My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 15
I was expecting a lower-key, sort of mellow episode today, and sure enough, we get the typical Episode 15 lull. The episode contains some necessary moments and does truthfully need to go through some of this stuff before heading into the finale — otherwise the ending feels unearned and jammed together — but it also makes for a quieter watch. A calm before the storm, perhaps.
SONG OF THE DAY
Lee Seung-gi – “면사포” (Bridal veil) [ Download ]
EPISODE 15 RECAP
So here we are, one month after the breakup, and Mi-ho is very much alive and well and using Park Sun-joo as her name. Upon his return to Korea from the film shoot, Dae-woong sees that Dong-joo has closed up shop and figures that they’ve moved on together.
Dae-woong reacts when a cafe waitress’s name is called — Park Sun-joo — but it turns out to be another woman. Shaking his head, he reminds himself that there’s no reason for her to still be in Seoul, which is when Mi-ho walks by behind him.
Her name gets called out too (Park Sun-joo, that is), and Dae-woong again looks for her. His view is blocked by a taxi and another person, so he figures disappointedly that Park Sun-joo is a common name.
He walks on as her taxi passes right by him, neither aware of the other’s presence.
Dae-woong returns to the action school loft, which has remained untouched since he has been away. Seeing mementos of their time together still there, he tells himself it’s a good thing that she left everything behind.
Mi-ho meets up with Dong-joo for lunch on their way to take care of errands for their upcoming wedding. But Mi-ho doesn’t show any excitement for the big day, and relegates all the decision-making to him.
Dong-joo wants to pick everything according to her preference, but Mi-ho tells him to choose everything, from the food they order to the dress she’ll wear. It’s almost sad seeing him trying to please her and having her sit glumly through it, until you remember that Dong-joo is an interfering butt who is blocking the path of True Love, and then you figure he’s getting off easy.
Dong-joo tells Mi-ho to be sure to invite Dae-woong to the wedding, so that he can see that she’s doing well. If she can be assured that he’s fine, it’ll help her forget him and move on herself. Dong-joo says the last bit as though he’s trying to convince himself, actually; it’s no secret that Mi-ho has lost her spark since leaving Dae-woong.
Dong-joo has, at least, come clean about what her disappearing tails means, and that continuing to lose them indicates that his blood is continuing to kill her. All this time, he has remained hopeful that if Mi-ho is able to forget Dae-woong and accept her half-blood nature, her gumiho side will strengthen and she will stop the dying process. However, to date it hasn’t happened, and he notes with some concern that another death is scheduled for tonight. If this tail dies, too, she only has one left.
Mi-ho isn’t sure if she’s gotten over Dae-woong enough to stop the process, but in any case, they’ll find out tonight. Hmm, interesting — it’s a clever device of measuring the state of her real feelings, since the tails don’t lie.
But! Surprise of all surprises! Mi-ho has removed her fox bead.
She sneaks down to Dong-joo’s lair and takes out a vial from its hiding place. She says, “I can’t stop — I’m going to disappear. It’s a good thing I took out the bead that contains Dae-woong’s life, because this won’t disappear.”
Aww. It’s heartbreakingly sweet that she’d rather die than continue living a blank human-like existence, because she knows her love won’t ever change.
Dae-woong takes Ddoong-ja out for a walk, stopping by the convenience store for a beverage. He leaves the dog out in front, who trots off to meet someone off in the distance — Mi-ho, who dangles a treat for her.
This is their usual routine, since Mi-ho has been coming out to meet the dog every day when Aunt Min-sook walks her, without Min-sook knowing. She chats with the dog for a moment, then gets up to leave before her owner returns.
Dae-woong emerges from the store moments after Mi-ho walks away, so they miss seeing each other, but Ddoong-ja starts to bark and refuses to move at Dae-woong’s prodding. Instead, she takes off running.
And this leads Dae-woong right to Mi-ho.
Well, this is awkward. They’re both doing the thing where they believe they’re acting for the other person’s benefit while withholding the truth, and while this sacrificial Noble Idiot Syndrome is par for the course for a kdrama, it still drives me batty. Dae-woong thinks that staying apart will save her life, while Mi-ho has to keep up the facade that she’s over him so he won’t feel bad about breaking her heart. And her bead. And my brain.
She explains her presence in Korea by saying that she’s got a few things to take care of before she leaves. He asks if she has given up her hope of becoming human and is planning to live like Dong-joo, and she says yes.
She gives him a bunch of lies about how she is comfortable living among people who don’t know what she is, and how Dong-joo’s a big help. In fact, she likes things (so so so much) the way they are now.
Mi-ho takes out the invitation and hands it over, telling Dae-woong that he can rest assured that she’s fine and doesn’t have to feel guilty. He looks at it, but hands it back, saying he doesn’t need it. And then we see that she’s accidentally given him a voucher for cosmetics. Ha! (And not a moment too soon — we needed some levity to undercut some of this melancholy.)
Mi-ho fumbles in her purse for the right envelope, but Dae-woong realizes that the dog has wandered off and starts looking for her. Thankfully, a call with Grandpa confirms that Ddoong-ja found her own way home.
However, Dae-woong finds it odd that Mi-ho couldn’t smell the dog’s scent, or hear his phone call with Grandpa. Thinking that this means she’s continuing to die, he asks if her powers really are that weak now. Mi-ho makes the excuse that she’s deliberately hiding her abilities to mix in with people, but he knows the truth and is alarmed at the signs of her deteriorated powers. She can’t even break free of his grasp when he holds her back, and he urges her to shake him off to prove that she’s just faking her weakness.
Mi-ho pointedly says that she chooses not to, so people won’t call her a monster like he did, and his grasp slackens at that reminder. She uses that barbed tone to keep his questions at bay and heads off. But with his suspicious on high alert, now Dae-woong is determined to find out how many tails she has left, and decides to stick close to her till he can check in the moonlight.
At least one couple’s still happy, although Director Ban has to do some sweet-talking to coax Min-sook out of a sulk because he’s trying to plan their wedding around his filming schedule. (She thinks it should be the other way around.) She feels hurt at their slapdash engagement, but haste is a big consideration since she is pregnant.
Although I’m not a fan of this subplot, I’ll give the drama credit for making it ridiculous and over-the-top, because at least it has that cheesy-entertaining factor. Without it, it would just be boring. Case in point: Director Ban’s way of winning her over is to tell her that he after meeting her, his favorite activity (drinking coffee) has diminished considerably, because “You fill the emptiness inside — you’re love’s coffee.” (Groooooaaaaaan, am I right?)
In order to make sure Dae-woong receives Mi-ho’s wedding invitation, Dong-joo gives it to Hye-in, who in turn fobs it off on Sun-nyeo and Byung-soo. The latter two are shocked, because they’d figured that the couple would work things up and get back together.
They wonder at Hye-in’s involvement in this, but she sighs for them to drop it; it’s so unbelievable that they’re better off not knowing. Naturally, this just piques their curiosity further, and they envision possible scenarios.
Like… Dae-woong crashing the wedding to grab Mi-ho, leaving Dong-joo stranded at the altar.
But they recall that Hye-in said the story was unbelievable, so they reimagine the scene… only with Dae-woong grabbing Dong-joo out instead. Bwahaha! (I was expecting this twist since I’ve seen it done on Nonstop, but it still gets a guffaw, especially with the absurdly moony look Dong-joo is giving Dae-woong.)
But no, they’re sure Dae-woong doesn’t swing that way. So a third scenario entails Dae-woong bursting in to stop the wedding… because the three of them are all siblings! Together, they must unite to avenge the enemies of their parents.
You’ve got to give it to the Hong sisters; they know dramas, and they do love to poke fun at their own profession. No cliche is sacred, no convention above mockery.
Dae-woong keeps following Mi-ho, latching on to any excuse to kill time while he waits for the moonrise. Insisting on eating meat together has two purposes: the first is to pass the time, but it’s also to remind her of things she liked and to test her lies.
Korean language sidebar: Mi-ho balks at his hovering, saying that they’re nothing to each other now. Dae-woong agrees, saying he doesn’t even know what her last name is now, which is a reference to the changing of her tails. He’d named her Gu Mi-ho out of the word gumiho, and gu means nine, as in her original number of tails. As each one died, she’d jokingly changed her moniker accordingly — palmiho (eight), ohmiho (five), and so on. He wants to know what her “last name” is now — Sa (four)? Sam (three)?
Dae-woong he refuses to leave until she buys him meat; since he bought her mountains of it, she can do that much. He grills each piece one by one, knowing he’s testing her endurance as she pretends she’s not interested.
Mi-ho turns it around on him, calling his bluff that he can sit here for hours eating meat, forcing him to live up to that. Uneasily, he chokes down bite after bite, knowing he’s got a long way till nightfall.
Afterward, he asks for cider, and the vending machine eats her coin. Unwilling to wait for a repairman, Mi-ho kicks the machine. It coughs up her coin, but Dae-woong is concerned at how weak her kick has become — she used to be so strong cans would come popping out from one blow.
Dae-woong feigns a headache to appeal to her sympathy, explaining that he feels better now that he’s close to her bead. Knowing that’s a lie, Mi-ho calls him on it and says that she’s going to tell everyone he’s a stalker if he keeps following. He only wants to check on her tails, but she retorts that that makes him a pervert, plus he’s a mooch on top of it.
That hurts a little, but it’s not enough to shake him loose. He follows her onto the bus.
But Mi-ho thinks fast and quickly steps off the bus, trapping him on it. By the time he races back to the bus stop, she’s hidden herself out of sight. He looks around frantically for her as she says, “You can’t know what condition I’m in. You have to think I’m living happily.”
Dong-joo tells her that Dae-woong will get the invitation tomorrow; he’ll get the message once he sees Mi-ho marrying and leaving. Mi-ho apologizes for messing up his plans to live unobtrusively, but he says that her very existence makes things okay, since we know he’s still feeling burdened by his old mistake.
With one death occurring every eleven days, today marks Day 88 and Death 8. Mi-ho starts to feel the onset of pain and does her best to hide it from Dong-joo, excusing herself when the pain grows too strong.
She heads to the basement to retrieve her fox bead and holds it to her chest, doing so quietly because she knows it would upset Dong-joo to know she removed her bead.
Dae-woong is also aware of the schedule and worries at home, hoping Mi-ho is okay. Finally, her eighth tail disappears, and her pain starts to subside. Mi-ho puts the bead back into its hiding spot, at which point Dong-joo appears in the doorway. He’d grown suspicious and come to check up on her.
She makes up an excuse, but Dong-joo catches on and asks if she lost another tail. She confirms it.
Seeing his reaction, she asks him to let her go now so they can go their separate ways, but he refuses to give up on her. As long as she has a tail left, she still has life in her, and that means she still has a chance. (A chance at a long, healthy, and miserable life.)
Unable to tamp down his worry over Mi-ho’s potential eighth death, Dae-woong hurries out of the house. He’s stopped by Grandpa, who wants him to accompany his aunt as she goes about her wedding preparations, and with reluctance, he complies. He’s so impatient for the errands to end that Min-sook is put out by his eagerness to leave.
We can see the chess pieces being moved into place, with the Park party also finalizing their plans at the wedding hall. Yep, that’s the look of an excited bride, all right.
The two parties just miss each other (of course), and Dae-woong and Min-sook take a seat with the event planner. While looking through the calendar, Dae-woong notices the names Park Dong-joo and Park Sun-joo, but he shrugs it off as yet another coincidence.
But he runs into them as they exit the hall, and he is both stunned and hurt to realize that they’re marrying. Harshly, he says that she was doing fine after all, feeling foolish for worrying.
Now Mi-ho gives him the invitation and says a casual bye, saying she’ll see him at the wedding. With tears in his eyes, he asks if she thinks he’ll really go to her wedding, so she offers up her goodbye here.
Driven by hurt, Dae-woong says, “Yeah, let’s not see each other anymore.”
He blinks back his tears as they walk away, and tells himself that it’s all for the best.
Min-sook reads between the lines and guesses that it was Dae-woong who was dumped, not Mi-ho. She shares this with Grandpa, who notes that she was around the same age as Dae-woong when she was first dumped, and she recalls fondly how Dae-woong was always around to console her.
A brief series of flashbacks take us to her first dumping, in 1991, punctuated by the distinctive strains of one of the hit pop songs of the era — Shin Seung-hoon! Zipping forward to another breakup in 1999, the soundtrack lands on G.O.D., and finally ends with a Yoon Do-hyun ballad in 2005. Cute.
Min-sook decides to return the favor by consoling him, so she and Grandpa dote on him at lunch and treat him with extra care. Alas, the mention of meat brings Dae-woong down; she’d forgotten that that was Mi-ho’s thing.
Byung-soo urges Dae-woong to get over Mi-ho, offering to clean out the loft for him. The director has decided to clear it out and they’ll need to throw out the things left behind.
Mi-ho looks through a photo album, which has been filled with snapshots of Dae-woong taken secretly while he was filming his movie. Unbeknownst to him, Mi-ho had followed him to China and watched from the sidelines, and now she muses that the reason she knows the words stalker, pervert, and mooch is because she learned them while following him around.
For instance, she saw a lurker being chewed out by a crew member and called a stalker and pervert, while she herself was called a mooch for freeloading food from the staff.
Dong-joo comes upon her looking at the album, and reminds her that the wedding was her idea. Mi-ho realizes she has to go retrieve one last thing, and Dong-joo tries to stop her. He appeals to her to leave it behind — that’s the reason they’re going far away, and while she still has life, she still has a chance to make it. But she needs to leave everything behind here.
Mi-ho won’t be deterred, and shakes off his hand.
Sun-nyeo looks through photos taken in China, and a figure in the background looks an awful lot like Mi-ho. Byung-soo wants to pretend that it’s not her, for Dae-woong’s own peace of mind, but just then Dae-woong appears by his side to take a look, curious to see what they’re looking at.
Immediately he recognizes Mi-ho, but Byung-soo loudly protests, saying it can’t be her. Dae-woong plays along, saying that it isn’t her, though clearly he doesn’t really believe that.
The thing Mi-ho needs to retrieve is the old photo album — the one full of happy pictures — and she finds it back at the action school loft. Upon seeing the chicken leg, she decides she’ll just add that, too — but then she sees the digital camera ad poster and doesn’t want to leave that behind, either. Worrying that at this rate she won’t be able to leave anything behind, she puts the other things back and only takes the album.
Seeing the incomplete calendar on the wall, she marks through the rest of the days that have passed, stopping at Day 9.
Hearing someone approaching, Mi-ho ducks into the bathroom just as Dae-woong arrives, here to clear things out. He’s puzzled at the missing album, and then sees the calendar, freshly marked. There’s obviously only one person who could have done it, and conveniently, this also tips him off that she came by today.
Mi-ho hears the front door close, and cautiously comes out, thinking it’s safe — only to run into Dae-woong right in front of the door, waiting for her.
Mi-ho hides the album behind her back, but he sees it and grabs it from her. She tries to maintain her attitude of being indifferent to him, but he’s on to her now and asks if she followed him to China. He doesn’t believe her weak denial.
Again, Dae-woong asks to see her tails, needing to know the state of her health. She makes a break for it, running down the stairs, through the hall, and into the gymnasium. Dae-woong catches up to her there and demands to know her real reason for avoiding him, not believing any of her excuses. He guesses that her deaths aren’t stopping — she’s continuing to lose her tails, isn’t she?
He says he has to know how she really is, and tells her to show him.
In a melancholy echo of Episode 1, Mi-ho steps into the moonlight as she tells him to look closely: “See how I am, how my heart is.”
And when she shows him her true state, all she has is one lonely, sad tail waving in the moonlight.
Holding back tears, she tells him, “I couldn’t stop.” Although he suspected the truth, being confronted with it is a blow, and Dae-woong asks with alarm, “Then you’re still dying?”
She nods. “I’m going to disappear.”
Like I said, it was a low-key, almost humdrum episode for me, which was saved by the bits of forward plot movement. Like realizing that Mi-ho had decided to die anyway, regardless of whether she could have fought her dying process as Dong-joo so desperately hopes. And that she followed him to China, and that they (finally, thankfully) get things into the open at the end of the episode.
Most of all, I love the end moment where the state of Mi-ho’s tail provides such eloquent proof of the state of her emotions. In other dramas, the nature of human emotion means that you can talk about how you feel and emote through facial expressions, but that’s your limit. With this drama’s fantasy element, however, we get this lovely imagery and symbolism that goes beyond mere words, beyond even acting. Her tails are dying = she still loves Dae-woong.
I was appreciative of the few moments of levity we got, but truthfully I was hoping for more. I can see that the tilt toward angst necessitates a more somber atmosphere, particularly at this crucial stage, but that’s never stopped the writers from tweaking a serious moment for a laugh before. Like the imaginary wedding sequence wherein Dae-woong and Dong-joo run away as lovers.
Even so, I’m looking forward to seeing how the finale wraps everything up! You’ve gotta give it to them, for a romantic comedy, this drama has really done a great job of keeping us guessing about the ending, when rom-coms are usually the most predictable of stories. (They get together, the end. Right?) I’m firmly convinced we’ll get our happy ending, but I have no idea HOW. And that’s a good thing.
I don’t know if/how Mi-ho’s death process can be reversed, but it’s funny how Dong-joo, for all his strenuous efforts to keep her alive, seems to be hastening her death. I’m intrigued by his motivation in the whole process — he doesn’t love Mi-ho in a romantic way, but romantic love (for his lost love) IS a key part of his driving force, because he feels burdened by his old mistake. It’s like he’s forcing Mi-ho into the role of his atonement, and he doesn’t see (or care) that it’s unfair to her because he needs so badly to forgive himself. But it’s at her expense, which is ironic since it’s supposedly in order to save her.
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 14
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 13
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 12
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 11
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 10
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 9
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 8
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 7
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 6
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 5
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 4
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 3
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 2
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho: Episode 1
- Pop Culture: Gumiho