Overall, I did enjoy this show.
The good stuff
I love that Yoon Hyun Min and Moon Chae Won are in completely different roles this time. Of the few dramas I’ve watched of theirs, they were always quite serious, or at least a normal human being. Here, it was great fun for me to watch Yoon Hyun Min as a comical, occasionally over the top germaphobe professor. I’ve also never seen Moon Chae Won like this before and thought she kinda nailed the character of Ok Nam, although I do think the fact that she had to stick to a wide-eyed, breathy look for a good part of the show was a bit of an overkill.
The whole character of Fairy Yiji was also a plus AND one of the highlights for me. I love it that she was SO nuanced, and that the idea of her loving Ok Nam was not something portrayed as abnormal or shocking. In this aspect, I thought the show was quite progressive, especially for a Korean drama. To some extent, I think the story helped viewers in accepting this by leveraging on gender fluidity – where Fairy Yiji who was a female was re-born as a male. Towards the end, it was also revealed that Kim Geum himself, was reincarnated from a kind woman in the village. It therefore removes gender from the equation, and focuses on who we truly are on the inside.
The entire character of Fairy Yiji made a lot of poetic sense, because as a human girl, Fairy Yiji was burnt to death (I’m supposing), and as a fairy, her ability was to create fire. It also explains why Fairy Yiji feels so strongly about human beings’ selfishness and why she goes down so hard on their acts of cruelty.
As for Kim Geum, I like that he was the husband! I thought it was revealed quite early on by people who have read the webtoon that Ok Nam ends up with Kim Geum, so I was quite taken aback that many later complained that it was an odd twist and they didn’t see it coming. For me, Kim Geum/Ok Nam wasn’t strange or a letdown, but I guess it’s also because I wasn’t really rooting for any particular ship. One main criticism people had was that Moon Chae Won was too old for Seo Ji Hoon. While that could be a valid complaint, I thought that was an entirely separate issue which had nothing to do with the logic of which male lead IN the story Ok Nam should have ended up with. And I do feel like Guem was the perfect choice; he was always shown to be kind, caring and going above and beyond to help others. It was also very touching for me when it was revealed that Kim Geum’s past self died trying to save Fairy Yiji, and also how as Fairy Daube, he gave up his status as a fairy to save Fairy Yiji once more. It’s admirable how he places friendship and loyalty on par with love, and if there’s one thing I appreciate, it’s a lead who cares not just for his love interest but also others.
I do admit that it’s an odd pairing however, since Moon Chae Won is a good 11 years older than Seo Ji Hoon who is only 21. This is probably why the chemistry has to also be conveyed via contented smiles, which I guess is a lot harder to resonate with the crowd than kisses or hugs. Nonetheless, it work okay for me.
I would say though of all episodes, EP16 was probably the weakest, but I thought EP14 and EP15 were pretty solid. They touch on the idea of forgiveness, acceptance and self-love, and I thought in that area at least, the show did carry through.
What went wrong:
The apparent idea was that Ok Nam thought her husband is Yi Hyun, but fell in love with Kim Geum, only for her to realise at the end that her husband was Kim Geum. It was supposed to be a story about an innocent, sweet love that came full circle, and for the ‘second lead’ to get the girl in the end.
In my opinion, the show went wrong when it wasn’t shown clearly who Ok Nam was in love with. Right before Ok Nam left Seoul, she even kissed Yi Hyun on impulse – this wasn’t a kiss of obligation, but one where she did in the moment. She was also shown constantly to worry for Yi Hyun, to smile genuinely when he’s around and to care for him; if all of these actions were nothing but tools of red herrings to thwart the viewers’ guesses, they are a shot in the leg – for many viewers were misled as to who Ok Nam really liked. Sure, you could say that Ok Nam’s care for Yi Hyun stems from her platonic care for Fairy Yiji, but what about the kiss? It’s such a pity because the drama went downhill from then on, when Ok Nam seemingly swings between two guys. Ironically, it was the romance which killed the show for many.
There were also too many sidekicks whom I didn’t care about. They did play a part in creating a fuller world, but they were too annoying/chatty/irrelevant. I’m not sure how the side characters – Master Gu, Park Shin Seon, Fairy Oh – were portrayed in the webtoon, but they were honestly rather useless in this drama. They are not intriguing, and only serve to produce noise on screen. If their role is to be comic relief, I personally thought they failed at that. If anything, even Kim Geum’s mother was a better side character, despite having lesser screen time. The only time I was amused by them was when I realise Fairy Oh and Park Shin Seon ended up with the same hairstyle.
In the same vein, I didn’t quite like Kyung Sul (aka guy who likes to film others) to be the love interest for Jeom Soon. I guess his role is to show on a minor scale, a character’s redemption. I like the theory of it – that the show ultimately talks about forgiveness and turning over a new leaf, but Kyung Sul is not it for me. His backstory was weak (I thought there would be more to him but nah), his redemption simplistic and the whole time he was apologising to Professor Lee, I could only think about the amount of paper he was using. Oops.
Sometimes, I also didn’t like how the show tries to stay true to its nonsensical nature, and breaks intensity of moments which were so wonderfully built up. In EP15 during the confrontation scene, I laughed when Jeom Soon appears with her brother (cannot. take that guy seriously HAHA) but didn’t like how the intensity was then broken again and again, like when Master Gu fails miserably to shoot Yi Hyun.
Also, is it just me or did the ending scenes of EP16 make no sense?? Unless the idea is to end the show on the note of Yi Hyun’s redemption, therefore showing us his happy moments in his past lives?
Ultimately, I do think that some of the hate targeted at this show was unwarranted, especially with people who could not comprehend how Ok Nam ended up with Kim Geum. Even if poorly shown, I thought the show was quite obvious in highlighting the similarities between Ok Nam’s husband and Kim Geum, and to harp on Yi Hyun’s different, selfish personality.
For me, I liked that the show was whimsical and fun, and was rather refreshing in a busy month of November. It’s just a pity that the flaws are rather obvious and can’t be overlooked. In any case, it was still an enjoyable ride!