GAAAAAAAH THIS DRAMA. Words cannot describe how much I love this drama, and it’s only 2 episodes in.
Gu Family Book stars Lee Seung-gi and Bae Suzy (from kpop group miss A) as our main leads. Out of the side characters, I only recognize Lee Yubi, whom I remember as little sis from Innocent Man, and Sung Joon, from my all-time favorite drama Shut Up Flower Boy Band. There’s also Yoo Yeon-sook, who, after looking him up, I realized was the jerky slimeball of a douche, Ji-tae, from A Werebolf Boy (which was effing amazing). Let’s hope he’s got a better role here.
However, we meet none of these characters in the first two episodes. So you may be asking (or not, because you saw it and completely understand where I’m going with this) why I love it so much already when we haven’t even met the main characters.
Simple: the backstory took my breath away.
Now, as much as I love backstory, I can sometimes (okay, a lot of times) get impatient for it to be over with so the main leads can seduce me with their acting. (Okay, so maybe that’s not a good choice of wording, but let’s be honest. There’s no way we fall in love with these dramas without it doing SOMETHING to us.)
There are always exceptions, the most recent (and, I think, the only one to date) being Moon Embracing the Sun. With Moon/Sun, I actually liked the backstory better than the main story (or more accurately, I liked the younger actors better than the older ones).
However, Gu Family Book is different, in that instead of the backstory being about our main characters when they were young, instead it’s about our leading man’s parents, and their love story.
I got so invested in this backstory, that I wish that a whole drama would be made out of it. I would watch a whole drama about these two characters.
Choi Jin-hyuk plays Gu Wol-ryung, father of our lead, who is a gumiho (nine-tailed fox), and guardian of a mountain, which I can’t remember the name of. This guy, it seems, has always had a curiosity for the human that live at the foot of his mountain, and he often sneaks down to spy on them, as we find out when a monk friend of his, Sojung (played by Kim Hee-won), comes visiting to find him missing from his dwelling, called the Moonlight Garden. I like that name. I’d love to live in a place called the Moonlight Garden. It sounds pretty. Hilariously, the monk actually cries “Again!”
Lee Yeon-hee plays Yoon Seo-hwa, our lead’s mother, and a normal human. See where this is going? Seo-hwa is the daughter of a traitor (though I think we can assume he was framed, and by his friend, at that!), who witnessed said friend, Jo Gwan-woong, killing her father in front of her eyes. She, along with her younger brother, are doomed to become state slaves, though in her case, it’s worse, because she’s forced to become a gisaeng, something that appalls her, as a high-born lady.
Basically, as the story goes, the friend-turned-enemy demands that he be her first “patron”. *shudders* Oh, and she has be turned into a gisaeng in five days, when it normally takes months. This is obviously the ultimate degradation she could get, and when she finds out, her brother, Jung-yoon and her maid servant, Dam, hatch a plan to help her escape. Only it’s so terrible that it almost made me cry. Basically, Dam takes her place and Seo-hwa and Jung-yoon run away. However, the head of the gisaeng house, Cheon Soo-ryung, discovers Dam beforehand, and in order to avoid getting punished by Jo Gwan-woong, forces Dam to take Seo-hwa’s place. It was so hard to watch that scene, as all we saw and heard was the room, and Dam’s screams as she was being raped, interchanged with the siblings’ escape, and the chase that follows. Chilling, unnerving, and downright cruel.
At some point the siblings separate, since Seo-hwa is lagging behind, and forces her younger brother to go ahead. After he leaves, she takes out a hairpin and is about to stab herself, preferring to be dead rather than the alternative, when lights (representing Wol-ryung’s mystical-ness and magical-ness) appear around her. She faints, and he’s there to catch her. He’d seen her before, in his most recent visit to the village, and had slowly been falling in love with her. However, her plea for help gets him completely, and he takes her away, frightening away her pursuers.
Of course, things will never go right in dramaland, and the ruse at the gibang is discovered by Jo Gwan-woong, who commands that the siblings be caught and killed, punishment for any government slave who tries to run away. Tragically, little brother is caught and hanged, and Dam hangs herself, the rape and the sight of Jung-yoon’s execution being too much for her. (I also think she might have had a little crush on him.)
But Seo-hwa’s nowhere to be found, because she’s protected by Wol-ryung. They spend time together, and she falls in love with him, and he decides he wants to become human and marry her. She doesn’t know he’s a gumiho, and he plans to never tell her, thinking that he’ll be human soon anyways. His monk friend Sojung tells him that in order to find the Gu Family Book, which will help him become human, for 100 days, he can’t take a life, he must help any human being who asks for his help, and he can’t show anyone his gumiho face. There’s a catch, of course. If he fails, he loses any chance of becoming human, and there’s a possibility that he could become a demon for the next thousand years. Yikes. Oh, and no one’s ever seen The Book, which means no one’s succeeded. Well, crap.
But anyways, the two get married, and spend the next few months in happy honey-moon/wedded bliss. Some of their interactions are so adorably cute, that it’s no wonder I fell in love with couple. Wol-ryung, especially, is so adorable that I’m sure any woman would fall in love with him.
Of course, things will never go right, because 11 days before his 100 days are up, Seo-hwa is spotted by Dam Pyung-joon, who’s in charge of the search for Seo-hwa and the extermination of the rumored gumiho in the mountain (and also later father to our heroine). This guy… I like him, but I don’t like the things he does, ordered to do so by evil ex-friend Gwan-woong. Seo-hwa runs, calling for help from Wol-ryung, who immediately comes to her aid, hiding her from her pursuers. Only, when they come out in the open, who’s sitting and waiting for them, but Dam Pyung-joon. They get cornered and Wol-ryung is overpowered, unable to show his true form or kill any of them without losing his chance to become human. However, seeing Seo-hwa taken away sparks something in him, and in the end he does both. This is a shock to Seo-hwa, who didn’t know what he really was. She faints, he takes her back to their home, and tries to assure her, when she wakes up, that he is still the man she loves. He collapses, and she runs away.
I can understand her running away in fear, but I expected her love for him to overcome that, and for her to return to help him recover. But instead, she walks straight to the soldiers’ camp to turn herself in. She gets another shock when Jo Gwan-woong tells her both her brother and Dam are dead, something that Wol-ryung had lied to her about, not wanting her to suffer from the guilt. I knew that was gonna bite back.
I guess that’s what send her off the edge, because next thing we know, soldiers are surrounding Wol-ryung in his own home, a place that no human should be able to get to, led by Seo-hwa. The look of betrayal on his face is so heartbreaking, in contrast to the emotionless face of Seo-hwa.
That’s when we get a flashback to Sojung giving Wol-ryung a dagger carved from a hundred-year-old tree, telling him that if he does fail, the only way to avoid becoming a demon is if the woman he loves doesn’t betray him. However, if she does, he must in the heart with with the dagger. DX Nooooooo!!!
He takes the dagger and runs to her, ready to stab her in heart, but is stabbed in the gut by Dam Pyung-joon when he reaches her. His final words are, “Why did you do it? I loved you. I loved you so.” He cries, she cries, we all cry. Then Dam Pyung-joon delivers the killing blow, and blue lights stream out of his body as he suspends in mid-air, carrying him away. That last look of pain and betrayal on his face kills me. *sobs*
Everyone leaves except Dam Pyung-Joon, who is ordered to kill Seo-hwa. That’s when Sojung comes rushing in, crying for Wol-ryung. He screams at them that Wol-ryung never harmed anyone, and that in only ten days he would have become human. But because of her, he was dead, all because he loved her. The shock and horror on her face mirrors what I’ve been feeling for half the episode.
Of course, we find out that Seo-hwa is also pregnant, something that she can’t handle. Turns out Dam Pyung-joon spares her, leaving her at the gibang. We return a few months later, where her pregnancy is apparent. It seems she has tried multiple times to kill herself and the baby she is carrying, only to have been foiled every time. She is afraid that she will give birth to a monster. She escapes the gibang and returns to her old mountain home, where she gives birth.
The instant the baby is born, the same blue light we saw with Wol-ryung appear. Seo-hwa moves to kill the baby, but stops when the lights reveal the face of her baby, completely normal and human. The truth hits her, far too late, and she wails in heartbreak.
Some time later, we fade in to a party happening by the river, and we meet Park Mu-sol, played by Uhm Hyo-sub. He finds a basket floating in the river, with a baby inside. Right at that moment, Sojung appears and tells him that if he raises the child, good fortune will come to him. They name him Kang-chi (“kang” for “river” and “chi” for “thrown away”), and give him the surname Choi, his servant’s surname.
A narrator ends the second episode saying that Wol-ryung and Seo-hwa’s sad love has come to an end, but a new legend was just beginning.
T__T I cried so much in the end of the second episode. This shows how amazing and beautiful and awesome this drama is. After only two episodes, I’m already crying. And I’m crying at the BACKSTORY. See what I mean? I honestly think that this drama is going to be amazing, and a huge hit. Because it certainly deserves it. It’s beautifully shot, and the characters are so intricate and layered (well, besides Jo Gwan-woong, who seems to be only one shade of evil). The fact that so much detail and care was put into two characters who we’ll probably never see again in the future, except for maybe flashbacks, says something. I’m really glad, too.
I have nothing but good things to say about this drama. I will be spamming people non-stop to have them watch it, and berate anyone who doesn’t. I mean, look how beautiful this world is!
(On a side note: I can’t believe how long it’s been since I last reviewed a drama. Sheesh. I need to get back on that. I still have a few I need to finish reviewing. =/)