducts business. (His real name is Ban Doo-hong, or Director Ban.) Min-sook enters just as a stunt is being rehearsed, and in the excitement of the stunt falls from the second floor. Reacting swiftly, Doo-hong lurches forward to catch her, and both parties belatedly recognize each other.
In the ensuing conversation, Min-sook clarifies that the young lady she’d seen him with was his daughter. She’s excited to hear that he’s a single father, and does an adorable dance of glee to realize his availability. On the other hand, he still thinks she’s got a man and tells himself to get over it.
This gives Min-sook an ulterior motive to announce to Dae-woong’s Grandpa (her father) that they should leave Dae-woong alone for the moment. Instead of dragging him back home, she’ll make sure to check on him. Every day.
On the bus, Dae-woong takes a seat as far from Mi-ho has possible, and casts a sidelong glance as she (literally) salivates over an ad for a meat restaurant. She looks at him pathetically, but he pretends not to see and texts Hye-in a “Please accept my apology!” message.
Mi-ho watches the twosome sitting in front of her: A mother tells her cute daughter that she just wants to “eat her up.” Mi-ho wonders why a woman would want to eat her child, and when the girl looks over at her, Mi-ho jokes that she might eat the girl herself. Dae-woong, seeing Mi-ho raise the girl’s hand to her mouth as though to take a bite, panics and drags her off the bus.
Mi-ho says she was just copying the mother’s behavior, reminding him that she doesn’t eat people. Feeling abashed, he realizes he overreacted — until she argues, “If I were hungry, would I eat a little dog? I’d eat something bigger like you.”
Unfortunately, he’s left his cell phone on the bus. He asks strangers to borrow their phone, and while he’s busy pleading with them, Mi-ho takes off running after the bus. Thus when he uses a stranger’s phone to call his own, hoping that a stranger will pick up, instead he gets Mi-ho on the line. She had managed to track down the bus, and brings his phone back, thanks to her superhuman speed and hearing.
He gets a return text from Hye-in that agrees to accept his apology. Note that her response is worded rather haughtily (as though saying, “I’ll accept exactly this much of your apology, but no more”). But since this is Episode 3, silly Dae-woong is still under her spell and exults. On the other hand, Mi-ho is proud of herself for doing something helpful and prods, “Dae-woong, this time you’re glad because of me, right?”
Dae-woong sees that she’s out of breath, a little surprised that a gumiho experiences the same physical reactions as a human. She explains that since he has her bead, she feels the physical exertion more than normally. It’s not until this very moment that he understands, “The bead really is very important to you.”
She’d said as much, but he hadn’t realized it because he can’t sense the bead’s power the way she can. So Mi-ho gathers him up in a hug and tells him to pay attention, and he’s able to feel its pull. He finally understands that she’s a different being — even the passing of time felt different in that moment.
Mi-ho reiterates that he has the most precious part of her inside him, and requests, “Promise me that you’ll treat it carefully and make sure it isn’t injured.” He promises.
That evening, Dae-woong is stuck at home, unable to accept his friends’ invitations to party. He sighs, “Where did my life go? While she’s with me, I can’t do a thing!”
Hye-in drops by while Mi-ho is napping, so he sneaks out quietly to talk with her outside. With a perceived rival now on the scene, Hye-in asks him to declare his feelings for her, giving him encouragement — holding his hand and embracing him — to pressure him into making his declaration.
Dae-woong gives in to the temptation and leans in for a kiss… until he imagines Mi-ho sternly reminding him he isn’t free to do anything of the kind. In his horror-fantasy, Mi-ho growls, “I told you not to mate!”
And he wakes up from this nightmare.
Mi-ho is starting to understand the whole money = meat situation, and also that the chicken place has a promotional deal wherein ten proofs of purchase can be exchanged for a free meal. They’ve got eight, so she heads off to a streetside trash can to find more.
On her way there, she darts in front of a car, which bumps her as it screeches to a halt. It’s Doo-hong, who calls out after her to see if she’s okay.
Mi-ho finds a coupon in the trash, but a gust of wind sends the coupon flying through the air, so she leaps up among the treetops to retrieve it.
A fascinated Doo-hong can’t believe his eyes as Mi-ho leaps in the air among the branches to grab the coupon. As an action director casting a new project, such a display of physical prowess is impressive, particularly without wires or tricks. Finally, he has found the “real action” hero he’s been searching for!
Audition day for Dae-woong. He asks Mi-ho for her opinion on shirts, and she chooses the brown one: “That’s the color of cows!” Dryly, he holds up his other shirts in turn, asking, “So is this pig color [pink], and this one chicken [yellow]?”
Without a hint of irony, Mi-ho agrees, and goes one step further to rate them in order of preference: first place is cow, second is pig, third is chicken. She urges him to choose the cow color, to which he retorts that he’ll wear “grass color” so as not to appeal to her appetite.
As Dae-woong leaves for his audition, Grandpa arrives and overhears his conversation with Mi-ho. His words (that he’d better do well in order to keep her in beef) have a different ring to Grandpa’s ears, particularly when Dae-woong declares that this is all “to support you.”
At first Grandpa is dismayed, but he recalls scenes from Dae-woong’s spoiled youth — such as when the young boy announced that since Grandpa’s so rich, he has no need to find a way to support himself. Or when the adolescent Dae-woong ditched school and said he could just set up his own billiard hall with Grandpa’s money. Or when college-aged Dae-woong asked Grandpa to set up his own management company, so he could become a star, declaring, “I don’t like difficult things. I want to hit it big!”
In that context, Dae-woong working hard to put food on the table for his girlfriend isn’t SO horrible. In fact, Grandpa’s rather pleased at this transformation.
Mi-ho’s superhuman sense of hearing picks up on Grandpa’s murmured remarks, and she tells Dae-woong that someone’s talking about him — someone’s proud of him for his sense of responsibility. (Then Dae-woong shrugs — it must be a different Dae-woong. HA!)
Doo-hong’s assistant prepares him for the day’s auditions and points out the leading choice for female lead, but he’s distracted by thoughts of his mysterious real action heroine from the night before.
In fact, Hye-in is auditioning for a supporting character with a lot of action scenes, but she overhears the assistant saying that the director wants to cast a rookie for the lead — something about long hair and a white dress.
On the way to the audition, Dae-woong sees that Mi-ho looks distressed. She explains that they’re passing by water (the river), which is upsetting since large bodies of water are her weakness. He can’t do anything about it, so he draws her to himself and puts her hand on his chest — to put her closer to her fox bead.
She smiles and rests her head on his chest, then wonders, “Woong, what’s a couple?” (Woong is a way of shortening his name, Dae-woong.) He asks why, and she says, “People are calling us a couple” — her sensitive hearing has picked up on the comments of the other bus passengers. Dae-woong balks and pushes her away, so she decides, “It must not be a good thing.”
He fumbles for an excuse to keep her at arm’s length, saying it sure is hot, oh ho, she’d better stand away from him. Wouldn’t it be great if it rained and cooled the heat?
Mi-ho answers that for rain to come on such a clear day, she’d have to cry. (This is a reference to the term “sudden rain” — also the title of the song above — or literally “fox rain.” There’s a Korean saying that the sudden sunshower comes on the fox’s wedding day. I believe there are variations on the tale, with one that explains that the tears come from the jilted fox, others that say that it’s the tears of the lover who has lost the fox on her wedding day.)
Dae-woong asks with some surprise if Mi-ho cries, and she answers yes: “When it rains on a clear day, it’s because I’m sad.” She pouts that she’s about to cry… because she’s so hungry. Dae-woong is in an amenable mood, and suggests they stop by for lunch on the way, bringing an excited smile to her face. (She is so cute.)
How does Dae-woong propose to feed her? Supermarket samples! Since she’s not human, he tells her she doesn’t have to worry about being judged for eating more than one sample, and urges her to eat as much as she wants. Eagerly, Mi-ho makes her way down the aisle, chanting, “Cow! Cow! Cow!”
Gumiho Hunter Dong-joo is also in the store, watching Mi-ho. With a smile, he thinks, “You must be enjoying human life, Ms. Gumiho.” And although he didn’t say it aloud, Mi-ho hears his comment and looks around for the source of the voice. He continues, “You’ve been locked up for a long while — the world has changed a lot, hasn’t it?” He tells her not to worry, as he isn’t intending to hurt her right now… although that suggests he does intend to at a later date.
He challenges her to try finding him, curious to know if she’ll be able to pin him down in the crowd. Following her senses, Mi-ho wanders up to the department store level, where she meets eyes with Dong-joo. The sight conjures up a long-buried memory of her past incarnation, and she makes her way toward him.
Mi-ho can feel their connection but doesn’t recognize who he is, and asks if he was the one who called her. He confirms it. She touches a hand to his face, then decides, “You’re not human, either.”
In turn, he raises a hand to her face and says, “And you’re not the girl I knew, either.” He explains that there was another supernatural being who looked like her, and she asks if that makes him one, too.
Mi-ho supposes that even so, she’s probably stronger than he is, but he contradicts her — while she’s missing her bead, he’s stronger than her. In fact, she has been weakened so much that she can’t recognize his true nature, and if he tried to capture her, she wouldn’t be able to resist.
Mi-ho displays her childlike faith in Dae-woong, assuring Dong-joo that her bead is nearby and safe. Shrewdly, Dong-joo asks if she really trusts Dae-woong not to run off or ditch her. He gives her one piece of advice — don’t trust humans.
As he leaves, he promises he’ll come find her later.
Dae-woong had headed up to the cosmetics counter to primp while Mi-ho ate her fill, and there he runs into Hye-in. She has changed into a white dress and affixed hair extensions in hopes of fitting the director’s idea of a female lead, and greets him enthusiastically.
Remembering Mi-ho’s warnings, Dae-woong tries to disentangle his arm from Hye-in’s naturally, but she notices. When she suggests that they head to the audition together, he hastily makes up an excuse for her to go without him. She doesn’t understand why he’s playing hard to get, but she gets pissy at his reaction, not not knowing that he bemoans the necessity of pushing her away.
Dae-woong returns to the meat counter to retrieve Mi-ho, while she’s upstairs in the clothing department. There, Hye-in sees her (sniffing a leather jacket, then tentatively trying to take a bite), and guesses that Dae-woong had pushed her aside because of Mi-ho.
With her claws out in strike mode, Hye-in approaches Mi-ho and offers patronizing comments about Dae-woong leaving without her. Mi-ho can sense otherwise and is confident that he’s nearby, looking for her, and cheerily contradicts her.
Hye-in counters, “He stood you up. Are you saying I’m lying to you?” Mi-ho doesn’t register her snideness and replies simply, “Yes. There he is!” and points to Dae-woong off in the distance. Mi-ho adds without an ounce of irony, “You must be a liar!”
That riles Hye-in’s temper, and she takes a menacing step toward Mi-ho, who sidesteps her easily. This misstep sends Hye-in sprawling to the ground, her coffee spilling all over her white dress. Dae-woong comes rushing to her side, and Hye-in blames it all on Mi-ho. She plays it up to the hilt, acting the aggrieved party, saying this dress was specifically needed for her audition concept.
Dae-woong jumps to set things to rights, urging Hye-in to go ahead to her audition. He’ll find a replacement dress, then bring it with him. He even calls aunt Min-sook for an emergency transfer of funds.
After buying the dress, he races to the audition building, where Doo-hong presides over matters, displeased with the applicants. Hye-in had actually already decided against the white dress, having heard that the director had a specific girl in mind, and auditions for the part.
By the time Dae-woong gets to the building, however, everything has ended. Worse than failing to come through for Hye-in, he has missed his own chance.
Over the phone, he hears that Hye-in made her audition, and tries to say that it’s okay hat he missed his, although he clearly feels horribly disappointed. In all this excitement, he hasn’t even thought about Mi-ho, but thanks to her gumiho senses, she tracks him down to the lobby where he sits in dejection.
She doesn’t understand that he blames her for all this, starting with the meat and the spilled coffee — Hye-in had made it seem like Mi-ho pushed her and ruined her dress on purpose, and Mi-ho hadn’t protested. With grim determination, he leads her away and arrives at a tourist ferry docked at the Han River.
Dinner service is being spread out by the restaurant on board when they arrive. She doesn’t like it, feeling uneasy to be surrounded by so much water, and pleads to go somewhere else. But Dae-woong tells her firmly that this is where he wants to eat dinner.
He leaves to go on a bathroom break, while Mi-ho anxiously stands alone, trying to tamp down her fears. When the food is set out, she helps herself to the dinner spread.
Being surrounded by water dulls her gumiho senses and leaves her feeling defenseless, but she doesn’t want to protest because Dae-woong is in such a bad mood, so she meekly waits. Therefore she can’t sense Dae-woong exiting the boat, running along the pier, and leaving her behind. She only notices when she looks out to the pier and sees Dae-woong speeding away from her.
Now starting to panic, she cries out after him.
Dae-woong doesn’t feel proud of himself, but he tells himself firmly that he doesn’t care what happens to her, that she’s the reason nothing’s working out for him.
On the boat, Mi-ho huddles off to the side, shivering. She realizes, “He abandoned me and left. And after he promised.”
Tears start to fall from her eyes, just as the clear skies suddenly cloud over and the sunshower (fox rain) starts to fall.
The rainfall stops Dae-woong in his tracks, realizing what this means: “Mi-ho is crying.”
Aw, so sad and touching! I LOVE wimpy Dae-woong, and that he blames everything on Mi-ho and ditches her and is basically a big old coward. I’m sure he’ll regret his actions later, but I like that our nontraditional hero is so flawed.
The incorporation of Mi-ho’s tears into the familiar story of the origin of the sunshower is a nice touch — it’s an existing myth, but twisted with the Hong Sisters Touch to fit this drama. It’s like the fox bead, which adds another layer to the romance, because I’m pretty sure it’ll be used as a metaphor for Mi-ho’s heart — if Dae-woong tramples on her heart, or her bead, he hurts her both physically and emotionally.
On top of that, the Hong sisters have a way of making the romance compelling swiftly. In many dramas, I may not feel the romantic pull until Episode 8, or even 10, and that’s not a bad thing. But it’s a curious and admirable thing to feel it in Episode 3, and as strongly as this.
I really don’t have much to say today, because I just loved everything about the episode. It just works for me, and hits in all the right places, both funnybone-wise and heartstrings-wise.