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The Lonely Shining Goblin: Episode 1

It was a successful premiere for tvN’s ambitious buzz project The Lonely Shining Goblin, on several fronts: Ratings-wise, it logged a 6.9% average (9.3% real-time high), which for a cable premiere is pretty impressive. I’m less concerned with the numbers than the content, though, since I was more worried about whether the reality of the show would survive its promotional hype, and how the fantasy element would play out.

Very well, as it turns out. The show traverses past and present well, and combines a backstory that not only feels epic but looks it, too—fantasy dramas need these huge budgets and scales, because otherwise they become a whole exercise in “what could have been”—with a lighter present day that’s whimsical and romantic. It’s been a long time since Gong Yoo has been in a good drama, and I’m super relieved that this project will be a good one for him. Possibly great.

 
EPISODE 1 RECAP

A narrator tells the old saying of how one becomes a goblin if the soul seeps into an item stained by a person’s hand or blood.

An old, worn sword sticks out of the ground, its hilt wrapped in a bloodstained cloth. The narrator notes, “This sword that has been stained with the blood of thousands, and its owner’s blood as well—how could it not happen?”

On the hilt of the old sword is an engraving of a goblin’s face. As a butterfly lands on that hilt, images flash by onscreen: A screeching car. A woman’s hand. White expanse turning red. The narrator declares, “Only the goblin’s bride will pull out that sword. If the sword is pulled, may it return to nothing and be at peace.”

An old grocer woman (heyo, is that a wrinkly Lee El?) tells this story to a woman browsing her wares, who bursts out laughing at the line that the immortal goblin may roam the world even now. She finds that idea silly but still calls it a sad story, since the goblin has to find a bride in order to die. “The gods are mean,” she says while admiring a jade ring in granny’s stash of goods.

The granny confirms that, saying they were always mean, and selfish and jealous to boot.

The woman gets up to go with a cheery goodbye, but the granny grabs her hand and turns suddenly intense. She warns her that if she comes to a life-or-death situation, she must pray earnestly: “You never know when a soft-hearted god may be listening.” (Audiences are probably expected to recognize her as Samshin Halmeom, a kind of fairy godmother.)

1968, Paris. A well-dressed man (Gong Yoo) waits outside a building, and when a teenage boy walks out with a luggage bag and a battered face, he stops him to warn him not to leave home. “If you leave home now, you’ll live an even worse life than you have now. And you’ll never see your mother again.”

The man casually moves a planter on the steps, then advises the boy to speak up to his parents: Tell Dad to raise him well, and Mom to help. At least this way, the boy will just damage one hand and not lose his life.

The boy is suspicious but intrigued, asking if the man will take responsibility if the boy gets beaten to death. The man replies, “That’s why I broke a rib for you.”

The adoptive father storms outside screaming at the boy… and trips over the moved planter, which sends him into the street, clutching his rib. The man hands the boy a lunch, tells him to go to school, and even gives the correct answer for a math problem he’ll face later. The boy stares after him, transfixed.

Narrator: “He is water, fire, and wind, and also light and dark. And once, he was human.”

Centuries ago, we meet him again on the battlefield, as the appropriately named General KIM SHIN (shin = god). Battle rages around him and bodies fall. Clutching that goblin-etched sword, Shin stands up to face a wall of attackers without fear.

“The people called him god,” the narrator tells us, now in Shin’s voice. “Covered in blood, his eyes flashing, he struck down his enemies, a literal god of war.”

Shin flings himself into the battle, killing enemies brutally, blood flying everywhere as he and his sword cut down everything in his path. He slashes his way across the battleground and locks eyes with an enemy soldier (the general?), who’s spooked and runs. Shin jumps on horseback and charges after the man, taking him down readily.

Shin’s army is greeted with cheers from grateful citizens as they ride toward the palace gates. His second-in-command proudly announces their arrival—only to receive a hostile reception, as they are ordered to strip off their armor. It’s an insult, but Shin and his men grudgingly comply.

Then, Shin is declared a traitor—clearly a false charge, but not one he’s in a position to overturn. Guards assemble at the top of the wall and aim bows and arrows at Shin’s army.

Instead of kneeling, Shin draws his sword and demands to be let in to see the king. As soon as he advances, however, arrows fly and strike down his men, and he turns back in horror to see them lying in their own blood.

His second-in-command rages at being turned on after fighting on the hellish battlefield for the king. The gate opens and Shin heads inside alone, where a young queen and king (Kim So-hyun, Kim Min-jae) await him.

An Iago-like eunuch whispers into the king’s ear, telling him that Shin’s incredible victories have made him popular with the people, and his growing power makes a mockery of the throne.

Our narrator tells us, “He saw clearly his enemy’s sword, but he could not see the jealousy and fear of the young king, directed at him. That was the sharpest sword wielded at him, but he did not know it.”

The king orders him to stop advancing and die as a traitor to save everyone else. One more step will get everyone killed. But the queen, who looks upon Shin fondly, tells him to go: “I am fine.”

Shin starts to protest, but she cuts him off: “I know. And if this is the last, this is my fate. So go. Do not stop, and go to the king, General.”

So he continues his approach, and the king gives the order to kill everyone in the traitor’s family. An arrow flies into the queen’s chest. Ah, is she Shin’s sister?

The queen falls, and Shin doesn’t turn back, continuing forward. More members of his family are brought forward and killed before his eyes.

The treacherous eunuch orders the traitor brought down, so a guard slashes Shin across the back, forcing him on his knees.

Shin’s second-in-command runs in and screams at the king, “Do you not fear heaven?” The king smirks that heaven has never helped them, and Shin glares up at him as the order is given to behead him.

A soldier starts to strike, but Shin knocks his sword aside, telling him that’s not a job for him to do. Instead, Shin turns to his second-in-command to make a final request, and gives him his sword.

His friend sobs as he takes the sword and promises to follow him soon. He thrusts the sword into Shin’s chest, and is cut down moments later.

Still alive, Shin hears the eunuch order the traitor’s body to be unclaimed, left out for the beasts to ravage. The king leaves the courtyard without even waiting to see Shin die.

The queen lies in a pool of blood and looks at Shin in her dying moments. On her finger is the jade ring from Samshin Grandma’s stash, stained with her blood.

Per orders, Shin is left out in the field, not even dead yet. Nobody is allowed to interfere with the body, so the people who do mourn his loss cry from a distance.

The sword sticks out of his chest, and Shin lives out his last moments like that, staring up into the empty sky.

The narrator tells us, “Do not pray to anybody. The gods are not listening. At the brightest time of day, by the general’s sword that had protected him, he died.”

1998, Seoul.

A man in a black suit and overcoat (Lee Dong-wook) walks into a crosswalk and is immediately hit (ah, Seoul), head-on, by a car. The car slams to a stop, its front bashed in and windshield shattered—but the man in black remains unmoved. Just standing there, upright.

The driver takes in this impossible tableau and gets nervous, but the man in black tells him simply, “You hit a wild boar.” The driver’s eyes glaze over, and the mysterious stranger literally disappears into wisps of black smoke.

When bystanders stop to help, the driver explains hitting a boar. But people scream to discover a body inside the trunk of the car—and a passing woman falls in horror, recognizing the body as her own.

The mysterious man appears before her to read the woman her death statistics. He’s the grim reaper, and he takes her to an odd tearoom and pours her a cup of tea that will make her forget her life in this world. The woman asks what happens if she doesn’t drink, and he supposes she will regret that.

Shin walks by the street outside the reaper’s tearoom, and pauses to look in the window. The two men lock eyes, and the reaper wonders, “Goblin?” Shin wonders back, “Grim reaper?”

And then we see that Shin is staring at what looks like a stone wall; the window must only be visible to otherworldly eyes.

“You’re wearing a terribly vulgar hat,” Shin says. The reaper glares, offended.

Shin carries a luggage bag into a large, airy house, where candles flicker on automatically and furniture covers fly away of their own accord. Okay, probably his accord. His magical goblin accord.

An old man greets him with the antiquated word for “milord,” happy to see him for the first time in twenty years. He’s with his grandson, YOO DEOK-HWA, who doesn’t have grandpa’s deference and says Shin doesn’t seem all that cool, to his grandfather’s horror.

The boy wonders who Shin is, and Shin replies that he will become Deok-hwa’s uncle, brother, son, then grandson. He kneels down and says it’s nice to meet, but the little boy has attitude and eyes Shin suspiciously, and grandpa apologizes for his manners.

Then Shin is struck with a look of recognition, and explains that there was a boy born in Goryeo who is Deok-hwa’s ancestor—and Deok-hwa looks just like he did. “Was he good-looking?” the boy asks.

Grandpa keeps apologizing, but Shin assures him that he’s never been let down by anybody in his family. Shin smiles, thinking of the ancestor boy, who’d visited Shin’s grave with his mourning grandfather a thousand years ago.

The Goryeo grandfather speaks to the sword as though Shin’s still alive, and introduces his grandson to take over his role in serving him, as he senses that he is nearing death. The boy asks, “Is this sword the master?”

Just then, a strange energy emits from the sword, and it rocks back and forth. A voice from the heavens declares, “The soul of your subject has saved you.” However, the god notes that Shin’s sword has been stained with the blood of thousands—and while they were his enemies, they were also the blood of the gods.

“Live alone in immortality and witness the deaths of those you love,” the god tells him. “No death will be forgotten. This is the prize I give to you, and the punishment you receive.”

Shin’s body revives, and the sword glows brightly, still embedded in his chest, as the god continues, “Only the goblin’s bride can pull out that sword. If the sword is pulled, may you return to nothingness and be at peace.”

The faithful servant and his grandson gape as Shin comes back to life, looking whole and well. Immediately, Shin sets off for unfinished business, arriving at the palace to confront the eunuch who’d twisted the king against him.

Shin sends one eunuch flying through a paper-lined wall, then summons the treacherous eunuch through the air toward him. The man recognizes him with horror as Shin chokes the life out of him.

Approaching the bed, Shin sees the wrapped body and says regretfully, “I was too late.”

When Shin returns to the little boy, his grandfather has died and the boy sobs over the grave. Dismayed, Shin kneels before the mound and says, “You must be my first punishment.”

The little boy bows and tells Shin, “I will serve you from this moment on.” Shin is filled with guilt over being blinded by his need for revenge, and asks if he still wants to serve him. The boy nods.

As they cross the sea on a ship, Shin notices the boy watching other passengers eat and hands him a ball of rice, which the boy almost takes before lying that he’s not hungry, and that Shin should eat it. Shin offers him half, but the boy speaks like a tiny adult, saying that sharing ensures that nobody is full, assuring Shin that he can work on the ship and earn scraps.

Shin tells the boy to trust him, and the boy accepts, eating hungrily. Then Shin waves his hand, entertaining the boy with the flecks of light that float into the sky.

Suddenly, a sailor grabs the boy, stomps on his rice ball, and dangles him over the side of the ship. The other men find Shin and the boy suspicious, and intend to sell Shin as a slave and let the boy drown.

The boy is thrown overboard, and the men reach for their weapons and face Shin menacingly. Wearing an ominous face, Shin asks, “Do you know what happens when humans act lower than beasts?”

The waves grow rough and Shin rises to his feet, saying, “They meet god.” The storm rages around them, and one man gasps, “It’s a g-goblin!”

The ship whirls, ropes catch around men’s feet, and a mast falls. Flames erupt around Shin’s head. The entire ship starts to tilt and sink, and men fall into the stormy sea. One man begs for mercy, and Shin says grimly, “It’s too late.”

He draws his sword, which glows with bluish-green fire, and slams it into the deck, splintering the wood and sinking the ship.

Seoul. Shin sits high above the city, hearing the sounds below, and the people’s voices.

A car hits a woman and squeals away, leaving her bleeding in the snow. It’s the same woman who had chatted with Samshin Grandma about the goblin, and she begs for help: “If there is a god, please save me.”

Shin initially ignores it, but the words ring in his ear and send him to the woman in the snow. He says it’s his rule not to interfere in the life and death of humankind, but when she sobs that she can’t die like this, he realizes that she’s not begging to save her own life.

The woman clutches her belly and begs, “Just the child…”

She goes prone, and Shin says she’s lucky to have met a weak-hearted god who doesn’t want to see anyone die tonight. He kneels down and hovers a hand over her face, and wisps of blue energy flow out. She gasps awake, alive.

By the time the grim reaper makes his way to the pool of blood, he finds no body. He checks his death cards: a 27-year-old woman and an unnamed unborn.

A short while later, the revived woman gives birth to a girl. She doesn’t see the crowd of ghosts hovering outside her window, whispering, “The goblin’s bride.”

Eight years later in a seaside town, the baby is now a young girl, JI EUN-TAK, with a birthmark on her neck. The girl asks for a birthday cake this year to wish on, and Mom happily agrees. But her eyes turn sad when Eun-tak spots a puppy on the beach and pets it—because to her eyes, there is no puppy. Eun-tak is petting empty air.

Later when Eun-tak comes home from school, her mother has a birthday cake waiting. Eun-tak chatters as she lights the candles, but then sees something and freezes. She starts to cry, saying, “It’s not you. It’s not really Mom, it’s Mom’s spirit.”

Mom says, “You really do see everything. I’d hoped you didn’t.” Eun-tak asks if her mother is dead, and Mom nods.

Mom has only just died, and she tells Eun-tak what to expect when the hospital calls to let her know. She tells her to stay warm, and to never meet ghosts’ eyes in the future.

Eun-tak apologizes for seeing ghosts, “But because I can see those things, I can see you like this.” Mom senses her time running out and tells Eun-tak she loves her. They exchange tearful goodbyes, and then Mom’s spirit fades away.

When the hospital call comes, Eun-tak bundles up in Mom’s big red scarf to head out, and tells her cake that she won’t make any wishes: “Nobody listens anyway. Who would I wish to?”

Mom’s spirit visits Samshin Grandma to ask her to check in on Eun-tak from time to time. Grandma grumps that Mom should have died with the girl in the past, instead of living on. Mom protests that Grandma was the one who told her to wish to the gods, then thanks her and says goodbye.

Eun-tak steps outside and talks to the man standing there, and only realizes her mistake when Reaper asks curiously, “You see me?” She tries to pretend she didn’t, but the Reaper makes the connection, guessing that she was the one who wasn’t meant to be born.

Before Reaper can claim her, Samshin Grandma appears to tell Reaper to leave her alone. Reaper calls it obstruction of justice and is intent on rectifying the old error, but Grandma points out that the child marked for death had no name, but this child has one. She demands a death card with this girl’s name on it.

Reaper grimaces, since that’ll be a bureaucratic hassle. But Granny refuses to back down, so he grits his teeth and tells Eun-tak he’ll be seeing her again.

Granny tells Eun-tak to move away quickly, so that Reaper won’t be able to find her. She also tells her to go with the “one male, two females” who will show up at the funeral.

Eun-tak asks why Granny is helping her, and Granny replies, “I was happy when you came into existence.” She gives her a head of cabbage as a birthday present and leaves.

As Granny walks along the bridge, she crosses paths with a schoolboy. We transition to ten years later, and Granny transforms into a beautiful woman, and the schoolboy becomes twentysomething Deok-hwa (Yook Sung-jae).

Young Granny catches Deok-hwa’s eye, and he asks her out for a drink.

At home, Shin idly flips through a book while, on speakerphone, panicked-sounding “nephew” Deok-hwa begs him to pick up, because his credit card suddenly stopped working, and the unfriendly men at the bar aren’t very pleased about it. Shin doesn’t seem inclined to help.

In a high school lunchroom, 19-year-old Eun-tak eats by herself while her classmates whisper about her having no friends and how scary it is that she supposedly sees ghosts. Eun-tak ignores them, just as she ignores the ghost who pesters her on her walk home, calling her Goblin’s Bride.

Eun-tak does a successful job of pretending not to see her, but the ghost doesn’t like being ignored and screams in her face, forcing a response. The ghost smirks triumphantly… but when she sees something in the distance, she apologizes to Eun-tak and scampers off, saying how “it” was true after all.

It’s Shin, walking down the street in her direction, and they lock eyes for a long moment as they pass. Images flash through Shin’s mind, and he stares with something akin to recognition.

Eun-tak continues on, and Shin turns back for another look.

At home, Shin’s grandpa servant presents him with travel papers for his trip abroad. The rules aren’t explicitly given but it sounds like we’re in a transition period, and Shin comes in twenty-year intervals. Grandpa notes that Deok-hwa is now 25, and will be here to serve Shin when he returns. He also notes a little sadly that if Shin leaves now, he probably won’t see him again in his lifetime. Shin thanks him “for every moment.”

Deok-hwa bursts in, still sputtering about his canceled credit cards, complaining to Grandpa that it’s no good being a chaebol if he’s going to cut him off like this. Then Deok-hwa notices the travel documents and asks if Shin is going away to search for his bride. Shin ignores the questioning, and sighs at the idea that Deok-hwa will be serving him when he comes back.

Eun-tak wakes up early and gets breakfast going for the “one man, two women” she lives with: her grouchy aunt and two spiteful cousins, who complain that Eun-tak cooked seaweed soup on her own birthday. Aunt orders her to produce her bankbook today, and when Eun-tak insists that she doesn’t have a secret account, Aunt throws her rice bowl at Eun-tak’s head, saying that the insurance money from Mom’s death has to be somewhere.

Eun-tak swallows her tears and retorts that Aunt was the one who sucked everything dry, including their old house deposit. Her female cousin mutters about Eun-tak seeing ghosts, and Eun-tak gets in one dig by saying there’s a ghost stuck to her cousin’s back.

Later, she sits alone with a birthday cake by the shore, looking out at the water.

Shin sits out in a sunny field of flowers, and thinks back to a previous conversation with servant-grandpa, who’d asked if he was leaving alone again. Shin had sighed that no woman was able to see his sword. The old man had called it human greed to wish for the bride to appear whenever the sword brought pain, and to then also wish at other times that nobody would know about it.

Shin had smiled at him, saying that for tonight he was happy: “You are still with me, the liquor is plentiful, and for tonight at least, I want to be alive.” They clink glasses.

So now, as Shin plucks a handful of flowers and paces in the field, Eun-tak lights her birthday cake. She’d vowed at the age of nine not to make wishes, but is breaking that now because her situation is so urgent. She closes her eyes and prays: “Help me get a part-time job and do something about Aunt’s family and please let me get a boyfriend. Please!”

That please rings in Shin’s ear from miles away, as does her plea for a solution to her miserable living situation. Then Eun-tak opens her eyes and wonders what she’s doing, and whom she’s praying to, as though god even exists.

The skies rumble and the wind picks up, and Eun-tak quickly blows out her candles—and somehow, the wisps of smoke appear in Shin’s hand. Eun-tak yells indignantly at the skies, asking if it’s going to rain on top of everything else.

Suddenly, Shin’s voice calls out, “Is it you?”

He’s standing there by the sea with her, and asks if she’s the one who called him here, and how she managed it. Confused, she says she didn’t call him, but he instructs her to think about what she did to make it happen.

Eun-tak informs him that it isn’t that she called him, “It’s just that I see you. Because I met your eye by accident in the street the last time. That’s you, right?”

She explains that he’s a ghost, and she sees ghosts. He denies it and asks what her deal is, pointing out that she doesn’t see any of the normal things she should see—things like her future.

“I must not have a future,” she replies. She continues to talk as though he’s a ghost, instructing him to choose the good place (afterlife) and to not wander around too long, which isn’t good for him.

Noting the flowers he’s holding, she asks to have them, saying they don’t suit him. He identifies them as buckwheat flowers, and when she wonders what their meaning is, he replies, “Lovers.”

Recalling that she’d been crying, Shin asks which of her wishes (job, aunt’s family, boyfriend) prompted the tears. She’s startled that he knows about the wishes, and he replies that he sometimes grants wishes.

Eun-tak asks if he’s a wish-granting genie and wheedles for some money. Instead, he gives her the advice to say goodbye to her family, and work hard at her chicken shop job, which she’ll be getting soon. He vanishes into smoke, and Eun-tak calls after him, “Hey! What about my boyfriend?”

When Shin returns home, he’s startled to find the reaper there, and asks what he’s doing in his home. Reaper says in surprise, “You live here?”

That’s when Deok-hwa appears and explains that this house goes empty for twenty years at a time, which amounts to a lot of missed rent opportunities. Ha, Deok-hwa’s such a scammer-in-the-making. Shin indicates Reaper and asks, “Do you even know what that thing is?” Deok-hwa chides him for being rude to their new renter and says he runs a teashop.

Deok-hwa tries to make off with the rent by saying that he hasn’t received payment yet, though Reaper contradicts him, saying he’s already paid. Deok-hwa slinks away quietly.

Shin tells Reaper to take back his money, but Reaper holds up the signed contract. Shin sets it on fire. Reaper says it’s a copy and the original is at the realtor’s.

They exchange retorts until Reaper points out that Shin knows what a reaper contract entails, and that he’s entitled to take away his buddy Deok-hwa. Conceding, Shin tells Reaper to pick a room and consider this his house. Reaper: “This is my house.” Shin: “It’s mine.”

Dinner continues the animosity between them: They sit at opposite ends, and Reaper picks at his vegetables while Shin cuts into a steak. They bicker some more, and Reaper sends a pepper shaker flying into Shin’s water glass, calling it a mistake. Shin sends red pepper flakes spilling into Reaper’s dinner—another mistake.

Bolstered by Shin’s prediction, Eun-tak goes from restaurant to restaurant applying for jobs. She gets roundly turned down from shop after shop and grumbles at Shin’s words.

A passing man tosses a cigarette into a trash can, and Eun-tak jumps up to put out the fire that starts. Shin suddenly appears to say she called him again, and she just as strenuously insists she didn’t. She asks him what his exact classification of supernatural being he is, and complains that he got her hopes up about this supposed chicken shop job she’s meant to get.

Shin insists she did something to call him, and that it’s never happened before. That makes her stop to wonder why. She tells him to describe everything about her, and he rattles off details: “Uniform. Pretty.” (She smiles.) “The uniform is pretty.”

She asks if he sees wings, calling herself a fairy, like Tinkerbell. Shin practically rolls his eyes and vanishes into smoke.

Then as Eun-tak sits in a church service, something gives her an idea and she tests it out afterward. Lighting a candle, she blows it out and waits.

Around the corner, Shin appears. She exclaims that she’s figured out how she called him, while he chides, “Still, don’t you think it’s not quite right to call me here?”

He explains that he can’t vanish in the church (“Consider it a type of DMZ”) and starts walking out, while she pesters him about her three wishes, none of which have worked out. He says the job will happen soon, but she cuts him off to say she wants the boyfriend wish instead. Shin: “Then you put in some effort!” Haha.

Later, Eun-tak tests out her theory using a candle-blowing app on her phone, then lights up when Shin shows up, right on cue.

Annoyed that she was just testing it out, he turns to go, and Eun-tak grabs his arm—and suddenly, it lights up with wispy blue-green smoke, like the kind that enveloped his sword. She lets go, saying, “It’s so hot! I thought it would be cold because it was bluish.”

He reminds her that blue actually indicates the hottest heat, and she pesters him to just give her money instead of the wish. Shin’s eager to get going, having a memorial service to attend, but she pesters him so much that he tells her to hurry and say her piece.

Eun-tak asks him not to misunderstand before launching into her explanation: She thought he was a reaper at first, but a reaper would have taken her away. Then she thought he was a ghost, but he has a shadow. Thinking it over, she concluded that he was a goblin.

He doesn’t react, and just asks again what her deal is. “It’s a little weird to say it myself,” Eun-tak replies, “but I’m the goblin’s bride.” She thinks the birthmark on her neck is why ghosts say she’s the goblin’s bride.

She shows him the mark, and Shin thinks back to the night he saved her mother and makes the connection. He tells her to prove she’s the goblin’s bride, and she asks how. He tells her to describe him, giving her no other clues, so she sizes him up and goes with: tall, expensive clothes, thirtysomething.

He replies that if that’s all she sees, she’s not the goblin’s bride, and is useless to the goblin. While it’s too bad she can see ghosts, he says that it’s a side effect of breaking the rules, so she should live gratefully.

Eun-tak gets upset to be told she’s useless, asking who he is to determine her value. He reminds her of her birthday wish to improve her life by as little as a penny’s worth, and calls himself someone who worries about a penny’s worth about her miserable life. “Live in reality,” he advises, since she’s not the goblin’s bride.

She follows him out the door angrily to have her say, and then they both look around in shock because suddenly, she’s in a different country. He’s stunned that she could use the same door-portal that he did, landing them in Canada.

Eun-tak takes in her surroundings and the extent of his powers, then declares that she has come to a decision: “I’ll marry you! I think you are a goblin. I love you.

She beams at him, while he stares back blankly.

 
COMMENTS

Overall, I thought the first episode was strong and stirring, once I got past the needlessly long running time that crammed two episodes’ worth of material into one blockbuster premiere. More story certainly isn’t bad, and I enjoyed having the couple interacting with each other rather than merely meeting, but it really did feel like the producers intended the episode to end at the hour mark (when the goblin meets his bride), and then just tacked on the next episode to fill out the 90 minutes. So it actually felt like the episode slowed in the second hour, because things had arrived at a natural climactic point, and then just kept going past it.

That aside, it was an impressive start, and the high production values and gravitas of the sageuk backstory lent the story a very effective sense of tragic, cursed sadness. (And the sageuk portions being filmed in widescreen probably adds to its epic, cinematic quality.) It’s quite an interesting plot setup, and I think we might want to brace ourselves for tears down the line, because, as Eun-tak’s mother noted, the goblin’s predicament is romantic and sad, needing to find a human bride in order to die. Death isn’t just a possibility but his entire goal.

The gods were certainly cruel when they leveled their punishment on him, and I like this drama’s interpretation of deities as the stuff of Greek mythology—they’re powerful, but indifferent and jealous and capricious. I find it oddly satisfying, in a vengeful sort of way, whenever a human says there’s no point to prayer because the gods don’t bother listening, and knowing they’re right. I suppose you can find that kind of thinking angry or nihilistic, but trust Shin to take the positive approach in treating it as a reminder to live your reality on your own, instead of expecting anything from the heavens.

I’m impressed, really, that Shin isn’t more angry or indignant about his lot, because the entirety of it is unfair and harsh: As a human, he did nothing wrong, and was hated for being exceptional at his duty, and for that he is cursed with eternal mourning. The punishment is particularly effective because Shin is loyal and loving, and seems to take every death very hard. I wouldn’t blame the guy for choosing to go after revenge as the first thing he did post-revival, but he was quite torn up about being blinded by that need while the faithful grandfather died. (I’m hoping the little boy survived and will reappear, and will cling to the idea that Deok-hwa’s lineage had to continue from him.) I’m sure there are more people for whom this curse would be more of a boon—just as long as you’re not too sad about the people you outlive!—but Shin says little and feels deeply, and it lends him tremendous pathos.

There’s nothing that guarantees a sad ending, necessarily, since the writer can always find a different resolution to the setup than having Shin fulfill the curse and disappear. But the prospect of him dying will always hover in my mind, and it lends a bittersweet shine to everything, doesn’t it?

Speaking of the writer, she was the greatest source of my wariness, because [insert track record], but I do think she does better when there’s a fantasy or genre element to her story, rather than a simple romance, because I often want more substance to the bantering and glib interplay. She hasn’t done fantasy in a while, and Secret Garden was fantasy-lite, so I’m very curious to see how deeply she’ll take us into this mythology, and how much worldbuilding we’re in for. I hope lots, because already I find the rules fascinating and want to see how the pieces fit together, both for the goblin and the reaper. I want a lot more out of this drama than romance, which could even be secondary and still work, given that the goblin’s trajectory is so moving on its own.

The goblin-reaper tension is shaping up to be quite entertaining, but I like that there’s more to it than simple grudging roommates or bromance. If the goblin’s bride is the reaper’s lost quarry, their whole relationship puts everything in peril, and I look forward to seeing how each party reacts once the identities are made known.

The story definitely lightened up and brought in the humor once the couple met, so I’m not sure how much of the show will turn to rom-com, but I hope it retains that sense of melancholy and wistfulness, which is the thing that grips my emotions the most. I think Kim Go-eun is a great actress, but her chipper moments sort of rang false at times, and the character kind of seemed a bit all over the place, emotionally. I’m hoping it’s more of a character thing than an acting thing—perhaps the character is forcing cheer to cover up her despair, which works for me. I’ll go with that for now.

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Loved this! So excited for this! Been waiting forever!!

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sammmmeee! I was waiting desperately for this drama to premier. and even more i wanted to know the reactions of all the beanies! Great first episode...i really like the background score in the end...it gives off the fantasy feels ..aand i should not even start how much i like GY and LDW on my screen together.. cant wait for more

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Yes. I find it hard not to be wowed by this show.

In fact I am trying very hard to resist GY.

It was like watching a movie with its gorgeous cinematography with Shin and his mane of glory. Was I transported into Final Fantasy when Shin decided to spilt the ship in his Assassin’s Creed outfit? Oh before that the little boy apologizes for looking at the night scenery thoughtlessly and Shin said he like it that the boy is looking at the scenery thoughtlessly... how not to fall in love with this Goblin? And they did an MV too! The I-walk-past-you-you-walk-past-me slow-mo walk in the rain.

And I haven’t even start on Lee Dong-wook. Sighs.

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HA "Mane of Glory" was awesome! This show just made him even more irresistible to begin with. Also, I read that in his real life, he tends to mirror the Goblin in regards to being lonely. So it was interesting to see this and still see his humor shine through. So far loving this. TVN is doing a good job of producing some fantastic shows.

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Loved the first episode and the 2nd, I'm hook can next Friday be tomorrow ?. Even if this drama may end not having a happy ending I'm okay with iy becuase something tell me that we will be satisfied with the trayectory of our couples. Not like another drama we saw earlier this year. The PD did an awesome job with the 1st & 2nd episode, from the cinematography, music score (wish i like the theme song), editing, it was just in point, also each actor did an spendid job, iI feel invested in all characters more to some and the other but still invested in them.
Hope people continue turning in every week to watch and the PD and writer keep providing great episodes

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Me., you are me!
Been waiting 4ever for a drama I don't know when it will appear.
"Drama, prove it to me!!!!"

I'm aliveeee!!! Thanks to Gong Yooooo... *heart*

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'Reminds me of the Sandman Series by Neil Gaiman. 'Have to admit this is living up to the hype.

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yesssss! definitely has the Gaiman feels :D

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What's the title of the song in the scene where eun-tak and her mom were crying? The english song. I'm really hoping you know it. I'm going crazy in finding it.

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I think it's from the drama's OST.Many dramas nowadays had included english songs into their OSTs.We will have to wait for the production to release the OST in that case.

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Me too! I've been waiting since the first episode til now going crazy to find that song.

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김경희 (Kim Kyung Hee) – And I’m here Lyrics Goblin OST Part 11

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Haha I came here just to reply to this but you beat me to it! How did you even find it then? I didn't think it was released until yesterday.

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I loved the premiere. I felt like I was watching a movie. Its beautifully shot. I am hoping for an amazingly awesome goblin-reaper bickering friendship!

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better than a movie! it's been a while I cried so much during a 90 min footage. I cried when Kim Shin and his clan died. I cried when mom died. I cried with old grandpa.

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When the Mom said she had to wear a scarf on the way to the hospital...cry.

When the aunt threw a rice bowl at her..ugly cry

When the wicked aunt's family didn't even give her the umbrella...ugly cry

Great character work, memorable scenes.

This drama is filled with utterly awesome people, and its only Episode 1.

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same here...

but when I saw her phone is Samsung Galaxy 7 edge... I stopped crying...

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Lol! Good eye. But you should know that in k-dramaland, no matter how poor you are, you're never too poor for the latest cellphone! ?

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@nchoe your comment made my day ???

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LOL... I was thinking that app must have been made specifically for this show..

I could 100% believe all the goblin and reaper stuff... but I didn't believe that En-tuk has never blown out a fire.. what in 10 years not even a matchstick???

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"but when I saw her phone is Samsung Galaxy 7 edge… I stopped crying…" I spit my coffee. LOL

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I rolled my eyes when I noticed Subway ads during the first episode closing credits.

I also gave away a smile when I realised that the chicken shop plot was a part of the ppl for bb.q.

But I think I don't mind as long as they don't go overboard with it. *cough* K2 *cough*

Anyway, do you guys know how to access tnms ratings for cable tv shows such as Goblin?

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Sorry. * .. Subway ad .. .

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Omg, yes! I felt so bad for her when she got hit with the bowl... ? I immediately wanted her to leave that house and family.

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I want her out of that house pronto! I mean, I wanted to see the family get what they deserve!

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When he told her that she wouldn't be seeing her family I thought "He is gonn split the house in two like he did the boat because that would make me really happy!" And then I thought that I probably would be a really bad God of Wrath because I be wiping people out left and right!

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@agree because it was her first time to make wish to the gods, i guess?

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IKR?! I keep thinking it's such a waste to watch this show on my humble notebook screen when it's good enough to be available in cinemas.

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For a while, I felt like I was watching Korean Aragorn.

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same here!

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YES. THIS. I FELL IN LOVE WITH GONG- ARAGORN

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So so true!!! It had the Lotr feel with the exception of the overly fluid blood splashing! ?

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This is called starting off with a bang! Thanks for the speedy recap! :)

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The scenes were all pretty!! The actors/actresses are all pretty!! I fell in love with it overall ???
I've been waiting for this!! Thanks for the recap! Goblin hwaiting!

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Yay... thank you so much for this. I was waiting for beanies reaction... feels like one heck of a drama that's exciting after a long time. :) Loved all the actors!!! Can't wait for next episode.

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The production quality for the first half was amazing.

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I loved the pilot episode for this show. I like the fantasy aspect and the connections between the characters :). It surpassed my expectations, the only nit pick I have is the corny song that plays when the main characters are together, I actually muted the show in those scenes, I just they don't over use it since it felt a bit overused in the first ep.
I actually saw it this afternoon before I went to work and I was actually getting ready to watch episode 1 again :D. Thanks for the recap javabeans :).

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You're right that corny music actually pulled me out of my awe! Couldn't they take the music director from JI? He knew how to set the tone

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Wow, that's so weird to me because the song made the whole scene memorable to me! I was squealing when the slow motion came in during the first meeting/eye contact and the singer's voice came in sounding so sweet. I think it might be the fact that I'm looking at this drama through a "romantic fantasy" lens so it just adds to the feeling. But I agree, if they end up overusing it, I'll be disappointed.

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I mainly liked the orchestral background for the series. It was stunning and made it seem like a movie, rather then the drama. I believe the main song is okay, not great.

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Daebaaak!!! This pilot episode really exceeds my expectation! So far I'm intrigued.

I'm confused with the timeline though. I hope they made it really clear. For example, I thought the car accident happened in 1998. If I hadn't seen the calendar in Eun-taek's house when she's having birthday party, I wouldn't have known that it actually happened in 1989 or 1988. It's not really clear also when the Goblin was woken up by the Creator. At first, I thought it's not long after he was killed, but then I realized the hair of some people has turned from black to white.

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Youre right about the timeline. The car accident did happen in '98, and mom died around 8 years later. The current scenes are set in 2016.

In the Goryeo era, I , too noticed that the Treacherous eunuch's beard turned from black at the time of Kim Shin's death to white when Kim Shin confronted and killed him. My theory is that Kim Shin was stuck in that field for a long time, waiting for someone to die. The wrapped body may have been that of the King in the future. And also, the servants may have realised over time after his death that he had become an immortal type of being, and started to serve him (there was one black-bearded servant who they focused on a bit during the death of Kim Shin, maybe the old grandpa is a future version of him, serving Kim Shin since the day he died.

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Blackbeard servant during killing = old grandpa servant with boy at Kim Shin's grave (same face).

--------

Anyone noticed Yoo Deokhwa was parodying Lovers of Paris' famous line when he confronted Kim Shin about his bride? Kim Eunsook also wrote Lovers of Paris so I had a good chuckle over it.

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I wonder why he stopped when he saw that grandpa though. He didn't stop for the girl, he didn't stop for people after that girl, but once he saw that grandpa, he did stop.

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Kim So Hyun was willing to die. And we could see the grandpa was super loyal, visiting the graves years after his death, and even telling his grandson to continue serving the grave. He probably earned Kim Shin's affection.

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I doubt anyone in Korea could have missed that reference. That scene has been parodied countless times over the years. SNL amongst others.
https://youtu.be/TVx8jswsVVU?t=40

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I'm an exo-l so I have to include this too kkkkk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40RJvzV5EHU

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But it's still 2008 in the end of the show though. When that grandma was passing that bridge and turned into beautiful young woman, it was written on the screen: 10 years later.

It's such a relief though... because I guess the main story is gonna be set in 2016... and Eun Taek will be 27 yo at that time... so... no Ahjussi-high school student romance... well, at least not for too long.

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Oh no, Eun-Tak is born in 1998. Her mom's death happens in 2006. And then we switch to 10 years later in 2016, when the human characters- such as Sung Jae's Deok Hwa is in his 20's. So Eun-Tak will stay 18 years old in yeh current timeline.

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During the birthday scene on the day her mom dies, while she's crying, there is a shot of a calendar and it says September 1998. Either that was a mistake or she was born in 1998. But, that would mean the current timeline is 8 years off. I am confused.

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Sorry, born in 1990

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Ok... now I'm really confused. I watched the drama again to check the date on calendars...

When Eun-taek's mom died the date on calendar was: September 9th 1998

When Eun-taek had cooked breakfast before she went to school the date on calendar was: September 9th 2016

But the show told us the current scenes is set 10 years after mom's death... and 10 years after mom's death is 2008... LOL

The other explanation is SLVR is right and mom kept calendar from 1998 for some reasons

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As long as she's 18, I have no problem. He's 1000+ old LOL.

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Yeah no....it's still creepy. I'm watching and praying they find some path that doesn't include a romantic bent of super proportions cause ew.

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@Kim MJ
Same. No problem as long as she's 18 when romance begins. No problem w/ age gap either but don't be surprised when others don't feel like us.

Moon Hee Jun just announced he's getting married to CP's member, and if u read comments on sites like Netizenbuzz and others, most comments are about how creeped out people are, and Euntak is not as old as that girl group member. It's how society judges. It's how life works. I've learnt long ago to endure the hurt every time I see someone describe my parents relationship, ergo, the relationship between an older man and much younger woman as creepy and slimy. The man is labelled an old gross exploitative slimeball. I think it helps my pain whenever I read stuff along those lines, that my father is so far from that image. He's the most loyal, loving, romantic and most of all, patient, husband one could wish for. I envy my mother. I'm still unmarried at 27 because I'm searching for someone like him. Anyway, not my intention to divulge my life on here. Hahaha. I digressed so bad. I stayed silent on NB, so I guess it all came out here. Hahaha.

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Besides, Buffy was only 16 while Angel was 200 and most people didn't seem to care then.

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@Celia

Thank you for sharing. I understand where you are coming from but the problem I always have is that the kind of relationship you describe isn't what's portrayed on television. More often then not there isn't much in the way of emotional parity between the couple. The writers don't build nuance or the kind of difficult balance needed to make things work between any two people let alone those with an age gap.

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Wait...let me do the math here.

The grandma was on the bridge in 2008, the night the little girl's mom died (the same night the little girl commented on it being her 9th birthday when the ghost of her mom gave her the cake). I

f the bridge scene segues 10 years, that would make it 2018. So, the little girl is 19 in the year 2018, presumably making the "present day" 2018.

Does that sound right?

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Never mind. Dial that back by 2 years. I just read another post that identified the year the mom passed as 2006. That makes more sense.

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Yeah that calendar threw me off. But if the mom was supposed to die in 1998 and then really died in 2006 when she turned 9 it makes more sense. I had to remember that korean age in 1 year older so while 8 years passed from 1998-2006 she turned 9, then 10 years later she is 19 (korean age) and that means the story takes place in 2016.

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I think the calendar date 1998 when it was 2006 was done on purpose. The Mother was supposed to die at this date so her life sort of stopped temporary. She and her daughter weren't supposed to be here and the calendar is just a hint.

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Here's my theory: ET is born in 1990, her mom died in 1998, fast forward 10 years later, ET meets Shin in 2008.

It is also mentioned that the year is 1998 when ET celebrates her 8th birthday.But what's puzzling me is that Smartphones never appeared until 2010/2011. So present time might be in 2016 after all. That would mean KES intends for the Goblin to romance and 18 year old. Which I have no problem with. He is 1000 plus years old after all...

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I was internally crying while watching this episode, it was so good, so epic, so well shot and i loved the OST at the end. Everything flowed together so well and 1 hour and 30 minutes could not have finished any faster

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Beautiful cinematography and very very pretty and intriguing episode 1.

However, I am not feeling Kim Go Eun, her character or the chemistry with Gong Yoo. KGE is a lovely actress with great acting skills, but her character is such a stock spunky schoolgirl who sees ghosts type- it's nothing new or interesting. I also seriously didn't see KGE's usual nuances (I mean, watch her in Coin Locker Girl, my god), or expressions.

Though there are many many episodes to develop her character, I kind of feel that with the other, interesting characters, it will get overshadowed. The chemistry with Gong Yoo is also off, I expected a sweeping romance or an intense relationship based on trailers- but somehow, it feels like a bickering partnership kind of role to me. The Goblin and Reaper and Sungjae/Sexy red heels character had more chemistry in their short time than the two main leads.

This may be an unpopular opinion, but oh well.

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i also agree about KGE, i know she's a great actress but there was something off. It wasn't every scene but some.

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Exactly. I think it also has to do with her character, maybe she got a bit shafted with that role? What do you think?

I am hoping her role will improve and she will be a strong character.

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I think it's the curse of kdramas or possible all creative works. You can only have one genders worth of strong character. The other side just has to suck. I've never been able to find one where the balance works perfectly.

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Song Hye Kyo and Song Joong Ki both had great characters. SHK certainly had lots of charm, so I feel like this writer can definitely do 2 interesting leads. I do think Kim Go Eun is a bit off, and I'm disappointed by the chemistry. I definitely think having a high school girl hurts the show

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+10
KGE is a good and decent actress, but it’s lot to do with characters she is given, as for any other actor or actress. Imo, KES regressed in writing interesting/challenging female lead character. I acknowledge that the problem is in the character rather than in KGE as an actress.

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SLVR, I agree with you that the chemistry between the two mains isn't quite compelling. However, I do take into consideration that at this point, she is a high school student and between such a difference, the most convincing relationship to build off later would be the bickering partnership we're seeing, since it inherently is comfortable and can be the foundation for a deeper, fulfilling relationship later (unless, I'm totally wrong and she stays 19 throughout the entire series?) I am looking forward to the romantic relationship, especially since KGE is so dang able to bring those serious, mature emotive expressions(omg Coin Locker Girl) and I'm hoping that the semi-cringey bubbly-ness is indeed her character masking her hurt. I'm okay with seeing it play out this way as it's only episode 1 and I'll hang in here wishing and watching, as long as we get that heart-tugging romance later!!

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You've encapsulated a lot of my thoughts perfectly. However, as you said, the relationship may improve as she ages, but do remember that in the show's timeline, she is 18 in the present (2016). I don't see the show adapting a future timeline, so I am guessing she will stay in high school.

I don't think the age difference between the characters bothers me. As you said, the semi-cringey bubbly high school girl using a smile to mask her pain is very overwrought and overdone in Kdrama. If they don't show some mystery, or hidden side to her character I don't really feel the sweeping romance will be there.

Add to the fact that literally everyone else has much better chemistry in the pilot and their relationship sells itself short to me.

I was expecting a character that was interesting, such as the writers previous iconic heroines from Secret Garden, DOTS etc. Maybe its just my own biases, haha, so as you said, let's look forward to the remaining 15 episodes.

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She was 9 when her mother died, then we jump 10 years into the future....its her 19th birthday to be exact. I don't like her school girl aeygo for that reason only. She is an adult, not a minor....why maker her so cutesie instead of giving her a bit more intensity but I must add that she is very good actress. I also think the chemistry is quite off for now but it can improve with coming episodes so lets see.

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Is that Korean 9 or regular 9? Korean age typically adds a year to people's legal ages (i.e. someone born in November 1998 would only just have turned 18 by our reckoning but in Korea, that person would be considered 19 as of January 2016 even if their legal age is 17 - their birthday 'catches up' ).

Basically she's still high school age, in Korea.

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Then she is 18...stillnot a minor

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But isn't 19 is 17 in Korea? She is still in highschool and not adult

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......she's still a schoolgirl, though? I didn't realise birthdays were strict cutoffs for ceasing to be influenced by your immediate surroundings of the last several years.

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She JUST turned 18 though o.O I guess theoretically an eighteen years old girl should be more mature than a seventeen years old one but really? "Stilk not a minor" I don't think her behavior is odd for a girl her age, wishing for a job, complaining about her living conditions and hoping for a boyfriend are all perfectly normal things, even more, admitting it was silly of her to wish for it to a God because it doesn't exist but going through it (the whole blowing the candles thing) anyway on whim speaks of her being self aware. Even her cutesy act of "I'll marry you, I love you" doesn't strike me as inmaturity but more so of honest curiosity and maybe even loneliness. I do think KGE is off her game and I find that super odd because I've watched her mega flopped movie with LBH where she was bubbly and cute (well more tomboy than bubbly but still) so it's definitely within her abilities to play a cute High School girl so idk what her deal is here.

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I doubt it's unpopular. the bromance is the highlight for most of us. But i feel that was the goal anw of the drama at this point. What I'm feeling from H/h is just burgeoning friendship, from a optimistic/pragmatic precocious high schooler, and an old soul as the two become entwined. the romance will develop slow imo.

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Yes, the bromance is definitely the highlight. I don't mind slow developments of relationships- its just that personally for me, I need to feel the chemistry between two leads from the beginning itself to interest me in a drama. :) Even the bickering partnership feels very contrived.

But that's just me haha.

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Honestly just wish they would stop squicking me out with age differences. Why couldn't she just be an adult?

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Wow, really? I wonder if it's because I'm such a Kim Go-eun fangirl, but I was so relieved to find out that there's more to her happy-go-lucky demeanor that was highlighted in the teasers and trailers. After seeing more of Eun-tak, I definitely think she tries hard to mask her pain by being overly optimistic and chipper. Throughout this episode, I saw glimpses of her "true" self (when she was arguing with her aunt, when she got hurt by Shin's words saying she was useless, etc.) and moments where her voice wasn't so high pitched and she spoke normally. That gives me hope that as she encounters the Goblin and new people in her life (Sunny, Deok-hwa and please let her run into Young Granny again!), she'll have more people she can confide in and become more free and comfortable. I'm actually surprised and glad her demeanor isn't as annoying as I'd fear, though, but I think that's mostly because it's Kim Go-eun behind the character.

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I have no problem with Kim Go Eun's character /acting as well, just minor problem that she is acting as high school girl.

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I'm not sure what kind of chemistry is everyone looking for from an intro episode.
She is a high school girl with some supernatural power that enables her to see ghosts, reapers, goblins etc. She is being treated like an outcast at school and at home.
She meets a goblin who is 1000 years + older than her and she figures out that she is this goblin's bride. I don't think she knows what that means and neither do I except for the fact that she is the only one who could pull that shiny sword for the goblin to rest in peace. (whatever that means).
She acts like a highschool girl to me so I don't know what is off here. When a goblin and a human with supernatural power meets. What is there to expect? It should be a bit awkward.

If people are looking for some sexy kind of chemistry here, then wait for Yoo In-Na's character. I'd prefer something different from the leads if it's not too much to ask.

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I know right? I don't get what part of the chemistry seemed so 'off' since everything I saw in the episode is chemistry. I find it odd that kim go eun is coming off as someone chirpy or cheesy but I felt the writer is trying to match two people who are at two opposite pole in life, a thousand year old tired soul and a young one, who are these oddballs who meet for once and fireworks happen. So, the reason kim go eun is acting this way is 'because' her character demands so. I also felt like javabeans that shes' trying to bite back her pain and smiling though it hurts her in the back. Also about her being a secondary character or the love story being a side story, I doubt it though. Because ever since the episode started, everyone started talking about the' goblin's bride', so it has to be something special. Also mom's meeting with kim shin was highlighted too, so may be him saving the unborn bride is going to reciprocate back later in the story, and eun tak is going to do the work of saving at the end, the final one which would 'save' life of kim shin, which he's desperate to end.
Anyway, I found KGE and GY amazing together, and these two match! I don't think the love story is a supporting line, rather there has to be a reason why their scenes was dominating the screen for almost half of the entire episode. It's okay with the bromance and all, but I dig the romance, much more. Just like any anxious parent lol, I am hoping the story doesn't go overboard with cheesy lines or boring plot tropes, just cause it is coming from the writer of heirs or dots, but may be I'm going to stick to it.

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Thanks for your perspective! I do see a lot of points you make. I think everyone sees chemistry differently. In my personal preference, I need to feel a spark or connection between the characters. Somehow, I didn't feel it much for the two leads.

Everyone's expectations are different from this drama. Let's hope it lives up to all of them! :)

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When he asks her to describe him I think he expected the bride to see the sword impailing him. To die, the bride must pull the sword from his body buried in the buckwheat field.

I wonder as well why people are expecting chemistry right off the bat. They were both intrigued to find they had some sort of supernatural connection. The story unfolds as they discover what exactly that connection entails and as they get to know each other, what it means emotionally to have the power of someone's life or death.

I think the character of Eun Taek is naturally cheerful and affectionate, but she has faced so much rejection for her oddness that it has become her thin armor over her pain when someone is willing to talk to her.

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+10000

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Yes, mte! I really didn't expect anything more than what's been shown from Eun-tak and the goblin. I think it's normal and natural the way they're interacting with each other and Eun-tak's acting like, well, her age, and plus, she barely knows this guy, so while she gave him a special feeling when they first crossed paths, she just think he's another otherworldly being... with extraordinary abilities, which made her readily decide to be with him so she can escape her current sad reality. I can't wait for them to get to know each other and their relationship to grow and blossom. You're right, viewers who're looking for a more sizzling chemistry, can just tune in when Grims meet Sunny!

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+10000000

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YES exactly! I think KGE is doing such a great job in this role. And I love it when she is on screen with Goblin.

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Pull that shiny sword, eh.

(So sorry about lowering the tone.)

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I felt the same about the actress and her acting, felt like she was uncomfortable with her acting, like she didn't want to act like cute and sassy character and was made to do it, age gap really borhered me too, it feels like even in dramas they now starting to show that age gap is acceptable, it is not like it is not O'k, actors mostly marry actresses 20 years younger nowadays, I just hoped in dramaland they would still keep lovers being more or less similar age

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I agree with you, but I am not really bothered by the age gap of the actors. The aspect of KGE trying to portray a high school senior is more bothering to me tbh, but hopefully her character will get better...

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I don't the age gap is bothersome, maybe because the goblin is forever 30-something, while she would grow into the age that she should be by the time the show end. So I'm not sure if they'll do that, but it feels like she'll need to find her place in her time, and in his life time in order to fully accomplish her duty in life.

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Right?!the goblin have more chemistry with the reaper than her.

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Agreed.
I thought they would have an intense bond over some kind of past hurts (as K-dramas wont to do).
I've been wondering if it's because of the level of innocence that KGE is playing.
She's a 19 yo girl that wants to fall in love and noticed how sexy the Goo-Globin is but somehow the teenager aspect that KGE is playing feels as if she's sexually unaware - more like a cute grade school girl when she's with GY.

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I do not get the Goblin's side of the relationship either. He was a stoic general once upon a time! I get his warm relationship with the host family, but not the bickering one with ET (heh) or indeed the Reaper. There may be a back-story with the latter, but with a 19-year old he's never really met before - it seems a bit inconsistent. This relationship is the only part that doesn't ring true in a show that I love so much already.

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I'm a bit confused with all the dopplegangers. So the little boy in Goryeo times looks like mini-DeokHwa. But the bigger boy adopted in a foreign family also look like bigger mini-DeokHwa in school uniform on the bridge when he crossed the cabbage grandma (turned hottie red). According to the timeline, it fits that DeokHwa's grandpa is the adopted boy, which means Deokhwa's grandpa looks like DeokHwa, who looks like the Goryeo boy who had a grandpa, servant of Kim Shin, who looks like DeokHwa's grandpa. Do all men in their bloodline lookalike? LOL.

I also thought EunTak's uncle-in-law looked a bit like that first official Kim Shin killed at the King's deathbed but on second look, I'm wrong.

I was also wondering how Kim Shin noticed Euntak when he met her under the rain, but that was because he couldn't read her future like others right?

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No, the boy in paris made a wish and the goblin granted it.

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Now I feel bad. I, too, thought the boy on the bridge and the boy from Paris were played by the same actor. T____T In my defense, I'm terrible with asian faces and he had a black-eye in Paris. I still have trouble differentiating faces sometimes. I needs my eyes checked.

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I'm Asian and I actually thought it was the same boy. It's just that the hair and the uniform confused us. hahaha

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From what I read, the boy adopted abroad made a desperate wish (just like fairy grandma told the mother) in the 1960's which made the Goblin come to him.

Apparently, it's a cameo by actor Nam Da Reum (you may recognise him as young Lee Bang Wonin Six Flying Dragons), but I am sure there will be some interesting history there, although it's not tied to Deok Hwa's family.

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Do all men in their bloodline lookalike?

well, look at the men in the family of Lee Gun in Fated To Love You ;)

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There was a lot packed into this first episode, I thought it was close to ending several times before it actually did.

Roommates with the Grim Reaper - they've each met their match.

Loved ep 1!

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I love this show! It has become my new addiction instantly.

The scenery and effects are wonderful. I was also a little confused with the timeline.
Also I'm wondering if she will only be able to see the sword once she truly loves him or if she will have to choose between her own life and his to be able to free him. Can't wait to see what happens next!

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"Death isn’t just a possibility but his entire goal."

Eek that line javabeans feels like his bride is his deathnote to put his name on it so that he can pass on. Theres this sense of melancholy and doom. Power with the fantasy element- this drama just stands outboth plot and cinematography. Everywhere i read gives positive reviews on the premier and how it feels like its watching a movie. Continue to grip us drama and dear writer work your magic- hoping for intense and depth all the way to a rousing conclusion.

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Powerful first episode indeed! Fantasy kdramas should start like this! Cinematography is epic, plot is properly set, and music matches the scene. Not to mention the powerful cast as well. I may be biased because I miss Gong Yoo on small screen and he looks hot in that saeguk general garb. Just tame that saeguk hair won't you? Ha. I'm looking forward to the future eps of this kdrama. Please don't let me down.

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Indeed! after what happened with LotBS, I was a lil bit scared with Goblin will go down at same path, but It fulfilled my expectation!

Everything was great! I already feel attachment with these characters. And LDW-GY's being roommate was gold

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What happened with lotbs? I haven't watched it, still undecided whether I need to give it a shot or not.

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I was pretty torn up by that birthday scene between young ET and her mom.Tears everywhere. I'm sooo hooked on this show now.

What's with the ring? (Is it jade?) Hmn, it was already shown in two timelines, I think it may be of significance later on..

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I hope the ring DOES have significance, in most dramas these tools are mentioned repetitively in the 1st few episodes, and then completely loses its function in the later parts of the show. It's a pre-produced drama, so hopefully the writing is tight, and hopefully the plot holes aren't too jarring that it spoils the entire plot.

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There were high expectations for this show right from the get go.. sky high in fact and the premiere delivered on most counts. Even while doing a lot of setting up, it remained intriguing and alluring... and I found myself very moved by that scene with young Eun tak and her mom. It's rare that a premiere can pack such emotional impact. I can't wait to explore the amazing world of this show and agree completely with Javabeans that the story must go beyond just a romance.

My thoughts on the episode here: https://kdramaanalysis.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/goblin-episode-1/

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you keep advertising your website on db. so subtle.

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Or maybe her word count exceeds 3000 and she doesn't want to spam the page? Don't click the link if you don't want to. You keep going at it Heroonthebeach ;)

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@Heroonthebeach is a "HE" and he is most welcome with his comments here and on his blog. He and his wife watch dramas together and offer some really thoughtful and measured commentary. But because I'm guessing at least 90% of DramaBeans commenters are female, I sincerely welcome the addition of a male commenter.

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It was a solid premiere. I liked the first episode. I've never watched anything with Gong Yoo before but he is doing a great job so far. I just wish the goblin's love interest wasn't a high school girl. So far so good though.

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You need to watch Coffee Prince….asap.

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And Big... no wait... don't.

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So you've never seen Train to Busan?! You should check out some Gong Yoo movies if you have time. He has a pretty impressive filmography.

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I loved the premiere. I don't remember when was the last time I sat through nearly 90 minutes of a drama pilot and came out with satisfaction. The production value is great, actors are doing justice to their roles, cinematography gets an A+ and scenes are well edited especially the transition of our vegetable granny into the red hot lady in literal sense. I like the whole extended universe of Gods and Goblins they have created that runs parallel to human world. Some visible to the mortals while others aren't. Also, my biggest criticism for DOTS was the lack of plot but here its the opposite. I hope they can carry the momentum forward. I am looking forward to seeing episode 2.
Also, I really hope this isn't the last we'll see of Kim So Hyun. I felt intrigued by the queen dying without any hesitation and what was her relation to the General. Was she a lover or a sister or a friend?? I don't know what will happen in the coming episodes but a bit of backstory into her and the general's relation would be welcome addition for me.

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I watched this first ep just to see Kim So-hyun, I was hoping they'd put her death off to at least episode 2 :(

I think - as with most other dramas I've tried in the last month - I will let this go until it's mostly-aired, just to see how it does turn out.

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She was totally gorgeous and she spoke so elegantly like a true royalty. I can't wait for her new sageuk.

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Was she a lover or a sister or a friend??

I vote lover. It explains why she was front and center, first to die, instead of back with the other family. Then the king wasn't just angry and jealous about the general's battlefield success and popularity with the masses (popularity with the ladies was another matter). And the general really was guilty of a kind of treason. Ya know, just another of those age mismatch pairings of young actress and older man that some of us like to complain about :)

I wouldn't expect to see too much more of KSH. Asianwiki has her as "special appearance" -- I don't think recurring roles rate as "special". But it's too bad she didn't get to play the ghost-seeing high-schooler -- where else can we find a high-school-age veteran ghost-seer?

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Korea isn't the only country in this sense though. Mischa Barton was 17 when she was cast in the OC and so was Thora Birch when she did American Beauty.
The thing is Kim So Hyun is a great young actress so I want to see her back story. It doesn't have to involve romance but I wouldn't mind if it involves that either. I felt the past had some secrets that we didn't get to see. A young king's jealousy of his own general, was the reason just his near divine capability to win wars, defeating enemies or was part of the reason the Queen. A queen died for a general, what exactly was she to both the King and the general??

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Well from my point of view I think the queen (kim so hyun) is general's sister cause the arrow happen to strike when the king commanded to kill the general's family. I think this makes much more sense cause the king was jealous over his people love towards the general. And the people's love towards the general is passing to the point of worship and thats the thing that drives over the king hatred toward the general. Also, the general's family is so powerful that they have his sister as the queen. This thing could stand as a threat towards the royal family, presumably the young king cause there is a family with too much power. As we know, at that time the king must be the greatest among them all. But, this general came as a rival to his greatness. At that time, you cant proclaim a single person as a criminal. If one in the family labeled as a traitor, everyone in the house wiould be punished as a traitor too. Sooo the king jealousy over make him kill his own queen.

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And dont forget that the general has his own military power. So to summarize, this family has power in military, a queen in throne, and people's love. And in that hunger of power environment, how many families desires for that place to taken over by them? They add fuel to the fire of jealousy and hatred of young king that feel that his greatness has been challenged by his general.

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I'm leaning towards sister. She was the first to die when the king ordered to kill everyone in Shin's family.

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I thought the same thing. Hopefully the queen's goblin form will cross paths with Shin. The thought of goblin siblings (or is it sibling goblins?) sounds pretty nifty.

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That scene when Shin was facing those mounted soldiers really reminds me of Jon Snow in Battle of The Bastards though.

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You're not alone. The thought crossed my mind when I saw the trailer. Gong Yoo baring his sword with courage and determination in the middle of the frame as a whole army of armed riders approaches him is an echo of Jon Snow facing a hopeless battle against Ramsay's forces. The shot, the garb, the sword-pulling and poise, the horses and the enemies—all Battle of the Bastards to me.

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The Jon Snow deja vu hit me as well! Even a lot of the fight scene is similar, especially the way the camera follows the warrior as he fights, flounders, gets up and fights again..

I posted another comment earlier, but it looks like it got canned :'(

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Feels like a scene from a video game to me lol.

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kim So Hyun was beautiful in her historical attire. Omg she was so ethereal. too bad she dies within like the first minute of her appearance like in every other dramas she's in lol.

Her character is super intriguing and I'm thinking that (well I guess it's pretty obvious) that she's Sunny's past life. And LDW is the king who had her killed. That's why they both feel a connection to each other when they come across the jade ring the queen was wearing when she died. While this makes the most sense, a big part of me is hoping that there is a bigger plot twist because that approach is way too easy to figure out.

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there were moments I liked, mostly the reaper-goblin scenes, I really let out overjoyed chuckles. The Reaper himself is so peculiar and off-the-map.
But even though they have tried to make it look cool, the overall impression is a little overstyled, close to tacky. especially the scene on the sea. the production is just overdoing it in so many ways. they should pick a style for good - that dining hall is the right degree of strange and tilted elegance. these actors don´t need exaggerated settings and effects. they are intense enough on their own. I wish they relied more on the actors than decorations.
Not sold on Kim Go Eun either. maybe she was nervous in the beginning or something, Gong Yoo and stuff. it comes off slightly forced and unnatural.

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I wasn't big on that titanic cgi scene. I don't think it was necessary.

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There were alot of things that threw the narrative off in the first episode, which forced the viewed to deduce what the director and writer were implying. Also KGE was off with her acting especially her dialogue with GY, the words she was saying and her expression weren't correlating making things fall flat. The Goblin and Reper seemed to draw the audience more than the girl did, at least for me it was hard buying her emotions.

The boat scene was unnecessarily long, and tacky. When we were introduced to the reper it took less time to get us to understand what 'power's he has without making as truly scratch our heads.

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TVN is not messing around. The amount of money that went into this pilot is serious money. Overall I loved the first episode. korea is stepping up its game latley with so many quality stories and production that I can't help but be impressed.

Tvn wants to be the HBO of Korea and they are doing it with a bang.

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i <3 Gong Yoo. Been waiting forever for a new drama from him (i skipped big)
AND fantasy and saguek are my favourite genres.cant wait to watch this episode

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It was beautifully made.

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I'm excited for this solely for GY and I'm happy to read positive reviews since the show deserves it no matter how many people tend to talk negatively about KES works. I guess I have to wait until 2 episodes have been uploaded so I can marathon it this Sunday. Thank you so much for the recap!

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So is Deok-hwa a goblin/ghost or an actually human being like Eun-tak??

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I think he's a Human like all of his ancestors.

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He is a human being like Eun-tak. Since many generations, right from the Goryeo Era, his family have been servants of Kim Shin, continuing into the future.

Basically, I think they cover for Kim Shin's identity in the world as well as give him companionship, a place to come back to. (Just like the lawyer friend in My Love from the Star, who was always there for the Alien).

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I understand the function that the Deok-Hwa serves in the drama but I hate the grown up version of him. I find his behavior super annoying.

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Thank you for this comment.

Even the little kid Deok-Hwa came across as rude instead of cute. I know the story need him for the roommate setup to happen but still, can't we have him at least be more responsible.

I hope red-hot Grandma will teach him a lesson or two.

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hello,

I'm still a bit confused.. if Deok-Hwa is a human, how is it that both him and his grandfather can see the Grim Reaper??

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If he shows himself, humans can see him like the man he told hit a boar.

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Omg, ha, I can't TOTALLY see Granny giving him a lesson to buckle up! He also meets Eun-tak later on, so I hope they can become friends, too, although the released relationship chart doesn't say that...

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Where can I find this relationship chart? xD

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Deok-hwa and his family are a line of hereditary Alfreds tending to Kim Shin's Bat Cave and handling all the mundane stuff like cover identities. He must have a heck of a trust fund goblin hoard...

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I cannot wait for more scenes from the Gentlemen Hotness Trio. They're just a comedic mess waiting to happen. Hahahahahhahaha

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I watched this show for just one reason: Gong Yoo.

The story and Kim Go Eun are bonuses. I hope this story will continue to be good.

The "I'll marry you. I love you" is definitely me when i see Gong Yoo. Lol.

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Loved it! Outstanding!

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