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My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 11

Yay, a good episode! I was a little nervous that the drama might start to falter, what with the stresses of the live shoot and last week’s disappointing Monday episode. But this episode was chock full of emotional developments, which have been building steadily to this point, and I always love when latent conflict bubbles over to the surface.

SONG OF THE DAY

Lyn – “자기야 여보야 사랑아” (Jagi, yobo, love). “Jagi” is what you call a girl/boyfriend, “yobo” is what you call a spouse. Hm, I hope the title isn’t supposed to be a chronological progression. [ Download ]

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EPISODE 11 RECAP

Feeling the damage to her fox bead, Mi-ho loses consciousness and falls off the scaffolding. Thankfully she lands on the safety mat below, but the injury is more about her bead than the fall.

Dae-woong shoves Hye-in off his lips angrily. The commotion grabs his attention, and his eyes widen to see Mi-ho lying unconscious on the mat.

The director wants to call for a doctor, but as that would cause more problems than it’d solve, Dae-woong manages to persuade him against it.

When Mi-ho wakes up, her expression contains no hint of her usual sweetness — instead, she looks PISSED. Her eyes are ringed with blue, the sign that her gumiho nature is slipping out of her control.

Hye-in finds her exit path blocked by Dong-joo, who wears a forbidding expression on his face. He tells her she’s been very foolish — her ki has damaged the bead, so Mi-ho will now try to kill her. Ominously, he warns, “If you want to live, run away.”

Thoroughly scared, Hye-in hurries off the set, where Mi-ho tracks her down and prevents her escape. Mi-ho sends boxes crashing down around Hye-in and corners her in a dead end. Glaring with her blue eyes, Mi-ho growls at her, “Die.”

She reaches for a heavy prop to throw at Hye-in, which is when Dae-woong jumps in front to take the brunt of the force.

He pleads with Mi-ho to stop, but she tells him grimly to move aside. Her shove sends him flying into more props, and something falls out of his pocket — her ring, which she’d asked him to hold for her.

Advancing on Hye-in, Mi-ho repeats, “Die.” But as she reaches for her adversary, Dae-woong runs to intercept her (trampling the ring in the process) and grabs Mi-ho in a desperate hug. (Best use of the back-hug ever!)

He turns her around to face him but maintains his tight grasp as he tearily says that he’s sorry. The blue light flares in her eyes, then goes out, bringing Mi-ho back to her normal self.

As Hye-in flees, Dong-joo grabs her to deliver one more warning: “If you do something stupid like this again, I’ll kill you.” He says her stupid jealousy “shattered the hope and expectations in her heart,” and for once Hye-in looks like she regrets her actions.

Weep, little scrunchy-faced brat, weep.

I admit to never finding Dong-joo that compelling as a character (or actor) despite the pretty, so I love that he gets so fierce here. Wounded emo Gumiho Hunter’s a little weak, but pissed-off vengeful Gumiho Hunter? Way hotter. (Also more interesting, narratively speaking.)

Mi-ho’s bead didn’t break from the kiss, and she downplays it as a small injury. Seeing that Dae-woong’s bleeding from when she shoved him, she worries that she hurt him. What’s compelling and moving and complicated about this moment is that both are feeling guilty for their part in hurting the other, and it imbues the scene with added tension.

For instance, Dae-woong waves aside his head injury and asserts that this was all his fault. Mi-ho contradicts him, saying that she could have killed Hye-in today, and hurt him: “Like she said, I was a scary and hated monster.”

Dae-woong insists that she’s no monster and that she’s not the least bit scary, but she says that him running in fear of her feelings is the same as Hye-in running in fear of physical harm. Mi-ho has realized her nature, and now feels burdened with guilt over how she must have scared him all this while with her forwardness.

Furthermore, Mi-ho takes the blame for today, because Hye-in was reacting to finding out that the couple ring was initially meant for her. She apologizes for clinging, “But since I can’t leave right away either, I’m sorry for that, too.”

I love Dae-woong’s response, even though Mi-ho doesn’t buy it: He says that she did nothing wrong today, and this “monster-like” side was totally normal. She acted like a girlfriend, since this is the way a real human might react if she thought her boyfriend had cheated. It’s doubly meaningful that he frames her behavior as human, to diminish the distance between them and frame this incident as something they can overcome.

Realizing that he has dropped Mi-ho’s ring, he tells her to wait as he returns to the set to look for it.

Byung-soo sees the dried blood on his forehead and freaks out, but Dae-woong is so intent on finding the ring that he waves the head wound aside impatiently and asks for help in his search. He explains that because Mi-ho’s feelings have been hurt, he has to start with healing that. There’s a nice double meaning to that, since it works on a literal level as well as on the figurative one; Mi-ho’s spirit needs to literally heal from the damage to her bead.

Dong-joo finds Mi-ho and again tries to convince her that she must leave Dae-woong at the end of the 100 days. He plays off her self-hatred of showing her “monster” side in saying that someone who knows her true identity will always see her as a gumiho.

Mi-ho’s trembling voice kills me, because she’s like a child realizing a painful truth for the first time. She admits that she’d been hoping that if she liked Dae-woong enough, he’d like her back. She’d never even considered leaving at the end of the 100 days, but now she’s starting to believe she may have to. Dong-joo advises her to start “practicing” how to live without Dae-woong.

Dong-joo warns Mi-ho that her second death is coming. She’ll start losing her powers, but she’s already aware of her hearing and smelling losing their sharpness. And in fact, she doesn’t react at all to Dae-woong’s arrival behind her, not able to smell him this time.

Dae-woong reacts with some jealousy to see Dong-joo looking after Mi-ho, and the air is strained with an abundance of male ego as he confronts his rival. Dae-woong pointedly thanks him for taking care of “our Mi-ho” and says he has to go to “our home.”

Dong-joo returns that he heard a lot about Dae-woong, and says just as pointedly that he knows they’re in a contract relationship. Those words are rather jarring — Dae-woong concedes that he had used those words, but his reaction indicates that it’s been a while since he’s thought of them in those terms.

Mi-ho looks at the world with new eyes, noticing that everyone else is working hard to earn a living: “But aside from liking Dae-woong, I haven’t done anything.” Deciding to take Dong-joo’s advice and practice for life without Dae-woong, Mi-ho picks up some work from the chicken ajumma and brings home dolls on which to glue eyes.

At home, Dae-woong tells her apologetically that he couldn’t find the ring, but assures her he’ll get it tomorrow. Her response shocks him, because she tells him that he doesn’t have to, nor does he have to wear his ring. Taken off-guard, Dae-woong replies that he’ll find her ring, and keep wearing his.

Her despondent mood worries him, and he’s further surprised at her plan to earn her own living. She explains, “Since coming into this human world, I’ve been acting without any plans — just liking you, following you, and trusting in you. I think I was only living to look good to you. Now I have to prepare how to live without you.”

Trying to cheer her up, he offers to buy her some prime quality beef, but she turns that down, too. She’s going to feed herself now, and bought eggs on the way home — she can’t afford meat yet, but she’ll make do with this. Dae-woong insists, “I’ll buy you meat,” but she returns, “For how long?”

Stumped by Mi-ho’s new attitude, Dae-woong wonders if the injury to her bead has also broken her faith in him, and watches her working in puzzlement.

Meanwhile, Dong-joo finds Hye-in much more agreeable now that he’s struck the fear of God into her. She pleads to be left alone and offers to stay away from Mi-ho and to quit the movie in exchange. But Dong-joo answers that she has to do something for him, and instructs her to keep acting as she has been. He wants her to continue to interfere with the couple, in order to help Mi-ho get over Dae-woong.

Repulsed, she asks if he’s “like Mi-ho.” Dong-joo answers that he’s half-human.

Trying to figure out how to return their relationship to normal, Dae-woong tells Mi-ho that he didn’t share his ki with Hye-in, and that she took advantage of him. Mi-ho believes that, so he doesn’t understand what the problem is.

She answers that even if he doesn’t like another woman, he can’t like her. He can give her food, but not his heart. She realized today that it was wrong of her to ask him to like her, and says she won’t give him any more trouble — after the 100 days are over, she’ll go.

Dae-woong’s first reaction is to take the route of denial, as though he’s happy with her answer. Yet her easy agreement doesn’t make him any happier, and he storms out in frustration.

Then he storms right back in to take issue with the way she confided in Dong-joo and told him about their contract relationship. Dae-woong is obviously dying to ask her to stay, but he hasn’t let his brain catch up to his heart yet and is taking out his frustration on her.

Despite Mi-ho’s calm, pragmatic words, it’s likely that a small part of her was still hoping he’d contradict her and say that she’s wrong, that he could give her his heart. She notes sadly that he still wouldn’t say that he could like her.

The next day, Dae-woong returns to the set to look for the ring, but he cuts the search short when he feels pangs in his chest. He wonders if it’s the bead acting up, which means Mi-ho might be in trouble, and rushes home.

He’s right: Mi-ho lies at home in extreme pain as she experiences her second death. Dae-woong finds the front door locked, and as he doesn’t have the key on him, he’s unable to get inside.

Hearing Dae-woong at the door, Mi-ho covers her mouth to contain her cries of pain, but one slips out anyway. That spurs Dae-woong into action, and he kicks the door in, rushing to where she lies on the ground clutching her heart.

Frantic, Dae-woong goes to Dong-joo to ask for painkillers, with the excuse that it’s for the dog. Dong-joo plays along although he understands what’s really going on, then gives Dae-woong the advice that being with her will be more helpful than the medicine.

Dae-woong tends to Mi-ho through the night, and takes her hand to say that he’s sorry. When she wakes up in the morning, he’s still holding her hand, asleep at the bedside.

He wakes up later that morning in his own bed, in time to hear Mi-ho thanking Dong-joo for the medicine. He’s further bothered when Mi-ho says that the next time she’s sick, she’d like Dong-joo with her.

I love that Dae-woong tells Mi-ho that he was actually the one who helped (all while saying, “I’m not sure if I should say this, but…”). It’s like he knows it’s not classy to demand credit, but damned if he’ll step aside and let Emo Hair accept her misplaced gratitude!

He’s mollified when Mi-ho thanks him, but she hastens to cut their encounter as short as possible. He offers to accompany her to the film set, but she leaves so quickly so that he can’t.

He’s let down at her eagerness to get away, but we see the reason for it as she runs down the street, thinking to herself:

Mi-ho: “Woong-ah, I like you so much that now, I can’t stop there. I can’t pretend I don’t like you, either. All I can do is not show you that I like you. All I can do is keep from begging you to like me. If I’m going to slowly distance myself from you, I think I’ll have to run really hard.”

Back in the loft, Dae-woong sees that the pictures of meat that Mi-ho had glued to her bed are about to fall off. Symbolism! (I can’t tell you how much I am hoping he busts out his trusty superglue to plaster more pictures on that bed, and if that happens, your ears may all tingle with the force of my squee.)

More adult romance. It’s funny that every time Mr. Chow Lite and the Aunt of Uncontrollable Bodily Responses pop up onscreen, I find myself groaning “Not again…” but in the end, I concede that the scene worked because of one joke or new angle that kept it fresh.

Such is the case this time: Min-sook is invited to the set, and Director Ban is finally ready to put on his Big Boy Pants and tell his daughter the truth. So when Sun-nyeo approaches, he starts to make the introductions… at which point Min-sook lets out a small, but audible, fart.

Sun-nyeo wrinkles her nose, and Min-sook, mortified, runs from the set. Director Ban chases her down to declare that there’s no reason for her to run, and when she asks, “Aren’t you ashamed?,” he vows that he’s not. She asks, “Doesn’t it… smell?” Again, he says no.

These two have been making a string of cheesy puns/jokes about filming their own movie in their minds, and as silly as their romance can be, I can appreciate the way the corny excess of their melodrama fits the movie motif. They’re not the stars of this drama, but I suppose you could say they’re the stars of their own lives, so they’re playing out the narrative of their grand romance.

Left at home, Dae-woong broods about Mi-ho’s newfound independence, wondering, “Do I have to prepare for life without her too?”

He refers to the countdown chart to see how many days are left, and is alarmed at how fast they’re zooming by. Making the excuse that he’d made a mistake, Dae-woong erases a whole row of red X’s (aw!) to buy them another ten days or so.

On the movie set, Hye-in approaches Mi-ho with friendliness for once, although Mi-ho notes that Hye-in is scarier when she smiles. Hye-in is pleased to hear that Mi-ho’s only going to be around for three months, but the smile is wiped off her face when Mi-ho informs her that Dae-woong still wouldn’t pick her, because “Woong knows how horribly mean you are.”

Hye-in tries to regain the upper hand by saying at least she’s human, but Mi-ho isn’t offended and agrees. “Since I’m not human, I know all sorts of things.” Then she waves her hand in a pseudo-mystical gesture and says some gibberish words, throwing in a “hoi-hoi” for good measure, tapping Hye-in on the head like she just cursed her with some voodoo.

Hye-in asks what she just did, and Mi-ho declares, “You’re going to get gradually uglier.” Hye-in blusters that Mi-ho’s joking, but Mi-ho tells her to wait and see, then whispers, “Be careful.” (Love her.)

Mi-ho is asked to fill out a form for her employment, which poses a bit of a problem — unless she uses the name Park Sun-joo, as Dong-joo advises.

Dae-woong perks up at the sound of someone arriving at the loft, thinking Mi-ho’s home, but it turns out to be Grandpa. This gives him an idea, because Mi-ho is less likely to turn Grandpa down, so he suggests that he call Mi-ho for a meal out.

Mi-ho declines at first, but Dae-woong prods Grandpa into playing the Weak Old Man card to get Mi-ho to agree. When she arrives, however, Grandpa’s gone (supposedly he got too hungry and left early).

Mi-ho notices the board has been erased, ignoring Dae-woong’s unconvincing protests that she’s mistaken. Getting out the red pen, she re-marks the days to bring them back to the previous count, then adds another to represent today. Moodily, he points out that she’s being very cool-headed about this. When he starts singing his song again, he amends the words to “My friend Mi-ho is a heartless gumiho. She’s a totally mean gumiho.”

As she works on gluing doll eyes, Dae-woong tries to think of a way to get her attention. He sees the camcorder ad and shows it to Mi-ho, reminding her that they’d wanted to travel to a place like that. Since she’s an undocumented gumiho (ergo no traveling papers), they can’t go abroad to the location itself, but he has managed to find a place that looks just like it, which is near his school. He’ll take her tomorrow.

Excitedly, Mi-ho agrees, wanting to see it. Then she remembers her new decision and changes her mind, making up the excuse that she’s busy and can’t go. Dae-woong presses her to reschedule, but she tells him, “I have to leave after 100 days. If I keep going places like that with you, it’ll be harder later. I said I was going to practice for leaving.”

Hurt, he demands to know, “Is your practice to quit the things I give you, and to look away when I talk to you, and refuse to go when I want to go somewhere?”

Keeping her gaze averted, she says yes. Dae-woong tells her that leaving is something you don’t practice for — you do it all at once.

After he leaves, Mi-ho starts to cry, saying, “Practicing is too painful. It hurts more than losing my tails.” Looking at the ad, she thinks, “I want to go [to] there.”

Remembering the lost ring, Dae-woong heads back to the set with a flashlight to look for it. He’s unsuccessful, and Byung-soo finds him hunched on the set in the morning, having spent the night there.

Thankfully, Dae-woong finally finds the ring, smiling in relief. Just then, he runs into Hye-in but declines her request to talk, saying shortly, “I have nothing to say to you.”

She asks him if it’s true that Mi-ho is leaving within three months, excited at his confirmation. Until he tells her firmly, “No, I don’t want to get free of her. I’m going to ask her to keep her hold on me.”

Face hardening, Hye-in declares that he’s been possessed by her. He admits plainly, “Yeah, I’m possessed and I’ve lost my mind. So you and your sane mind shouldn’t bother trying to understand or care.”

Everyone, a round of applause for our hero, no longer a man-child!

Mi-ho fills out her work application with Park Sun-joo’s information, then meets Dong-joo for a celebration of Park Sun-joo’s birthday. It’s both in a literal and figurative sense, since it’s the official date on Sun-joo’s record, but also Mi-ho’s first day living as her.

Dong-joo presents Mi-ho with a cake and congratulates Sun-joo on being born.

Mi-ho is grateful for Dong-joo’s help in securing her a new identity, but tells him she won’t accept the other stuff (money, job, etc.) She wants to take care of that herself, even if it’s difficult.

It’s a little heartbreaking when we get to the real motivation for this decision, because Mi-ho asks hopefully that if she does that, “Even if it takes some time, will it be possible to return to Dae-woong?”

Now it’s time for the other shoe to drop; Dong-joo replies, “Cha Dae-woong won’t be in this world then.” But he says it in a vague way, adding that he means they’ll be in separate worlds, leaving her to interpret that in the standard metaphorical sense.

Dae-woong comes home thinking of Byung-soo’s comment regarding Mi-ho’s employment forms, and finds her envelope of documents. Inside, he sees the passport and papers bearing the name of Park Sun-joo, and starts putting the pieces together.

He also finds Mi-ho’s cell phone left behind, and a text from Dong-joo with the address of their meeting place. Carrying the documents, Dae-woong heads directly there — but passes Mi-ho on her way out. (Urgh! I suppose it wouldn’t be a Hong sisters drama without the dramatic just-barely-missed-each-other scenario, would it?)

Dae-woong finds Dong-joo sitting alone at the table and demands to know who Park Sun-joo is. He’s startled at Dong-joo’s answer that the name will let the gumiho live as human, because he hadn’t known that Dong-joo knew about Mi-ho’s real identity. Furthermore, Dong-joo explains, “Half of me is like her, a non-human.”

Dong-joo informs him that Mi-ho is preparing all the details to live on without him: “So when she wants to leave, all you have to do is let her.”

Dae-woong mulls this over and over, wondering if Mi-ho was intending to live with Dong-joo with her new name. And if she never returns to their loft, what then?

Thinking of the building near school that was supposed to be their stand-in for the picturesque ad, Dae-woong heads there alone. He thinks back to all of Mi-ho’s declarations of liking him, and finally arrives at the truth of his own feelings: “Mi-ho, I like you.”

And then, he looks over to see Mi-ho standing nearby, having had the same idea to visit “their” spot.

Approaching her, he tells her, “Mi-ho, don’t go. Don’t leave me. Stick close to me.” Elated but cautious, Mi-ho asks, “Is it okay that I’m different from you?”

He answers, “It’s not okay. It’s absurd and outrageous and crazy, but I like you. I don’t like you because it’s okay to like you — it’s that because I like you, everything’s okay.”

Finally, the declaration! This gives Mi-ho the assurance to confide in him, and she says, “Because you like me, now I can tell you. I’m going to become a human.”

Happily, she explains that the bead will let her become human. He asks, “Did you use me to become human? Did you like me because you needed me?”

She shakes her head no, assuring him that she could have used any person to hold her bead, “But because I liked you, I needed you. It’s not that I needed you to like you.”

But it doesn’t matter to Dae-woong, and he says, “If you need me, use me. But in exchange, take responsibility for me.”

Eee! There’s something so Korean about those words, “take responsibility,” that elicits this mad fangirl rush in the cockles of my heart. It’s such a loaded phrase, and has been used to euphemize marriage, pregnancy, care, and/or partnership — basically, a serious commitment on an emotional level that transcends the legalities of, say, marriage or parenthood or whatnot.

That night, she explains the details of the bead transfer, although she still remains oblivious to the part where Dae-woong dies upon giving it back to her. She also explains that “borrowing” the name Park Sun-joo will help her become human in the legal sense, and revels in her birthday activities like receiving presents and a cake.

Dae-woong notes that she didn’t get a song, and offers to sing one for her. He stops after one line of “Happy Birthday,” declaring that she ought to get a special song, and then launches into his ditty about his friend the gumiho.

This time, he switches the words again — she’s back to being the “cute gumiho” rather than the heartless meanie. To cap things off, he ends the song on “I like her, my girlfriend.”

Mi-ho wonders what “girlfriend” means… so he holds her hand and pulls her toward himself for a kiss.

 
COMMENTS

My favorite thing about this episode wasn’t the cute romancey stuff — though that never hurts — but the reversal it presented in the relationship. I am a big fan of reversals and twists, and it makes the buildup preceding it that much more satisfying when we finally change up the rules a bit.

For example, Dae-woong finally stops being the pursued and becomes the pursuer. I love that Mi-ho’s decision to withdraw forces him to confront his feelings, and it makes up for his earlier actions which were, let’s face it, selfish and a little conceited. Part of why I loved him regardless was because I knew this point would come, and that makes it so much more enjoyable to see him grow a pair, tell his noona to screw off, and declare his feelings openly. (Also, mad props to the spoiled man-child for being so bold and straightforward with the declaration, instead of hiding behind pride and facades. He didn’t half-ass it, even though he could have and still gotten what he wanted.)

I also like that this drama gives the second leads additional reasons for their actions other than pure jealousy or possessiveness. I have seen way too many dramas where they’re just interfering because they want the hero/heroine for themselves, and let’s be honest, that gets tiresome. At least here, they’re both operating on other motives, like Hye-in’s ambition to be a movie star, and then out of fear of Dong-joo’s retribution.

Dong-joo, on the other hand, is an interesting character because he doesn’t fit into an existing archetype, which is a great thing in my book. He isn’t in love with Mi-ho, he doesn’t want her for himself, and he isn’t purely benevolent, although he’s not perfectly selfish, either. I sort of equate him to the Disapproving Best Friend — you know, the girlfriend who thinks her best friend is dating a loser and keeps telling her to break up with him, ignoring the friend’s feelings in her own distaste for the hated boyfriend. This best friend might be acting out of concern, but I’m sure we all know the girl who takes this a step too far and starts acting out of her own motivations rather than genuine care for her friend, right? Call her the Spiteful Cockblocker. It’s definitely an interesting dynamic.

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Wooow
You(the writer) really made the story more interesting kudus to you!!!!.You made use of a lot of funny conclusions.
I really do love this drama!!!

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Love the concept of Dong Joo taking the role of disapproving best friend. His reason are valid, but it's still not his decision to make, nor should he have held back such vital information.
I half-wondered if he was half-human. There's just something about his dislike of humans, or at least human/non-human relationships, that spoke to something a bit more than loosing a past love. I almost wonder if his human parent betrayed his non-human parent, thus cementing in him at a young age the conviction that humans aren't trustworthy. He's warned Mi Ho many times that Dae Woong, and humans in general, are liars who will eventually betray her.

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