It would seem that even under the stoic exteriors of centuries-old, battle-hardened goblins lurking around Korea, there lies a vulnerable and loving heart. This is the case with Kim Shin (Gong Yoo), resident deity-like Goblin for the past 900 odd years. After being killed by a jealous king for his success as a mighty general, Kim Shin is left to die his violent mortal death and become an immortal Goblin and protector of souls, waiting for his bride to come into the world and break his spell by pulling a sword only visible to the Goblin and his bride from his chest. He also happens to share a home with Grim Reaper (Lee Dong Wook), a collector of souls.
After some quick separate histories of Eun Tak (Kim Go Eun) and Kim Shin, the series begins with strangely optimistic Eun Tak’s miserable life with her abusive relatives and her first summoning of the Goblin. Just by extinguishing a tiny flame he must come to her, but he also happens to be in the business of miracles, so he first comes when she wishes for a better life. From then on, the show takes a romantic turn as we watch the seemingly indifferent Goblin and his bubbly bride fall in love and have a hard time swallowing the truth that only one of them can live, either the Goblin, forever stuck in the chest with a sword, or Eun Tak, having pulled the sword from her lover’s chest, always asking if the fates proclaimed by a deity must be the one that happens.
Deities and a person’s past lives are often a theme of the show and greatly impact the turns the show’s writers decide to take. How did your past life affect your current, or current life affect your future? Reminiscent of an ancient Greek play, the characters often question the power of fate, the gods, and their own ability to change what has been ordained by heaven’s hand, always hoping to change the course of time away from some sort of tragedy. Despite its darker or utterly heart-wrenching scenes, Goblin maintains an image of pure and innocent love, one without vested interests or unwanted expectations.
As Eun Tak reminds us, it is a love “strange and beautiful.” It is unexpected and shiningly genuine, which is something that keeps this Korean drama lighter, and it is balanced out with some good dose of action, cuteness only found in the Korean drama section of the entertainment world, and of course the deeper and nuanced scenes of the Drama genre that resonate with the human condition, especially in ways we love lovers, dear friends, and those who have wronged us.
You can find Goblin up for streaming on the Drama Fever website, episodes available at time of airing. You might also like Secret Garden (K-drama), Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (K-drama), or Once Upon a Time (ABC Original Series). If you like the modern take on an old fairytale this would be right up your alley. Tune in this weekend and the next for the final free episodes and a special.
Time Commitment: 1 Season
Why Its Worth The Binge:
With undertones of classical drama and fairytale magic, along with humanized characters and a fantastical style drawn from Korean sensibilities, Goblin revels in its unique flavor within a familiar genre.