A Man with the Umbrella
Episode 1 of “Tale of the Nine-Tailed” opens with a brief background about the origins of a gumiho or the nine-tailed fox, often found in Korean folklore. We learn the difference between a gumiho and the more powerful celestial fox.
The story begins in 1999 as a family of three gets into a fatal car accident in Yeou Gogae. The child Nam Ji-ah survives the accident and calls for help as she sees two people walking outside their overturned car.
Ji-ah awakens to find out that the accident was just a bad dream (or was it?). She notices the bloodstain on her blouse and that something is quite off about her parents. She runs away from them and hides inside her room. Her ‘parents’ turned out to be gumihos who try to get her, but they are exterminated by a man carrying a red umbrella. It’s Lee Yeon played by Lee Dong-wook, who looks like another version of his character in “Goblin.” He thinks that the girl is Ah-eum but later on decides that she’s not the one he is looking for. Lee Yeon tells Ji-ah to forget everything she saw. Ji-ah opens her eyes and sees herself back at the accident site. Her parents are gone and she’s the only survivor.
Years later, Lee Yeon wakes up in his luxurious pad and prepares to go to a wedding. He walks in the rain with his signature red umbrella. The scene will remind you of that classic Goblin scene (cue: “Beautiful” from Goblin OST). He crashes a wedding to punish a gumiho who happens to be the bride. We learn that Lee Yeon’s task is to punish gumihos who have been wreaking havoc in the human world. He used to be a mountain spirit who was punished for falling in love with a human.
Monsters in disguise
Meanwhile, Ji-ah, played by Jo Bo-ah, is now a producer of a show about urban legends. She sees Lee Yeon at the wedding but doesn’t remember their first meeting. After hearing about the missing bride, Ji-ah decides to cover the story. She sees fox fur on the wedding dress and investigates further. Ji-ah sees Lee Yeon in the CCTV footage and she thinks he might have something to do with the mysterious happenings during the wedding.
Convinced that she has to meet Lee Yeon, Ji-ah talks to an informant. It’s Lee Rang played by Kim Bum, who’s disguised as a fan of Ji-ah’s show. He tells her that Lee Yeon is a monster who doesn’t age like goblins and aliens.
Acting on Lee Rang’s tip, Ji-ah goes to a bus stop. But before she could ride the bus, a drunk man stops her. She regrets not getting into the bus when she sees Lee Yeon inside. As the bus approaches a tunnel, we see that Lee Yeon is after one of the passengers who’s a gumiho.
Meanwhile, Ji-ah goes after the bus after carrying the drunk man to his place. However, she gets a shock when she sees that the bus got into an accident in Yeou Gogae. Only one survived and everyone is accounted for except for Lee Yeon. Ji-ah talks to the survivor Jung Soo Young who tells her that Lee Yeon is after her. While at the hospital, Ji-ah sees Lee Yeon and the two finally get to talk.
While staying at Ji-ah’s place, Soo Young transforms into Lee Rang and Lee Yeon gets there on time. Ji-ah apparently offered herself as bait so that Lee Yeon could get Lee Rang. The two reveal that they are brothers as they fight each other. Meanwhile, Ji-ah has everything recorded on camera.
After Lee Yeon’s identity is revealed, Ji-ah goes to his place and tells him about the recording. Intent to know more about his identity, Ji-ah lets herself fall from the building. Lee Yeon catches her like a true superhero and lands safely with the full moon as their backdrop. Before the credits roll, Ji-ah injects Lee Yeon in his neck.
A supernatural mishmash
Episode 1 of “Tale of the Nine-Tailed” will definitely remind you of various supernatural dramas and films in the past. The gumihos look like vampires in the “Twilight” series with their honey gold eyes and good looks. Meanwhile, the good vs. evil brother plot actually reminds me of “The Vampire Diaries” except that gumihos feed on liver instead of blood. Picking up on another vampire classic “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” is Lee Yeon’s role as a gumiho slayer. Lee Dong-wook’s acting however, still reminds me of his classic Grim Reaper role in “Goblin.”
Unlike other Korean gumiho dramas, “Tale of the Nine-Tailed” has more of a horror tone to it. So if you’re ready for some fright, then this might just be the drama for you.
“Tale of the Nine-Tailed” occupies tvN’s 10:30 p.m. time slot every Wednesday and Thursday in South Korea.
In the Philippines, new episodes of “Tale of the Nine-Tailed” are available on Viu, iQIYI, and WeTV on Thursdays and Fridays. On WeTV, this K-drama’s episodes become available to free users 13 days after first upload.