Kumiho or Gumiho is a Korean mythological creature, a fox, that lives a thousand years and becomes immortal forever. Japanese and Chinese legends have the same fox, named “kitsune” or “huli jing”. The main characteristics are mostly the same in Asian cultures: nine tails in the fox image, usually shapeshifting into a beautiful woman to seduce men in order to eat their liver or heart. Korean fox spirits are more cruel, according to Korean folk tales, as their Chinese and Japanese colleagues are depicted as more compassionate and help mortal people. However, in Korea foxes are also considered sacred.
The contradictory image of kumiho is a really good basis for any movie or drama, so here is the list.
- Forbidden Love or Tale of the Nine-Tailed Fox, 2004
- My Girlfriend Is a Gumiho, 2010
A K-drama by SBS starring the stars of the first Hallyu wave Lee Seung-gi and Shin Min-ah. The whole synopsis is about a kumiho, who was captured inside a painting by the God of fate and starlet Cha Dae-woong, who wants to become a real action star and accidentally releases her from it. He gets in trouble and the unchained kumiho saves him and their story begins.
This TV-series is one of those from the starter pack for people wanting to get into the K-drama world. It was awarded in 2010, starting from OST to Best Couple of the Year, as well as broadcasted internationally.
i still remember how My Girlfriend is a Gumiho was so big here in the PH even without sns like today, and every afternoon after i get home from school i watch this lovely hoi-hoi couple 👉👈💗 even at school MGIAG is a topic among students ㅋㅋㅋ pic.twitter.com/4L48mrC2ed— seunggi's dimple(｡’▽’｡)♡ (@baekairen) September 21, 2020
- Gu Family Book, 2013
The story centers on Kang-chi, adopted and raised by humans, but he is half-human, half-kumiho. His parents' fox forest spirit Wol-ryung and noble maid Seo-hwa had a tragic love story and became victims of human hatred and greed. After Kang-chi discovers the truth about his origins, he does everything to become a human and searches for a centuries-old book named after the surname of his family, Gu.
This K-drama is one of the most recognisable among other K-shows and secured the success of both Lee Seung-gi and Suzy as actors.
i suddenly miss #GuFamilyBook!! maybe bcs i'm currently tuning in to #TaleOfTheNineTailed ㅡ having the same plot where a mystical creature fell in love with a human 🐺🦊— 서빵진 (@mochihenjin) October 12, 2020
and this fetus lee seunggi, yoo yeonseok, and bae suzyㅡ i miss their love-hate relationship! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/ENxt09cb8u
- Tale of the Nine-Tailed, 2020
The long awaited K-drama with Lee Dong-wook as a lead actor tells the story of Lee Yeon, an ancient nine-tailed kumiho, who nowadays lives among humans in Seoul and is very 'modern' - instead of inner organs he is crazy about mint-chocolate ice-cream. He has a tragic background with his first love, as she promised to reincarnate. 600 years of waiting passed and Lee Yeon met Nam Ji-ah, played by Jo Bo-ah, and she has much in common with Lee Yeon's beloved.
This K-drama premiered on tvN on October 7, 2020 and is still airing. Fans of Lee Dong-wook have waited for this drama, as it is the first series that depicts the exact image of a male kumiho and has a lot of references to the original Korean mythology and beliefs. Also Lee Dong-Wook is known for his cold image and is skilled at playing mystical creatures - his role as a grim-reaper in the fantasy-romance drama Guardian: The Lonely and Great God became a mega-hit.