The Curious Case of the Utterly Repellent Seo Hwa in Gu Family Book

The first two episodes of Gu Family Book is a textbook example of the tail wagging the dog. The writer picked an end point and then wrote towards it, as opposed to writing a journey where the ending organically happened. The writer needed the parents of Kang Chi, the mountain spirit Gu Wol Ryung and the down-on-her-luck former nobleman turned gisaeng slave Seo Hwa, to be separated so that Kang Chi can be ripped from the arms of happy parents and raised elsewhere unaware of his heritage. But that wasn’t enough, the writer also needed the parents to part in the most angry and betrayed way, obviously so there could be buckets worth of misunderstandings and unresolved trust issues between them. To reach that end, the writer massacred a character that was never all that fleshed out to begin with, and thereby created what I shall deem The Case Study of an Utterly Repellent Heroine. This is a very rare phenomenon indeed, because rarely does a writer elect to trash the personality and behavior of an important narrative character to the degree that it elicits near universal loathing. And it ought to be universal loathing, but for the fact that I think some viewers didn’t quite understand the nuance of every step of Seo Hwa’s repulsive behavior towards her mystical husband Wol Ryung at the end of episode 2 of GFB. The more I think about it, the angrier I get, and I think this character deserves full blown pitchforks and marching mobs to take her down. No – Seo Hwa is not some scared confused poor wee thing in way over her head. She is a selfish, ungrateful, and bipolar witch who unfortunately my delicious Kang Chi will have to suffer the ignominy of carrying her genes in half of him. Let me enumerate the laundry list of her unforgivable wrongs.

Seo Hwa was never written as a compelling character. She was a blank slate, and her only personality appeared to be steely yangban pride. But because such unfairness befell her, our sympathies naturally went to her. Not because we know she’s a good person, but because the one tormenting her is a truly vile horrible monster. All we know of her is that she’s a sheltered rich girl with a brother and maid who will die to protect her. And once Wol Ryung fell for her pretty face and sad lot in life, we also wanted them to find happily ever after. It was simple but effective storytelling. It was satisfying in its utter 1+1=2 fundamental handsome man loves pretty girl and saves her narrative.

I understand the drama wanted to condense the parents section into the first two episodes so it sped through everything, with the parents falling in love with the blink of eye. Still acceptable and cute, albeit not very compelling. Then the writer needed to create THE BIG TRAGEDY, and with it she took Seo Hwa’s character and turned her into truly one of the worst characters I’ve seen outside of the caricature cackling villains. When Seo Hwa discovers with her own eyes that her husband is a supernatural being, and a very powerful and destructive one at that when he slaughters an entire army of soldiers sent to capture her back to become a sex slave, she is understandably scared. I get that. I get her fear of Wol Ryung, despite all he’s done for her and the fact he hasn’t ever harmed a hair on her head. This is olden times, she needn’t be some Joseon-era Bella Swan.

But what I cannot forgive is what she chooses to do to Wol Ryung that is NOT based on her fear of him being a monster. When she runs away from Wol Ryung, that is her right. She doesn’t have to stay married to a monster she fears. But what in the fucking god’s name would lead her to run to the army camp of the people trying to capture her? Hello? Anything in that brain of hers? Didn’t she and her brother initially run into the mountains to survive on their own to escape the soldiers. So run away from BOTH Wol Ryung and the soldiers. Go survive on her own, that’s cool with me. But no, she chooses to run to the very people who are out there to subjugate and return her to a life of violation and degradation. Good one, Seo Hwa.

That alone doesn’t piss me off, though that is enough for me to write her off as a stupid broad who doesn’t deserve Wol Ryung. But it’s what happens afterwards that turns me into a homicidal viewer. She finds out from the murderer of her father and brother that Wol Ryung lied to her about her brother’s death. One on hand is the person who actually murdered her brother. On the other hand is someone who merely concealed his death from her. And guess which one upsets Seo Hwa more? Yup, it’s Wol Ryung’s lie, and not the fact that Kwan Woong strung her brother up like a Christmas ham and hung him on the town walls until his neck snapped. Nope, she’s angry that she was NOT TOLD THE TRUTH. Oh how dare Wol Ryung lie to her!

So her anger at Wol Ryung lies motivates her to lead an army of soldiers to his secret paradise garden to capture or kill the man she has called husband for the past 3 months. She didn’t lead them there because of some confused sense of social duty to get rid of a scary dangerous monster that could menace their world, she led them there because she was mad at him. Mad because he lied to her about her brother’s death. Can someone hand me a pick-axe right now. Because I have to go cut a bitch. When she stood before Wol Ryung all angry and accusing, she wasn’t scared of him at all. Her motivation was to get punish him for lying to her. Excuse me, but WHAT THE FUCK YOU CRAZY BITCH?

So let’s put in list form Seo Hwa’s actions and whether it’s justified or understandable:

1. Runs away from Wol Ryung —–> Justified, she’s scared of him after seeing him turn into fangy monster.

2. Runs to soldier camp  —–> Not justified, who the hell runs to the very people out to capture her so she can become a sex slave.

3. Angry at Wol Ryung for lying about her brother’s death  —–> Not justified, how she be angrier at him over the man who actually killed her brother is nonsensical and renders her character hopelessly wrong.

4. Leads the soldiers to Wol Ryung’s secret garden —–> SO NOT JUSTIFIED I HAVE NO WORDS. In her petty and clueless anger at Wol Ryung, she chooses to get back at him by leading people to kill him. I mean, on what planet does a character who behaves the way she does deserve any sympathy or understanding of her motivations. Her motivations are based on her own sense of being wronged which she then translates into action that will lead to the death of the man who protected her and married her for the past 3 months. All because he lied to her. Can we say vindictive with a capital V.

I really want to give Gu Family Book the benefit of the doubt, but the writer’s hack job in the first two episodes have left me clinging to a sliver of hope that somehow this is an anomaly and the rest will be awesome. Or not. Lastly, my breakdown of what makes Seo Hwa a terrible person is unrelated to Lee Yeon Hee’s acting in this drama. It’s purely a analysis of character motivation and actions, though I have to say she did try her best and at times she made some strides. Too bad she was asked to play such a unsympathetic and abhorrent witch of a woman.

© 2013, ockoala. All rights reserved.

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The Curious Case of the Utterly Repellent Seo Hwa in Gu Family Book — 60 Comments

  1. I 100% believe that Lee Yeon Hee did a good job with Seo Hwa as far as it was possible to do so. The problem, as you said, was Seo Hwa’s general lack of sanity, which of course, absolutely upsets me.

    The only thing I can think of that could redeem the writer is if Seo Hwa’s terrible choices were used as a learning experience for Wol Ryung and Kang Chi, turning them into much better people/gumihos. Here’s to keeping our fingers crossed.

    • I believe Seo Hwa’s character is like that so we will be more curious if KangChi’s love (Yeo Wool) will work the same path as her or she will be able to change the faith of a gumiho-human relationship. Not everything is rainbow or pinkish bubbles.

      • I never expected rainbows and pinkish bubbles, nor did I even expect that she would stay with Wol Ryung. What I still can’t understand is why she lost all sense of reasoning by going back to the very person she spent months trying to run away from. And why in the world was she compelled to bring the officers to the sanctuary in the mountains? Okay, so you don’t trust your husband anymore, what does that have to do with completely destroying him? The only purpose I see in doing that is forcing Wol Ryung to become a thousand year demon through Seo Hwa’s betrayal. (I think something happens to the gumiho if the person he loves betrays him–beyond the hundred day prayer thing.) I guess in a way, this is necessary, but satisfying? Absoulutely not.

    • According to ancient Asian philosophy, I think Seo Hwa’s actions are understandable though. First, she is selfish in blood because she is a noble. Second, she is mad at her enjoying good time while her brother and her maid suffer. I think she might have chosen to be a gisaeng in return for her brother’s safety. The only reason she decided to stay with Wol Ryung is because she thought her brother is safe. She must feel ashamed and resentful of herself for abandoning her bro, which is like killing him. The more she hates herself and loves Wol, the more she resents him and thinks of him as the one who makes her feel guilty. Thus, she ends up avenging Wol, but she also wants to end her life after him though. She coming to the bad guy to kill him means she knows that she will die anyway. Her only fault is being a selfish rich lady, not loving sincerely, and loving her family members to the extent of manipulating and harming others. She is pitiful actually:(

  2. Just like Wol Ryung asked her “WHY DID YOU DO THIS?”
    I hate Seo Hwa more than the bad guy, Jo Gwan-woong.
    Her brother and maid’s deaths are just a waste for this stupid girl.

  3. I was so angry at her and focused on my frustration that I couldn’t when Wol Ryung died. It was only when the monk came and asked what they’d done to a harmless guardian spirit whose only crime was his love for an undeserving woman that I’d lost it D:

    I thought that the parents segment would be those heart wrenching stories like in those Asian folktales (à la Strange Tales of Liao Zhai). It was heart smashing indeed, but it also left a super bitter taste in my mouth. When done well, compelling tragic love stays with you and leaves a bittersweet feel. This time I’m just bitter. And angry.

  4. Taken from MBC’s Global website
    “Dam Yeo-wul (Actress Suzy, member of MISS A)
    She joins her father who was tasked with the job of investigating a series of murders by Yi Sun-shin. She crosses paths with Gang-chi who is falsely accused of committing murder. While Kang-chi always caused trouble, Yeo-wul discovers his innermost secret. This makes her feel sympathy for him. Even after knowing the truth that Kang-chi is half-human and half-animal, she trusts that he will not harm people and stands by his side. She is the only person who can calm down Kang-chi when he goes on a rampage.”
    This synopsis on Suzy’s character brings me hope. I’m clinging on to the hope that Yeo-wul is going to be a much better person than that bitch Seohwa.

  5. Exactly how I feel …. I pity her on episode 1 but 2nd half of episode bitch went to crazy non sensical vill to me that had my blood boiling and shouting for Wol Ryung to stab her ass ..

    Of all people to run too she choose the murderer … you want truth you could had find Wol Ryung friend instead ….

    Now whatever Wol Ryung fate is … its her fault … I’ll never forgive or forget ….

    You justified exactly how I feel Ockoala … and sorry guys excuse my language.

  6. Haha looks like you had to get all that anger out Ockoala…. Same here, I don’t really get what is going on in Wol Ryung’s head.
    Does that mean you’ll recap Jang Ok Jeong instead? =P jK! Happy with all and any of your recaps.

  7. Well said Ms.Koala. I couldn’t find better words other than “what the f@$#” when I was watching. Crosses fingers I’d like Suzy’s character.

  8. Yes, it was a pretty horrible start to the story. Such is the fate of men/beasts? who fall in love with a pretty face. Wol Ryung is charmingly played by the actor (can’t remember his name) and I shall look out for more dramas with this guy in it.

  9. While the writer is not perfect and has her own flaws, she actually managed to cause such great emotion and heated discussion towards her story and her characters. I feel like tearing up evetyime I think about this drama, that’s how much the 2 episodes get me.

  10. Oh man, I was so upset as well. I think the betrayal would have been so much more compelling and justified if she had freaked out, been captured, found out she was pregnant and then was forced to betray Wol Ryung in order to save the life of her unborn child. Same outcome, different circumstances that don’t leave us hating her, in my opinion. Sigh.

    What REALLY made me angry was–after everything–she though the baby she was carrying was going to be a monster. After she found out Wol Ryung really loved her. After she remembered all the good things he did for her. She was still like “I’ve got to kill it it’s eviiiiil.” I was really disappointed in her.

    • Oh man you r sooo right!!! I mean if she had to choose between her husband and child and she chose the child it’d be understandable and eventually he would have understood and also chose for their son to be saved. Right now she’s no more than a traitor and a monster!! What is wrong with being a beast when u have a conscience and you’re trustworthy??? I hope in the end Kang-shi will accept both his beast side and his human side and not become fully human.

  11. Its interesting that all this could have been avoided if he told her the truth. He should have never,
    1) Hidden his true nature from her.
    2) lied about her brother (I get he wanted to spare her the pain but this didn’t help matters)
    3) Tried to become human without telling her and she also didn’t know all the rules he had to follow to accomplish this. He decides to do this unilaterally instead of doing it together as a couple.

    Has she made stupid decisions? Yes, she has but so has Wol Ryong. She is still a teenager and is prone to rash decisions as evidenced in ep1. Meanwhile he is over 1000 years old and should know better. So they are both to blame for the tragedy that happened.

    • Wol Ryung was a dunce from the beginning, unlike Seo Hwa, who suddenly went bipolar on us. Also, Wol Ryung is not actually human, so I don’t think that we can be this harsh on him. Yes, what he did was dumb, but what can we expect from a Gumiho? Based on how he interacts with every single character, he’s basically a kid with adult hormones and supernatural powers! (If Gumihos have human hormones, that is…)

    • Wow! Talk about spring autumn romances! I forgot that he’s 1000 years old. I’d freak out too if I found out the guy I just slept with was that old.

  12. I’m convinced Seo Hwa went insane after she found out Wol Ryung’s true nature. How else can one explain her actions…or shall I say the screenwriter’s actions. (tongue in cheek) She tried to commit suicide several times during her pregnancy and did not die. Then tried to kill her baby after delivery (indicating she did not value Wol Ryung’s love for her whatsoever). Like you Koala, I have no sympathy for this character either. I hope they show proper ending for Seo Hwa’s character and that’s to die with the 100 year old stake intended for her by Wol Ryung at the end of the episode. Now the real issue indeed is the next episodes…hoping against hope that the writer does not butcher this drama and waste LSG and the other’s effort. sigh.

  13. THANK YOU! I can’t understand her AT ALL… the writer freaking messed up such a beautiful story from episode 1!

    The only adjustment I will make is to #3: I get that she is angry.. I mean she is justified in her anger that she was lied to.. BUT that can’t trump the fact that the other guy she runs to actually killed that said brother. DOES. NOT. COMPUTE. (Even that screenshot is making me mad)

    The writer took the easy way out to show how Suzy will be different from Seo Hwa in the future… It’s sad that every time they will refer back to the big ol’ tragedy I will be angry instead of sad (sad for Wong Ryul, of course.. but mostly angry.)

  14. Yeah. I don’t agree with you about Seo Hwa but I was going to read your piece because I’m generally interested in this case and like to read opposing views, too. And I did read up until you started ranting about universal hate and how some viewers just don’t “understand” how repulsive Seo Hwa is. As it’s clear you have zero respect to other opinions on this matter, I admit I totally lost any interest to read about yours.

    I guess this is just for the people who think alike. Ok, carry on, as the French king would say.

    • Oh please do not stop posting your opposing view. It would be good for discussion and Koala never dissuades anyone doing so. As long as it is done in a civil manner, it’s definitely welcome.

  15. i mostly like your opinions and blogs. But sometimes u have certain hate towards some actresses and actors such as LEE YEON HEE. She did her best i think. I wont argue about her wrongdoings. But think about fact that she lived with her husband for only 3 months and she lived with her bro and dam for more than 10 years and to add to this, she lost her father. For christ sake, she is just 16 or 17 years old girl who has nobody to trust when her husband lied to her about himself and it is not even a simple lie. Of course her judgement fell flat in that short moment that brought great despair to him and her. Drama is drama.

    • Yes it’s true that there’s a trust issue but for her to lose her sound judgement by going to the same person who killed her father, brother, and consequently her maid so she can avenge her anger for being lied to by her husband (who by the way, would be the only one that could help and protect her), just does not make sense. Now coming back to earth, that’s definitely dramaland for you.

    • I don’t think what she did was logical (.. obviously in dramaland, logical is debatable)

      “she lived with her bro and dam for 10+ years” — true, and that’s why she should’ve been more angry towards the person who murdered them rather than at the person who lied to her.

      “16/17 yr old with nobody to trust” — yes, so the best person she could think of trusting was her father’s and brother’s murderer? I really didn’t understand that part.

  16. I disagree with most things written above. In our popular culture of “supernatural love” it is easy to hate her, but realistically speaking people are repulsed by or at least vary of anything the slightest bit different from them. Even today, a different shade of skin color provokes quite strong hatred in many many people. Don’t even try to pretend it doesn’t. In most most people (except some tween in love with twilight) a supernatural being, would provoke disgust and profound loathing. Her response was perfectly natural. Of course she must be afraid of him, even as she boldly stand before him. His lies, deceit, unnatural nature must disgust her. I can’t believe you just compared her to Bella Swan. She is an 18/19 years old girl, traumatized from recent events. She has lost her whole family in one fell swoop and the one person she trusted just turned out to be a monster (he tore out a man’s aorta in front of her) who lied to her. She doesn’t know what else he may or may not have done. For all she knows he was kind to her or married her so that he could eat her liver at the most opportune moment. The fact that she went to the camp of soldiers is understandable. Who else could she have trusted or gone to? She has no one. The evil she does know is better than the evil she doesn’t. I think at that point her psyche is completely shattered; she has lost all hope. She knows that her punishment is death and what after what she has been through, it must seem likely perfectly valid option to her but before she goes, she must feel that it is almost her responsibility to rid the world of this THING. Furthermore, she knows she will die and not be made a sex-slave because that is the punishment of a run a way slave.

    Leading the soldiers to him was also completely justifiable. To her, he is an evil abomination. The people who saw him in the first episode were frightened out of their wits indicating that there is some sort of a legend relating to gumihos that she probably knows. To her he is a monster. The fact that she thinks the baby is a monster proves that she thought he too was a monster. Of course she would lead them back to him. Furthermore, I think his betrayal was the straw that broke the camel’s back. All that had happened to her lead to this one horrifying truth that all her happiness had been artificial. There is an element of revenge but how can you blame her for that? Of course she is made about her brother’s death. If he had told her about the deaths of her brother and sister-like servant, she probably wouldn’t have had the heart to fall in love or marry. Regarding her supposedly greater hatred for him than her father and brother’s killer: she loved her husbad and the hurt caused to us by people we love often cuts deeper than the hurt caused to us by people we hate. He stripped her of her agency and manipulated her emotionally which is sometimes worse than physical assault.

    And finally a word regarding her attempt to kill the baby. Millions of women have abortions even if the baby is completely healthy or the love the father simply because they don’t want to. In cases of incest or rape, most people agree abortion is completely acceptable. In her mind, she just did the deed with a monster and is about to give birth to a evil creature that will go about killing others. She doesn’t want to be responsible for that. Furthermore he lied to her about himself. She fell in love with him under false knowledge. Would you want the baby of someone who lied to you and manipulated you?

    Yes, he is lovely but we, the audience, are seeing the whole pictures that she simply can’t see. I think she is one of the few kdrama females that feels real. She is not some angle and not a devil. She is simply a traumatized girl trying to survive but at each turn she find more heartbreak. Her reactions were completely understandable and I feel that most people casting stones at her would have reacted the same exact way. I think the writers mistakenly wrote a more complex character than they intended.

    God lord this is long. I felt I need to write this because so many people seem hate this poor girl that I feel somebody should provide a different point of view.

      • I agree with you. My thoughts exactly.
        It seemed that she was illogical to run back to the soldiers and Gwan-woong. But who else could she go to for help? She couldn’t hide in the forest – no survival experience there and certainly not tough enough. Even the 3 months with WR was under his care and protection. Moreover, she knew that in no time, the soldiers would start looking for her again, and she would eventually get caught. As for seeking help from villages – could she trust them? She probably thought that they would turn her in in a blink of an eye. Remember their reaction to her when she was tied to the tree of shame? Moreover, she also probably knew the kind of power that GW wielded over the people and that they were terrified of him. No one would dare help her. Better to just hand herself in. In any case, there isn’t any likelihood that GW would want her anymore as she’s no longer a virgin. She’ll probably be hanged and at that point of time, I think that was the best option for her. She also could have gone to the camp to hopefully see Dam and Yoon again. So imagine her shock when she realised that they had died.

        Another thing. I doubt that she would have agreed to marry WR if he had told her the truth Yoon and Dam’s death. She propbably would have wanted to mourn for them first. So in finding out that WR had lied to her – she must have joined the dots and thought that he lied to her so that he could mate her sooner.

        As for SH’s reason in leading the men to WR’s cave. She did not appear frighten, but resentful. That could be a cover for fear. Sometimes when we fear something, we replace that feeling with anger, so that we can’t be read. However, I think the revulsion lead to angry. To her, it could be a case of, what difference does it make? I escaped being raped by an evil man, only to fall into the hands of a beast who mated me by tricking me. At least, GW was honest about his intentions, evil as it is.

        Jen, agree with you about the baby monster. She really thought that the baby would be a monster. Can’t blame her – esp after she saw his gumiho form. And as the child grew, she probably freaked out more and more, not knowing what it’ll be like. I’m thinking of all those alien shows where they plant their seed in a human and then later, out pops a grotesque baby alien!

    • @jen

      I’ll happily debate you on your points.

      1. Wol Ryung the monster – absolutely she should be afraid of him. Totally justified. She should run far far away from him. If she stayed with him that would make her intelligent and empathetic beyond her years and ability and I do not expect that. I expect her to be frightened and confused.

      2. Running to the soldiers – What? She trusted soldiers out to capture her? What about towns people? What about other people? She didn’t stumble back there screaming “help me, a monster is after me!” She turned to them without reason that the drama could justify. Poor writing. The writer needed her back there. She could have run away, left it all behind. She wasn’t being chased. She didn’t need to turn to the soldiers.

      3. Like I said, she did NOT lead the soldiers back to him because she thinks he is an evil abomination that needs to be stopped. She did so because she personally felt betrayed by him. She did it out of spite. Perhaps spite as a motivation is understandable, but that makes her a terrible human being. When Wol Ryung asked her why did betrayed him, her answer was “how could YOU LIE TO ME?” Not “Because you are a scary monster and I’m doing the world a favor.” Her motivation makes her revolting to behold in that she would actively seek to destroy a man for lying to her.

      4. The lie of a loved one – absolutely that is the worst kind of lying betrayal than a lie from a stranger. No question. But she is NOT comparing Wol Ryung’s lie to anything else that is equivalent. One one hand is Wol Ryung’s lie, on the other is the murder of her brother by the man standing before her. Don’t confuse the two. I totally understand her anger at Wol Ryung for lying. How she is MORE angry at Wol Ryung over the man who trussed up her brother and hung him on the castle walls is unrealistic and nonsensical. If I just learned my brother died from the hands of the man who murdered him, and on the other hand my husband lied to me about him being dead – how could a lie ever be compared to the act of murder of a loved one?

      5. Seo Hwa being scared of Wol Ryung, leaving him, that is undestandable. But for that to lead to leading an army to kill him, that is nonsensical action that the writer required of her to get the daddy to turn into a demon for the sake of her later narrative.

      6. In this story, Seo Hwa’s character would logically run away from Wol Ryung. Keep running and be captured by the soldiers because she’s stupid and not likely equipped with the skills to evade them. Then the soldiers would drag her ass back to town to return to the gibang. But Kwan Woong would show up and offer to spare her life in exchange for the location of Wol Ryung. Seo Hwa may refuse initially, or agree because she thinks he’s a monster and doesn’t care to protect him, either way there would be an acceptable reason for her to betray him that doesn’t involve something as trivial as “YOU LIED TO ME.”

      See – I get betrayed, I get the anger of being lied to, but taken in the greater context of an even more horrifying crime such as murder, Seo Hwa’s priorities are all out of wack. I’m incline to believed she went insane in order for her behavior to even remotely make any sense.

    • Honestly had he wanted to harm her, he could easily do so whenever, wherever. He didn’t need to gain her trust first. That mind-game stuff is for human. He’s a supernatural being with enough supernatural power to do damage whether his victim’s aware of his intention or not. She’s a crap logician and I have no sympathy.

    • Jen, you took the words right out of my mouth. I posted similiar comments in DB! So glad that someone else agrees with me!
      Isn’t it kind of ironical that in being labelled as ‘bad’ writers, these two episodes are generating a lot discussion, here and elsewhere?

    • I agree with you up to the point of “The evil she does know is better than the evil she doesn’t” And can be human to think that (specially as a pregnant teenager) Even wanting to kill the baby can be understandable, she can have many reasons like fear how he’ll look or how he’ll be treated or how her life will be afterwards. But i don’t understand y she brought the soldiers back to the his hiding place. I think that is the worst betrayal. Like …leave the beast alone. Thats the point that makes me hate her.

  17. Wow, I should have re-read that before posting. Please ignore the grammatical/spelling mistakes and focus instead on the content. If only one person sympathizes a bit more with her, I’ll consider my job done.

  18. You have valid points. Food for thought indeed.
    I can understand 50% of her decisions but not empathize with her, even if I put myself in her exact shoes.
    I’ve always been on the side of the Frankenstein creature and against the world. ;)
    I also believe that Koreans and Westerners (like me) must see the story differently: I believe indeed that the Gumiho is the equivalent of the werewolf for Koreans. Not that we see all of them as princes charming here but no one can deny a certain “coolitude” and attractiveness. Countless fanfics are here to prove that we are not THAT afraid of them: We are able to accept the animal part inside of us. And yes, I believe that we are a bit (just a bit) more tolerant toward physical differences in the West. I talk about our perception now, not in the ancient times, here: We are not obsessed by the purity of the bloodline (which is an interesting myth by the way) nor by the physical perfection. Plastic surgery clones are another kind of scary monsters if you ask me.
    Moral of the story and maybe of the drama: Sometimes you have to trust your brain and sometimes you have to go with your gut feeling.

      • You know my favorite character in Harry Potter? Remus Lupin. I absolutely adore him. And I understand your point about Dr. Frankenstein’s monster completely. The monster seems more human than human. But in real life? I would run away as fast as I could if I encountered a supernatural creature. I think that is just the way most people are built. A lot of things we allow in fiction we would abhor in real life; take dramas for example. Most of the cold male characters who go around dragging the girl by her wrist or abuse her or tell her what she can or cannot do would be completely unacceptable is real life but in dramas, ehhh. You allow it and sometimes are even fascinated by it. I understand what you are trying to say. I guess I am just old-fashioned. The supernatural should remain in books.
        Anyway maybe you should try understanding her from a historical perspective. Our modern sensibilities sometimes get in way of understanding historical characters and their understanding of the world around them and their motivations.

  19. Ahh, I have biochem exam and I have to study but I love debating character motivations.

    So we agree on point 1

    Point 2: The town’s people who mocked her and let children throw stones at her? Not one of them even gave her a sip of water, not even in the cover of darkness. Moreover, she has just seen the man kill or incapacitate more than a dozen men at one. She knows what he is capable of and must not want to send untrained people to deal with him. How could she have run away? Again, she knows his capabilities. We know he loves her sincerely, but she does not. Who the hell knows what he wants from her. She knows she cannot escape him. I do think the soldiers are the only people she can go to because she thinks they are only ones who are remotely equipped to handle him. As side note, at first I thought she accidentally stumbled upon them? Does anyone else think that.

    Point 3: I think it is a bit of both, out of anger and feeling betrayed and the abomination. She doesn’t want to give birth, going so far as to eat poisonous herbs and jump of buildings because, as she says, the baby will be a monster. I think we are meant to read between the lines. If the baby is monster then to her the father must be an even bigger monster. I think it is a bit out of spite but it is more about the utter betrayal she must feel. He stripped away her agency, her right to make her own fate. She was tied to that tree for three days but she did not give in because she wanted to fight against her given fate. She wanted the choice of the way her life would go to be hers. He took that away from her. Is he with his lies that made her marry him any better than that man who made her a giaseng (sp?) to sleep with her? They both took the choice out of her hands. She married a monster, a gumiho without knowing. She does not know who this person is because everything he has ever told her is a lie. She doesn’t know what he wanted from her and what he would have done to her further down the line. I think at that point she hates him and has a right to hate him.

    4: I guess this is just a simple matter of disagreement. His lie about the brother and the maid lead her to marry him and start the whole process. The lie is the reason she stayed, that lie is the reason she allowed herself to be happy with them. And then she finds out that while she has been eating peaches her beloved brother and “sister” died horrible deaths. She must feel the crushing weight of responsibility. The man who killed them is bad and she hates him, but the man who lied to her and let her forget them is worse. And I think there is more to it than just that lie; it is all the lies put together. She had nothing, he gave her everything, but it was all a lie. Why did you lie to me makes complete sense in that context. Have you seen a Man from Nowhere? That little girls says something like this to the man: you are worse than the bastard who bullies me and calls me a beggar. He is worse because he is the only one she had.

    I think the main point we disagree on is the lying but it is more than just the lying. It is what the lying has done to her and made her do. She never got to put her family to rest because of his lies (isn’t that a big think in Korean culture). She was going to kill herself. She wanted out, but his lies kept her alive. If anyone here has ever been suicidal I am sure they will understand that being told a lie that you think is the truth to keeps you alive and then finding out that truth was lie must be a crushing blow. She is pregnant because of his little lies with a demon, or so she thinks. Maybe I am trying to make her more complex than she is but I think you have read between the lines with her.

    • I think you make excellent points, especially about the soldiers. WR did call her “his woman” so it must be clear to her that he does consider her as his. I don’t mean like property but that there is a bond between them and that he WILL come after her even if she leaves. So it’s not enough to run away, she will need protection, too. And so the soldiers are the logical option for that. Also, even if the baddie is a horrible person, he is a HUMAN. Yeah, SH is not Kagome and there’s no need for her to be. She lives in an environment where anything supernatural is scary and gumihos are liver eating monsters so yeah, she would be scared out of her wits in which case ANY human, even the guy who killed her father, is better option. Of course WE see it differently but not only we are modern people but we also have a lot more knowledge about WR’s motivations and character than SH does. Same goes for what happened to her brother & Dam – SH doesn’t know that Dam was raped by the baddie. This is something that modern viewers rarely seem to understand, that it’s pretty universal human trait to almost ALWAYS fear the unknown more than known no matter how horrible the “known” is.

      And I definitely agree with Jen about the lying part. It WAS a big deal for him to lie about the brother & maid AND about himself. Not only did he trick her marrying a “monster” but he basically proved that the tales about gumihos ARE true: that gumihos are shape shifting monsters who trick people. Because that is what he did! Yes, we know that he had his reasons but SH doesn’t know and considering that he broke her trust, how could she believe him now?

      There are some things I would’ve liked to be elaborated more but I cannot and will not hate SH. She’s not utterly despicable person but a human who makes mistakes. One thing I would’ve especially changed was the ending when she decided not to kill the baby. I would’ve shown happy moments only AFTER as a moments of her realization that WR was not a monster and did truly love her. What was left missing, in my opinion, was the big “OH MY GOD?! What did I do? He loved me and I loved him! NOOOOO!!!” epiphany. Her crying on the bed at the end wasn’t enough.

      • I totally understand that pov, but if for 1 sec only, SH could think about WR for everything he did to her. Is it to harm her, if he meant to eat her he’d just have done it already. To me she’s just ungrateful, I don’t mind her being frighten, I can take that, but you don’t bite back the hand that fed you. Why didn’t she think about revenge on those guys who destroyed her family first?? it’s like all of sudden she conveniently forgot about it and all she could see was a lying monster husband who’s trying to protect her. She could run to seek for protection from those bastards and stay with them for all i care, but when she led them back to kill him is what it did to me. just WTF

      • @jen

        You are a much better writer then the screenwriter of GFB. All your points are valid IF that is what the writer intended. But I contend its bad writing to not take the time to develop it, or have to to require an eloquent viewer like you to argue and take leaps of faith to reach an understanding of Seo Hwa’s motivations that the writer never actually presented.

        Dramas are an odd beast, because its visual we can’t always be asked to accept things at face value. A narrative foundation needs to be laid and not one that requires the viewers to go through mental gymnastics to get there. If the majority of viewers have a very negative reaction to Seo Hwa’s behavior, when the writer intended for her to have more depth and nuance, then it is writing fail on the part of the writer. That is merely what I am pointing out. I absolutely accept the possibility that your take on Seo Hwa is the correct one, but the drama never presented it that way. You needed to read deeply between the lines and add flourishes to flesh out Seo Hwa. Drama’s are not like books that allow the reader to imagine a scenario, what we see is what we get. This time the writer dropped the ball on Seo Hwa big time.

      • There are several problems with the script of this drama. I’m invested in WR’s and SH’s love story if you consider a wider picture, but if you look more closely at the details, it really falls apart. People are so in luuuv with WR that they don’t really see anything wrong with him and go around bashing SH (not totally undeservedly as we have seen), but I just couldn’t make sense of his falling for SH. WHY? It does look like he fell in love with a pretty face and idea of not being alone instead of Seo Hwa the person. But even more so, his love just seemed to come out of nowhere, I couldn’t buy it if I started to think about it more.

        Seo Hwa NEVER seemed to love WR. Everything that happened in their courting was him showing her pretty stuff and she was like aaaws, ok, let’s get married! She’s a YANGBAN for heaven’s sake, she made a huge fuss about not entering gisaeng house and now she’s suddenly feeling like a lowly slave and is ready to marry TOTAL stranger?! She never questions him about ANYTHING! Well, except for the one question about his family but that’s all. She doesn’t ask what happened to his family, why is he living there alone, that does he do for living or anything. Like it’s a perfectly natural thing that there’s this guy living in a mountain doing seemingly nothing and then it’s a perfect idea to marry him.

        These are just couple examples of the sloppy writing that has been prevalent in this drama. I think we just liked WR so much and found the overall story compelling enough that we were able to not to look at all character and plot inconsistencies, uninteresting dialog and unnecessary scenes that took time from the character development. But only mostly as it’s clear that in the case of SH, there were too many pitfalls for all of the viewers ignore.

        I would like to know what Korean viewers think of this drama. After all, they are much more familiar with the stories of gumiho being a monster and might better understand SH’s actions. It’s not something that I’m certain about so I would be interested to know, do Korean netizens hate SH as much as foreign audience seems to do.

  20. I totally agree with Koala. There was a complete logical fail in Seo Hwa’s actions. They could have come up with better reasons for her to lead the soldier’s to Wol-ryung’s den (e.g. capturing her as she is fleeing, forcing her). She also was suicidal before she met Wol-ryung, and her trying to kill herself because of having no hope left (brother and Dam dead, husband having betrayed her by lying and being a monster) would have made more sense than to go to the guy who killed her father right before her eyes. I mean, her father’s blood was splattered over her face! How could you ever forget that? And what about all her previous actions at least in part to resist the evil guy (refusing to enter the gisaeng house, fleeing it and knowingly leaving Dam to harm)?

    Perhaps the writer wanted to vilify her on purpose for some plot point yet to be developed, but the problem is that what she did made no sense, meaning whatever comes later will never quite work out. And, if we take the end of episode 2 as meaning that she suddenly realises again that her husband wasn’t a monster and that she loved him after all, I’m sorry to say I can no longer buy it after what she did. Bipolar indeed.

    Given that there were little things that didn’t make all that much sense to me already in episode one (her being able to escape the gisaeng house so easily – given her resistance to be there, I would have thought she would have been watched like a hawk), the serious logical fail in episode 2 makes me seriously worry about what is to come writing-wise.

  21. Seo Hwa expression in the betrayal scene made me wanna cut a biatch. I don’t get why Wol-ryung fell in love with such a self-entitled, vindictive woman.

    p.s. Hi Koala, want to mention there’s malware warning on your site again. Try check your 3rd party widget or buttons embed in your site. Last time it happened to my site, I removed my stats counter and it didn’t occur anymore.

    • It’s only been 2 eps give it a slack it might just add up when the time comes ! I find her behavior very weird and wrong but totally justified. ! She felt remorse didn’t she ?!
      If only he didn’t turn o be that ugly she might have not done that ! Or it’s just the way it is ! I’m just fought with mi ho’s gumiho appearance from MGIAG. !
      See ya !

  22. It’s only been 2 eps give it a slack it might just add up when the time comes ! I find her behavior very weird and wrong but totally justified. ! She felt remorse didn’t she ?!
    If only he didn’t turn o be that ugly she might have not done that ! Or it’s just the way it is ! I’m just fought with mi ho’s gumiho appearance from MGIAG. !
    See ya !

  23. I am glad to see I am not the only one who could not understand why Seo Hwa would go to the soldiers and bring them to Wol Ryung out of her own free will. I agree that running away from him made perfect sense, but running away to the soldiers who are out to kill her? No. I thought she was trying to live so she can get revenge for her father. Sure, not telling her was wrong. I knew something bad would happen the second he decided not to tell her (It is a drama after all). However, Wol Ryung treated her well, and she chose to trust him. I would think that several months of acting as her husband puts him in somewhat of a better light than someone who basically destroyed her whole family. I wish the writer had thought out this part of the drama better because I was so repulsed by the sight of Seo Hwa after her betrayal that I could not focus on the drama anymore.

  24. I love that you wrote this, ockoala! I felt the same way, such that I ranted in comments where I could after watching ep 2. I mean sure there are lots of evil characters in Kdramaland that I want to see dead, like the baddie in GFB, for instance. But the difference is that I am supposed to hate those characters, so it’s no big deal. But for the writer to give us a character that we aren’t supposed to hate and then make her so repugnant, I just don’t get it. That just seems like really lazy writing to me. Or, if the writer actually thinks what Seo Hwa did was ok, then may the universe have mercy on the writer’s soul because I sure won’t.

    The only thing missing from your great slamming of Seo Hwa is how she then topped all of this evil off by trying to repeatedly abort her baby and then when that failed she decided to just have him and then murder him. Worst mother ever.

    • Personally I think it’s understandable that Seo-hwa would want to get rid of the “devil spawn” in her belly. My main truck with her is her siding with Gwan-woong to destroy Wol-ryung just because he told her a white lie.

      My mother says that perhaps Seo-hwa thinks the white lie was devil Wol-ryung’s attempt to lure her in and so she overreacted. *shrugs* It didn’t make sense to me anyway.

  25. Because I agree with your analysis on the Utterly Repellent Seo-Hwa I had to post.
    My reaction was first “I don’t care how many ways viewers can explain her motives she hurt the wonderful innocent gumiho Daddy.”

    Then I wanted to find a rational explanation for my reaction. I couldn’t.
    You brought rational to my emotional response.

    Also, how dumb can she be that after 3 months of cooking she hasn’t tasted what she cooks and known it is bad. So fix it?

  26. I also don’t understand Seo Hwa and I don’t want to wack my brain to find reasonable excuse for her actions. I watch dramas for enjoyment and seeing poorly executed writing in a certain character/s will make me worry that this drama in the future will raise eyebrows from many viewers due to it. I hope the writer will find the light and not fail to give us a story that we can relate in every cha. It will be nice if we are able to enjoy it w/o debating things about the circumstances of their actions and question the writer’s ability.

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